Strategy vs. Tactics: How to Give Yourself an Instant Pay Raise By Getting to the Root of Your Marketing Problems WITHOUT Resorting to Cheap Gimmicks!

I thought I was so clever. Back when I was a teenager, I had what I thought was a great idea... write an e-book teaching how to program PHP scripts for web pages, load a bunch of tools onto a "three inch CD" for 20 bucks and sell a million copies.

Have you seen those 3-inch CD's? Basically, when you load a CD disc onto the CD tray, there's a smaller "indent" where a smaller sized CD fits. Here's where I thought had hit the jackpot: a three inch CD would fit into a standard sized envelope and would mail with just one stamp.

There's only a few gaping flaws with that line of thinking and that's...

  • People weren't going to buy my product "just" because it's on a CD
  • That time I "might" have spent burning CD's and mailing them would be better spent: improving the product, the copy, the advertising, even making more products
  • Delivering a "real" product, digitally, with an instant download, would take up zero time, with zero cost, and customers would get the product instantly after buying

My mentor at the time (Teresa King) told me to test the product online first. If it sold well and people were actually ASKING for a physical version, and were willing to pay more to justify the cost, then it would be a hit...

What's the moral of the story? Mailing a product on a disc isn't a business model, and it's probably the LAST thing you should think about... only after a product is already selling, and even then, that's one of those little "gimmicks" you add to get a 1% or 2% boost to your profits. It's a TACTIC, not a STRATEGY.

Be very very careful about relying on too many tactics to make money. You'll market yourself into a corner and wonder where it all went wrong, and here's why...

Superstitious Marketing!

Has anyone given you "weird" marketing advice like this?

  • Always price your products ending in "7"... like 27, 49, 97!
  • Always put the text "Add to Cart" on your order buttons
  • Always have an orange order button and nothing else
  • Only email your list once per week
  • Run a "dime sale"
  • Don't ever launch a product unless you have testimonials

Here's what happened: someone had a successful sales letter and a winning product, so they decided to run some split tests... send half their traffic to the $17 price, half to the $19.95 price. Half of their traffic to the blue order button, half to the orange order button.

These gurus have given you a list of "best practices" to put onto your website so that you don't have to start from scratch. Have this white background. Use that red headline. Place your testimonials in little blue boxes.

What's the problem? Poor misguided newbies (and not-so-newbies) see this list of best practices and think... if I make sure my video autoplays on this web page, if I have a 30-day guarantee... then I can put any old piece of crap on the market, and it will sell!

Can I told you what I did years ago to dramatically boost my product sales?

  • I limited the number of digital copies of my product I was selling... and it worked ONCE!
  • I warned about (and then increased) the price of my product... and it worked ONCE!
  • I increased the price with every sale... and it worked ONCE!
  • I added a countdown timer... and it worked ONCE!

These tactics boosted sales, but they weren't the ONLY reason I made sales. It enhanced something that was already selling (mostly by making it novel and newsworthy) . If you put out a bad product that doesn't work, or no one wants it, or no one needs it, then these gimmicks won't help you. And even if they do, they only work once or twice before your audience gets used to it and you have to think of a new gimmick.

Could your webinar convert better? Is your sales letter not selling? Here's an idea... learn selling. THE FUNDAMENTALS.

Why Your Sales Letter Isn't Selling

I can look at most sales letters and in seconds, notice at least 10 BASIC things that hurt sales. Fix them and you'll notice an improvement, keep those things in mind for your next launch and it'll pay off again and again...

  • Is your headline interesting enough to pull me in and get me to keep reading your web page?
  • Do you identify the serious problem that brought me to your web page, align with my values and then transition into the solution, your product?
  • Do you CLEARLY introduce your product and only ask for the sale once you've explained what it is? (once you're "earned the right to sell to me")
  • Can you find large chunks of text that you need to break up into smaller paragraphs, add bullet points, headlines, and graphics to make it easier to read?
  • Is your copy "story heavy" (too much story before introducing the offer) or "offer heavy"? (explaining the offer without building its importance up first)
  • Do you have multiple links and buttons on the page that your visitors can click – that drops them down into your order form area?
  • Do you have an offer stack where you list all the components of your course in one single place, building up the total value and then revealing the low price?
  • Do you clearly explain what price people will pay? (don't make them click through to find out, just freaking tell them)

Do you see what I mean? Very basic things that will help you much more than running an automated webinar, adding a countdown timer, ending your price in $9.99. You'll actually make improvements to your web page that make sense.

If you want to add your picture to that sales letter or not, up to you. If you want to add a logo, I would, and it's increased conversions, but it's up to you. Giant red headline with quotes around it? Be my guest.

An autoplay audio button has always given me a tiny conversion boost. A graphical representation like a 3D cover or 3D box would be awesome... but a polished turd is still a turd!

