I keep seeing this ad from Frank Kern, and thought I’d check it out. Then I thought, “Wow, there’s a weird combination of fact and fiction in this!” so I thought it might be fun to pick it apart.
Clearly this ad is working, because Frank’s paying for it to be regularly in the promoted position on my Facebook feed (and a lot of other people’s because it has gotten nearly 5000 likes so far). So let’s see why it works, and let’s tease apart the truth from the… perhaps more dubious.
Let’s start with the headline…
[FREE Training] How to Get Customers Without Being “Weird and Salesy”
OK, so we’re grabbing attention with the word “FREE” in caps, followed by a benefit without a commonly associated cost. Seems like a no-brainer. Everyone wants more customers, right? And many of us don’t like being “weird and salesy.”
So we’ve got a universal benefit without the usual difficulty (barrier, cost, whatever), and it’s FREE, so there’s no cost to me! What’s not to like?
It’s a classic copywriting formula, but I have to say my first thought was, “Hmm, how free is FREE?”
Here’s how I see it. We have limited time in this life. Our time is more limited than our money, believe it or not. So, to me, that makes our time very valuable. So to spend 60-90 minutes on a webinar is quite an investment.
I may be cynical, but I have to wonder if this really is a “FREE Training” or if it’s a bit of free information that all points to the fact that you need something that Frank’s SELLING, which of course makes it not free at all!
When we sit and watch ad-supported TV channels, they’re not free!
We pay for those channels by sitting through the ads. Some of the ads will make us buy stuff we didn’t intend to buy, which means there’s a cost.
Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. But the point is, “free” is a pretty stretchy concept.
Here, it’s being used to mean there’s no price on the door… but clearly that doesn’t mean there’s no cost.
(Note: We can always ask the question, “How motivating is the word FREE?” and I think it’s always something you should test. “Free” may get clicks, but how many of those clicks convert to paying customers? I’m assuming that Frank’s testing here, so I’m assuming that stressing that word is showing a positive impact.)
Highest What? Huh?
Now let’s look at the snippet of text below the headline, which I think is fantastic!
I’ve been in the “direct response Internet Marketing” sector for at least half a decade, and I have NEVER heard ONE PERSON single out Frank Kern as “the world’s highest paid direct response copywriter and consultant.” In fact, I’ve never heard anyone I respect describe him as either a copywriter OR a consultant.
I can think of a few people (like Gary Bencivenga and Dan Kennedy to name just two) who I’m sure would be higher-paid than Frank. (Admittedly, those guys do not operate exclusively in Internet Marketing.)
And let’s make a distinction here… “Higest-paid” must mean that you actually GET PAID MORE than other guys, NOT that you have a higher STICKER PRICE.
Any dickhead can say, “Hey bro, my copywriting rate is $500,000 an hour,” but that doesn’t make you highly PAID. Small distinction, but important I’d say.
So to say that someone’s “known as the world’s higest paid” whatever means what, exactly?
Near-enough to diddly-squat as makes no difference. It’s neither provable nor disprovable. There is NO EVIDENCE to back up the claim. (I can’t disprove it either.)
The Body of the Ad
If you click “read more” on the ad, here’s what you’ll see first…
“Here’s the thing: Your prospects DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU.”
This is broadly TRUE. I’ve been teaching this for years. (Broadly!)
“Nope, they don’t care about your credentials, your “social proof” …or any of that stuff.”
Um, now we’re getting into fuzzy territory. Here’s the truth, as I see it.
Your customers really only care about WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me?”).
However, as the Circuit shows, any proposition is made up of multiple elements. There’s
- the actual promise to solve their problem,
- the product or service or combination that delivers the promise,
- and behind all that there’s YOU.
If YOU are not credible, then your proposition may not be credible.
That’s why ads for drugs and medical stuff feature doctors or people in white coats. Because “who is making this offer?” sometimes really matters.
Massive Cognitive Dissonance Alert!
And Frank, how can I say this delicately?
If your prospects “don’t care about your credentials” then WHY THE FUCK do you start your fucking AD with the words,
“Frank Kern is known as the world’s highest paid direct response Internet Marketing copywriter and consultant”
What the actual FUCK?!
Do you think your prospects are that stupid?!!
“Nope, they don’t care about your credentials, your “social proof” or any of that stuff.”
OK Frank. I guess you must know what you’re talking about, seeing as you’re widely known as the world’s highest-paid expert on such things. What’ else ya got?
Truth and Untruth
Frank is leading you down the garden path a bit here.
