Monthly Archives: June 2011

Jun 28

Taking the Sting Out of Internet Marketing

By mikefilsaime | Uncategorized

When I was five years old, while taking a trip to the park with my Grandparents, my Grandmother pointed out some nettles growing in the grass verge and warned me not to touch them, as they would sting me.

I may only have been five, but I was knowledgeable enough about the ways of the world to know that insects can sting, but that plants are quite harmless. To demonstrate my mature understanding of botany, I squeezed one of the nettle leaves between finger and thumb.

This action was followed by pain, confusion, tears and, eventually, a couple of scoops of ice-cream.

Childish naivety soon gave way to a sober understanding that the unknown can often hold hidden dangers. And I would guess that most of us have an experience from our youth that involved being hurt by something we assumed to be harmless. For me it was a nettle, for you it might have been that harmless looking, funny striped wasp, or a cute fluffy dog with a big smile.

Those experiences followed us to adulthood, and we even create expressions for it. To “grasp the nettle” is a well-known metaphor for boldly taking an important action, despite the knowledge of the pain in may bring.

This concept is especially relevant to us Internet Entrepreneurs because the steep learning curve seems to be filled with difficulties that present a challenge of the “grasp the nettle” variety. Important skills have to be learned, unfamiliar environments must be navigated, and the fear of failure or disaster can hold us back.

We may feel too determined to succeed to simply give up, but until we grasp whatever nettle represents our current obstacle to progress, we will end up stagnating.

Thinking back over my last six years online, some of my “nettles” have included the following:

Challenge: Improve the website I’ve been given to look after.
Nettle: Learn HTML.
Sting: Learning programming code is difficult and time-consuming.

Challenge: Make the website profitable.
Nettle: Ring businesses and sell them advertising space.
Sting: I’m not a salesperson, I don’t know how much to charge, and my website doesn’t get much traffic.

Challenge: Build a new, more complex website
Nettle: Hire a programmer.
Sting: Can I afford it? What if I hire the wrong person and they do a bad job? How do I communicate what I want?

Challenge: Learn marketing.
Nettle: Invest profits in expensive training courses.
Sting: If I don’t succeed in learning how to increase my profits, my investment is wasted and my business could be forced to close.

Challenge: Build a network of Internet marketing contacts.
Nettle: Attend an Internet marketing seminar.
Sting: I’m shy. The seminar is in a city to which I’ve never been and will be attended by people I don’t know. I’m still new at Internet marketing, so what do I have to offer other people?

Challenge: Visit a software exhibition and raise the profile of my website.
Nettle: Attend the exhibition as a member of the press and record video interviews.
Sting: My knowledge of the subject matter is very limited and I’ve never carried out video interviews before.

Some of the above “nettles” may be similar to challenges you are facing (or expect to face in the future). But, looking back, what’s interesting about all of those challenges is that every single one of them – to a greater or lesser degree – turned out to be easier than I anticipated.

And in most cases, the sting and pain I was expecting, turned out to be negligible or even non-existent.

Maybe that’s not a coincidence.

The stinging nettle plant – my childhood nemesis – is covered in fine, hollow hairs that are easily broken by a touch, transforming them into something resembling a hypodermic needle. In this way, the nettle can deliver its venom, an unpleasant mixture of formic acid and other chemicals.

And yet, if done correctly, it’s perfectly possible to take hold of a nettle leaf without being stung; a trick my grandfather demonstrated after my unfortunate incident, doubtless to try and cheer me up but only serving to confuse me further.

Apparently, if the nettle leaf is grasped swiftly and firmly, the hairs are kept flat and are less likely to break and puncture the skin. It is for this reason that some believe the “grasp the nettle” metaphor is not so much about bold accomplishment despite the pain, as it is about reducing or eliminating pain by acting swiftly, confidently, and with determination.

This is a VERY different way of looking at things.

Before successfully grasping each of the aforementioned “nettles,” I sought advice, did a little research, came up with a plan of action, and then . . . just got on with it.

Every time I completed a challenge, it represented a significant step in the development of my career as an Internet Entrepreneur.

The expression, “grasping the nettle,” has a different meaning to me than it does to most others. Rather than representing the prospect of a painful but important experience, it represents the act of learning the best way to overcome an obstacle and then tackling it head-on.

