How to Become a Guru (and Dominate Any Market!)
These 5 Moonlighting Tips Will Rescue Your Sanity
Good to Great Copywriting in 24 Hours

How to Become a Guru (and Dominate Any Market!)

Anybody can be a Guru on the Internet. And unfortunately, nearly everybody tries.

The Internet Guru has become a caricature figure tainted by laughable self-promotion, boundless ego and really poor end product. Some of the ill-sentiment is driven by jealousy, and most of it is entirely justified.

It’s depressing for a new blogger to commit blood, sweat and tears to a project and still only reap 14 hits per day while a bumbling Super Personality typos his way to the next million.

If you are moving in to a new market and wish to establish yourself as an ‘authority’, there is an entire textbook of Guru Psychology for you to master.

I aim to shed light on some of it with this post.

There are 5 key skills that separate the biggest bloggers/authorities/personalities from those you’ve never heard of. Let’s tuck in.

1. Relate to Your Market

Imagine you are campaigning to be President of the United States. What’s the first thing you do?

Note: If your name is Mitt Romney, please stop reading. We already know the answer: “Make a complete bag of dicks out of myself.”

Your first objective should be to relate to the people whose opinions and trust you hope to gain. You seek common ground.

Every Presidential candidate in the modern age has fought to gain trust by creating an illusion that goes simply, “I’m just like you.

How does this tie in to guru psychology? Well, let me put it this way. If you can’t convince your target market that you share the same hopes, values and dreams, they will vote for somebody else who does.

Familiarity breeds popularity. It wins votes, as well as readers, leads and sales.

There’s a very simple process that is capable of popularizing you to any market in the world.

It goes like this:

  1. Find the hopes, dreams, fears and complaints of the audience you wish to speak for.

  2. Create a persona that is the Superhero Conquerer of the emotions above.

    i.e. Their fears, you conquer. Their hopes, you believe in. Their dreams, you realise. Their complaints, you put voice to.

  3. Be where your audience is likely to find you.

Just three small steps.

Three steps that I have yet to see fail when executed correctly.

Here’s a suggestion for finding your brand I wrote on ProBlogger yesterday:

Those who can put in to elegant words what their peers can only feel intuitively in their heads will always inspire and captivate. If you possess this gift, use it. Let your blog become the voice of expression that readers can link to and say, “I agree with that guy.”

Every guru knows that his ship will sink or sail on the back of one question;

Is my story empowering – or disempowering?

I’ll give you a clue. People won’t read your shit unless it affects them. And they’ll only read it once if it affects them in the wrong way.

2. Monitor the Industry’s Engagement Rate

If you are a long time reader of this blog, you will probably have a conscious understanding of how I choose to engage with you – whether I tell you about it or not.

  1. I post once per week. I believe firmly in “If you have nothing useful to say, STFU“. Every post I publish, I want you to read fully. If I start hitting you with infographics and irrelevant Mashable style ‘Top Tens’, you will stop listening so carefully. I know this because, like me, you have very little time in your day. And you already feel guilty how you spend it.

  2. My posts touch on personal, professional and industry topics. Roughly 50% of the content is designed to be actionable marketing information. The other 50% is designed to portray me. Who I am, what I believe in, which ball I’m scratching.

  3. I release a product every 3 months but will rarely tell you about it until the day of the launch. And yet, if you read some of my ‘alias’ blogs, you’ll catch me promoting products religiously weeks before they’re due.

    Why? The type of shadowy bastards that read this blog do not like to be marketed to. You will notice that when I do try to seduce you to click an affiliate link, or to buy one of my products, it is nearly always a contextual nudge – blanketed by content that is designed not to ruffle your feathers. This is not by chance. It is how I have chosen to engage with you based on the type of person that I think you are.

How you engage with your audience should be based on the wants and needs of that audience. What is going to get them to listen?

Some industries naturally require a great deal of social pandering to be successful.

If I wanted to be a successful ‘Work at Home Mom’ blogger, I would no doubt spend twice as much time scratching backs, ‘liking’ cute babies, and networking on crocodile feminist forums as I would preparing informative posts. No offence to the WAHMs (maybe I’m not American enough to understand).

