Craig Clemens grew up in a middle class neighborhood in Thousand Oaks, California. His dad was an engineer and his mom was a teacher. He hated school, flunked many classes and was voted most bashful. Taking up karate and reading books on how to talk to people helped lift him out of his awkward phase.
Despite barely graduating high school with a 1.7 GPA and then basically failing outta junior college, Craig says he always knew he’d become rich one day. His frugal parents played a big role in this belief.
They tried to teach him the value of hard work by paying him five cents for every chore he completed. Meanwhile, Craig’s friends would all get a $20 allowance for doing nothing. Craig’s takeaway? Hard work ain’t the way!
From age 18 to 20, Craig waited tables at a number of restaurants, and would eventually get fired from each of them. Next, he did telemarketing for a tool and industrial supply company. When new tools would come in, he would write his own sales pitch for ’em. Without knowing it, he was getting his first taste of copywriting.
After another telemarketing gig for a credit card processing company, at age 21, Craig finally left the comfort of dad’s basement and moved to San Diego. For the next three years, he would bounce from one dead-end job to the next.
At around 24, Craig’s beyond broke. He owes the IRS $30k in back-taxes. He’s selling weed to get money just to be able to buy fast food. And he meets an internet marketer by the name of Eben Pagan. Eben tells Craig he’s makin’ $70k a month selling an eBook called Double Your Dating.
Craig wants on the rocketship, so he offers to work for Eben, who says, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Craig’s dejected, but he doesn’t give up. He opts-in to Eben’s squeeze page to get free dating tips and goes, “Pfft, I could write this.” So he does. He sits down one night and, mimicking Eben’s style, writes out some of the stuff he’d learned from all those books he’d read on communication. He sent it off to Eben, who was quick to reply, “Okay, now we can talk.”
Eben proceeds to offer Craig a job, doing customer support, for $3k per month. More than that, though, Eben became a mentor to Craig. He taught him marketing. He had him read books on copywriting by legends like Gary Halbert. For the next three years, Craig would immerse himself in studying any content he could get his hands on that would help him master these skills.
Naturally, he wiggles his way into actually writing copy for Eben. Three months in, after writing 10 to 12 pages of hard-hitting copy five days a week, he gets the hang of it. Eben, blown away, bumps Craig up to a salary of $150k a year. Craig’s stoked. He’s never seen that much money in his life.
Eventually, Eben has Craig teach copy to his mastermind members, which helps Craig to crystallize everything he’d been doing, thus making him even better. So much so that, to date, Craig’s copy has done more than a billion (yes, with a B) dollars in sales!
So what are the common denominators of great copy? Craig says, first and foremost, you’ve gotta get their attention. Especially today, with the average person seeing over 4,000 ads per day. Step two is to show them that you have a unique offering. Third and final, is you gotta “converge stories.”
“I like to say that copywriting is taking the story of your product or service and matching it with the story of your customer’s own life that they have, in their head, of how their life is and how it’s going to be, and letting them know that if they incorporate your story as a part of their story? Their story’s gonna get even better,” Craig explains.
But what about today versus yesteryear? How has copy changed? Craig says, back in the day, you could just sell, sell, sell. Today, online, you can’t get away with that. You have to give value. If you don’t, people will scroll past you or click on something else.
That’s something that’s embedded into everything Craig’s newest company, Golden Hippo (who partners with doctors and other experts to build category-leading brands, most of which fall within the categories of health, beauty, and pet care) puts out. Their mission? To leave people better off than when they found ’em, regardless of whether they buy or not. That is how you cut through the noise, Craig says.
Coming from a man whose net worth has to be well into the tens of millions by now, you might wanna read that back a few more times. Or catch the full interview here: