Warning: If You’re Not a Privacy Nut, You’re Losing Sales

I have a few things in common with Gene Hackman’s character in Enemy of The State.

If you want to build a loyal following and make more sales in the next ten years, so should you.

Get your tin foil hats on and pull the battery out of your cell phone, today we’re talking privacy-as-marketing.

Hey, who’s that behind you?

Also, Sonia exercises monumental self-control and allows me to live for one more week.

In this episode Sonia Simone and I discuss:

  • Tin Foil Hat Marketing and the rise of the “good guy”
  • Why turning down freelance work can boost your bottom line
  • Should you worry about new mobile privacy guidelines?
  • The 80/20 rule of slow copywriting
  • Why aren’t you specializing?!
  • How to write a remarkably simple business plan

Hit the flash player below to listen now:


[episode_ad] [episode_transcript]

Please note that this transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and grammar …

Robert Bruce: You, my friends have found Internet Marketing for Smart People radio. I’m Robert Bruce and I’m joined by the unforgettably pink Chief Marketing Officer of Copyblogger Media, Sonia Simone. Sonia, where in the world are you this week?

Sonia Simone: Well, I think since the last time we talked I have been to Melbourne, Australia and the Sierras in California. But I am now home again for all of a day before I fly off to Los Angeles, so home base for now.

Robert: So you’re traveling like a mad woman, you’re launching the 2011 version of Teaching Sells, you’re writing monster posts on Copyblogger, and I was thinking, we’re into November and you deserve to unwind just a bit. I’m thinking that maybe you should join up with NaNoWriMo, the national novel writing month. I think it’s the perfect time for you to be writing a novel.

Sonia: See, now I don’t curse in these podcasts or else I would be cursing at you right now.

Robert: Look, you’re only one day behind too, so it’s just kicking back tonight and leisurely cranking out like what, 3,334 words. That’s no problem for you.

Sonia: That’s chill. I’ll do that in the bath, how does that sound?

Robert: I’ll be looking for that novel at the end of the month.

Sonia: You just keep looking for that.

Should you worry about new mobile privacy guidelines?

Robert: We found a few good links out there that I wanted to run by you, see what you think, and let’s get it going with an announcement two weeks ago that the mobile marketing association had laid down some privacy guidelines for the mobile industry. Among these guidelines were basic ideas of how consumer information is to be used and shared, as well as opt in and opt out standards for mobile developers and company doing business on mobile platforms.

Now, this is all obviously a very good thing, but it’s nothing new and it’s interesting to me that the mobile industry is codifying this stuff just now. We’ve been talking about this privacy stuff for a long time, right, and not just us of course, but respecting a customer or subscriber’s privacy thankfully has become a common mantra among the ethical leaders in our business.

Sonia: Yeah, essentially this is the “Quit being a dirty, rotten spammer” guideline. Which we shouldn’t have needed, but of course some people out there do need. The kind of marketing that we talk about on Copyblogger is based on someone who’s actually interested in what you have to say.

So you don’t send people messages that are totally irrelevant to their interests. You don’t send people messages that have nothing to do with what they’re doing right now. And the whole spam industry, and this goes whether you’re talking about people who are smiling and dialing from boiler rooms or people who are sending you e-mail or whatever it might be — it’s based on trying to find vulnerable, foolish people who are going to fall for a real hard sales pitch. And it’s a scummy industry and it’s a scummy practice. Now, there are non scummy people who do this stuff because they see somebody else do it and they think that’s the right way. It’s really not. So yeah, absolutely, people need to be able to opt in and opt out.

You need to respect people’s privacy, especially with a mobile device that tells you where somebody physically is. That’s just basic anti stalker, creep 101. But also, as soon as you start sending somebody a lot of irrelevant garbage they just tune it out anyway. It doesn’t work. It used to work; doesn’t work again, except on the most vulnerable segment of the population that’s really susceptible to the kind of Glengarry Glen Ross sales operation. So if that’s you, you should probably just go away. I don’t want to talk to you. And if it’s not you, you’re not good enough to sell these people anyway so quit bugging people who don’t want to hear from you.

