How to clear your mind for great sales copywriting

written and produced by john c ashworth

First, here are a few tips to consider for your copywriting efforts before you even sit down to write.

  • Be fully rested with a good night’s sleep
  • Eat sparingly. Heavy meals will affect your mental sharpness. Try a little intermittent fasting before you sit down to write. I know this works very well for me and is one of the reasons I love to spend time writing first thing in the morning with only a cup or two of coffee on-board.
  • Exercise before you start. If you read this blog regularly, you know that I spent the first 20+ years of my career as an expert fitness professional and personal trainer so I’m a big, big believer in this idea and once again, practice it regularly myself. It’s truly amazing what one simple exercise session can do to clear your mind and make room for your mojo.
  • Turn-off your phone and eliminate any and all distractions. Lock your door, or at the very least close it tight, and make those around you aware that you are writing and are not to be disturbed for any reason.
  • Take a few moments of gratitude so as to cultivate a positive mood and environment.
  • Now, enter the prospect’s mind and the conversation happening therein and go!
How to clear your mind for great sales copywriting

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Is your sales pitch missing this important message?

written by john c ashworth

If you are unable to quickly, easily and comfortably communicate the fundamental reason why people or organizations would choose to do business with you and you company above all other options, including doing nothing, you will likely have a very serious problem when prospecting for customers.

In fact, you might not ever even get your foot in the door..

Here’s a quick sales pitch formula to help you get started.

“We assist our _______[clients or customers] in the _______ [industry/business] to _______(what you help them do). We do this by _______[what do you help them do? what problems do you solve for your customers?].”

Don’t cheat this work. I know it sounds simple. Too simple, even.

But it’s not.

As soon as you begin working through this as it relates to your products and services and your company, you will see what I mean. If you haven’t answered other key sales and marketing questions about your business, you will have to go back and do that first, before you can get to this.

This process forces you to consider four very important questions about your business. Questions that I’m sure you’ve thought of at some point or another, but that I know first hand, most small business owners and salespeople don’t spend nearly enought time curating and clarifying so that they can truly hone their efforts.

I’m going through this again in my own work right now so I’m also speaking from very personal and timely experience.

Especially in light of everything that has changed over the last year and a half, it is time to reflect on how you, your work, and your business have changed in an effort to adapt to your customers and the marketplace.

What can you do differently?

How can you craft a killer unique selling proposition? (USP)

Here are those four quick questions that will help get you started.

  1. Dou you work with individuals, organizations, enterprises, associations, or governments?
  2. What industry or industry segment do you specialize in? What segment? What market? What type of business? “…OK, I know, that’s really a few questions in one, but they’re all related.”
  3. How do you assist your customers?
  4. How do you assist your customers?

OK, time to get to work.


What is the work you can’t NOT do?

favorite books 1

written by john c ashworth

Almost every morning, I rise very early, make some espresso, pull out my ice packs and sit in my favorite chair and read. I’ve been doing this in some way shape or form for more than 20 years now and the vast amount of knowledge, wisdom, and experience I’ve gained is thrilling. Even on its own, it’s thrilling. And not nearly as exciting as sharing it with all of you. Which is why I continue to work as hard as I possibly can bringing it to you here on the ash flash in my spare time. Thanks for being here. I’m grateful for the time we have together.

This morning I feel better than I have all week following my first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and I’ll be sharing, setting-up posts, podcasts and videos on a number of topics today both because it fulfills be greatly, and because here in Wisconsin it’s raining again; and my new Wenonah canoe is not quite here yet…

I thought it might be fun to start this day with some of the interesting thoughts, inspirations, and insights that end-up in notebooks strewn across my desk. Each with it’s own purpose and place. Each containing many golden nuggets that are sure to help my fellow bohemians.

Here you go…

Everything is selling. And if you can’t quite comprehend or embrace that idea, or even find yourself revolted by it, I encourage you to fully consider this with an open mind. You will quickly find that there is no escaping this truth. How open are you to the idea of working toward becoming a better salesperson? Because this leads to the second thing from same notebook and inspired by my most recent kindle purchase, ‘Secrets of Closing the Sale’ by Zig Ziglar.

“You can have everything in life you want if you will help just enough other people get what they want.”

If you want to sell more effectively, learn how to write heart-stopping headlines. And think of your headlines this way…a classified ad is simply a headline with instructions about how to respond to the ad. The question you should ALWAYS ask yourself EVERY time you write a headline is this, “Would the headline motivate someone enough to respond on it’s own?” In other words, if your headline was your classified ad, how might it perform?

NEVER under-estimate the intelligence of your audience, and NEVER over-estimate their level of knowledge. Oooohh, that one really gets you thinking, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, you must destroy in order to create.

True science begins with observation.

By far, the BIGGEST leverage point in any business is marketing. Remember, you must adopt the mantra, “I’m a marketer in the business of … “

Struggling business owners spend time to save money. Successful owners spend money to save time.

Strength training is a lifetime activity. The only way to fight muscle loss and fat gain effectively as you age, is to adopt and live by this truth.

Lastly, if you’re feeling stuck in your life and career, here is one question that can really help you cultivate the clarity you need to decide what you might do next…

What is the work you can’t NOT do?

When you’re doing the work you love, EVERYTHING changes. That is what starts to change the world. Discover this for yourself, and LIVE it. Not just for you, but for everyone else around you.


PS the ash flash is the work I can’t NOT do. Along with being a salesman, of course. Thanks for being here… 🙂

How to write headlines that make sales soar!

written by john c ashworth

Ninety percent of the success or failure of ANY sales offer is the headline.

How much time are you spending on your headlines?

The reason is that the headline answers the MOST important question you need to address in ANY sales pitch. “What’s in it for ME?”

