How to Write Highly Relatable Landing Page Copy ~ Norman Tran

Too many landing pages are either too passive or too aggressive. In the end, people feel like they’re being sold to, and that can turn them away. That's why I interviewed Norman Tran to figure out how to write highly relatable landing page copy.

We Covered
  • How Norman became obsessed with his landing page copy (01:15)
  • Why overly aggressive marketing is such a turnoff (04:45)
  • There’s a parallel between the role relatability plays in the success of interpersonal relationships and the success of the landing page (06:39)
  • The high-level steps to create highly relatable landing page copy (09:57)
  • How to craft the story of your landing page (15:32)
  • An example of how to use a spiky point of view (18:21)
  • How to make the jump from your first landing page being essentially guesswork to the second iteration of your landing page which can be informed by customers? (19:48)
  • The importance of using the exact words your customers use and combining your own voice with the expectations of your customers (22:47)
  • How long you’ve been running your CBC will determine how much you learn from your customers (27:34)
  • The questions you can ask your customers at the end of the cohort to elicit the information you need to make changes on your landing page (29:47)
  • The process to update the landing page after you collect feedback from customers (32:09)
  • It’s okay to challenge the norm and to be creative (36:44)
  • How to know when you should stop making changes to the landing page (41:39)
  • Final questions (44:28)
Step By Step
  1. Expect that your landing page won’t be highly relatable on the first iteration. If you’re running your first cohort, your landing page will be a best guess of the information and personality that your customers are looking for. Stay humble, matey!
  2. Look at comparitors, not just competitors. Get inspired by landing pages outside of the CBC world and outside your industry, model what you love the most, and put in the effort to make it your own.
  3. Make your landing page a story. It shouldn’t be a desperate sales pitch. It should present the information in the order customers need and with a style that excites them.
  4. While your cohort is happening and after your cohort is finished, collect information from your members that you can use to improve your landing page
  5. Keep iterating on step 4!
Full Transcript

 Listen here for the audio version of this transcript

[00:00:13] Jonathan: Ahoy, captain. Welcome to this super actionable podcast made for cohort-based course creators. I am your host, Jonathan Woodruff. In today's episode, you'll learn how to write copy on your course landing page. If you don't know what a landing page is, it's basically the part of your website where you help someone decide whether they want to take an action like to buy your course, for example, and the copy is basically all the stuff you say on your landing page.

Needless to say, having good copy is super important. And I've heard from smarter/more successful people than me. That mastering copywriting is possibly the most important skill you can have. My guest today is Norman Tran. The creator of Relating Between The Lines, a cohort-based course that teaches you how to deeply relate to people.

What's up Norman?

[00:01:11] Norman: Hey, Jonathan, I'm so excited to join you today.

[00:01:15] Jonathan: So excited to have you here. Thanks so much. so just to put some context behind this first question I have for you, when I go to your website, the headline pulls me in, I don't know what it is. I think it's the, the fonts even, and just the way it looks, it feels warm and inviting.

And you talk about having a conversation by the campfire and it just pulls me in and it wants, it makes me want to keep reading. And the more I scroll down, I feel like you're talking to me, which is weird because you wrote the website for, you know, anyone to look at, but it does feel like you're talking to me around the campfire and it just, I want to keep scrolling and scrolling to read about your course.

And that's not something that I really have experienced on almost any website ever. and it was just so different. And so, it made, it just makes me wonder, you know, what made you start to obsess over copy and really kind of, uh, study that and get into it?

[00:02:13] Norman: Well, first off, thank you for those kind words. We have worked on so many iterations of just the, the first few sentences at the beginning of the page. So I'm glad it lands well for you. It's funny because when I started my journey in being a course creator, I never set out to be a good copywriter.

I actually used to hate copywriting and marketing and sales. I used to have that like icky feeling. And I think what I have learned to do along the way is to stop trying to sell and instead try to make people feel something. And instead of following the traditional marketing gospel, which is kind of like paint a picture of the problem and then make it really painful for them, and then present your solution,... that energy is the complete opposite of the energy we're going for. The energy we're going for is more like the energy of being at a magic show.

What's about to happen? There's this element of wanting to delight and surprise and lead someone on a journey where their attention is carefully cultivated and managed moment to moment. And so for me, I focus a lot more on how words feel rather than how do I paint a picture of a problem that makes someone feel bad.

