Hey everyone, I’m reporting live from Rarotonga in the South Pacific. It’s a nice place! Details on Monday. But first, I have an important message from our sponsor.
(Yes, that would be me. There are no sponsors.)
The Important Message
The title of this post is deliberately provocative. First of all, I know that marketers are people too, and most people are marketers of one kind or another.
But when I talk about hating marketers, you probably know what kind of marketers I’m talking about. I’m talking about car salesmen marketers who play on our emotions to get our money.
Anyway, here’s the deal. I’m proud to say that 279 Days is still kicking ass. It’s going all over the world, literally – a Chinese and Spanish translation are both on the way from two volunteers. I’ve lost track of all the people who have told me about the new blogs they’ve started by following the model. I wish them a huge hard-working success, and I’m tremendously excited for everyone who has applied some of the lessons.
However, during the big launch week, I received an email that I found profoundly disturbing.
It’s not what you’re thinking – the message wasn’t from a vampire. The writer wasn’t criticizing me, at least not directly. He even said I was “awesome” – but instead of feeling happy, I felt sad in a way that I couldn’t precisely identify… at first.
Here it is:
I don’t mean to sound silly, coy, or to pry, but why do you not have people opt-in to receive your manifesto?
You’d be building an email list of followers who’ll eventually turn into customers, clients, etc.
You are sitting on a goldmine here far beyond what’s being tapped now. Why not make this a monthly membership program with a call-to-action, $49 or $97 a month.
And your income will probably be 10x what you estimate for 2009 if you play your cards right…
You are doing awesomely great dude!
Where do you want to take this?
P.S. The value is in that list of followers. And not just on twitter but your email list which you have cleverly disguised as “small army”.
Make the email opt-in obvious. Put it in the upper right like everyone else. Even if you just use it to gift ideas… But eventually you can use it to sell your stuff and the stuff of others.
Because we are all so busy with information EVERY FREAKING DAY you need a strategy to stay in touch with folks if they don’t buy the first time…
I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know – but do this stuff man – do it now.
OK, I’m out…
It took me a while to figure out why I was so disturbed by John’s message. As I said, it wasn’t a direct criticism, and if you’re not familiar with internet marketing, you might miss some of the nuance in what John is writing about. Later that night as I went for a run in the park before dinner, though, I realized why I was so troubled.
The way that John sees the world is all about manipulating people.
See, the approach outlined in John’s email is defined by scarcity. According to the scarcity perspective, you all are my prospects. I’m trying to convert you to customers. If I get your money, I win. If not, either I’m doing something wrong or you suck.
Well — that is precisely the OPPOSITE of what I believe.
As John alludes to in the end, I do know how internet marketing works. I know where you are supposed to put the email form; I know how to use scarcity to increase sales.
I just prefer to operate from a perspective of abundance. Freely give, freely receive. Why force people to join a list before reading my work? Some of them would resent that, and the commitment level of the others would be pretty weak. Why inspire people with something and then tell them that they need to pay me each month to “really” get what I have to say?
Yes, I call my network a small army – but this is not a “clever disguise.” It’s the real deal. I spend hours every day building relationships with people. Many of them are in India or Africa and will never give me a dime. That’s OK with me.
The Money-Making Side of Things
I’m sorry to pick on John – he is far from alone in thinking this way. The problem is that this attitude runs directly counter to what I believe and why I started this project to begin with.
Ironically (or not), I actually have a pretty high conversion rate when I sell products. With the Working for Yourself guide, it’s about 4-5%. If you’re in marketing, you know how high that is – if not, 1% is usually a base number.
But even with a high conversion rate, that still means 95% of people don’t buy. I don’t view this wide majority as “prospects” who have failed to convert into customers. They are doing cool stuff, probably don’t need anything I sell, and I am honored for the chance to connect with them.
That’s what disturbed me so much about the message – realizing that to many people like John, building a community is all about building a cash machine.
I’m not an evangelist, and I realize that I probably can’t change anyone’s mind about anything. Someone asked recently, “How can you convince someone that your opinion is right?” I’ll write more about this later, but there’s an easy answer: you don’t. If your business model relies on convincing, I think you have a uphill battle ahead of you. Instead of convincing people who are opposed to your message, spend your time finding people who are already predisposed to it.
Trust and Money
By the way, you want to know something? I think I’ll do just fine without John’s tactics. Here’s another email I really enjoyed. This one came from Joel, in New Zealand by way of Canada. Joel had just bought something from me, and here’s what he had to say:
This is the first information product I have ever purchased. It took a step of faith to make the purchase:
A) my grandmother wasted a fortune on mail-in sweepstakes, so I’ve been raised to be thrifty and suspicious of being suckered by strangers. (And your pitch is the opposite of smarmy. Here I am.)
B) I’ve already quit the job and flown from my home in Canada to stay with family in New Zealand. There ain’t no money coming in for the time being. So this expense is an investment in a new life.
I don’t need to tell you that the future looks bright. It’s nice to know it.
Check out Joel’s second paragraph:
“It took a step of faith…”
This was a highly emotional decision for Joel. To earn $39 is relatively easy. To earn someone’s trust, well, that takes some work.
“This is the first information product I have ever purchased…”
Obviously he had been pitched before. I’m not the only guy on the block. But when he read about this offer, something clicked.
Product Launch Update
Speaking of products and salesmanship in general, I’m coming out with two new products over the next month. I’m excited about them, and I know they will help many people. The first one is called the Unconventional Guide to Art and Money. After a few delays to make it better, the launch is coming up very soon. (Yikes – we have a lot to do to get ready! Time to wrap this up.)
But first, I had to talk about marketing and explain where I stand. My stance is, treat people with dignity and respect. Take the high road and give up money if necessary. In some circles, sorry to say, this is an unconventional perspective.
Then, of course, do the good kind of marketing that people don’t hate at all.
This kind of marketing provides clear solutions to stated needs. According to this perspective, if you have a need I can meet, I don’t need to force you to join my list (you’d join on your own); I don’t need to auto-bill you each month (you’d be happy to pay).
I don’t like to debate by email, and besides, I get a lot of mail. I wrote back to John, short and sweet:
Freely give, freely receive.
John wrote me back with more things I was doing wrong. He told me to save his email address and write him in 10 years to let him know what happened. I guess the implication is that I’ll be sorry then, he’ll have been proved right, whatever. (Yeah, I know – at that point I just hit the archive button. Life’s too short.)
No thanks, man. Who knows what will be happening in 10 years, but I suspect in some form I’ll be busy keeping up with everyone else out there. Every day I hear from more great people all over the world, including plenty of places where PayPal is not accepted. Good things are on the way; the future is bright.
Most importantly, wherever you are, I’m honored that you care about what I have to say. No cash machine, auto-billing, or email opt-in required.
Thanks for reading.
Used Car Salesman Image by TexasEagle