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Category: Reviews

Review: The Guerrilla Balance Sheet

25 February, 2008 (10:12) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

I normally don’t pay much attention $7 reports, but when Jay Conrad Levinson endorses something it’s definitely worth a look.

Jay is a legendary marketer who coined the phrase Guerrilla Marketing and is the author of over a dozen books. The idea behind Guerrilla Marketing is to get great results with a very limited marketing budget. Jay thought his book “Guerrilla Marketing for Free” was the final say on the topic of low budget marketing.

But the Guerrilla Balance Sheet takes this to a new level by encouraging you to get paid for your marketing. The report is 61 pages long and contains a lot of fluff and build-up to get to the point. The core idea of the report however, is quite interesting.

The main idea

You should look at every expense on your balance sheet and turn it into an income instead. Now this may sound redicilous, but it’s something most major marketers have been doing with their marketing costs for years. They have a front-end offer, for example a low-priced report, that is designed to just break even or turn only a small profit. The main goal of the front-end offer is to get new leads to which they can sell their very profitable back-end offers. And instead of giving the front-end report away for free, they charge a small fee for it. Thus turning a marketing expense into an income.

Who’s doing this?

Here are some other examples from the report of companies turning their expenses into income:

  • Las Vegas casinos used to have the $1.99 buffet as a loss leader just to bring people into their casino. Now they charge a reasonable fee for the buffet so they can afford to serve good food and turn a profit.
  • Ever seen the little Black Jack cheat cards you can buy in the souvenir shop? First you pay money to buy the cheat card and then you go to the casino to play Black Jack with your “new skills”, and probably loose more money.
  • A company needed to buy new and expensive equipment to comply with new environmental regulations. Instead of viewing this as a huge expense, the company rented out the equipment to neighboring companies who also needed to comply with the new regulations. Thus turning a large expense into a new stream of income.
  • The Transformers movie – a two and a half hour commercial for toys and GM cars that people happily paid $10 to see.

Front-end, Back-end and Never-end

The URL for the report is www.FeBeNe.com which stands for Front-end, Back-end and Never-end. Of course the report itself is a perfect example of a Front-end marketing piece that generates a profit for the authors. It’s not clear yet to me what the Back-end and Never-end (continuity, subscription, membership, etc) offers are. I’m sure the authors did not put in all this effort in order to just sell a $7 report.

Who is this for?

I enjoy reading about new marketing ideas so for me it was a worthwhile time-investment to read the report. If you’re just starting out then you should focus on more fundamental things to get your business up and running. If you have some income coming in and you want learn how to start thinking about turning all those pesky expenses into income, then I recommend this report.

Here’s the URL: www.FeBeNe.com

Review – Yanik Silver’s Underground Secret Society – Issue 30

8 February, 2008 (16:56) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

Underground Secret SocietyYanik Silver has a printed newsletter called the Underground Secret Society. Each month you get a red dossier marked Top Secret in the mail. (Yanik goes all out with his spy theme…) The dossier typically contains a 20-40 page report written by Yanik, a transcript of an interview, and a couple of CDs with additional material.

This month’s report focuses on the task of keeping affiliates and partners engaged and fired up to promote your product or services. If you have ever tried to recruit affiliates for your products you know how difficult it is. Yanik gives several good tips on what really motivates top affiliates. No it’s not money…

To bring it from the theoretical to the practical and actionable, Yanik gives a full insider view of one of his latest campaigns, and a peek into a few other high-profile launches. All the JV emails are listed (some of it feels redundant) with his commentary and explanations of why he used certain incentives and specific phrases. All in all, it’s a great lesson in psychology.

Next topic is going from testimonials to case studies in your sales letters. And Yanik gives you the exact wording you should use when you’re collecting testimonials to allow you to use them the right way.

Finally there are a few pages on how to uncover hidden benefits and letting prospects sell themselves on a product. Rich Schefren used this technique in his latest launch, as have many others, so it’s not really a secret. But now I understand the psychology behind it. Very smart!

