A few weeks ago I named Jay Abraham "Clued-in" for his Super Summit in Los Angeles, where I was privileged to be a speaker. It was the first time I had ever met the man. It was also the most powerful, actionable, life-changing Internet conference I have ever attended. (That last collection of adjectives is called a triad, and it's a key concept Jay taught me that works really well in sales copy.)
I also said that the entrance of direct marketing discipline to the Web was the big story of 2000, especially for smaller businesses. While publishers and broadcasters merely extended their existing practices to the Web, direct marketers have approached more humbly. Yet their experience with other forms of selling - direct mail, in-person, and telephone - is invaluable to making your Web site work today.
Anyway, Jay's got a book and he was kind enough to send me an "advance reading copy." (Next time we meet, Jay, I'd like you to autograph it.) The key lessons of "Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You've Got" are Robert Fulgham-simple. Let me summarize these points in a paragraph.
Your customers are really "clients," people under your protection. Adapt the breakthroughs of other industries to your industry. Find a promise you can fulfill and make it a guarantee. Invest in the first sale by looking to your customer's lifetime value. Discount add-on quantities and frequency to increase the sale. Test, test, test, and test your pitches. Use referrals. Prospect your old customers. Use direct mail as a first contact. Find the patterns among your best customers and look for them among your prospects. Be a friend. Flush. (No, sorry, that last one is Fulghum's. )
Jay spends 360 pages (give or take) explaining these concepts in his enthusiastic, go-getter, high-powered, relevant, adjective-heavy style. (Once you hear him speak, you'll hear him in these pages, and in that last sentence. Jay doesn't stop with triads.) He admits his Internet chapter, BigProfits.Com, is sort of a throwaway, but I think that's because the rest of his lessons are so adaptable to the online world. (Jay says it's because he didn't know enough about the Internet when he wrote it. Jay's ADD features a little sprite at his shoulder that reminds him to be humble.)
My point here is simple. Selling is selling. Over the last five years we've watched mass merchants make mass sales and massive amounts of money. Those days aren't over, but the game has moved on. If you're going to succeed in online sales today, integrating your online and off-line contacts, you need a sales professional's discipline. In your search for this discipline is Jay Abraham worth listening to? Google has 26,100 links to him, and of the top 12 half are to people who are trying to buy, or sell, used copies of his tapes and courses. A salesman with an after-market must be worth listening to.
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Takes on the News
Affiliate Marketing Won't Die (And Can't Be Patented)
You can't patent friendships, or recommendations, or word of mouth. So Amazon's claimed patent on affiliate marketing will fall. Hopefully its fall will take the whole canard of patenting business processes with it.
With that nonsense out of the way, let's discuss the future of affiliate marketing, and what you need to do in order to succeed as an affiliate (rather than the manager of an affiliate program.) Most of these secrets are simple, and John McCrea of Affinia, an affinity software house, recently covered most of them at ChannelSeven .
First, and this is key, don't recommend what you don't know. When you sell someone else's stuff you're putting your name on the line, not just theirs. Is this something you'd sell your mom, spouse or best friend? No? Then don't sell it to anyone else, unless you want to be seen as a slimy salesman.
Second, make the recommendation relevant. I do it with in-line text links, but you might consider graphics alongside the point you're making, like margin notes. This is the third point, that the presentation of a recommendation does matter, and that if you pre-sell the points that matter to you before a link is made, that link will be more effective. (You're being paid for sales, not clicks.)
There's an art to these things, but it's an art that starts from the heart and one that can be learned. Oh, and one more point - which you first saw in "This Week's Clue." Test, test and test your referrals. If you're to be a profitable affiliate partner, you (or someone you trust) must spend time testing programs, products, placement, and everything else that matters to your program.
The E-Mail Shakeout
Marty Chenard must be the only Web marketing genius without a Web site. That's OK - he didn't know he was a Web marketing genius until we told him he was at the Abraham Super Summit.
Now he has taken the bit in his teeth and run with it, renaming "The Course on Advanced Direct Marketing" with an "i-word," so it's now "The Course on...Advanced iMarketing and Advanced Direct Marketing." (For a free sample copy, in .pdf format, write him at email@example.com and add the word "Dana" to the Subject line.)
"Severe drops in ezine and email readership is already starting to happen, and what is now a core strategy and technique for generating sales is going to wither and become less effective," he writes. Brilliant enough, but he then goes on to tell you how you can survive. Publish only when you have something valuable to say, he suggests. Limit the offers in your ezine so readers can concentrate on them. Invest heavily in headlines and lead paragraphs - they may be all your reader looks at. Most important, write "subject" lines that don't automatically get filtered. Terms like "15% off", "discount" or "reach millions free" are trashed faster than thought.
The course, of course, will continue. I can't think of many things that are worth $169/year, but if you're serious about selling, Marty's course is something I can recommend.
The Wireless Gold Rush
Wireless Internet is coming, because digital cell phones must send data for use by 911 dispatchers. This reality - and the small size of the screen as well as the bandwidth - has big players staking out their turf big-time.
America Online , Microsoft and Sun spent their time at the recent Wireless 2000 show in New Orleans trumpeting their alliances, but they're not the gatekeepers they think they are.
The gatekeeper is the protocol. Adapting the key elements of your offering to the Wireless Access Protocol, and getting it validated is the key step you need to take now in order to be ready for the coming wireless revolution.
Just remember one more point, from Forrester's Josh Bernoff, underlined at a conference I attended last fall. Big opportunities come from tiny applications. The best of these tiny applications will be time and location sensitive.
Clued-in is EverAd , which is adapting the shareware concept of ad-supported software to the MP3 business. With advertising support, real labels can offer free downloads and still get paid. In this way EverAd has adapted a breakthrough strategy from the software business to the music business.
Clueless is Clark Howard , a nationally syndicated consumer radio talk show host who just had his Web site redesigned by Access Atlanta. There are no e-mail addresses on it, anywhere. I was going to tell him about Getspeed.com, a site for showing your broadband options he apparently doesn't know about, but I can't reach him so good-bye. Oh, and while it's easy to find Clark's home address and phone number from several sites, even those listings don't include an e-mail address.
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