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.)
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.