I think the difference is like between shame and an invitation, a lot of marketing copy is shameful energy. It's like, do you suck at this? Well, buy my product. And it's like, thanks. I really don't feel like you care about me versus painting a picture of this experience, right? Like who doesn't want to be in a campfire conversation, looking at the stars, laughing with friends, right?

It's just like painting a very honest, memorable, visceral image that someone might want. And so a lot of our copywriting is based off that philosophy of storytelling the visceral, how can I paint images in your head rather than just put words in your head?

[00:04:45] Jonathan: I love the way you talk. And, just some of the things you said are so refreshing and kind of the direction I was hoping you were going to go because I do part-time work for a business called Everyone Hates Marketers. And it's called that because it's true. I think that's why it's called that because...

[00:05:07] Norman: It's beautiful irony. It’s great.

[00:05:09] Jonathan: And it's like, you're saying, you know, people, we don't like this aggressive marketing. We don't like DMs that say, “Hey, want to buy my stuff.” And you know, and it's the same on websites too. You know, I've been to websites that look like they haven't put much effort into it and they have way over-promising headlines.

And it's clear, they're trying to sell to you and really pressure you into buying something like you have to buy it now or else, you know, whatever you might, you know, you have to pay more tomorrow if you don't buy it right now this instance, and it might put a countdown clock on it and just try to pressure you into it.

And. it's a striking difference to what you do. and it's kind of this, you even mentioned it, on your website, on your landing page, is this, uh, aggressiveness it's, you know, the, the way I kind of see it, I'm curious if you see it this way is in your cohort-based course, you teach people how to relate to other people.

And you talk about how you used to have, kind of an aggressive approach to connecting with others. And so it's this aggressive versus relatability and human connection, but I think it's also the same for your landing page. It's, you know, you can have this aggressive approach kind of a salesy approach or this highly relatable approach where people say, oh yeah, that's for me.

And it's kind of, it's a, like you said, it's an invitation more than, something aggressive.

[00:06:39] Norman: Yeah, there is an interesting parallel in terms of the way we teach the content and the way the copy is written. Something that we emphasize a lot in this class is how to avoid the extremes of being overly passive and overly aggressive. Right? If it's passive marketing I feel like you're not even selling to me at all.

You're kind of just downplaying yourself and that doesn't work either. And then overly aggressive would be, as you said, like the over promising headlines, the pressure or the shaming into buying something. The space between that is where you can play with I guess what I would call world building is the approach that we have, and we teach this to other course creators too sometimes.

It's really try to think about more like a movie, right? When you watch the first scene of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, or Dune. You're sucked into this world, you're captivated by the scenery, the language, the design, and you want to know more, right? 

Disney doesn't sell Disneyland. You just look at Disneyland. You're like, whoa, that's cool. I want to be there. And that's really the way we approach it. We focus more on creating a polarizing brand that immediately puts off people that don't like fun and silliness. Right? You look at the page and the font looks like a kid drew it, which is on purpose. Then if you're like, “ew,” then great go away.

Like you will not resonate with anything else that's on this page. So you're already brought into our world, right? We are here for playfulness and a sense of allowing in the sense of like this invitation, this, like this is a world that you're entering in. And if you're curious, come on board. It's really kind of like a journey.

It's more like being invited to watch a movie unfold rather than trying to push anything towards you. We try to really write the copy in a way that's like, if what we've right here resonates with you, then very naturally you will want to buy. We're not trying to sell you. We know it works. It's just whether it's right for you or not.

And at the right time. So we don't actually have this proving energy, which we have slowly iterated to. When we first created the page, there was lots of like, oh my God, like, will people even want this? Is it even good enough? But now we're in a place where like, we know it works. We know certain people love it.

And we know there are people that don't like it, and that's okay. We're just really trying to put out a bat signal that's like, there's a kind of person here and I'm waving this like colorful playful flag. And if you are interested, come on.

[00:09:47] Jonathan: I love that confidence and I want to see more landing pages just like yours. I really do. And so

[00:09:57] Norman: you.

[00:09:57] Jonathan: what I'd love to do, for our listeners is just to, kind of begin to break down how they could model your landing page and it, you know, of course for them it may not be the exact same font. It may not.

Of course it won't be the exact same words, but, just kind of the step-by-step process for how you created your website in the iterations or how you would advise someone else to start creating a landing page that like this that's highly relatable. and it takes a, not an aggressive approach and not a passive approach, but kind of in the middle.

So, what would you say would be kind of step one, you have a blank slate you have, let's say your course, you know what you're going to teach. but you don't know what you want to say on your website. What would you do first?

[00:10:44] Norman: Hm. So this advice will be the advice that people don't want to hear. And the advice is don't expect it to be relatable yet, expect it to be an iterative process. So I come from formal training as a product designer where I used to develop software and design applications. And so in that training, I learned how to design things over time and iterate from MVP to higher and higher levels of fidelity.

And so thinking of your process as following cycles of diverging and converging, so diverging just means what are all the different ways I could be doing this? And then converging is let's choose one and test it. Right? So what you see now is the result of many iterations, right? So it would be foolish for anyone to try to replicate someone else's 15th iteration.

When I was first creating the website, I was just suffocating from perfectionism because I was comparing myself to, uh, for example, Tiago Forte’s website, and he was already on like cohort nine or something. And I was like, oh my God, how am I ever going to do that? And the point is not to do that.

The point is to recognize you are just starting. And so your sensitivity and knowledge of what people like and what relates to them is rather limited. Right? And so coming from a place of humility is the first step. The second step is really look at the landscape, but not just competitors. Also look into comparitors.

So I learned this when I was interning in college at a advertising agency called TBWA, and one of the things that they taught me is to not just look at people who are in your field, but look at people doing things similar to what you're doing, but in completely different fields, that way you're getting the full exposure to ideas that no one else in your field is using.

And so for me, I have this mural board of literally like 20 different sales pages, and Stephanie, my co-founder, we go through each one, put post-its on the things that we like and find interesting. And then we try to craft our own landing page using those pieces. So kind of thinking of like other people's landing pages as like having Lego blocks that you assemble in a certain order.

I think one of the things that people get stuck in is thinking there's a right answer. There's no right answer. There's many ways of selling your course and there's many valid ways. And so it's just finding better ways over time to doing that. And so really seeing the landing page as a process that's iterative towards. So, know your inspirations is the second piece. 

And the third piece I'd say is have a story that a person is following when they're going through your landing page. So there's a lot of common building blocks to landing pages. Like you have your testimonials, you have objection handling, you have the actual product and the pricing part.

You might have like a note from the creators you'll have kind of like your hero section. Usually at the beginning that introduces the problem or solution and lots of features and just things illustrating, like what your thing does over time, and then maybe like FAQ. So these blocks can really be configured in all kinds of different orders.

We've just found the order that we're currently using to work, or at least not have problems. And so the two main people that we've been following most closely in terms of the ordering are Tiago Forte who teaches Building a Second Brain. He’s been a mentor and huge inspiration to me. And then Khe Hy who teaches Supercharge Your Productivity.

Those two are like masterclasses in landing pages that don't feel icky. Like, still of course you’re being sold something, but it's done tastefully.

[00:15:32] Jonathan: So what's the story of your landing?

[00:15:34] Norman: That's such a good question. I think the story of our landing page is really first a provocation, right? It really kind of begins with this when's the last time you had this beautiful experience that really pulls on your nostalgia and heartstrings a bit. So, okay. This person, they're being invited into a vision that they probably want.

Great. Now I call this the preamble internally, like stuff that I just call it that I don't know what other people call it, but it's when I start explaining why we don't have that. Or like, why is it hard to get there? Right. So this is kind of where I'm starting to paint the problem, and what I learned from Rameet Sethi, and I've taken lots of courses from him, like call to action, breakthrough launch. These classes helped me see how to structure the different blocks in a way that makes sense. So this preamble section, we're starting to explain like, what's going on, why it, doesn't, why it's hard to get there, but we also introduce the science so that you know we're not just making things up, especially because relational intelligence is not like a field that everyone knows about.

So I leverage the experience and authority from other people to explain my point. And at this point it's very likely a person is going, whoa, I didn't know this. I didn't know this, there's like a framework for this. And then as they move down, we keep adding more nuance, right? Here's five common examples of conversations that go wrong based on the ways that we just talked about, and then people can relate to them.

