ON EMAIL, COPYWRITING + ANTI-BRO MARKETING WITH TARZAN KAY
Can you write copy that leads to major sales without using fear and manipulation tactics?
For Tarzan Kay, the answer is a resounding YES. The copywriter-turned-business owner believes high-integrity marketing that’s anti-FOMO, anti-bro, and anti-racist will become the new status quo for online business—and if her company is any indication, things are on the right track.
This week, Phoebe sits down with the launch whiz and copy queen to talk all things email marketing, copywriting, and ethical launches. Tune in as Tarzan shares her biggest lessons to date from running a successful company (including how psychedelics have served her business) and calls on us all to interrogate our own levels of engagement with “bro marketing”—aspiration marketing that uses short-sighted and self-serving tactics to compel consumer behavior.
For most people, what will make the biggest difference in their email marketing is just consistently showing up. That is step one.
SO, WHY COPYWRITING?
Tarzan knew from a young age that she wanted to be a writer. After dropping out of law school and moving to Australia, Tarzan landed a part-time job as a copywriter and cut her teeth writing blog posts and social media updates. When she returned to Canada, she continued to write in a freelance capacity until the birth of her first child. Realizing she needed to make some serious money to support a growing family, she pivoted her copy skills into a business and became a full-time entrepreneur.
WHO WERE YOU WRITING FOR INITIALLY +
HOW HAS THAT EVOLVED?
In her freelance days, Tarzan admits she’d write for whoever would take her work. Realizing this wasn’t a very profitable approach, she began investing in online courses when she started her independent business. Tarzan believes education was the “missing piece” to her copywriting skillset; once her skills improved, she began to attract many clients in the digital course space.
WHAT DOES YOUR BUSINESS LOOK LIKE TODAY?
Tarzan has pared down her business considerably and currently offers two programs: Email Stars (her signature program teaching email marketing) and Copy Caboose (which focuses on copywriting). She created both programs after witnessing the destruction of the online business space, specifically how sales tactics are abused and persuasion is used to shut down critical thinking. Rather than play into a system built on manipulation, Tarzan wanted to give people a way to use sales strategies that align with their own ethics.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH PSYCHEDELICS + HOW IT CONTRIBUTED TO CHANGES IN YOUR BUSINESS?
About 2 years prior to this recording, Tarzan was at a place where her business was thriving but she was feeling disconnected from any sense of purpose. A particularly powerful coaching session showed her that she had “bought the lie of patriarchy,” or the belief that the more you get, the more satisfied you’ll become. Shortly following that revelation, Tarzan began her journey with psychedelics, which she now attributes to re-connecting with her purpose to connect people through stories.
When you land on something that people really bite, don’t go on and create the next thing. Work on that. Launch it again. Sell it again. Create more of that thing.
HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHAT TO DROP OR PARE DOWN IN YOUR BUSINESS?
Rather than drop entire business components to simplify or streamline, Tarzan encourages business owners to embrace the “seasons” of being in business; namely, that there will be periods of intense output followed by periods of rest. She also encourages listeners to sell more of what sells (rather than over-diversify their product/service offerings) as a way of paring down.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE IMPLEMENTING ANTI-BRO, ANTI-FOMO + ANTI-RACIST MARKETING? WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE?
Tarzan is quick to acknowledge she is not an expert in these areas, and that while she’s fumbling the ball often, she’s at least trying to catch it. After receiving direct feedback on how unconscious racism showed up at her events earlier in her business journey, Tarzan began her anti-racist work. She notes the murder of George Floyd in 2020 as a collective “waking up” for her industry at large that has prompted a re-evaluation of entrenched beliefs in the online marketing space.
WHAT ARE WAYS YOU’VE CHANGED YOUR LANGUAGE, FORMATTING, ETC. TO ADDRESS THESE ISSUES?
Tarzan and her team are mindful of common marketing tactics like countdown timers, expiring bonuses, and unrealistic testimonials. She encourages other businesses to spend considerable time looking at what they’re doing with their marketing and ask if it aligns with their personal ethics.
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS YOU HAVE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES TRYING TO GROW THEIR LIST?
Tarzan admits that list-building and lead generation are the biggest problems she currently faces in her business, reminding listeners that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. She shares that showing up (public speaking, teaching workshops, working trade shows) and offering freebies has worked for her in the past. She also emphasizes the importance of creating an email habit and simply showing up consistently in your customers’ inboxes.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR A BRAND THAT’S MORE PRODUCT-FOCUSED?
While she believes most people love stories, Tarzan clarifies that narrative-style emails are not always the best option for businesses. And while she’d love for all business owners to give themselves permission to share things that are more personal, she doesn’t think it’s a requirement for successful email marketing. For those who run a product-based business, she suggests showcasing the unique features of certain products or sharing industry news.
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