Monthly Archives: April 2012

Perry Marshall’s Five Stages Test

So today I’m browsing through my email and find something from Perry Marshall, which points to a blog post, which rambles extensively until getting to a bunch of stuff he tells his friend to do.

And this one in particular got me thinking:

A story of 2 major personal victories from each of the following: childhood; teen years; early adult; recent adult. Tell what happened and what made you feel GOOD about it.

This is different from the crap I usually see. The rest of his advice is pretty much the same crap as always – basic “finding a niche” stuff. Jobs you’ve had, hobbies you’ve enjoyed, groups you’ve joined. That sort of shit. Everybody talks about that stuff.

But this one’s different. This is about personal victories, and not just random things you did. It’s not “I got a library card because I didn’t have enough money to buy books.” It’s something more meaningful.

We often miss that aspect in our niche selection. It’s not enough to be good at something, or to have an interest in it, or to have expertise in it. One of the most powerful stories you can tell – and all marketing, at its core, is storytelling – is the story where you come out the winner.

Especially if nobody expected it. The hero’s journey. Local boy makes good. Even better, redemption – everything was awful , terrible, no good, and very bad; then this awesome shit happened and holy fuck, look how cool things are now.

I sort of need that at the moment. I’ve had rather a dearth of victories lately, and I’m being kind of spiky and bitchy and just a little bit childish about the whole thing. (A bit! A bit! Just a bit. I have got a wart.) So I’m going to tackle this assignment myself over the rest of the week, and we’ll see where it takes us.

 

Some Bullshit I Used To Believe

There are a lot of people out there who have been saying that you don’t have to finish your entire product before you sell it – just 10% of the content. Then you drip out the rest of it over time.

But see, here’s the problem with that. If you release your product and it gets hundreds of sales, that’s great. You’ve just financed the other 90% of the product. Sure.

So how about if you only sell one or two copies?

Guess what! You’re now on the hook to develop the rest of the product. Whether it’s worth your time or not. Even if you got a tiny little 0.5% conversion rate on this shitty product (we all fuck up now and then), the little bunch of customers you can count on one hand has paid their money and expects you to deliver.

That’s like the shittiest test strategy ever. “I’m not sure this will work. I’m going to try it out, and if it doesn’t work I’m going to keep doing it anyway.”

That’s why I designed System Sixty the way I did. Each volume stands alone. If one of them doesn’t sell, that’s fine – the rest can be made or not at my option. If the whole series doesn’t garner any interest, I can trash the whole thing.

In any case, buying one volume doesn’t mean you get anything else. So the job’s done – I’ve delivered on my promise and you’ve gotten what you paid for.

I don’t really like this drip-feed thing unless everything’s already done. If I’m going to sell you thirty daily lessons in something or other, then I’d better have thirty lessons in-hand and ready to pass over to you. Because if I just make three of them and then say “I’d like to cash in now!” there’s a solid chance I won’t get a lot of sales… but I still have to finish the series.

It seems like a great idea when you’re making up in your head that hundreds of people will buy your shit, but it kind of isn’t when you drop your product on the market and only four people actually buy it.

People talk a lot about positive thinking and just having faith and trust that whatever you do is going to work, but the reality is that you have to do risk management. You think this is going to happen? Great! I hope it does.

But what if you don’t get that?

What if you get, you know, the opposite of that?

I’m not trying to bring you down here. It’s just reality: not everything you do is going to work. If something doesn’t work, what are you going to do? What does that mean? How can you get through it, and past it, and keep going… when it all goes wrong?

Pretending it won’t isn’t a strategy. It might be less stressful and more pleasant, but it’s just plain not going to work. Sooner or later you will fail. But that’s only going to be the end of the world if you let it.

Megalomaniac (Excessive Force Remix)

KMFDM, , 1997

Nihilistic mystics, apostolic alcoholics,
Messianic manics, cataclysmic and prolific
In the age of super-boredom, hype, and mediocrity,
Celebrate relentlessness – menace to society

This is counterculture from the underground
Eternal revolution this is our sound
KMFDM better than the best
Megalomaniacal and harder than the rest

Refuse is our inspiration, terrorism our trade,
Sabotage and piracy, chaos our mental state
Mesmerizing, festering, intended for the faint of heart,
Cultish and anthemic until death us do part

This is counterculture from the underground
Eternal revolution this is our sound
KMFDM better than the best
Megalomaniacal and harder than the rest

Like a fiendish tropic virus spitting bile at all you whores
Razor-sharp tongue-in-cheek poking in your open sores
A wolf in sheep’s clothing, the ultimate disgrace
Wrapped up as a gift of God, exploding in your face

This is counterculture from the underground
Eternal revolution this is our sound
KMFDM better than the best
Megalomaniacal and harder than the rest

Refuse is our inspiration, terrorism our trade,
Sabotage and piracy, chaos our mental state
In the age of super-boredom, hype, and mediocrity,
Celebrate relentlessness – menace to society

This is counterculture from the underground
Eternal revolution this is our sound
KMFDM better than the best
Megalomaniacal and harder than the rest

So Why Be In This Industry?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? Why even be in an industry that is such a shithole in the first place?