Similarly, if I wanted to be a successful fashion guru… well, fundamentally, I’d be shagged. I’m about as fashionable as a rat’s arse. Secondly, I’d have to learn beautiful photography and visual aesthetics.

Fashion, crafts, and foodie ‘authorities’ place a high esteem on the eye-candy appeal of their content. Words are not enough. If you try to engage an audience with the wrong kind of content (i.e essays on ‘How to Do Makeup’), it’s going to fall flat.

To become an authority in any market, you must first learn the currency of that market.

It could be video, podcasts, vivid imagery, technical writing, illustration, or what I like to call ‘bitesize content’ (think The Daily Mail, Mashable etc).

Establish how people want to receive your content.

Do they need to be spoon fed blog posts every day? Should you be tweeting in the trenches? Can you get away with a barrage of emails? Is it beneficial to give your content a ‘personal’ touch?

Hint: For a WAHM blogger, it is. For an expert in nuclear waste disposal, a personal flavour may cast you as a dangerous megalomaniac.

The best way to monitor your industry’s engagement rate is to look at trusted authorities in the space. How do they communicate? How often? What social networks and forums do they use?

Just remember, you will always find this research more revealing when you look at what the experts were doing 12-24 months ago.

How an established blogger spends his time now is likely very different to how he spent it when he was creating his initial success. Look to the past for the true success story.

3. If you’re going to be Social, don’t be a Social Asshole

Many authorities thrive from an active presence on social networks. The vacuums of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are great arenas to engage your audience. But you truly do need to think before you post.

What would an authority say?

Engagement is about more than barking nonsense in the hope that you’ll be heard. The dog who barks loudest all through the night is rarely the most loved. I wish a few more ‘Social Media experts’ would understand this.

Too many people treat social media as the means to a one way conversation. Perhaps the best advice I’ve heard on using social media is to set a goal for yourself: aim to help one person in your market every single day.

I don’t mean answer their questions in 140 character or less (though that is a good ice-breaker), and I don’t mean send them a link to one of your archived blog posts. Instead, you should go above and beyond the call of duty to help them – without asking or expecting anything in return. This might involve emailing a detailed reply, or posting a long piece on a forum. It could even involve giving away one of your prized products for free.

If you do this every day, a year from now you are likely to have 365 true fans who respect and appreciate you. That is not a following that will change the world. But if you believe in the law of reciprocation, which you should, it’s a following that will prove immensely helpful.

People remember good deeds. Better yet, as human beings we are compelled biologically to return them in spades.

You might only send Joe Bloggs a 5 minute email to answer his tweet, but when he stumbles across your product six months from now, the chances of him responding to your sales plea are significantly enhanced. Subconsciously, he owes you. Never underestimate how powerful that tug can be.

To quote a man who knows all about Influence:

“People say “Yes!” to those that they owe.”
Robert Cialdini

How many people have you helped today?

Too many ‘experts’ think the equation is ‘all about me’. “Here’s my press release, here’s my blog post, here’s my favourite article from this morning!

When you nurture a huge following, your personal taste is more likely to crossover and influence the public domain. But until you’re Tony Robbins? Planting a thousand good deeds is far more likely to create goodwill than retweeting your own articles.

4. Search for your Platform of Knowledge

You don’t have to know everything to be a guru on the web. You can get away with knowing marginally more than 95% of your readers.

The Internet Marketing space is notorious for blogs and forums that claim to offer the secret sauce to success. Most of the owners are no closer to success than the puppets they hope to seduce. It’s a circle jerk, and it works.

Do you know why it works?

There’s an unfortunate law, shat on by many, that dictates that the guy who has spent 6 months failing knows more about his industry than the guy who entered it today. He doesn’t need to have the blueprints of success. He simply needs to have encountered some anecdotal evidence of it along his merry way.

I call this the Platform of Knowledge.

You can be an authority figure without being famous, without having a degree, without practicing what you preach, and without being what your audience aspires to be. All you need is a Platform of Knowledge. An understanding of your field that is better than the average reader.

If you have this platform, you can speak for the common hopes, dreams, fears and concerns of your audience. In many ways, the ability to relate to these emotions is much more powerful than the innate ability to solve them.