And then we show the contrast, like here's what it would look like if you did things slightly differently? And some of us could resonate too with like, oh yeah, I know I've had an opportunity to do that before. And so after that, then we invite them into like, alright, it's here or here, here's the program.

Here's what it is. And then we start explaining what are the modules? So this is now we start talking about features, right? But the features, we communicate them in a way that is results-oriented. And this is something I learned from Wes Kao in Maven. We were in their second cohort. She has this framework called Spiky Points of View.

It's basically communicating a concept in a slightly edgy way that points to a truth that people know, but don't say, but it's kind of like immediately provocative.

[00:18:21] Jonathan: So what's a, sorry, what's an example, of, like a feature that would be like a spiky point of view?

[00:18:26] Norman: Yeah. So instead of, for example, telling someone that we explore how the principle of supporting over solving will help you, which would be like a piece of content or a feature in a class. We instead write it as the things that make you good at work suck the life out of your relationships.

So the problem we’re solving is a mindset that will help you undo that. All right. So instead of throwing all this jargon that, you know, lots, of course creators love doing like here's the five step process and here's my proprietary method. It's like all over the place. But when you combine that with what's the truth that it's getting to, what does it do to help me?

And how can you say in a way that makes me react, make me feel attacked, like in a good way, like called out like, oh God like that, that's me? When you write it like that, it shows that you can read their mind almost that, you know something that they don't, but very carefully again with the care and not the shame.

Right. We're not trying to shame the person. We're just trying to say that, like, there's something you don't know that you might benefit from.

[00:19:48] Jonathan: So interesting. and it comes back to relatability again with these features and what is a spiky point of view? Well, you can only know that if you can read their mind, and if I'm understanding correctly, is it that the first iteration that you do this with when you have a blank slate is you're kind of doing your best and a little bit of guesswork?

And then, and then how do you go from guesswork and doing your best to the second iteration and understanding more about the people you're serving and the people that are reading your landing page. How do you make that jump?

[00:20:26] Norman: So I will preface this by saying the spiky point of view…. Those are introduced literally in our fourth cohort. So just for everyone who was like, oh, I need to just get spiky points of view right away... Like you probably don't even know your spiky points of view. We didn’t know our spiky points of view until our fourth court.

So just to remember, like I'm giving all these tools that we've learned along the way, but they were not even usable in the beginning because we didn't have the prerequisite knowledge. So how do you get there? How do you get from your first draft to iterating? That really comes from serving your customers and listening to them.

So we collect data, frequently, and we do it in our own way. We use a tool called Video Ask. So after every session we are always asking either during Zoom, what are you walking away with? And then we'll take notes. And at the end of each week, they will receive a Video Ask, which is run by TypeForm.

It's just like a video form. And Stephanie records the Video Ask. Basically, it feels like you're getting asked by Stephanie, one-on-one how you're doing and what you're learning, and you respond too with video or text or audio. And then we take each week or we comb through all of these responses. And then we map them into Miro into different buckets, like outcomes and intentions and testimonials and objections and everything.

And so each cohort we come out with more and more awareness of like, what are we even doing? What does this even do for them? And what's the language they're using to describe this stuff? So you're really trying to mine for their language. Like, yes, we could guess at the best way to talk about something, but around 85% of the time or more, the gems come from their own words.

So we're constantly marking like, oh, that's a great way to say that. Ooh, like, wow. I didn't ever think about talking about the program in this way. Or like, wow. That's a better way to describe the concept. And so we're just constantly learning from our customers how to better teach and serve them.

[00:22:47] Jonathan: That's cool. And that's a concept I've kind of picked up from marketing along the way, too. Just things I've learned. I think Joanna Wiebe teaches that. and, and other copywriters that... it's actually funny. I was thinking about this the other day. It's called copy. And, you know, it's kind of like you're copy-ing what other people are saying.

But it's not like, you know, what your competitors are saying is what your customers are saying and really, really honestly speaking their language with the exact verbiage. I think that's where, You can kind of tell a little bit if someone's done their copywriting kind of research or not, is if they sound very, ambiguous or they use really buzzwordy type things and their headlines and the way they phrase things to make, to make it sound smarter when, what would be more effective is just yeah.