Unfortunately I cannot reveal more details about the contents, because you have to sign a non-disclosure agreement when you become a member. So far I’ve received two monthly dossiers and they have both provided a lot more value than the (rather hefty) monthly fee.

You can get a one month free trial here: www.undergroundsecretsociety.com

How To Create A Real Internet Business

23 January, 2008 (13:48) | Business, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

Do you have an Internet business selling information products? The January 2008 edition of the Terry Dean Monthly Mentor Club teaches you how to create a plan to go from selling single information products to creating a real BUSINESS.

Remember: A business is a profitable system that works without you.

To get where you want to go you need a plan. Not a complicated fifty page document that takes months to write. Just a single page business plan that crystallizes your offerings and keeps you on track towards your goals. One of the few business planning books that Terry recommends reading is: The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan.

Finding your audience

Spending a lot of time and money on creating an information product that nobody wants to buy is very frustrating. Believe me; been there, done that. You need to identify a market where people have a problem, they know they have a problem and they are willing to spend money solving it.

For this I highly recommend Virtually FoolProof Method of Choosing Slam Dunk Markets. It’s only $10. A small price to pay for avoiding going too far down a dead-end path.

Develop your core message

The Internet business marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive. Why should anyone listen to you? Why should they give their hard earned money to you?

Take a closer look at the blogs that you read most often. Does the author have a distinct personality that comes through in the writing? Strong opinions about something? A good background story? You might even call it a brand.

Any “me too” message is not going to get you very far.

Develop your product base

Have you already developed your first information product? Congratulations! That’s a great start, and it puts you ahead of 99% of the wannabes. But one product is not an Internet business.

Here are the four different types products and price-levels that Terry recommends every information business should have:

  1. Entry Products
  2. Bread-And-Butter Income
  3. High Ticket Items
  4. Continuity Income

Analyze high-profile marketers

The newsletter finished with an analysis of four well known Internet businesses, breaking down their brands, products and offerings into the categories described above.

  • Dan Kennedy
  • Ron Legrand
  • Jimmy Brown
  • Stephen Snyder

The verdict

As usual Terry delivers great, actionable content. The key here is action. Information without action is worthless. If you take action and answer all 17 questions in the newsletter, you will be well on your way to creating a real Internet business.

This month’s newsletter felt a little scattered. The information is there, but I had to read it a couple of times to put it together and create my own action plan.

Instant gratification

Typically monthly newsletters like this are only delivered as a physical product. Starting this month Terry is experimenting with digital delivery in addition to mailing you the newsletter. When you sign up now, you get the instant gratification of being able to download the January newsletter immediately. But back issues will still not be available. So if you want the information on how to create a real Internet BUSINESS, then you need to go to www.MonthlyMentorClub.com now.

Update: 12 Month Internet Millionaire

17 January, 2008 (16:34) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

A while back I posted a review of Russell Brunson’s 12 Month Internet Millionaire product. One of my comments then was that the transcript was too literal. Well Russell must have listened, because he recently sent out a new transcript, slightly edited. It’s now 179 pages instead of the original 197. Kudos for listening to your customers and improving the product. Personally I would have liked to see it edited down to a third of the current length. More is not better. I much prefer to read the concentrated essence.

The 12 Month Internet Millionaire sales page is still way over-selling this product. Click over to the sales page and compare it with the actual contents of the product as I reviewed it. Can you even tell that it’s the same product?

If you are looking to expand your business into direct mail, then Vincent James has some good information for you in this product. If you are just starting out with your Internet business, then this product is probably not for you.

Book Review: Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic

16 January, 2008 (11:42) | Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

I was sick for a few days, so my wife got me Douglas Adams’s Starship Titanic to cheer me up. The book is written not by Douglas Adams, but by Terry Jones of Monty Python fame. But the style of writing and humor is very similar to what we DNA fans have come to know and love.

The Starship Titanic is the most magnificent starship every built.

However, many corners were cut during the construction, several individuals were bankrupted and the economy of an entire planet was destroyed. As a result of the drastic cost cutting measures, several vital components are completely missing, and things don’t quite work the way the designer envisioned. This is the setting when three earthlings “accidentally” board the ship and their hilarious journey begins.

