Sticking to quality and delivering value

Today I was in an awkward position… I found out where and how my competitors are being supplied. I saw their costs and was able to determine their gross margins. In some cases they are slim to none and in other cases they are disgustingly handsome. I was, for a moment… envious… and tempted to align with the same supplier… Those resellers are offering a very low priced alternative to my service but at a cost: The cost is uncertainty for the consumer. Their general shadyness is being demonstrated by non-disclosure of what might happen to their customers. The service that my competitors are offering is likely to result in a complete reversal of the service the customer paid for in a few months from now. They are either making no disclosure of this potential for reversal in their sales material or are hiding their disclaimers deep in their terms of service. I am finding reports of service reversals on industry forums and the complaints are slowly trickling in as the providers are catching on to the illegitimate method that they are using. I don’t want to go into detail yet as I have not yet released my own service but I want to talk about why I am choosing the path of righteousness by not playing in the same space.

I think that while I may receive fewer sales (in both volume and revenue) than my competitors, I will be able to serve a sizable and important niche – the skeptical consumer. Ramit has been successful because he offers a valuable product that he fully controls. I too, would have full control of my offering compared to my competitors who are reselling a service that they do not control. Ramit turns customers away regularly. He either turns them away because they are in credit card debt and he does not want to contribute any further to that or he turns them away from his blog and mailing lists because they are being annoying freeloaders. As I am drafting my copy, I think that it is best to ignore the cost sensitive prospects and that it is best to invite them to leave as I’ll never win them over anyway. I think that my target customer would pay for reassurance that when he pays me for the service, it will be performed, and it will not be reversed on him in the future.

Joanna Wiebe describes in Copyhackers book 1 that writing to the masses will weaken your copy and that its worth the risk alienating some in order to be highly desirable to a few. She also goes on to describe the importance of your messages being what the customer wants to hear and that those messages must be unique to your product. Her step by step approach in this book is incredibly helpful. By the way, this is the THIRD time I am reading this book. I read all of her books twice over for my first landing page and am re-reading it for the third time for my second landing page. I would be lost in the wilderness if it wasn’t for her book. If you are writing sales copy for the web, you are a fool if you do not have all of her books on copywriting and writing long form sales pages.

By sticking to these values to provide a quality service to a well understood prospect I’ll be able to stand proudly by my work and offer a guarantee that none of my competitors could ever fathom providing.

Forward march. Err… write.

-N

Great artists steal

“Good artists copy, great artists steal”

I first heard this Picasso quote through Steve Jobs. I didn’t fully understand it until a year or two ago. When I finally did “get it” the world became my oyster. Still, I did not know how to channel my energy and I think only now after nearly 10 years in business I fully understand how to incorporate “Great artists steal” into my life.

When I was in Florence in April 2010 my sister and I saw the David in the Accademia. It’s one of the few times that art has moved me. (The other was in the Galleria Borghese in Rome). At the pedestal that afternoon were 2 young students sketching the David. I didn’t understand at the time why students go to museums and sketch. I realized later that it was because “great artists steal”.

In order to become great, you have to study the masters. Michelangelo¬†and Ramit Sethi. I know nothing about art so I am going to focus on one of today’s masters that I am “stealing” from.

What am I stealing from Ramit at this moment? I am trying to understand how he does what he does. I have zero interest in teaching personal finance or his consumer focused courses but I am fascinated on how he is able to connect to me and my friends. I’m fascinated on how he uses sophisticated marketing strategies and executes his tactics so that he is not guessing. Honestly, there is no reason why I could not employ the same strategies and tactics. And – I have found no material that will teach you from step 1 how to do it. If I figure it out, I may teach what I learned in a course of my own.

But first I need to learn this for myself.

How am I stealing? By taking a lot of time out of my day to listen. And I’m also taking copious notes. I’m buying the books he recommends and am studying the greats who he also studied from. This is the only way to steal. Anything else would be copying.

The rabbit hole is vast but I know that through his teachings I’ll be able to discover wonderland for myself. I’m using this blog to help organize my thoughts on what I am learning and hope that others who wish to become self taught soon-to-be sophisticated marketers, will find my posts helpful.

-N