How to Overcome Skepticism

Tutorial Marketing

Many people think the main barrier to online marketing success is a lack of traffic.

But it’s really a lack of trust.

There’s a million ways to get traffic, whether you pay for it with money or pay for it with time.

But the question remains as to whether you can convert that traffic into actual sales.

Even when your offer is great, and your copy sings, and your order process is painless, one thing stands in the way of the sale.

A lack of trust.

You can thank your marketing predecessors for that.

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I am a Shameless Attention Seeker

Did you know there are two Technorati Top 100 lists?

One is the list determined by the number of blogs that link to another blog. That’s the Top 100 we’re all familiar with.

But there’s also a Top 100 list that is determined by readers. When you vote for a blog as a “favorite” that vote counts towards making the reader Top 100 (thanks for the tip, Rand).

So I went and checked it out, and Copyblogger only needs about 30 more votes to break the reader Top 100.

Some people have suggested I set up a “tip jar” to take donations. I would never do that.

But I will ask for you to boost my ego. :)

So, if you enjoy Copyblogger, why not vote for me as a Technorati favorite here?

UPDATE: You people rawk. But I need 10 more votes to make the top 50. Only 16 days till my birthday — come on, reach deep! :)

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The 9 Most Important Words for Business Bloggers

Some people think it’s all about “how you say it.”

Others think it’s all about how many times a week you post.

Both groups are wrong.

What you say matters more than how you say it or how many times.

Before you’ll succeed with a business blog, you need to truly understand a simple 9-word sentence offered by old-school copywriting genius Rosser Reeves (as channeled by Gary Bencivenga):

A gifted product is mightier than a gifted pen.

Your “product” is what you offer, whether goods or services, and the overall substance of that offer. Whether you want to call it your USP or your big story, it still needs to be solidly in place before you’ll ever have a truly effective business blog.

You can’t tell compelling small stories with your posts if your big story sucks.

Let’s look at it another way.

If I give you a hand-scrawled note riddled with typos and grammatical errors that tells you that the other side of the paper contains the winning lotto numbers, and this is the ticket, you’re highly receptive to that message, right?

But the most dazzling sales pitch ever about the latest fall line for women at Neiman Marcus will never matter to me one bit.

If you’re about to start a business blog (or if your current one is going nowhere), stop, take a step back, and ask yourself this:

Why should anyone care about what I’m blogging about?

That’s another 9-word sentence that makes it perfectly clear that painting a cow purple is not the same as owning a purple cow.

What you say will determine if you can sell at all.

How you say it will determine how much you can sell.

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Don’t Sell… Teach

In the beginning, people spoke with one another directly in the local marketplace, and the merchants taught those people about the value of their wares.

And as things began to be sold one to many, and the brand was born to assure buyers of quality and consistency, publicizing that brand to lots of people was all that was necessary.

But it was soon not good enough.

And Claude Hopkins said, “Let us sell with scientific advertising,” and there was systematic testing for determining which words worked best when selling a product.

And Hopkins saw that testing was good, as it increased advertising response and efficiency.

And David Ogilvy said, “Let us sell image, not product,” and behold, there were television commercials that focused on brand image, not features or benefits.

And Ogilvy saw that selling brand image was good, because it told people stories bigger than the product itself.

And Raymond Rubicam said, “Let us hire this Gallup fellow, and sell based on demographic profiles,” and the separate worlds of scientific advertising and brand image would eventually become melded together into one powerful force.

And years later, many, many advertising agencies saw that it was good, and so did Nike.

And Seth Godin said, “Let us not interrupt, but instead sell by permission,” as smart marketers began to realize that the Internet was somehow very different from other media.

And Godin saw that permission marketing was good, because consensual relationship selling, mixed with tested copy and demographically-targeted stories, boosts response significantly.

But then something happened.

People began to efficiently speak with one another directly in a virtual marketplace.

And they refused to be marketed at, as they were as media savvy as the marketers themselves (and often more so).

And permission and trust were harder to find online, as they had been abused.

