Gaslighting at its finest

Wanna know something trippy?

I learned this from the Netflix documentary Operation Varsity Blues.

The college admissions coach and main villain of the film, Rick Singer, would pitch this to his clients…

And this method would get their kids into the best schools by using his own ‘side door’ method.

His spiel was all about this…

His clients could try to get into the school they wanted through the front door, but they would just get outright rejected…

Or they could definitely get in through the back door, but they would have to fork over millions of dollars because that’s what competing parents were paying in donations…

But their kids could get accepted through his ‘side door strategy’ by giving Rick hundreds of thousands of dollars, which he would then use to bribe school officials.

But the way this guy manipulated parents was diabolical. This movie had the wire taps to prove it. 

‘Coach Rick’ would put his clients through a manipulation ringer during every phone call. He would gas light them at every corner and constantly introduce doubt into the forefront of their minds about their kids athletic abilities, test scores and grades.

He would basically drone on and on about how what the parents were doing was never enough.

Or he would constantly talk about what other parents were doing or the amounts they were paying to get their kids into Georgetown, Stanford, you name it…

And when the feds listened to him on the phone, they were really impressed just how smooth this guy was.

The authorities basically flat-out stated that his clients could have gotten their kids into almost school they wanted, if it wasn’t for Rick’s black belt manipulation.

But then how else would he have been able to rake in a small fortune for himself?

Was it evil? Oh yeah.

But that proves just how powerful fear and doubt can be used to get people to fork over lots of money.

And it really doesn’t matter how rich people are, because even wealthy people aren’t immune to this stuff.

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  • Post published:May 17, 2021

Just when I thought I was done getting weight loss spam

Just when I thought I was done getting these spammy weight loss emails… Nope!

And honestly, the copy isn’t bad. But maybe I’ve seen a lot worse in my day.

But there’s one major problem…

Even though they have a copy grunt churning these emails out, their positioning is laughable.

If the Sharks REALLY did invest in their company, why are they spamming people?

Furthermore, why do they keep borrowing the credibility of Shark Tank to sell their product?

It’s okay to name drop every once in a while, just don’t over do it.

If their weight loss product truly kicks ass, why not throw some customer testimonials into the mix?

Maybe I’m just Abe Simpson yelling at a cloud, but at some point, your marketing and the quality of your product have to be congruent. You can’t rely too much on either side.

Otherwise people will just sense that something is off.

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  • Post published:May 10, 2021

There really is something for everyone

Back when I was a B2B salesperson, I thought of a question, which was a severely dangerous question…

And that was, what if my product is nothing but hot garbage?

And to be honest, you’d be dumb if you NEVER asked this question. No one wants to be the emperor with no clothes.

But sadly, you’re even dumber if you actually believe it!

For example, guess which actor is REALLY into Clown Paintings?

John C. Reilly.

Not only does the guy have an entire room dedicated to Clown Paintings.

But they’re expensive as hell.

So what’s my point?

My point is I truly believe that for every product, there is a market for it.

When I resold crappy phone and internet service that I knew was dog shit, even I knew who my target market was.

It was the business owner who was always barley scraping by. He kept bare bone staff (or no staff), he didn’t know if he would continue to stay in business, and he always bought on price.

And deep down inside, he knew that he always got what he paid for, but he just couldn’t resist the siren’s song of cheap.

So who do you want to sell a high-end Clown Painting to? The guy with only one painting, or the guy with 50?

Because I guarantee you that the guy with 50, is looking for number 51.

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  • Post published:May 9, 2021

Ever heard of WeWork?

WeWork labeled themselves as this technology startup that was going to re-imagine the world of co-working spaces.

And they kept getting lots of funding hand-over-fist from investors. At one point, the company was valued at billions of dollars.

And just before they were about to go public, their financials came out…

When it was all out in the open, their finances were ‘re-imagined’ as well. Turns out they really didn’t have banger profits year-after-year; but huge losses.

But in the Hulu documentary, you saw that big name investors, celebrities and popular media outlets were all praising the WeWork CEO as this visionary messiah.

How did the CEO get all these big names to buy into his ‘vision’?

He sold them on a mission. Something that was greater than himself, and people ate it up. People just heard what they wanted to hear, and ignored all the facts.