My point is not to go outside and try grasping real nettles; even if you manage to successfully grasp one without being stung, the outcome is only a crushed leaf. Instead, try grasping a metaphorical “nettle” that you know is holding back you or your business. Seek advice, do some research, learn from the experiences of others, and then act boldly.

By David Congreave
This article first appeared in the May 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at

Jun 24

The “Other” Joint Venture

By mikefilsaime | Uncategorized

Are you SURE you know what a Joint Venture is?

The reason I ask is because the Internet marketing sector has developed a very narrow view of the concept that ignores some valuable ways in which a Joint Venture (JV) can be implemented. Don’t skip this article because of an assumption that you’ve heard this before.

JVs are an important tool for the launch of an Internet product, but have you considered that they can also be a significant tool in the development of an Internet product.

Although we usually associate JVs with affiliate activity, in its broadest definition, a JV is simply an entity formed between two or more parties to engage in some kind of economic work. Two or more marketers meet, discover some common ground, establish a business relationship, and then collaborate on a venture where each party profits in the form of income, a mailing list, or both.

“Two heads are better than one.” You may be knowledgeable in one area of Internet marketing and your partner (or partners) in another. By combining your abilities, you can create a winning product AND a successful launch. Some JVs of this sort have gone on to generate six and seven figure incomes, so don’t think of this as a compromise.

The JV can be for one specific project or it can become an ongoing business relationship. This needs to be established from the start to avoid any confusion in expectations later on. Some sort of written contract is always wise, to protect both parties and to avoid misunderstandings later on.

The main thing to remember is that there is no, single, specific structure, within which these JVs have to be arranged. Depending on what you want to achieve, you can be very creative in terms of what the parties contribute, and how the benefits are shared. But, whatever you decide, the first thing you have to do is find people that may be suitable for this kind of relationship.

A seminar or other Internet marketing event is often cited as a primary place for making contacts that can change your whole life. There are certainly many examples of this and, the more you get out there and meet people within your niche, the greater the chances of success.

But this isn’t the only solution. My first eBook and website was established through a joint venture with someone I had met online through other contacts. It wasn’t until six months later that I actually met him for the first time, and we took the opportunity to form a new joint venture project. I’m now working on a different project with someone new.

JVs don’t tie you indefinitely to one idea; they can last as long as both parties wish it to exist. A key benefit of this kind of relationship, unlike a “brick and mortar” company, is that there are very little assets to split if the union is eventually discontinued.

If things sometimes seem tough, don’t give up. Many have struggled to make their home business work on their own. It’s not as easy as it may seem, especially if you are just starting out. But, find a like-minded individual to join up with and your available time and resources can double overnight.

Now you can work together to make things happen!

By Joe Jablonski
This article first appeared in the May 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at

Jun 21

The Only 5 Ways To Increase Profits In Your Business – Part 2

By mikefilsaime | Uncategorized

In the last few articles I’ve been discussing “The Only 5 Ways To Increase Profits In Your Business”:

  1. Activities That Increase Leads.
  2. Increase Profit At Point Of Sale.
  3. Increase Number Of Transactions At Point Of Sale.
  4. Sell More Stuff To Your Past Customers.
  5. Cut Costs And Expenses.

In previous articles we’ve covered Items Number 1 and 3 in full detail. Today I want to cover item number 2 in detail: Increase Profit At Point Of Sale.

Now this is different than Number 3 in the fact that while both are meant to increase profit at the point of sale, in Number 3 you are simply adding more transactions before and during (and after the sale in Number 4).

By implementing what I am going to teach you today, you will be able to also make increase your profits in Number 3 and Number 4.
So then, the question is simply this . . . “If we are not adding more transactions to the sale and we are not asking past customers to buy “more stuff”, then how can we make more money at the P.O.S. (Point of Sale?)

The answer is simple. “Increase PROFIT by testing your offer and your price to increase conversions at P.O.S. to yield the maximum net profit and ROI (Return on Investment) on your campaign for the highest possible LTV (average Life Time Value) of your customer.”

Whew! That was a mouthful indeed. But there are some important things in there that, while the answer may seem obvious, you may not be seeing the full picture or asking the right questions.

In strict terms of ‘PROFIT’, you may want to raise your price and reach LESS CUSTOMERS. If you are more philanthropic, profit may not be your main motivation and you may want to sell more products to help more people. Here, your fruition would then come from enhancing lives.

But, for the purpose of this article, I will simply focus on the first one rather than the latter. That is: maximum profit for your Company and its shareholders.

