Viral Manipulation for Fame and Profit

While it’s been a hot topic since Hotmail went huge, the buzz about viral marketing has never been stronger thanks to both social media and ubiquitous online video. No doubt every MBA with an emphasis in marketing is talking about “viral stories” in between latte slurps.

As a painful example of a story that went viral big and fast, think about how many people knew the name John Mark Karr prior to two weeks ago.

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7 Steps to Creating and Selling a Niche Information Product

The announcement of Tubetorial has generated a nice response. Some people want to get involved, hundreds have signed up, and others simply want to know what the initial topics are.

Three guesses what my first one is.

Now, creating and selling information is certainly not as compelling as a human Mentos and Diet Coke mixer, or a toilet-flushing cat. But I figure there are some people out there that would like to learn more about it.

Here’s the index page for the video series on creating niche ebooks.

  1. Why Sell Information?
  2. What’s Your Information Product About?
  3. Your Information Business Model (Part One)
  4. Your Information Business Model (Part Two)
  5. How to Create Your Information Product the Quick and Easy Way
  6. Why Ebook Covers and Information Packaging Are Crucial to Success
  7. Why Copywriting is the Key to Selling Ebooks and Other Information Products
  8. Dramatically Increase Sales With Copywriting Software and Conversion Tracking
  9. The Traffic Advantage of the Information Product Publisher

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Has Problogger Been Hacked?

I was just over at Darren Rowse’s Problogger leaving a comment, and when I hit send I was redirected to a script-kiddy / hacker page telling me I’d been owned. I didn’t stick around to look more carefully than that.

Now the whole site is broken at the database level (safe mode?).

Anyone know what’s going on?

UPDATE: The b5 guys are on it, main site back but the job boards are “owned” by an alleged political group. Just to clarify, Darren is not hosted with the rest of b5 — he has separate hosting with Rachel Cunliffe and others (who were also partially hit by this hack).

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Telling People a Story They Want to Hear

I really enjoyed Hugh MacLeod’s interview with Seth Godin (two great reads who read great together). And it was especially interesting to hear about the frustration Seth feels when people sometimes don’t get what he means.

This reminds me of some of the flack he caught when his book All Marketers Are Liars was released. Now, I’m quite sure Seth knew exactly what he was doing when he titled the book (students of headlines take note). But I think he might have been caught off guard when some people didn’t get the real points within the pages (like the reviewer from Publisher’s Weekly).

Good marketers aren’t liars, except to the extent all people are—because we all lie to ourselves constantly. We want to hear stories that fit our existing world views, whether those views are accurate or not. And we want to primarily satisfy emotional needs, because ultimately that’s where we all seek happiness and contentment.

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Journalistic Superiority at Work

Could one of only two remaining daily British broadsheet newspapers be so desperate as to steal blog content?

This past Thursday Claire Zulkey of MediaBistro Toolbox did a hilarious riff on my 5 Signs Your Blog Post is Going Horribly Wrong. She essentially committed each of the five sins in a purposeful train wreck of a post that was so out there is was actually quite compelling.

Today, as I marveled that traffic was still coming in from her post, I noticed a few hits coming in from The Daily Telegraph in the UK. Now that’s something I’ll definitely go check out.

I’m shocked when I click and see that it is Claire’s post (now down, here’s the cached version at MSN), only with a different headline. Even Claire’s reference to her home town of Chicago is unchanged, though this post was ostensibly written by features contributor Melissa Whitworth, who is located at The Daily Telegraph’s New York bureau.

No attribution to Claire or Media Bistro. So I email Claire, and it suffices to say that she is not pleased to see her work republished verbatim without permission, much less attribution.

Not by an RSS scraper, but by a newspaper founded in 1855!

I find this quite incredible. Does Ms. Whitworth not realize that we notice things like this? And while the only thing connecting the two posts was a link to me, I do happen to have an audience full of other bloggers.

Or as mere bloggers, should we just allow this type of stuff to continue within the hallowed halls of journalism? I just don’t understand how so-called professional writers think they can get away with this stuff.

If the Telegraph post changes or comes down prior to a formal retraction and apology, I’ll post my screenshots for clarity.

UPDATE: Here’s Claire’s thoughts on the matter.

UPDATE 2: The Telegraph removes the offending post, but the cache lives on.

UPDATE 3: Melissa explains here. While yesterday I couldn’t imagine a plausible explanation, this sounds like it could be true. Who knew, as easy as it is, that she doesn’t even post to her own blog?

So, giving her the benefit of the doubt, I’ll go ahead and apologize as well.

Sorry Melissa, but you have to understand that it looked really bad. And how this got posted by mistake is still beyond me. It shows a breakdown in the editorial process at the Telegraph in any event.

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Copywriting Books You Should Buy

Here are my favorite copywriting books, for beginning to intermediate copywriters:

Advertising Secrets of the Written Word

I have a lot of copywriting books and courses, and if I were starting out fresh from square one today, I’d want to start here. Joe Sugarman is a direct marketing legend, and he does a great job of getting basic copywriting concepts across in an enjoyable way. So if you’re brand new to copywriting, start here.

Tested Advertising Methods (Fifth Edition)

When going back to the source of ad copy that is both audience and benefit-focused (as well as backed up by empirical testing), many will point to Claude Hopkins and Scientific Advertising from 1923. I own that book too, but my favorite “old school” copywriting book is the updated version of John Caples’ Tested Advertising Methods. Timeless advice, but written in an easily-digested modern tone.

The Irresistible Offer

While Marketing 2.0 pundits burn bandwidth trying to come up with clever new buzzwords to replace the word “marketing,” Mark Joyner simply hands you the answers for success in the post-mass-marketing environment. While not technically a copywriting book or a product/service development treatment, it’s crucial to both. When you start with the right offer, the product and the message are identical. Then (and only then) you can “get out of the way” and let your customers sell for you.

Persuasive Online Copywriting

The best copywriting books around are not written specifically for online, as you can tell from this list. But you should have at least one, and it’s a close call. I chose Persuasive Online Copywriting by Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg (with Lisa Davis) over Nick Usborne’s Net Words only because the former is slightly newer. But both are excellent.

Breakthrough Advertising

Here’s the money book, courtesy of the late, great Eugene Schwartz. When you’re ready to take it to the next level, this is what just about any highly successful copywriter will tell you is the Holy Grail of deep psychological insights that lead to breakthrough marketing campaigns. The book is rare—before it was reissued by Boardroom it was selling on eBay for $900 (no joke). It comes with accompanying audio CDs that provide helpful supporting material from top copywriters who have built on Schwartz’s work.

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