Using the words that, that your customers use. What would you say to somebody who's kind of like hesitant to that and they're kind of like, I'm afraid to kind of, to make my font look like, it's elementary or, you know, sounds, you know, not smart. People are going to make fun of me.

[00:23:54] Norman: I think you have to find your own voice and have a voice and brand that matches the industry. Right? So if I... Let's say Relating Between The Lines were an offering for Wall Street investors to improve their communication, they would never buy this. Never, because it is a complete disconnect from the culture that they have.

And so that would be a failure on my part if I was trying to sell into a market that had a complete resistance to the brand that I have. Right? So there's, there's a, you have to know, like what's my own voice and match it in a way that would resonate with some novelty with your audience? So okay. For example, having them be a little bit uncomfortable on my landing page to be in that sense of wrestling with, and like, whoa, what is this?

I'm okay with putting them in that kind of experience because I know if I can get them to keep reading, it will be a yes or no, it will be really clear. And so I think you can’t just make your font, whatever you want. It has to make sense for your market. Right? So I think there's this element of knowing your audience, but also knowing yourself.

And so something that I want to talk about also is knowing the voices that you're channeling. A lot of landing pages to me, and this may sound like snobby, feel like they have no identity, there's no distinctness about the voice. It just sounds like any other person yelling on a megaphone, trying to get me to buy something.

But for me, because I am a person who also loves language and poetry and art, I like weaving in... Th this, this is like the five Ps that we use in terms of like thinking through our voice. Like, we focus on being practical, poetic, profound, playful, and 1% profane.

[00:26:08] Jonathan: Nice.

[00:26:09] Norman: And what I mean by that is there's a little bit of irreverence in the way we write.

Right? We're not trying to be like everyone else. We're like an active, like we're going against all the grains. Right? So it took time for us to arrive at this intersection of qualities that we try to channel in our voice. We have like an unofficial board of advisors, just like writers that we love that we're always like channeling.

So like I love Maria Popova from BrainPickings Alain de Botton from the school of life, Esther Perel. Who runs the where should we begin podcast. So like, we always have these writers that we’re channeling like, oh, how could I make it sound a little more like Maria right now. Oh, it's actually missing some of the Alain energy.

So we’re always actively trying to get it to sound a certain way. Like, you'd be surprised all our first drafts sound boring. All our first drafts are just like, you should, uh, take this class. It's going to be helpful. No, one's gonna read that. It's so boring. But if we have to write that, because we're like, okay, this is the point, this what we're going after, now how to shape it.

So I think there's a difference between like figuring out the objective of your writing and then shaping it to sound a certain way. Those are two separate skills that need to happen together.

[00:27:34] Jonathan: So once we have our bullet list and then we make it sound a certain.

way, what next? Does it jump straight to trying it out and then iterating it? Or is there another step in between?

[00:27:47] Norman: It depends on where you are in your journey. I have been in the CBC world before there was a term for it. I’ve been creating courses. I've been teaching this kind of stuff for years now. And so I know my students and my material really, really well. That's why I'm lucky that even in a first or second iteration, I can speak with an almost like terrifyingly penetrating precision about someone's like internal world, because I've already been studying it for years.

So because of my knowledge and experience in the field, I got to start at a, farther along part of the process for. For someone who, for example knows something but haven’t really delivered on a CBC before, that knowledge into someone's mindset, their pains, their needs, their language may come through several iterations.

So it's really also like knowing where are you in your expertise journey? How much do you already know with certainty? And how much of it is really just still experimental? If it's more experimental, it helps, for example, to create a beta cohort or even multiple beta cohorts. We actually had four pilot cohorts before we even launched the very first cohort.

And even before that, I had run more than 10 live in-person kind of like prototype experiences. Right? And then I had two different roles for years where I was teaching this stuff. So of course, like by then I already had some inkling of the language, but that's just to paint a picture of that journey of testing and then seeing what lands and testing and seeing what lands and iterating over and over again until the language gets clearer and clearer.

[00:29:47] Jonathan: When it comes to, iterating again, and you were talking about how you kind of, you start to collect data, you have video ask and, your partner, kind of gives this feeling of a one-on-one conversation over video. What particular questions do you ask to kind of get the information that you need from your customers?