So how do you acquire a Platform of Knowledge?

It falls back to understanding your audience, and what knowledge they are most likely to benefit from.

I would advise any aspiring marketing bloggers to indulge in books from the Direct Response greats, then to get a grip on psychology, influence, and the emerging field of behavioural economics. These are topics I drown myself in daily. Not only does it help my marketing campaigns, but it allows me to talk about issues that would pass over the average affiliate blogger’s head.

Whatever market you plan to enter, there will be low hanging fruits of knowledge at your fingertips. Your job is to push yourself to consume them. Surround yourself in a wide range of literature, subscribe to challenging blogs, devour industry journals that inspire you to think independently.

I can guarantee that being dedicated to your field will ensure you have a distinct competitive advantage over the authority figure who decides to ‘wing it’.

Do you see what I’m saying here? To become a guru, you should… stop being a lazy bastard. Try learning more.

It’s groundbreaking advice, isn’t it? Precisely what you were not looking for.

5. Make Split Second Judgments Favourable

When somebody lands on your site, how long do you think it takes them to judge you?

The most common answer I hear is “a couple of seconds“.

You wish.

Research suggests your first impressions of a website are formed in 50 milliseconds (1/20th of a second), and subsequently shaped by the Halo effect.

The Halo effect is a cognitive bias where we associate that if somebody is skilled at A, they will also be skilled at B and C. A positive first impression – let’s say an initial aura of authority – is likely to shape the user’s thoughts for good.

In the fraction of a second that it takes for a user to judge your website, what opinion are you encouraging?

If you want to personify authority, look no further than the example set by ‘Dr. Direct’, Drew Eric Whitman. Go to his website and you will find this banner:

Doctor Direct authority

Author of Ca$hvertising, a book that should be in your collection.

Already, your brain has interpreted a number of visual cues and condensed them in to a cohesive stereotype.

  • You noted the symbolic doctor’s coat (an advertising prop that is outlawed, such is its potency). It triggered a split-second assumption that the author is powerful, responsible and qualified.

  • You saw the hand-scrawled signature and associated it with noteworthiness.

  • You saw the book, which confirmed your bias and validated his credibility.

  • You subconsciously interpreted the dollar bill in the background, as well as the $ in the book title. Your mind is primed to think about money.

  • You processed words like Surgeon and D.R.S to feel somehow inferior to the author.

Before you even know it, you have been conditioned to see Dr. Direct as an authority. Once that opinion has been shaped, it is almost unshakeable. You will search for confirmation and you will find it.

Now look at your own website.

Where can you insert authority signals and social proofing?

Here are some mental shortcuts to consider:

  • Ensure any personal photos are aligned with your brand. Putting on a doctor’s coat without the qualifications is, as far as I’m aware, illegal. The best alternative that I’ve found is the traditional library bookcase. It projects authority very well.

  • If you have been featured in noteworthy magazines, shows or blogs, crowbar them in to an “As Seen On…” section. If you haven’t been featured, get featured. Join Haro.

  • Use your Twitter following, RSS subscribers and Facebook ‘Likes’ to validate that other people are already your fans. Only do this if you have more than 3 fans.

  • Use your degree initials after your name (if you have one)

  • If you win any kind of award – or even get nominated for one – steal the badge and make it a prominent part of your layout.

  • Ask readers to vouch for your character and expertise in the form of a testimonial. I did this just last week with my Premium Posts and it is already producing more sales.

  • And on a final unrelated note, for God’s sake, make your website easy to read. Never use white text on a dark background.

The Transformation Starts Now — in Your Head

Aspiring to iconic ‘Guru’ status is a recurring theme for new Internet Marketers. People are beginning to recognise that fortune – in 2012 – favours those who get behind their content and put a face on it.

If you want to gain traction in a market, a pile of 500 word articles will no longer suffice.

The reality of the changing web is cause for optimism: Google can’t save you now.

Well, Halle-bloody-lujah. Have we not waited for this day?

To enter and dominate a vertical, you are going to need to do what was unthinkable in the past. And that is deal with people. Not systems, not search engine algorithms, not shitty rewritten content.