Now, it is also important when you read that answer that you realize that if you have an Upsell process and/or a “BACK END” or “Call Center”, you MUST take into consideration on how the effects your FRONT END offer and conversions play on your BACK END to see the NET RESULT of your campaign.

Consider this example: you have a front end product that sells for $9.95 and have an Upsell for $100 and the call center sell products for $1000.

You decide to test your price and see what happens at $19.95.


You go from [100 sales at $9.95 = $995.00] to [70 sales at $19.95 = $1396.50]. You make fewer sales as your conversion drops but you make 401.50 more profit on the front end. Sounds like testing the price paid off right?

Well, not so fast! Watch this:

If you are tracking the TOTAL LTV of your customers, you may now see less overall profit and now you have LESS customers seeing your up sells. You have less people going into an optional continuity program. You have less customers being called by your staff in the Call Center for your $1000 packages. In the end, you may be making $401.50 more on the front end but losing $4000 on the back end therefore yielding you a ‘Net Profit’ loss of over $3500.00

This is why it is so important to make sure you are tracking the profit of your campaign based on the LTV of a customer and not just your front end sale. Always look for the “big picture”.

In fact, that is where the term “Loss Leader” comes from. You may find out that by even losing money on your front end offer (i.e., selling it for $3.95, spending more in advertising than you make in front end profits, or paying affiliates 110% of the sale etc.) you get MORE SALES and MORE LEADS into your funnel where you can crush it on the back end. Maybe you lose $3000 on the front end and make $20,000 on the back end when you change your price to $3.95.

Car dealers will typically do this by advertising and selling the car a full $300 below their cost because they know that they will average $1000 per customer on the back end with financing, insurance, warranties, and anti-theft systems etc. Also, they now have a new customer for their Service Department, not to mention potential referrals they can get from them too (ah . . . it is all starting to make sense now right? Isn’t the “Big Picture” cool?).

Okay, so now that we got that out of the way, the next thing we need to do is assume we have our metrics in place and we can start to increase profit on our TOTAL CAMPAIGN by split testing our sales process starting with the first page which may just be a landing page or ‘optin’ page.

You can test hundreds of things such as site layout, audio, video, fonts, colors, short copy vs. long copy etc, but the 4 most important things you need to test are these:

  1. Your Offer.
  2. The Headline (Self Explanatory).
  3. Your Price (as it relates to your NET CAMPAIGN LTV PROFIT).
  4. Your Guarantee.

We already covered the PRICE factor so now let’s get into some of the others.

Your offer is, in many expert’s opinion, the most important part of your sale to test. Many people think the offer is “This is my product and this is my price.”

That is not the case. The offer is:

  1. What the customer is going to get, and HOW they are going to get it.
  2. What they are going to pay, and HOW they will pay it.

So in number 1, you can now play with making it an ebook, or printed in B&W or in full color, or putting it on a CD and mailing it to them where they print the PDF, or just letting them see a page where they can download it. Maybe you will give them all access at one time or you will drip it over time. Throw in some BONUSES and you can really spice up your offer.

In number 2 you have how they will pay. So instead of $47, it can be 3 x of $15.95, or it can be $1 today and 5 payments of $9.95.

I will show you an example of an offer that can increase profits but many people would be afraid to try. But first let’s talk about the “Guarantee.”

This is a very powerful thing to test and it involves the REMOVAL OF RISK or even better, RISK REVERSAL where all the risk goes on the seller as in this example below of a great offer if you have the right back end in place.

“You have probably seen many ebooks selling for $300 that do not cover half of what we cover in our always updated product. And so you are probably expecting to pay $300. Well, you are not going to pay $300 or even $200 or $100 or even $75. Heck, at a price of $50, we would be crazy to sell it to you. But we are so confident in our product and so sure that it will work for you, that we are willing to send it to you free with free shipping, just to try it.

“And if you like it, which we know you will, you will be conveniently billed just 4 payments of $9.95 – and if you are one of the next 200 people to order (while supplies last in our warehouse) you will also get a copy of our other top selling book “How to XYZ” which is, by itself, a $29.95 value, absolutely free. And if our product does not do everything we said, and more, you can KEEP it and never ever be billed by us: Our gift to you.”

Wow, right there is the ULTIMATE OFFER. As you can see, it is all about getting your product in the hands of as many people as possible and having your backend do well. Of course, you better have one hellava product to do an offer like this. But you will see an offer like this from time to time.

