Do you know this story?
A scorpion needs to cross the river. He asks a friendly-looking frog to carry him across.
“Do you think I’m stupid?” asks the frog. “You’re a scorpion. You’ll sting and kill me.”
“No I won’t,” says the scorpion. “That would be completely against my self interest. If I sting you, I’ll fall in the river and drown.”
The frog sees the sense in this and agrees to carry the scorpion across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings him.
“Why did you do that?” asks the dying frog.
“I’m a scorpion,” answers the drowning scorpion. “It’s my nature.”
Who are you asking to take you across the river?
This painful little story illustrates something we’ve all seen, but sometimes forget.
Lie down with dogs and you’ll get fleas. Do business with scorpions, and you’ll get stung.
For some reason, until recently, most practical information about how to succeed in online business has come from scorpions.
People who see prospective customers as prey to be hunted. People who teach unethical shortcuts. People who preach games and systems, not value and relationships.
Some of the scorpions have interesting things to say. Some of them are even brilliant. And many of them can teach you good techniques.
But they’re scorpions. And you don’t want to find yourself at their mercy when you’re halfway across the river.
Things are changing . . . fast
Have you noticed? Something fascinating is happening in the world of Internet marketing.
Maybe it’s the widespread adoption of social media that’s made the difference. When everyone can Facebook, Twitter, and blog, all of a sudden it’s very hard for the scorpions to pretend to be good guys. The shortcuts get revealed. The light gets turned on to show the little (and large) deceptions.
The flip side is, now it’s easier than ever for great stuff to get found. If you’re glorious, people start talking about you. Word of mouth becomes “word of click.” And the good guys start finishing first.
Copyblogger was an outlier from the beginning. Brian taught his readers how to combine direct response marketing (a tool that was too good to leave to the scorpions) with content and social media to deliver amazing value to potential customers.
And there were certainly others. Chris Brogan devoting himself to his audience for 11 years to create his “overnight success,” built on integrity and connection. Darren Rowse, unofficial Nicest Fellow in the Blogosphere, showing up tirelessly to create value for his readers and help them become “probloggers” in their own right.
The ranks started to swell. We’ve been lucky enough to have many of them write for us in the past year or two. Naomi Dunford. Dave Navarro. Chris Garrett. Johnny B. Truant. Laura Roeder. James Chartrand.
These are people who don’t choose to be (or hang out with) scorpions. People who went back to just offering real solutions, developing fantastic relationships with their customers, and building solid businesses around that.
The Third Tribe is coming
Almost a year ago, this “new” (actually old) way of doing business started to be known as the Third Tribe. We had no use for the scorpions, but we didn’t want to be the clueless frog, either. We wanted to make a good living and be decent people. And we rejected (ok, I’ll be honest, mocked) anyone who tried to tell us we couldn’t.
We knew better. We were doing it. And it was working – third tribe marketing is effective.
Brian and I instantly saw that this intersection was the future of Copyblogger. And, in fact, that it was the future for the smartest online entrepreneurs — the ones who wanted to build the most interesting, most profitable businesses.
So for the past few months, Brian and I, along with some clever co-conspirators, have been building something for you. A place for the Third Tribe to come together. To share ideas and inspiration. To educate ourselves about marketing and business techniques — effective techniques that respect our audiences and preserve our relationships. To grow farther and faster than any of us could alone.
If you’re already subscribed to the free Copyblogger newsletter, Internet Marketing for Smart People, you can relax. You’re going to be getting all of the details in the next few days.
If not, you may want to fix that now. Our newsletter readers will be the very first to hear about the new project, and have a chance to take advantage of a
ludicrous sweet offer.
If you’re curious about it (or frankly, if you’d just like to take advantage of a free 20-lesson course on what smart Internet marketers are doing in 2010), click here to sign up for the newsletter. It’s free, it’s got good stuff, and it’s where you’ll be able to find out all about the new Third Tribe project.