It’s time to lose the ‘cutting corners’ mindset. The transformation has to start in your head.

If you want to become an authority, start acting like one. You don’t need to be the best. Simply better than most will do.

Recommended This Week

  • This site is up for a King of the Bloggers Award. Whatever that is. I’m flattered to be nominated. If you want to vote, go here and choose your favourite.

  • Be sure to check out Adsimilis, the official sponsor of Premium Posts Volume 5 & 6. Adsimilis is one of the most effective networks in the world for CPA affiliates. Lots of offers, lots of high payouts, lots of exclusives. Sign up now.

These 5 Moonlighting Tips Will Rescue Your Sanity

The fastest way to change career is to quit one job and start another. If you intend to work for yourself – and have no prior experience – this path is also stupendously reckless.

The smartest way is to moonlight.

Moonlighting — v. The act of balancing one job on top of another, often in the dirtiest recess of the night while mere mortals are sleeping.

Many Internet Marketers grow in to their jobs by slowly increasing their online earnings until they can afford to work without a secured pay cheque. Another great number of Internet Marketers are looking for jobs having misjudged when that should be.

For most of us who have been lucky enough to make it online, the ‘dream job’ is preceded by at least 6 months of the purest Hell balancing full-time employment.

Are you moonlighting to change career? Are you juggling multiple jobs in the hope that you’ll one day have none? Maybe you’re hunting for that enigma… the ‘residual passive income’?

Let me give you a hint: The typical search for ‘residual passive income’ ends in a realisation that ‘passive’ is code name for the Internet Marketer that managed to get to sleep. Most of us work hard, even when we’re ahead.

Here are some tips for moonlighting and staying sane. Each is easier said than done.

Learn to counter ‘ego depletion’

Did you know that your self-control and willpower are exhaustible commodities?

When you are forced to perform a task that requires effort – cognitive or emotional – you are far less likely to be able to maintain the same level of self-control when the next challenge arrives.

The psychologist Roy Baumeister is well known for his experiments in this field.

Roy Bauermeister: One of the leading authorities on willpower.

In one of his studies, test subjects were asked to watch an emotionally charged film while making a conscious effort not to react to the footage. They were then asked to take part in a test of physical endurance – grasping a dynamometer for as long as they could manage.

The people who had watched the film and exerted self-control in managing their reactions gave in long before the people who had not seen the film.

They were ‘ego depleted’. Their reserves of willpower had been reduced.

Now imagine the willpower you are forced to exert on a daily basis by going to work.

There’s the morning commute, the meetings that drag, the water cooler bitching, and – of course – that need to bite your tongue and avoid slapping a boss on the way out.

Every day, you go to work and exhaust your willpower to the point where you get home and find your ability to resist temptation severely diminished.

The more unhappy you are at work, the greater the demands on your self-control throughout the day. It’s a cruel cycle. Those who detest their day jobs with a burning passion are more likely to find themselves instinctively surfing to Facebook or switching on the television when they complete Task A (the 9-5). They just don’t have enough self-control in the tank to manage Task B.

So how can a moonlighter conquer ego depletion?

A new study by Baumeister shows that people can replenish their levels of self-control with a positive mood stimulus. Test subjects who were shown short bursts of stand-up comedy from Robin Williams and Eddie Murphy were able to restore their ability to self-control and perform better in subsequent tasks.

We have a long way to go before we truly understand how to reverse ego depletion, and especially how Robin Williams qualifies as a stand-up comedian. But it would seem that distraction in the form of laughter – and the endorphins it releases – is as good a start as any.

Baumeister best describes willpower as a mental muscle, one that must be trained if you wish to get the best out of yourself. He suggests carefully planned routines, a good night’s sleep and a slow-burning diet as important exercises for our willpower.

Failing that, recent tests have shown that a shot of glucose is the closest thing to an instant willpower pick-me-up.

My suggestion?

When you get home from a hard day at the office, don’t even think about moonlighting. Take an hour’s break. Enjoy dinner with your family.

Eat slowly away from the computer. Watch whatever makes your guts burst with laughter. In my case, I’ll take some Karl Pilkington.