This will sell a lot more ebooks than “Pay me $47 and you get the PDF.”

It has classic price build and drop, urgency and scarcity, a bonus, and risk reversal. The customer has no reason not to try it if they want the desired result. They have nothing to lose.

What you learned right here can change your business model if you put in place some backend strategies and are willing to be brave enough to test these things.

When you can test your P.O.S. offers like this, you will find out that you can increase profits in your business in ways you never even dreamed of. If you are selling a $47 product, you can make $300 profit or more an every sale when you focus on these things.

In future articles I will cover No. 4, and No. 5. So that when you apply all 5 of these things to your business you will see an exponential increase in your profits for your online business.

By Mike Filsaime
This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at

Jun 14

WordPress meets jQuery (Five Underground Plugins)

By mikefilsaime | Private Label Rights

More and more people are catching on to jQuery and understanding its power. Now WordPress has finally embraced jQuery, and it looks like things are getting pretty heated.

What makes WordPress so special is its wonderful ability to be customized and changed, and what makes jQuery the hot kid on the block is its impressive animation techniques.

In this article, I will be sharing a few of my personal favorite Underground WordPress+jQuery plugins.

1. jQuery Lightbox
This is a WordPress plugin that creates a nice lightbox for images on your blog. jQuery lightbox works with WordPress 2.2 or higher. Recently, professional bloggers started using images to describe their posts, so this plugin will definitely spice up your site.

2. GD Star Rating plugin
This allows you to set up rating system for posts, pages, and comments in your blog, which will help your readers feel more connected to your blog.

3. jQuery Comment Preview
Ever wanted to give your readers the ability to instantly preview comments? jQuery Comment Preview is a useful plugin that will make your readers appreciate your site more by giving them more control over what a comment should look like.

4. uAudio Player
Marketers, you need this. No questions asked. uAudio is a slim (450 Bytes!), fast plugin to create a flash mp3 player when mp3 links are clicked. Now when you done writing your blog post, you can simply add a quick mp3 audio to give it that personal touch.

5. SimpleModal Contact Form
SimpleModal Contact Form uses Ajax to utilize the jQuery JavaScript library and the SimpleModal jQuery plugin.

By Lucius Saltibus
This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at

Jun 13

MDC Monthly Preview – July 2011

By mikefilsaime | Uncategorized

What’s inside the July 2011 issue of MDC Monthly?

Time is Money

  • Five “time bandits” you must defeat at all costs.
  • Three online tools you didn’t know you could use to optimize your productivity.
  • Seven productivity pitfalls and how to avoid them.
  • Three tips for productive blogging.

“Find Your Inspiration” with Jennifer Syrkiewicz

  • The crucial step required to get fired up about writing.
  • How to turn day-to-day events into powerful analogies.
  • Change your body language and writing style from nervous to confident.

“Reconstructing Your Financial Identity – Part One” with Stephen Pierce

  • Discover your hidden prejudices about money and wealth.
  • The most misquoted truism about the effects of money.
  • How to kick the scarcity mentality.

“The Super Power of Testing” with Anik Singal

  • Introduction to split-testing.
  • The strange element most people don’t test that can make a huge difference to your sales conversion rate.
  • The crucial aspect of split-testing that you MUST spend time on.

Additional articles in the July 2011 issue:

  • “Gimp Graphics” with Omar Martin: a step-by-step guide to creating simple, layered images.
  • “Menu Hover Trick” with David Congreave: SEO trick to improving your onsite anchor text.
  • “TE Lingo” with Robert Puddy: all the common features of traffic exchanges defined.
  • “WordPress: Com Vs Org” with Joel Williams: choosing the best WordPress platform for your business.
  • “Targeting the Format to Different Content Models” with Heather Vale Goss: find the best content model for your interview recordings.

Latest book reviews:

  • Poke the Box” by Seth Godin.
  • The Amazement Revolution” by Shep Hyken.

Additional regular features:

  • Internet Marketing News.
  • “Free Advice and Worth Every Penny” with Dafydd Manton.

Don’t miss the July 2011 edition of MDC Monthly!
You can get a free trial copy shipped to your door by clicking here.

