What "Internet Marketers" Can Teach Search Marketers

Don’t you just hate "that kind of marketing?"

Most of my readers, and in fact most search marketers, have at best an uneasy arms-length relationship with "internet marketing."

You know, the kind of marketing that uses long sales letters with with big red headlines, bold claims, and gushing testimonials. The kind of marketing that bombards your inbox with the latest and greatest "new" thing.

Most of us naturally recoil at "that kind of marketing." We don’t want to use it in our own businesses, because it just makes us feel kind of slimy. I get that. I’m with you… but the truth is, "that kind of marketing" does work.

With a little understanding of the principles behind it, you can make it work just as well without all the hype. When you understand how it works, you can use it to sell more of whatever you sell, not just information products.

In fact, if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that I used "that kind of marketing" to get your attention in the first place.

You probably didn’t think of it as an "internet marketing" type of promotion, but when I relaunched SEO Fast Start last May, the process was the same. Same principles, same methods, the only difference is that I used my "inside voice" instead of shouting… and it worked.

How well did it work? Well, we’ve had over 20,000 downloads since last May, and a huge portion of that audience actually read the book and took the time to register for my newsletter.

It’s Not About The Hype & Claims, It’s About Building Anticipation

I’ve been getting a lot of emails about Jeff Walker’s "Product Launch Formula" for the past couple weeks. I’m sure some of my readers have as well, because it seems like every "internet marketing guru" is pushing it like mad.

Some of you may already be jumping out of your pants with excitement about it. Or, if you’re like me, all that hype makes you skeptical.

In this case, though, the product merits the attention. Having purchased and used the first edition of Jeff’s course a couple years ago, I can tell you that it has been tremendously helpful, and not just in selling information products about online marketing.

Jeff has distilled what’s true out of the hype-laden world of internet marketing. You can use Jeff’s formula to sell more of anything you sell.

You don’t have to launch a "product" at all – it could be a special sale or promotion, an end-of-the-month inventory blowout, anything. The point is to get your customers and prospects interested, and make whatever you’re doing into an event.

How Does Selling Out Amazon Sound?

The most recent email I got about the PLF was from Andy Jenkins at Stompernet. Andy’s a good friend, and a business partner, but make no mistake about it, he’s a lot closer to being one of "those types of marketers" than I’ll ever be. He just happens to be one of the honest ones.

Jeff Walker helped us out (a lot) with Stompernet’s most recent launch of SMARTS, a social marketing course & coaching program that I helped put together. He was deeply involved in Stompernet’s initial launch in October 2006, which set all kinds of records in the IM world.

Jeff has talked about those launches in depth… but Andy’s email didn’t mention those "internet marketing" launches at all.

Andy tells the story, in great detail, of how he used Jeff’s product launch methods last year. Not to promote Stompernet, but to save a movie that he produced from dying on the DVD racks.

Even though they had a major studio involved in distribution, it was the producers’ own online promotion that really made the DVD release into an event. Such an event, in fact, that they caused Amazon to sell out their entire inventory in 36 minutes.

How Do You Hype A DVD?

This is where it gets interesting. "That kind of marketing" was used to sell a movie, folks.

They didn’t use a big red headline. They didn’t tell everyone that they’d made millions of dollars just by watching the movie. How could they? For one thing it wasn’t true, and unlike some internet marketers, Andy doesn’t just make stuff up. More importantly, that kind of hype wasn’t what the audience wanted!*

What did the audience want? They wanted what movie geeks always want – insider information, behind the scenes stuff, trivia… so that’s what Andy offered them. People watched the trailer, signed up for the mailing list, and got a PDF chock full of that stuff for their trouble.

When it came time to "launch" they had a huge list that was eagerly anticipating the release… and it sold like crazy.

Chances are pretty good that if you walk into a Blockbuster store today, you’ll find Andy’s film, Altered, occupying prime shelf space. Internet marketing, done the right way, has a lot to do with that.

What does your audience want?

I don’t know your customers like you do, but I do know that they want… something. I know that Jeff’s course can help you identify that something, and show you step by step, how to use that knowledge to sell more stuff.

I don’t promote or recommend products that I don’t believe in. I wouldn’t suggest that you run out and buy something, unless I would buy it myself. I have no idea what the price of Jeff’s course will be, but I do expect it to be worth every penny.

Hey Dan, Is That An Affiliate Link?

Yes, it is, and I think the product actually goes on sale this week. If you buy Jeff’s course through my links, I will earn a commission, and *you* will earn a free pass to my next online class.

If you bounce over to Andy’s blog and buy through their links, then Stompernet will earn a commission, and you’ll get whatever they decide to offer as a bonus. Naturally, I like my bonus better.

