Copyblogger http://www.copyblogger.com Content marketing tools and training. Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Do Lower Prices Lead to More Sales? http://www.copyblogger.com/product-pricing/ http://www.copyblogger.com/product-pricing/#respond Thu, 29 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45563 Let’s say you’re choosing between three photography courses covering similar topics. The prices are stacked like this: $200 $250 $2,000 What’s going through your mind right now? Curiosity floods your brain. Even if you’re not sure you can afford the $2,000 course, you want to know why it’s so expensive, compared to the other photography

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Sean D'Souza, speaker at Authority Rainmaker 2015

Let’s say you’re choosing between three photography courses covering similar topics.

The prices are stacked like this:

  • $200
  • $250
  • $2,000

What’s going through your mind right now?

Curiosity floods your brain. Even if you’re not sure you can afford the $2,000 course, you want to know why it’s so expensive, compared to the other photography courses.

If we were truly happy with lower prices, we would simply snap up the $200 workshop, right? We wouldn’t so much as take a glance at the rest.

But that’s not how we’re built as human beings.

Many years ago, when I consulted with a company that sold beds in a store, we’d take customers around the store. We’d show them beds that cost $1,500, $2,000, and $4,000. And then we’d ask them if they were curious about the bed that cost $4,000.

You bet they were. You would be, and so would I — we’d all be curious about the features and benefits that caused an increase of 100 percent (or more) in the price. 

Price decisions are made in a vacuum or by comparison

Lower prices, alone, don’t produce more sales. We’re clear on that idea, aren’t we?

And that’s because clients make price decisions either in a vacuum or by comparison.

To start, let’s look at making price decisions in a vacuum.

Say you decide to buy a bottle of Ardbeg (yup, it’s a really nice, single-malt whisky). But wait — the price of a single bottle of 2009 Ardbeg Supernova is $550.

You aren’t asking why at this point in time, because you’re shocked out of your mind. You have nothing to compare it with, so you’re working in a vacuum. 

The same vacuum concept happens when you buy a product, service, or course, as well.

The article-writing course at Psychotactics costs almost $3,000. Is it worth $3,000? You don’t know, do you? You’re working in a vacuum.

Sure, you can see testimonials of all the clients who’ve taken the course before. If you read the sales page, the course sounds incredibly detailed.

When you pore over the 70-page prospectus, the course seems to satisfy everything you’re looking to learn about article writing. And yet, we sold that course just four years ago for $1,500. 

So would you have a greater number of clients buying the course at $1,500?

Theoretically speaking, yes. But then why not reduce your prices to $750? Or even $350? Or better still, $29? Would you have greater sales of the course then?

You see what’s happening here, don’t you? As the price go down, your desire for the course is plummeting just as quickly. And that’s because you’re no longer working in a vacuum. You’re working on comparison.

You’re comparing the original price of $3,000 with every other price. And you’d compare the price of the $550 Ardbeg Supernova with every other Ardbeg, until you settled on the lowest price, which would be $60 or so.

And at this point in time, if you were still keen, you’d might even end up spending more than $60 on a bottle. You’d probably feel comfortable spending at least $70 or $80, for no reason at all. 

But there is a reason — and it’s called comparison.

Two distinct buying phases

When you buy anything, you’re almost always going through two distinct phases. The first phase is when you consider prices in a vacuum. You’ve been told to buy a bottle of really good whisky for a friend, but you have no clue where to start.

With all those brands staring at you, you simply pick a nice-looking bottle that is high-priced enough not to be cheap.

When searching for a course on article writing, on the other hand, you want to invest in a course that isn’t just an information dump — you want lessons that actually help strengthen your skills

Is $1,500 too high? Or is $3,000 just right? And what if the course is $5,000 or $10,000 instead?

But once we get to the higher numbers, we’re no longer working in a vacuum. We’re now comparing the benefits. And while the comparison is often between several brands or companies, price decisions based on comparison can often happen within the very same brand or company.

At some point, you compare the $60 Ardbeg with the $550 bottle — and everything in between. Then it dawns on us that the least expensive option we have, a $60 bottle, is still quite expensive — but now it seems cheap.

The lower price helps make the sale, but only in comparison. 

What about pricing on Amazon or iTunes?

Let’s say you’re going to sell a book on Amazon or iTunes. Would you want to sell it at a low price?

Of course you would, because on Amazon a similar product is also hovering nearby for a low price.

When your Kindle book is $35, it’s not cheap at all. You’re asking a potential customer to take a chance on a book that is priced roughly 350 percent higher than most other Kindle books.

When you’re on Amazon or iTunes, you’re competing in a completely different playing field. On those sites, they set the rules and comparison structure.

On your site, the client is working in a vacuum again.

If you were to sell the same product — without changing it at all — exclusively on your own site, there aren’t similar books to compare it with.

A $35 book on your own site seems reasonably priced, especially if there are several other products that are both lower and higher (yes, the presence of the lower price matters, too). 

We see this phenomenon no matter where we go. If you bought a property in Auckland, New Zealand in 2000, the price was about $300,000. If you bought the same house in 2005, that price hovered around $600,000.

Today, that very same house sells for over $1.5 million. There’s no increased value in the house, is there?

If anything, the fittings and fixtures have depreciated, not appreciated. And yet, when you buy the house, there are factors to compare. 

A house is more or less expensive based on what’s selling around it at a certain point in time, among other economic factors. 

An article-writing course that’s $3,000 may seem inexpensive if you know that its price tag is headed up to $5,000. A bottle of $60 Ardbeg seems a bit stingy when you realize it’s at the bottom of the whisky heap. 

So, how should you price your products?

If you sell products on your own site, you can stop reducing your prices, unless you have to for a specific reason.

If you’re competing in a marketplace where prices are determined — such as Amazon or iTunes — then you will have to play within their rules.

However, if you have several products or versions of the products, then the client can move from comparing your price to comparing prices among your different products.

For example, if you buy a Wacom drawing tablet, you can choose from Bamboo, which is less expensive, to Cintiq, which is top-of-the-line and very expensive.

Even in a very competitive market, you want to create a situation where clients have stopped considering the competition and are now choosing from your range of products, services, or courses.

And if you’re selling something that’s exclusively sold on your site or shop, then there’s still a reason for creating a comparison structure.

A client will look around and decide on a purchase based on the various prices you put on your site — even if you’re comparing apples to oranges.

For example, if you were to sell a product on “the best ways to use testimonials” and a product on “networking to attract clients,” they aren’t particularly similar. Yet, the price of one product influences the price of the other product. 

And even if a client buys the lower-priced product, they may move up the price ladder in the future, depending on your ability to deliver the goods.

Create that comparison

Whether you’re selling a photography course, bed, bottle of whisky, workshop, property, or drawing tablet, the one factor to remember is that clients either buy in a vacuum or in a comparison structure.

And you want to get them to compare. Once you’ve gotten them to pay attention to your product or service, you should then have a series of price and product comparisons on your own site or store.

So, create that comparison. Even if you don’t have a range of products and prices yet, get started moving in that direction today. 

And when you do, you can still lower (and raise) your prices. 

It’s at that point that the lower price becomes a strategy — not a knee-jerk reaction.

And it’s at that point that you start setting prices that make you — and your customers — a lot happier.


Want to take your content marketing to the next level?

Sean D’Souza is among the powerhouse lineup of speakers who will be presenting at Authority Rainmaker May 13–15, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. It’s integrated content, search, and social media marketing for real-world results.

Click here for all the details and to register before we go to full price.

About the Author: Sean D'Souza offers a great free report on "Why Headlines Fail" when you subscribe to his Psychotactics Newsletter. Be sure to check out his podcast, too.

