Dirty marketing tricks exposed #1

Friday, 31 July 2009

The honour of being the first in our “Dirty Marketing Tricks Exposed” series goes to Mid Devon District Council (MDDC) here in the UK, who operate Exe Valley Leisure Centre in Tiverton. This particular dirty marketing trick concerns their swimming pool.

They’ve put up a poster in their entrance lobby which reads “Free swimming for under 16s during the school holidays”. So far so good, and a lot of people are talking about it. We even went there ourselves when we heard about it.

But if you’re thinking of going there yourself, don’t. There’s some small print.

When we went inside and tried to pay for just 2 adults, they also charged us for our 2 children, aged 7 and 15. “What’s going on here?” we asked. “You’ve charged us too much.”

“No,” they said. “Take a closer look at the poster.” So we did. The small print at the bottom says “Ask at reception for details”. So we did.

“It’s free swimming for under 16s . . . if they’ve signed up for one of our swimming courses,” they said. “Are your children signed up for our lessons?”

“No,” I said. “One can swim perfectly well already and I’m teaching the other one myself.”

“Then you’ll have to pay full price,” they said.

We paid up – this time – as we didn’t want to upset the children. But we’ll be going somewhere else next time.

Say NO to dirty marketing tricks!


Remember my name … FAME!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Here’s a quick bonus tip to supplement the “How to Retain Subscribers…” ebook.

When someone downloads your e-book you want them to know who you are, so that when you start sending them emails they recognize your name as one of the good guys, and stay well away from the unsubscribe button. An easy way to gain name recognition is to put your name inside your e-book – several times.

One way of doing this is through the use of anecdotes:

I was driving through town the other day when a traffic cop stopped me. “Hey, aren’t you Dave Haslett?” he asked. I agreed that I was, and he …

Or if you want to be associated with a certain branding you can add that too:

I was driving through town the other day when a traffic cop stopped me. “Hey, aren’t you Dave Haslett, the ethical marketing guy?” he asked. I agreed that I was, and he …

Another way is to reprint a letter or email you’ve received, making sure that your name (and/or branding) is clearly visible.

I’m sure you can think of some other ways too. (Feel free to post your ideas here as comments.)

But … once you’ve gone to the trouble of getting your name and/or brand into your readers’ minds, you need to make sure your emails come from that same name.

If you’ve branded yourself as “Dave Haslett” or “Dave Haslett, the ethical marketing guy” but your emails are from “Marketing success stories” or something else then the association between your book and your email is lost.

People may recognize your name and want to stay on your list, but if they don’t know the messages are from you they might unsubscribe without even reading them, or quickly skim them and then unsubscribe, rather than treating them with the respect they deserve.

Dave Haslett, ethical marketing: no tricks, just sales

3 mistakes that drive new subscribers away

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

We all want more subscribers on our mailing lists. That’s just common sense. The more subscribers you have, the more people there are to buy the things you promote each time you mail them.

And we all know how to get tons of subscribers by now: you give away a good quality e-book that will be of value to your subscribers. All you want in exchange is their first name and email address. And then you promote that offer via web pages, Google ads, articles, joint ventures, videos, and all those other things.

The good news is that this does usually generate plenty of new subscribers for your list. The bad news is that a lot of these people don’t stay on your list for very long. Sure, you’ll probably hang on to a few of them – though whether they’ll actually read your messages is another matter. But many of them will hit the unsubscribe link at the first opportunity, and many more will be gone by your second or third email.

They aren’t going away because they’re happy; they’re going away because you’ve annoyed them. That’s not a good way of getting your name around and it’s not doing your reputation any favors.

Picture those folks as they wave goodbye to you, probably forever. That’s your money walking away.

Here are the top 3 reasons why subscribers walk away soon after signing up:

1. The same old stuff

That valuable e-book you gave away turned out to be not so valuable after all. It was just a rehash of things they’ve already read ten or twenty times somewhere else. You promised something new and original, something that would actually work when all the other stuff failed. But you didn’t deliver.

You have to give them something new in your giveaway e-book. And you have to keep on giving them new and original information if you want them to stick around on your list. That’s not as difficult as you might think.

And here’s an added benefit: if you give them something new in every message and every e-book, they’re going to tell other people about it, and that will bring in lots of new subscribers. People are going to talk about you as one of the true innovators in the industry. They aren’t going to walk away from your list feeling let down. They’re going to stick around with smiles on their faces as they think about how your great ideas will solve their problems and make them lots of money. You’ll need a few great ideas of course, but again this isn’t as difficult as you might think.

If you don’t give them something new and original in your giveaway offer and give them something new and original in each of your next seven follow-ups messages, then you’re going to lose subscribers. But if you can keep them on your list past seven mailings, there’s a good chance that they’ll stick around for a long time. And if you’re sending them good, original stuff every time, then they’re going to read every message.

2. Too soon

Assuming you’ve given them something of value in your free e-book – which you should have done – for goodness sake give them enough time to read it. And then give them some more time to think about how they might apply it to their business.

If you took part in one of those big joint venture programs where you all gave away a freebie in one mass promotion, your latest bunch of subscribers probably downloaded twenty or thirty e-books alongside yours. It’s going to take them at least a couple of weeks to go through them all.

