I’m sure a few of my friends still think this website was meant as some kind of tongue in cheek joke… They’ve known me for years and they will happily point out that I’ve done a lot of the crap that I complain about now.
Heck, I launched my very first online business by harvesting thousands of email addresses so I could email them repeatedly to come look over my new website…
I’d set the software up to search for sites in a specific niche, and it would crawl through those for hours, collecting all the email addresses it could find.
In my defense, it was 1998, SPAM wasn’t a word yet and everyone was doing it!
Still, it wasn’t long before I started to get a few abusive emails coming back, and I realised it wasn’t a smart way to introduce myself to my potential customers.
The interesting thing is, I was launching a membership site and a few of the people who joined back then are still with me. That’s over 20 years now!
So it actually worked… really well!
And that’s the big problem and the big temptation, that we all face.
We KNOW a lot of what we do online is pushing the boundaries, and we KNOW we’d hate to be on the receiving end ourselves… but a lot of that shit just works!
So what’s a struggling marketer to do?
Is it OK to cut corners to get established? Can you afford not to?
Well I don’t for a second believe there’s a one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone will face a different set of circumstances that they’ll need to navigate.
So the info below has two goals…
1. To give you a few ideas on where you probably should be drawing the line… and
2. To give you a heads-up on the crap people are doing so you don’t get caught out!
Between the two, I hope to encourage people to be a little more responsible in their marketing, if only because the secret is out and if we’re all talking about it more openly, we’re less likely to fall for it.
OK, lets get to it…
Focus on Creating Great Products and the Sales Will Happen
So many launches these days are only about generating those initial sales while the affiliate feeding-frenzy is on. If you’re unfortunate enough to purchase, it takes two seconds to see that the underlying product or service was secondary to ‘the offer’.
Everything is about upsells, add-ons and a killer sales page… but when you get to the product, it’s rubbish. Usually a gimmick or loophole-technique with no shelf life, assuming it works at all.
More often than not, it’s been splintered off the main package to create a tripwire offer, but the sales pitch still plugs it as the be all and end all of whatever it’s supposed to do.
End result, after the launch, without the affiliate frenzy, the funnel is dead in the water.
Some affiliates might keep promoting for a while, but as soon as the refunds start they’re out of there. So the vendor has to go back and start all over again on the next big offer…
But if they’d put just a little bit more effort into the product, so people actually kept using it, kept talking about it and kept promoting it… it could have kept on selling well for years.
My view: create quality products that will keep working… and selling… for years.
OTOs Used To Make You Feel Good About Your Purchase!
I went through a funnel the other day and I lost count of the One-Time-Offers after 15-16!
It felt incredibly spammy and intrusive, and was a major waste of my time… the pages were really slow loading…
But that wasn’t the worst of it…
When I bought the front-end product, I felt pretty good about my purchase! It seemed like a great idea and I was eager to put it to work.
Then I saw 15 additional offers, every one of them telling me what I bought wasn’t enough on it’s own…
So by the time I got to the download page I was convinced I’d wasted my money!
Within a matter of minutes this vendor transformed me from happy customer to a refund waiting to happen.
Turns out the product was nothing like the offer, so I refunded within about 15 minutes.
(The promised ‘traffic software’ was actually a major social media platform, but that’s another story!)
The thing is, if the OTOs had made any attempt to build-up the front end product, I might have hung in there to try it out properly… and who knows, I might even have found some value.
But he vendor had gone all out to convince me it was worthless… without all this other stuff!
So I was looking for any excuse to get out of there.
That’s just dumb and shortsighted.
But everyone does it?
The number one rule used to be to find OTOs that were complimentary.
Offer the customer stuff that adds value to what they’ve just bought.
NEVER offer them stuff that totally replaces it!
But that’s the trend these days, because it’s all about the creating big launch funnels.
Make one good package them break it up into as many different pieces as possible, so you can have as many different upsells and add-ons as possible.
Providing value to the customer doesn’t enter into it. Unless they buy ‘everything’ it’s their fault if the product doesn’t match the front-end offer…
I’ve even had vendors tell me this when I’ve asked why something doesn’t work as promised… “well you should have bought the upgrade if you wanted that to work!”
My View: Just don’t do this crap to your customers…
Create Offers You’d Be Happy To Sell To a Loved One!
The first few ‘Complete’ PLR packages I ever bought were a game-changer.