The good news is this can be done ethically too. You can actually deliver on your promises, and have your books balanced at the same time😂

But the next time you’re trying to sell someone, come up with a personal mission that you really believe in, and there’s a good chance they’ll buy in too.

To quote the great George Costanza, ‘It’s not a lie… if YOU believe it!’

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  • Post published:May 5, 2021

Lessons from the Spam Box

Somehow a spam offer crept its way into my main inbox.

So let’s see what they did wrong and what they did right:

Wrong Moves:

– Subject line is complete crap. Not compelling at all.

– Relies on a big photo image instead of text.

– Too much text crammed in one box.

– There are 2 unsubscribe lines in this email. One has a text strike over it. Kind of a red flag.

– It’s a one-and-doner.

– Just screams ‘Not Legit’.

Right Moves:

– Borrows the credibility of Shark Tank and Mark Cuban.

– Uses the curiosity/mystery box angle.

– I do like the line, ‘See How Shark Tank’s Newest Product is Turning the Diet World on its Head!’ Would’ve been better used as either the subject line or main headline.

– I do like the ‘Ready to Lose Weight?’ Call to action. Would work well in a funnel too.

Just a friendly reminder, there are gold Nuggets of knowledge hidden everywhere. What works for spammers might work well for your campaigns too.

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  • Post published:May 3, 2021

The great debate between a great product and great marketing

If you have an awesome product, do you really need marketing?

In some camps, that’s kind of all you hear. If you sell an awesome product, the marketing will take care of itself.

And then people in those camps will point to Apple, Tesla or Amazon. And they’ll say, these companies don’t need advertising or PR. Their product is good enough.

But I argue that you need both an awesome product and awesome marketing. And you can’t have one without the other.

If anyone wants proof, they can look no further than Breaking Bad, which is actually an awesome business show…

Not only does it show how Walter White gets into the drug market with no previous experience…

And show how he creates a product with a unique selling proposition.

But he becomes the master of his own marketing.

To the dealers and distributes he does business with, he doesn’t go by Walter White, the boring dad-bod chemistry teacher, cancer patient, with a marriage on life-support.

How many drugs would Walter White sell in his Dockers pants and his white New Balance dad sneakers? He’d be shot to death on sight.

Instead, he creates his own persona to handle the drug dealers.

He slowly reinvents himself as Heisenberg, the strong-willed, fuck-around-and-find-out, brass balls drug kingpin with a mobster hat.

Both guys are the same dude. But they both communicate different messages to different audiences.

To his business partners, he’s tough as nails and always one step ahead.

To his wife and kid, he’s just same old Dad. Flaws, worts and all.

But Walter’s super blue pure meth product wouldn’t be distributed anywhere if it wasn’t for Heisenberg.

And if Heisenberg had an average product, he wouldn’t have anywhere near his street cred.

But because Walter mastered both, he built the leverage he needed to rise to the top.

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  • Post published:April 26, 2021

The rude awakening from my first B2B sales job

Let me tell you all a story about price…

I was working at a cell phone store, miserable, because all of my weekends were completely booked.

But then one of my former coworkers and good friends tried to recruit me over to the company he had just joined.

He just got a new job at a phone and internet reseller, and he told me all about how cool it was.

  • Bigger base salary
  • Car and cell phone allowance
  • Only working with businesses instead of the unwashed masses

I was sold. I interviewed and ended up getting the job.

But there were a few ugly truths I had yet to learn…

Once I got the job, my friend told me how easy the selling for this company would be:

  • We had a way cheaper price than the big competitors, so I could easily sell on price.
  • We could sell to any business that had phone and internet.
  • We had no assigned territories, so we could sell unrestricted.
  • We had 24 hour customer service, 7 days a week.

But let me tell you…


If anything, it was so much harder than I thought.

And anything my friend said, came with real catches, which we both learned:

  • You couldn’t just sell any businesses with phone and internet. If anything, the big guys offered 2 or 3 year contracts to businesses. You could find someone who wanted to buy from you today, but if they had another year on their contract, you couldn’t do anything.
  • We didn’t really have 24/7 support. We had an answering service for customer service. I also think there was an engineer that worked maybe 2nd and 3rd shifts, but it was not what I envisioned.
  • Because there were no assigned territories, the sales team just called whoever they felt, and would even call the prospects I was working with. You really had to keep your contacts close.
  • Their reviews were horrible because the product was horrible (Made out of crappy equipment).

