Interview with “Street Smart” Email Marketer Ben Settle

Last week I mentioned to you how I’m really focused on learning how to use email for effective marketing.

After spinning my wheels trying to “reverse-engineer” emails from Ben Settle, I decided to simply buy Ben’s new course on email copywriting, The Street Smart Email System.

My quick verdict on the course: WOW!  Yeah, it’s good. I fact, if you’re into direct response and want to leverage email in your marketing mix, the course is a “must-have.”

By the way, if you don’t know Ben, you need to check out his website and get on his email list. If you are even a tiny bit interested in marketing, his daily emails will become one of the highlights in your inbox.

Anyway, this course is unique in several other ways too, besides having awesome content. So I arranged a quick interview with Ben to ask him a few questions about his new course.

Here it is…

RYAN: What’s the origin story for the Street Smart Email System?

BEN: About two years ago I started doing an intense study on email marketing.  I was studying the great Matt Furey’s emails and his teachings on the subject, as well as a half dozen other people whose  emails I liked reading (and buying from), and got real inspired to start doing more email promoting.

So I borrowed from one expert, then another, and another… combining  things they taught, taking some parts out, adding other stuff in… basically like a scientist mixing and matching different potions.

The result? My sales started going up fast!

It was just incredible how big the difference was in sales. But as good as all these teachers are, I found myself constantly tweaking things and testing things which led to new discoveries and ideas none of them were teaching.  Ideas that made my sales go up even more and with less effort.

And so, over the course of several months of writing literally hundreds of emails and developing my own unique “system”, I started  noticing sales going up even more (and I have a small list).I also noticed my clients’ sales going up, too, during this time when writing their emails.

Anyway, long story short…People on my list started asking me to do a course on the subject.  I guess they liked what they were seeing (I mean, it was selling them on my products) and wanted to know how they could do the same.

I resisted at first. I don’t know why… but I had this gut feeling like I should at least entertain the idea.  So I started writing notes down of what I was doing, just in case I ever decided to take the leap and do a course.

Well, as you know, I made the leap and all those notes, ideas and discoveries are now what I call “Street Smart Email” — because a lot of it is really not what you will learn in other books and courses.

Instead, it’s information you usually only learn on the “street” so to speak — writing emails day in and day out (I write a daily email during the week) by continuously honing your craft and getting better.

RYAN: This product is mostly audio… Why did you decide to use audio recordings vs. a traditional written book/binder format?

BEN: What I did was make an outline of everything I wanted to teach (in bullet point format) and started just… going through it point-by- point.  The result was about 5 hours of content.

I then had all the audio transcribed for people who like to read. Personally, I’m a reader and prefer information in text.

But most people are not that way.

Most people tend to like audio and video. Now, I’m not much of a video guy so I didn’t even go there.  But I’m very comfortable with audio.  Plus, I think it’s extremely powerful to both listen to information and read it to absorb it better. So this way, customers get the best of both worlds.

RYAN: Did you record and produce the audios yourself, or did you hire someone to help? If you did it yourself, was it a difficult process?

BEN: Yeah, I did it completely by myself (although I outsourced the transcription).

At first, I was going to have it all dolled-up with bumper music and really professional sound quality. But then I realized two things that changed my mind.

The first was, I wanted it to have a sort of “street smart” feel to it I didn’t want it too jazzed up afterall. Maybe a little crackling in the audio every now and then (I recorded it on a simple digital voice recorder hooked up to my telephone) wasn’t so bad.  How can something be called “Street Smart” if it’s built like it’s an academic type product?

But besides that, people are conditioned to value things that are low production value.

Don’t ask me why this is, as I have no idea.

There are exceptions to this, of course, but there’s a reason why you can only get $15 for a book in the book store when that same information can be packaged in a plain binder with photo-copied pages and sell for 10 times as much.  Or in an eBook for about twice the price (even though it’s “air”).

They proved this years ago. I heard Dan Kennedy tell the story of Jeff Paul’s “make money in your underwear” product.  I may not get this exactly right, but from what I understand, they tested it out as a beautifully packaged product with all the bells and whistles and sales were low and refunds were high.

Again, people just aren’t conditioned to pay a lot for stuff that looks like it could sell in the book store or in a Nightingale Conant catalog. So they toned everything down. Photo-copied pages.  Ugly design.  Bare bones production.

The result? Sales went up and refunds went down!

Crazy, isn’t it?

RYAN: What are some of the advantages of using audio vs. written text for a course?

BEN: Audio is very portable.  You can load it onto your iPod or MP3 player.

It’s also very easy for most people to absorb.

Again, reading is hard for most people. I love reading, personally (I love audio too, though). But the reality is: It’s neurologically hard for most people to read.  It’s not that they are dumb; it’s just not easy on the brain for most people.

So when you’re dealing with a lot of material, it helps to have it in audio and/or video as well as text.

It’s also easy to create. You can do it in one sitting when you get comfortable with talking into a recorder.  Then you can have it transcribed, smooth it out a bit, and you have a book written in a fraction of the time it would take to start writing it out page by page.

In fact, even if you are not going to use the audio, it’s still a great way to “write” a book. Just talk out your content and have it transcribed.

RYAN: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in your email marketing course, but doesn’t yet have a product of their own to market?

BEN: One of the things I teach in Street Smart Email is to start mailing your list every day, right now.

Don’t worry how big your list is, either.  Just start sending them a daily tip or idea. I am not talking about sending them blatant sales pitches (you can do that at times, but there’s a fine line in how you do it), but just something interesting, fun and useful.

For one thing, this gets them used to hearing from you.

And for another, it positions you as a leader in your market.

People naturally gravitate towards (and buy from) leaders in their market.  So positioning yourself as such now can give you a HUGE advantage when you do have a product.  Especially since many people will see you as a market leader if they hear from you more often than your competition if you do it right.

So I would say start sending emails now. Don’t put it off, and frankly, the feedback from your list may even tell you what to put in your product which will make it easier to sell.

RYAN: Where should people go to learn more about the Street Smart Email Course?

BEN: They can learn more about Street-Smart Email at:

RYAN: Thanks Ben. And again, I suggest everyone gets on Ben’s daily email list to start getting his marketing tips every day.

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