Before that you could buy PLR articles and a few basic reports, but no one had really given you the complete business-in-box before.
These first ones were quite expensive by today’s standards, but it was good quality content.
My first email blast to my list covered my costs every time and made a handy profit. After that I’d plug them into my ongoing traffic systems, and they continued to deliver sales for quite a long time.
One of the very first was a set of Photoshop Training videos I continued to sell for about 5-6 years… I only stopped when Photoshop switched to the Creative Cloud and the videos were no longer relevant.
Likewise I’ve got a PLR Copywriting package that I got about the same time that was still selling a few copies up until a year ago, when I let the domain name expire by mistake…
Some of the early PLR packages were great. But then all of a sudden everyone was making PLR packages.
It was the latest must-do strategy on the Warrior Forum…
Everyone was either selling PLR packages…
Or teaching people how to make money with them…
Or selling PLR packages teaching people how to use PLR…
I kept buying them, but more and more often it was disappointing. Some had potential so I’d try to rewrite them, but most I’d take one look and throw them away.
A few times I tried to sell packages that were really a bit embarrassing, and it came back to bite me every time. Always in the form of complaints, refunds and more often than not, lost future business from my best customers…
Ethics aside, that’s the biggest problem when you promote ANY dodgy offers…
The people who respond to your emails and articles etc, are the very people YOU DO NOT want to lose.
And it only takes one bad offer to lose them forever!
So my rule these days is, I won’t try to sell it to a stranger unless I’d be just as happy selling it to a family member!
So I still use a lot of PLR, but it must pass the family test.
If I’m not 100% comfortable with it, I’ll either go to work and make it better, or I trash it entirely.
And that approach is a win-win.
You’ll sell more stuff to your best customers, and you’ll sleep better at night!
And it really should be standard practice…
Build a business you’re proud of selling stuff that makes people’s lives better.
I worked hospitality for many years before I moved online. I still remember one of my first employers telling me, you’ve got to love your customers or walk away now…
I personally think that would be a great motto for anyone working online too!
Don’t Hide From Your Customers
Another annoying trend these days is to use noreply@ email address for everything.
So you get an email you have a question and fire of a reply… only to notice the bounced message back in your inbox a couple of days later…
My view: if you want me to read your email then you’d better be prepared to read mine.
And it shouldn’t be a big issue… I send thousands of emails every week and get about 20-30 replies that need a response. That seems like a fair price to pay for the attention of all those people?
If you compare it to the real (offline) world, it really is a bizarre attitude.
What business owner in their right mind would hide from their customers?
A.B.C. Always Be Closing. Kind of hard if you avoid talking to you customers.
Have you ever met someone who owns a small business in the bricks-and-mortar world, who wasn’t super proud of their business and happy to talk your ear off about it?
Those are the guys who find new clients constantly, because they never shut-up about it…
Because they’re so proud of what they’ve built…
And yet, online business owners get so caught up with automation and passive sales that dealing with customers is seen as an inconvenience…
My view: automate to the max… but make sure you use the time saved to genuinely connect with your customers. ESPECIALLY any time they reach out to you!
Make Sure Your Contact Options Actually Work!
I tried to contact PayPal the other day, so I logged in and used their message form. I immediately got a whole page of suggested answers. No surprise they were no use at all so I submitted my message…
Within 5 minutes I had a response… the exact same page of irrelevant info I’d already indicated was no help.
There was instructions on top to ‘reply’ if it didn’t help though, so I hit that and added a note that the info wasn’t any help and I needed a real-human response…
5 minutes later another reply… the exact same non-answer as before.
So I tried again with a whole lot of extra info added to the message, plus a few references to real human and talk to a person etc.
Then I tried again adding an attachment… thinking a human would have to check that?
Then I stopped replying and created a whole new message instead, carefully avoiding any of the ‘keywords’ I’d used in my first message…
Over one hour and 8 loops later, I was still getting the exact same non-answer.
The thing is, I know I’ve done this to people myself in the past.
Contact forms that don’t work, outdated help instructions that don’t match up with what the customer sees, email addresses I stopped checking due to spam, but never got around to putting an autoreply on…
As marketers we tend to test our checkout processes obsessively… make sure you check your contact methods from time to time as well!
If It’s Free Then You’re The Product!
I am so sick of free offers! It’s like a magic word that’s supposed to make you feel so grateful you click when prompted and blindly do whatever you’re asked…
And more and more often, what you’re being asked to do is not going to benefit you at all!