Robert: This is a really simple thing on the face of it, but incredibly important and it really boils down to what Seth Godin coined years ago; “permission marketing”.

Sonia: Yeah, I’m pretty sure he did actually. He wrote a book called Permission Marketing and that book was a

real eye opener for me and I know it was a real eye opener for Brian Clark. And it’s still extremely opt where instead of the old TV advertising model, radio advertising model where you just annoy the living heck out of somebody …

Robert: You’re doing well today!

Sonia: I know. The filter is on. You know, where you annoy somebody to death and then eventually you get them to get up and take an action. This is more about enticing someone to be interested in what you’ve got and getting them to take action to say, “Hey, I want to know more about this. I’d like to learn more about this thing that you have to sell. Why don’t you talk to me about it” and creating more of a dialogue.

It’s not just nice, it’s not just for people who are afraid to sell, it’s not just for people who are big weenie hippies like I am. It’s good business. Ethical behavior is more effective, it gets you better results, it gets you higher quality of customer, it gets you better customer relationships, and it gets you better share of customers. So it’s not just about being nicey nice, it’s really about being a smart business person.

Tin Foil Hat Marketing and the rise of the “good guy”

Robert: Yeah. I just read a great little article, it’s over at silicon.com; I’ll link to it in the notes. But it’s by a gentleman named Nick Heath and he quotes Foreign Secretary William Hague as saying online crime is “growing exponentially”. It may seem like another obvious fact, but that cyber crime was ranked in the top five highest priority risks of the government’s national security strategy.

This is scary in general and scary for us, but this is actually very good news for good, ethical business owners in this environment of so many are being ripped off, identity theft, on and on down the line. What does that mean for a good business owner who is practicing good privacy and permission strategies and guidelines?

Sonia: Yeah, I think it’s actually very good for the ethical business owner and the ethical content marketer because it the more scary the outside environment is, the more appealing it becomes for somebody to be able to come in out of the cold, to come in out of the noise into what you’ve got signed up for your e-mail list.

It makes very attractive options for things like private forums or e-mail lists or just private customer areas where people can go and get away from the bad guys. And so yeah, the more security you can give your customers, the better as the online environment gets less and less secure. And it’s always been sort of wild west, but it’s only going to get more so as the reach gets wider and as people from all over the world are just actively trying to tunnel their way into your data and rip off your credit card information.

Robert: Yeah, if you’re doing things right you’re going to stand out in stark relief against those kinds of practices and everything else that’s going on out there. So it really is marketing. I think I might have coined something, I’d have to look, I haven’t done any research but I’m thinking about this term “tin foil hat marketing”. Like if we all just put on our tin foil hats and we all become privacy freaks; privacy nuts. The bottom line can get better all the way around.

Sonia: Yeah, absolutely because if you can bring people into a safer environment, and let’s just say a really simple way to do that would be to sign up for your e-mail list, you cut out 99% of the advertising clutter that’s getting in the way of them hearing what you have to say. So yeah, it’s great for you. I kind of like that, tinfoilhattribe.com.

The Slow Copywriting movement

Robert: Alright, we’ll work in it a little bit. This is a little curveball here, but I wanted to touch on a great post by Lorraine Thompson over at marketcopywriterblog.com. She calls it In Praise of Slow Copywriting and I like this because it’s a little bit different from what we normally read about productivity and creativity. Lorraine is basically asking if copywriters everywhere shouldn’t join the slow movement, for instance slow food, etcetera that has over the last decade just kind of taken over again in the face of speed and technology. A lot of people are going back to slow living.

And it’s a really interesting thing to think about because as a copywriter, particularly freelance copywriters, you’re hustling. You’re always working, you’re always looking for either clients or ideas or paychecks. And a couple of points that she gets down to of how to think about this and maybe even how to do it kind of align with what we talk about a lot. What do you think of this slow copywriting thing?

Sonia: Yeah, I thought that this post had a lot going for it and one of the things that she’s really pointing to that’s a big issue for copywriters, and it’s a big problem for copywriters, is the number of businesses that are hitting up the big freelance websites, and elance.com or something along those lines. Spurred many in part from things like Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week which talked about outsourcing a lot of your business practices to assistance in other places, India was sort of prominent on that list.

The place of choice tends to move around, but I think that there’s a fallacy that the bottom dollar, superfast copywriter you can get on a big, anonymous freelance site where people are just racing to the bottom of the bids is going to be the same as an experienced, capable copywriter who has a good client list and who has client results that she can point to and who may have done quite a lot of research into your topic or the area of your business.

So there are a lot of people out there paying for fast food copy and they’re getting fast food results.

Robert: So you’re looking at this as a potential positioning idea.

Sonia: Yeah, I look at it in terms of listeners. I think you can look at it a couple of ways. For the copywriters out there, you need to differentiate yourself strongly against this kind of fast food copy. It’s very important, and also just in terms of things like search engine optimization; you’re competing with a lot of fast food copy and you have to do the work to make your copy more memorable, more shareable, but also I think that we have a lot of listeners who are managing writers or who are managing marketing endeavors, content marketing programs, and the temptation is to shave a little off the budget by going with the cheapest copywriter you can find and somebody who turns your webpage content around in three hours.

She had good quote actually,

Along came Burger King, jumbo jets, and Elance. Today we still want the same tasty food, leisurely travel, and quality copywriting but in a fraction of the time. But here’s the rub — they’re not the same. A Whopper isn’t beef stew, a 747 isn’t a horse and carriage, and generic content isn’t quality copywriting.

It’s just a really good point and I would love for the writers in the crowd, because I know you’re out there, I would love to talk about a couple of the things that she talks about, about ways to take more time to write an article. Not just for the sake of taking more time, because we’re all very good at that. But for the sake of making it better.

Why aren’t you specializing?!

Robert: Yeah, the first thing she talks about is something that you have gone over again and again, which is to specialize.

Sonia: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s something that — so she says, “Clients seem to understand that writing about, say, industrial cheese equipment, biologic drugs, or cigars — yes, I’ve written for all of these markets – requires a little extra time.”

So yeah, if you take some time to really research and understand a particular corner of the market and there was a great Copyblogger post about using trade journals to find copywriting work, so if you’re going to market to the industrial manufacturing segment, really understand what industrial manufacturing’s about and the language they use and the concepts and really get it.

Again, that takes time. Research takes time. Research is one of the keys to quality writing and it eats up a lot of time when there are no words appearing on the screen. But the result is so much better and the result becomes something, if you’re a writer, it becomes something that you can command a better price for because it’s better. It’s just better.

So that’s a slow down suggestion that will take you longer to get to the finish line, but when you get there you’re going to have a much better result.

Turning down freelance work and the 80/20 rule

Robert: Alright, let’s do one more on her list of suggestions of how to slow down — turn down work.

Sonia: Yes, absolutely, which pairs with her focus on rejuvenation. If you find yourself too frazzled as a copywriter to produce the kind of work that you know you should produce, the smartest thing to do is to raise your prices and shrink your client list.

It’s kind of shocking, but the fact is that the more time and thinking space you give a project, the better end result you’re going to get. And this actually goes for anybody who’s creating content, so maybe you’re the person who writes content for your blog or you handle your e-mail list or you’re in charge of communicating with your customers.

Whatever it is, you need to give yourself some time off to refill the well or you’re just going to be cranking out gibberish. And so it’s very tough to do if you’re working with a company; it’s really tough to cut your workload. But as much as you can, think about focusing on the good old 80/20 rule.

You want to focus on the 20% of your projects that give you 80% of your results.

And cut out projects, either they’re bad clients, clients who don’t pay promptly, or they’re clients who are just not good to work with or they’re clients you can’t do your best work for because you don’t really get into their topic. Focus on the work that really gets you the results, whether it’s the blog posts, the e-mails, the articles, whatever it might be.

Robert: You know what else people should be focusing on, Sonia?

Sonia: What’s that?

The importance of a remarkably simple business plan

Robert: They should be focusing on the Internet Marketing for Smart People course.

This show is sponsored by IMFSP, the premiere online marketing course delivered straight to your e-mail inbox.

And Sonia, let’s go ahead and take a quick look inside this course for a moment, at one of the actual lessons, which by the way will also serve as our tip of the week for this week, for those listening.

And it’s number 12, a Remarkably Simple Business Plan. Now, business plans are one of those things that can cripple folks right out of the gate and sometimes keep them from actually getting going. Give us a few ideas from lesson number 12, will you, about writing and executing a simple and effective business plan.

Sonia: Yeah, absolutely. And the idea behind lesson 12 is a cut and paste kind of an operation. So you can literally just copy it into a Word document or a text document and then answer the questions, and when you’ve answered all the questions you have a business plan.

And I created this because when I was getting started, in fact with a copywriting business, I was reading about stuff like how to get a line of credit and how to get a business license and what kind of things I should think about when I was negotiating office space. It’s like, “Okay, none of that has any relevance to me.”

Robert: You wrote a couple 50, 100 page business plans, didn’t you, in your past?

Sonia: Well, I came out of a much more traditional corporate world where you had to go get things like business loans and the bank has a certain kind of thing they like to look at that they call a business plan. I don’t find that super useful for an actual entrepreneurial business, so I came up with something called the Remarkably Simple Business Plan and it just gets you to answer some questions that might be hard to answer, but unless you know the answers you’re going to have a world of hurt.

The first one and I’ll just go through the first one to give you an idea of what we’re talking about here. Who’s the right customer? So who is the customer for what you’re selling? Who is this person, what do they look like, where do they shop, how did they hear about you, what do they care about, what’s their favorite color, how many kids do they have, what kind of car do they drive, just go on and on and on and figure out who the customer is for what you’re selling because, and we’ve talked about this before, if your answer is anyone with skin, which is the answer to that question for one of the multilevel marketing people, you have a problem.

You can’t market to everyone with skin; you can’t pay for advertising to everyone with skin.

You have to be talking to one well defined person you can visualize like you were having a cup of coffee. If you can’t picture this person sitting across from you, having a cup of coffee and talking about your business and how it helps them out, you need to get to work.

So, I put that one first because I think it’s the most important. I think if you get that right you can kind of screw up a lot of other stuff and you’ll still have okay results. And if you get it wrong, you’ll just be dead in the water.

So things like how is this person going to find me; I’m going to go through a few of the other elements of the business plan. What is this project – so your service, your site, whatever it is — what is the project going to look like when it’s done? What problem does it solve for the customer? What tools or materials am I going to need to get this built? These are the kinds of questions we’re going to have you answer.

It takes a little time, it might be the kind of thing where you would go to a coffee shop and sit down for maybe a couple of hours and do a little brainstorming and think about it. But it’s not going to take you like a month. It’s going to be an afternoon’s work and once you’ve done it you’re going to have clarity about the shape of your business that’s going to inform everything you do from that point. So it’s a very important exercise. If you’re in business you need to know the answers to these questions.

Robert: I’m going to link up lesson number 12 in the post for this podcast so you can go there, check it out for yourself, get to it, get to using it right away. And be sure at the bottom of that page, be sure to click the link to sign up for the Internet Marketing for Smart People course; the entire 20 part course.

It’s totally free and it really is the best of Copyblogger, systematically structured and delivered to your digital doorstep, so to speak. It’s about once a week, you’re going to get one of these lessons and like I said, you’ll see this one. But to get on the bus go over to imfsp.com and drop your e-mail address into the little box you’ll see there and we’ll take care of the rest.

Alright Sonia, unless you have anything else for these good people, let’s get out of here. What do you say?

Sonia: I think that sounds good. Thanks, everybody.

Robert: Yeah, thanks for listening one and all. If you think Sonia should keep her hair pink or that we should keep going, please do get over to iTunes and leave a comment or a rating for us. You’ve all been very kind and generous with your ratings and we’re grateful for it.

Ms. Simone, your words today have been as good as a 30 year single malt scotch. Thank you.

Sonia: Thanks, take care.


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About the Author: Robert Bruce is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter and Resident Recluse.