Just Check It Out, Already

I have been hot and heavy into experimenting with online selling lately.

Good Lord, it’s wicked fun.

Profitable, too.


Now, I’ve been screwing around on the Web since the mid-1990s… and actually wrote one of the first Web-based sales letter, waaaaaaaaaay back before there was a Paypal and before Google became a verb. I’ve done damn well, too, and helped a lot of other people get their act together online.

It’s a little different than other direct marketing vehicles… but, then, ALL the ways direct marketing is used are a little different than each other. There are quirks and separate rules you need to master in the mail, in print advertising, in the Yellow Pages, on infomercials, selling door-to-door… and, gosh, even the Web has some weird twists and turns to the “standard” salesmanship model of saying “Here’s what I’ve got — how many do you want?”

I’m as hip as anyone about what works on the Web today. Over time, my instincts have proven correct on vast numbers of issues that people used to argue with me about. For example: Allowing links to interupt your sales message… relying on audio or video as “eye candy” without making the graphics “earn” their place in your pitch… and cramming good (not lame) testimonials into the first “screen page”. (The now-common design element of having a long damn list of testimonials run down the right hand column is all mine, I don’t mind saying. And they laughed at me when I first did it…)

What spurred this latest love-affair with testing and experimenting is simply having a good friend decide to do some joint-ventures with me. I “tricked” Stan into getting excited, by cavalierly inviting him along to a seminar my colleague Harlan Kilstein put on recently in San Francisco… I knew that getting a taste of the potential profit picture available online would put ants in my friend’s pants.

Stan dove into the technical side of getting sales via the Web with a passion that’s contagious… and now I’m all nervous and giddy again, eager to get back after this brave new online world.

Frankly, business had started to drag for me. I’m always tempted to retire, and go write bad novels or start another bar band, whenever I get bored with marketing and advertising.

But the reason it gets boring, is because I get too isolated sometimes. There’s NOTHING boring about great marketing, and making tons of money. I love it.

And mostly, I love the daily grind of doing business. Unless it gets too predictable… or too frustrating.

Being an entrepreneur takes care of the predictability problem — there’s nothing like working without a net on hair-brained projects to get your blood moving.

But over the last year, I’ve just had one bad experience with “technical guys” after another. I searched out the best geeks around, got personal recommendations, paid them a lot of money, even gave them marketing help. Still, each one failed me, miserably. Disappeared for months at a time without finishing projects for me, left nagging details unresolved no matter how often I talked to them about it, and generally behaved like high school kids with spring fever.

My sites languished without name capture pages put up. Simple copy changes never got implemented, resulting in embarrassing mistakes that affected sales. And critical links sent people off into the ether, never to be found again.

I absolutely hate working with jaded, irresponsible people.

I have finally found some technical assistance I can not just rely on… but I can also enjoy being around. Having a pal get involved is refreshing… and seeing the potential of the Web through his blossoming excitement restores my sense of wonder and awe at this amazing marketing machine that has changed our lives so thoroughly and deeply.

(I’ve also found another techie who — amazingly — has a brilliant understanding of how the Web “works”, combined with true old-style professionalism. And I will never reveal her name, because I cannot stand the thought that she might get too busy to remain the reliable veteran she is.)

Anyway, I’ll be sharing what I learn (mostly in my newsletter, the Rant) from this latest bout of experimentation and testing. One of the great things about online marketing is that there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone, and it’s just silly to be selfish with discoveries and information.

Right now, I’ve fooling around with offering some screaming deals via a new website: www.marketing-rebel-edu.com. The “edu” is my attempt at humor, mimicking the “.edu” of educational sites.

Actually, what we’ve got at www.marketing-rebel-edu.com is a market test. My “insider’s list” had first peek through a special email blast several days ago… and now I’m alerting you. Hop over there, and see what the fuss is all about.

Not sure how long the site will be up during this test. We’re experimenting with little details and paying attention to how every design and copy tweak affects results.

As always, things are changing at lightning speed online. I’ve been advising people not to get too stuck on any technical trick or model, no matter how successful it seems to be. Because tricks and models mutate. Right now, there are some amazing marketing models involving Google Adwords (done right, not done poorly), name capture pages (again, done right), and super-clever follow-up to buyers and non-buyers.

Also, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in foreign sales on all my sites — especially in Asia and Europe.

This has me thinking about putting on a European seminar. That’s how much this new excitement has changedmy attitude — from being ready to retire, to getting jiggy with bold plans to conquer the world again.

Check out the market test, will you?


Stay frosty.

John Carlton

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