How to Remove Your Own Appendix

I recently came across the story of Leonid Rogozov, the Russian surgeon who removed his own appendix while overwintering in an Antarctic polar base in 1961.

You can Google his name and find photos of the operation, which I have chosen not to reproduce here in the interests of I just had lunch.

You can also read a fascinating description of the operation in the British Medical Journal.

This isn’t the sort of how-to information that one hopes will be useful some day, but it certainly puts the toil of writing AdWords ads in perspective.

And that, funnily enough, is what I want to talk about today.

Are You Removing Your Own Appendix?

I’m a huge believer in business owners taking responsibility for their marketing. They can outsource execution, but should be driving the strategic direction. They can outsource customer outreach, but must intimately understand the customer.

So when I tell you that you are probably the worst person to be writing your own AdWords ads, you are right to look at me quizzically.

But that’s what I’ve decided.

Writing your own marketing messages is in some ways very much like trying to remove your own appendix.

No matter your skill at the operation, you’re still a little too close to the action to be as effective as you might want.

To say nothing of the pain.

I discovered this by accident, during a mastermind group I was leading last year.

One of the participants, let’s call him Doug (even though his real name is Alfred), requested help with his ads. So the rest of us grilled Doug on his product, his ideal customer, his top competitors, etc.

And I must have been getting tired, because I suggested that we all take a few minutes working independently, writing ads and then handing them to Doug.

The results were astonishing.

From spinning his wheels in a Google Rut three inches wide and two miles deep, Doug now had a dozen radically new messages to test.

And many of them were brilliant.

And all of them were inside him, but he couldn’t get them out himself.

Much like that infected Russian appendix.

How to Outsource Marketing Messages

OK, so I’m not suggesting you just hire someone to write your marketing message for you.

You wouldn’t pay a doctor to insert an appendix, would you?

(This is a crappy and illogical metaphor; I’m aware of that. But I’m on a roll, it seems to me. So on I plow.)

No, what you want is someone who can draw insight and empathy out of you. Who can see with a clearer perspective what your customer cares about. Who can accurately see how you are truly different from your competitors.

You provide the raw material, based on your experience.

Your “marketing surgeon” provides a third-party view and fresh eyes.

Click here for a PDF tutorial on a 7-step exercise that you can do with a friend that will give you tremendous insight into your Ideal Customer.


At Perry Marshall’s exclusive Roundtable meeting in Orlando last month, I led a Checkmate exercise that culminated in members writing ads for each other.

Each participant had six minutes: two to describe their ideal customer, two to answer a specific set of questions from other members, and two to sit back and watch the other folks write new ads for them.

Here’s a short video montage of their reactions to this exercise:


The exercise worked so well because everyone in the room was oriented in Checkmate methodology (that took 20 minutes), everyone understood the power questions that lead to breakthroughs (10 minutes), and everyone was sincerely interested in being of service to each other (that’s thanks to Perry, and everyone’s upbringing – I can’t claim credit there ;)

Buoyed by the success of a brief Camp Checkmate exercise at Perry’s Roundtable, I am taking Camp Checkmate on the road.

But I’m keeping the workshops small, so I can manage the interactions and ensure that everyone leaves with new marketing copy and a polished and streamlined strategic direction.

As in, these workshops will sell out because there’s scarcity built right in.

I Outsource My Own Appendix Removal

I finally bit the bullet and hired a copywriter to help me describe Camp Checkmate. As fine a writer as my mother tells me I am, I was just getting in my own way. I wasn’t describing the benefits of Camp Checkmate clearly and powerfully. I was getting too caught up in process description, and not articulating the amazing outcome that everyone who has gone through the process has experienced.

So I’m waiting for the new and improved sales letter, which should be ready to go by March 1.

But that leaves me 3 weeks just sitting here staring at my own appendix, and my fingers are getting twitchy.

So if you’d like to be one of the few, the proud, the Camp Checkmate grads (note to self: look into Camp Checkmate t-shirts, hats and water bottles), then skip the rush when the good sales letter comes out, and reserve your place now.

Camp Checkmate Details

East Coast Camp: April 1-2, 2010: Durham NC

Midwest Camp: June 10-11, 2010: Chicago IL (with guest appearances by Perry Marshall and Glenn Livingston)

Cost: $1497, or three payments of $532, and you can bring one guest (significant business or life partner) for an extra $95 to cover the cost of food and materials. (Just click the "Camp Checkmate – Colleague" link at the bottom of the shopping cart page.)

Includes: Two full days of Camp Checkmate, full lunch and refreshments, course materials, the AdWords Checkmate Deluxe digital home study course, and one year of the Chess Club, a monthly coaching club for Checkmate grads.

Act Now, Save Big

Early bird discount for Gold Key Members, good until Friday February 12, 2010. When you click one of the links below, you'll save $500. As in, Camp Checkmate for just $997, or three payments of $366

Go here for the single payment plan.

Go here for the three-payment plan.

Once you register, I'll be in touch with all the details, and you'll get immediate electronic access to the complete Checkmate Deluxe package.

Looking forward to seeing you at one of the upcoming Camp Checkmate workshops!

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  1. #1 • Phil Hershkowitz said on February 5 2010:

    Oy Vay, please don't outsource your copywriting – it's so funny and engaging. Cute like a puppy; warm like a plate of chocolate chip cookies; wise like a beloved old rabbi.

  2. #2 • Ron W said on February 5 2010:

    As long as we're doing crappy metaphors…

    Imagine how much courage it took to make that first cut. I don't care how many times you've slice open other people, when it's your own belly, it's gotta be a trip.
    So the metaphor is:  Be brave. Open your own secret doubts, product flaws, and shyness. Every business has a big hairy monster that you have to eventually wrassle with. BTW: Do as I say, not as I do. I couldn't cut open my own belly under any circumstances. Also can't face my own business monster… YET!