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5 Traffic Strategies That Build Your Curation Audience http://www.copyblogger.com/curation-traffic-strategies/ http://www.copyblogger.com/curation-traffic-strategies/#respond Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46795 Note: This is the third of three core lessons related to content curation based on a case study of my new email newsletter Further. You can listen to the initial two episodes here: Position Your Content Curation for Success 3 Ways to Grow Your Curated Email Newsletter Faster Now we tackle the eternal question: how

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Note: This is the third of three core lessons related to content curation based on a case study of my new email newsletter Further. You can listen to the initial two episodes here:

Now we tackle the eternal question: how do you get traffic to your curation site so you can build an email list? Should we start building a war chest for advertising?

Not yet. First we’re going to apply some creativity and sweat into driving traffic. Some of these methods are tried and true, but need to be executed a certain way for a curation project. Others are seemingly a little “outside the box,” and yet they complement a curated email newsletter perfectly.

In this 22-minute episode Robert Bruce and I discuss:

  • What makes curated content shareable and linkable
  • The best audience building strategy on the planet
  • How to borrow (and delight) a massive audience
  • How to get others to share your curated content
  • Why infographics are pure media curation
  • How to take advantage of visual microcontent
  • The true value of iTunes for audience building
  • The podcast interview as valuable curation content
  • The viral catalyst the exploded Copyblogger in the early days

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker.FM Episode No. 26

Or, grab it in iTunes.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Data Is Clear: To Be Effective at Content Marketing, Have a Documented Strategy http://www.copyblogger.com/cmi-report-2015/ http://www.copyblogger.com/cmi-report-2015/#respond Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46566 Talk is cheap. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to content marketing strategy, simply talking about it is not enough. That is the big takeaway from the 2015 benchmarks, budgets, and trends study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, sponsored by our own Rainmaker Platform. According to the study, only

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cover image of CMI 2015 report

Talk is cheap. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to content marketing strategy, simply talking about it is not enough.

That is the big takeaway from the 2015 benchmarks, budgets, and trends study by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, sponsored by our own Rainmaker Platform.

According to the study, only 39 percent of B2B small business marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. The rest either have a strategy that they have only talked about (47 percent), have no strategy at all (12 percent), or are unsure (1 percent).

Here’s why this matters …

The most effective content marketers document their strategy

The data shows that the 39 percent of companies who do have a documented strategy are “more effective in nearly all aspects of content marketing than their peers who either have a verbal-only strategy or no strategy at all.”

The report breaks it down further:

60 percent of those with a documented content marketing strategy consider their organization to be “effective” at content marketing; only 33 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.

62 percent of those with a documented strategy say that their strategy closely guides their content marketing efforts; only 29 percent of those with just a verbal strategy say the same.

The correlation between those two statements seems pretty clear.

And here is another interesting note: companies with a documented strategy are more than twice as likely to be successful at charting the ROI of their content marketing efforts than those with only a verbal strategy.

You get the idea …

Write. It. Down.

So … what should you be documenting?

The report provides insightful data that can help you make more informed strategy decisions as you document your strategy.

For example:

  • Which metrics are other companies tracking? (Are you tracking them?)
  • How much content are other companies creating? (Are you keeping pace?)
  • Which content types and social media platforms are companies finding most effective? (Are you using them?)
  • What percentage of their marketing budget are companies allocating for content marketing? (How does your budget compare?)

The study also includes charts that compare what the most effective content marketers are doing against what the least effective are doing. And you’ll find out what challenges small businesses are facing, and how they are overcoming them.

Every year we gain valuable insight from this report, and this year is no exception.

See for yourself.

View the full report below or (or click here to view it at SlideShare).

B2B Small Business Content Marketing: 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends – North America from Content Marketing Institute

About the author

Jerod Morris


Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter or . Have you gotten your wristband yet?

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How to Learn From Your Mistakes http://www.copyblogger.com/lede-learn-from-mistakes/ http://www.copyblogger.com/lede-learn-from-mistakes/#respond Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=44769 Everybody makes mistakes. And everybody should make mistakes. They are unavoidable when we step outside of our comfort zones. Avoiding mistakes means avoiding growth. But we can’t repeat our mistakes. We need to learn from them. When we do, we turn negatives into positives and move forward. When we don’t, we simply run in place.

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The Lede Podcast logo

Everybody makes mistakes.

And everybody should make mistakes. They are unavoidable when we step outside of our comfort zones. Avoiding mistakes means avoiding growth.

But we can’t repeat our mistakes. We need to learn from them. When we do, we turn negatives into positives and move forward. When we don’t, we simply run in place.

In this episode of The Lede, Demian and I share personal stories of mistakes we’ve made — some big and some small — and how we learned from them, and we describe the thought process necessary to do so consistently.

We discuss:

  • Recovering from technical errors (notably, a rather embarrassing one Jerod made recently)
  • Walking away from security in pursuit of happiness
  • Self-compassion in the face of mistakes
  • Why it’s okay to want recognition for your hard work
  • How to mobilize into action quickly when things go wrong
  • Letting go of stubbornness in favor of learning

Listen to The Lede …

To listen, you can either hit the flash audio player below, or browse the links to find your preferred format …

React to The Lede …

As always, we appreciate your reaction to episodes of The Lede and feedback about how we’re doing.

Send us a tweet with your thoughts anytime: @JerodMorris and @DemianFarnworth.

And please tell us the most important point you took away from this episode. Do so by joining the discussion over on LinkedIn.

The Show Notes

The Transcript

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar.

The Lede Podcast: How to Learn From Your Mistakes

Jerod Morris: Welcome back to The Lede, a podcast about content marketing by Copyblogger Media, hosted by me, Jerod Morris, and my golden-haired copy writing co-host, Demian Farnworth.

The Lede is sponsored by Authority Rainmaker, Copyblogger’s live training event that will provide you with an integrated online marketing strategy combined with the best ways to implement it. Plus, great parties and networking, as you would expect from any event hosted by Copyblogger.

Among the esteemed folks who will be taking the stage and sharing their experiences: Henry Rollins, Daniel Pink, Sally Hogshead, Danny Sullivan, Ann Hanley, and so many more. Including me, which as you might imagine, I am quite excited about.

So come see us in May in Denver, learn lessons, and make contacts that will take your online marketing to the next level.

For details, go to authorityrainmaker.com.

Today’s episode begins a two-part series during which Demian and I are going to use some of our best and worst professional moments to teach important micro and macro lessons that will, hopefully, help you with your online marketing, as well as your work and life in general.

And yes, it is a series inspired by recent events, namely a gigantic oversight by me that led to an embarrassing mistake when I was recording a podcast. And (leans back from the microphone to produce a distant sound) audio that sounded like this! (Leans back in.) Awful. Unless, of course, some good came from it. I think it did. See what you think now in the latest episode of The Lede.

Demian, how are you doing today?

Demian Farnworth: I’m doing well, Jerod. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Jerod: Yeah! So for those of you listening to this, we are recording this the day before our Copyblogger company meeting occurs where all Copyblogger folks from all across the world are meeting in Dallas, Texas.

When this actually airs a week from today, next Tuesday, that meeting will be done. But I’m looking forward to it, Demian. We don’t get to see each other that often, and it’ll be good to be able to spend some time in person together.

Demian: Yeah. It’s always nice to see people face-to-face that you’ve been in contact with through Skype and email, and you finally get to shake their hand, hug their backs, and stuff like that. Looking forward to it, man.

Jerod: Yeah. Yeah. It’ll be a lot of fun.