BTW, like Jason Calacanis, I do believe that affiliate links should be disclosed in some fashion… and I think we’re all better off doing so before the FTC forces us to do it. It’s kind of a no brainer, and if anyone but Jason "Hate Bait" Calacanis had said it, I think the reaction would have been very different.

Go Watch Jeff’s Videos For A Free Education

The  good news is that you don’t need to buy anything to learn a lot. Jeff Walker has produced several case study videos that are themselves an excellent course on his methods. The first video is here, but I recommend that you start with this case study instead. You can watch a short sample and then opt in to his list to get access to all of the videos.

Since it’s easy to unsubscribe, I recommend just opting in first, and then watching them all. The sample video is just the first part of a longer video, so if you watch the sample and then opt in, you get to watch the same part twice. Seems a little silly to me, but hey, I never said he was perfect!

Trust me, whether you buy Jeff’s course or not, these videos are worth the time.

You may not like "that kind of marketing" as it’s practiced by most internet marketers, and I don’t either… but  it does have some real value when you understand the principles behind it.

* note: sometimes, red headlines and bold claims are exactly what the audience wants… knowing their audience is why a lot of these guys are successful. What makes so many of us uncomfortable about "that kind of marketing" is that we’re often exposed to messages that were written for an audience that we aren’t part of.

26 thoughts on “What "Internet Marketers" Can Teach Search Marketers

  1. I’ve been struggling with this disclosure question for over a year now. Not IF I should do it but HOW I should implement it.

    I like the idea of a DisclosurePolicy.org type disclosure generator for affiliate sites, but is that really good enough if it’s hidden down at the bottom of the page?

    On the other hand, continually putting in “Hey this is an affiliate link” is just way to disruptive to the flow of a review site.

    One thing I do now on many of my affiliate sites is put a section giving explicit refund instructions on HOW to get refunds on products if the visitor isn’t happy with a purchase.

  2. Dan!

    Thanks for the kind words about the Newsletter! It’s always a Ton of Fun to write about NON-IM events where IM techniques work. Marketing “Altered” was a blast! I’ll have to dig up the Blog Ads that we used and show you the insane click-through rates we got.

  3. Paul,

    The refund info is a great practice, that’s got to be a huge boost for trust & retaining your audience. I agree that the “yes, this is an affiliate link” approach isn’t going to work too well for a site like that, but a brief disclaimer at the end of each review would make sense. If you pick up a copy of Forbes, you’ll see how they label ‘advertorial’ sections, and that’s been OK for print.

  4. I think people usually recoil whenever they actually notice the marketing. Given how successful companies are at turning humans into consumption machines, they must be getting quite subtle with their campaigns..

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  6. I’ll usually run away from any “offer” if I have to enter my email address to get to it. It’s usually a clear signal that I’m trying to be sold on something I don’t want or need or other nefarious things done with email addresses.

  7. I’ve seen other advertorials. I’ll have to take a look to see how Fortune does theirs.

    The first thing that pops into my mind, though is that there’s a major difference between an “advertorial” and an honest affiliate who has become a “trusted advisor” to his audience and that the term “advertorial” could unecessarily diminish that trust.

  8. @dann404, That might be a little paranoid.

    I’ve been dealing with Internet Marketers for over a decade (occupational hazard). I always set up a one-off email address for every list I get on, and since the web was born:

    • An email address was sold once (by Mark Joyner, who discovered his mistake too late to stop it)
    • An email address was stolen once (from Yanik Silver, who got law enforcement involved in the data theft)
    • I was put on an endless autoresponder with no opt-out once (by Brad Callen, who fixed the problem after it was pointed out)

    I get literally hundreds of newsletters, with nothing "nefarious" going on. On the other hand, many so-called "legitimate" organizations have sold my email address, including two 3rd-party payment processors, two of the biggest makers of anti-virus software, and several major online retailers.

  9. @Paul, I think disclosure could be as simple as saying “some of the reviews on this site may contain affiliate links for which we earn a commission.” Since you are only recommending what you can honestly recommend, I’d say that too.

  10. The problem I have with the PLF is the same I have with Frank Kern’s Mass Control. They’re both formulas.
    It’s like the seduction handbooks. Do this, then this, and you get the girl.
    And like the seduction books, this type of marketing makes it ok to be phony, just as long as the story is good.
    And a question for you Dan. Have you seen the new PLF yet? If not, is it responsible to promote something you haven’t seen? Not that you’d be the first affiliate to do that.
    Frankly, I think the affiliate model is a dinosaur waiting to die.

  11. I come from the school that most everything we do revolves around marketing. That said, we imitate the things we like and toss to the side the things we don’t, when we’re thinking that is.