Come to think of it, the Starship Titanic is not all that different from many Internet marketing products… A lot of time and money has been spent on the exterior, the package has a massive thud factor, the sales page is slick, etc. But inside the product things seem a little bit out of order, certain key elements are glossed over or completely missing, and the help desk is as helpful as the robotic table lamps on the Starship Titanic.

Review: Search Engine Myths Exposed

10 January, 2008 (10:35) | Reviews, Search Engines | By: Nick Dalton

Search Engine Myths ExposedJonathan Leger released his free report Search Engine Myths Exposed yesterday. Here are the “myths” that are exposed:

  1. Google Knows All and Sees All
  2. Google Will Not Rank Duplicate Content
  3. You Must Get Links From Related Subject Sites to Rank
  4. Your Site Must Focus On One Subject To Rank
  5. High PageRank Means Good Rankings
  6. To Maintain Good Rankings, You Must Add New Content
  7. The Biggest Myth: Ranking in Google is Hard

I didn’t realize that these were still considered myths or that there was any controversy surrounding them. But given all the FUD surrounding search engine optimization, somebody needs to set the record straight. And Jonathan Leger does a pretty good job at it.

Simplifications

There are a couple of things that I take issue with, mostly related to simplifications.

  • Google is an algorithm. The algorithm was created by people. Therefore Google is not a Deity that sees all and knows all. Ok…
  • The duplicate content discussion is interesting. But instead of proving that duplicate content does show up in search results, it would be far more useful to understand how duplicate content affects the value of incoming links. This is something that all article marketers are subject to each time they submit an article for syndication.
  • The only on-page ranking factor that is mentioned is the title tag. As a user of rApogee and RaSof you know that the title tag is very important, but there are close to 1,500 on-page ranking factors that you can use to your advantage.
  • The over-emphasis on links. Especially links from a specific service.

Sales Pitch

Since there never is such a thing as a free lunch, this report builds into a sales pitch for Jonathan Leger’s 3WayLinks.net service. Install some PHP on your site and you will automatically participate in 3-way link building, i.e. your site links to B, B links to C, and C links back to you. According to Jonathan, these links are much more valuable in Google’s eyes than when you link to site B and they link back to you.

Side Note

One of my favorite blogs High Scalability – Building bigger, faster, more reliable websites recently had a post about the Google Architecture. In this rather technical article Google’s MapReduce programming model is explained. With a few lines of MapReduce code junior Google engineers can easily query the massive amounts of data that Google collects. Figuring out 3-way linking schemes should be trivial and I’d be surprised if that’s not already done in any of the over 6,000 existing MapReduce applications. So Jonathan Leger’s Myth #1 that Google knows all and sees all may still be false, but I think they’re getting pretty close.

The Verdict

Sales pitch aside, the report does contain good information. Overall, it’s definitely worth reading. I haven’t tried the 3-way links service, so I cannot comment on that.

Hurry, download now…

No doubt you have received a flurry of emails urging you to download this report. The reason is that Jonathan Leger is paying $0.25 per referred download. So full disclosure: I will receive $0.25 if you use my link to download this report. And yes, I have my retirement all planned out. ;-)

Review – Life’s Golden Ticket

21 November, 2007 (12:28) | Life, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

Have you ever met someone who’s personality is so exuberant with the joy of life that you can’t help but wonder what their secret is? I had the pleasure of meeting Brendon Burchard recently at jvAlert Live in Long Beach. He gave the most amazing presentation of the entire conference.

Brendon used to work for Accenture where he was on a fast-track to becoming a partner. (I used to work for a big consulting company so I can tell you that becoming a partner is a *big* deal.) But he left his career at Accenture to write an inspirational novel: Life’s Golden Ticket.

The premise of the book is:

If you were given a ticket that could magically start your life anew, would you use it?

Stop and really think about that for a moment. Would you? Why or why not?

If there are aspects of your life that you are not entirely happy with, how much pain do you need to experience to change? Do you have to be attacked by lions like the main character in the book?

On the surface the book is an entertaining read about a young man’s visit to an amusement park. But each adventure in the park is a not-so-subtle metaphor for things that have gone wrong in his life. In the bumper boats ride kids self-select into two different groups: the explorers who set out to reach the other end of the pool as quickly as possible to explore new areas and new experiences, and then there are the spinners who spin their boats around and around in one place. Are you an explorer or a spinner?

Life is a wonderful gift, you must not waste it! Brendon was given a second chance after surviving a car accident ten years ago. Since then he has made it his mission to not waste a single moment, live life to the fullest and return the gift by giving to others.

Tomorrow the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated in the U.S. But you should not limit giving thanks to one day per year. Every day is an opportunity to give thanks for the fortunate life that you’re living. Every day is an opportunity to give back to others.

Is it worth your time and attention to attend conferences?

22 October, 2007 (22:56) | Life, Reviews | By: Nick Dalton

The reputation of Internet marketing conferences is steadily declining. In many cases it’s for a good reason: you pay a lot of money in conference fees, travel, hotel, etc and you end up sitting through presentations that are just thinly disguised product pitches. So it was with some trepidation that I attended Ken McArthur’s jvAlert Live in Long Beach this past weekend.

Beforehand Ken said multiple times that his jvAlert Live event is different. It’s more like a family reunion than a marketing event. Ken even organized an online family reunion for old and new attendees. That all sounds great, but which event organizer (or affiliate promoting an event) would not say that their event is better? I’m known to be skeptical, and somewhat jaded, but I love being proven wrong.

And boy was I wrong! The quality of the speakers and the attendees was outstanding and their accessibility was exceptional: I had lunch and dinner with world class speakers and Internet business legends every day. Yes there were product pitches at the end of most presentations, but only after some real and useful content had been delivered. Since the presenters pay their own way to the conference I think this was a fair trade-off.

It was a fairly small event, around 60-70 attendees, so I had a chance to speak to almost everyone there, from seasoned multi-millionaires to beginners who had not yet made their first dollar online. I learned something from each and every one.

I came home not just with the usual stack of business cards, but with real connections and real friends. I also came away with two million dollar projects, not just ideas (they’re a dime a dozen), but real projects. I’m starting work on the first project this week. It’s in stealth mode for now, but stay tuned to this blog for future announcements. It will democratize one of the remaining bastions among media empires.

Thank you Ken for inviting me into the jvAlert family!

Why should you care about computer security?

16 October, 2007 (10:48) | Reviews, Security | By: Nick Dalton

Computer Security and Penetration Testing by Alfred Basta and Wolf Halton is the scariest book I’ve read since Stephen King’s IT. The book is published by Thomson and is used as a text book at many colleges and universities.

As a course text book it has exercises and hands on projects that describe exactly how to install and run computer programs that crack passwords, sniff network traffic, launching denial of service attacks, and more. Of course this is all done legally (”white hat”) and with the intent to educate and to teach the reader how to deploy countermeasures and improve their security.

Here are a few of the topics covered in the book:

  • Scanning Tools
  • Sniffers
  • TCP/IP Vulnerabilities
  • Encryption and Password Cracking
  • Spoofing
  • Session Hijacking
  • Trojan Horses
  • Denial-of-Service Attacks
  • Buffer Overflows
  • Programming Exploits
  • Windows and Linux Vulnerabilities

Like most security professionals I’m on the side that full disclosure is the best way to improve computer security. You should assume that the bad guys already have this information, and then some. Therefore I welcome this book.

Why would anyone care to target your little web site?

You’re probably not as passionate about security as I am. But is security just for geeks and federal three-letter-agencies? Why would anyone care to target your little web site? People with malicious intent couldn’t care less about your web site. As described in the book they use scanning software to detect computers that are vulnerable. Once a vulnerable computer is found, it is attacked and compromised, and then added to a bot network. This is all done automatically and you will probably not notice anything until you start getting complaints that spam is being sent from your server; or when your web server is shut off by your web hosting company because it is participating in a denial of service attack against someone else.

If you have read any of my previous reviews you know that I’m a harsh critic and I rarely endorse other people’s products. This is a book that has my full recommendation. Your web master or IT department needs to have this book. Not on their bookshelf – it needs to be put into practice to be useful.

One of the book authors has a free newsletter called Secret2Security. When you sign up you get the first chapter of the book for free. Here’s the URL: http://networkdefense.biz/list/?p=subscribe&id=1

Why do Internet Marketers want your physical address?

12 October, 2007 (14:18) | Copywriting, Reviews, Testing | By: Nick Dalton

Most Internet Marketers live in the digital world where online advertisements and sending emails are just about free. But more and more you’ll come across marketers who insist on getting your physical mailing address.

It is no secret that most Internet Marketing strategies and tactics have been used successfully for decades in the offline Direct Marketing (DM) world. With email deliverability and click through rates steadily declining online marketers are looking for new ways to reach customers. Again, old fashioned DM comes to the rescue.

One of the Internet marketers who has been very successful in combining online and offline campaigns is Russell Brunson. If you haven’t done so already you should download his IM-Myth report and read it for inspiration. True to the message of the report there is a one time offer after you sign up for the free download where you are “bribed” to also part with your physical mailing address.

You have probably received dozens of emails from various marketers urging you to download the report from their affiliate link. Even though the report was free, Russel Brunson paid out $1 per download to the referrer. This list building technique was pioneered online by Scott Boulch and his Death of AdSense reports. (Note that this part of the campaign is over, my link above is not an affiliate link.) Of course Russell Brunson didn’t pay out over $50k just to build an email list.

Earlier this week the other shoe dropped with the launch of the 12 Month Internet Millionaire. This is a recording of a 6 hour coaching phone call Russell Brunson had with Vincent James about 1.5 years ago. I had never heard of Vincent James before, but he claims to have made over $100 million in 23 months. So he seems like a guy worth listening to. Here are some of the things you will learn from the 12 Month Internet Millionaire recording:

Memberships

  • Sell memberships to get access to wholesales or distributor prices. It’s much easier to sell an annual $40 membership than to compete on price with all the other companies selling the same commodity product.

Autoship

  • Get the customer to agree to locking in a discounted price and send them the same order every month. Make it sound like an exclusive club – a benefit to the customer. (Worked for dietary supplements.)
  • With monthly recurring billing people often just tell their credit card company that they don’t want to pay anymore instead of calling the seller. Then this will be a chargeback on the sellers credit card merchant account. If the chargeback percentage is too high you risk loosing your merchant account. To prevent this they included a cancellation coupon in the second or third shipment.
  • For information products you can sell a CD with interviews for $1 and then send the customer a new CD each month for $39

Direct Mail

  • There are three types of mailing lists, in order of responsiveness: buyers lists, subscribers lists from magazines and compiled lists from warranty cards, questionnaires, etc.
  • Check usage reports on mailing lists before you buy. You want to see a high percentage of customers who have continued to use that list over time.
  • Don’t waste your time on small lists. It takes just as much effort to test 1,000 names on a small list as it does for a large list. If the test is successful you want to have a large well to go back to for more names.
  • Use a list broker. It will save you time and effort, and it doesn’t cost you anything.
  • The best pulling envelope has a simulated handwritten address in blue ink, a first class stamp, a return address sticker, all on a standard OfficeMax envelope.
  • Postcards are good for offers of a well-known products and you’re solely competing on price. Or if you’re just driving traffic to your web site.

Life Time Value of Your Customer

  • In the direct mail world you have to know the lifetime value of your customers, because a good campaign will break even on the front-end offer. Therefore you need a series of back-end offers, which together make up the lifetime value of the customer. Since online campaigns are practically free you don’t have to be so stringent with calculating the lifetime value of your customers. But there is a huge upside and profit potential if you do.

Copywriting

  • Simple copywriting tips:
    • be excited about the product you’re about to write a sales letter for
    • tell a story in the first person
    • become an actor and get into the role of the target customer
    • use a swipe file
  • The four reasons why people don’t buy:
    • they don’t know your offer – you’re not very good at getting attention
    • the don’t want it – you’re targeting the wrong list
    • they can’t afford it or they can’t justify the price you’re at
    • they don’t believe you
  • A quick trick to increase the response rate once in a while: Run the usual ad that’s just breaking even and add a new headline above it that says this is the ad that we had to cancel last month since we sold out so fast.

Call Centers

  • To jumpstart your own call center script, call and order another successful product and record/transcribe the conversation with their call center.
  • If a call center charges 80 cents per minute and your script is 10 minutes, that means you’re paying $8 just to take the order. Offer a bonus for ordering from your web site to reduce the number of incoming phone calls and thereby reduce your costs.

Magazines

  • For magazine ads use an editorial style layout. Make it look like the magazine it’s running in.
  • Right hand pages have better response than left hand pages. Specify RHP when you place your ad, even if they can’t guarantee it. Place your cut out coupon in the lower right hand corner to make it obvious that the ad should go on a right page, since it’s difficult to cut out a coupon if it’s in the gutter.
  • For magazine circulation you should look at paid copies sold and preferably numbers audited by ABC.
  • Don’t waste money on brand advertisements; it’s just traditional institutional advertiser justifying worthless ads.

Competitors

  • When you find something that works run with it as fast as you can before people start knocking off your campaign and your product. Run all types of media in parallel.
  • If you find advertisements of knockoffs of your product talk to the magazine and pay to become the exclusive advertiser for your type of product.
  • Establish credibility over your competitors.

Expand What Works

  • Sell what’s already selling.
  • When you’re successful with direct mail, start magazine advertising to reach more prospects and then to radio and ultimately TV.
  • If you’re successfully marketing only on the Internet then you are not fully exploiting the market.

Testing and Tracking

  • Test the big things: headline, price, envelopes, lists.
  • Use different 800 numbers for every advertisement. That way you know how many orders each ad or list generated.
  • Alternatively have the phone operator ask the customer where they saw the ad.
  • For mail in coupons add a code to the address, e.g. a department code of CD6 could be Car and Driver June issue.
    If the coupon was cut out from a magazine you can just look at the back of the coupon to determine which magazine it came from.
  • For online order you can have a drop down where the customer selects which magazine they saw your ad in. But that is not so good for competitive reasons. Better is to have a different landing page for each ad.
  • Track the response for every ad for every issue and keep running them until they no longer make money. If your ad is really good it could be sucking out prospects faster than the magazine brings in new customer. In that case no amount of tweaking the ad will increase the response.

Technology

  • Here’s an interesting tidbit that blew me away: The customer database Vincent James used to run his $100 million dietary supplement business was Microsoft Excel with some add-on macros.

The 12 Month Internet Millionaire audio files are good if you want to listen on the go or in your car. But if you’re like me and you can read much faster than most people speak you will appreciate that a complete transcript is included as well. Unlike most audio transcripts that I’ve seen lately, this one actually seems to have been proofread, although there are some blanks where presumably the audio was skipping. However it’s way too verbose at 197 pages. Vincent James has a very conversational way of speaking and every “you know” is captured in the transcript.

I just learned that the 12 Month Internet Millionaire product has became the #1 best seller on ClickBank. This surprises me a bit, since this is definitely not a products for beginners – there are no step-by-step instructions. The products contains tons of good ideas that can give you inspiration for both your online and offline business. And if you enjoy reading and learning about marketing it’s definitely a good read. You can find more information here.

If you decide to look at the sales page I’d like to give you a warning: I think it grossly oversells the product. It has very little to do with Internet business and a whole lot with direct mail and other offline marketing techniques. If you are interested in the topics listed above in this post, then this product will appeal to you. If you’re just looking to become an Internet millionaire in 12 months, then this is not the golden ticket.

If you enjoy reading in-depth reviews like this one, please let me know in a comment below. And don’t forget to sign up to the RSS feed or the email notification list so you will be notified of the next one.