Jun 10

Hiring a Bookkeeper and/or Accountant – Part 3 of 4

By mikefilsaime | Private Label Rights

Hiring a bookkeeper or accountant can be a stressful ordeal, especially for someone who doesn’t understand accounting to begin with. In this article, I will cover the differences between bookkeepers and accountants and some of the basic qualifications a business owner should look for in each.

What is a Bookkeeper?
Bookkeepers keep financial records that track a company’s revenues, expenditures, profit and loss, cash flow, and other financial activities. Bookkeepers usually work for the accounting departments of their companies. Bookkeepers use computer programs (QuickBooks, Peachtree) to do their record keeping.

There are two types of bookkeepers: general and full-charge. The general bookkeeper posts invoices, pays bills, make deposits, and produces very basic financial statements along with other administrative tasks. The general bookkeeper is good for small business with minimal transactions. The full-charge bookkeeper performs the tasks of a general bookkeeper but can also process payroll, prepare certain sales tax reports, and prepare more comprehensive financial reports.

A full charge bookkeeper has more than a basic understanding of accounting and could be used in a medium-size business with many transactions. Periodically, a bookkeeper balances the books. When the books are balanced, it is possible to tell at a glance how much cash has been spent, how much was received, what the company owes, what is owed to the company, and whether the company has made a profit or suffered a loss.

Bookkeepers generally do not require a degree but should definitely have at least 1-3 years experience for a general bookkeeper and 3-5 years for a full charge bookkeeper. Some bookkeepers get certified by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB). These bookkeepers must pass a fairly rigorous exam to become certified and are basically junior accountants.

What is an Accountant?
Just like bookkeepers, there are two types of accountants; certified and uncertified.

The title of accountant is very broad and certainly open to interpretation. For the purposes of this article we will assume an accountant has a four-year accounting degree and at least two years of accounting experience. An accountant should be able to analyze the information processed by the bookkeeper and prepare reports for the owner in order to help make sound business decisions. Accountants are valuable in that they truly understand the numbers and not just inflows and outflows of cash. Any company that has more than basic transactions could find an accountant useful to help break down the business and increase the bottom line.

A Certified Public Accountant (CPA) has passed a rigorous four-part exam and has met the state’s necessary education (150 credits) and experience requirements (minimum three years public accounting) to practice as a CPA. A CPA does everything of a basic accountant but also understands taxes, control systems, and advanced business processes. For the most part, CPA’s are used on a consulting basis and at year-end tax time. Unless a company is generating multiple millions in revenue and has intricate accounting issues such as partnerships, investments, and loans, keeping a CPA on staff is probably unnecessary.

In conclusion, hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is much the same as hiring any other employee in terms of fitting in with corporate culture, being accountable, and ensuring they are competent team players. However, you need to also ensure the potential employee has the necessary accounting knowledge to get the job done correctly. The bookkeeper should, at a minimum, be able to enter all data and produce accurate financial statements at the end of each month. An accountant should be able to interpret the financial statements in plain English, offer suggestions on how to decrease costs, and budget for the future of the business. The CPA should be familiar with the industry to ensure they are taking all available tax deductions and not “leaving any money on the table.”

Make sure you look out for my final article in this series, “Basic Lesson in Financial Statement Analysis.” This article will explain what the basic financial statements are and what to look for when analyzing these statements.

By John Russo
This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at

Jun 07

Marketing Lessons From a Beach Hawker

By mikefilsaime | Uncategorized

Do you ever have difficulty leaving work behind?

For home business owners, this is a particularly difficult challenge because you’re never more than a few yards away from the office. At the end of a work day, resisting the urge to go back to the PC and ‘just check one quick thing’ takes a steely determination. Alongside that, as a home business owner, you’re probably doing something that you love and are deeply passionate about. It’s hard to switch off from that, as I was reminded while on vacation.

My wife and I had arranged a two-week trip to the Dominican Republic that, along with Haiti, makes up the island of Hispaniola. It’s a little more commercial than it used to be, but it’s still a beautiful country, and is probably one of the most cost-effective ways to visit the Caribbean.

Before we began our journey I agreed, for the duration of the holiday, I would not send or receive any emails and I would absolutely, under no circumstances ring the office. Short of a natural disaster or asteroid strike, any problems with the business could wait until we returned home. This was an opportunity to relax and recharge the batteries. The Beach, some sun, a good book and as much Cuba Libre as I could drink. I lasted, ooh . . . about 12 hours.