Personal stories of failure to teach online marketing lessons

We’re starting a new series here, as I introduced at the beginning of this episode, where basically we’re going to use our personal stories of both success and failure to teach some important online marketing lessons, both in a macro sense and a micro sense.

And we’re going to start today with mistakes, because obviously, it’s kind of that old cliché: You learn more from your failures than your successes.

In the next episode, we’ll talk about how there are very important lessons to learn from your successes as well, but I don’t think we have to spend too much time making the case for how much you can learn from mistakes.

Yesterday, we were talking about what we wanted to do for this episode, and I just happened to make a gargantuan mistake yesterday that led me to thinking about this, and I was glad you were excited about the idea too. (Laughs.) But …

Demian: (Laughs.) It wasn’t the Copyboger, was it?

Jerod: (Laughs.) No, it wasn’t that one.

Demian: Oh, okay.

Jerod: We’ll get to that one in a minute.

Demian: Right.

Recovering from technical errors

Jerod: I host this podcast called “Podcast on the Brink” for the site Inside the Hall. It’s one of my side projects. I’m a big Indiana basketball fan.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: I host this podcast for them, and yesterday we were recording a new episode, and everything was going great. We recorded the episode. It all went really well, I thought. Had some great questions, and the conversation was really good, and I was just feeling spectacular about this episode of the podcast once I was done recording it.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: And …

Demian: But …

Jerod: So, yeah. Here comes the “but.” So I open up the audio file before I’m going to put it in GarageBand, and my audio just sounds really distant, really echoey, and my heart just sinks.

Demian: Oh …

Jerod: And I’m like, “Oh. No.” And so I look to the left, and my microphone is not plugged in to my computer.

Demian: Ohh … Are you kidding me?

Jerod: No. So the only thing picking up my audio was just the computer mic, and obviously if that had been just me doing a monologue, or even if it had been us doing it, I would have re-recorded it. But this is an interview with somebody else who kind of fit it into their schedule, and couldn’t exactly just re-record.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: The good thing is that the audio was bad, but it wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t run it. Clearly there would be a certain level where you just can’t run it, but I decided: Okay. It’s a little bit embarrassing for me to put this out there, but it’s still … for the audience, it’s still really good information.

It’s still a good interview. So I think it’s still worth it to put it out there. I’ve just got to kind of fall on my sword a little bit. And so …

Demian: Right. Sure.

Jerod: And so I tried to think,” Okay. This mistake happened, now what can I do to make sure it doesn’t happen again?” And that, I think, is kind of going to be a theme with the mistakes I talk about, which are kind of specific things that happen.

What can you do to help prevent them? So now, on my microphone, I’ve got this little Post-it note that says, “Plug me in, you jack wagon!”

Demian: (Laughs loudly.)

Jerod: So that way, because every time I record …

Demian: I’m looking at mine, making sure it’s plugged in, too. Yeah.

Jerod: Every time I record, I have to obviously talk into the mic, and so now I’ll have to see it, and it’ll remind me to plug it in.

And I also thought, “Look. I can’t just let this audio go out there this bad, because people have come to expect a certain level. That’s really going to throw them off.” So in the intro that I do for that show, I told the audience what happened. I was like, “Brain fart by me, I forgot to plug this in …”

Demian: (Laughs.)

Jerod: ” … so the audio you’re about to hear is not what you normally expect. It’s not up to usual standards. But the content is so good we wanted to play it for you anyway. And it’s not terrible, so I think you’ll still enjoy it.”

And then I also sent out a tweet that said, “Hey, the next time I criticize IU’s coach or any of the players for something they do on the floor, just send me a tweet that says, ‘Hey idiot, remember that time you forgot to plug in your microphone?'”

Demian: The microphone. Right.

Jerod: So a little opportunity for self-deprecation. It sucks because I hate putting a podcast out there that doesn’t have audio that at least meets a basic, minimum level of quality.

But, hopefully, I think it’s even a chance to be a little human in front of your audience. Have that moment of self-deprecation. Hopefully the system I’ve put in place now will help …

Demian: (Laughs.)

Jerod: … because I think that’s the big theme here, Demian, that we’re going to talk about. When you do make a mistake it sucks. Number one, how do you own it, and number two, how do you grow from it?

Demian: Right. Right.

Jerod: If you can do those two things with each mistake, it can make them positive in the long run.

Demian: Yeah. I think that an event like that reminds us that we’re human and humbles us, and I think that’s the proper response to it.

But here’s the thing, right? So say that your audio just wasn’t there. You could have flipped that into an episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast where you’ve been asked bizarre questions, and then the other person answers it, and it’s like, “Where did that come from? What does that mean?” And that would have been hilarious. Maybe you can do that as a bleeper some day down the road.

Jerod: That would have been awesome. I should have thought of that.

Demian: (Laughs.) Well, you still have the file, so you can do it again, I’m sure.

Jerod: Yeah. Exactly.

Demian: All right.

Walking away from security in pursuit of happiness

Jerod: Let’s go over to you, Demian. The first mistake that you want to lay bare and discuss what you learned from it.

Demian: I think my first one is staying in a job too long. There was a job that I had. It’s an interesting job. It’s probably one of the most interesting jobs I ever had; I actually worked for a television evangelist, and you know, we all know the feelings we have for such things.

But I got the job because I needed a job at the time, and I was offered a pretty interesting and sweet position, and so I took it. I was there I think a total of five years, or maybe it was three-and-a-half.

But I stayed there 18 months too long, and it was because of the security I got from having a job — the security I had from the pay that I was getting, and the benefits that I got were great. So it was kind of like that golden handcuff situation, but I was absolutely miserable.

What I allowed myself to do was to be carried away by the good things, instead of saying, “Okay, this is just a bad situation.” I didn’t enjoy going to the job. The people I loved. I loved working with the people. I was a managing editor at this time, and I had a stable of six writers and three proofreaders.

I loved mentoring them, and I loved coaching them and building them up. But everything else outside of that was just no fun, and it eventually took me to a point where I just had a collision with management, and this is the point where I said, “I’m just done. I need to quit; otherwise I’m just going to continue to hang onto this job and make mistakes.”

So at that point there, I walked away from that. This was in April of 2011. I just quit that job without any plan B — without any exit plan, and went into the freelance world, which we’ll talk about later on.

But I walked away from that thinking, “You know what? I’m a loyal guy. I like to be loyal, and I can be loyal to a fault.” But there are times when you have to have the courage and say, “Okay, enough of the security thing. The quality of my life is miserable, so I need to make a change. I need to be more aware of myself and be aware of those signs, and sort of deal with those signs early so I don’t let things get out of hand.” Does that make sense?

Jerod: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Could you even take a lesson from that in terms of strategy?

Something that you’re doing that you’re kind of comfortable with, but maybe it doesn’t feel right. But at some point you’ve just got to say, “Hey. We’ve got to shift gears. We’ve got to do something else. Because this just doesn’t feel right.”

Demian: Right. Exactly. It could be a lot of things. The design theme of your website, it could be an autoresponder you need to update, but you’re just like, “It works, and I don’t have time, and I don’t want to deal with it,” whatever. But I think the lesson to walk away with is: Deal with problems as soon as you can.

Self-compassion in the face of mistakes

Jerod: You talking about switching jobs is a nice segue into my second mistake, which you actually alluded to earlier. Because there was a moment several months ago when I thought I might be looking for a new job.

Demian: (Laughs.)

Jerod: Because … when we send out emails, right now I’m the last person who touches that email — who actually hits “send,” who schedules emails, and at Copyblogger we send out emails to lists 150,000 people big.

