May 19, 2016

The R2D2 production formula

In December 2015 I arrived in Amsterdam at Sean D’Souza’s story-telling workshop. The lady next to me, Leyla, introduced herself as a writer. As we went around the room a theme started to emerge. Writer. Writer. Author. Copywriter. Writer.

‘This’ll be easy,’ I thought. ‘We’re all already writers…’

I’ve been writing copy for myself, for employers and for clients my whole professional life. Writing is really where my passion is.

I’ve always favoured story-based copywriting, which I think is more of an art form than direct-response type copy. Not necessarily easier than direct response, just more art than structure.

I always assumed it would be impossible to create a process that other people could follow.

As we went through Sean’s workshop it became obvious that Sean had arrived with a process. It wouldn’t have mattered if you had arrived as a writer, as an engineer, or as a physicist. We all made the same mistakes at the same points.

Today’s email marketing basics article is about production. Production means getting your emails drafted and ready to rock.

The major constraint on production is time. Modern marketing funnels require a lot of content spread across multiple marketing platforms. In most of the Infusionsoft accounts I review I would say that content is usually a bottleneck.

Everybody thinks that production is about writing. And production is about writing, to a degree. But really the writing is the culmination of an ongoing researching and drafting process.

I call this the R2D2 formula. Research, research, draft, draft.

All of my emails go through two rounds of research and two rounds of drafting before they end up in a ready-to-edit format. The research process for me is never ending. I am constantly taking screenshots on my phone of things I have found interesting in case I want to use them in a story. Yesterday’s story about the Welsh town of Trellech is a good example.

I didn’t write the article the morning I sent you the email, and I didn’t wait until I was writing to find the example. I had the example ready to go in advance. You can see my notes on it here and here in Evernote.

It is quite normal for my story ideas to arrive in the middle of the night. Linzi has stopped questioning why I am always tapping away on my phone at three in the morning.

“I’m not chatting on babe station dear, I’m making notes for a forthcoming email…”

The two drafting stages are the shitty first draft and the less shitty second draft. In my daily emails I always have tomorrow’s email prepared the night before, at least as far as the less shitty second draft. I then get up and edit the email in the morning.

You can read the pre-edited second draft of today’s email here. It might read the same at first, but compare them side by side and you will see they are different.

If you want to produce regular engaging content planning and process are everything.

The six-step production process I now teach and work to is based on Sean D’Souza’s ideas, but I have heavily built on it in the last three months.

If writing your own emails is part of your job it pays to spend some time sharpening your axe. You can read more about my six-step production process in my Nurture Email Mastery course. I guarantee it will improve your writing and save you time.

I don’t think the course is expensive compared to the amount of time you will save.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.