We were attending the obligatory welcome speech from the local travel rep and she was pitching a variety of excursions such as humpback whale spotting, catamaran trips, scuba-diving, and so on. With an embarrassing display of mental arrogance, I whiled away the time by picking holes in her sales technique and thinking up some of the ways she could improve her pitch.

Things such as sharing testimonials from previous customers, or adding value to the offer by offering a free bottle of premium rum as a bonus. The low cost of alcohol over there compared to the high price of the excursions would have made this very cost-effective. She could even add a sense of urgency to the offer by offering 50% off a second booking for the first five people that registered for an excursion before the end of the day.

As we left the presentation, I tried to impress my wife by sharing my critique of the travel rep’s sales pitch. I’m sure she found it absolutely fascinating but, little did I know, my wife was about to observe me taken down a peg or two. We set off on the short walk to the beach. I was in good spirits, so I didn’t mind that the moment we left the hotel premises we were stopped by a man who wanted us to attend a presentation for a rival hotel. He was quite persistent so, rather weakly, I said we’d think about it and maybe come back after lunch. Thirty seconds later we were stopped by a second man who made an identical pitch for the same presentation. This time it was much easier to refuse by saying we had already been approached a few moments ago. As we walked on I found myself, once again, mentally criticizing their sales technique. Surely, they would have more success if they offered some kind of incentive for attending?

Only fifty yards left to the beach and we were interrupted by a third man with, you guessed it, an invitation to attend a hotel presentation (lest I give you the wrong impression of the Dominican Republic, this was the only time during our entire stay that we were approached in this way). We used our now tried and trusted technique of explaining that we had already been approached. The man looked despondent and said “Ah, yes, he’s my boss”. Unsure of what the appropriate response was, I asked if the man was a good boss. “No. He steals my commissions,” came the reply. Any hopes that he might be joking were dashed by the mournful expression on his face. Somewhat uncomfortably, we said ‘adios’ and walked on.

With an air of relief we arrived at the beach, found a nice spot and lounged on a pair of sun beds. The weather was perfect and the faint sound of reggae music from a nearby resort blended well with the sound of the waves kissing the white sand. Perfect. Looking around to take in my surroundings I observed with interest the variety of beach hawkers who slowly strolled across the beach, attempting to pedal their wares. Stuffed animals, hair braiding, jewellery, cigars and, yet more excursions were all available for purchase from the comfort of your seat.

The beach was primarily used by holiday-makers staying in the resort, and I suspected that there were specific instructions on acceptable selling behaviour. None of the sellers were pushy, or aggressive, and a simple shake of a head was enough to signal your disinterest. In fact, as long as we avoided eye contact, the hawkers kept on walking.

Once more, I found myself amused by the selling techniques on display. Some simply walked with their product held aloft and waited for someone to show interest. Some, with muted tones, periodically announced the product they were selling. My personal favourite was the man selling straw hats. Wearing his entire stock, stacked high upon his head, he wandered up and down with intermittent calls of “I got the hats.”

These simplistic, but entertaining, techniques led to an overconfidence that caused me to unintentionally make eye contact with a man selling canvas paintings. He veered in my direction and with the, now familiar, half Spanish, half American accent said, “Would you like to buy a painting? You would be my first sale today.”

I wasn’t impressed with the plea for compassion, but he had a friendly smile and so, rather than saying ‘no’, I tried something a little pithier: “We wouldn’t have room in our suitcase.” I tried. The man’s smile grew broader, roughly in proportion to my growing conviction that I had said the wrong thing. He quickly pulled a tightly rolled canvas from his backpack and demonstrated how it was kept wrapped with tape that could be removed without causing any damage, and how the package could be rolled and unrolled without damaging the painting. With my objection effortlessly defeated, I racked my brains to think of another means of escape. ‘I’m not interested’ suddenly seemed a little inappropriate.

The thought had barely powered through the synapses of my brain before, as quick as a flash, the not-so-amateur salesman pulled half a dozen canvases from his stock, unrolled them, and laid them out on the sand before me. As I gazed over an expanse of brightly coloured, sea view abstracts, the thought entered my head that it really wouldn’t hurt to buy just one…

Which was immediately followed by the realisation that something strange had just happened.

I have no interest in art, no interest in paintings, and the last thing I wanted to do was blow a portion of our spending money before we were even halfway through our first day of vacation. How did I get here? How did I go from ZERO interest, to the point where I was about to start fishing around for my wallet? Then it hit me. I recalled reading the book “Influence” – Robert Cialdini’s seminal work on sales psychology – and its description of the Law of Reciprocation.

