Category Archives: Barman Book Club

Daily Rituals – How Artists Create and Avoid Creating Their Creations

I came across Daily Rituals on Malan Darras’ blog. There used to be a little widget on the right hand side that recommended this book, so I got it. Or maybe he recommended it on twitter? I don’t remember and it doesn’t matter.

The title appealed to me quite a bit because rituals are something I’ve become quite a fan of lately. No, not those good ol’ satanic rituals. By rituals I mean daily habits, routines, and systems that free up the brain for more creative thought and impactful work.

Routine, in the right hands, can be finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of limited resources: time, willpower, self-discipline, and optimism

Is this book an A-Z to guide on how to become rich and famous? No.

What you will get is insight into how some of the most famous creators of our time, and from centuries ago, are able to do what they do.
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How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big – Goals, Systems, Health, and Affirmations

Last year, Charles Ngo (if you’re not reading Dr. Ngo’s blog, then start because it’s the best online marketing blog right now) wrote a review of this book, How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams.

I bought the book and started reading it the day after New Years. I was not disappointed. It took me a while to read because I took a lot of notes. Around 20 pages of notes. So many notes. My wrist pains me.

A Side Note on Notes and Journals

I started taking notes on the non-fiction books I read because I started realizing that there is no way I’m going to remember all this shit. I read a lot of books. I’ve only started doing this in the past couple months and it’s been critical to remembering important stuff and allowing me to think through it. It’s much easier to go back and read notes than trying to thumb through an entire book to find a specific sentence or quote. I don’t like highlighting my books (yes, I still read physical books.)

I highly suggest keeping a journal, not just for the note taking. There’s a ton of value in keeping a journal. But alas, that’s for another post.

Scott Adams – A Optimist’s Take on Success

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Get Real and Go Read “Getting Real”

So I stumbled upon this book called “Getting Real” the other day. This is one of those, “if I knew then what I know now” moments where I am greatly saddened that I did not have this information before.

Getting Real” is from the 37Signals guys who have developed some incredibly successful products that I know many of you use. The company is a handful of guys and they bust out services that people love (because they’re effective and useful) and they pull in millions a year in revenue.

This book will open your eyes to a lot of mistakes people make during development of web properties and services. As I read the book, I smacked myself for every mistake I found myself doing. Now I have two black eyes and a broken nose.

No huge development teams. No unachievable timeframes. No meetings about meetings. Cut the bullshit and start getting shit live. Learn how to say no to stuff that wastes time.

“Ignore it at your own peril” – Seth Godin.

Not only is the book short, concise and awesome- it’s free 99. I know we tend to put less value on free stuff, but trust me, this book is invaluable.

Who Should Read “Getting Real”?

You are building a web app. You are building a mobile app. You manage developers who build web apps or mobile apps. You sell and outsource website services. You do e-commerce. It doesn’t matter. As long as you develop shit, or work with people who develop shit, stop what you’re doing and read this book now.

Who Should Not Read “Getting Real”

You do not like free information that can make your life significantly easier.

Getting Real – Free Ebook

Review – Neuro Web Design

To be blunt (tehe), I haven’t been reading much lately. I feel like reading is an important part of being a well-rounded human being. Reading teaches you anything you’re interested in and opens up your brain to different avenues of thought that maybe weren’t so clear to you before.

It’s especially true if you’re a business owner or marketer. There are many great business and marketing books that provide wisdom into the complex world of sales, marketing, and human nature. Such books by the masters can spark an idea, or many, that will propel your business forward. Why make mistakes when so many have made those mistakes before you? Learn from greats like Ogilvy and Caples, and explore emerging trends and new science with books like Neuro Web Design.

Anyway, I get bummed out when I go on reading dry spells. A book a week is a fair goal that everyone should aspire to. In previous editions of Barman’s Book Club, I’d review a bunch of books at once. But since I’m 20% through about 5 different books (the Picking up a book and Not Finishing it Syndrome) I figure I’d write individual reviews as I get through them but I promise nothing!

Neuro Web Design Review

Neuro Web Design is a look into how the brain works when we interact with websites. Actually, it’s more about how the brain works and why we’re persuaded to do things (hint: it’s usually sub conscience.) It’s a relatively short book and an easy read (aww yeah pictures!) Also it’s written by a science person, Susan M. Weinschenk, Ph.D.