[00:30:07] Norman: That's a good question. We've been permuting this too every single cohort because we're still trying to figure out like what's the best set of questions. We also want to avoid survey fatigue and not bombard them with too many questions, but usually what we ask is we try to keep it to no more than three questions and we'll have optional questions.

We will usually ask, “what was your biggest takeaway from the week?” We'll also ask “what is one way that you are showing up differently in your relationships as a result of what you learned?” A new question we just introduced into the fourth cohort is “what's something you want to remember about where you are in your learning journey?”

So when you look back at the end of the program, you want to be like, wow, remember week three, when we focused on blank, what a moment. Like we want you to be visualizing your journey and through the reflections we are helping you do that. So at the end, we'll actually show them a collection of all the responses kind of like weaved together kind of like a Spotify year in review so that they can really see like, oh, look at this journey I've been on.

And so it serves two purposes of giving us more data for how we can frame things and have more precise language, and also gives them a really amazing experience in deepening their learning. We have an optional question for like, anything else you want to share? Maybe a win, maybe a question, maybe a suggestion, maybe some feedback.

So we leave that one open-ended and optional, but every single week the responses come in and then we look through the whole thing, process it, and there's just like a goldmine of information.

[00:32:09] Jonathan: Once you have that goldmine of information, how do you begin to synthesize that? Do you have, like a particular process for it or do you just kinda jump in and start reading things and see what jumps out?

[00:32:19] Norman: This is the first cohort where it's this methodical. Before it would just find its way randomly into a note somewhere. but what we do right now, we use Miro. We have a space for every single week. So our program is eight weeks long. So there's eight kind of like sections and each section. We have several themes that we group post-it notes by.

So as we're watching the Video Ask responses, we'll create post-it notes and move them into the respective themes. So the themes that we have are like framing, takeaways, results, things to address. So we'll also respond to the students kind of like a week, like a weekly recap, right. We watched everything.

Here's what we noticed and we'll respond back to them. So we have a section for things that we need to address. We also have action items that we need to like take action. Our main thing, like respond to a student or like make a quick pivot to an experience to make it better. We also have objection handling.

So sometimes in their language we'll notice, oh, there's something here that we could address earlier in the sales process or even in the learning experience to like dissolve that. And then just different buckets also for like the specific experiences we have. We also have one for feelings. So what feelings do they have throughout the program?

So that way we can kind of keep track of the sentiment as they're going through the program.

[00:33:52] Jonathan: And so in the end, when you have kind of these themes all drawn out, do you have ways that each theme directly translates to the landing page? Like you can take it from the postcard and stamp it into the landing page, as if it's kind of a science, or at that point? Or is it more of an art?

[00:34:10] Norman: So we think of the landing pages or landing page on a cohort by cohort basis. So we think of each cohort as having a chance of iterating it and we decide whether or not we're going to iterate. For example, this next cohort we're actually going to pause making changes to the website, even though I have a million changes that I always want to make, but it works phenomenally.

The students rave about the site when they go through their application process. And so we know it works. I being the perfectionist always, you know, want changes, but Steph and I, we always discuss like what's needed right now and we have other priorities, but we think of them kind of like a Trello board or a Kanban board.

We just think of like, what are all the different iterations? So I can, in my head know there's a timeline for when something will change, but it's important to think of the iterations already and like where something should happen instead of like, thinking of like making all the changes all at once. Cuz that's not possible and will lead to burnout as it has for me multiple times.

It's more art than science. The truth is there's no rules. It can be anything which is equally exciting and paralyzing. Right? And so, because there’s no rules, I can do anything I want and I can break the rules of how landing pages ought to be. And I think that's the fun, that's like the 1% profane part that I was talking about, like Steph and I really get a kick out of like, how do we break this? How do we do it the opposite way? And so we have lots of ideas for things we'd like to change, but they don't really exist in the scientific way because they don't even exist out there. Right? We're always taking inspiration from comparitors, for example, that are not even in the CBC space.

Right? I can take inspiration from a beautiful page that sells books. I can take a page out of someone that is like an agency and they sell their design services. I see everyone and anything as inspiration. And that's what, this is in a sense of like, there's no rules. I can do anything I want. I can like make it like that.

It just happens that no one else is doing it like that in the space, but because I'm looking so outside of the CBC box, I give myself permission to make it however I want.