But the worst were the customers. On top of the normal challenges that come with a sales job, I could only sign on new customers who were really bottom-of-the-barrel.

These were business owners and managers who were just focused on price, and not about value. As a result, they didn’t have attractive work environments. They only had a few employees. They never had any time because they were always putting out fires.

And were pinching every penny, and price was always a major factor.

It was a big lesson in finding out that just because you’re talking to a business owner, doesn’t mean there’s a lot of money in the bank. If anything, they were just barely breaking even.

But it was a big lesson I learned about finding the type of customer you want.

Since that sub-par experience, I have successfully avoided price-shoppers and tire-kickers like the absolute plague. If they ghost me after I send them my contract, I don’t even bother pursuing them.

I’m probably leaving money on the table, but it’s honestly not worth the headache.

It’s almost like dating. You want to scoop up the winners and keep them in your corner, while snuffing out the losers fast.

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  • Post published:April 21, 2021

And then there was one

If you’re like me, and you’ve been glued to Netflix this past year, you’ve probably heard of The Last Blockbuster.

The documentary follows the last store in Bend, Oregen and dishes on the corporate takeover shenanigans and executive money mismanagement that led to its demise.

And they interviewed one of the OG executives, who says, ‘I don’t miss renting physical videos from a store. I don’t think anybody does😂’

But then the crew interjects and tells him, ‘Some people in Bend would disagree with you. That store still gets busy Friday nights’

And then he says, and I’m paraphrasing: ‘Well then they’re offering an experience and relationship, not just DVDs.

Now the movie does show that people fly from all over just to get some nostalgia high and visit that one store.

But what isn’t emphasized is how powerful that store’s relationships are.

The store manager, who’s the main character in the movie, KNEW LITERALLY EVERYONE in town. Not only that, but she was literally the sole spokesperson for the business, doing hundreds of interviews on national news outlets.

Just millions of of dollars worth of media exposure, and now a movie about them.

Sales Trainer Jeffrey Gitomer has said: It’s not who you know, it’s who knows YOU!

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  • Post published:April 20, 2021

Addressing the elephant in the room

If you’re in marketing, the chances are good that you’ve seen a Traffic and Funnels ad cross your path.

In previous posts, I’ve complained about how companies use ads about how you don’t need ads to grow your business.

However, T + F addresses this exact objection in their ad.

AND they nip it in the bud, right away. Because it’s on everyone’s mind as soon as they see the ad.

My guess is they got feedback from their ads, and they used that feedback to update their copy.

This not only goes for ads and products. You could have the best idea, but you still have to implement what your prospects and customers are telling you.

Otherwise you’re just guessing at what your market wants. Thankfully, there’s more easy money in direct feedback than there is in guesswork.

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  • Post published:April 19, 2021

What nobody talks about with a client-based business

There’s an aspect of running a client-based business that no one talks about.

And that is getting paid.

I’ll share a personal story. This past Christmas, I was thinking about what to get my parents

And I came up with the idea of hiring a personal chef to cook a nice dinner for them because of the current dining restrictions.

I was even referred to a local chef in their area.

And so I hopped on the phone with this chef for about a half hour and we bantered, and he told me what he could do.

But then we got to the discussion about price, and I just wanted a ballpark number.

‘Welllll let me check my costs and send you an email.’

Which was fine, but I got the sense he was real gun shy.

2 weeks go by and I asked him again to send me a quote.

Mind you, I wasn’t shopping around for the best price. This guy was referred to me by a trusted person, so I was already sold on this guy and wanted to hire him.

He was like, ‘Yeah sure, no problem.’ But then never emailed me.

After that, I didn’t want to hire him anymore.

Which brings me to my point: Decide if you’re doing a hobby, or decide if you’re running a business. What people say, and what people do are two different things. But if you’re running a business, take actions that actually align with you closer to getting paid.

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  • Post published:April 17, 2021