Rener Gracie and The Lost Art of Making a Case For Your Product

I’m about to eat a little crow…

I’ve been from one-end-of-the-internet-to-the-other, loudly arguing that too many direct-response marketers are relying on copy to do the heavy lifting of selling their products…

when instead they should be relying on context.

My pet archetype for that is a former client who had a list he only emailed once-a-year, with daily offers for two months, for a product that had never sold at the “retail” price.

He didn’t need better copy; he needed a better relationship with his audience, and better products.

Go one-layer-deeper, and plenty of clients want to revise a sales page or autoresponder for a good product, when what they really need is scarcity, an upsell, or at least one email that links to an offer and only one offer.

So I’ve inveighed pretty heavily lately in favor of context. Recently, though, I’ve been learning the meaning of that old adage “be careful what you wish for”.

Lately, I’ve been seeing exactly the opposite.

Autoresponders that have perfect, textbook scarcity, linking to best-practice-rife sales pages with timers, but never really making a case for the product.

I’ll actually call out a Big Boy I’m generally a fan of: Ryan Levesque.

Losing The Forest For The Trees

I’ve been following the release of Ryan’s new info-product, based on his book Ask, with the googly-eyed raptness of a newborn. And Ryan knows-what-he’s-doing.

He’s got brand-equity-to-burn. Everybody on his list is “warm”: since Ask came out two years ago, Ryan’s been wall-to-wall in the solopreneur media, and done joint-ventures with many of his forefathers.

But I wouldn’t copy one of his launch emails for one of my clients:

Have another look at that copy, and ask yourself:

“Would Ryan have to change one word of this if he was selling blenders?”

The copy’s entirely meta. There’s not one word about the benefit of the masterclass. It’s 100% about the scarcity.

The reason most businesses should beware is that most of us aren’t starting with Ryan’s out-of-the-box brand-recognition:

Ryan’s offer stands out in our inbox because it’s from Ryan.

But there are plenty of other offers – in my inbox at least – that don’t stand out, and get ignored or deleted.


They’re not making a case for why I should care.

So – should those of us without six-figure lists and Frank Kern and Glenn Livingston on speed-dial throw-up-our-hands and resign ourselves to “second-string” status when it comes to sales?

Not necessarily.

We can command attention, too. We just have to use different tools. We can bring a more precise understanding of our customer’s journey to bear. We can make a better case.

Like one internet marketer you’ve probably never heard of. Who likely doesn’t even use the phrase “internet marketer”, much-less apply it to himself.

Like one Mr. Rener Gracie.

The Outsider

You probably haven’t heard-of him if you’re not a fan of MMA or Brazilian jiu jitsu. Gracie’s the heir apparent of the legacy of the creators of both. He’s a BJJ black-belt who runs one of the largest academies in the country – whose roster boasts students like Vince Vaughn – who travels the world teaching jiu jitsu seminars for civilians and law-enforcement, and who has one of the funniest channels on YouTube, with video send-ups of current events like this, or this.

Rener probably doesn’t think of himself as one of the savviest marketers on the internet – much-less as somebody whose videos should be studied and emulated by copywriters – but maybe he should.

For instance, take a look at this Rener video, which I transcribed some of…


What’s up you guys?

Rener Gracie here at the Gracie academy, and we’re going to talk about some guillotine details…

…that are gonna change your life.

But before we do, we have to answer one very common question that’s been coming at me…lately: what’s the difference between regular jiu jitsu seminars…

…and these mastery seminars that we’ve been hyping?

Huuuuuuuuuuuuuge difference, my friends.

I’ve been to hundreds of jiu jitsu seminars with all kinds of amazing instructors over-the-years, and more-often-than-not, the students who come to the seminars leave more confused than when they showed up.

With the Mastery Seminars, they leave enlightened.

What’s the difference?

Regular seminars are based on questions, and made-up techniques on the spot…

Mastery seminars are based on a principle.

Let’s say you were in a house, and you were looking out a window to the back yard, and there was a tree, and you were asked to draw that tree.

If you have one window, you have one perspective on that tree.

If you have eight windows to look at the same tree from, you have a…much more complete understanding of the exact-same tree.

