How Not to Upsell your Product – or How WHSmiths and Waterstones degrade their brand

Recently I bought a great book on human behaviour and how to gently influence people from Waterstones book shop, called Nudge by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein (a middle initial always makes you seem more authoritative). It looks to be a cool book, but what I most remember about the encounter is the interaction with the person handling my sale.

After they took my order they asked me if I wanted to buy from a stack of books on the counter. I didn’t get the name of the book, but it had a soft, gentle, pastel cover with flowers and a stylised image of a young girl. The writer was female and the book cover evoked a feeling of walking through tall wheat with Keira Knightly, whilst bees went about their gentle work. Not the kind of book I would ever be interested in.

There is an internet marketing point in here, just hang on a minute. I’m creating a parallel narrative.

I looked at the sales person and saw the fear in her eyes. The fear that said, “If I don’t offer you this book, my management speaking-well groomed boss will sack me.”

Would Waterstones really sack a member of staff because they didn’t try to get me to buy “chicklit”?

Who knows, but you do see a dribble of humanity leave a member of staffs body each time this poor attempt at upsell happens. Which leaves a stain on the floor behind the counter.

The internet marketing point of this article is about the upsell. It is an incredibly powerful and profitable way to get sales. But the way WH Smith – who seem to think that stuffing chocolate down the gobs of the British Public is somehow going to lead us to spiritual enlightenment – employ the upsell is atrocious and leaves me lamenting the humiliation of their staff.

When you buy something online, you are in the mood, in the zone for other stuff that solves the same or similar problem that is on your mind, so if you buy an ebook on linkbuilding it makes perfect sense to upsell to a link building tool or offer link building services.

Of course, WH Smiths and Waterstones may have conducted studies that 5% of people when buying a copy of Top Gear will also buy a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate. Thus increasing profits.

But what about the 95% who don’t buy?

What if someone blogs about this fact?

What if that blogger, also tweets about it.

What if a journalist reads that blog and decides to rip off the writer and give no atributation and rewrite the article as their own, (surely journalists would never do such an unethical thing) and publish it in their widely read Sunday Paper column which they later turn into a book which ends up at WHSmith and when you try to buy it you also get offered a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate?

There is another direction I could go with this about cheapening a brand, but I have a new chicklit novel to read whilst eating a huge bar of Galaxy chocolate.

Gonzo SEO

I hate aspiring writers who bang on about HST as if invoking the name of Mr Thompson will somehow make them writerly Gods.

Take your heroes, burn them. Then spread the ashes on your toast as you wait for you latest bittorrent of Manga to download.

However, for those who know what gonzo journalism is – and if you don’t know, you need to read more – need to look at that writerly style and apply it to their blogging style. The reason being is that the words of a gonzo tracht do not fit comfortably into the nicely shaped holes that await information. The words and thoughts and ideas and feelings tend to scrape the sides and ruin the pristine condition that the grammar nazis like to keep their information brain holes in.

When you scrape the edges of someones mind you make them sit up and think, question, change emotion. When that happens the reader has been softened, sweetened, seduced for any kind of message you want to.

This is not new, it’s ancient. And don’t think that moist inducing companies like Apple and Google do not employ such tactics constantly. They are steeped in the dark arts of black ops marketing technique and will shaft you deep into the softer parts of your mind to get their message in.

Have I broken my own rule by invoking the “HST” bomb and then saying not to.

Of course I have.

The first rule of gonzo blogging is there are no rules.

Garden Cabins go Mental on Adsense

Sometimes I wonder why people go nuts buying Adsense ads when there are far more effective ways to market your website. Showing me the same ad over and over makes little sense, especially when I am not interested in buying.

So it is with Dunster House Log Cabins. I include a bit of adsense here to see if it does pop up.


Of course, you may not be seeing the advert as it will be Geo targeted, plus if you are reading this in 2065, the advert may have stopped running. But I am sure you have seen certain adverts pop up again and again, as if someone spilt their coffee whilst pressing the buy button and missed a few decimal places.

Update:
Yes, the cabin ad came up, but looking at the ad from the front of the blog came up with something else. Interesting.

Greek Coffee Fused with SEO Twitter Streams

An SEO should always travel. Even if just to load up the Google front page and view how the foreigners search for stuff. As I sit with salt baked onto my skin whilst I sip the surprisingly good, sludgy, Greek coffee, I think about the bubbles we exist in.

How different people, who speak different languages, have different alphabets and different ways of eating, defecating, picking their nose and bribing the local official.

It’s all different.

Those who can understand the differences, both subtle and major win.

Those who don’t, stay in their bubble being big fish in an eggcup full of water.

You see that a lot in the Asperger-flicted seo space. Guys (and it invariably is guys) who like to learn a lot of over complicated, ultimately useless information who like to bamboozle noobs and spread confusion of the Twitter feeds like a drunken spider on it’s way to the taverna.

And of course those who treat “the game” like a business, rather than a private/public wank are those who tend to to step out of the bubble and discover pastures green, with trees weighed down with over ripened fruit just waiting to be plucked.

Twitter aids in our process of being able to identify those who are simply gobbing off and are full of fecal matter.

I’m as guilty of turning my twitter stream into a lumpy/liquid stream of shit as is the next man. But I do like to think I throw the odd gem in every know and again.

My favourite usage of Twitter is that of a bullshit detection tool.

