"Billy, this is one of the most important lessons you'll learn from me during your year-long mentorship. So pay close attention."
I had just hired my copywriting coach, David Garfinkel, and couldn't be more excited. When I researched him, I saw he was widely regarded as the best copywriting coach in the world.
The testimonials on his website were all names I knew and respected. They're legends in the world of direct-response marketing.
People like John Carlton, Ray Edwards, and Doberman Dan.
Everyone I read and spoke with said the same thing: When it comes to teaching the craft of copywriting, there is no one better than Garf.
Which is why I sat on the edge of my seat when Garf told me he was about to teach me one of his most important lessons. When Yoda speaks, you listen.
"I call it Garfinkel's Law of Work," he said. "The law goes like this.
"He who does the work gets paid."
"Huh?" I thought to myself. "What the heck does that mean?"
He went on...
"If you, as the copywriter, do the work for the reader..... meaning, if you do the work explaining what you have to offer, what it can do for the reader, and why they should choose you over a competitor... then you get paid. You get paid in the form of the reader taking out their credit card and paying you for your product.
But, if they have to do the work...
If the reader has to do the work of figuring out what you're offering, what it can do for them, and why they should choose you over a competitor.... they get paid. They get paid in the form of them keeping the money they were about to pay you for your product."
"Make sense?" Garf asked.
"Yep, makes total sense," I responded.
It did make sense — on the surface. But looking back on it, the full power of Garf's Law of Work had barely sunk in. It's been years since he taught me that lesson, and I'm still peeling back new layers.
You're probably in the same position right now. You get it, but you don't really get it. And that's okay.
I'm going to try and explain it to you in the rest of this article. But even then, it won't fully sink in. You've got to get your reps in. You've got to put marketing material out there, following Garf's Law, and see — no, feel — it working.
When you do, you'll never look at marketing the same.
Garfinkel's Law of Work is a true game changer.
Now, let me give you some more guidance on how to incorporate Gaf's Law.
Oh! The places you'll go!
You'll be on your way up! You'll be seeing great sights! You'll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Ahhh, you've got to love the immortal Dr. Seuss.
The passage above is from Oh, the Places You'll Go.
Why do I bring up this Dr. Seuss book? It's because when I think of Garf's Law of Work, the title of this book rings through my mind.
"Oh, the places you'll go."
You see, one of the giant mistakes I see marketers make is not thoroughly explaining what's possible when someone uses their product.
In other words, the product creator doesn't do the work, thus violating Garf's Law. A big no no.
The product owner assumes the potential customer will do the work. The marketer says to themselves, "Oh, they'll get it. They'll understand how this product can help them."
The problem is the marketer is making the prospect do the work.
And you know the law: "He who does the work gets paid."
In this example, the potential customer will get paid. They'll get paid in the form of them keeping their credit card secured fastened firmly inside their wallet.
If you have a good product, and I'm assuming you do, that's unfortunate — for both parties.
You see, explaining the benefits of what you offer is just one step, but one critical one when it comes doing the work.
Most entrepreneurs I've worked with are so close to their product, they just assume everyone understands the value of what they're offering. Which is far from the case, based on the marketing campaigns I've overhauled to include this vital component.
As entrepreneurs, we suffer a concept Chip & Dan Heath popularized, known as The Curse of Knowledge.
At the Heath brother say, "The problem is that once we know something—we find it hard to imagine not knowing it... Leaders can thwart the curse of knowledge by “translating” their strategies into concrete language."
This "translation" the Heath brothers speak of is Garf's Law of Work. You, as the leader or marketer of your organization, must "translate" what you already know into concrete language. Language which clearly and compellingly explains to your prospects why they should buy.
In other words, you must articulate the places they'll go.
Ask yourself, "Have I thoroughly, clearly, and vividly explained via my copywriting the places my prospects will go? Have I done the work? Or have been putting the onus on them?
If you've been putting the onus on them, you might as well send the link to your competitors website. Which I'm sure is not a place you want them to go.
Okay, by now you understand you must do the work of explaining, concretely, what someone can achieve with your product. But there's more to it than that.
Remember, it's competitive out there. You've got other companies looking to steal your lunch.
So yes, you must explain to your prospects the places they'll go. You can't skip that part. Garf's Law and all.
But your competitors (not most, but some) are doing the same. You're all making similar promises.
How do you use Garf's Law to stand out from the pack?