Karl Pilkington's endless reel of quotes

Most of us know how it feels to reach the end of the night with tasks still to finish and a rapidly deteriorating focus. It’s easy to beat yourself up. What you must realise is that in all likelihood, you already have.

Find ways to alleviate the levels of stress earlier in the day

This ties in quite appropriately with ego depletion.

Very few people realise that to moonlight successfully, you will need to work twice as hard in your day job.

When I was juggling two jobs, I would pose a challenge, “How can I detach myself emotionally from this office? How can I work more efficiently? How can I keep more in the tank for later?

The answer was simply to let it go. Accept your job and the many arseholes that come with it (I was lucky, I only had the one)

It pays not to rise to the trivial complaints that infest lunch time. People bitch about their jobs because they are addicts to misery and the satisfaction that it brings. Your best ally is the ability to disconnect and simply not give a flying turd.

The sooner you realise that there is always going to be something to complain about, the faster you can unravel emotionally from the negativity that is out of your control.

Remember: By getting stressed, you are eating in to your own capacity to perform two jobs. Enjoy the day job as best you can. It’s your safety net. Not your future.

Work to a schedule but remember to schedule rest.

I can’t think of a faster ticket to the loonie bin than strict adherence to a schedule that neglects your need for sleep, or family, or friends.

Most moonlighters relish in repeating this old chestnut…

Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life how most people won’t, to spend the rest of your life how most people can’t.

It’s touching, isn’t it?

Until you bump in to the average moonlighter at eight o’clock in the morning. Eyes bulging, neck ticking, a mouthful of venom for any bastard that suggests it’s not a good look.

This guy moonlights:

Moonlighting King

Moonlighting King

This savage hasn’t stopped since 1986:

Moonlighting Veteran

Moonlighting Veteran

I’ve grown a little wiser and learnt to appreciate that working balls to the walls is a poisonous trait of our industry. The ‘grind’ has become quasi-slang for “One day they’ll be grinding my carcass off this desk.

Dedication to work is admirable. A heart attack before 50 is just sad.

You should have at least one full day where work is forgotten. And I’m sure your wife would enjoy one full night, too.

For every notepad I’ve wasted projecting financial figures in to the future, I’ve yet to see the day where realising any of them felt like I’d arrived somewhere.

To steal a quote from my favourite TV show…

“A life, Jimmy… you know what that is? It’s the shit that happens while you’re waiting for moments that never come.”

A life, Jimmy... you know what that is?

Lester Freamon and Jimmy McNulty in The Wire. Watch it.

Track your progress in quarters

Some people prefer to setup a yearly review of their progress. I find the idea self-defeating. It gives the average healthy British male only 81 opportunities to pat himself on the back, of which the seminal years he’s likely to be found laying drunkenly in a gutter.

Some people prefer to use monthly reviews. As an affiliate marketer, I find comparing 30 day profits to be anything but an accurate depiction of how hard I’ve worked.

And some maniacs prefer to review daily. They grow old fast.

I, personally, like to review my progress in quarters. You can achieve a lot in 3 months, and can also confirm in good faith when you’ve achieved nothing. Better yet, you can tell your lavish spending missus that you’re ‘in recession’ before it’s too late.

Either way, a year juggling two jobs for zero progress is a poor transaction by anybody’s standards. And yet there’s always the royal optimist shouting from tree tops, “2013 is definitely gonna be my year!

Bullshit. So was 2012 until she left you in the dust.

Subject your moonlit earnings to the same scrutiny as a public company is bound to by law. Imagine you are explaining your progress to an invisible investor, the bathroom mirror.

Write a report and track what has gone right versus what has gone wrong.

What are the risks for the next quarter? What are the opportunities?

While I’m a realist who sees the pitfalls in everlasting growth, your quarterly profits should be heading in an upward direction for most of the first couple of years.

If you started with nothing and you still have nothing, the omens are not good. Perhaps delivering papers is more your realm.

Understand short term cash vs. long term assets

I started this post by bashing the popular interpretation of ‘residual passive income’, I’m going to end it by offering some hope.