Why should I stop everything I’m doing, open my wallet and invest in your product over any and all other products or simply do nothing at all?

Now, go back and look at the last few email subject lines you’ve written and ask yourself if they are good enough to break through these barriers. Stop wasting time and money and start putting a lot more attention and intention into crafting great headlines.

What does a headline do?

First and foremost, it attracts attention.

It communicates a strong benefit; and once you start looking around at what other are doing and maybe even what you are doing, you’ll see that this very ofte missing. Big mistake.

Third, and as I’ve mentioned already, your headline should appeal to the self-interest of the reader and answer the MOST important question of, “What’s in it for me?”

When thinking about headlines and how to use them it is also very important to remembe that they are not only for the top of your sales letter, blog post or email. They should be used everywhere. For example, the teaser copy on an envelope and the the of your book are just as important as the headlines in your sales letters and advertisements. If your prospect won’t open your letter, you’ve accomplished nothing more than subsidizing the post office. If your book title stinks and is not compelling, you’ve wasted a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears for a book destined to be mostly ignored.

Advertising guru, John Caples once said that “when you write an ad, write a lot of headlines first. Spend hours writing headlines – or days if necessary. If you happen to think of a headline while walking down the street or while riding the bus, take out a pencil and paper and write it down.”

When was the last time you put that much thought and attention into writing a headline?

And if I still haven’t convinced you, think of this…

The father of advertising, David Oglivy, once said that “on average, five times as many people read headlines as read body copy. It follows that, unless your headline sells your product effectively, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”

Good luck and remember, there are no shortcuts.


Subscribe to the ash flash and get your copy of The 100 Greatest Headlines of All time right now! Sometimes the answer to how to write headlines is simply swiping a successful one that you know already works 🙂

Beginners Mind – How to cultivate your passion for greater meaning in life and business

John Ashworth – just prior to training camp circa 1991

podcast produced by john c ashworth

How to cultivate your passions – Beginner’s Mind
written by john c ashworth

You are NOT your mind. Put another way, the essence of who you are in this world is not defined by the thoughts that run through your head. Those thoughts, ideas, and conceptions are coming from somewhere close to you, no doubt. But they do not define you. The challenge is that all of those thoughts do come from your daily life, along with the interpretations you form that are also based on past experience. Your belief systems, in other words, shape every single one of your reactions in every moment to everything that is around you. And as the associated emotions from these thoughts and experiences stir inside your heart and mind, they too begin to cloud your judgement. Your clarity. Your peace of mind and most importantly, your ability to see clearly what comes next.

This is why Emmerson once said that, “every institution is the shadow of one man.” In today’s world, it is important to add ‘man or woman’ of course. And if you found yourself reacting to that quote in a way relating to the inherent gender bias therein, you and I are getting close to being on the same page as we begin this discussion of ‘beginner’s mind.’

Milton Friedman once said that, “only a crisis, actual or perceived, produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around at the time.” I would add that those ideas that might be lying around are born of everything that has led you to that moment, and shaped your belief sytems to that point in time. So, those ideas, good or bad, may in fact require a closer look when and if you’re willing to see them in a new context. Because those ideas have been shaped by belief systems that may need to be re-born. Granted another chance to begin again.

This is why a crisis, like the pandemic of 2020-2021 can be a real turning point for societies.

(I have started this book with this ideas because) I feel it is very important for all of us to constantly make time for consideration that we might not know as much as we think we do. No matter our level of experience, when you work to cultivate the slight edge inside your life, and your business, you must work to keep your mind from sending you down dark alleyways that lead to danger and dead-ends. You must adopt the mindset of beginners mind and clear the backroads for the potential of new exploration. You must work hard to rid yourself of automatic reactions to life and business events, and instead find the clarity you need to experience each and every situation as if you were looking at it for the first time. If you can do this, the results will be transformative. If you can’t? Well, you may just become lost.

Steve Jobs once said that, “People with passion can change the world for the better.” This is an easy and inspiring statement to run with, but doesn’t tell the whole story for you and I. Because you and I don’t choose our passions. They choose us, but you have to be listening. And if you’re mind is a constant cloud of conundrums, and old and worn out perspectives and beliefs, there will exist a constant buzzing in your ears and you will not be able to hear anything; and eventually go deaf.

So many of the funeral directors I speak with every day in my work (for Frazer Consultants) experience their service and their work and their mission as a calling. The best thing in life is to have or find this calling. Your passions will lead you there. Just please be careful not to let your intellect and the lure of logic drown out your passions; and always keep in mind that your passion is never enough on its own. Hard work must come along for the ride too. Adopting your beginner’s mindset will provide you great support in this effort.

For the funeral directors I work with every day, this is paramount because your profession is changing drastically every day. I know you know this, so the real question is what you choose to do about it? And more to the point (of this first chapter,) how are you relating to it?

Be bold and brave and focus on things that are no yet working. Life and career harmony come from finding meaning. Meaning comes from following your passions. And passions are discovered when you keep an open mind. Be nimble and robust, and always lean into the future, becaue if you lean away, the future will always win. Adversity is a great teacher but only if you choose to do the hard things, and focus not on your gifts, but your willingness to dig into the trenches and work very very hard. Your gifts were given to you so be gratefu l and be bold, and also remember that ideas are the easy part. It will be your stubborn and relentless pursuit of those ideas that will bring those convictions to life and allow you to serve humankind and cultivate true meaning.

Be stubborn about your vision and flexible about the details. Remember, ‘beginner’s mind.’ Because you will often discover that you were not right about everything, and as such, you will have to change course and learn along the way. Stay focused and prevent yourself from chasing the hot passion of the day. Never stop learning.