I mean, these are mass emails that are going out to a lot of people. And they’ll go out to different lists. StudioPress lists, and My Copyblogger, and Rainmaker Platform. And so for each one of those, obviously, the “from” name and the “from” address are different. So we have to specify those.

Well, unfortunately the “L” button on my laptop sticks. Even more unfortunately, there’s an “L” prominently featured in the word “Copyblogger.”

Demian: (Laughs.)

Jerod: I was setting up this email to our My Copyblogger list, just about 160,000 people on it. And I type in “Copyblogger” as I normally do, check through all the other things, and send it out.

And mind you, we had already done test emails on this, but when you actually set up the email to send, you have to do that again — that part isn’t saved from the test. You have to, again, type it in manually.

I’m on all of these lists just so I can see the emails when they actually go out live, and an email hits my inbox, and the “from” says “Copybogger.”

And again, it was that heart-sinking feeling of, “You have got to be kidding me.”

The thing is, you know, on a podcast when you just record it privately you have the decision, “Hey. I can now decide if I want to put this out there to the world and show them this moronic moment of mine, or I can just keep it private.” With this, it was already out there.

Demian: Right.

Jerod: There’s nothing I could do to change it, and really, this isn’t particularly a spot where self-deprecation is going to do any good, although I guess I’m doing that right now for everybody.

But really, I was terrified obviously of what Brian and Robert and everybody is going to think about this. Like, “Who is this idiot that we have sending out these emails?” And so I’m thinking, okay. What can I do with this?

My first thought is, okay, my stupid computer. The “L” thing is sticking. But it’s like, okay. That’s just shifting the blame from what the problem was. The problem is, I just don’t have a good enough system in place to double-check myself on this.

And I think it’s a point when something like this happens, you have to have a little bit of self-compassion and say, “Look. You’re not an idiot; you’re not a failure. This mistake could have happened to anybody, but it doesn’t need to happen again.” Right?

Demian: Right.

Jerod: And so that’s why I instituted some systems of not just double-checking, but triple-checking the little envelope part to make sure all of that is spelled correctly.

And actually, I even went to the level of instead of typing in “Copyblogger” when I’m on my laptop, I just copy/paste it from a known source. I’m a little OCD about it now. But you just kind of put some processes in place to protect yourself, because when you have 20 different things to check, things can slip through the cracks.

No reason to beat yourself up, but it is a good opportunity to say, “Hey, what can I do better to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”

So I did that, fortunately — knock on wood — haven’t had another similar situation like that. And hopefully that continues.

Demian: Right. It’s the old adage, you can make a mistake, just don’t make it twice.

Jerod: Right.

Jerod: Right. Exactly. Exactly. So there’s my second mistake, Demian. Over to you now for your second.

Why it’s okay to want recognition for your hard work

Demian: So as a continuation of my story, when I quit that job with the television evangelist I started working for myself. And as a freelance copy writer, you will find that there is an abundant amount of work to be done in the ghost writing industry.

Lots of CEOs, lots of people, companies, want you to create content in their name, and some of it paid really well and I found myself in the situation of getting more and more, and eventually almost 90 percent of my income was based upon ghost writing work. And it was almost exclusively for one person, too.

I did a lot of this type of work, and I got no credit for it. I got paid pretty well for it, but I got no credit for it. I had spent nine months, and I wrote probably 36 articles in that nine months which amounts to a little bit over five a week. And these weren’t pushover posts. These were of the 1,500-word variety.

I had invested a lot of energy and time into them. I got no credit for that. No professional equity out of that except for the money and the reputation with the particular person I was working with, and he did recommend me on to other people. But I found for my own self I was not at all happy doing that work.

In fact, I looked at myself, and I said, “You know, it’s okay that you want recognition. It’s okay that you don’t want to be anonymous in doing this type of work. That’s just part of who you are. That’s part of how you view payment.”

Because I enjoy that feedback that I get, and it spurs me on to create better and better content. But if I’m doing it for somebody else and they’re getting all the credit — that just drove me nuts.

Jerod: What’s the big lesson that you take from that moving forward?

Demian: Just to recognize that it’s okay to want recognition, to recognize that it’s okay to say, “Hey, you know what? I feed off the attention that I get from other people, and when people say “great job,” that really spoke to me. When people share it. That sort of thing is okay, because that’s what I was missing.

Patrick Lencioni wrote a book called “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job.” Those signs are anonymity, irrelevance, and immeasurement. And what he means by that is that if you’re not noticed, you’re ignored, and then nobody really cares about you. Then, you can’t measure your performance.

I was missing those three things in that particular work. Even though I was getting paid well for it, I could see how those particular articles were doing, and they all did fairly well, but it didn’t tie back to me. And I didn’t feel very valued in the sense that people knew that I was writing that.

Of course, I was not the one who was getting all the traffic, was getting all the attention, was getting all the comments, was getting all that sort of equity that comes behind creating all those articles. And so I just walked away from it, saying, “That’s okay that I felt that way.”

And it’s okay to desire those things, because I’m built in such a way that I’m a words-of-encouragement type of guy. That’s what spurs me on, and that’s what lights a fire underneath me. And that’s okay. That’s totally okay. And so for me, I walked away from it, and I have never done ghost writing work since then.

Jerod: And it wasn’t necessarily serving your overall big-picture goal, and it wasn’t serving your motivation, certainly. And so it just wasn’t really destined to be a positive, long-term activity. And you’ve got to move on to something else that’s going to be.

Demian: Right. Absolutely. That’s right.

How to mobilize into action quickly when things go wrong

Jerod: Very good. So here’s another one of mine. I actually changed this up, kind of last minute.

Demian: Uh-oh.

Jerod: And it’s another recent one that just happened, actually. Monday was Martin Luther King. Jr. day, or last Monday, when people actually listen to this. And we had a post scheduled to go out on Monday.

Well, normally on holidays like Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and Veterans’ Day, and Labor Day, and Christmas, obviously, we don’t put out posts that are centered around content marketing, or promotions, or anything like that. It’s just more something simple to either honor the day, or nothing.

And so we had this post all ready to go, and the date had completely just gone over my head, had totally forgotten that it was Martin Luther King, Jr. day. Both Stefanie and I. We just hadn’t even thought about it.

Demian: I hadn’t thought about it, either.

Jerod: And so we get an email late Sunday night that said “Hey, we shouldn’t be running this on Monday,” and late Sunday night doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to scramble. Plus we had agreed to put that post out there around a date for the guy who was doing something for a launch.

It was kind of an, “Oh crap, we’ve got to figure something out,” and so in that case, again, I think it’s best to just instead of burying your head in the sand and not doing anything, take action right away, and meet the problem head-on.

Demian: So what did you do?

Jerod: Well, we contacted the author and made sure that moving his post to Tuesday was going to be okay, and everything was still in line with the launch, and that was all fine. Then we shuffled up the calendar. So that worked well.

Now, it might not have, and we weren’t going to run anything on that day, but it might have made us go back on something that we had committed to, which you never want to do. So more importantly, we’ve got to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And that’s an easy thing.

It’s an easy thing to make a mistake on, because you get in the hustle-bustle of every day, and if your editorial calendar doesn’t have the holidays listed on it, it can be easy to overlook. But it’s also something easy to fix. Which again, like you said, making the mistake the first time isn’t the big deal. It’s if you make it the second time. Because then you clearly didn’t learn anything.

Demian: Right. So I’m guessing you guys went in then, and on the editorial calendar put in all the holidays for this year?

