What is it about an expert that makes them so successful, while an amateur who copies them as faithfully as they can gets no results at all?

I read a comic the other day that got me thinking about that. So today, let's try a Riff on a comic strip. First, to quote an excerpt:

The answer to my original question is in the comic (click here for the rest): by the end of a year in a box, the two are picking out the significant little details that distinguish the pictures from each other.

It's the little details that are the difference between an NBA star's shots going in and an amateur's shots rimming out. Anybody can get the ball in the neighborhood of the rim. And anybody can get nothing but net. It's the fine tuning that enables the stars to hit nothing but the inside of the net.

You might think there's a difference between a slightly-imperfect basketball shot and a slightly-imperfect headline or sales letter. If, as with the photos of Joe Biden eating sandwiches, the general public can't spot the differences, then what difference do they make?

The answer is that the general public may not be able to spot the differences consciously, but they're still affected by them subconsciously. All other things being equal, everybody enjoys a great painting or a great musical performance better than a good one, even if they don't know why.

Likewise, great sales copy influences us emotionally in subtle ways. And as you've probably heard a million times, people make buying decisions emotionally, and then justify their decisions with logic. An amateur marketer may be able to copy the structure and logic of the expert's sales letters, but it's the subtle details -- which vary from product to product and market to market -- that make the expert's copy touch the reader down deep. Even if nobody else recognizes why.

The Practical Upshot

You might think that the point of this post is to explain why you're not getting the same results as the experts (and why you can't expect to). But it's the opposite. The point is that, as in the comic, you just need to "climb in the box for a year". In other words, immerse yourself in marketing, gain some experience, and get a feel for the subtleties.

And have some patience with yourself. You can't expect to become an expert in one day, or one reading of a "how to market" eBook.

If you put some effort into improving your marketing skills, next year's you will be amazed at the little details that this year's you was completely oblivious to. And those details will make all the difference.