While the dream of working hard for period X to do nothing for period Y is most certainly flawed, the idea of thinking long term rather than ‘servicing hours’ is a good one.

Internet Marketers tend to veer in one of two directions.

  1. Build websites, applications and products in the hope that they’ll one day be worth money.

  2. Use sites like Elance, Guru and oDesk to service clients and make money by the hour – or by the project.

It shouldn’t take a genius to look at those trajectories and see:

  • Which strategy could result in a higher income in the future, with a greater sense of fulfillment.

  • Which strategy is likely to solve short-term cash flow issues, i.e paying the water bill.

If you are moonlighting to raise extra cash for short-term monetary needs, throw your skills at servicing clients. It’s the easiest way to raise emergency funds. You don’t need to think big.

If you are moonlighting because an entrepreneurial flame burns inside you, the fastest way to screw yourself over is to forget about value creation and steer towards money creation. Trust me. It works nearly every time.

Note: Affiliate marketers, this applies to us now more than ever.

If you’ve decided to spend the deathly hours working on projects that have no short-term monetary gain, you should never be thinking small in scale.

To quote yet another great ‘Mad Man’:

“When you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either.”
Leo Burnett

I wish I could come up with a suggestion more apt for Internet Marketers, but there isn’t one.

Recommended This Week

  • I’ve just recovered from an awesome weekend in Amsterdam at the Adsimilis Meetup. If you didn’t go, you missed out. It was great to meet everybody. Make sure you join Adsimilis and sign up for the next one. I’ll be cruising for a corporate bruising at London Adtech this week. Hope to see some of you there.

Good to Great Copywriting in 24 Hours

David Ogilvy, the godfather of advertising once wrote, “Never send a memo or a letter on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning – and then edit it.

David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy: One of the greatest ‘Mad Men’ that ever lived.

We may have abandoned the letter, but we shouldn’t abandon common sense.

Before sending an important email, or publishing any writing of significance, our words need time to incubate. A lot can change in 24 hours. The moment your ideas are projected over the web, they can’t be reclaimed.

And that’s a damn shame. Half of what I have written has been published in the moment; skewed by hot air, passing moods and half-truths. The other half just wasn’t very good.

The Producing Mindset vs. The Consuming Mindset

The longer I spend on a piece of written work, the further detached I become from the final product as it is meant to be consumed. If I spend 3 hours carefully weaving words in to a landing page that is designed to be read in 20 seconds, my producing mindset has strayed considerably from what matters most: the consuming mindset.

That’s not a bad thing. But it is a problem if you write with one eye and review with the other. Use both eyes for each task. And make sure they are fresh.

Fact: Completing a final draft and then proofreading 5 minutes later is a recipe for disaster. Your editor should never be the sidekick.

Even the best copywriters are prone to misjudging their eloquence when the ink is still drying.

Your thoughts need time to settle. The creative mind must detach before any critical analysis.

Only after this separation can you scrutinise your work with the indifferent gaze of a consumer; he with no predisposition to artistic value.

I find there are three steps that help me to detach from my work.

Adopt the Next Day rule.

Ogilvy said it best. From the moment you put the finishing touches on your work, the incubation period begins. Let the work sit for 24 hours and then revisit. You will notice discrepancies and pacing problems that were not visible while you were far away in the creation mindset.

All great writers and designers rely on moments of inspiration. But you won’t know that you are truly inspired by greatness, or overswept by crud, until the morning after.

My portfolio of domains says as much.

When I don’t follow the Next Day rule, I invariably wake up to a new dotcom and a stinking hangover.

Well, shit. EndangeredHipposForSale.com. It felt so right at the time.

When does it not?

Good copywriters too often rush their ideas to the market. Great copywriters let them stew just long enough to take them straight to the bank.

Create a library of inspiring role models and highlight their best work.

I find one of the best ways to pinpoint shortcomings in my work is to be surrounded by examples of greatness when it matters most.

In my office, I have cut-outs from the direct response industry’s crème de la crème. They say you can tell a lot about a man by his five closest friends. You can tell a lot by his desk, bookshelf and Internet History too (especially the hour it was last emptied).

  • If you want to write an awesome sales page, read 5 relevant examples from copywriters at the height of their profession. Do this after your ‘final draft’.