Jerod: Yeah. Exactly. Just so we have them in there, because when we’re scheduling, that’s what we’re looking at. So it needs to be there. It doesn’t do us any good if it’s on our personal or professional calendars. It’s got to be in there, on the editorial calendar. And so those little things.

On one of his recent episodes of Rainmaker.FM, Brian Clark talked about the importance of details in the little things, and how you never know which detail or which little thing is going to make a difference. But in the aggregate they’re so important.

There are going to come times you’re always going to miss little details, but if you can learn from them, shore it up, put a process in place around it, now you’ve eliminated that detail from becoming an issue in the future, hopefully, and you progressively get better at adding all of those little details up so that in the aggregate, they can really help make you successful.

Demian: That’s right.

Jerod: Fortunately, we have a responsive team, that even on Sunday night when something bad happens, we’ll mobilize into action to get everything fixed. So kudos to Stefanie for that.

Demian: Right. And of course, I think it helps too. We don’t have a culture of fear. We know we’ll probably get an email, “That was stupid, don’t do that again,” but we’re not fearful in any sense, so it allows us to take risks and to do things.

Because otherwise, if you’re in a culture of fear, what you end up doing is asking for permission for everything, and that is a bureaucratic nightmare, and you want to avoid that at all costs.

Jerod: It’s funny that you mention that, because we went to this Team Turnaround summit last week, and that was one of the big things that Annie talked about at the summit — having a culture of safety so that people on a team feel safe coming and saying, “Hey, I made this mistake,” or “This happened,” without that fear of judgment.

I was talking earlier about being fearful of losing my job. And I was kidding. I mean, obviously I wasn’t because I think at Copyblogger we do have an environment where we feel safe. You can say, “Hey, we screwed this up, but here’s what we can do with it moving forward.”

But also a culture of learning from your mistakes, which I think is just as important as a safety culture, or a culture of, “Okay, this mistake was made, now let’s be proactive about putting something in place so that it doesn’t happen again.”

Demian: At the same time, you think about it, a little bit of that anxiety is healthy because it keeps you on your toes so that you’re alert and sober when you’re making decisions, and you’re checking twice, three times if you have to. So a little anxiety is healthy, but if that’s the over-riding theme through your job, then that’s of course not healthy.

Letting go of stubbornness in favor of learning

Jerod: Absolutely. So your third and final mistake that you want to talk about?

Demian: All right. This one was a big one, so let me boil it down. When I got into this business of copywriting, I was — this is probably surprising — I was a big snob, I was obstinate, I was unteachable, and I still am in a lot of ways, but I like to think that in the last 20 years I’ve wizened and matured a little bit.

I came out from a degree in English Literature into the marketing/advertising world with a chip on my shoulder, thinking that nobody could teach me anything. I needed to learn things, but I was not at all very accepting of criticism, of instruction. Rejection hurt really, really badly.

And so I would just protect myself and ignore people who would try to help me. I would listen, shake my head, but then go and do my own thing. And that was just what happened there, the problem was that it drew out my learning curve.

Instead of taking the lessons people were giving me and then honing and improving my craft that way, I was determined to do it on my own because I had it already figured out. And that’s just an emotionally unhealthy place to be.

It took some time, events of humbling and just a sort of softening of the heart, and thinking “This is not all about me, and I need to recognize other people, and they have things to teach me, and I can be taught, and I don’t know it all.” So that was a large teaching moment for me.

I think for all of us, we have to recognize when we are involved with criticism, when we meet new people, when we meet people who are older than us or even younger than us, we have to ask the question: Do they have something they can teach me? We need to be open to those opportunities to learn from them, no matter who it is and what the situation is.

Of course, I think someone who deals with criticism maturely always asks the question, “Is there any truth in what they’re saying?” And then they sift the chaff out and keep the wheat. So that’s the sort of thing that you have to do, and that’s a great way. It’s the only way that we can learn and grow. But early in my life I was not interested in that.

Jerod: Was there a specific event at all that helped change your mind on that, or just a gradual maturation process?

Demian: I think a little bit of both. It was a gradual maturation process, and of course my wife has been so incredibly gracious and forthcoming with information, which has helped me grow.

But there were a few moments, too. I asked John Carlton to help me. I just kind of sucked up. Well, I knew John Carlton was a legendary copywriter, and I said, “I’m going to ask him, get his take on this email newsletter sales letter that I was writing.”

Part of me, to be honest, wanted to do it so he could say, “You are a stud!” You know? But what he came back with was, “You’re lazy and you’re missing so many steps.” What he told me brought everything that I’d been learning up to that five years — the lightbulb went off, and everything that he said finally made sense to me.

And part of that was sort of a watershed moment for me, too, because even though he wasn’t a mentor, he was mentoring me in a sense of how that can help and improve a writer’s craft, because at some point you just hit a wall and from a very subjective standpoint you’re learning, but then you have somebody that comes from the outside say something to you, and a problem or an issue that’s been vexing you ever since finally becomes very clear.

So at that point, I really started seeing the value of listening to people, and looking, actively looking for feedback, and actually taking that feedback and looking for mentors, and looking for coaches, and looking for people who were better than me that I could study from.

Jerod: And specifically with respect to online marketing, the song that ends each one of these episodes by The Head and the Heart, says, “I wish I was a slave to an age-old trade,” and there’s a reason why that’s there, not just because the song sounds good. But because so much of what we do and what we teach, when it comes to online marketing it’s based on age-old principles and has been done before, and people have blazed that trail and shown how to do it, and so it’s so important.

I fight this all the time, wanting to just kind of go off my instinct or guess, or what I think is right, but we don’t really need to do that. It’s so important to step back sometimes, and realize that there are so many people that we can learn from, and so much out there. So I think that’s a great lesson.

Demian: I believe so, too.

Jerod: Well, next week we’re going to flip the script here, and we’re going to talk about successes and what we can learn from our successes. I think the main point of these two episodes is the importance of constant learning, but doing so intentionally.

Because there are so many little events that come up, whether it’s a failure or a success, that we can learn from. And just like the details in the aggregate make the difference, those little lessons that we can learn — little, or some of them big — those in the aggregate are going to make the big difference in us growing and developing both individually, professionally, and with whatever our goals are in terms of online marketing.

So, any final thoughts here, Demian?

Demian: Yeah. At our Copyblogger meeting, there’s a tradition of karaoke every time we get together, and Jerod is the boy band stud of karaoke. I think what we need to do is somehow record one of the songs you sing and then share it on the next episode of The Lede. Because you know, I think our audience deserves that.

Jerod: Don’t you think that would be more appropriate to go in the “failure” episode than the “success” episode?

Demian: No! (Laughs.) Not at all, Jerod.

Jerod: I might have to make myself scarce that night.

Demian: We’ll find you, buddy.

Jerod: (Laughs.) I don’t doubt it. I don’t doubt it. Well, hey man, safe travels. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Demian: Yeah, you too, buddy.

Jerod: And looking forward to sharing this episode, and the next one with all the listeners of The Lede.

Demian: Absolutely. Take care, buddy.

Jerod: Okay. You too.

Demian: Bye.

Jerod: Thank you all for listening to this episode of The Lede. If you enjoyed this episode, if you’ve been enjoying past episodes, please consider giving the show a rating or a review on iTunes. We would greatly appreciate it.

And don’t forget to go to authorityrainmaker.com. Get all of the details on our live training event that is coming this May in Denver. You will not want to miss it.

We will be back in two weeks with the completion of our two-part series here that highlights a few failures, a few successes, and most importantly, the lessons that we learn from them so that you can learn those lessons as well.

Until then, talk to you soon everybody.

*Credits: Both the intro (“Bridge to Nowhere” by Sam Roberts Band) and outro songs (“Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart) are graciously provided by express written consent from the rights owners.

