Currently, I have a copywriting project on autism. I needed to see what the top FaceBook fan pages were for autism.

With this particular research, I use Google. But not the standard Google. Google calls it Advanced Search, I call it “Google accelerated.”

Here’s how it works:

1. The first thing I do is go over to the Google Settings page and I click OFF instant search. Using instant search, in this case, will actually slow the research process down we’re doing.

2. Next thing I do in Settings is set the number of entries to 100. This allows me to view 100 websites in Google at one time, instead of 10. (It’s the equivalent of seeing the first 10 pages of Google SERPs.)

3. Then I check the “Open each selected result in a new browser window” box. Because I don’t want to replace my search results with a new page I click on every time.

4. Now I head over to the search box and I enter:

site:facebook.com “autism” “1000..10000 People Like This”

Then I hit search.

What does this search string do for me?

In this case, I’m searching FaceBook specifically for all fan pages on autism where between 1000 and 10,000 people have liked the page.

Pretty cool, uh? Try it for yourself.

This allows me to put my finger on the pulse of what’s happening right now with autism inside FaceBook. I’m getting the raw data. I want to see what people are saying, along with the words and phrases they use to describe their situation. I’m also seeing how their page is structured.

This method gives me FAR MORE accurate information than just using standard Google. Because as we all know Google SERPS can be manipulated.

This kind of research can be done with also sorts of social media websites too, once you understand the URL footprint of the site you want to research.

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For instance, you can go to YouTube and do the same thing, but in a different way. This next search will get us all of the top autism channels on YouTube, 100 at a crack.

site:youtube.com/user “autism”

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5. Lastly, I’m going to give you one more tip as it relates to these searches.

To do this next trick, go ahead and download SEOQuake at seoquake.com (It’s free, but they should really charge for it.)

This nifty little tool modifies Google’s search pages on-the-fly, showing us all sorts of SEO attributes of the page.

The one attribute that’s personally interesting related to research is the PageRank. This tool not only shows you the PageRank, but you can also SORT the SERPS by it.

That means I can see how relevant Google thinks the page is. The higher the PageRank, the more relevant Google thinks the page is.

This research combined is quite valuable. Because while it’s a dream to be able to click on all 100 pages, the reality is you’re looking for what other people think is most relevant and PageRank tells you this.

You can do this type of research on any website. As long as you know the footprint/format of the URL.

Once you use Google’s advanced search function on your copywriting project, you’ll have a far keener insight into your competition.

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One of the most important, yet elusive skills in copywriting is mastering the art of storytelling.

CBS’s drama The Unit, about the lives of the highly trained members of a top-secret military division, was canceled, but a fascinating and insightful memo to its writing staff from its executive producer David Mamet makes for great instruction–applicable to copywriters everywhere and every medium.

“TO THE WRITERS OF THE UNIT

GREETINGS.

AS WE LEARN HOW TO WRITE THIS SHOW, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.

THE PROBLEM IS THIS: TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN DRAMA AND NON-DRAMA. LET ME BREAK-IT-DOWN-NOW.

EVERYONE IN CREATION IS SCREAMING AT US TO MAKE THE SHOW CLEAR. WE ARE TASKED WITH, IT SEEMS, CRAMMING A SHITLOAD OF INFORMATION INTO A LITTLE BIT OF TIME.

OUR FRIENDS. THE PENGUINS, THINK THAT WE, THEREFORE, ARE EMPLOYED TO COMMUNICATE INFORMATION — AND, SO, AT TIMES, IT SEEMS TO US.

BUT NOTE:THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNE IN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA.

QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA? DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, ACUTE GOAL.

SO: WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES OF EVERY SCENE THESE THREE QUESTIONS.

1) WHO WANTS WHAT?

2) WHAT HAPPENS IF HER DON’T GET IT?

3) WHY NOW?

THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU IF THE SCENE IS DRAMATIC OR NOT.

IF THE SCENE IS NOT DRAMATICALLY WRITTEN, IT WILL NOT BE DRAMATICALLY ACTED.

THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE A BORING, USELESS, REDUNDANT, OR MERELY INFORMATIVE SCENE AFTER IT LEAVES YOUR TYPEWRITER. YOU THE WRITERS, ARE IN CHARGE OF MAKING SURE EVERY SCENE IS DRAMATIC.

THIS MEANS ALL THE “LITTLE” EXPOSITIONAL SCENES OF TWO PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD. THIS BUSHWAH (AND WE ALL TEND TO WRITE IT ON THE FIRST DRAFT) IS LESS THAN USELESS, SHOULD IT FINALLY, GOD FORBID, GET FILMED.

IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT WILL BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE.

SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE SCENE DRAMATIC. IT IS NOT THE ACTORS JOB (THE ACTORS JOB IS TO BE TRUTHFUL). IT IS NOT THE DIRECTORS JOB. HIS OR HER JOB IS TO FILM IT STRAIGHTFORWARDLY AND REMIND THE ACTORS TO TALK FAST. IT IS YOUR JOB.

EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.

THIS NEED IS WHY THEY CAME. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TO GET THIS NEED MET WILL LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE,TO FAILURE – THIS IS HOW THE SCENE IS OVER. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE NEXT SCENE.

ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE PLOT.

ANY SCENE, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT BOTH ADVANCE THE PLOT, AND STANDALONE (THAT IS, DRAMATICALLY, BY ITSELF, ON ITS OWN MERITS) IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY WRITTEN.

YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF WRITING IN ALL THAT “INFORMATION?”