What’s happening is there’s some truth in what’s being said, but it’s being presented in black and white terms. And, unfortunately, marketing really isn’t black and white. Sorry.
So we get that people are impatient, that they want shortcuts, cheats, magic beans. That’s Internet Marketing 101.
What I think Frank’s really saying here is that, if you can deliver and prove some tangible value in the short-term, people will KNOW the value that you can deliver (when they buy the full product).
There is NOTHING new in this. It’s simply recycling an evergreen marketing truism.
However, what Frank is telling you is “the truth”… isn’t. Not really.
You want what I think is the truth?
People really do want “what’s in it for me?” of course.
But that does NOT mean they don’t care at all about you, your product, your past, your story…
The truth is, they MAY care about those things, if those things INFORM “what’s in it for me?”
- Do you care if your dental surgeon is qualified? Yes, of course you do!
- Do you care that other people have used that product solved their problem! Sure as heck you do!
- Do you care that your therapist spent 20 years training and researching the best techniques? You’d be mad not to!
If people’s social proof and back story didn’t matter, why would I care who the highest-paid copywriter is?
It gets better…
Direct Mail “Fairly Impossible” Shock!
I just pulled out my ACME patent bullshit-meter, and it’s going batshit-crazy right now! We’re registering between 60 and 90 on the bullshit scale.
- Is it pretty hard to do selling door to door? I know I wouldn’t like to do it!
- On a cold call? Again, you’ve got to have pretty thick skin (but I have sold cold).
- Tough to sell through advertising? Um, excuse me! Frank, you’re saying this on an ad! And I couldn’t tell you the number of people I know whose entire businesses are built on advertising, or who run profit-making ad campaigns for clients for their living. So I wouldn’t say it’s easy, but tough? That’s a bit of a stretch.
Now, how about this one?
“Fairly impossible to [sell] through direct mail…”
I’d love to give you a bullshit-meter score on this sentence, but unfortunately my bullshit meter has just exploded! I guess it was only designed to deal within certain operating parameters.
I believe it’s true to say that the direct mail industry today is as big as it’s ever been. Figures I was able to find say that in 2010, the direct mail sector in the U.S. was worth $45.6Bn. Considering the populatino of 309M people, I figure that’s a spend of about $150 for every single inhabitant. So surely it must work, a bit, right? (Also see this Forbes article: “If Direct Mail is Dying, it’s Sure Taking its Time About it.”)
Nope! Frank says it’s “fairly impossible” and, as everyone knows, he’s the world’s highest whatever.
Um, maybe I’m a bit thick, but how impossible is “fairly impossible”? Can something be slightly impossible, or a bit impossible? Maybe it’s a British thing, but to me the word “impossible” is kind of an absolute. I use other words to describe “fairly impossible” like “difficult” or “challenging”.
You know what I’m starting to realize…
Copywriting is really hard, that’s why the best copywriters get paid so darn much I guess!
But wait, here comes the next bit…
See the copywriter’s #1 favourite two words there?
Those two words suggest that there’s a logical and TRUE progression from the thing I just told you to the thing I’m about to tell you. (The inverse is “because”.)
So, from what I can see, what Frank’s saying here is…
“Because direct mail is fairly impossible, webinars!”
No, wait. Not just “webinars’. That would be familiar. The secret sauce is actually “content-rich webinars”.
Which are different to ordinary webinars. Because they’re full of content. Whereas regular webinars are filled with, uh, I dunno, like, really long pauses and stuff. Maybe musak?
At this point, I confess I lose interest.
Why? Because I’ve been served a heady, fuzzy mix of part-truth/part-bullshit. Because it’s late, because I can only take so much of this crap, and because I need to try to put that pile of springs and cogs that used to be my bullshit meter back together.
The moral of the story: Keep your eyes open. Anything that sounds too good to be true IS.
Hey, I just noticed this come through on Facebook… Good job Internet Marketer Russell Brunson doesn’t have the same kind of legal requirements hanging over his head that Frank Kern does, huh?
Look at the white text. It’s not obvious, which I guess makes sense because I’m surprised this got through Facebook’s ad checking team. It clearly says…
“If you do not deviate from the script, you will make money.”
It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, it doesn’t matter what sector you’re in. Russ is going to give you THE ONLY SCRIPT that you need to make a profit.
Well, fuck me! I guess it’s time I gave up marketing because Russell Brunson has finally FIGURED IT OUT.
Love it, Russ! You guys are the best!