You’d think this book is more about actual web design, but it’s not. It has a number of examples of good practices used on real sites, but they are few and far between. The examples used though, are pretty good. That’s because this book is really more about the brain, specifically the new brain (conscience thought) and the old brain (sub conscience thought) working together to influence decisions.

If you liked Influence by Cialdini then you’ll enjoy this book. A lot of Cialdini’s work is referenced, along with a bunch of other scientific studies that explore brain activity and decision making.

Neuro Web Design is pretty much a great Intro to Sales Psychology 101 book, if such a class existed. Why do we buy stuff reviewed by people over just stuff? Social validation. Why do we buy something when there’s “Only 12 Copies Left!” Scarcity. Why does copy about “you” sell better than me rambling on about my company’s benefits? Because we’re all self-centered douchebags. All the usual suspects of sales psychology are here, condensed into an easy to ready summary of all of them.

The verdict – Definitely get this one. There’s a lot of stuff great information in this book that will help you tweak your current sales copy and improve the selling power of websites.

More Marketing Books and Some Self Help

It’s been a few months since I wrote the first edition of the Barman Book Club (Part 1 – So You Want to Be a Real Marketer? and Part 2 – Lessons Learned.)

I know a lot of you liked those posts, and obviously some people bought those books because I got an Amazon Gift card for like $32 (which I will probably use to buy DVDs of Mad Men instead of books.) I know a few of you, like me, swear by “Tested Advertising Methods,” which was recommended in the previous posts. So here we go again….

Even though it’s been a few months, I actually haven’t done too much reading. Like I said before, my reading goes in spurts and I’ll go for a while without reading anything.

Warning: This post contains affiliate links so I can make $0.12 off every book your purchase. I’ve included a rating this time too.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

Short, cheap, and to the point. 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (if you had to look up what immutable meant … ) is for the most part, geared towards branding and positioning of real businesses. Though that doesn’t mean the rules cannot apply to affiliate marketers too, especially advertisers.

This book goes into the how and why some businesses and ventures succeed, while others fail miserably. Marketing is perception- it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. All that matters is how you’re perceived by the public. Chapter 1 goes is about being the first in a category. If your business is nothing but a copycat of another, then you’ll probably fail. Not the first mover but still want to succeed? Go into Chapter 2 about being the first in a specific slice of the category. Chapter 5, the Law of Focus, goes into why many businesses fail after they reach success: They figure “We’re successful, lets branch out into other stuff we don’t really know about just because.” The business loses focus because it has stretched itself thin, then eventually shrivels up and dies.

There are a ton of examples in the book like that. It’s a very short read but it has some invaluable “Laws” to follow. It can really help affiliates, and advertisers, avoid mistakes that businesses seem to make over and over and over… Essentially, each “Law” is something you can follow to position yourself better against the competition.

Rating: [5/5] – Short, concise, and powerful.

Words That Sell and More Words That Sell

I carried this book everywhere because it’s that damn good. It’s not even a book to read- it’s just lists of words. It’s a reference manual for marketers. And you must have it at your desk when writing any copy.

Words mean everything in marketing. If you want to reach the masses, then you have to use words that are short, easy, and understandable. The words need to get the point across without straining your poor prospect’s brain. Sometimes we use words that we may know the meaning to, but 95% of the population does not. You even see it a lot on B2B sites, where businesses seem to think, “The more jargon and buzz-words I can stick in here, the better!”

And sometimes (well, most of the time) we hit mental blocks when writing copy. We either use the same words over and over, or use words that don’t really sell. “Why can’t I think of another word for ‘experienced’?” or “What’s a powerful way to say ‘new’ and ‘reliable’?” Just skimming through this book can give you tons of ideas on how to say the same thing, but better.

Words That Sell is to marketers what a thesaurus is to English majors. An essential tool for anyone serious about their copy and ads.

Rating: [5/5] – Absolute must have reference manual for marketers.

More Words That Sell is a nice follow-up to the previous book. I don’t think it’s as good as Words That Sell, but there is still some good stuff in the book that all marketers can use.

If I could only pick one, I’d pick the original. More Words is good, but with Words, you can utilize almost every single page from a marketing standpoint.

Rating: [3.5/5] – Not as good as the first, but still pretty good.


Hot Button Marketing

Someone on the twitter gave this book a good review, so I bought it. Edit:via this guy

Want to know why your customers buy the shit they don’t need? This book will tell you.