It’s not just this industry. It’s every industry. It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s still full of Slim Jims and you still need to be Fat Jack to get anywhere. I’m not talking about the way people in this industry think right now, I’m talking about the way everyone everywhere thinks all the time.

And you don’t get to live in some special different world where people aren’t people. It doesn’t work that way.

We all have some stupid fantasy that we will separate the world into “us” and “them,” and we will stay over here while they stay over there. But it’s not like that. It’s not just hard to tell the difference – there isn’t one.

That’s right, you are Slim Jim. And so am I. Fat Jack isn’t something we are at the core of our being; it’s a part we play, a mask we wear, so we can ourselves be selfish and lazy and ignorant and mean.

I mean, what do you really want out of life?

Stop right there! “I want…” is how that starts, right?

That’s selfish.

And you want more leisure time, right?

That’s lazy.

And this is all based on what you think is true now, right?

That’s ignorant. (You don’t already have this because you’re wrong about something.)

To top it off… you’d like everyone who told you this wasn’t going to happen for you to see it happen and be jealous, right?

That’s mean.

We’re all Slim Jim. There is no “us and them.” We are them and they are us and it’s all just arbitrary bullshit.

You can put it away for a while. You can even stop for a while and direct your selfish and lazy and ignorant and mean ways at the same thing someone else would. That’s serendipity for a lot of people; the scraps that fall off your plate land nicely on theirs, and the little work you did means they don’t have to do any themselves, and you both happen to agree on the same ignorant shit, and you’re both being mean to the same people.

But this is a temporary alliance, a truce, which persists only until you have something they want and think they could take from you. Once you’re happy and they’re not, they’ll turn on you and tear you to pieces.

Oh, me? Would I do that? Like, to you?

Nobody will ever say yes.

There’s an old Chinese proverb that no vendor cries “bitter melons, sour wine.” So are my melons bitter? My wine sour? Will I turn on you and tear you apart if it benefits me?

Of course not, he said, exactly as he would if the answer was yes.

Always assume the answer is yes. Don’t even ask. Your friends will turn on you. It is only a question of when and why. If that never happens, hey, you may live your entire life with good friends who don’t turn on you.

But make no mistake – under the right conditions, given the right incentive, they always would.

Time To Get FAT

So here’s the thing you should ought to be doing: get FAT.

There’s a flip side of SLIM fucking Slim Jim that obviously exists, and finding one is like winning the Goddamn lottery. So you can’t really plan to go out and find people like this to work with… you have to just be one yourself.

And that flip side is Fat Jack.

Fat Jack isn’t selfish, lazy, ignorant, or mean. He’s Focused, Active, and Tribal – F.A.T. Which means instead of thinking about what’s in it for him and how he can do less work, he’s thinking about what he does and how he can make it happen… either by himself, or through things other people are already doing.

That’s a key element. You can’t control other people, and other people suck. If you want something from other people, they’re not going to give it to you, because they’re selfish. You can’t expect them to work harder or better, because they’re lazy. If they don’t already understand what they should be doing, you can’t explain it, because they’re ignorant. And even if they don’t need to give you anything or work any harder or learn more about shit, they’ll actively avoid anything that might make your life easier because they’re just plain mean.

So what you do is just throw shit in their path and walk away. Maybe they pick it up, maybe they don’t, but you don’t fucking care because it’s not like they care about you anyway. You can’t say “hey, I know, I will go around putting this in people’s path so they pick it up.” They will only pick it up if they have a reasonable expectation that you don’t give a shit whether they pick it up.

Which means you might drop it in their path, but that’s just a casual thing. You’re going to generate your primary sales and traffic and income on your own. And then they’re going to come in and promote for you because they want some of it. They don’t want to share their traffic unless you get more than they do.

What’s in it for them? If it’s not as much as there is in it for you, then fuck you, buddy. You are getting more benefit. You have to pay extra. I’m sorry, are you new at this? Then you are going to have to pay 100% commission, because without my traffic you have got jack shit. I’ll let you have the customer list, because I’ve already got it, but fuck you if you think I’m letting you have some of the money. That’s my customers’ money.

That attitude is pervasive. Nobody will help you. Nobody will “team up” with you. You’ve got to lead a tribe and let it form behind you. But in the end, they’re not on your side… they’re on their own side. And they will desert you in a second if you show signs of weakness.

You’re the chief. They’re just savages. Never forget that. They will turn on you.

