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Sadly, this is a true story. About 10 years ago I was speaking at a marketing conference in a city I won’t name, in an effort to protect the innocent.
After my talk, a woman approached me and complimented me on my talk, telling me that mine was among the few talks that offered real substance, rather than just being a thinly veiled sales pitch. I thanked her and we chatted about speaking, entrepreneurship, and a number of other marketing topics.
She told me that she too was a speaker, but that she was just starting out. Then she told me one of the most startling stories I’ve ever heard. There was another speaker that day, who will remain nameless, who was one of the most riveting and effective salesmen I’ve ever seen. He literally had people pushing each other out of line to buy his products at the back of the room right after his talk.
This woman told me that she had seen this speaker before and was in awe of his ability to sell. I agreed that his sales volume was impressive, but added that I couldn’t sell the way he did, and that in my opinion, many of his tactics were devious.
Her response to this was, “That’s nothing. Let me tell you how devious he really is”.
She then told me that at a different event, she approached this same speaker and asked him how he learned to sell so well from the platform. He told her that he would be happy to reveal the secrets of how to be a masterful speaker and platform salesperson, and that it would cost her $1,000.
Being in start-up mode, this woman told the speaker that his price was well beyond her budget. He smiled and told her that if she changed her mind, she could get in touch with him, pay the $1,000 in advance (which was non-refundable) and he would reveal his secrets.
Months went by and she couldn’t get this off her mind. She believed that if she could only learn these secrets, it would change her career forever.
Finally, she scraped together every penny she had and sent the expert speaker her check for $1,000. When he received the $1,000, the speaker called and told the woman to fly to his office which was in another state.
She booked her flight and arrived at his office at the appointed time. At this point, the speaker announced in a glorious tone, “I am now going to reveal to you all the secrets I’ve used to become one of the most successful speakers and salespeople in the country!”
He then wrote something down on a slip of paper and handed it to the woman. On the slip of paper, the expert speaker had written the name of a book, “Influence” by Dr. Robert Cialdini. “Buy this book and you’ll learn everything you’ll ever need to know to become a dynamite speaker and marketer,” he told her, and then he escorted her to the door.
The woman was dumb-founded, but managed to collect herself and left the speaker’s office. She had just been taken for a $1,000 ride by an unscrupulous charlatan!
Now don’t get me wrong, Cialdini’s book is one of the best marketing books of all time. I frequently recommend it to clients. And if you don’t have a copy, I recommend that you go to Amazon and order one.
But to charge this woman $1,000 to tell her the title of a book, regardless of how great that book is, has to be one of the worst abuses of a customer I’ve ever heard of.
The moral of the story
This story has a simple, but valuable lesson: Don’t believe everything a so-called “experts” tells you.
Check the expert out. Ask for a list of client references. Ask other business owners and entrepreneurs what they know about any expert you’re considering doing business with. Unethical people are seldom unethical just once. They usually leave a long trail of bad experiences behind them, and you can almost always get a better sense of who to trust simply by asking around.
More horror stories about the so-called experts are coming up in a moment. But firstÂ…
Here are 34 experts you can trust.
If you’re anything like me, you’re sick of all the lousy information being sold on how to market your products or services online. Very little of it works. Some of it is so technical, you practically need a degree in computer science to understand it.
I got fed up with all of this and decided to do something about it. So I invited 34 of the most effective, trustworthy marketing experts I know to join me in creating a collection of powerful techniques you can rely on to get exceptional results. AND – I told them that it couldn’t take more than 15 minutes to learn any technique and be ready to put it into action. Get all the details on how this new program can help you get the results you really want with all your online marketing at:
Is long copy the only way to go?
If I have to hear another newbie expert hack up the tired old adage again, “Long copy is the only way to go if you want to sell your product”, I may be forced to do something drastic.
People who make claims like this are nothing more than inexperienced clowns. Look, long copy can be a great vehicle for selling all kinds of products and services. But it is not a “one size fits all” solution by any means.
Want to generate a lot of leads for your business, especially leads from senior level executives? Then your copy better be short, to the point, and offer a compelling reason to consider doing business with you. In this case, your copy is the beginning of a multi-part conversation. Long copy will either get ignored completely or reveal too much too early and kill your sale.
Are you testing a space ad in a new publication – online or offline? Usually you’re going to be charged by the amount of space you use. More space costs you more money. So you want to test small, prove that the publication and your copy works, then expand the size of your ad. And you want to do this in phases, increasing the size of your space by about 50% each time. To do otherwise is to risk a lot of money on “long copy” that may prove to be a complete bomb. Using long copy in this situation is just plain foolish — and will probably end up being a costly mistake.
How about postcards? They’re a great way to drive traffic to your site, get people to request a free report or make an appointment, or as the first step of a multi-step marketing process. How can you possibly fit “long copy” on a postcard? It’s a physical impossibility, but more importantly, it would be a poor way to market.
In any multi-step marketing system, you merely want to use enough copy to convey compelling reasons for your prospect to take the next stepÂ… and the nextÂ… and the next. Without going into a complete tutorial on multi-step marketing, you start with shorter copy and slowly increase the length, working up to a full-force, long copy sales message.
Here again, the lesson is clear and simple. Don’t trust what any so-called expert advises you to do without checking out their reputation and track record. One of the great dangers of the Internet is that anyone can throw up a web site and publish any information they want. This forces you, the customer, to have to do a better and more thorough job of making sure these experts can really deliver what they promise.
Speak like a drunken idiot at a baseball game
A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a so-called expert’s autoresponder series. I do this frequently to see how other people are converting prospects to paying customers. This series promised to reveal all the secrets of creating a successful web site.
The first lesson was some of the worst advice I’ve seen in a long time. The point of it was that showing people how excited you are about your product and your offer is contagious and will cause prospects to want to buy right now. To achieve this excitement, this “expert” advised, you should use lots of CAPITAL LETTERS, exclamation points!!!, big long blocks of bold text to hammer home your point, and tons of underlining to make a real boffo impression.
Brings to mind the title of that movie, “Dumb and Dumber”. Look, excitement is fine, but converting that excitement to heavy handed copy that looks and feels like a drunken idiot at a baseball game ranting at the players on the field is a poor choice if you really want to sell your products or services. Sure, it may work for network marketing or get-rich-quick schemes, but for everything else, it makes you look like an amateur and loses your audience in short order.
Imagine owning a store and when a customer comes in, you shout everything at them at the top of your lungs. Hey, why not? You’re excited and just want to show it, right?
You know the drill. Do not take advice from anyone you haven’t thoroughly checked out. Check their references, check their track record for producing real results. Then test any new idea or concept in as small and inexpensive a way as you can to determine whether it really works before you make a substantial investment of time, effort, and money.
Copyright © 2005 by Bob Serling All rights reserved