I was sprawled out on my back the floor, drenched in sweat, wondering if I'd ever walk again.
Only my lips could move: "Damn you, Tony Horton. Damn you."
The P90X workout program was no joke. I bought the DVDs in an effort to fight back against the beer belly I witnessed steadily growing each morning when I looked in the mirror.
An unfortunate side-effect of my new found love of home beer brewing.
I wasn't about to cut back on the brewing (and "sampling"), but I had to balance things out.
Enter Tony Horton and P90X.
Aside from whipping me into shape, the P90X workout program is one of my favorite marketing case studies. There many reasons, but the main one is their masterful execution of Garfinkel's Law of Work.
In the previous section of this article, I used the fun example of Dr. Seuss's book, "Oh The Places You'll Go," to explain a portion of Garf's Law. The portion where you outline the benefits of your product.
Except your work isn't finished.
You see, it's critical to not just tell your prospect where you'll take them, but how you'll take them there.
After all, do you think you're the only company to promise them all these amazing places they can go?
They hear similar promises all the time.
Your next mission, if you choose to accept it, is to now do the work of explaining to them your unique method for getting them to that destination you promised.
The how in what you offer matters. It matters big time.
And if you're in a competitive market, with loads of other companies making similar promises, then you can't afford to ignore this part. It's literally make or break.
It's THE thing that will make your potential customers choose you over every other option their considering. Your ears should be happy right now. This is good news. When you add this component, it will instantly translate into more sales for you. I've witnessed it firsthand.
Want more good news? Most companies don't know what I'm about to tell you. I only learned it because I performed this deep dive into the world of direct-response copywriting and discovered this pearl of wisdom.
Finally, if you do even a halfway decent job of using it, not even a stellar job, I'm talking a grade of C+ not an A+, you'll still see huge gains.
Let's go back to P90X and me laying sprawled out on the floor to see an example of this technique in action.
P90X has sold half a billion dollars worth of product, so don't leave this article now.
I'm about to give you a piece of copy and I highly recommend you clip it to a folder or save it to your Second Brain.
This is from a P90X commercial:
"Results from traditional workout programs diminish over time, because the more the body adapts to a routine, the less effective it becomes, a phenomena called The Plateau Effect.
The P90X home fitness system uses the training science of muscle confusion. Over the course of 90 days, as your body change, so do the workouts. By constantly introducing new moves and routines, every stage of P90X becomes as effective as the first. That's how you achieve results like this in only 90 days."
I rarely see so much copywriting brilliance packed into so few words. We could spend a week examining every word & phrase of this passage, and maybe we will at some point.
But for now, I want you to look at it through the lens of Garfinkel's Law of Work, which we've been studying in this article.
If you remember, I told you how it's critical to not just explain (i.e. do the work) to your potential customers where you'll take them, but how you'll take them there.
This is your killer ingredient, or method, or steps, or formula, blueprint, system, etc.
In coaching clients, I usually refer to it as "your signature system."
We'll do a deeper dive into signature systems elsewhere, but for now I want to give you a brief overview.
When you start talking about your signature system, you start pulling customers away from your competitors website and towards yours.
If you're in a crowded market (and who isn't these days?), this could be the key the thing that springboards you to the next level. This works in any industry, too. Whether you're selling training programs, energy bars, or wrist watches.
Let's look at the brilliant P90X copy..
Did you spot the key phrase? Do you spot their signature system? It's the term muscle confusion.
Muscle confusion is the "how" which leads the customers to the "where." It's the method of achieving the 6-pack abs, the ripped biceps, and the toned tush (can't say I achieved that one).
Adding this type of copy will drastically increase your sales.
Also, do you notice how P90X follows Garfinkel's Law of Work with this piece of copy?
The P90X copywriters didn't get lazy. They didn't say to themselves, "Eh, they'll figure it out." Not a chance. They did the work. They went deep into the "how." Deep into explaining the science of muscle confusion. In the full length videos, they spend a full 30 minutes explaining muscle confusion. Talk about doing the work.
This copywriting technique is one of the reasons they were able to generate $500M in sales.
I hope you now have a clearer understanding of Garf's Law of Work. If you're not seeing the sales you expected in your business, and you're missing this piece, at least now you have a (possible) answer. There is more to selling, of course. But this is a biggie. And I've seen many businesses transform after implementing Garf's Law.
I'm extremely grateful for him to teaching it to me. And it's an honor to pass it on to you.
May you use it for great things.