That’s what we try to accomplish in these Mastery Seminars: we choose a topic, and we want you to leave with an understanding of the principle that drives that topic. A 100% understanding of that principle…

…more-so than just a buffet of fun…random techniques.

It’s so crazy how much more you can accomplish when you stick to one topic, and you analyze it from multiple angles.

In fact, we often go-so-far-as-to-say that in one Mastery Seminar…you can actually get one month of technical progress.


I don’t know if Rener’s had marketing coaching, but he’s deploying a handful of copywriting best-practices better than most professional copywriters:

  • The open-loop in the first sentence.
  • The “here’s what’s wrong with most seminars” structure to meet an audience who have likely seen a lot of ads for seminars, where-they-are.
  • The “one group gets bad results; the other gets good ones” dichotomy from such copywriting staples as the Wall Street Journal “two men” ad.

Above-all, though, he’s making a case for his product.

And I’ll bet you’re noticing two things as you read it:

  • You’re building a mental-model of why his seminars are different, and of the layers of value they provide.
  • You’re probably getting emotionally excited, even if you don’t care-a-lick about BJJ.

Compare that to what you feel reading Ryan’s email: something between vague-annoyance-but-intention-to-buy and just-vague-annoyance.

We might need what Ryan’s selling, but we accept it grudgingly.

How to Be More Like Rener

Imagine a product your market’s salivating over…

…with an autoresponder that hits them with an offer at just the right point in the sales-cycle (i.e. just when they trust you most, but before they lose interest)…

…with a scarcity element like limited-enrollment, or a limited-time-only bonus…

…and then this iron-clad case for why they’d be crazy not to invest in it. A case that satisfies
both the intellectual, “checklist-completing” side, and the emotional “man I wish I could have this” one.

That’s a recipe for online success, even if you don’t have a New York Times bestseller and a time-share with Russell Brunson.

I’ve written before about how certain “artifacts” of your market like “how cynical are they”, and  “how much competition do you have” can alter the “recipe” in your marketing…

…but it’s hard to go wrong with a Big Dumb Checklist like this:

  • Have you given people a demonstration that your method works, like a “small dose” in your lead-magnet, or a webinar that gives away a lot of useful tips?

    (Rener has hundreds of videos with jiu jitsu quick-tips.)
  • Have you taken the time to understand why your customers are buying from you, and incorporated that into your copy? (That’s how your specific people will know you solve their specific problem.)
  • Have you answered the question “why should I buy from you instead of from a competitor”, or its variation “why should I believe your solution works if everything else I’ve tried has been a dud”?

(That’s what Rener does so brilliantly with the “here’s the difference between ordinary seminars and mastery seminars. Ramit Sethi is a big fan of side-by-side benefit comparisons between the “ordinary” solutions and his solutions.)

  • Have you proven that your product is worth more to your customer than keeping-the-money and doing-it-him/herself?

(My favorite way is with success stories from people who were running-in-place before your solution, then achieved pretty-quick results afterward.)

Go back through your email sequences, sales-pages, and webinars.

Are you earning the right to ask for a sale, by “ticking” the boxes above, or are you skipping straight to the offer?

If it’s the later, you might not have to re-invent the wheel.

The quickest transformations I’ve seen for clients are when we do one-or-all of 3 things:

  • Make sure the lead magnet/webinar addresses the biggest problem their customers are trying to solve, and that it explicitly borrows content from the “full-strength” solution, the paid version.
  • If the email series goes straight from lead-magnet-to-offer (super common), incorporate an “intermediate week” of 2-3 emails “making the case” for the sale, by addressing the four-items above.
  • Continuing to make the case throughout the “offer” emails, so that instead of just leveraging people by telling them the offer’s going away, you’re also reminding them that they need it/it works/it’s different from everything else they’ve tried/etc.

I continue to hear marketers bemoan how “cynical” the market’s become…

…or how “expensive” attention’s become, as everyone fights for eyeballs in the inbox.

Call me a hipster, but I take the long-view: treating your customers like they’re intelligent, giving them something they truly need, and respecting their decision-making process by making a robust case for a purchase…

…and also an emotional one that gets them excited

…will never go out-of-style.

Speaking of which, if you’d like more deep marketing and sales insights like this article, plus the exact steps I used to 4x my business in one year (controlling for list growth), you’ll want to subscribe to my mailing list

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