About the author

Jerod Morris


Jerod Morris is the VP of Marketing for Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter or . Have you gotten your wristband yet?

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Trolls, Unkind Words, and How to Know You’re on the Right Track http://www.copyblogger.com/inuksuk/ http://www.copyblogger.com/inuksuk/#respond Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46285 At the end of the day, I just find your persona incredibly grating. Funny that I can still remember that comment word-for-word. It’s from an unsubscribe note to my email list dating back at least seven years now. I heard lots of good things back then, too. I was helping people, sharing what I knew

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image of Inuksuk sculpture from the Athabasca Glacier, taken by James Pratley

At the end of the day, I just find your persona incredibly grating.

Funny that I can still remember that comment word-for-word. It’s from an unsubscribe note to my email list dating back at least seven years now.

I heard lots of good things back then, too. I was helping people, sharing what I knew in a way that was useful to my (then tiny) audience. But I don’t remember any of the good comments verbatim.

Even back then, though, the note made me laugh.

(Ruefully.)

Because I knew that it was a signpost. A signal that I was headed in the right direction.

The Internet is full of wonderful things. It’s given me a rich business life, a vehicle to help and teach, lots of friendships, and a wide view of this amazing world. I even met my husband online.

But it’s also populated by a few people who are rude and disagreeable, if not outright trolls.

The day you get your first snotty comment is the day you’ve arrived, in a weird way. It means you’ve escaped your own echo chamber. You’ve grown out of the little cocoon that kept you safe.

And you’re strong enough to handle that, even if you don’t always feel that way.

No one takes a swipe at boring people

If you’re a bland, unremarkable serving of Cream of Wheat, you won’t attract many haters.

You need a strong voice to stand out online — and some will find that “incredibly grating.” You’re on the right track.

You need to stand for something beyond platitudes and conventional wisdom. Some will find that threatening or even offensive. You’re on the right track.

You need to stand tall and own your success and authority. Some will find that intolerable. Let them howl. You’re on the right track.

Don’t worry — if you’re helping people, you’re doing it right. You’ll attract supporters, too. Try to give them more attention than you do the rude ones. Not easy to do, but worth our effort.

But the jerks and even the haters are an inuksuk — a sign on the rough and wild path.

It says:

There is something good ahead. Keep going.

Flickr Creative Commons image by James Pratley.

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Three Ways to Grow Your Curated Email Newsletter Faster http://www.copyblogger.com/curation-email-list/ http://www.copyblogger.com/curation-email-list/#respond Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46633 Note: This is the second of three core lessons related to content curation based on a case study of my new email newsletter Further. You can listen to the first episode here: Position Your Content Curation for Success With These 5 Essential Elements. A key aspect of last week’s episode was identifying the purpose of

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Note: This is the second of three core lessons related to content curation based on a case study of my new email newsletter Further. You can listen to the first episode here: Position Your Content Curation for Success With These 5 Essential Elements.

A key aspect of last week’s episode was identifying the purpose of any smart content curation project – audience building. Specifically, building an audience asset in the form of an email list.

This week we’re focusing exactly on that essential element. After smartly positioning your curation project, you want to do everything you can to optimize your initial sign-up conversion rate before you invest serious time and money in driving traffic.

In this 34-minute episode Robert Bruce and I reveal:

  • Why traffic alone isn’t enough to build an audience
  • My overall content architecture for Further.net
  • Whether the “How To” headline is losing effectiveness
  • The stupidly simple way to get your newsletter shared
  • The origin of the modern social share button
  • An unorthodox publishing approach that works
  • How Copyblogger achieved a 400% increase in email signups
  • How to create an unbelievably effective ethical “bribe” for subscribers

Click Here to Listen to Rainmaker.FM Episode No. 25

Or, grab it in iTunes.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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10 Key Factors That Will Determine the Future of Google+ http://www.copyblogger.com/future-of-google-plus/ http://www.copyblogger.com/future-of-google-plus/#respond Wed, 21 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=46408 Google+ seems to be the social network that people love to hate. The industry almost has an internal clock about when to print the next article about Google+ dying. So what’s the real story here? Is Google+ going to die soon? Should you invest time in it? I will outline the way I look at

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row of open-mouthed piranhas with sharp teeth

Google+ seems to be the social network that people love to hate. The industry almost has an internal clock about when to print the next article about Google+ dying.

So what’s the real story here? Is Google+ going to die soon? Should you invest time in it?

I will outline the way I look at it in today’s post, and while I will bring in many discussion points, bear in mind that for Google it’s all about the data.

Whether or not Google+ lives or dies will be determined by its utility as a data source, because data is money for Google.

Read on for all the details of this story.

Media piranhas in action

To recount all the stories about Google+ dying would take many thousands of words, so I will start with a short recap of some of the latest examples.

When Vic Gundotra left the Google+ team on April 24, 2014, Larry Page had this to say about it. However, TechCrunch published an article that very same day with the headline: Google+ Is Walking Dead.

Here is an excerpt from the TechCrunch article:

According to two sources, Google has apparently been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, a group numbering between 1,000 and 1,200 employees. We hear that there is a new building on campus, so many of those people are getting moved physically, as well — not necessarily due to Gundotra’s departure.

As part of these staff changes, the Google Hangouts team will be moving to the Android team, and it is likely that the photos team will follow, these people said. Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform, we’re hearing.

As it later turned out, these stories were not true; the Google+ team was simply moved to another building to get more space.

Here is what Yonatan Zunger, Chief Architect for Google+ said about it in a comment on a Google+ post:

I can also add that it is true that somewhere around 1,200 Google+ employees moved to another building. That would in fact be the entire Google+ team, as we outgrew our old building and were packed in like sardines. The new building is great. :-)

Perhaps nothing illustrates the situation more than the October 7, 2014 interview that Google+ head Dave Besbris gave to recode.net: We’re Here for the Long Haul.

Besbris made many comments indicating that Google+ is not going anywhere, including:

We’re actually very happy with the progress of Google+. [CEO Larry Page] said this at the time that Vic transitioned that he is going to continue working on building this stuff, that he is very happy with it. The company is behind it. I have no idea where these rumors come from, to be honest with you.

Danny Sullivan then quickly responded in a post on Google+, citing the interview as evidence that there are problems with Google+.

As Sullivan explained, Besbris’s refusal to cite user base numbers was likely an indication that there was no good news to share. Or, to summarize, no news is bad news.

However, note that Dave Besbris did say this: “The Google+ app you see out there today is used by hundreds of millions of users.”

But then, you get more recent posts like this one, Nobody is Using Google+, that claim there are really only four to six million users creating real posts. On and on it goes.

So, what’s up with Google+, then?

I have been active on Google+ since July 2013. Through my experiences on the network, I have seen many markets where there is vibrant activity on Google+ and others where there is not much happening at all.

There are a lot of people on the network, and I have made many great contacts there. Keep in mind, as well, that participation doesn’t only include creating your own posts. Clicking the +1 button on a website is a great data point for Google, too.

However, I don’t think that Google+ has really been a true success for Google so far.

But will they shut it down? Or is there enough data coming from it for them to keep it around and continue to work on it?

To consider those questions, I am going to discuss 10 different arguments people make about Google+, the social network — five of these will be against it, and five for it — and I will explain my reaction to each.

Arguments people make against Google+

1. Google+ is not a Facebook killer

But does that make it a failure?

Sure, Google would love to build a true rival to Facebook, but if that was their goal, it was simply not a realistic one, at least with the type of path they chose.