[00:36:44] Jonathan: So cool. I want to nerd out on a couple things that you said. So, um, so, the guy I worked for part-time his name is Louis Grenier. and, he teaches radical differentiation. So he has a cohort-based course, actually, that teaches small businesses, how to radically differentiate, uh, as he calls it, stand the fuck out is the name of his program and.

[00:37:07] Norman: I love it. I celebrate when a brand really leans into the irreverence. Right? When I was looking through the landing page for that, I was just like, who else is gonna say, fuck, like all over the place. Like it's awesome.

[00:37:25] Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah, he's a super cool guy. and I get to be kind of a fly on the wall and kind of go back and look at all of his recordings that he's ever done in his cohorts where he's teaching these small businesses to radically stand out. One of the things that he was saying is that the way he looks at the world is whenever he sees patterns, he says, how can we do it differently?

So a really popular thing for example, is consultants who have like get a free consultation and it's this blue button in the top right. And so, and it's like the same everywhere. And he's like, okay, how can we do that differently? And it's being very intentional about things.

And another thing you were talking about is, creativity, at least how, I've heard Louis define it is that you're taking pieces from all these different places. Books, agencies, ban everything. That's what creativity is. It's taking two things that don't seem to be related and you make them related.

I think there's a famous quote by a famous scientist that says, if you want to create an apple pie, like the universe creates the apples for you.

You're not creating the pie, you're just taking these ingredients and putting them together and then you have a pie. And so, I think that's the essence of creativity is what you're doing with your landing page and taking all these different pieces together and, putting it on your page.

[00:38:50] Norman: Yeah, absolutely. I love the irreverence in seeing a pattern, but then really getting excited about trying to find your own way of doing it and doing it in perhaps unexpected ways and creative ways. I usually think about creativity as creativity is in the eye of the beholder. The person doing the creative work… it almost seems obvious. It's like, of course these two things would like, go together. Here's the connection. But then to someone who's not holding that frame, you're like, whoa, how did they come up with that? And so a lot of people think creativity is this mystical thing, but it really is just a process of taking inputs, finding patterns, and then seeing ways you can modify the patterns.

And it's kind of just having the trust in the process that if you permute it long enough, something interesting will come out.

[00:39:47] Jonathan: Hmm.

[00:39:49] Norman: And so, I think people that are interested in that process, small plug, again, for Building a Second Brain, teaches you how to do that. ?y co-founder is actually like going through the course right now.

But that's just how my brain has always worked. It's always like... Finding patterns and then looking at variations and permutations. And so that's how we are constantly making things our own. Right? We'll see something we like, we'll think how could we make it work for us? And then we'd do it. But it started too like, with us, just following everyone else, just like, okay, we're going to follow Tiago’s page because that's the best page.

And then like, it looked like a clone of his page. And then as I was designing, I was like, okay, this doesn't feel right. I need to make this a little bit different and then make this a little different and make this a little different. And voila it's suddenly feels like it's definitely inspired by the Building a Second Brain page, but you can really still see the unique identity.

And so that's why I want to repeat like the importance of the iterative process. Right? If you think of like different pieces and really thinking of it as like the sequence. It was a timing for when you modify this, then you modify this and when you modify this and you just can't do it all at once, it's not possible.

So just really trusting that you will find your way over time. And it's a very slow process. You can't speed up the growth of a tree by watering it more, you’d just drown it. Right? So I think having the patience and the vision, which is the paradox, right? Like we see where it can go, but we know that we can't get there immediately.

[00:41:39] Jonathan: So interesting. How do you know when to stop? Because, you know, you said it's kind of like this iterative process, but now you've gotten to the point where, it's not necessarily every cohort that you're changing things around. How do you know when to stop?

And also, how do you convince yourself to change something or to not change something? Because you could change, you know, 10 things, but how do you know to only change, you know, this one particular thing.

[00:42:03] Norman: That's a great question. Stephanie makes executive decisions sometimes on our behalf to be like, Nope, we're not changing it this time. We are burnt out right now. And even though the craftsmen part of you wants to do that, it's just not going to move the needle on cash flow. So we have to make hard decisions around the impact on the bottom line.

Right? Just cuz like the inner artist in me wants to make something like pretty and nice doesn't mean it’s among all the things, the most valuable use of our precious time right now, we're literally a two-person team. And so we can't do everything. And when we first started, we could, so we are no longer that space and we have to make calculated decisions based on balance.