AND I RESPOND “FIGURE IT OUT” ANY DICKHEAD WITH A BLUESUIT CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “MAKE IT CLEARER”, AND “I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIM”.

WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS BLUESUITED PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE OR SHE WILL BE OUT OF A JOB.

THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. NOT TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

ANY DICKHEAD, AS ABOVE, CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”

WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID TO REALIZE THAT THE AUDIENCE NEEDS THIS INFORMATION TO UNDERSTAND THE NEXT SCENE, BUT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WRITE THE SCENE BEFORE US SUCH THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

YES BUT, YES BUT YES BUT YOU REITERATE.

AND I RESPOND FIGURE IT OUT.

HOW DOES ONE STRIKE THE BALANCE BETWEEN WITHHOLDING AND VOUCHSAFING INFORMATION? THAT IS THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE DRAMATIST. AND THE ABILITY TO DO THAT IS WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE LESSER SPECIES IN THEIR BLUE SUITS.

FIGURE IT OUT.

START, EVERY TIME, WITH THIS INVIOLABLE RULE: THE SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. it must start because the hero HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.

LOOK AT YOUR LOG LINES. ANY LOGLINE READING “BOB AND SUE DISCUSS…” IS NOT DESCRIBING A DRAMATIC SCENE.

PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR OUTLINES ARE, GENERALLY, SPECTACULAR. THE DRAMA FLOWS OUT BETWEEN THE OUTLINE AND THE FIRST DRAFT.

THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, YOU ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.

HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.

ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.

DO NOT WRITE A CROCK OF SHIT. WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR AND HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.

REMEMBER YOU ARE WRITING FOR A VISUAL MEDIUM. MOST TELEVISION WRITING, OURS INCLUDED, SOUNDS LIKE RADIO. THE CAMERA CAN DO THE EXPLAINING FOR YOU. LET IT. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERS DOING -*LITERALLY*. WHAT ARE THEY HANDLING, WHAT ARE THEY READING. WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING ON TELEVISION, WHAT ARE THEY SEEING.

IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA.

IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF NARRATION, EXPOSITION,INDEED, OF SPEECH. YOU WILL BE FORGED TO WORK IN A NEW MEDIUM – TELLING THE STORY IN PICTURES (ALSO KNOWN AS SCREENWRITING)

THIS IS A NEW SKILL. NO ONE DOES IT NATURALLY. YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELVES TO DO IT, BUT YOU NEED TO START.

I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE SCENE AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT ESSENTIAL? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY.

IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME UP.

LOVE, DAVE MAMET

SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05

(IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE ANSWERS, BUT IT IS YOUR, AND MY, RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW AND TO ASK THE RIGHT Questions OVER AND OVER. UNTIL IT BECOMES SECOND NATURE. I BELIEVE THEY ARE LISTED ABOVE.)”

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Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of South Park, offer their strategy for telling stories:

You may think this strategy over-simplistic, and weak. But it’s carried the day for Matt and Trey and South Park for almost 20 years.

The question is this: How can you apply it to copywriting and Internet Marketing?

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Jump on this now! Twitter self-service advertisements for small business owners…

February 23, 2012

Jump on this now! Twitter self-service advertisements for small business owners… Now’s your chance to offer small business owners something new and be ONE OF THE FIRST 10,000 allowed in. Talk about exclusivity! That’s right, Twitter is releasing of self-service advertisements for small business owners! These ads will allow business owners of all sizes to [...]

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“Do you have samples?” Rick Duris replies…

February 20, 2012

Recently, someone was struggling on one of the Internet marketing forums coming up with copy for his video production company. He’d made several attempts but everything he did was falling flat. I spent a few minutes and came up with this.  It’s based upon the rather famous Wall Street Journal direct mail promotion: Short Video [...]

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David Ogilvy, Lousy? You Decide

January 29, 2012

During his time, David Ogilvy was one of the greatest “ad men.” Many of the household brands you see today were conceptualized by him. Yet, he thought himself to be a lousy copywriter.  Check it out: http://www.lettersofnote.com/2012/01/i-am-lousy-copywriter.html I only have one question:  If he considered himself lousy, what does that make me? Answer:  Makes me [...]

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Rick Duris’ Copywriting Research Method Using Google Advanced Search

January 28, 2012

Several copywriters cornered me recently on how I do copywriting research. What I’m about to share is a really good research strategy. Currently, I am doing some conversion optimization. Autism is the subject matter. People tell me I’m a master at using Google. But not the “standard Google.” I like Google’s Advanced Search better.  More [...]

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Rick Duris: “Think Different”–the real story.

January 13, 2012

I found this fascinating: http://www.forbes.com/sites/onmarketing/2011/12/14/the-real-story-behind-apples-think-different-campaign/ It’s a bit of a long read, but it’s worthwhile.  You’ll be inspired the role copywriting played in the final outcome.

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Rick Duris: How a One-word Change, Typos and Bad Grammar Can Double Conversions

January 12, 2012

What I’m about the share with you will make intuitive sense the minute I say it. With it, I have seen firsthand conversions as high as 250%. You’ll understand why in a moment. Implementation is key. But for now, an immediate boost in your conversions is what I would expect depending upon your implementation. —- [...]

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Rick Duris and the Art of Idea Generation

April 18, 2011

If you like new ideas and inventions, tripped over a cool website the other day: http://www.ahhha.com Basically, it’s a social media site dedicated to new ideas and getting people to comment on them. Some are duds and DOA. But some are definitely intriguing.  Like an alerting system for “toe walk detection.”  Seems people with Cerebral [...]

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