It's not just sales letters. I once attended a webinar where the presenter was inexperienced, nervous, afraid to sell at the end, messed everything up by offering a Q&A session at the end, and lasting for 3 hours when 1 hour would have done the job.

You could tell by his energy level on the call, and by his email follow-up sequence afterwards, that the webinar didn't sell. Instead of figuring out WHY it didn't sell (strategy), he resorted to the gimmicks (tactics) and spent a week editing the recording to remove all the "umm's", discounted the price, made every mistake and still wondered why it didn't sell.

Real Live Case Studies to Back It Up

I can think back to story after story where... we were selling a 4-module course on WordPress that wasn't selling, I recorded a 12-minute video in the middle of the night showing one single plugin that was part of the course, and woke up to over $16,000 in PayPal the next morning... because I discovered what the marketplace was demanding, and adjusted my marketing so that it made it clear that I was the one to give it to them...

Years ago, Lance and I launched a course on membership sites that we thought wouldn't sell. We were hoping for ten to twenty thousand dollars in sales over a 2 week period. The marketplace wanted a "drip content" plugin at the time, that was our positioning, and BOOM! Over $35,000 in sales in the first 5 hours...

And another time, we launched our outsourcing course explaining how at the time, I'd had over 1.3 million words (something like 150 hours) of audio turned into articles, reports, products, and books. The problem? No one cares about YOUR 1.3 million words, and no one is ASKING to have 1.3 million words transcribed. Instead, we switched it to a short PowerPoint video demonstrating how if anyone had just 3 minutes, they could create an article, chapter, or blog post. Finally, something people needed, wanted, were asking for, willing to pay money for, that was powerful, easy, and fast, that we could provide.

Would we have turned any of those launches around by adding a "FAQ section" or a countdown timer? Without actually fixing the REAL problem? I doubt it.

Just something to think about.

Filed in: Archive 1: 2012-2016Uncategorized

Comments (27)

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  1. Ann Moore says:

    I really enjoy your advice Robert. So many times I would get caught up with the crazy ideas rather than perfecting what I could already do. For me it was creating content. But content that does not monetize well was really discouraging me.

    A while back I took some other advice you mentioned from one of your webinars about funding your business by freelancing. I found that I could take my content writing abilities and put them to the test by marketing them as services.

    Long story short it is like you said enhancing “something that was already selling” In make case I simply needed exposure to the proper market. Now it will not stop here as all this continues to lead me in building my business. I will have to regroup and makes some changes but now I see they will not have to be as drastic as I had thought such as throwing in the towel and quitting online business all together.

    Thanks for the timely post.

  2. Jeff Bode says:

    Great advice Robert, I think this is something a lot of people over look… instead of thinking things through and developing a strategy they seek out a new tactic. I’m guilty of this myself.

    Now that I’m not as involved in the internet marketing community and have built up a startup, I’m seeing even more how strategy plays a much bigger role.

  3. John Antaya says:

    This was a great article Robert. Right to the point on what is working and why some things don’t work.

    Thank You

  4. Wayne Brooks says:

    As always, valuable and practical experience-based wisdom. Well done. Making the distinction between strategy and tactics has been a fundamental staple of successful leaders, not only in online marketing but in other business areas as well, and will likely continue to be. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Mark Salmon says:

    For me, strategy means that you have a plan to get from where you are now to where you want to be, whereas a tactic is just a small part of your strategy. One involves a longer term vision of what you want to achieve whilst the other is a short term work-step or task (which may or may not be gimmicky).

  6. Howard says:

    I always get a lot out of your back to basics advice. As my momentem builds I can see that the impact of your teachings is very positive.

  7. Thanks, Robert! Great insight, great advice and great sharing of knowledge! Thank you again, Mike

  8. Byrt says:

    Thanks for the wake up call Robert. I’ve been hypnotically pulled into chasing ‘tactics’ lately I had forgotten the fundamentals that make a business last and trustworthy.
    Tactics are a result of the ‘next shiny object syndrome’ that we sometimes chase – it can be so addictive. Thank you for a great post. I’m back on the saddle again, so to say p, ha ha, and investing my time now in a solid strategy path for my business.
    Every now and then, I need these ‘wake up’ posts to remind me that the fundamentals of sales are pillars in my business I cannot neglect.
    Thanks pal.

  9. Cararta says:

    Sergio is agonizing over writing a sales page…letter right now.

    Think I’ll send him a link,

    Might jog his creativity to have a different look!

    Good info as always Robert….

    Hmm Strategy vs Tactics…..

  10. Joshua says:

    Robert, really appreciate the articles, advice, and webinars. I got in a slump recently but I must say I keep reading your advice, and I am slowly coming out of it. This is do to the no beating around the bush information. I really enjoy everything and learn something new every time. You always have a way of making me look at something in a different and much easier approach. Thanks again,

  11. Anton Visser says:

    Hi Robert,
    Thank you for this great article and your plugins. My favorite at this time is Paper Template, where I am slowly converting my whole website over to.

