October 2014 – Christopher John Payne

Archive Monthly Archives: October 2014

Case study: working with Simon Chaplin

Simon Chaplin & Chris Payne close up 200Simon Chaplin is a very successful accountant based in Peterborough who helps small business owners take their companies to the next level through his advanced mentoring group which meets for a full day every month except August.

I have helped him with a number of projects.

One time he asked me to rewrite the online sales letter for a one-day Bravest Business event.

I started by interviewing him over the phone to get his ‘rags to riches’ story. This took nearly an hour. I recorded the call and took plenty of notes and created a structure I was happy with, pulling out the most dramatic and interesting elements which I elicited by asking pertinent questions.

Simon and I working together in my home

Simon and I working together in my home

I asked him for a list of happy clients and rang 5 of them. I interviewed each for up to an hour, and again recorded the calls and took copious notes. It wasn’t easy getting the stories I wanted, but his clients were very patient with me.

I then put the sales letter together using a WordPress theme called OptimizePress which I really like using.

Here’s the headline. You can see that the pre-headline in blue tells the reader who is the target audience so he/she can say “This is about me!”. The headline clearly explains a dilemma the reader is likely facing – so busy that they feel chained to their desks – and teases that there are 7 steps to turning their business around. That’s intriguing! It also promises a guarantee: Simon is willing to put his money where his mouth is.

Chaplin image with border 1 640

After a brief “Hello” I ask two pertinent questions that the target audience is likely to reply ‘yes’ to. I tell them that they are not alone.

I chose a bright happy photo of Simon and added a friendly “This is me, Simon” as a caption: here is someone the reader can trust. I wrote about Simon’s initial cockiness…

Chaplin image with border 2 640

I add some drama…

Chaplin image with border 3 640

Notice below the way I write “88 hours.” and then repeat this for emphasis. I follow with a one-word paragraph and then a three-word paragraph to add further impact – and to break up the copy so it’s easy to read and digest…

Chaplin image with border 4 640

Here’s a little later in the copy where I talk about the complete transformation, and some simple statistics. I also added his firm’s very attractive logo and a caption with simple words which convey a message which will be attractive to the reader…

Chaplin image with border 5 640

Further into the letter I added in a number of testimonials with photos which I think make a big difference to prove that these words are from a real person that a reader can believe and even research online if they wish. I pulled out a dramatic headline. These three paragraphs are the core essence of the almost hour-long call I had with Julie…

Chaplin image with border 6 640


Mark LeeThe sales letter was a great success for Simon and helped him fill three one-day events. I went to one of them as I was interested to see Simon present. I sat down next to a really lovely guy called Mark Lee (pictured right) who turned out to be a consultant who works with accountants.

I asked him why he was attending. He replied, “One reason is that I wanted to come and find out who wrote the sales letter for this event because it’s excellent!” I told him that I had written the letter and his eyes nearly popped out of his head! We had a terrific conversation after that, and that eventually led to him coming in working with me. See here.

Business Bitesize: working with Paul Shrimpling

Paul ShrimplingPaul Shrimpling runs Remarkable Practice, a consulting business which helps accountants to become more successful at what they do.

Four years ago he set up a subscription newsletter service called What’s Possible In Your Business.

Accountants pay a monthly fee to licence a pre-written 4-page summary of a brilliant business book. Paul’s team adds the accountant’s logo, and prints copies which accountants can give out to their clients and prospects. Paul’s team will even handle the emailing of the newsletter to the accountant’s email list and later report on who has opened the email so the accountant can follow those people up with a phone call.

Remarkable Practice sells the licence on a territory basis, so only one accountant in a large town can send out the newsletter.

It’s a great idea but, over the next 3 years, What’s Possible made a loss or broke even.

This is what it looked like, with the issue on the left referring to the book Built To Sell by John Warrillow, and the issue on the right referring to the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath…

What's Possible In Your Business

Paul came to me to ask my advice. To cut a long story short, I said he needed to stop doing book summaries and focus instead on solving real problems that businesses experience on a day-to-day basis. I suggested a new name: Business Bites, and Paul refined this to Business Bitesize.

Together we wrote a long list of pressing problems that small businesses had, then ranked them in order of importance. Then we crafted a series of headlines which we believed would grab readers’ attention and compel them to read the entire issue. For example: “How to use the power of storytelling to increase sales revenue” and “Working hard? Feel like you’re getting nowhere? Here’s how to make the most of every day…”

I came up with a new graphical design with high quality strong, black images to feature on the cover. The ‘spot’ colour would match the main colour from each accountant’s logo.

I worked with my favourite designer, Wendy Barratt, to produce the final artwork.

It now looks like this…

BBS four different issues 640

Here’s how Paul and his team customise each issue for each accountant who has the licence. You can see that Andrew Price & Co’s issues (third from the right) use a blue which matches their logo, so the spot colour of the pull-out box on the front cover is a 15% tint of that blue…

Business Bitesize issues in a row 640

Here’s the sales pack I wrote and designed for Paul…

BBS sales letter montage

I’ll now show you some of the sheets in detail. Business Bitesize is a complex sale, so I wrote short punchy copy with arrows pointing to the customised elements that Paul’s team added to make each issue look like it was created by that firm of accountants. This sheet shows the issue Paul’s team created for a firm of accountants called Pentlands in Warwick…

BBS arrows pointing 640

Here’s the other side of that sheet, which shows the customised online library page so clients of each accountancy firm can download back issues, and more…

BBS online library 640

I also created this next sheet where I added a stapled slip to explain the personalisation with words attributed to Paul’s wife, Kate, who sells Business Bitesize on a day-to-day basis…

BBS in hand

Since working with me, Paul has quadrupled his number of subscribers, generating an additional £41,000 (US$63,000) a year of income, most of which is profit.

He believes he can generate a further £40,000 of new subscriptions by the end of his financial year.

Here is a photo of the two of us in my home on our most recent consulting day…

Chris Payne and Paul Shrimpling on a consulting day 640

And here is a photo of a beautiful card Paul sent me a few days after our day together…

Chris Payne with owl card from Paul Shrimpling cropped 640

It reads:

“To Chris, ‘My wise “old” owl’. Thank you for your guidance, passion and commitment to our cause… it’s truly fabulous having you on our side. Much love and respect, Paul & Kate”

I was very touched to read that message.

Paul recorded this video testimonial…


On the video Paul says the following:

“I have known Chris for a long time. If I’ve got a doubt or a question, he is the guy I turn to. If you are a business advisor or a consultant and you have a kernel of an idea, or you’ve been playing around with the idea for creating a product, you’d be a bit of a numpty not to go to Chris.”


It’s unlikely that you have a printed newsletter: you’re more likely to have a paid-for ebook or a set of audios/videos. But see what lessons you can glean from the work I did with Paul above.

For example, could you ‘polish’ up the presentation by using better graphics?

Could you contact buyers to get more testimonials, or more specific testimonials?

Whatever… see if you can come up with one action step you can implement as a result of reading this article.