    When we’re not thinking, we do stupid stuff, things like making someone wade through 15 pages of garbage when a good slash and burn editor could easily cut that down to no more than three pages worth of crap and accomplish the same thing.

    On the other hand, I guess when you’re marketing crap, its difficult to not address the issue, in depth.

  12. @David, have you seen either of those products? Because there’s a lot more to both of them than “formulas.”

    I didn’t promote Mass Control because I hadn’t seen enough of it, but Frank’s free video was very educational and well worth the time.

    Yes, I have seen more than enough of PLF to recommend it. Nobody has seen the finished product yet, and nobody knows the price/offer. I’m not sure Jeff even knows the price yet.

    You can question my integrity if you like, but I sleep very well…

    You may be the only person on the planet who thinks that cost-per-action marketing is a dinosaur, BTW. The affiliate model as it’s applied in the IM space does need to change, because it’s counterproductive and corrupting in a lot of ways.

    @Peopleunit, that “when you’re marketing crap” line made me literally laugh my butt off. I’m off to the shop to get it re-attached. That’s exactly why some many of the sleazos in the IM business oversell – when there’s no steak, you feel like you need to add more sizzle.

  13. Nice information you have given on how to do marketing in order to make a huge business. In my opinion an efficient internet marketing made to ensure that an online business is able to capture the right amount of traffic and results into more conversion rates on your company.

  14. guys…jeff, frank, andy (mentioned) are making the biggest buzz around when they sell, whatever it is…well, that buzz is created according to PLF from Jeff. So, for sure PLF is something that is valuable! I am sure Jeff will compile great product, as he says that having good quality product is the most important thing.

    I did not even see first version of PLF and I do not need to see PLF 2.0 and still recommend to everybody to buy it through affiliate links!!! Yes, thorugh affiliate links…Why? That is how you will get even more bonuses offered from Dann or Andy or any other affiliate of Jeff. Choose bonus from somebody according to your interest, this is unique opportunity not only to learn from Jeff but imagine, you get for free online class from Dan.

    Go affiliate deals :)

  15. Thanks, Alex.

    I just saw Stompernet’s bonus, and it sorta puts mine to shame if you’re into information marketing (I was one of the 30 or so invitees at the Launch Summit), but yeah… the reason why you can get more value from a purchase is because of the affiliate programs.

    Having seen a lot of this stuff from the inside though, there are a lot of times when I see stuff being promoted solely for the commissions, with no concern for the value of what’s being sold. Not the case here.

  16. There are real advantages to disclosing an affiliate link, as you demonstrated Dan. The opportunity to incentivize why someone should buy from you is nice, but a problem arises when the advertiser doesn’t allow incentives, which is why I don’t think people should be forced to disclose affiliate links. The only type of forced disclosure I would be in favor of is one where the publisher is allowed to just disclose it in a TOS or disclaimer in the website’s footer. A brief sentence like, “Sometimes the products being sold on this site are being sold through affiliate links.” That would be ok, since no one reads those :)

  17. The FTC hasn’t come down on affiliate links, but I think it’s just a matter of time. They’re clearly advertising, at least in my opinion, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily need to label every link. The level of disclosure, and how prominent, would depend on what you’re doing.

    A “shopping affiliate” site (example: http://www.favorideas.com) is already obviously ‘selling’ the products, so it’s likely that no additional disclosure would be needed. Once you say “click here to buy,” that’s pretty obviously an ad, IMO.

    A site that appears to offer ‘neutral’ reviews, but is in fact being compensated for the sales, would have a higher disclosure requirement, but I don’t think that would mean labeling every link. Nobody’s complaining about the PayPerPost/Izea disclosure method so far.

  18. I don’t think “nobody’s complaining about” is necessarily a good benchmark for an ethical disclosure guideline. There are so many facets to this discussion.

    1) What will likely be reasonable to the FTC in light of current similar standards.

    2) What is an “ethical guideline for disclosure”.

    3) Does adhering to an “ethical disclosure policy” unecessarily diminish the trust in an affiliate review (i.e., the reviewer actually has the best interest of his audience at heart – and is knowledgeable enough in the subject area to give correct advice – but being as up front about the affiliate disclosure makes it less likely that his or her audience will follow good advice provided by an affiliate review).

  19. On #3, I think that it depends on the body of work.

    Way back in the day, I published a newsletter that was mainly reviews of infoproducts. I used an affiliate link whenever I could, even in negative reviews, and at least a third of them were negative.

    Disclosing the affiliate relationships, based on legal advice I got at the time, did not stop the sales from coming in.

  20. True. I hadn’t thought of that. You know, I was nervous when I put refund instructions up & that didn’t stop the sales either, even thought the FIRST email they get after they optin specially points them to the refund instructions.

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