We all have our emotional triggers that push us to buy. We want to be in control, save time, belong to a group, have the latest and greatest, etc. Hot Button Marketing touches on most of these emotional triggers (except pure stupidity).

Hot Button Marketing provides 16, specific emotional triggers which explore the reasons why we consume goods and services. Great marketing books like Cashvertising and Tested Advertising Methods provide the knowledge on how to write great copy, what works and what doesn’t, and how to be a better overall copywriter. But before you even write that copy, you need to know why anyone is going to buy your shit. Hot Button provides just that.

This is great companion to Influence by Cialdini, which also deals with emotional triggers. I know Influence is very popular with marketers, but for me, I don’t think it was that good. Its been a little while since I read Influence, but from what I remember, I didn’t get too much out of it because it was lacking with specific marketing examples. I’m not saying Influence was bad by any means (it is referenced by Hot Button Marketing a few times), but I was definitely left desiring more- especially for such a long book.

Rating: [4.5/5] – People not buying your shit? Then buy this book.

The Culture Code

I saw Clotaire Rapaille referenced in a Mr Green post and remembered that I read one of his books.

That book was The Culture Code. I read it earlier in the year, maybe last year, so its not entirely fresh in my mind.

For anyone interested in international marketing, you should probably pick up this book. It goes into how different countries perceive different things. Rapaille breaks it down into a “code,” which is one word or two to generalize what we think about something. For example, the culture code for being fat in America is basically “giving up.”

I was expecting some more from this book. I wanted it to be like:
“Chapter 1: How to market to people in Argentina”
“Chapter 2: How to market to people in Austrialia”

“Chapter 145: How to marketing to people in Zimbabwe”

But its not. The chapters are broken down into things like “Health and Weight,” “Love and Sex.” Then each chapter compares American culture to a different one. Sometimes we’re compared to the English, and others to the French. Sometimes we’re compared to a few different cultures. Overall, there are some great insights into how other countries view basic human activities, but its not a full country-by-country comparison.

As far as international marketing goes, there are few books on the subject. Even though this book is not as great as I thought it’d be- it still provides some valuable insight into how different countries view different things, like health, family, sex, and money.

Rating: [4/5] – Not exactly a “How To” of international marketing. But there’s a lack of information on the subject, so its as good as its gonna get for now.

The Power of Self-Coaching: The Five Essential Steps to Creating the Life You Want

This is another recommendation from someone on the twitter (Thanks, social media!) Edit:Recommendation came via Clint

I just recently finished this one, and I found it to be an excellent read. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of self-help books (since most are bullshit guru nonsense), but there are definitely some gems out there (like Eat that Frog by Brian Tracy). This book is different from most of the other self-help books I’ve read over the years. In fact, its been so long that I don’t even remember most of the self-help stuff I read.

I’m trying to choose my words carefully so I don’t sound like some emo bitch…

Everyone has their self-doubts. Sometimes these self-doubts because so powerful that we get stuck in our own little worldview (that nothing can or will change.) Some of us are so crippled by fear and worry that we never step out of our comfort zone. Some of us like to make ourselves miserable for no reason, blame the world for our problems, and other bitch-shit that prevents us from really living the lives we want.

We all get caught up in “reflexive thinking,” a term used by the author Joseph Luciani- a formerly-neurotic and compulsive person that became a therapist who helps people deal with their own bitching and moaning, to describe the knee-jerk reactions in our conscience.

Everyone does it. Reflexive thinking is the act of making up your mind before you even think about decision. We load up our brains with why we can’t, why we shouldn’t, what we need to, and more- which all turn into habits that shape the lives we have- for better or worse.

They’re the little lies we tell ourselves so we feel in control. “I need to work 80 hours a week to be productive” even though you really only do 20 hours of actual work.

“Yes, but … ” which is the excuse of “I know I want to do this, but I’m creating excuses in my head already to not actually have to do it since its out of my comfort zone.”

“What if she says no, what if she laughs at me, what if … ” and many other ‘what ifs’ a basement-dwelling affiliate might ponder when approaching a female.

A good majority of this book explains what and why people do this kind of shit to themselves. Essentially its all about us wanting to be in control of our lives, even though it leads to the opposite- more people losing control and ending up in therapy because the world conspires against them.

The final chapters are 5 steps on how to deal with these issues. Just a few mental tricks on how to catch ourselves listening to our own bullshit, learning how to separate fact from fiction, and how to move forward.