By this metric, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, and all the other social networks are failures, too. This argument, by itself, is a non-issue.

2. Google+ is a ghost town

From my time on the network, I can tell you this is not entirely true. There is a lot happening on Google+, and not just among digital marketers.

The last shared numbers from Google were 300 million active monthly users, theoretically making it larger than Twitter.

Frankly, though, I think we can’t place too much stock in these numbers, from any of the social networks. In many ways, these are apples-and-oranges comparisons.

However, I think we can safely say that Google wishes that Google+ was much bigger than it is now, because that would provide them with a lot more data to leverage. They pushed this network aggressively, and they would like to have gotten a lot more from it.

3. Author photos and Authorship are gone

It would have been nice if the publishing world had adopted Authorship tagging en masse, but the reality is that they didn’t. This is indeed a disappointment for Google, but I doubt that it’s a fundamental issue for Google+.

4. Hangouts are now unbundled

While there is now a separate Google Hangouts app, you can’t start a Hangout on Air without a Google+ account, nor can you use any of the social features without one.

So, is this a defeat for Google+? Not at all.

The separate app makes it easier for people to engage with Google Hangouts. Score this as a win for Google’s overall social media effort. And Google+ helped foster and launch this new development.

5. Will photo capabilities become unbundled, too?

Not so fast, that’s still a rumor, not yet confirmed by anyone at Google. Even if it does happen, as with Hangouts, don’t be surprised if this is done in a way that helps drive more interest to Google+.

In addition, look what Facebook did with Instagram — it kept it as a separate network. Why did they do that? Because users like their social media apps unbundled and don’t want a monolithic platform. Pretty smart, I’d say.

Arguments people make for Google+

6. Google+ is Google

This is something that those who are passionate about Google+ like to say, but I think they would be better off if they stopped saying it.

The basis of the argument is that Google+ was the driver for creating unified logins and social profiles across all Google products, as well as the +1 button.

However, they can eliminate Google+, the social platform, at this point and keep the login requirement, user profiles, and +1 buttons.

7. New features keep on coming

The Google+ team has released new features in the past year, such as Google+ polls, Google My Business, view counts, page insights, major Android and iPhone app upgrades, and more.

Clearly, they are still investing in it. On the other hand, none of these are revolutionary features. Google+ feels much like a “me too” type of network, and this is one of its great weak points.

8. The Google+ team is growing

While Besbris also did not reveal the number of employees working on Google+, he did say this about the size of the team: “We’re the largest we’ve ever been.”

However, it’s not entirely clear what they’re doing. It seems like a small number of features have been released in the last year, compared to the supposed size of the Google+ team.

Could they be working on the next generation of G+? A real possibility, in my mind.

In fact, on January 10, Medium released this interview with Demis Hassabis on some of the investments that Google is making in Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Hassabis co-founded DeepMind, a company that was bought by Google for $400 million. Here is what he had to say:

In six months to a year’s time we’ll start seeing some aspects of what we’re doing embedded in Google Plus, natural language and maybe some recommendation systems.

9. Having hundreds of millions of active user profiles is gold

This is one of the huge payoffs of Google+. Even if people only periodically +1 a piece of content, that’s huge for Google because it’s data.

People who diss Google+ for its lack of monetization are not getting the significance of this single aspect of the network (see the next point).

The number of users they have is the reason why I think Google will choose to build on their current base, instead of starting something new from scratch.

10. Personalization is a big deal

Building on the prior point, this is clearly very important to Google. The personalization aspects of Google+ are significant. Note that Mark Traphagen suggests that as many as 60 percent of all searchers conduct their searches while logged in.

If you are not familiar with personalization, you can read some of the basics of how it works here.

The short explanation is that Google can use information it learns about you through your use of Google+ to tailor search results for you to more closely meet your preferences. Google learns about your preferences when you click a +1 button on a website or give a +1 to a Google+ post.

Now here is the key point: this makes Google+ a source of revenue for Google. How? Personalization allows for more targeted ads and a higher click-through rate as a result.

How much do they make because of this? We don’t know, but my bet is that this nets them more than enough to pay for the engineering team working on G+.

Personalization also increases user satisfaction with Google’s search results and helps increase ad revenues.

To present one example of this, you can read about page-load time tests done by Google and Bing here. These tests showed how even small changes in usability impacted actual levels of usage of the search engines.

The bottom line for Google

So what about all the media people questioning Google+?

They have every right to do so, and I do think many of their criticisms are on point. Google+ is not a true success as is.

It’s a network that most people don’t know exists, that many other people choose to avoid, and that even has ex-employees who write scathing commentaries about how they messed it up (warning: lots of four-letter words in this article).

I don’t think Google’s social network is where they want it be. However, I don’t think stating “Google+ is dead” forms the right conclusion either.

Here are the four main points that statement overlooks:

1. Surrender is not an option

Google is hungry for as many sources of data about people as they can get, and social media activity is one great way to do that.

2. Google+ is a component of a larger social media strategy

There are many out there who consider Google a failure in social media.

While Google certainly failed to properly pursue Buzz, Orkut, and Wave, they own YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing platform — so that puts that assertion to rest right there.

And, Google+ does have a major audience that it can build on.

The Hangout and photo-sharing capabilities really rock. Even if they are partially unbundled, these may potentially do quite well on their own. That’s not a failure; it’s a starting point.

3. Google+ creates some revenue for Google right now

I made this point above, but it bears repeating. Personalized search is not just for organic search — it results in better ad targeting, too.

Google’s ads have high click-through rates, which drive incremental revenue.

4. What are Google’s options if Google+ is a failure?

If we assume, for the sake of argument, that the social network is a failure, Google has three main options:

  1. Start over. That’s a problematic strategy, because they will be even further behind where they are now.
  2. Buy a major competitor. Unfortunately, there is no viable competitor for them to buy. I do believe that they will buy other social media sites, but the purpose of the purchases will be to fill holes in a broader social media strategy.
  3. Build on what they have. As Besbris noted in his recent interview, they have hundreds of millions of users, and that makes a great starting place for any long-term strategy in social.

They’re in it for the long haul

So here is where I am at with this: Google is not going to let go for a better grip. They are likely contemplating major changes to Google+.

For further proof, see the Medium article I reference above. They are certainly working on features they think can end up having many hundreds of millions of users.

They clearly recognize that G+ is not a success in its current form. They need to offer large-scale differentiation, and they have not done so yet.

However, I believe that they will use the current Google+ as the platform on which they build these features, in one manner or another.

When Dave Besbris says, “We’re here for the long haul,” you can put that in the bank.

Over to you

Are you active on Google+? Do you regularly use its features?

Are other social channels more valuable to you?

What are your predictions about the future of the social network?

Let’s continue the conversation wherever it is most convenient for you: on our Google+ page … or, perhaps ironically, in our LinkedIn discussion group.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Lee Nachtigal.

About the Author: Eric Enge is CEO of Stone Temple Consulting, a digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) firm. He is also a speaker at industry conferences about SEO, Content Marketing, and Social Media. Get more from Eric on the Digital Marketing Excellence blog, Twitter, or Google+.

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Why Creating Your First Blockbuster Online Product Is Easier Than You Think http://www.copyblogger.com/create-online-products/ http://www.copyblogger.com/create-online-products/#respond Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45110 Imagine you’ve just launched your first product. It’s a short little course, just a few weeks long, that teaches the “DIY” version of the topics you help people with every day. You built it once, delivered it online, and now it works for you while you’re off doing other activities you love. This online course

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chocolate cupcakes with white frosting and rainbow sprinkles

Imagine you’ve just launched your first product.