SLIM Fucking Slim Jim

So let’s recap. People in general, not just marketers, are:

  • Selfish
  • Lazy
  • Ignorant
  • Mean

And that’s a nice compact little acronym for us, S.L.I.M., and that gives me a nice convenient little name for the kind of guy who’s like this: Slim Jim.

There are a lot of Slim Jims out there. Sometimes they can be tough to spot. But basically, you can expect anyone to behave this way. If you want to know whether someone will do something, simply run down the list.

Is there any benefit in it for them? Because they’re Selfish, so if there’s nothing in it for them (or an alternative with more in it for them), they won’t do it.

Does it take work? Because they’re Lazy, so they’re not going to put a whole lot of work into it.

Do they need to learn anything? Because they’re Ignorant, so they don’t want to.

Is it nice to others? Because they’re Mean, so they don’t give a shit about that.

A lot of people will object that they’re not Slim Jims and shouldn’t be treated like that. Bullshit. Try it out. Nobody wants to admit they’re like this, but the fact is, they naturally and normally are. If you want to not be like this, there’s nothing in it for you, and you’ve got to work at it – so right off the bat, you probably won’t do it because you’re selfish and lazy.

But what makes us human is our ability to transcend our natural tendencies and do something that has real meaning. It is not the thieves and slackers and morons and bullies who define humanity; it is our Mahatma Gandhis, our Mother Teresas, our Albert Einsteins, our Vaclav Havels.

You don’t have to define humanity. You don’t have to become an icon of human achievement. All you have to do is set aside the selfishness, push through the laziness, conquer just a little of your ignorance, and try not to be mean. Even a little is worth a lot.

But bear in mind that you can’t control anyone else, and they probably don’t give a crap about it. All you can control is you. So either take a few steps and better yourself, or don’t, but no matter which choice you make – it’s just you. You’re not changing the rest of the world. They’re all still Slim Jims.

Stay tuned, because I’m about to tell you where you should be driving your efforts instead.

WordPress Themes Are Often By Idiots

You know what really sucks about using a WordPress theme not because you can’t build a website, but because you don’t want to?

You can see every stupid piece of shit thing they fucked up.

The ProSense theme I’m using at this writing looks just fine on the front page, but if you click through to the single-post pages you’ll find that the sidebars jump down to the bottom of the page.

Why? I don’t know. The code looks like it was written by fucking monkeys, and I got so tired of fixing shit in it that I just said “fuck it” and left it.

Later, I’ll get a theme that doesn’t suck moldy sloth cocks, and all these problems will be fixed.

But I have better things to do right now, so if it really does offend you that I don’t give a shit where the sidebars are, fuck you.

Gangster, Gangster

So what’s the other half of why people sell shit this way? We know they’re selfish and lazy. We know they’re ignorant. Why else do they do it?

Because people are mean.

There’s this stupid logical leap that people take which is all about what success means. The way you know you’re successful is that you take all the failures and put them in a box, and you’re not in the box.

Or, to put it another way, you know when you have won because everyone else has lost.

Look at every action movie. How does it end? One good guy in a room full of bad guys. Then he kills them all and gets the girl.

It’s not just a guy thing, either. There are plenty of dramas where the woman is surrounded by people who oppress and demean her, and over the course of the movie they all end up meeting some deserved fate – leaving our heroine free to do as she pleases, just like everyone should be.

That’s all well and good as far as it goes, but we’ve exaggerated the living shit out of it over the generations, so instead of Romeo and Juliet pursuing their forbidden love to a tragic end because their families don’t understand… well, today, Romeo would single-handedly tear through the Capulet family like Jet Li on meth using a combination of Krav Maga and the gun kata from that one Christian Bale movie. (Was it Equilibrium? I can’t remember. That seems right, and I’m on a roll so I’m not hitting IMDB to check.)

Then Juliet would walk in and just swoon over his triumphant manliness, in a fashion disturbingly similar to someone who’s been roofied, and Romeo would deliver some awesome line like “Thus scorned was your solemnity to-night, this villain through your blood is proved aright.”

Because it’s fucking Shakespeare, so it has to be in iambic pentameter. And, you know, basically incomprehensible to most people.

But the basic point is this: people are becoming incapable of recognising success by observing they are themselves successful. They have to see it through the failure of others. More frequently, through the suffering of others.

And the easiest way to be around some suffering is to just flat-out cause some.

Essentially, marketers are working diligently to let you down, over and over again. They promise you something, then sell you shit that doesn’t deliver.

Over, and over, and over again.

Don’t get me wrong, they don’t do this because their goal is to make you suffer or keep you down.

It’s just the only way they know they’re succeeding. They have to see others fail.

It’s pretty sick, really. But you also have to understand that this isn’t because they’re horrible nasty evil people: it’s because they’re damaged. They don’t understand anything that isn’t competitive, and they don’t understand that their success doesn’t require anyone else’s failure.

