Meditations of an Email Zen Master

I’ve been spending some time today studying the emails of martial artist Matt Furey.

If you don’t know Matt, he’s been called “undisputed master of short-form email copywriting.”

Besides that, Ben Settle, one of my fav email copywriters, counts Matt as a major influence.

So I signed up for Matt’s email’s…and found this in my in-box a few seconds later:

SUBJECT: One Workout That Changed My Life Forever

Hi Ryan,

Five years ago I knocked on the door of a 76-year old ‘Zen Master.’

His name was Karl Gotch, and all throughout Japan, he was revered
as ‘The god of pro wrestling’ – not only for his knowledge of legitimate
REAL pro wrestling – but because he was a  fitness legend as well.

Despite the fact that he only weighed 250 pounds, he was the first
and only person to hoist the humongous Andre the Giant – who weighed
well over 450 pounds, and toss him through the air like a kitten.

Although Karl didn’t lift weights he was strong as a bear – and unlike
most ‘strongmen’ – he had no shortage of fuel in his tank. The guy’s
strength just would not quit.

For many years I wanted to meet Karl … and when I finally got my
chance I truly had no idea how much my life was about to change.

Notice how the first several paragraphs start-out with a rip-roaring story, as good as something you’d read in a good beach novel.

Following the classic dramatic structure of storytelling, Matt takes us from knocking on a door to having his life “about to change.”

How could you NOT keep reading with this kind of promise?

The email continues…

Prior to our meeting I was a national collegiate wrestling champion

and a world kung fu champion. So I THOUGHT I knew a ‘little something’
about exercise.

In fact, I thought I knew A LOT about exercise. Afterall, I worked as
a personal trainer in California for 13 years, where I owned my own
gym … and I had written numerous articles on the subject of weight

But Karl just laughed at everything I thought I already knew.

At this point, you’ve hit the part known as rising action.

Note that Matt hasn’t yet even tried to sell you anything yet! He just keeps on unfolding the drama: Karl, the antagonist, is laughing at Matt. You know Matt is about to be inducted into a school of pain.

How do you know this already? It’s because you’ve already seen this movie:  “Martial arts teacher teaches the arrogant student a lesson in humility.” Yet, you’ll keep reading anyway. Why? Because the best stories don’t teach people anything new.

Can you smell the drama building? Can you feel the story pulling you forward, driven by your own curiosity?

‘Let me see you do a set of Hindu squats. I’ll count for you,’ he said.

I got started doing them and was quickly aware that these squats, although
appearing simple, were quite profound in how they trained the body.

‘Let’s see how many you can do,’ said Karl. ‘I used to do 2000
of them in a row in 56 minutes. Used to set an alarm to make
sure I finished in time.’

Two THOUSAND. I thought, as my thighs began to ache around
the fortieth rep.

‘Once you can do 500 of these in a row, you’re on to something,’
Karl chimed.

Despite having powerful legs that allowed me to easily squat well
over 500 pounds, the Hindu squats Karl taught me knocked me on
my can in about a minute.

‘What’s a matter, college boy’ said Karl with a sarcastic grin. ‘I
thought you were strong. This can’t be hard. All you’re using
is your own bodyweight.’

‘These are unreal,’ I said. ‘Never thought anything could hurt
so good.’

‘Now let’s see how many Hindu pushups you can do,’ said Karl.

After being instructed on how to do them, I got into position and
started cranking them out. The first 10 were fairly easy. Then
around number 18 my arms, shoulders, chest and legs started
to cramp. This was strange because I could easily do 100 regular
pushups, practically in my sleep … and could clean a full keg of
beer to my chest and press it overhead.

At rep number 21 I was shaking like a Maple leaf on a tree in

And the drama continues to build.  You’re about to get even more rising action…

‘What’s a matter college boy.’ said Karl again. ‘You mean to
tell me that all that education you have on fitness and you can’t
even do 50 of these exercises that they’ve been doing in India
for thousands of years.’