Traffic Exchanges and Safelist Mailers are a classic example…
They’re promoted as a great source of free traffic.
Sign up for free, click or surf for a while and you can get all this wonderful traffic to your offers and start making money.
What they forget to tell you is, everyone there is doing the exact same thing… trying to get traffic to their own offers…
So anyone you get to your offer will be a seller, not a buyer.
So you can ‘work’ for hours to get thousands of credits that are more or less worthless.
So why are these sites so popular?
Because they are a fantastic list builder for the site owner.
They were never intended to generate any useful traffic for anyone. Let alone signups or sales. It might happen by sheer volume and persistence, but that’s a happy coincidence, not an intentional outcome.
So again, these sites are free because you are the product!
All that said I won’t pretend I don’t use the F word myself. A lot.
But I any time I do, I stop and make sure my Free Offer is actually providing real value to the recipient.
It’s worth your while to do that too… because free has been so over done.
People value their time and they’re smart enough to know when free becomes a waste of time.
So if you use free to get someone to act and don’t deliver, they will remember.
The good news is, they ‘ll also remember when you do deliver…
As mention I send a lot of emails each week. One of my main campaigns gives away a lot of free stuff…
One thing I’m particularly proud of, is the fact that the links to the freebies get more and more clicks as the campaign goes on.
People eventually see an offer that interests them so they click…
And once they do, they tend to click everything!
That’s my goal anyway, and I’d encourage you to try it too!
One Final Piece of Advice… Be Authentic!
This should be just part of being a decent human being…
- Don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
- Don’t say stuff you don’t totally believe.
- Do go out of your way to avoid misleading people.
Unfortunately, people who wouldn’t dream of breaking these ‘rules’ in person, will forget them in an instant if it means they might make a couple of bucks online.
There really is no value in that. In a world where anyone can set themselves up online as an expert in pretty much anything, there is just zero value in pretending.
People will see through it.
That can happen before they buy whatever it is you’re selling, or afterwards, in which case they’ll just hit you up for a refund.
I do understand that it can be tempting to try.
There’s no shortage of PLR and Training Packages out there that promise you instant guru status. They give you all kinds of training materials to sell or giveaway, so that people will see you as an expert and instantly buy any offer you send their way…
What they fail to tell you is, no one who’s been online more than 5 minutes will ever believe a word of it.
The good news is, there’s a couple of other approaches I’ve found over the years that work far better…
Be Honest About Your Skills & Experience!
Admit to the stuff you don’t know. It works because so few people do it. You might even find people in your circle can point you to resources to help.
I lot of the time I’ll pay attention to someone BECAUSE they are trying to address the same issues I am, because I know I’m far more likely to get good info.
Try The Stuff You Recommend!
Instead of chasing the big launches, and competing with the big-guns who have loads of their own products to giveaway as bonuses, try promoting stuff you already use and like.
It’ll be recognizably more authentic for your readers, it’s actually way easier for you to set up… oh yeah… and you’ll make more sales!
This goes for free stuff as well. Whether you’re giving away ebooks, sharing videos, linking to articles or training guides… always take the time to make sure it meets your standards.
Speak To Your Customer As A Rational Human Being.
Don’t waste your time with all the BS sales tactics and hyped up pitches. You can write good copy without sounding like the steak knives guy on TV. That sort of pitch is so familiar to all of us, that the second we hear it, we tune it out.
Instead just focus on F.A.B… Feature, Advantage, Benefit…
This Feature is good because it offers this Advantage so that you get this Benefit.
Keep it conversational and simply let the reader know why you (genuinely) believe this is good for them. They will immediately sense your authenticity and let your message though…
And if your offer is a good match for them right now, they will happily buy… and they’ll thank you for the opportunity.
For me, that’s the perfect outcome.
A customer who is happy they happened to stumble across my offer when they did.
A customer who will be happy to hear from me again with other offers.
For me, that is the foundation of a real business, online or offline.
So there’s other approaches that will probably make more money faster, but I’m in this for the long-haul and I judge my success by a whole lot more than just my bottom-line.
Anyway, that’s my rant done. From now on I’ll try to make everything else on this website a lot lighter!
I do hope you got a few useful ideas and insights on how this industry really works though. I also hope you might come away with the confidence to break from the crowd and build a substantial business that adds real value to your customer’s lives…
The kind of business you want to tell the world about!