So I’m Reading Brad’s Book…

I’m reading the Brad Gosse book, “Chronic Marketer.”

This is a great book, but if you want a review, go to Amazon. I’m digging into some guts here.

I see a lot of people saying they just can’t write a book. It seems like an insane amount of work.

Let’s get real, people.

Brad’s book is 248 pages and contains 32 chapters plus acknowledgements at the end.

Of these pages, 15 are blank on both sides and 18 are blank on one side. That’s 48 pages, dropping the actual written content to 200 pages. And it’s not hard to figure out that 33 pages – the last one of each chapter and the final page of the acknowledgements – are likely to be incomplete pages. So it’s productive, since it may be anywhere from a near-full page to just a couple lines, to count those as half-pages, reducing the page count by another 16. 34 additional pages are completely taken up by images. There are five pages of “excise” – title, copyright, ISBN, contents. That sort of shit. Stuff that isn’t actually the book. Which leaves us with 145 pages of actual, you know, content.

That’s not a slam. That’s just reality. You can do the same thing with most books. The number on the last page isn’t something you can use to do math. And all that stuff up there has value – the contents, the pictures, the blank pages for layout. I mostly want you to understand that the supporting material of the book, what folks in the design world call the hygienic factors (without which the book would suck and you wouldn’t want it), is damn near half the fucking book.

So what’s on one page of Brad’s book? If we take just the writing on one page, what do we find?

Each page contains thirty-two lines, for one, of which three to five are blank between paragraphs. So call it 28 lines per page. Those 28 lines each contain ten to twelve words; call it eleven. These are normal, sensible amounts for a modern book.

They also amount to roughly 300 words a page.

Think about that for a moment. Really think about it.

This blog post is already longer than one page of Brad’s book. You write blog posts, too, don’t you? Or articles? And aren’t most articles more like 500 words?

I know I shoot for the 500 word mark. And if we do the math on 300 words a page across 145 pages… we get 43,500 words.

That’s eighty-seven 500-word articles.

If you put your mind to it, you can write ten to twenty 500-word articles in a day. That’s about the limit of productivity for article writing – beyond that, quality starts going down the toilet.

That means you could write a book in less than two weeks. Ten articles a day for nine days. Fifteen a day for six. Twenty a day for five. The amount of work isn’t the limiting factor – it’s the big idea your book is going to be about.

It’s all about the planning. What are these articles? What are they about?

Give me a while to get back to you on that. Maybe a couple weeks. Right now, I’m putting my big idea and plan together on a book of my own. I’ll tell you what I learn in the process.

Dumbasses and Retards

So let’s move on to the next question, which is why people do this shit.

There are two parts to this answer, and the simple half is that they are fucking stupid.

A lot of that is because they’re young. And youth carries stupidity with it wherever it goes. Young people, by nature, do stupid things. Look around any high school, and everybody is doing something totally fucking stupid.

Do you know what I was doing in high school? Trying to combine hip-hop, punk, goth, and glam culture all at once. So I wore unlaced high-tops, parachute pants, spiked hair, a studded leather jacket, a Union Jack t-shirt, and a hybrid makeup style somewhere between corpsepaint and full-on drag – including false eyelashes and fucking body glitter. You could usually find me in the hallways between classes breakdancing to Def Leppard.

In my defense, I was also taking an awful lot of drugs.

But the issue there is that stupid shit like this never gets you anywhere. It has no lasting value. We’ve got all these people out there who are in a perpetual arms race that goes like this:

Okay, maybe not exactly like that. But you get the idea. Instead of “collect underpants,” it’s more like “locate popular subject.” Then where the question mark goes, you just send emails and try to sell shit with affiliate links. Over and over again. Until people lose interest.

Which may as well be a question mark, because they don’t really have a coherent plan. There’s no competent effort to do anything reasonable here. You’re just converting underpants into profit any way you can.

They’re basically strip mining the fucking niche. Let’s dig in here for money from CPA newbies. Now let’s dig deeper. And deeper. And deeper. Hey, no more CPA newbie money left here, let’s go find another site.

Now, do you know why we don’t really have strip mining operations in the civilised world anymore?

If you answered “because they destroy the environment AND all manner of valuable resources you simply did not happen to be looking for at the time,” you are correct sir!

(Or madam as the case may be.)

What is happening is that these people don’t know what their customer lists will buy, but instead of finding out – perhaps by testing the waters a little with different offers – they just shrug and bullshit their way ahead knowing what little they do already know.

“These people bought a product about X.”

So they recycle the same Goddamn thing over and over again. Here’s another product about the same thing. And another one. And another. None of them are all that different… just enough that customers continue getting just a little out of each one.

Eventually, they get comfortable buying products that are effectively the same, and stop even trying to put them into action. What they do is no longer “build a business,” but “collect products.” And the only way they keep doing it is if they are – and stay – stupid.