In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been spending perhaps too much time reading marketing copy for Internet-based products and services. There’s a lot of psychology and research (and copying) in this stuff, intended to induce you to purchase training programs, software, sales systems and the like. You can almost feel the “script” for a while after studying this stuff.
I’ve even learned how to test out the most heavily marketed operations. A simple Google search isn’t enough. There are many affiliate marketers in the Internet world, who are paid commissions (sometimes huge) for referring clients to programs of dubious value. Some of these affiliate marketers know their search engine optimization techniques, so if you combine the name of the questionable program with a negative keyword such as “scam,” they’ll come to the top — either turning the negative message into a positive endorsement, or referring you to another (in fact equally dubious) program.
The solution, in part, for me, has been to become aware of these tricks, and take things a step further, by conducting various keyword searches including specific forum-related searches — and then read all the comments, positive and negative, with a grain of salt.
It can be quite a challenge, especially since the best operators are also really good copywriters and/or invoke truly creative video techniques (or hire people talented in these skills).
These qualities transfer, of course, to the AEC marketplace. Certainly Matt Handal for proposals (note affiliate commissions for me here) has learned many of them, and so has Enoch Sears (for architectural training). Undoubtedly, there can be real value in their programs, and I certainly respect their ability to crack the Internet marketing code. And I think their programs, as well as others I’ve neglected here, are worth the money, for most of us.
Yet, as I wade through the successful programs’ marketing copywriting, I’m reminded their founders have been successful because they combined their formulas with plenty of unique experience, creativity and independent thinking. They may also participate in strategic alliances with like-minded businesses and their own affiliate systems. However, I’m quite confident that none of them just took their program out of a box and copied it from the systems/plans created by others.
Yes, in the real world of business, you can purchase franchises, and be successful, but I haven’t seen too much franchise-type business success in the AEC world, yet. On the other hand, the program/service offers make the rather telling point: if you deviate from the program, can you really expect to succeed?
(Years ago, Michael Gerber offered a franchise-type training program, geared largely to contractors. Certainly there were valuable lessons for participants –including me — but in the end I think most of us felt we ended up without the solutions we were seeking.)
This is where there should be a selling message for a particular product, service or program. A “call to action” perhaps.
So here it is. Consider joining the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) or an upstream association in your niche. (That is, an association representing the interests and values of the people to whom you wish to do business, not your peers.) Alas, there’s no affiliate marketing commission in this recommendation for me. This is all about you, in the end.