It’s a short little course, just a few weeks long, that teaches the “DIY” version of the topics you help people with every day. You built it once, delivered it online, and now it works for you while you’re off doing other activities you love.

This online course has been a transformative force in your life.

You’ve found financial freedom, because you’re no longer constrained by the economics of trading time for money. And you’ve multiplied your impact, making the world a better place for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of people.

It’s a pretty picture, isn’t it?

But you and I both know it isn’t so easy to achieve.

In reality, most people with big dreams of product creation end up spending months, or even years, investing time and money that they can’t afford to lose into a project that will probably never see the light of day.

It’s a sad reality, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

Let your audience direct your product development …

What the creators of most blockbuster products have figured out is how to completely avoid that situation by allowing their audiences to guide product development.

This is one of the areas where Copyblogger has always excelled. They first discussed the concept of a minimum viable audience back in 2012:

Build an audience through content marketing. Let them tell you what they want. Build products and offer services based on their desires and needs. Prosper.

By putting the audience first and letting them tell you what you should create, you don’t have to wonder what they want or make assumptions that lead you in the wrong direction.

You begin by listening to your audience.

Let go of assumptions and pay careful attention to what your audience says, in their own words.

There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Study your blog posts that get shared the most and those with the largest number of comments.
  2. Notice the email and newsletter subjects that your audience responds to with the highest levels of urgency and emotion.
  3. When your audience emails you “just because,” collect the questions they ask and the problems they mention.

As you interact with your audience, take notes about the most common problems and questions.

But what if you don’t have an audience?

The good news is that you can listen the same way even if you don’t have a large audience yet, or even any audience at all.

By engaging with your future audience where they hang out online, you can still gather the same type of data.

Copyblogger describes this as “being an integral member of your own market.”

For example, you can listen in on your target audience wherever they happen to be. By looking at comments that they leave on blog posts and forums around the web, you will start to see repeatedly asked questions.

You can also eavesdrop on and join in conversations on social media. By finding interest groups on LinkedIn or Facebook and taking part in the discussion, you can explore the topics discussed the most often, or you can observe the interactions between a market leader and his Twitter followers.

Now you know how to begin to engage an audience in your product development.

Moving forward from there, you can gather even more in-depth data whether or not you have an audience.

One way to do this is to create a simple survey, asking the respondents about their biggest challenge.

Or, to go even deeper, you can conduct informational interviews with either members of your audience or the people who responded to your survey.

These interviews can be conducted over the phone or by video chat. During the interviews, you can ask specific questions about a certain topic or problem.

These methods of delving into the problem language of your intended audience will pay off in an overflowing stack of raw data.

But before that data is really worth something, you have to sort it and figure out what it all means.

By sifting through the data, you are likely to uncover patterns that will show you the problems you can potentially solve for your audience.

For example, a writing coach might gather data from her audience of aspiring writers and observe that half of the respondents have questions about Scrivener, and that another 10 percent have asked about what type of writing software they should use.

The writing coach would then see a pattern as she sorted through her data: Her audience wants to use time-saving software, and teaching a course on Scrivener might be a way for her to solve their problem.

Once you get an idea of what your audience might be willing and eager to pay for, you still have a crucial step before you can start creating that product: validation!

What’s the best way to validate that your audience will buy your product?

Answer: sell a pilot version of the product.

How to rapidly assemble and deploy your pilot offer

Much like listening to your audience to determine what you will offer them, you will also involve them in creating the offer.

To assemble your pilot offer, follow this structure:

  1. Collect information. This includes the steps that we have covered so far.
  2. Reach out to your target audience. Present your offer as a response to their demand — a solution to the problems they’ve discussed. Describe the offer, and include the story of how they brought your product into existence.
  3. Listen to their answers. Are they interested in the product now that it exists? Are they not really responding? If this is the case, go back to your research to see what should be changed or improved.
  4. Tell them your plan. Explain the motivation behind your actions by saying, “You asked me to do this, so I’m doing it.” Give them a preview. Let them know roughly what material will be covered, the structure of the course, and other relevant details. This step is important, because you don’t want to surprise your audience later with, “Hey, here’s this thing I never told you about. You should buy it!”
  5. Open a brief registration window. Once you start accepting new customers, send follow-up emails, with escalating urgency as you get closer to the date and time that the cart will close. Answer any questions that your audience asks and give them any additional information they might need. Then, close enrollment.
  6. Deliver the course!

The truth is: this process is a lot of hard work up front, but it’s totally worth it when your pilot product presents you with a ticket to success.

Getting your first cohort of customers

So, let’s imagine again:

  • You’ve become an integral member of your market.
  • You listened to your audience, paying attention to their exact words.
  • You created a product that your audience was practically begging you to build.

And, you just successfully sold your first product.

Imagine it working for you in the background, fueling and funding the life you want to lead. Imagine the impact you have achieved, making the world a better place.

Now, stop imagining.

Your audience is anxiously waiting for you to co-create that blockbuster product with them. So do your market research to see what they want.

Then reach out to them, and sell that pilot offer — and if you need help, check out our free templates that you can use to breeze through the sales portion of this process.

From there, the rest will be history.

Now go make it happen!

And let us know over on LinkedIn how you plan to get started …

Flickr Creative Commons Image via sunshinecity.

About the Author: Danny Iny is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing and creator of the Course Builder's Laboratory. For a limited time, he's giving away a massive “Done For You” swipe kit of email templates that you can adapt to sell your own pilot course.

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The Martin Luther King, Jr. Guide to Inspirational Writing http://www.copyblogger.com/i-have-a-dream/ http://www.copyblogger.com/i-have-a-dream/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 14:00:34 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/i-have-a-dream/ I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We

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Image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

“Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr., August 28, 1963, Washington, DC

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Just the Facts: Why You Should Attend Authority Rainmaker http://www.copyblogger.com/authority-rainmaker-last-day/ http://www.copyblogger.com/authority-rainmaker-last-day/#respond Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.copyblogger.com/?p=45523 In 2014, we produced a different kind of online marketing conference. This year, we’re doing it again … except bigger, better, and smarter. Here’s the bare minimum you need to know to dig deeper. No hype, just the facts. What: Authority Rainmaker: Copyblogger’s live training event that provides an integrated online marketing strategy combined with

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In 2014, we produced a different kind of online marketing conference. This year, we’re doing it again … except bigger, better, and smarter.

Here’s the bare minimum you need to know to dig deeper. No hype, just the facts.

What:

Authority Rainmaker: Copyblogger’s live training event that provides an integrated online marketing strategy combined with the best ways to implement it. Plus great parties and networking.

When:

May 13-15, 2015.

Who:

Daniel Pink, Sally Hogshead, Henry Rollins, Danny Sullivan, Ann Handley, Chris Brogan, Bernadette Jiwa, Michael King, Joanna Lord, Joe Pulizzi, Sonia Simone, Jerod Morris, Sean D’Souza, Scott Brinker, Pamela Wilson, Brian Clark (hey, that’s me!) … plus a few more we’ll be announcing soon.

Where:

The stunning Ellie Caulkins Opera House in sunny Denver, Colorado.

Why:

It’s not an event where you suffer overwhelm from fascinating facts, figures, and tactics. Then get back home … and realize you have no comprehensive roadmap to implement otherwise valuable tips.

Rather, it’s a carefully designed educational experience that presents a complete and effective online marketing strategy. This approach provides you with exactly what you need to take your business to the next level.

How:

Click here for all the details and to register before we go to full price.

About the author

Brian Clark


Brian Clark is founder and CEO of Copyblogger, host of Rainmaker.FM, and evangelist for the Rainmaker Platform. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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