Those who tweet all day may not be doing it because they are crapola at “the game”, but because the stream of digital communication provides a warm electronic blanket they can wrap around themselves to fill the gaps in their souls.

Those who leave week long gaps in their stream are not doing it because they overdosed on plain chocolate McVities Digestives and Vimto and have nothing to say. But because they are getting on with business, building their empire.

An Empire not built on the sand of Facebook, as I talked about recently, but on a solid foundation of a list of prospective punters – on blogs and websites which they own. Not owned by some twatty American corporation that has delusions that it more important than a tub of Chunky Monkey.

Own it, don’t rent it.

Why are SEO Blogs Really Boring

I find most other blogs in the industry I inhabit really boring. Mostly because they are not meant for me, their purpose for existence is not to entertain or inform me.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Here’s what I notice though. A lot of people slag off blogs because they don’t give them what they want, even when the blog is not meant for them.

Just because you don’t get any juice, doesn’t make it a failure. You may not be aware of the objective. The objective may not be you.

I know that most blogs in the industry are not looking to entertain me, so when they don’t I don’t presume they are a failure.

But it’s very common for people to sound off opinions based on their narrow experience. What this does is illuminate the fact that the critic cannot see the bigger picture. And there is no shame in that if you are a technician or an engineer.

But if you are the head of a company wanting to bake and shake your niche it marks you out as a dork, not a market leader.

You do see it in the SEO industry a lot, mostly from the people who mistake opinions for knowledge. But that’s OK, it’s good to know who they are.

From a bloggers POV it’s useful to know that people will criticise not what you do, but how useful it is for them. So if you get a load of flack from a bunch of people you don’t care about, don’t sweat it.

Opinions are like Twitter accounts, everyone has one.
(Some may remember a similar quote from Clint Eastwood;)

If you are baking and shaking in the blog world, you WILL GET FLACK, the important thing to know is which critics do you listen to and which ones do you ignore.

Diggs for Sale

Maybe this post should read, “Digg for sale”.

A few thoughts on what is happening on digg.

First, I’m not following the current convo regarding the latest changes at digg closely as there will be a period of flux where nothing of worth really settles. Don’t get me wrong it’s a great, geeky, soap opera and if you have the time it beats having to watch the coffee dribbles on your wall harden in the warm sun.

Most of the people I follow about the subject are the professional diggers who have made a career out of pushing stories to the top. I of course push my own stories to the top and over the years have realised how much most of the social bookmarking sites are quite easily gamed. Mostly in an ambiguous nod from the owners of the sites.

Whilst the owners of these site publicly castigate such practices, they actually need professional social bookmarkers as they provide them with quality content. If it’s an infographic it’s usually been created by professionals. Which I think reveals the extent of the operation.

So, why is this important.

Well, if you are not getting a piece of the action, then you are missing out on a big chunk of online marketing. It’s a relatively small group who control 80% of social bookmarking action. It’s really no different than getting stories in newspapers which are sympathetic to a specific brand or product.

But right now, digg is in turmoil in the sense it is not yet clear how to promote. Which is why I think it’s not worth following the story. In a few weeks it will be clear which wheels need to be greased, but right now, I’m off on holiday and hopefully when I come back it will be sorted.

However, digg only represents one entity and there are many others to promote your website at.

How to get links by gently farting into a leather sofa

In a recent post I mentioned that “some bloggers only have to fart softly into a leather sofa to get links”. This wasn’t an attempt to get links to a leather sofa site, although now I think about it…..

It was to highlight that some people got it and some people aint got it.

So the questions that are important are.

  • What is it that they got that others aint got?
  • Can what they got be got by others?
  • Can what they got be taught by those that got it?
  • How do I know if I aint got it
  • Will listening to the Bangles, “Manic Monday” help in any way?

The zen part of this post is that even if you have the answers to all these questions you will be no closer to getting what they have got.

Which makes me wonder about the efficacy of all these, “Give me $1,000 a week and I will show you how you can charge $1,000 a week showing people how to make $1,000 a week from showing people how to make $1,000 a week” type sites.

Before you spend the $1,000 a week to find out if you got what they have got , spend £12.99 and £16.99 and book your self 2 weeks in that Scottish Highland croft.

I know I’m mixing currencies here, but I live in multi currency world. And no I am not trying to rank for “multi currency”.

The £12.99 is for, Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin.
The £16.99 is for the hard cover of Outliers, by Malcom Gladwell.

The 2 weeks in the Scottish croft is to give you time to read and let the information sink in without you being distracted by wanting to tweet that you just ate a corned beef bagel with dijon mustard.

The point is….

What I hope will happen is you come to a realisation that you don’t really have the desire to do what it takes to get what those have got and to spend your cash and time on something more useful like making a model of Hugo Chavez out of the sticks you get from Starbucks to stir your liquid caffeine delivery product.

In conclusion….

Those bloggers who get links are those types of people who get it. Most of the time they don’t even understand why they “get it”, they just get on with it.

And if you are thinking right now that, “I don’t get it.” Then you are probably right.

Mark Rein of Epic Games catches his nuts in the Gamer Blog Machine

It’s a bitter moment when your peers tell you to f**k off. But this is what happened to a big cheese in the game publising industry called Mark Rein of Epic games.

Go read it, if you like to see the Indie kid take down the big business behemoth you will love it.

I love these stories of bloggers whipping off the bed clothes of the previously untouchable executive types and letting everyone see them in the raw.

Cliff Harris makes the game industry sound fun.