Church of the Invisible Hand
Why You Should Never Sell Ice to an Eskimo
I once knew a guy named Mike, and he was one hell of a salesman.
He was the kind of guy that could sell ice to Eskimo. He could sell anything to anyone, and he took pride in that.
In fact, he could sell people on doing all kinds of things that weren't in their best interests.
He broke a lot of hearts, and burnt a lot of bridges. He even conned me into doing a few things I later wished I hadn't. And, although I no longer keep in touch with him, I'd bet he's still doing the same thing, to this day.
But it's probably not as easy for Mike as it once was.
You see, after a while, people will start to catch on. They'll realize they've been taken for a ride, and they won't be happy about it. You can only sell so much ice in a frozen tundra before the Eskimos run you out of town.
And that's what happened to Mike.
Mike broke the number one rule of copywriting. He sold ice to Eskimos. And you never wanna sell ice to Eskimos.
And why do you never wanna sell ice to an Eskimo?
Well, it's simple.
1 ) You'll have crazy refund rates. Sooner or later, that Eskimo is gonna realize you pulled one over on him. He's gonna figure out that your product wasn't right for him. And he's gonna want his money back.
2 ) You damage your reputation. He's gonna tell his friends that you tricked him into buying something he didn't really want. That's going to make them all the more skeptical when they deal with you in the future. And if that Eskimo has access to the internet...
3 ) You're hurting trust in the market. A sale is supposed to benefit all parties involved. It's supposed to be a win-win situation. But when a salesman taints the view of selling, the entire marketplace suffers.
4 ) You are depriving people who actually need your ice. There are people in the desert that would gladly buy from you, but they can't. You're all the way up in Alaska, ignoring the real people you should be serving.
5 ) You work twice as hard. Yes, it might help inflate your own ego. But you're working twice as hard, for results that will be short lived. The most important part of of marketing is putting the right message in front of the right audience.
Sales is not about profit at any cost.
Sales is not about manipulating people out of their hard earned money. Sales is about connecting people with a solution that is right for them, in a way that also benefits you.
If Mike is still out there, trying to make a quick buck at other people's expense, it won't last. The days of tricking people into buying your snake oil are numbered. And the clock is ticking.
When you're writing your advertisements, don't try to sell to everybody. Don't try and convince the wrong person to buy. Only worry about the person that actually needs what you are selling.
This is the foundation of great copy.
It's not sexy. It's not ninja. It's not on fleek. But it is what works.
Never sell ice to an Eskimo.
Instead, take your ice to the desert, and sell it there.
Written by Nathan Fraser Direct Response Copywriter Marketing Consultant High Priest of Propaganda
How to Fear-Monger for Fun and Profit
I once heard a prominent fear-monger in the "truth" community make this analogy.
While defending his sensationalized way of reporting, he said he was not fear-mongering. He claimed that "if your house is on fire, and I'm warning you to get out, that's not fear-mongering." And it raised some interesting questions for me.
I don't like to fear-monger. And I feel bad about the times in the past when I did.
Maybe it's that I don't like wasting energy on things I can't control. Especially when there are things I can control, that could use that energy.
Maybe it's that I don't like to take on anything with a defeatist attitude. I feel like a lot of the "truther" doom and gloom sets people up for failure. You don't send your team into a game, convinced that the other team has already won. And that's what a lot of these "truth" mouthpieces are doing.
Can I stop putting the word "truth" in quotes now? You get my point.
Anyways, in my content, I have always been careful not to be guilty of fear-mongering. And now I'm starting to rethink my previous condemnation.
So, there are two different ways to sell an idea.
You see this in every movement. You see this in every bit of direct response copywriting. You have to agitate the situation, and then promise a solution.
I've heard Ben Settle say that you gotta get into your customers pain point, and you gotta rub salt in that wound.
Ray Edwards says you need to know your customer's pain point. You have to explain it to them, better than they can explain it to themselves. And then you have to show them how bad it can get if they don't fix the issue.
Now, this is one part of copywriting that I've always found distasteful. I do it, but I always feel kinda dirty about it. Until today.
So, here's the deal.
I'm re-writing my sales page, over at Podcast Blastoff. And so I'm going over a bunch of articles and interviews about sales pages. And I heard someone explain it in a way that I never thought about it. The part that I always thought of as fear-mongering, that is.
He said this, and I'm paraphrasing;
People tend to suffer in silence.
They don't want to talk about their problems. Either because they don't want to burden others, they're embarrassed, or a bunch of other reasons.
And here's what a lot of us do. We know we have a problem. We know we need to fix it. But we don't talk to anybody about it, and we have no idea on how to fix it.
So we ignore it. It sits in the corner, all blurry and confusing looking. And we pretend it's not there.
So, now you're selling something that will solve that problem.
Maybe it's a societal problem, and you're selling a new way of thinking to solve it.
Maybe it's a lack of information, and you're selling a course to teach people.
Maybe it's a lack of buttons problem... Well, I'm not sure if that's a thing.
Anyways, someone has a problem, and they're ignoring it. And you have a solution, but it does them no good if you can't get them to buy. To help them, you have to put them in a mindset to take action.
So, how do you do that?
Well, you reverse engineer.
You know what their problem is. And you know the reason they haven't taken action yet is because it's still out of focus for them. There's a monster in the corner of the room, and they either can't see it clearly, or are choosing not to look.
So you have to make it clear for them. You gotta point out the fangs. You gotta describe the glowing red eyes. You have to bring the threat into focus. You gotta make so they can no longer pretend it isn't there.
If you can do that, they'll be ready to solve their problem. And they'll assume that you know the solution. They might even beg for you to sell it to them. And you should.
Just as long as what you're selling will really solve the problem. And that's where the trouble comes into play.
The technique works.
I use it, and I see results. But I also see other people use it to sell false promises.
I see televangelists use it to sell tickets to Heaven. I see politicians use it to sell greater restrictions on freedom. I see opportunity marketers use it to sell git-rich-kwick schemes. And I see professors use it to sell failed social systems to impressionable college kids.
It works. No doubt about it. But I think I dislike it for how often it's been abused.
But just because people can abuse it, does that mean you shouldn't use it in your marketing?
Obviously, I use it. And up until today, I did so with a heavy conscience. But now I'm re-thinking my position.
What say you?
Will Robots Take Your Job?
So, Jane (a totally made up social justice warrior) was out protesting her job today.
She was demanding that her employer pay her $15 dollars an hour to bag burgers and give customers bad attitude.
Her employer only operates at a 3.5% profit margin, but Jane has a right to a living wage.
She spent all day waving her sign and shouting out sound bites she learned from her gender-studies professor.
Tomorrow, she'll go into work, and realize that she protested herself out of a job. She'll walk into her place of employment, and be greeted by a shiny new kiosk. Sucks to be Jane.
Now, while it's easy to laugh at Jane, she isn't the only one facing this problem. Yes, low information, entitled brats will be the first to have a robot replace them. But, is that where it will stop?
Now, before you start calling me Peter Joseph, hear me out.
I am a devout capitalist. I would be miserable in a Venus Project utopia. But, I am a realist, and my head is not in the sand when it comes to automation.
In the coming years, more and more labor jobs will be replaced by robots.
Is this the end of society as we know it? I doubt it.
But, will it bring a lot of change? Almost certainly.
As the horse and buggy disappeared, the cab industry was born. And sometimes, automation actually increases labor in a field.
So, what about you? What will happen to your job in the very near future? What are your chances of being replaced by a robot, like poor little SJW Jane?
Well, today I came across this interesting article. It talks about some of the least likely jobs to be replaced with robots. Is yours on the list?
Hint, if you're on my mailing list, you're already in a better position than most. (see number 1)