You don’t need to have depression, anxiety, or be in therapy, to get something out of this book. The author keeps it real as hell. We all have reasons to doubt ourselves and our capabilities- but 99% of the time those doubts are simply bullshit.

Learn to let go and just live the life you want.

Rating: [5/5] – If your life is perfect, then you don’t need this book. For everyone else, get it and read it. If you can’t help yourself, maybe you can help someone else in your life stop being a bitch.

So You Want to Be a Real Marketer? Lessons Learned

Clearly there is something wrong with me if I’m writing four posts in a day.

You can read Part 1 of So You Want to Be a Real Marketer. I highly suggest you do so, otherwise this post might not make a lot of sense.

How to Apply These Books to Internet Marketing

Some of these books were written before the internet was popular. Scientific Advertising was written before computers, and Tested Advertising Methods 5th Edition was published in 1998. There are definitely a few lessons that no longer apply. But a large majority of lessons taught in these books still apply today and will for many years to come.

Even though some of these books pre-date the internet, they have fundamental lessons that anyone serious about advertising must learn. Human nature will always work the same way so it doesn’t matter if you advertise online, in the newspaper, or on TV.

If you depend on blogs for all of your advertising knowledge, then you are at a serious disadvantage. Blogs are written in short, easy to read form. They are condensed and paraphrased. You may learn how to do something, and if the blog is any good, they will tell you why it works this way.

But 95% of the time, you won’t learn why. You’re just told what to do and you follow along because hey, he’s a super-affiliate blogger! Most of the time, a lesson applied to one campaign won’t work in another campaign. This is why you should stab yourself in the throat if you think you’re an “expert” on anything just from reading blogs.

On the other hand, many affiliates became successful by trial and error. Trial and error works great, but you need money and time. You will never learn all of the lessons taught in these books without working in advertising for a very long time, nor without spending a lot of money (your own or someone else’s). If the marketplace is competitive with high bids, then forget about it completely if you’re a newbie.

Even experienced advertisers can learn some tricks that can completely change their business. And if you’re an affiliate that’s been dead in the water for a while, then these books can give you a little spark to get you back on the right track. Unless, of course, you’re straight balling and can hire the best copywriters in the game- which is just as good as learning this stuff yourself.

Lessons Learned

Below are some of the more important lessons I’ve learned from this recent reading-binge. If I already knew the “lesson,” then these books just reinforced them or added more insight to what I already knew. If you didn’t know these lessons, then you might gain something from reading these books, m i rite?

Return on Investment – Nothing Else Matters

Obvious, right? Most internet marketers have access to a shit-ton of tools that track return on investment. It is second nature to us. But if you run a brick-and-mortar doing your own advertising, or have your own product you just started, or are new to online advertising, then it may not be ingrained in your brain just yet.

Decades ago, these tools did not exist. Claude Hopkins pioneered “scientific advertising,” which basically states that a campaign must pay for itself. Every ad must be tested against another. The winner must be chosen, and the numbers will tell you why something works and why something else does not.

Being “creative” in advertising is a fallacy. It is what a lot of big media agencies do. They have massive budgets to burn, so they don’t really care. They create ads while stoned out of their minds, then give awards to each other. Advertising award ceremonies are giant circle-jerks.

If awards were given to advertisements that had the best Return on Investment, then 9 out of 10 winners would be ads from affiliate marketers and online advertisers. But no one really wants to give an award to a “Punch the Monkey” banner ad.

Old Spice Man might be the biggest success in viral marketing ever – but is it selling more product? Not necessarily.

Return on Investment is not just about making more from what you’re spending. If you can get your ad spend smaller, then your ROI goes up too. Hopkins goes into this a lot. You want to get as much information as possible with as little money necessary to do so.

This is negotiating terms with the media companies and webmasters you work with, or focusing on a traffic source that has been cheaper than others. It is about dropping campaigns within a traffic source that are not working as well as the others.

It works both ways: make more with better creatives and find out how to spend less.

Headlines are the Most Important Part of a Campaign.

Yes, we all know the headline is important. But do take that for granted, or do you live and breathe headlines? Are you wasting time and money testing colors, buttons, pretty pictures, and other shit before testing your headline?

Caples really brings this point home in Tested Advertising Methods. If you read nothing else in this book, read the first few chapters on headlines.

The headline is the part of the ad (or landing page) that will get you the most readers. It is fact, plain and simple. It has the largest exposure, and it is the primary reason anybody will read the rest of your copy. Many people will take action on your headline alone. Few will read all of your copy to find a reason to buy from you.

Sure, you may think you’re clever and creative with your catchy images and glitter graphics. And maybe 5% of the people that land on your page convert. You split-test some other things on your page and you get some marginal gains. Good for you.

When you’re ready to get your ROI up there, you will not rest until you find the best headline possible for your creative. Until you have exhausted every idea for a headline, you’re just building a house on an unstable foundation. If your headline sucks, then there is little left on your landing page to salvage the user’s interest. Quickly, they leave forever.

The importance of testing a headline is especially vital for people with small budgets. Each new variation you test essentially multiplies your ad spend.

Let’s say you have a rule of thumb where 1,000 views on your landing page gives you confidence in your data. “If 1,000 people see this page, then I am confident this variation is working or not working.” Those views cost you $20 per 1,000.

Now you want to test 2 headlines (Long headline versus a Shorter variation), 4 graphics (Man Smiling, Man with Baby, Women Smiling, Woman with Baby), 4 layout colors, and 3 different buttons (Click Here vs Order Here vs Free Trial!)

If you are doing multivariate testing (testing them all at once, instead of one-by-one), that’s 96 tests you are doing. To get 1,000 views on each variation would cost you $1,920. (96 x $20.00)

You can spend $100 on just 5 different headlines (all else being equal), and it will tell you much more about your creative than testing 2 headlines and a bunch of other pointless shit. Nothing matters past the headline.

Words Are Very Powerful

Have you ever read a blog post like “How one simple change increased conversion rate by 124%”?

Generally speaking, these small changes are because of words. Specifically words in a headline and sub-headlines. More so in tiny Adwords / Adcenter advertisements. The most successful PPC advertisers are people that continuously test their ads. They may go through 50, 100, or more variations before they find their winner. If you’ve done serious PPC spending, you can see the power of words in near-real time.

The power of words is simply incredible. The difference between “Get a X” and “Get X,” “Order My X” and “Order Your X,” and million other variations of the same thought can and will be huge. Without testing, you won’t know.

Yes, people still read. We may avoid books, but we still read short, quick sentences on the internet. You want your words to sell, not pictures, graphics, and Flash.

There is no hard and fast lesson here really. It’s just amazing to me how some words sell and other words do not, and how the slightest change can give new meaning to a campaign.

Short, Easy Sentences

Think you can write copy because you’re an English major? Well, you’d be wrong. In fact, you’d probably sell less than a 9th grader. No one is impressed with big words and deep thought within your sentences except other English majors.

If you want to sell, you need to get big words and long sentences out of your head. This lesson is thought throughout all of the books I recommended.

The “common man” (or woman) is a simple person. That’s not to be offensive or anything, just the way it is. When you write copy, you have to write for the lowest common denominator. Start getting crafty and poetic and your sales will drop.

People buying shit from you don’t care about creativity. You’ll lose readers with each long sentence, big word, and huge paragraph. If you write copy, and a 5th grader has a hard time reading it, then it probably won’t work in the real world.

This lesson ties straight to brain function. Remember I mentioned that when writing first came about, spaces between words did not exist. It was just a long string of words because everything was narrated (information was transferred through storytelling, not books.)

Since people speak without breaks between words, that it how it was written. And to read it back to an audience was a difficult chore for the narrator. Obviously, language has developed since then. We have spaces between words now, and even paragraphs!

But it remains fact that reading something on a college level requires more brain-power than reading something on a 5th grade level. If you make someone think, even for a split-second – you can lose them.

Your writing must be as easy to read as humanly possible. Use short words over long words. Avoid words with double-meaning. Avoid words that are territorial (does anyone call a sandwich a hoagie outside of the east coast?). Use words that are territorial (Wait what? If you’re marketing to a specific region…) Avoid long sentences and long paragraphs. One thought per sentence. Write in the 2nd person, present-tense. These lessons and many others are detailed in Tested Advertising Methods.

Keep in mind that’s not how I write on this blog. I write the way I want here, and using long sentences and big words is just how I do it. But when it comes to sales copy, you best believe I dumb that motherfucker down.

You Have to Sell Free

Think people will flock to your product just because it’s free? That direct-linking campaign to a free-trial offer not working out for you? Well, no shit, numb nuts.

