I received an interesting communiqué this morning.
(Doesn't communiqué sound way sexier and a lot more high-falutin' important than just saying "I received a message?")
Anyhoo, it turns out one of the biggest of the big, deepest of the deep pockets, 800 lb. gorilla of direct marketing…
Can't afford my fees!
Que tal la uva? (For the mono-linguals that translates to "How about them apples?")
I felt an immediate swelling of pride the minute I read that messa… er, I mean communiqué.
Now I probably shouldn't blurt out their name. I don't want to embarrass or diss anybody. So… all I can tell you is…
Wednesday, 3:24 PM
Ever heard of Joe Polish?
If you're a serious student of marketing you have.
Joe's a master marketer who, like me, was trained by the late, great Gary Halbert and has been hired by the who's who in business… including Bill and Shawn Phillips back when they owned the HUGELY successful supplement company, EAS.
Anyhoo… I had a brief but interesting conversation with Joe at John Carlton's Action Seminar back in 2009.
I asked him what he looks for in the copywriters he hires.
His reply was not at all what I expected.
I like to work with copywriters who not only write killer copy… but understand basic courtesy and know how to say 'thank you.'
The break was over and Stan Dahl, John Carlton's partner, was shuttling everybody back into the seminar room… so I didn't have time to ask Joe to clarify. I have to assume this has been a fairly common problem or Joe wouldn't have brought it up.
And I'm pretty sure I know what he was lamenting… but we'll talk about that in just a minute.
A couple years ago I raised my copywriting fees from $15,000 per package to $25,000 to $50,000 (depending on the project) plus royalties. I mostly did that to discourage people from hiring me.
You see, I very rarely do any client work. In fact, since November 2009 I have politely turned down every single copywriting gig offered to me… including some potential 6-figure gigs. I now pass all those on to the copywriters in my "Marketing Camelot."
But just a couple days ago I got a call from a client I wrote three or four packages for a few years ago. (Even though I'm on another continent, the handful of people in my inner circle still know how to reach me.)
He offered me a very unique and interesting copywriting gig for a product I know to be the best of the best… something I really believe in and personally use every single day.
If it were anybody else I probably would have politely declined and immediately made the gig available to the copywriters who subscribe to The Doberman Dan Letter.
But the fact that he's a good honest guy I now consider a friend and truly enjoy hanging out with… AND owns a growing business on track to doing $100 million a year within the next three years… well, he had my ear.
Long story short: A big fat 5-figure check is waiting for me in a FedEx envelope back home at the UPS Store.
Most importantly, here's what I said after we finalized the deal:
"Thank you for the opportunity!"
Ya know, I never ONCE heard Gary Halbert say "thank you" to a client.
That wasn't Halbert's style.
I swear, that guy could get away with saying the most obnoxious and arrogant things… and most people would just laugh and say, "Oh, that Gary!"
It worked for him… most of the time.
But for me, people skills and basic courtesy, like saying thank you, are what works best.
I think what Joe Polish was saying is this:
There are a lot of rookie copywriters out there promoting themselves… who have read a few books, attended a couple seminars or maybe bought AWAI's course… but have little to no REAL experience in this business.
They've read Gary Halbert and Dan Kennedy's stuff about client management and didn't understand the REAL message. The only thing they erroneously took away from it is arrogance somehow translates into confidence… and that creates the kind of "posture" that will attract clients.
They couldn't be further from the truth.
The steely-eyed, ace-up-the-sleeve, derringer-in-the-boot, quiet and calm "gunfighter confidence" only comes from being an honest to goodness…
And no matter how hard you try, you just can't fake that.
Like Alan Ladd in the movie Shane… a gun recognizes another gun.
Somebody with a successful direct response business didn't get to that level by faking it. He has paid the price and made huge sacrifices most people will never be able to understand.
He's a real "gun."
And a gun recognizes a phony even before you utter a single word.
Better to stop trying to fake your way to looking like a gun and be honest about your lack of experience… than to look like a complete idiot in front of a REAL gun and lose out on lots of profitable future opportunities.
You see, a top gun doesn't need to put on airs. His or her track record speaks for itself… and THAT is what creates that gunfighter confidence.
A top gun doesn't have to utter a single word. Confidence automatically radiates from his eyes.
And another gun recognizes it instantly.
A dumb rookie does stupid stuff like acting arrogant, bragging and not saying thank you, thinking that will make him a gun.
Nope. Not now… not ever.
A top gun can be quiet, warm, kind and courteous… and say things like "please" and "thank you"… because he doesn't have to try and CREATE any kind of "posture." His track record and experience say everything that needs to be said.
Don't get me wrong. Being a rookie doesn't mean you have to go around groveling and begging for gigs.
But don't go around acting like an arrogant dick either, thinking you can pass yourself off as a gun. That will cost you a LOT of gigs… and will seriously hurt your reputation, too.
You see, the direct response community is a pretty small little clique… and we all talk.
Arrogant dick-heads (both rookies AND top guns), if they piss off the wrong people, can very easily find themselves black-listed… by EVERYBODY.
Yes, if you've got some chops… even if you're a rookie… what you can do for your clients is pretty important. But you'll attract and KEEP a lot more clients by being friendly and courteous, instead of an arrogant ass bragging about skills you don't really have.
Oh… one more thing.
A "thank you" every now and then could do your career a world of good…
…ESPECIALLY if you're ever hired by Joe Polish.
Saturday, 6:15 PM
My friend and mentor, Gary Halbert, was fond of saying, "Clients suck!"
But when it comes to having any of the Internet Marketing (IM) "gurus" as clients…
Those guys suck OUT LOUD!
I've only written copy for one IM guru… and never will again.
(BTW, the piece I wrote wasn't for an expensive B.S.O. Internet Marketing product. It was for a well researched and very high quality nutritional supplement in a REAL consumer niche… the health market.)
I guess this guy was too busy working on his "pipeline" to keep his word and pay me according to our contract. Instead of paying the remainder of my fee as agreed upon in person… eye to eye… belly to belly… with a handshake… this guy simply ignored all my calls and e-mails for three months.
When he finally mustered up the balls to return my call, all he said was, "I can't pay you. I don't have any money."
Which I found quite interesting, seeing as how he was bouncing all over the country selling his $2,000 course from the stage and telling people he had a "multimillion dollar health & wellness business."
I figured he was either a crook or a liar… or both. A guy with a REAL multi-million dollar business would have viewed the remaining balance of $14k owed me as mere pocket change.
So I did what any good ex-cop would do. I reactivated the investigation skills I foolishly thought I could retire after I left the Dayton P.D. and became an entrepreneur and copywriter.
A call to the owner of the fulfillment center this guy used revealed he was averaging sales of $12,000 a month.
Now I admit, math was never my strong suit back in school… but no matter how I added it up, I couldn't get a "multi-million dollar business" out of monthly sales of $12k.
Instead of wasting any more time, I chose to NOT do what would have been necessary to collect my balance… even though I COULD have… and in the process expose to the IM community all the fraudulent claims he had been making from the stage at ALL the big IMGOBC seminars.
Not my style.
I prefer to take the high road. (Unless somebody REALLY pisses me off… or screws over one of my Marketing Camelot members.)
Wanna know what I did instead?
I had a product formulated, threw his copy up on a website, bought some traffic… and…
The promotion was a success!
After only a few months, it generated more than 5x's what my fee would have been if this guy had paid me.
After this test, I sold the whole kit & kaboodle to another supplement business owner for a nice five-figure fee… and, to the best of my knowledge, he is STILL making money with it month after month. Last I spoke with him he had a monthly income of $200k from the auto-ship.
This "guru" cheated himself out of millions by cheating me out of $14k.
After being the IMGOBC "golden boys" and promoted by ALL the big names for most of that year, I noticed this guy and his partner dropped out of sight soon after.
Last I heard, his partner ran up million dollar+ bills on 30-day net terms with several CPA networks and skipped out without paying them. (A VERY reliable and confidential informant told me that was the SECOND time he had done such a thing.)
Anyhoooooo… I chalked the whole deal up as an expensive lesson learned… but… once bitten twice shy.
I vowed I would NEVER take any IM guru clients ever again. But…
Never say never!
In January 2010 I got an e-mail from the marketing director of a VERY high profile guru. This guy has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in informercials and has been all over TV for years… usually selling "make money" stuff and more recently alternative health info products and nutritional supplements.
Here's the word-for-word transcription of that very first contact. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.
I work for Mr. Big and he passed on your contact info.
I’m looking for a GREAT copywriter so I can stop doing it myself.
Let’s chat Friday. When is good for you?
Director of Sales and Marketing
Mr. Big's company name
I have to admit… I was curious. I figured such a rich big shot can afford the best of everything… and therefore could not only afford what was going to be a very ridiculous fee… but he would also understand the value of what I bring to the table and, therefore, the justification for such a high fee.
I replied back with some very limited times I was available since I was going to be at a seminar that day.
Call me at your leisure Friday AM.
Sometimes spontaneity works better. Always enjoy talking to a fellow copywriter who actually knows what they’re doing. A rare breed indeed.
He includes the URL for the website of the product Mr. Big wants me to write about. They want me to beat the current control.
As soon as I read the piece I knew this gig would be what Halbert used to call a "lay down." If I wanted the gig (I didn't), it would be a walk in the park to beat their piece.
I mean a LITERAL walk in the park.
I knew from past experience all I needed was a couple hours in the park with my yellow notepad and pen… AND my brain all amped up from my special intelligence/creativity-stimulating secret of the A-List copywriting superstars as described in the September 2010 issue of The Doberman Dan Letter.
I didn't want the gig for reasons you'll soon see… but I was curious how much a big shot as big as him might pay.
So I did some fact finding on the phone with Richard Cranium and told him what else he needed in addition to the copy to ensure this piece would be a success. This, of course, would bump up the fee.
When I quoted my fee, he gasped.
Then stammered out, "Uh… well… ya know… we were looking for somebody to do this on an hourly fee of some kind."
So… I quoted my hourly fee as 50% of the entire fee I just quoted… and told him I could probably knock it out in 2 hours. (Ain't I a smart ass?)
(Don't YOU do that. See, I really didn't want the gig. I was just curious to see if this guru was for real and as rich as he claims… and would actually pay a premium fee.)
In spite of Mr. Big's successful experience as a marketer, he was stupid enough to think he could get world class copy and 15 years PROVEN direct marketing entrepreneurship experience at bargain basement prices.
I added one more guru to my mental list of frauds, liars and phonies… and got off the phone as quickly (and politely) as possible.
Here's the funniest part…
The product they were (and still are) selling was what I called "The Magic Genie" product. Their hook was a slight twist on the old "your wish is my command" line Aladdin's genie always said.
It was a 14 CD set that sells for $300. It literally promises you can generate almost instant riches with nothing but your thoughts.
These secrets, hidden from the masses for thousands of years, were revealed to Mr. Big in a secret meeting of The Illuminati in the Swiss Alps under the tightest security conditions ever implemented for a meeting of private individuals.
Here are a few excerpts:
…Once you know these closely guarded secrets, you too can learn to become a millionaire or EVEN a billionaire, improve your health, experience quality business/personal relationships and live the life you've only dreamed of….
…In attendance were millionaires, billionaires, high-level government officials, heads of countries, members of royal families, politicians and captains of industry. Also in attendance were the highest ranking members of exclusive secret societies like the Brotherhood (which I was a member of for 30 years), Freemasons, Illuminati, Skull and Bones and others. (What they shared left me speechless.)
…It's virtually IMPOSSIBLE TO FAIL once you know and use the SECRETS!
…If you seriously follow the information in this program, to the letter, you virtually cannot fail. It's impossible.
You can be a BILLIONAIRE?
It's IMPOSSIBLE to fail?
Damn! I should have quoted him a fee of 100 million bucks!
After all, with secrets like that, Mr. Big must have more money than God!
Long story short, my fee was exorbitantly high… so I didn't get the gig. (That was my goal. I'm not sure what I would have done had they paid it.)
The funniest thing was this guy didn't even get the irony of all this.
Here he is selling the world's most powerful "magic genie" that grants unlimited wishes…
…the wealth secrets of the Illuminati and other elite people of the world…
…and a 5-second miracle plan (I'm not making that up!) to generating instant riches, health, love and happiness… but…
They can only afford to pay
their copywriter $100 an hour!
Since I worked with Gary Halbert, I've been privy to a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff in guru-dom… and it ain't pretty.
I'm sure they're not ALL liars and con-men… but guys like this have given everybody who positions themselves as some kind of marketing guru a black eye.
If you're a freelancer of any kind, you might want to think long and hard if you're ever offered a gig with one of them… no matter how much they promise to pay you.
You can be as honest as the day is long. Hell, you can be recently sainted by the pope and knighted by the queen… but when you choose to associate with con-men and thieves, don't act surprised when the world labels you one, too.