    This may be the wrong place to ask, but would it be possible to add a tag generate to pages like you get in posts. To me this would make a great upgrade to Paper Template and open it up to much more uses, than just a sales page.

  12. So know the basics, follow them, but experiment by changing one thing at a time, right?

    I know you constantly experiment and successfully find a lot of new ways of doing things that don’t work before you discover a method worth creating a course on.

    But you never lose site of doing what works. I think that’s what separates you from the mass of marketers who try to peddle tactics (experiments) packaged as strategies (fundamentals).

    So the biggest takeaway for me here is that you have to know the fundamentals and be able to implement them successfully before you experiment.

  13. Cmarten says:

    Way too many people spend all their time polishing turds. I spend way too much time in the past doing the same thing. The time for gimmicks or even proven methods (I’d prefer to leave the gimmicks out completely) is after you have the product everyone wants. Getting to that point though… that’s often the tricky part.

  14. Xanax says:

    The article provides established necessary to us. It’s extremely educational
    and you are naturally very educated of this type.
    You have got exposed my personal eye to be able to different
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  15. TMerksi says:

    I chuckled a bit when I got to the part about ending all the costs in a 7. I’ve heard that so many times and it always made me shake my head. 7s don’t make people buy products, good products do. I think the problem with these gimmick tricks people use are that they may work, but once it’s over, you can’t go back to the normal way of selling. People will feel cheated somehow. Great tips on your blog. I’m reading on.

  16. utseya says:

    I know you have written some very impressive articles, this one is definitely one of those articles.

    A lot of people may struggle to understand the difference between strategies and tactics. As a result, they often fail in the internet marketing.

    When you are in the internet marketing field, you have to know what brings in customers. You have to figure out that by yourself.

  17. sibanda says:

    I loved how you have mentioned all the stupid errors many marketers do. They tend to overhype stuffs with absurd gimmicks.

    The bottom line is, if the product is good enough it will generate sales.

    I really loved the article.

  18. vitori says:

    Great article, Robert.

    I agree with you, internet marketers should focus on what people need and what people want. A marketer can try all sorts of gimmicks, but if the product is not useful no one will buy it most likely.

  19. masakadza says:

    I agree with you, Robert; very much with everything you said.

    Cheap gimmicks may work for a while, but in the long run cheap gimmicks always get exposed.

    Internet marketers need to focus more on quality than on gimmicks.

  20. kaka986 says:

    Very educational article for an internet marketer like me.

    I have recently been exposed to internet marketing and now I am obsessed with it. Your article has taught me quite a few important lessons. Now I know what I should not do in order to succeed in internet marketing.

  21. blogger says:

    I am impressed with your blog, Robert Plank. I will try to visit your blog as much as possible.

    I have bought products from internet marketers before; let me tell you I have been exposed to many types of hypes and bullshits. This article should be read by every single internet marketer, because they will know what not to do.

  22. ambien says:

    Your current write-up has verified helpful to me. It’s
    extremely educational and you’re simply certainly quite well-informed in this region. You get exposed our face in order to varying opinion of this kind of subject matter with intriquing, notable and sound content material.

  23. Smitty says:

    Great post. I’m a firm believer in long-term success that comes naturally. I wouldn’t even know where to get started with various gimmicks or tricks to make people buy my products. If you have a good offer, good material and a good reputation, you will make money.

  24. Chris says:

    Love the reminder about the fundamentals of selling instead of looking for gimmicks to try to trick people into buying. You could study the psychological power (or lack of it) about dollar amounts ending in 7 or whatnot, but if you don’t have a strong product, and offer it in an effective way, it really doesn’t matter.

  25. Larry K. says:

    Had to laugh a bit when I got to the line about the package you thought “wouldn’t sell” and then go on to mention 10-20k in the first 2 weeks. That’s your idea of not selling? Wow. It blows my mind how anyone even gets to that level. Reading on…

  26. Byrt says:

    Every time I watch anyone of your webinars it drives home to me that I have been ‘numbed’ or ‘conditioned’ into always chasing after the next best thing round the corner; which mostly are just glorified ‘tactics’ – temporary solutions. I have come to full realisation that I hadn’t invested enough time into building a worthwhile system for myself, one that operates and looks like a business. I am glad to say you’ve succeeded into shocking my hardwiring to wake me up on time (its never too late, I keep telling myself) to start building something that will stand the test of time and one that will pass the”mum” test 🙂
    It’s a nice feeling….
    Sydney AUS

  27. Debbie says:

    Your note about telling the price of the product right up front made me pause and shake my head. Why? I see SO many online marketers hiding their prices until after you log on to PayPal. I just click away now if there isn’t a price listed prominently on the sales page. Your product and presentation has to be SUPER good to get me to click through to find the price these days.

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