Even if what you have is free, you still have to sell it. So it doesn’t matter if you’re giving away a product or trying to get someone to buy a $1,000 product – you should write sales copy the same way.

If you are not stating the benefit of your product, then no one will want it. Price is irrelevant. (Hello, anyone failing at lead-gen)

Many Advertisers Still Suck – Why It’s Wrong to Copy

The real reason I wrote these posts was to help people become better advertisers and affiliates. The sad fact is that 90% of affiliates don’t know shit about advertising. They know how to copy ads and landing pages, but when left to their own devices they are dead in the water. Hell, some are so stupid they leave in the original tracking codes.

An advertiser (or affiliate) who knows what he is doing may be testing 100 variations of an ad. Let’s say you come across an ad and copy it. Little do you know, this ad was one of the worst performing ads. You launch your campaign and lose your shirt. You split-test, but all you are split-testing is variations of a bad message. No amount of wordplay or pretty pictures is going to fix an ad that doesn’t touch the demographic in some way.

Keying an ad is a term used many times throughout the books I recommended. This is the science of starting somewhere with a campaign, and continuing to work on it until you’ve struck a chord with your demographic. You could test 5, 50, or 500 different things before you get it turns a profit. Once an ad is keyed though, it’s smooth sailing.

There are no blueprints for making money online. Each offer, product, or service is going to work differently with each type of traffic and demographic, all of which depends on how you are promoting it. Any blueprint made public (via gurus or bloggers) is not going to work in the long-run. Competition will come in and ruin your ROI.

Learning these lessons expands your worldview. An affiliate can stop fucking around with low margins and learn how to build their own product, service, or list. A scared SEO can learn how to advertise properly, so he can stop being a bitch and finally buy some traffic. An advertiser might learn how to sell his product better and finally get into the black.

These books teach you how to be a better advertiser (or better affiliate.) If you understand the fundamentals of advertising: how to speak to the “common man,” how to get an emotional response, and understand that advertising is nothing more than salesmanship, then success is just matter of time.

What About Cheap Clicks and Cool Tricks?

Getting cheap clicks and finding untapped traffic sources is not what this post is about. These two posts are about salesmanship, which means learning to sell to people with what you have. Salesmanship is truth. Advertising is the same. Many of the authors and people they talk about, would go door-to-door (to hundreds of doors) before they ran an advertising campaign.

When you can sell to someone in person, and you can repeat it over and over, its clear that you found what people want. Now that you know what they want, you can apply it to mass media. Obviously I’m not asking anyone to sell shit door to door. I’m trying to point out that selling in person and selling anywhere else is the exact same thing.

If your game is to find the cheapest clicks and highest EPCs, then you are doing arbitrage. There’s nothing wrong with that, but its not exactly a long-term strategy. Bids will always go up, and EPCs will continue to go up and down like a roller-coaster.

When you learn how to really sell – better than all of your competitors, then you can milk a campaign for all its worth. You can make far more money off a less competitive traffic source if you know how to sell. Even when some bloggers and gurus blow the lid on it, you’ll still be profitable while most are in the red. That means you’ll still be making money until the final nail in the coffin (which is when shoemoney blogs about it).

So You Want to Be a Real Marketer? Recommend Reading

3 posts in one day? Looks like your dreams just came true! I know I’ve been slacking on PPC.bz these past few months, so to make up for it I am publishing this blog post that has been on my mind for quite a while now. It is a long one, sorry.

This is Part 1 of a 2 Part Series. Warning: There are some Amazon affiliate links here. Don’t worry, I won’t be butt-hurt if I don’t get your $.32 commission. Buy the books however you want.

Does your affiliate marketing “career” revolve around following your competitors and copying what they are doing?

Does your day consist of reading hundreds of blogs, where your only motivation is to stumble upon that little “golden nugget” that will get you out of the poorhouse?

Are you on any “guru’s” list, not for shits and giggles, but hoping that one day they will release a product that changes your life?

If any of the above applies to you, you’re not a marketer. You’re not original. You’re not going to create the next big thing (without some serious dumb-luck.)

You’re a poser. A thief. A part-timer. You’re just a dumbfuck hoping to get lucky.

Learn How Advertising Really Works

I may have hurt your feelings in the opening statements above. That’s OK. This is a business, and as a reality check, you need your feelings hurt.

Whether you’re a complete newbie, a seasoned veteran looking for better ways to promote something, or a heavy-hitter with your own offer, learning a thing or two from these books can change the way you do business. The chances are pretty damn good you’ll learn a thing or two in every chapter. Has your acai monies ran out and you want to create the next big thing? Trust me; these books can help you do that.

I tend to go on reading binges, and for a few months or weeks will just read books cause I feel like it. Then for another few months, I won’t read a damn thing.

My most recent reading binge has been nothing but books on advertising written by some of the smartest, best people in the game. Why spend thousands of dollars learning something that these people have already figured out?

To be honest, I don’t expect many people to pick up these books and read them. In fact, you probably think I’m sick in the head telling you to read books. This is the internet! Books are so 2001!

The fact is that a little extra work to better yourself, and your knowledge of what you do, has been a staple of many successful people. Brian Tracy always said “Read an hour a day on what you do, and get into the top 10% in your industry” I can’t recall if that’s the exact quote, but it goes along those lines. If you know Tracy, then you know he’s a boss.

Now, on with “Barman’s Book Club

Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman

This is a book that people have been raving about since it came out. I did not pick it up until a few months ago. After reading it, I am now on the Cashvertising bandwagon. Most of the other books I write about below all came from the “Recommended Reading” section of Cashvertising. It’s that goddamn good.

I posted this recommendation on a forum, and someone said “If you don’t want to read this book, there is a summary on Wickedfire for it.” (here)

That’s all fine and dandy, but you’re not going to learn shit from a summary. Think about it – who will retain more knowledge of a topic 3 days later? 3 weeks later? Someone that read the CliffNotes of “1984″, or someone who actually read “1984″? I read the book over 10 years ago and I can still recall what the main character has a fear of. On the flipside, I don’t even remember the titles of books where I read only the CliffNotes.

There is a trade-off between reading a book and reading a summary. You’ll know the gist with CliffNotes and save time, but you won’t know the details. And when we’re on the topic of advertising, every detail can change how you think about the business you are running.

Back to the content of Cashvertising. This book is basically a full A to Z course in the fundamentals of advertising. You will read a page and end up sitting in your chair for 5 minutes thinking about how to apply what you just read. It’s best to read it with your notebook right next to you.

I don’t want to do a summary of the contents of the book. There’s no point. You have to read the fucking thing. If you don’t want to take the action of reading this book, then you might as well stop reading this post here and go read Tyler Cruz

Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples

I read this book off the Cashvertising recommendations. This book is as good, if not better, than Cashvertising. If you read both they really complement each other. Cashvertising is quick and full of informational tidbits, while Tested Advertising Methods may devote a few chapters to a subject, providing some deeper insight.

Some of the best information in this book is about headlines. I’ll get into that later. Another chapter is “How to Appeal to a Mass-Market Audience,” which is solid gold. It explains how to dumb down your ads for broader appeal. Other chapters go into what to avoid – which is just as important especially with broad audiences.

There are also some chapters on “tiny ads” which can give some insight to Facebook and Myspace advertisers, since those ads are roughly the size of a newspaper classified ad.

There is just too much great stuff in this book. I don’t have it in front of me, so I can’t write anything on the notes I took. But I will say that it took me forever to read, simply because every page had my mind going a thousand miles a minute thinking of how to apply these lessons in advertising.

Scientific Advertising / My Life in Advertising by Claude Hopkins

These books are old school. On the bright side, both of these books have expired copyrights and you can pick them up for free on the web. You might have a hard time reading them because of some of the terminology is outdated. What’s a “line” anyway? (The closest similar term I can think of is “campaign”)

But there are many fundamental lessons in these two books that make them both worth reading. It’s pretty amazing to read how Hopkins created the advertising decades ago for the big brands of today (Goodyear, Palmolive Soap, and “Medical”, which could be compared to the wild wild west of the internet today) Knowing some history of successful advertising in the past can help you re-create some of his successes in the digital age, or avoid the mistakes that Hopkins consistently speaks out against.

Hopkins pioneered “scientific advertising.” Today, we know it as “return on investment,” “split-testing,” and “tracking.” Before Hopkins, advertising was “Buy from me, not my competitor!” After Hopkins, advertisers learned how to speak directly with their demographic. They learned how to “touch a cord with the common man,” so to speak. They learned it by testing the shit out of their ads.

The Shallows – What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr

I heard about this book from the Colbert Report, I think. It is a fairly recent book, and it is not a book about advertising. But if you read it carefully, you can get some great insight on how to market on the internet.