And yet your stupid autoresponder is set up to hit them with your first follow-up only a day or two later, when they probably haven’t even looked at your book yet.

You say: “Hey Dave, have you put my top 5 tips into action yet? Well now it’s time to do this . . . ”

I say: What 5 tips are these? I’ve got about 30 damn books to go through here. What are you talking about? At least tell me the name of your book. Heck, I can’t be bothered with this. Unsubscribe.

(By the way, I’m fully in favor of big joint venture promotions as they can easily bring in 1,000 new subscribers to your list. But you have to know how to keep them there afterwards.)

3. Not forming a relationship

Now hold on a minute! You’ve given me one free book (which I might not have read yet) and now you’re addressing me like you’re my best friend and trying to sell me stuff already.

You don’t know who I am and I don’t know who you are ­– I can’t even remember your name. I’m not your best buddy. And you don’t know what my business is. You just hope that a decent percentage of your mailing list will be interested in today’s pitch. Well I might be, and I might not be. But you’ve annoyed me. So . . . unsubscribe and goodbye forever.

Do you make any of these 3 mistakes? Did your subscriber count leap up after your latest e-book giveaway, only to slump back down again a few days later? Are you promoting the same old products as everyone else? It’s time we changed things and I’m here to help.

You’ll find plenty of simple, original, and practical solutions to these 3 mistakes in my free e-book “How to retain subscribers, build your mailing list and make more money”. There’s a lot more crammed into its 16 pages than you’d expect! Download it right now – I won’t even ask for your email address.

Dave Haslett, Ethical Marketing: no tricks, just sales.

Question: What’s better than brainstorming? Answer: “Question brainstorming!”

Monday, 25 August 2008

Question brainstorming is a relatively new technique that’s rapidly gaining favour with everyone from writers to business owners, advertisers to management consultants – and everyone else who needs to come up with great ideas fast.

The best thing about question brainstorming is that a typical session generally produces at least twice as many ideas as the more common “shout out the answers” method that most of us are familiar with.

Regular brainstorming has its place, since it forces you to think about the problem from many different angles that you might not have thought about otherwise. But the drawback is that you have to come up with the answers – or things that might later become answers – there and then in the brainstorming session itself. That slows things down, and many potentially brilliant ideas are rejected before they even leave your head.

Unfortunately those off-the-wall ideas that never make it onto your list are often the most innovative and groundbreaking ones; ideas that could have a massive impact on your business, book, article, or whatever it may be.

Traditional brainstorming can therefore lead to the same old tired responses, because then nobody has to worry about looking stupid or upsetting anyone. This applies even if you’re brainstorming on your own; you’ll be very reluctant to write down some of your more outrageous ideas. You’ll prejudge them and dismiss them almost instantly, without further consideration, and they won’t appear on your list. It takes a very strong person to write down something that they know is “stupid” – even if no one else will ever see it.

Question brainstorming simply asks you to think of as many questions as you can about the concept under discussion, without worrying about what the answers might be. You don’t have to think the problem through, come up with any solutions, or worry about how stupid your answers might be. So the whole process speeds up enormously. You just have to write down as many questions as you can come up with.

You’ll not only come up with lot more questions than answers in the time available, but your responses will be much less inhibited. You aren’t forced to think through your answers, worry about their relevance, consider their impact on your business, or worry about how “stupid” they might sound. So all those off-the-wall ideas do make it onto the list for further consideration.

You’ll also get questions where there are no answers, or where the answers are currently unknown. This might prompt a fiction writer, for example, to invent his own solution and be praised for his vision. Or it might prompt a scientist to try a different approach that leads to an important new discovery. The possibilities are endless. But you probably wouldn’t have gotten many of those ideas using regular brainstorming – they simply wouldn’t have made it onto your list.

You might also get situations where you (or some of the other participants) already know or suspect what the answer is, but wouldn’t dare say it out loud – especially if the boss is present. By putting it into the form of a question, it makes it onto the list and becomes available for further discussion.

At the end of the session – or even better, a later session – you can evaluate your huge number of responses. As with regular brainstorming, you can do this individually or as a group. In this session you just have to decide which are the best questions – the ones that are worthy of further discussion. You still don’t need to think about the answers at this stage. That’s a job for another time – and perhaps a different group of people.

The best writers, managers, inventors, scientists, politicians, advertisers, and creative and innovative people from all walks of life, are often not those who have the best answers, but those who can ask the best questions.

So give question brainstorming a try, double your productivity – and let’s see how innovative you can be!

* * *

Dave Haslett is the founder of ideas4writers.co.uk (the ideas and inspiration website), and i4w2.co.uk (the award-winning ethical publishing service for the UK). Now he’s turned his attention to marketing, so be sure to check out his articles and e-books at https://ethicalmarketing.wordpress.com

You might also like Dave’s book “The Fastest Way to Write Your Book”.  By learning the fastest ways to plan, write, edit and sell your books, you can knock months off the “traditional” methods, easily fit writing around your other tasks, fill gaps in the market as soon as you spot them, beat your competitors into print, demonstrate your expertise, generate more business, boost your career prospects, and make a lot more money! Read the first two chapters for free here: