Does Google Hate Affiliate Advertisers?

Yesterday I was forwarded a message from a distressed fellow reader who discovered all his campaigns were disapproved for violating Google’s terms of service.

Here is his story (as posted in comments):

Scott Phares •  Jan 31, 2009 @2:49 pm

Hi Jim – Google changed the rules yesterday. All my ads were disapproved or their Quality Score went so low they won’t ever display. I called an 800 number I have for Google and spoke with one of their adwords reps. Google no longer considers network marketing, affiliate marketing and MLM businesses as “valid” businesses. As a result, they have disallowed all ads forwarding to affiliate links/sites, bridge pages that then forward to an affiliate site, and any site that contains or mirrors all or portions of a parent company site. Even my ads for my own personal site landing page and home business web sites went down. They did not disapprove them, but they lowered my Quality Score so low that the ads never display. So be prepared, you may not see this happen until you edit or create a new ad, then Goggle will review all your campaigns, that’s when all your MLM, home business and affiliate ads will drop. I moved all mine to Yahoo last night until we all can come up with a solution to this.

This is going to shut down every ad anyone has running on Google as an affiliate for the Magnetic Sponsoring products. See http://www.perrymarshall.com for his video on Google Tightening the Screws Again, he is having a live call on Monday at noon CST concerning this, don’t know if he will have a soluton or not.

I went to investigate immediately…could it be true? Is Google shutting down affiliate advertisers for good?

Should we panic?

It’s unlikely.

Two years in the online advertising game, the rules have changed many times for me before too. People predicted doom…businesses shut down because they couldn’t generate traffic any more, people were angry, fingers got pointed…

And yet, online marketing lived on. Fortunes were made by others.

In fact, I was only a small-fry for many of those changes. Yet, here I am today: Still generating tons of Google Adwords traffic, still making sales, and still in Google’s good books. So far anyway 😉

I gotta admit, though, Scott’s message sure made me nervous.

First thing I did, was to get in touch with Adwords support. I asked for the latest policy on affiliate advertising.

Don’t click the link yet, but here it is: http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=guidelines.cs&topic=9271&subtopic=9280

Let me save you the distraction of clicking through to the policy page. This is the first line you’re going to read:

We do not allow data entry affiliates to use AdWords advertising, but all other affiliates may participate in the AdWords programme.

And don’t beat yourself up about not knowing what a “data entry affiliate” program is. Although Google’s help links the text to a dead page, I saw this very rule back in April of 2008. So nothing has changed there. NOTHING at all.

Data entry affiliate programs are dodgey. You guys are a good bunch and I don’t recommend you get involved in such things. (If you’re involved in dodgey stuff, you’re disowned ;))

Most of you here have your own legitimate business (info marketing business, small business, network marketing, mlm, direct sales). The-other-most-of-you promote affiliate products from sites like Clickbank, Commission Junction, and maybe Hydra and NeverBlue. You guys are all safe.

The sentence i ripped out of the adwords policy basically translates to:

“You Are Allowed To Use Google Adwords To Advertise Your Business”

Next, on the above policies page, Google says that they “monitor” and “don’t allow” the following:

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  • Redirect URLs
  • Bridge Pages
  • Framing

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I don’t remember the last two items on the list because it’s been some time since I’ve revised this page. But if you’re a PPC Domination customer or you’ve been doing Adwords for any length of time you know by now that redirected URLS (also known as URL forwarding) are not allowed.

This means, you can’t register a godaddy domain and use its URL-Forwarding option to redirect its visitors to your affiliate URL. Adwords imposes this rule by insisting that you use the same top-level domain on both your display and target URLs. That’s nothing new, that’s why I told you guys to use the masking option too (we’ll get to that in a second).

Until yesterday, I’d never heard of a “Bridge Page“.

A quick definition search on Google uncovered these definitions in context for a “Bridge Page”:

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  • is similar to a “Doorway Page”, because it is an entry page into a website designed to target keywords that are usually absent from the …
    www.websight.net.au/search-engine-optimisation/marketing-terms.asp
  • Another term for a doorway page.
    www.simply.com.au/glossary.php
  • Also known as a doorway page, an information page, or spam. A web page created for the sole purpose of ranking well in the search engines. …
    www.corporatewebsitemarketing.com/search-engine-marketing-glossary.html
  • These are keyword specic pages made specially to rank well in search engines. It acts as an entry point through which visitors get in to the main …
    www.searchenginegenie.com/search-engine-glossary-b.htm
  • Like a “Doorway Page”, a specifically designed entry point to a web site.
    www.spiderseo.net/SEO%20Glossary.html

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A quick skim of the above reveals that a bridge page is a piece of internet spam. It’s a page whose purpose is JUST to bullshit Google and other searches into believing that relevant content exists on this site. Does that sound like a nice thing to do?

No. We’re marketers here, guys. We don’t want to trick anyone to click our ad. It costs us money for untargeted traffic. So I hope you’re not using nor were you contemplating using a bridge page.

And finally, framing.

Here is where we run into trouble. Because I’ve advised many beginners to use URL masking/cloaking to avoid creating landing pages for adwords. This had, for some time, been a valid alternative to using domain forwarding on the merchant’s page.

Masking or cloaking works by using an HTML element called a “frame”. It’s a way you can embed one webpage inside another. Usually, you take the affiliate page from the merchant and embed it in a single page on your own domain so it appears like the affiliate page actually came from your domain.

Let’s be straight up here…URL masking is a deceptive practice.

I only suggested it as a temporary solution for people who wanted to start advertising in adwords. Unfortunately, the recent banning of “framed” landing pages makes your life a little harder–Particularly if learning to make landing pages was something you planned to put off till later.

On the upside, you were going to have to create your own landing pages eventually.

Effective and profitable Pay Per Click advertising really requires that you have several different landing pages to better match each keyword you bid on.

I know that not everyone’s tech savvy–but it’s easy enough that anyone can learn it. Yes, even you grandma–I mean, hey, we’re internet marketers! Roll up your sleeves and learn it. Or if you got the money to hire someone to do it for you, go for it.

If you guys ask for it, I might have to release a simple guide for technically challenged people to create their own landing pages.

Anyway, the Adwords Affiliate policy page continues with suggestions of what Google would like to see on advertisers’ landing pages. Consider these, not just as suggestions, but as an exact formula for getting dirt cheap advertising on Adwords. Following this advice will qualify you for Google rewards of cheaper click costs, more exposure, and higher profit.

Consider these guidelines as the rule book for staying in Google’s good books, even if the policies change.

And by the way, in case you were wondering, I’ve checked on my affiliate campaigns–and they’re all running. I’m getting cheaper clicks, more leads, for less bucks. Do you know why?

Because Google’s policy change has thinned the herd–again.

So, “Thank You Google for changing your affiliate advertising policy!”


To learn more of Jim’s PPC advertising techniques, check out PPC Domination.

Why Won't Google EVER display my Ads Anymore?

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There are resources out there that are meant to make it easy for every single newbie. Most of you are simply not tapping into these resources at all! You’re entrepreneurs here–this is what we do–we figure things out and we don’t give up till we do.

It’s come to my attention that some of you are absolutely devastated because Google either stopped displaying your ads…or it never had shown them in the first place. This is normal for anyone who is working in a brand new Adwords account.

Here’s the story of how i figured it out for my friend, and one of your fellow students, Sophie.

Your account is receiving no impressions because it’s under review. Don’t ask me what the heck that means, i just found out about it today. But from what I’ve seen the people getting hit by it are the ones who made too many changes in a brand new account.

To avoid this in future, when you create a new account, just create one campaign with one adgroup inside it. Inside that adgroup, only place ONE keyword with two ad variations.

It’s very likely that this “account review” process doesn’t take long anyway. I’ve never faced this problem myself.

I was able to speed it up so that it was done almost immediately for Sophie. I have no special pull–I logged in from her account and spoke to the chat staff. Any one of you can do it just as easily.

To begin with, I ran some of my own diagnostic tests.

I looked in her campaign settings and checked that she had geo-targeting to include the USA.

Next, i checked she was only targeting the Google network (not the Google partners nor the content network). She was.

I then checked that she had an adequate daily budget. She had a very small one, so i bumped it up to $100 per day. I did this to eliminate the chance that her budget was too low for Google to want to start running her ads.

Then, I checked to see if she had accelerated delivery of her ads on. She did not. So i turned it on instead of even delivery. It’s best to use accelerated delivery because that makes sure that your ads are ALWAYS shown until your daily budget is depleted–instead of trying to spread it out to make your budget last all day.

When all was checked, i saved the changes i made. And then i waited about 15 minutes.

Next, I wanted to simulate being in the USA as a real user running a Google search. Of course, how else was I going to see these US targeted ads if I’m searching from Jordan? To do this, I used a wonderful web proxy called hidemyass.

I punched in Google.com so I was accessing it through the proxy.

Then I typed into the proxy-accessed Google search one of Sophie’s keywords that I’d seen in her adgroup.

But none of her ads displayed. 🙁

I went back and changed the bid on that keyword to $5 per click. What if her bid was too low to get her front-page placement? I waited 15 minutes for the changes to propagate and ran the search again through the proxy.
Still, her ads wouldn’t display.

“Alright,” I thought to myself. “I don’t know what other weird things Sophie’s done when she setup this campaign–so I’m gonna start over.”

I built a brand new campaign targeting only the USA. It had only ONE adgroup, and ONE keyword inside it in exact match. I bid $5 per click on that keyword and set the campaign budget to $100 for the day. The keyword I picked was one that I knew receives over 1,000 impressions a month. I wanted to avoid the chance that it’s one of those rarely searched keywords Google hates.

15 minutes later, I re-ran the search. Still nothing.

I changed the keyword. Nothing.

I decided to try a different landing page. Any page would do, so I picked one off the Google sponsored search results and tested with it. Nothing.

Once i exhausted all tests–i knew that I had done everything a user can do. It was time to get tech support on this.

Since it was outside business hours, and I was tired as hell…I went to sleep and waited for the next day’s business hours.

I clicked the Contact Us link. There, i went to the live chat option and spoke to a Google rep.

I explained that this account belonged to a client of mine and she had recently set it up. She only ever had 2 impressions on the account. I explained that my bids were high at $5 per click and that i had tried various keywords without any impressions.

The rep asked what i used to test. I responded that i used a proxy to make sure that Google believed i was searching within the US. The rep kindly said he would look into the account if I would stand by.

I waited.

A few minutes later, the rep returned.

“Okay, I can’t see any reason why your ads aren’t showing so i’m going to need to escalate this. Where can I email you?” he asked.

I gave him my best e-mail address, and thanked him graciously for taking the time to look into this for me. I apologised for inconveniencing him with the trouble and left.

Sure enough, within an hour or so, i received an email from the Google rep.

He explained that the account was under review. The matter was corrected and the account was ready to be used.

And that’s how you get your account out of review, and ready for use.


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“Why Are My PPC Ads Not Showing?” and Other PPC Questions…

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Question 1: Phil Williams

When you put the subdomain link in the Display URL. Does this subdomain need to exist? eg leadjam.com/TimSales

Before i answer this, i want to make a little disclaimer. What i am about to tell you works right now with Google but it’s NOT a good practice. It is very possible that Google will one day change their rule and you won’t be able to do this any more. Be warned!

The way that Adwords works at the time of this recording is that it only requires your display URL’s TOP level domain to match your target URL’s top level domain. That means, in your adwords ad, if you’re using leadtrafficjam.com as your target URL, you can get away with using a display URL like TimSales.leadtrafficjam.com or leadtrafficjam.com/TimSales even if the display URL’s path doesn’t really exist. Google only requires that your target URL go to a real page.

While you can get away with that, i suggest that you follow good practice and make your display URL a valid one so that if the rules change at a later time your ads won’t be disapproved.

Question 2: Steve Jones

As I don’t have a business of my own I went with Magnetic Sponsoring and used that as my single keyword. My campaign is called Stage 3 – Magnetic Sponsoring. My adgroup is called Magnetic. After two days there has not been a single impression. I checked with the ad diagnostic tool on adwords and it came up with No ad is being shown for the keyword ‘magnetic sponsoring’ any idea why there have been no impressions?

Ok steve, Most likely the reason is that your bid is too low. You may have to bid very high especially if you’re sending people directly to the magnetic sponsoring system landing page. The page is not optimized for PPC and it’s likely that so much bad history on the magnetic sponsoring domain has been created by past advertisers who sent traffic to the same page. I suggest you build out your own landing pages tailored to each keyword and ad group. Not only will this get you cheaper clicks and cheaper leads, but it forces google to create a new history based only on YOUR advertising habits. There’s more details on this in the first Q&A call we did on PPC Domination. But if you’re looking for a quick fix for now, then just bid high and then tweak your ad quickly to get a solid click-thru-rate. By the way, there are very few daily searches going on for Magnetic Sponsoring and this may be another reason you’re seeing no impressions.

Question 3: Julie

Within an hour I had 2 clicks (and 2 MS prospects in back office!) – but now have 1200 impressions and CTR of 0.16%. Should I just leave it? What about Quality Score? (Keyword is my company name – which is also a product.)

Julie, you got lucky with your ad for those first two clicks. What matters is the overall performance of that ad over thousands of impressions. So don’t leave your ad alone – it’s not gonna improve by itself. You should quickly experiment with different ads. Delete this one, the click-thru-rate over the ad’s lifetime is way too low. Run two new ad variations and split-test them a pair at a time with the objective of getting a Click-thru-rate over 1%. Full details on this are in video #9 of PPC Domination. If you follow the instructions, you will be sure that you don’t suffer quality score problems down the line on your keyword.

Question 4: Evan Broadhead

Jim, do you know where I can go to create a graphic signature for my landing page?

Yep, I use a service called vletter. Check it out at vletter.com they can even do custom fonts for you based on your own hand-writing. Pretty cool!

Question 5: Evan Broadhead

So I have my domain and you have told me that I need someone to host it! I have created my landing page now how do I take that and make it my domain? Before I was having it be forwarded to my MS page. Please help! Thank you so much.

Evan, your domain name and webhost are two different things. Your domain is like a phone number that you’ve been assigned. But without a phone that rings when people call, your number is meaningless. That’s where a webhosting service comes in handy. The hosting service is like installing a phone in your home. Usually hosting is paid monthly and you can get it for about $6 a month. If you used godaddy to register your domain name, then you can just add the hosting service through their control panel pretty easily. I suggest you look up a website setup guide on the internet or go through the godaddy documentation and learn how to upload a page to your site. You need something called an FTP client. Godaddy includes a simple web-based one through their easy-to-use hosting interface too. I personally use a client called Best FTP Explorer 2000 which allows me a bit more flexibility. Once you decide on a FTP client, connect to your hosting server and grab the new html file from your desktop to upload into your site. If you call the new page index.html it will become the default page on your domain!

That’s all folks. Keep them coming!


PPC Domination : Need PPC Help?

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Since we launched my PPC Domination training videos for Network Marketers, people have been stalking me! Haha, just kidding. But truthfully, I need a solution or I’m gonna go nuts.

I can’t get on Facebook to talk with my sisters any more 🙁 Poor far-away-sisters. The reason is that I’m getting tens of questions a day from people who need my personal attention with their Google Adwords accounts. And I’m happy to help you all–with some rules that I have to lay out here.

I want you to write me all your PPC problems and questions right here on this blog.

I’m thinking, I might be able to answer you individualy as comment responses (at the bottom of this post). In this case you’ll have to keep checking back on your own until my answer appears for your question(s).

Or (and this is easier for me), I may just write new blog posts answering the most common questions I see and then send out an email notification to everyone. This way you’ll know when a new question has been answered and you’ll learn from other people’s solutions too.

For the second option to work, you’ll need to add yourself to the Coffee Adventures newsletter.

The form is at the top-right of this page and below in this post. You have to use one of the forms on this page. Ooohh, lookey here…you get access to another 7 video course on PPC and a customisable lead system as a free bonus woohoo!

As long as you’re on the Coffee Adventures list, you’ll know as soon as I post a response to your question.

Name
Email

Here are the rules:

  1. When you post your questions, make sure your language is clear and easy for me (and others) to understand. Give all the information I need to answer you. Don’t assume I know what you’re talking about! Make sure to attach screen shots of your keywords, ads, AND landing page (url).
  2. Don’t be upset if I don’t answer your “quick questions” on the social sites, by email, or skype. There are wayyyy too many of you asking for me to be able to do this on an individual level. I’m really sorry! It would take me all day to respond to everyone and I’ll never get any other work done 😉
  3. My helper bees might respond instead of me–if we end up doing this question-by-question. You should trust their responses too.

That’s all. Now go ahead and write your requests for help here by “Commenting” on this post. I will answer you soon!

Type Your PPC Marketing Question Below

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How to Advertise Online and Survive in a Brutally Competitive Market

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I remember a children's book called "How to Make Your Own Computer Controlled Robot"

Thursday was library day.

My sisters and I would frantically look for our books from last visit. We’d check them against a list in a notepad dad made us keep in the car. When we were ready, we’d buckle our seat-belts and wait for dad to finish brushing his teeth and take us.

It was a sacred family ritual.

He only let us check out 3 books each. Sometimes, if I begged hard enough, I could get my father to make an exception for one more book. And before we took our week’s reading home, we were made to write the titles and authors into dad’s notepad.

I remember this one book. It was part of a dated British series made for children on technology and computers. Its title was “How to Create Your Own Computer Controlled Robot” by Usborne.

For months, I was obsessed with the project. I came home from school, headed straight for the yellow pages, and called every electronics shop in Auckland. I asked about foreign brands and old component names no one had ever heard of.

I spent my afternoons in the dark amongst the spiders under my family home–Searching for the exact colour combination or code on some tiny electronic part.

That’s where all my projects got their parts.

The technician for the Architecture college where my father worked was kind to me. He passed onto me junk radios, amplifiers, and computer circuits he didn’t need.

Mum didn’t like my mess. So she made me keep my “electronic junk” under the house. There, I’d meticulously scan every soldered component on every circuit board trying to find what I needed. It would take hours. But under the house I usually had more luck than with the electronics shops.

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I would take the parts I wanted from other circuit boards and use them in my own electronic projects

When I found the part, I’d excitedly get out hunched, scratched, and sore. I’d take the entire board to my room, and unsolder the component. Sometimes I made mistakes. Sometimes I just forgot the colour code or part number I needed. And I was usually back under the house within minutes, repeating the exercise for another part.

Electronics and pieces of solder were scattered all over my bedroom–on the table, in the carpet, sometimes in my blanket. It was a mess that frustrated my mother to no end.

I scavanged for those parts until I gathered all the resistors, transistors, and motors that the book said I needed. And finally, I was ready to build my robot.

Sometimes, when looking online today, I’m reminded of being 13 crouched under the house scanning for parts. Unlike the library, the Internet has no order. It’s a giant mess of pages and sites all linked together. Could you imagine what it would be like  without search engines like Google?

Search engines bring order to an otherwise disorganised and messy medium.

They make it easy for us to find answers to pressing questions with a quick search. We’ve gotten used to having every answer we ever wished for, only a few key-strokes away.

Maybe we’ve grown spoilt. I mean, we expect a lot from our search:

We expect it to read our minds and know we’re looking for a recipe when we type ambiguous queries like “enchiladis”. Or that we’re looking for a printer cartridge when we type “UR-1320C”.

  • We want the search engine to correct our spelling mistakes
  • We want it to ignore our typos
  • We make it define words for us
  • We want it to calculate conversions from metric to empirial units
  • We expect it to give us the weather forecast
  • We’re so darn lazy, we don’t even bother to type website addresses any more, we just search for them and ignore the “com” or “net” extensions.

Yet, few advertisers make the effort of targeting keywords besides the most obvious. If a keyword requires creativity or leg-work to think of, it’s overlooked.

Well, searchers don’t stop searching or spending just because no one bothers to show them an ad. They’re just more likely to buy from the handful of advertisers who do show up with an answer when the searcher asks.

Had Google been around when I wanted robot parts at 13, imagine the havoc I would have brought to the search…

I wouldn’t have looked for something obvious like “electronic components”. I would’ve looked for transistor codes and weird words from the book like Veroboard instead of “circuit board”. I would’ve been searching for “100K ohm” and “green cap capacitor”. Sadly, most advertisers wouldn’t have found me.

Few merchants take the effort to bid on measuring units, common variations on the names of components they stock, and the names of their brands and model numbers.

Yet, these are the kind of searches that the average internet user expects to find answers for.

There’s an infinity of queries your website might match. Searchers come from all walks of life, all ages, all levels of literacy, and have different cultural backgrounds, language, and ethnicity. They all deserve answers to their question.

As an advertiser, you can only guess at the way your target customer will word his or her queries. Because of this, I usually test hundreds of thousands of keywords to find 4 or 5 that result in sales.

While this guessing and testing is a bit of a drag, it is worth the effort because competition will NEVER be a problem for the creative advertiser. No matter how competitive or saturated a market gets, there will always be new questions, and infinite ways people will word them.


To learn more of Jim’s PPC advertising techniques, check out PPC Domination.

Double Digit CTR – Part 3

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Popped in for a quickie today…to report on the experiment results.

Remember a few days ago I discovered a keyword research method that gets double-digit Click-thru-rates on my PPC ads. Unfortunately, the new technique at the time gave me zero conversions.

A mistake I’d made was that I ran the ads against a brand new un-tested landing page, effectively testing TWO variables at once: The new keyword strategy AND the new landing page.

Well, later in that same Double Digit CTR experiment, I reverted back to the original landing page to undo that minstake. That page had been tried and tested for months and converted at 10-12% with other keywords. So I ran it for a few hours to see if it fared better.

And sure enough, it did. So for Double-Digit CTR Experiment #2 I cleaned up the 500 keywords and narrowed them down to only 3.

The 3 keywords I kept were the “diamond in the rough”. At the time, they were running with a combined CTR of 9%, several hundred impressions, and had at least one conversion in the few hours they sent serachers to the original landing page.

In Experiment 2, I tested and created the control: Those three keywords were left running over the next 24-hours without any further changes of any kind, in order to be sure that they continued to convert. And I’m happy to report that they did.

Experiment 3 – Split-Testing Ads to Increase Conversion

Over the weekend, I began testing a second ad variation. The reason was that of the two running ads: Ad #1 had a click-thru-rate of 15% and Ad #2 had a click-thru-rate of 3.5%.

Additionally, Ad #1 (higher CTR) was converting at 7%, while Ad #2 (lower CTR) was converting at 17%.

I killed Ad #2. Then created a new version of it with the same body because it was most likely responsible for the high conversion rate–and replaced its headline with the headline of Ad #1 because that is the most likely cause of the Ad #1’s high click-thru-rate.

I left this to run over the rest of the weekend and today. 

The result? 13.8% conversion at $5 CPA (a bit high still), and combined CTR of 12%.

Today (so far) that single adgroup with 3 keywords has produced 9 conversions. Whereas before it was lucky to get 9 conversions a week.

Good Job!

What’s next?

The Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) is still too high for my liking. I need to make split-tests with the landing page and try to increase my conversion rate another few percent. Also, the high CTR will likely be rewarded over time with lower bid costs, so it will go down on its own.

Today, I’m ready to replicate this for another adgroup.

I shared with you these results to show you how methodical you need to be when playing the game of Google Adwords. And to show you that I too make mistakes and run into difficulty…then I keep at it until I resolve it.


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Brain Food for the Up-Late Marketer

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I’m a creature of the night.

Since I was in high school, I preferred working when everyone else was asleep. Some how, the quiet of the night helps me be more productive and creative.

Of course, all the hard work makes me hungry!

If you were to ever visit me, you might be surprised to hear clanging of dishes, and pots and pans in the kitchen when I get the midnight munchies. My snacks are usually quick to make, light, and balanced. It’s about the only way I keep healthy lately since I rarely get any exercise in the winter.

You might know that recently I’ve been posting on Twitter, updates about my various “dinner” trays and their content.

Couple of nights ago, I was low on food-variety in the house…so I came up with a simple snack. When I laid it on my desk ready to be eaten, I noticed the camera lying on my desk and I thought I would take a snapshot for my curious marketing friends.

Does it get simpler than this?

Lebneh
Lebneh (thickened yoghurt) seasoned with red pepper, black pepper, and zaatar, served with olive oil

Here’s a plate of thickened yoghurt called Lebneh in this part of the world. It’s made by slowly straining fresh yoghurt in a cotton cloth overnight. Most of the moisture drips out and what’s left inside the cloth is a thick, cheese-like yoghurt.

Usually it’s served with aged olive oil drizzled on top. And it’s eaten with a warm loaf of lebanese bread.

I like to make it a little more interesting, so i put on some green chilli, red pepper, black pepper, and zaatar. Zaatar is another traditional food usually served on a saucer with a bowl of olive oil and you use small pieces of bread to dip in the olive oil then in the zaatar which adheses itself to the bread.

Zaatar is a blend of Thyme and sesame seeds.

Salad
Salad of apple, cucumber, banana sprinkled with pepper and sugar

On the side is my salad. It’s not a proper salad because it’s eaten with hands. There’s large slices of a whole apple, a cucumber, and a banana. Sprinkled on top is black pepper and a couple of pinches of sugar. They help lift the flavour and make the combination work together.

And in the glass is my apple juice.

Simple and quick. Try it if you wanna feed your marketing brain what my marketing brain eats haha.

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Along Came a Spider

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Last summer was perfect…

The weather was warm with a mild breeze. Compared to the sticky and humid Sydney summers I’d been through over the past three years, this was heaven. With relaxed body and clear mind, here I planned to create, record, and compile PPC Domination.

I arrived in Amman international airport in the afternoon. My baby brother picked me up.

Even though he’s nine years younger, I noticed he was now much taller than me. We kissed and embraced in our traditional style. I flinched as he brushed his stubbled chin on my cheek.

Sydney was behind me.

With a great sense of relief, I’d given away all my furniture to the Salvation Army, packed ONE bag with three changes of clothes, my computer hard drives, and my marketing books. Where I was going, I didn’t need any of it. So I burned everything else. Said goodbye to the only true friend I made in three years and boarded the plane.

Ironically, my greatest lesson in marketing was not to be found in those books I took with me.

It was, of all things, inside the garden of my fortress.

Home

My home in Amman sits on top of a mountain. The rear-wall is unnecessary because it’s shielded from wind and weather by forest. But for the other three sides, the walls had to be errected high to keep the garden safe.

The garden is dear to me. It’s the envy of guests and the topic-of-choice with every outdoor feast.

All around the house, within its walls, a gardener helps carefully plant and maintain trees, vegetables, and fruit.

In the back, he’s planted plums, peaches, and cherries which are quite mature now. In their season, buckets overflow with sweet fruit.

The front entrance has roses that blossom in multiple colours–almost immediately after being watered. Even now, as spring approaches, orange and black butterflies jump from one flower bud to the next.

Lined along the edges of the courtyard are lavender, sage, rosemary, mint, camomile, and thyme plants. When guests visit, they enjoy a special hot drink made from their mixed leaves while sitting around the fountain. Their children watch a movie projected on the west wall.

My favourite part of the garden, is one of the small “vineyards” right by the gate.

Here in the vineyard is where I made a remarkable marketing observation. Taught to me by nature itself.

Grapes

In this part of the world, vines are hung and strung high. Metal bars are connected in a ceiling structure with lengths of wire between them. The vines are made to wind around these wires. When the vines bear fruit, the heavy load dangles from above.

Last summer, the first harvest was ripe and ready for picking.

As I stood in the shade of the leaves on a ladder clipping thick vines laden with grapes into buckets, I noticed spiders. The little guys were making homes between the tangles of grapes, leaves, and vines.

This discovery was strange to me. At first, I thought it was cute that the spiders shared my love of grapes. In fact, I thought they were the ones making the holes in some of them. But as I clipped on, I saw the truth.

These spiders were not fruit eaters. Some of their webs held captive small, dead and dying insects. They were actually predators!

After some research, I learned that spiders discovered, as they evolved through the ages, that grapes made excellent homes. Grapes with their bright colours, fragrant aroma, and sweet juices attract all kinds of insects. Spiders who live in a vineyard don’t have to work to eat–All they have to do is make their deadly webs between vines and wait. Dinner will be served.

Vineyards are a spider’s dream.

Here was the Attraction Marketing principle being demonstrated in nature itself. No marketing book could have showed me so colourfully what it means to find a rabid buyer base and give them exactly what they want.

Marketing, when you follow this basic principle is easy.

I feel sorry for network marketers who sleaze themselves all over their customers in the social networks: “Take a look at my widget”, “Please, visit my site!”, “Add me!”, or “Join my business!”

Because, if you have attractive goods, exposed to the right market, you would never need to ask.

You wouldn’t have to push for the sale. Ever.

In the case of the spider, he found insects already “buying” and made his web.

Hey and don’t think spiders are the only creatures who figured out how to use attraction marketing to lure eager customers into their web.

Think of the colourful roses and flowers in my garden blossoming in spring. Their fragrances being blown through the air and their sweet nectar rewarding the bee or butterfly that approaches. These insects, after they drink from the flower’s nectar, go on to repay the favour with a service: The service of carrying the flower’s pollen from male to female so their species can survive.

These laws of nature have evolved through millions of years of trial and error. Insects who failed have already paid with their lives, and sometimes their species’ existence.

As marketers, we need to take a lesson from nature: Marketing is easy when you live inside the vineyard:

  • Go where people are already looking and buying: Buyers search with search engines, so market there using PPC Google Adwords or Yahoo SEM.
  • Advertise an attractive bait that searchers want: People are looking for solutions and answers to their questions. They’re not looking for pills, potions, or MLMs.
  • Lay a web with your baited lead capture pages: Offer something valuable (not a sales pitch) in exchange for contact information.
  • Reward visitors of your site with a small taste of what they’ve been looking for: Once you get contact information, demonstrate to the prospect the happy experience of their problem solved with your product, service, or business opportunity.
  • Slowly expose them to your ideas so that the sale is a simple matter of fact: When you educate someone, they adopt your way of thinking and decision-making. They don’t need to be sold.

Remember, social networks are not the place for our sales pitches. People there want “fun” and socialization. Selling there makes people run away from you.

Heck, the spider gets it. He uses attraction marketing to survive. Surely, we can too.

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Making Easy Money With Replicated Systems, a Dying Myth

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One Tree Hill was a landmark that fascinated me when I was small…

I could see it from my childhood home.

Our house was 30 years old when we moved in. It was made from Rimu tree, and was transferred from another city in the middle of the night on the back of an enormous truck.

When it arrived on our very sloped land at dawn, it was mounted upon thick wooden posts and made to stand level with the slope’s highest point.

Ours was the tallest house in the neighbourhood. And from its strange double-glazed living-room window, I could see across to the other side of the city. There, in the distance stood a single tree waving alongside a dark tower on a “hill”. One Tree Hill.

It was a long time before I finally visited.

The road we drove on wound around what seemed more like a mountain. And as i leaped out of the car, excited, with the wind whipping my hair against my face, I saw my beloved tree and tower in all their glory.

As I came closer to inspect, I noticed two tree stumps in the ground.

“Daddy, this is THREE Tree Hill! Look, two trees next to this were cut. See?”

My father shrugged at where I pointed. No one ever talked about those two tree stumps. I always wondered why.

One day, my teacher assigned us a project to write our own Maori-style myth.

Maori myths had certain distinguishing features: There were man-like-gods for everything. And they were amazing.

There was Maui who caught, beat, and tamed the sun, fished the North Island out of the sea, and tried to conquer death. Then there was my favourite, Tane. He was one of the strongest gods and reigned over the forest. Also, there was Aroha the goddess of love. And earth mother Papa and sky father Rangi who were pushed apart by their children when they grew restless in the darkness between them.

Maori myths were told to children and served as explanations for things their parents didn’t know the answers to back then.

I didn’t know why One Tree Hill had two stumps. So I told this story…

Myth:
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There were two young gods–Tane and Rangi.

They made the forest before Tane created man. Rangi fell in love with another goddess named Aroha and wanted to build her a wooden hut in Tane’s forest. Tane was horrified that Rangi should cut up the trees they had worked hard to create. In a fit of rage, he turned Rangi and Aroha into small seeds. He threw them far away at the top of the highest mountain.

As years past, Rangi and Aroha grew into strong trees and had a small child of their own. Tane was not a forgiving god…and when he found out, he chopped Aroha and her child. But not Rangi. Though he tried, he was unsuccessful because Rangi was one of the original immortal gods.

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To an 11 year old, this simplistic story gave an entertaining explanation for the tree stumps. It was a myth for children.

Later, when I grew up I learned that One Tree Hill was at the center of a protest for Maori rights…an angry protestor tried to chop the tree in the middle of the night. Luckily, he was stopped in time.

We’ll come back to the tree a little later. For now, I want to talk about another myth believed by adults…

When the Internet went mainstream, many fortunes were made online. We hear about these lucky people’s stories in the news. Boys were paid 1.6 billion for a little video sharing website called YouTube. A PhD project turned into one of the most recognised names on the internet…Google. College-drop-out turned down a billion dollars for his year-book-like social network…Facebook.

I grew up dreaming of making my fortune online like them. These amazing, intelligent, legends of the Internet were my heroes.

I wasn’t the only dreamer. This stuff became the stuff of myth. Told and spread between adults. There came a time when you didn’t even need to convince anyone that they could get rich quick on the internet. All they had to do was hire a web designer and start an online store-front and woow over-night riches.

Although it’s never been THAT easy to make a lot of money online, until very recently, it was relatively simple. I mean, not so long ago, you could make $15 for 15 minutes of work just by filling out surveys (not any more).

Or you could go to clickbank, commission junction, or amazon and pick the first ready-made product you see with a decent pay-out. You take their sales page and throw together a video or Google ad and drive people directly to the sale.

It’s not like that today.

As more and more people flocked to these internet marketing systems, funded proposals, affiliate programs, and adsense content generators…the internet became saturated with duplicate content. Not long after, a searcher would be faced with millions of results made up of testimonials and reviews that all went to the same sale page, for the same product.

In effect, what is happening now, is that the myth has spread:

“Much money can be made for relatively no effort on the internet!”

And it’s being sold and believed over and over by every opportunist.

While thousands of new people flock to start businesses online using these “simple systems”, what is in effect happening is that thousands of clone businesses are being opened in the very same marketplace.

Their clone businesses sell the same products, to the same prospects, using the same offers, and the same sales pitch. They are in a stale-mate…brutally fighting for the same chunk of market with exactly the same weapons.

The result? Customers are divided and spread very thin between them all. Only a little money (if any) can be made in each clone-business.

One of the winners, in this situation, is the system owner.

Think about it…

All of the myth-inspired “business” owners are spending and risking their own effort, money, and time in the hope of earning commissions. The response they see is minimal–say 1 sale a week. While on the other hand, the system owner is making money on the 1 sale/week over 10,000 affiliates (or system users). That’s 10,000 sales a week with zero extra effort on their part.

Yet, the system owners aren’t the demons in this myth.

They’re just making it easy for people to start. Because they know that most promoters are myth-buyers and they will not stay around to duplicate more than one time. So they make it easy for them to duplicate that once.

On the other hand, the people who DO make the big bucks don’t rely on the system on its own. They’re out there creating a unique experience for customers. They’re making it a point to stand out from the clones. Because they know the myth for what it is–a piece of fiction for children.

They’re out there building a real business on sound, scientific principles. They’re sharpening stronger, better weapons by developing their Unique Selling Proposition (USP). They understand supply and demand. They’re learning marketing skills to beat the clones with.

These are the people who outsource landing page creation, list building, autoresponders, and copy.

As the stories travel and spread, more late-comers will come hoping for a slice of pie. But it’s going to keep thinning and getting harder until the myth is shattered and makes sense no more.

“Make easy money online” will be DEAD!

Just like the tree on One Tree Hill. Sacrificed in a political demonstration for rights. The news was broken a few years ago that after the attack on “Rangi”, my favourite tree was too weak to continue to stand on its own. It became an accident risk. And the decision was made to chop it down.

So much for my myth’s immortal god.

Now the hill has three stumps and a tower. No Tree Hill.


No
No Tree Hill 🙁