The Shallows is a scientific look at the brain and how it works. Carr goes into the history of the human brain and how it has changed throughout human history. The alphabet, the written language, the clock, the printing press, the television, and now the internet – all have a massive impact on how we think and live.

In early human history, stories were written down without spaces between words. Reading aloud was a chore for the human brain. Then someone came up with the space, which made it easier on the eye. But for a long time, everything written was always narrated to an audience. In fact, the idea of reading to yourself in silence did not come until generations later.

Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, died broke. He would have made far more money leasing his technology, but instead kept it to himself while trying to sell individual copies of books. Either way, his invention changed our brains forever. Books became commonplace and most of the population could now attain them (before, they were a luxury for the rich since they were handwritten.)

There is a certain romance in reading a book. You can read for hours if you’re enjoying what you’re reading. It’s amazing that our brain can stay focused on reading the pages, but at the same time we can allow our imaginations to wander. This act of “getting lost” in reading trains our brains for critical thought. All of this changes with the internet.

The internet is a two-way street. Unlike TV (which makes us dumb enough as is), the Internet combines many media. Critical thought is no longer important when we can find information we need at the click of the mouse. So our brains adjust. We have become very good at finding information. We have become masters f multi-tasking. I don’t want to classify this change as a good or bad thing. It is just what is happening.

The bottom line is that there is a real change the brains of heavy internet users. It will only continue as we depend on the internet more and more. The Shallows explains how many online marketers have developed “internet ADHD.” (Editor’s note: He does not specifically mention internet marketers or draws this correlation. He does go into website design and people using software though.)

My summary doesn’t really do this book justice. I highly suggest reading it if this kind of stuff interests you. (The ultimate irony is most of my demographic lives and breathes on the internet. Trying to convince you to read a book because your brain has lost its ability to do so, is exactly what this book Is about.)

No Ogilvy?

Now I know certain people will cry foul that I don’t have Ogilvy on the list.

I know Ogilvy is a legend. The only reason he’s not on this list is because I have not read his book yet. I was promised a copy though, so we’ll have to wait for Barman’s Book Club Part 2.

You can continue reading Part 2 here

Shawn Collins Doesn’t Really Write a Book

If you went to Affiliate Summit West, you must have noticed the tote bag they give you when you register. Well, you had to have noticed it as your arms tired from carrying a 30 pound bag of shit.

Not to get off topic, but what the fuck are they thinking putting all this crap in the bag? There is so much fucking waste that goes on and it provides no value. You think someone is going to sign up to your stupid network because you gave them a non-functioning orange clock or a rubber ball with your name on it?

(I would have more jokes here about the shwag but I threw the bag out. I didn’t want to go over 50lb weight limit for checked bags on my flight home. Take that, environment!)

I threw that fucking rubber ball at John Chow’s iron-flattop and it bounced off and hit Shoemoney in the crotch. That’s all its fucking good for.

Branding = dead. (At least in this industry … your reputation is what matters.)

Anyways, within that tote bag was Shawn Collins book. This book is called Internet Marketing from the Real Experts. If you haven’t skimmed through this book on the shitter by now, let me give you my short book report:

Internet Marketing for Real Experts is a collection of republished articles from Feedfront magazine. Not only does Shawn Collins not really write even a minority of the book, all this book really contains is other peoples content.

That will be all, teacher.

During ASW I caught Shawn Collins at the Rio. The conversation was just random bullshit about how I am the best blog ever, until I called him out on his book. I was in a daze from drinking of course, so I will try to reproduce the conversation as best as possible.

Me: “So dude, you didn’t really write this book.”
Shawn: “Yes I did, my name is on the cover!”
Me: “I know, but it’s just republished garbage from Feedfront.”
Shawn: “Yeah, but I’m in the book.”
Me: “But you didn’t write it. You’re more of an editor.”
Shawn: “It doesn’t matter. Do you know how impressed clients get when you bring in a book with your name on it? No one ever reads the book, but they see the cover and my name is on it.”
Me: ” … ”
Shawn: “Clients eat that shit up. Usually it’s way over their heads so they don’t read it. All that matters is that I’m the author and I have a book.”
Me: “Genius, Collins. Genius.”

So what’s the lesson here? Leverage other peoples shit and republish content with your own spin on it. It works on the web and apparently, works in print. Now Collins has a book selling like hot-cakes on Amazon so he can walk around slapping potential clients with the softcover. Learn from this.