Can You Be 2% Better?

The Success Margin

Thursday, August 11, 2005


Many business owners and executives
erroneously believe that to achieve huge success
it's the big stuff that makes the difference.

They think a great ad, a great product, a great
marketing plan will overcome everything and win
the day.

But while it's desirable to have these things
going for you, big long-term success is about
orchestrating all the small things to work
harmoniously together.

I have found the difference between great
success/wealth and poverty is extremely tiny.
Often being just 1% or 2% better is all the
difference you need.

Assuming you have a good product, reasonably
good copy and a decent offer, and are sending it
to an appropriate market, success (not the devil!)
is in the details.

These points must be considered:

1. Is the offer clear?

2. Is the guarantee powerful?

3. Does the copy answer every possible

4. Do you have at least 3 good headlines
to test?

5. Have you included a powerful P.S.?

6. Does the letter signature appear bold
and confident?

7. Have you dramatized every product benefit
while eliminating any unnecessary words?

8. Is every word of copy believable?

9. Have you proven all claims?

10. Have you treated the reader with dignity
and respect?

11. Instead of telling how great your company
or you are, have you talked about the reader and
his/her needs throughout the copy (that's the
only thing they want to know about)?

12. Do you include at least one, but preferably
three or more, free gifts in your offer that
are so appealing your prospect would want to
purchase them?

13. Have you included a powerful subject line
if e-mail, or teaser copy on the envelope?

14. Is the offer being made to the best
possible list of people?

The very best list is always either an opt-in
list or previous buyers of your product on
the Internet. Or people who have inquired of
you or bought your product offline.

If you can honestly answer these questions "yes"
(some of which may seem relatively
unimportant), you have a great chance of
succeeding with any offer you ever make.

** Success lessons from a great athlete **

I think we can all learn many things about success
in life or business from Lance Armstrong. I
consider him the world's best athlete. Not
only today, but in the history of sports.

Lance is an inspiration to people everywhere,
especially to cancer survivors. These include
myself and Bethany, my life's partner.

Imagine winning the most demanding and
grueling athletic event, the Tour de France,
7 straight times.

The Tour de France requires you to race on a
bicycle for 28 days and cover over 2,000 miles.
No other sport challenges you to this extent.
Additionally, much of the route is slippery and
dangerous and involves going up and down very
high mountains.

Most astonishing are the health challenges Lance
Armstrong has overcome. Prior to his first
victory in 1996 his doctors told him his
"incurable" testicular cancer had metastasized to
his brain and lungs. They gave him a 50%
chance of survival at best. Later they told him
they had even exaggerated his chances of
survival. He chose to be treated with a high-
risk form of chemotherapy. This treatment and
lots of prayers miraculously worked wonders for him.

I've read his excellent book, "It's Not About the
Bike." I highly recommend it.

What strikes me most about his amazing athletic
career is his overall approach to cycling. And
how everyone, especially entrepreneurs and
marketers, can learn from his example.

He has demonstrated what can happen to you once
you master the small details.

Contrary to what others think about his successes,
he attributes all of it not to any big thing. But
instead to his careful preparation and attention to
the small things.

Here are just a few major differences in training
between him and other participants in the Tour de

1. Food. He consumes a fresh, high-protein,
low-carbohydrate diet 12 months a year,
almost no exception.

2. Portions. He weighs every single thing he
eats and writes it down so he stays within
the calorie limits he has established.

3. Length of training. He starts his training
in November, particularly in mountain areas,
and practices every day without fail,
whether it's raining, snowing or sunny. And
in Europe it rains a lot.

4. He monitors his vital signs every day,
including his heart rate, which is 32 beats
per minute at rest.

5. Studies the course itself. He rides over
the entire Tour de France course. He
literally knows every inch, including
where it's most hazardous so he can pay more

Do you think other competitors do any of these

Absolutely not. Remember this truth.

Winners do what losers are unwilling to do.

Let me repeat that.


Here is what Lance Armstrong said recently
directed to Jim Ulrich, former winner of the
Tour de France and one of his nearest rivals
for the last several Tours.

"I truly believe Jim can win the Tour again, not
once, but several times. But he has to show up in
a little better shape.

"What you see at the end of the race is the guy
who can win. But what happens in the first half
of the event is where he loses it.

"It's a question of a kilo and a half, or 3 ½
pounds, at the start. A little better condition, a
little better preparation. Just 2% better is all he
needs. And I think he wins.

"It's just the first 10 days. If you change that,
he wins."

What about other sports? Tennis and swimming
happen to be my sports passions. I play tennis
almost daily and compete in veterans tournaments.

Contrary to popular belief, to win 6-0, 6-0 against
another experienced opponent, the experts say
you don't have to be twice as good or even
10% to 20% better. A small margin is the only
edge you need.

And in swimming competition, often the winning
margin is less than 6 inches.

Apparently the 2% rule applies to tennis and
swimming, and I suspect to most other sports as well.

Lance Armstrong's whole approach to cycling
reminds me of the quality necessary to become
a successful marketer.

To be a better marketer, you must master those
important details. Be just 2% better. This slight
difference is what makes Lance Armstrong a
champion. And it will make you a winner, too.

And remember. As always, success is in the

Your correspondent,

Ted Nicholas

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© Copyright 2005 Ted Nicholas