And so some random guy, who doesn’t even belong on the same page as those above, said “Let us not sell, but instead teach,” based on his experience using educational copywriting to begin relationships that lead to sales.

And so he wrote a tutorial series called Tutorial Marketing, about a strategy that places a blog at the very center of your online marketing efforts, since good tutorials not only sell, but also attract vital links and traffic as well.

And you’ll be the one who determines if it’s good, right?

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Leave it to a Brit to say it best:

New York still remains the greatest city in the world. That must really bug America-haters everywhere. 

Thanks, Hugh.

Why is “Sell” Such a Bad Word?




Not very popular words, are they?

Quite frankly, I wasn’t initially sure whether I would be banished from the blogosphere for daring to use the word “sell” in my tagline.

Even “marketing” is a dirty word.

It’s now “unmarketing” or some crazy new word altogether.

Like ooze.

And don’t even dare say “viral marketing” around Pinko Marketer Tara Hunt:

Anyone who even uses the word ‘viral’ should be dragged out onto the streets and shot brutally…

Oh my.

For a group espousing authenticity and transparency, these people spend a lot of time trying to cover up what they do for a living.

They sell.

And they are all praying for their ideas to go viral.

Now, some may feel that this qualifies as hypocrisy on their part.

No, not really.

It’s just selling.

If the audience doesn’t like a word, find one they do like.

So, I suppose I should go ahead and “re-brand” the word sell myself.

I’ll give it some thought over the weekend.

Hope you have a good one.

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3 Coercive Copywriting Techniques

I spent some time recently talking about manipulation and lies.

I told you those two stories so you could see where I think the line gets crossed by marketers, but also so I could tell you this story.

In 1999 Douglas Rushkoff published a book called Coercion, which essentially tracks the evolution of marketing into a branch of psychology. He illustrates exactly how marketers try to influence and persuade you in various media, and outlines the history of marketing as a measured science.

It all started with a copywriter named Claude Hopkins who first applied empirical testing to advertising elements back in the 1920s, and of course things have only become more sophisticated. Massive database profiles, television “programming,” contextual web ads, sophisticated algorithms that make recommendations based on past behaviors—these are some of the ways marketers are trying to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.

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Why Magnetic Headlines Attract More Readers

Do you know who Nellie Connally is?

I do, but that has a lot to do with me being just barely old enough, and because I’ve lived most of my life in Texas.

That’s why this News 8 Austin headline works for me:

Former Texas first lady Nellie Connally dead at 87

However, there are a whole lot of people who are interested in the bigger story that Nellie played a part in, but that News 8 headline would have sailed right over their heads.

So, the AP wisely went with this instead:

Woman in JFK limo during shootings dies

Great headlines specifically tell the big story, unless you’re absolutely, positively sure that your audience gets the big story without elaboration.

For more on writing great headlines, including tips on keywords and winning headline templates, check out the Magnetic Headlines series.

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Pez Dispensers and Living the Big Lie

As a follow-up to my last post, I thought it might help to revisit this excerpt from Viral Copy:

During eBay’s rapid rise, the company nurtured a quaint rumor about its origins, claiming that founder Pierre Omidyar had created the site in 1995 so that his fiancee could trade Pez candy dispensers with other collectors.

Alas, the Pez myth, it was later revealed, had been fabricated by eBay’s public-relations director in 1997 to generate buzz about the site. Source: Anecdotage

It’s up to you whether your story is a complete fabrication. I tend to lean aggressively toward complete honesty, delivered in a creative fashion. Ethics aside, the blogosphere will call you out at the first opportunity. And it won’t be pretty.

No matter what, you must have a story that people want to hear, and then you’ve got to live that story. In that regard, eBay CEO Meg Whitman was often photographed with Pez collections and had more than 100 dispensers displayed in the lobby at eBay headquarters, despite the fact that the company origin was a fairy tale.

Now, the eBay origin story may seem like only a little white lie, but it’s actually a big lie. Whether it be science, religion, comic books or companies, origin stories are hugely important, and that crafty PR director knew it.

Because the lie was big, and because eBay lived the lie, it worked.

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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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