The short explanation of this is that when somebody does something for us, we feel a strong, socially ingrained, desire to return the favour. Samples, downselling, and free gifts are all examples of Reciprocation in marketing. Even if the opportunity to reciprocate is out of proportion to the initial favour we’ve received, it can be hard to pass up. And, crucially, it doesn’t matter one jot if we didn’t ask for the favour in the first place.

So, in this instance, the beach hawker had gone to the trouble of showing me his product and then laying out a sampling of his paintings for me to see. The fact that it took him all of ten seconds and a minimal amount of effort made no difference. On a subconscious level, I had decided that he had done something for me and to turn him away empty-handed now would just seem rude. Unfortunately for me, awareness of what was happening internally wasn’t making it any easier to say ‘no.’ I now realized that the Law of Commitment had also come into play. However small the amount, I had expressed what could be interpreted as interest, so to now do a complete 180 and turn the man away would make me look silly. Did I really have the gumption to say “no” and then endure the sight of this man mournfully gathering up his paintings and then, no doubt, slowly rolling them away into his backpack? I could already envision the glares of my fellow holiday-makers. What kind of man would string along a humble beach hawker, raising his hopes of a sale, only to dash them back down to the ground?

During this tortuous but nonetheless interesting, internal monologue, the number of paintings on display had doubled; clearly, procrastinating wasn’t going to help. I made a feeble attempt to step round the problem by complaining that this was the first day of our vacation. Perhaps he could come back and see us on another day? The beach hawker – who I later learned was called Raúl – didn’t miss a beat. He told me it was fine to decide now and in fact, if I purchased a painting today, he would make me a special deal. I rocked under the double-whammy of psychological sales pressure. He was going to give us a special price (another favour, so Reciprocation again), but we had to act today (Scarcity).

This was too much. I steeled myself, summoned up all my will and prepared myself to deliver a determined refusal. But, just then, I noticed my wife – who is a keen art enthusiast – studying the works on display with open admiration. By sheer luck (maybe), Raúl had brought the power of Authority and Social Proof into play.

Authority in a sales context is about giving credibility to a product by demonstrating an endorsement by an expert. In this instance, compared to my philistine sensibilities, my spouse was a bona fide expert who could judge the paintings to be of exceptional quality, and let’s face it, when it comes to influence, there are few sources of Social Proof that can carry more weight than the longing gaze of my wife. Sensing victory, Raúl explained that this was a family business; his brothers painted the pictures, and he sold them on the beach.

This was a subtle display of the Law of Liking, transforming him from a wily and calculating salesman, into a hard-working family man, who was merely trying to put food on the table. I surrendered to the inevitable, graciously acknowledging defeat, and asked my wife to pick the one she wanted.

The big-hearted Raúl was magnanimous in victory, but that didn’t mean he was going to show any mercy. When I asked the price he said the paintings were 1,300 pesos ($37) each. But . . . if my wife managed to find two paintings that she liked we could have them both for just 2,100 pesos ($59). Having used every element of sales psychology in the book, this man, who was clearly a seasoned marketing expert, was now casually making an Upsell offer and seizing the opportunity to add more than 50% to the amount we were being asked to spend.

One look at the gleam in my wife’s eyes and I accepted that there was little point in objecting, but that was when I realized that I still had a chance to redeem myself, a final chance to salvage some dignity and self-respect. Now it was time to haggle!

In the Dominican Republic, negotiating over the price is not only acceptable, it’s virtually mandatory. Bartering a good price for a purchase or service can be done just about anywhere. If you’ve got the guts to do it, even the duty-free shops at the airport will let you haggle their prices down. I judged that two paintings was a good sale for this man and he wasn’t going to let go of it easily. If I could wrangle a lower price I could, at least, have the last word in this exchange.

My view of haggling is fairly conservative. I have no qualms about trying to get a better price, but I’m mindful that the starting price is still a fraction of what I would pay at home. In the Dominican Republic the average annual income is less than $10,000 so I had no intention of haggling all of this man’s profit margins away. I decided that, without too much difficulty, I should be able to get him down to 1,600 pesos ($45) for the set. It meant a saving of $14 for me and it should still represent a tidy profit for him.