So now we think a lot about like, okay, thinking ahead, here's all the projects, what's our bandwidth in being able to handle these projects. Okay. Actually, we're going to spend more time in creating marketing experiences instead of trying to rejigger the landing page. Right? So knowing the priority and the bandwidth you have to tackle the whole different parts of your business is like one huge thing.

I think the question, like when is something enough, right? When your customers are talking about it in their application, and like saying good things about it, you know, it's working. Right? So even though my brain does not seem to think it's done or good enough, I can't deny what's coming out of my customer's mouths when they're talking about the experience.

So for me, it's like Norman has a blind spot around receiving praise about something he created. So that's on him. Doesn't mean that he's going to have the permission to go change the website. I have my own stuff to deal with around like my own inner critic and perfectionism. So I'm just like watching that and being like, okay, we're not touching the website for now, but I can still plan ahead.

I can still like put all my ideas into our Notion like timeline right across the different variations. I can still be putting things like, oh, I want this, I want this, I want this. And then we just figure out when we do it, when's the right time to do it. Is that the right priority?

[00:44:28] Jonathan: Yeah, sounds like it's all about listening to customers so it's a core theme that I'm learning that's just general to marketing.

So cool, man. Well, we're nearing out of time. I do have just a few more questions for you. First one is, what's the biggest problem that you face today as a cohort-based course creator?

[00:44:49] Norman: I think it's scaling myself. So Steph and I have the unfair advantage of having many talents. That worked really well when we started. It is now killing us because we cannot stop doing all the things. And so the biggest challenge now is how do I outsource? How do I get support? Not just from an operational functional, let's hire someone to do this, but actually on the mental health, on the kind of like designing a good life and being a happy and fulfilled person.

Which allows me to do my work better. Those are under-explored areas for us. We have put work first over our own wellbeing. And then now we're finally flipping that order. And it's hard because we need to make harder decisions. Now we need to put things in the back burner. We have to be okay with incompleteness.

We have to be okay with delays, and that does not feel good for perfectionist like me and Steph, But biggest challenge and opportunity is to take our own wellbeing as seriously as the way we like take the landing page and copy and design and everything seriously.

[00:46:17] Jonathan: What are three resources that people can, continue their learning on how to write good landing page copy?

[00:46:25] Norman: Oh, so many things. I'd say the book, the thought leaders practice by Matt Church is really good at helping a person codify their knowledge in very concrete, discrete ways. Keystone Accelerator by Billy Broas. He was Tiago’s marketing coach. And so he does a cohort-based course on messaging and framing for courses.

And I'd say, Lawrence Yeo. He runs something called more to that and he has a class called thinking in stories. I think his class is the closest in terms of the ethos of how we share our messages into the world. So like thinking of stories, thinking of experiences, really like focusing in on your own brand.

And I'd say like a fourth bonus is like read Tiago Forte’s emails. They're just so good. I save all his emails. We have a running board of his emails analyzed and reverse engineered for our own purposes.

[00:47:34] Jonathan: Yeah, I read Tiago’s just very introductory email when I signed up to his list and it stood out right away. And finally, where can people will keep in touch with you?

[00:47:44] Norman: Yeah. I'm on Twitter. My handle is Norman_Tran. You can find us at And I'd say you can also find Stephanie on Instagram. So she's on Instagram, I'm on Twitter. Her handle is SincerelySteph and I believe we'll probably have show notes.

[00:48:10] Jonathan: Awesome. Yeah, we can certainly include that in the notes. Thank you Norman so much for, for doing this. I know I learned a lot.

[00:48:18] Norman: Thank you. I am happy to share all this stuff. I love nerding out about the stuff world-building copy. it's really the wild west, I think, where we're at right now. And so there's so much opportunity to make it fun and different for ourselves.

[00:48:40] Jonathan: Thanks for listening. If you'd like to listen to more episodes, hop aboard If you'd like to be my matey, I would love for you to message me on LinkedIn or Twitter. And remember, always captain your cohort, always be my matey, and never lick an iceberg while your ship is passing by.

How To Keep in Touch

Norman & Stephanie
Jonathan (host)
Resources Mentioned


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