Before I could comment Karl had me doing a bridge … something I
figured as no big deal being I wrestled since I was 8 years old and
had the best coaches in the world, including Olympic gold medalists
Dan Gable and Bruce Baumgartner.

But the bridge Karl asked me to do was not the same as the one I’d
been doing for years. I literally felt every muscle in my body working
like never before.

‘What do you think of that.’ said Karl. ‘Now you know why I say you
can get super strong using nothing but your own bodyweight. What
you’re going for is not just strength, but strength-endurance.’

At this point, Matt’s story moves to the climax stage

From that day in April of 1999, I have practiced the bodyweight
exercises Karl taught me, as well as many others that I learned
throughout my athletic and martial arts career – and I have never
looked back.

OK.  You’ve hit the climax. Matt’s learned his lessons well. The story concludes with a happy ending. Right out of the Rocky movies, or The Karate Kid.

But wait…there’s more. Watch as Matt transitions right into his sales pitch…

As of today, I have passed my knowledge of these exercises onto
‘students’ in more than 100 countries. Many people started out only
being able to do a few pushups and squats … and a half-baked bridge.
But in each case, no matter how little the person could do in the beginning,
if he or she sticks with the program – results come, and quickly, too.

Did you see his Big Promise in this paragraph? He’s got a program to teach potential students (you) these fitness secrets.

In short order, Combat Conditioning beats the crap out of other
programs, and does so six ways from Sunday.

Whoa! Did you catch that amigo?

He didn’t diddle-daddle with a long-winded story about the origin of the product. I would have expected some sort of transition like this, “My meeting with Karl inspired me to create a product to pass along his secrets, so I wrote a book I call Combat Conditioning, BLAH BLAH BLAH.”

No way. Instead, he just names the product  (Combat Conditioning), and then instantly stacks on another Big Promise to the reader (beating the crap out of other programs).

Now you’ve got to keep reading to find about this “Combat Conditioning thing.”  What is it? How does it work? How much would it cost?

Today, Combat Conditioning is a program followed by men and women
of all ages and professions. It is used by the U.S. military, it is used by
many in law enforcement, by men and women in almost all sports as well
as the martial arts and combat sports fanatics.

Combat Conditioning works for weight loss and for increased stength,
endurance, flexibility and muscle. It is used to help eliminate back pain,
shoulder pain and knee pain … as well as an assortment of aches and
pains all over the body. Plain and simple, the program works.

OK,  now he’s give us some proof to back up his promises. If it’s good enough for the U.S. Military, isn’t it good enough for you?

Plus he’s also listed some of the benefits, including a few unexpected ones. Eliminate knee pain from teachings originally gleaned from a professional wrestler? Interesting. I’m intrigued.  And the curiosity continues to build…

But don’t just take my word for it. Get the program and use it. It WILL
change your life for the better.

Go to and order now.

Kick ass – take names,

Matt Furey

And he’s hit the all-important call to action. Click the link, order the product. Very important to include if you want actual sales!

Finally, he concludes with a PS with some additional social proof…

P.S.: Here’s what an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps has to say about
Combat Conditioning: ‘Matt, I am a US Marine stationed overseas. I
am also a wrestler/judoka and the Marine who developed the Marine
Corps Martial Arts Program. I use your courses regularly. I like your
no-nonsense approach. Particularly as I get older, bodyweight exercises
are quick, flexible, all-encompassing and convenient. Keep up the good

Lt Colonel George Bristol

You can read Matt’s complete email — minus my DVD commentary track — right here.

So tell me…How often do you use stories in your email marketing?

Are there any times you wouldn’t you use a story to convey a sales message?

Tell me below in the comments.

One Comments

  1. Yet another the power of storytelling.

    These guys might be on to something, Ryan….

    Thanks for sharing this outstanding example of salesmanship.