I pondered my opening offer as I fumbled for my wallet, only to discover that I only had 1,500 ($42) pesos with me. I didn’t really want to trek back to my room to fetch some more, but then it occurred to me that this would simply make the haggling easier. All I had to do was show the man that this was all the money I had, so I wouldn’t be able to pay anything above that. 1,500 pesos would still be a good win for him and I didn’t think for a moment that he’d back out of the sale now.

Displaying the full contents of my wallet, I mournfully declared that I didn’t have enough money to buy both paintings; 1,500 pesos was the best I could manage. The man smiled warmly and delivered the coup de grâce. Scooping the money into his hands he told me not to worry about it. He would take the 1,500 pesos now and I could bring the remaining 600 pesos, the next time I came down to the beach. After all, this was only the first day of our vacation . . .


The lesson of this story is not to become overconfident and think that when it comes to effective marketing, there is nothing more for you to learn. There is a big difference between theory and application and the latter is often far more instructive. It’s also worth remembering not to underestimate the power of sales psychology and the laws of influence. Even with full awareness of what they are and the authority they exert, we still succumb to their power on a regular basis.

If you haven’t already done so, get hold of a copy of Robert Cialdini’s book: “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. It is as entertaining as it is educational and you can pick it up from an Amazon seller for less than $10.

In case you were wondering, I found my new marketing guru at the top of the beach a couple of days later. He had a large display of paintings laid out upon the sand and he greeted me warmly, enquiring as to my wife’s health. I gave him the outstanding 600 pesos and, after a brief hesitation, I gave him another 1,000. I wanted to explain that it was payment for the lesson in selling but instead I told him that my wife was thrilled with the paintings and that if she’s happy, then I’m happy. Which is true.

Raúl threw his arms around me and looked for a moment like he was about to cry. Then he brightened and insisted that I accept a gift for my wife. He went over to his collection of paintings and picked out a small, ready to hang, painting that he said would complement the ones we’d purchased previously. It was a moving gesture . . . not to mention a good lesson in the value of Over Delivering.

By David Congreave
This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at

Jun 03

Making Contact with Possible JV and Business Partners

By mikefilsaime | Uncategorized

The number one thing you need to do in all your JV efforts (in your entire business, really) is provide value. The easiest way to ensure that you’re doing this is to simply ask yourself the following questions:

  • How can I help this person?
  • What could I give this person?
  • What does this person need?

Figuring It Out
So how do you go about figuring out the answers to those questions? It’s simple; you need to do your homework. Yes, I said it – homework! Trust me, it’s worth the few extra minutes it will take you to find good answers to these questions.

Here’s what you do:

  1. First you have to pick the person you’re going to contact. You will do everything that follows specifically for each one of your potential future business partners. This is where most people fail: they send out a mass email to everyone they want to be in contact with and get no results. You’re going to make it personal and provide real value.
  2. Read this person’s blog, websites and newsletter.
  3. Order their products.
  4. Join their affiliate program.
  5. Finally, really study what they’re doing online and find the holes in their business. It could be their graphics, editing, audio or video quality, systems they’re using, etc, or maybe just a section of information that is missing from their training. Every business has its strong points and weak points. Your goal is to help build up the weak points.

Once you’ve located an area that you can add value to by helping to improve, then you have a reason to contact them and offer your services. And here’s the kicker . . .

You’re going to offer to help them for free!

This is what it means to provide value – you offer to help and you don’t ask for anything in return. This ensures that you’re really trying to be of assistance, because if you don’t provide them any value there’s no benefit to either of you. However, if you do really help them out, they will appreciate it and want to help you in return. This is the law of reciprocation. You don’t do it to get something in return, you do it to build a real relationship, but it will usually come back to you many times over.

Contacting Future Joint Venture and Business Relationships
There are so many little things that people do that end up being huge mistakes when they are trying to make a possible partner. Some things that really impress people are good etiquette, personal attention, and respect for their needs. Make sure when you call a possible business partner that you ask them if they have a minute to talk or set up a convenient time when they can. When you send them an email, make sure it’s not one of those copy and paste ones. The first impression counts here. Don’t tell them how much they will make if they promote your product and go on about your product in first email. If they don’t know you, chances are they won’t read an email to promote someone they don’t even know.

It’s all about planning ahead that makes a strong lasting relationship that will grow in time and expand your marketing relationships.

By Joe Jablonski
This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of the MarketingDotCom newsletter. You can get a free copy of the latest issue for the price of shipping at