  • If you want to create an effective conversion funnel, rifle through your inbox and find receipts for every product you’ve bought in the last 6 months. Analyse why you bought it. Compare.

  • If you want to produce great wireframes, visit the websites you admire most. Why are they so easy to browse? What might you borrow?

Modelling your work in this manner is advantageous for many reasons.

You will gravitate towards proven techniques, even if you can’t lay a finger on them, while developing all new awareness of your weaknesses.

But there’s a catch.

It’s important you turn to your role models after the creative process regardless of whether you use them before. By doing so, you will compare like-for-like as finished works, not as whimsical brainfarts that have yet to take shape.

Devouring a folder of great landing pages is unlikely to influence your bottom line unless you compare honestly the final similarities in your own. Only then can you truly mark progress (and correct faults).

Source feedback from the people that matter.

Something that has become painfully clear from my years in the affiliate business is that the word ‘expert’ is an abomination.

The only expert is the customer. We must not be snobs about that.

Great marketers are no more blessed than the average Joe, but they possess two key traits. Ruthless persistence and a knack for hearing everything.

You can use the best designer in the world, the best developer, the best copywriter and the best photographer too. It matters not one iota unless the people that need to be converted – your customers – are invested in the ‘fix’ that you are proposing.

What is a fix?

The fix is your product.

It’s your brand positioning, USP and execution rolled in to one. When you ask Joe Bloggs to part with his wallet, you are suggesting a fix; an improvement to his busy life. Asking the wrong questions, highlighting the wrong motives, or ignoring his biggest concerns will remove any chance of a sale. Your irrelevance is punishable by the sound of crickets.

Fact: Only a fool spends thousands of dollars advertising a fix that hasn’t been tested outside the confines of his imagination.

There are two methods of sourcing feedback that I rely on.

  • Pre-launch ‘over the shoulder’ feedback.

  • Post-launch analytical feedback from software.

Pre-launch feedback

When you gain confidence in a skill; be it writing, designing or developing; you tend to search inward for validation. The greater your talents grow, the more resistant to third party feedback you are likely to become.

This is detrimental in many fields, but particularly so in advertising.

A great writer might never spot his weakness until he stands behind a reader, watches silently, and resists the fist fight of wits.

One of the best ways to realign with the consumer mindset is to ask for feedback from friends, family or colleagues. What do they think of your work? Really?

For the sake of coaxing honesty, never let it be heard that the work belongs to you.

Always resist the artistic urge to justify your creation. “Well, the background is red because…

Pandering for full marks is never helpful. It is just your egoic mind fucking with you. Accept critique for what it is. Better yet, act on it.

‘Over the shoulder’ feedback is as priceless as it is courageous to obtain.

It may be painful to realise the gulf between what a consumer needs and what your artistic genius wants to give them, but it is always the correct decision not to waste dollars in blissful ignorance.

Post-launch feedback

I sometimes wonder what the likes of Ogilvy, Schwartz and Bernbach would have made of the technology that we have at our disposal today.

Advertising remains the art form it always was. But tracking results has become a science.

For all this article was intended to warn you of the 24 hours prior to considering something ‘done’, the following 24 hours are just as important.

If you are launching an ad campaign, a website, a sales letter or a new squeeze page, technology is your saviour. It is now possible to source feedback from the faceless masses just as they are landing on your work.

How will you know that they are liking what they see?

Traditionally, we relied on sales. A positive ROI was the only footprint that mattered. Now we can use eye-tracking, scroll maps and hot spots in real-time. Give it ten years and I’ll be damned if we can’t stare up the nostrils of our target markets.

Here are some popular real-time visitor analysis tools you might consider:

Remember! No matter how polished your final work may be, there is never room for satisfaction. Not if you place a value on the heaps of data at your fingertips. Your competitors already do. And they will use it to put you out of business.

Ten Commandments for Better Writing

Here is the famous memo David Ogilvy sent around his agency on the 7th September, 1982. Print it out and keep it handy.

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

  1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
  2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
  3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
  4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
  5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
  6. Check your quotations.
  7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.
  8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
  9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
  10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.


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