I have been taking a course in copywriting and email marketing by a guy who I wont, name. I’ll call him Steve. What surprised me was that it was promoted by people I have typically quite respected, especially powerful traditional marketers selling inspiring, high quality material, etc.
Steve’s course is about how to make more money and how to get your audience to purchase your product. If they don’t purchase or unsubscribe from the email list, then they didn’t belong on the list in the first place. He takes 7 emails in 5 days and does his best to show you how to convince your audience to transact with you. I have seen you all essentially this very tip in some of your promotional materials.
Now some of his tips are pretty good for thinking about the psychology of the prospect, but primarily they play on the fears of the prospect. He warns us, don’t use these tools for ill, because they are very powerful and potentially manipulative. It’s okay to use this material, however, because everyone else is essentially doing it.
Here is my issue: You cannot do love and fear at the same time.
Taking this course I can feel nothing but skeeze running down my back. I feel genuinely dirty. I’m not sure whether Steve means well or not, but I can guarantee one thing, he genuinely means to turn me into a transaction, as opposed to a friend, even if the material he has already provided has been free.
I want to propose an analogy. A long while ago a friend recommended to me a potentially dangerous and a terrifying book, Niel Strauss’ “The Rules of the Game.” This game was essentially all about how to get a woman’s attention or how to psychologically manipulate others to find you more attractive and ultimately “transact” with you. I read part of the book but ultimately couldn’t stomach it. It was too much based on how to use the tools of psychology to convince someone to do something you want. This is, however, very much antithetical to an approach of genuine relationship. It is not about love, it is about utility.
In a world where there is so much attention grabbing, he is trading long term profits for short-term results. I get that he is trying to spark people’s interest and attention, and some of the tips are sound psychological principals. But instead of removing fear, he adds to it, instead of providing inspiration he provides a shortcut. His method is exactly the opposite from what Zig Ziglar might propose; even if they use some of the same tools, Zig had an entirely different spirit that animated his work. Seth Godin is much more aligned to that than Steve.
I’m all for using marketing best practices, but if it is not put at the service of others, then I want nothing to do with it, and even though I know he has generated some clear profits for you, perhaps there is a much better way to go about genuinely building up your business and audience.
Update: I corresponded with the individuals who promoted “Steve’s” Material, and they vouched for his character. With that, I realize it’s better to leave names out if being critical. Praise in Public, criticism in private.