- Eben talks about words that trigger emotional responses
- How to move the free line
- The pitfalls of putting your image over results
- Why most people hate marketers
- The importance of overcoming human psychology and the scarcity mindset
- Joe probes Eben about being cocky and funny
Dean: Hey, everybody! It’s Dean Jackson.
Joe: And Joe Polish. And, we’ve got a very special guest. I mean special in more ways than one. But his name is Eben Pagan. You know, Dean, I could say all kinds of things about Eben, but why don’t you do an intro for him?
Dean: You know what? I’m excited. This is 60 episodes. And now, we have one of my favorite people in the world, Eben Pagan, on our call with us. And Eben, I’m particularly excited about, because we started out together, years and years ago, really doing marketing presentations and marketing consulting together.
Joe: When you say, “Together,” you don’t mean like you’re dating or anything, do you?
Dean: Yeah, it was basically like we were dating.
Eben: It was like that.
Dean: It was sort of like that, wasn’t it, Eben? We calculated, one time, that we spent approximately 20% of our lives, at one point, within 10 feet of each other.
Joe: Wow! That’s kind of weird.
Dean: It is kind of weird.
Joe: But beneficial to everyone listening.
Eben: When you’re in the seminar business, it’s not that weird, though.
Joe: Go ahead. What can you say about Eben’s contribution to the world, Dean? We’re all friends here, so we can, of course, talk a little bit of smack. But in all seriousness, Eben is a brilliant, smart guy, and I know our I Love Marketing listeners, if they don’t know who he is, you’re going to be introduced to one of the greatest thinkers we know, about a lot of stuff. But we’ll keep it in the area of marketing, and we might wonder off in different areas. But what are some of Eben’s accomplishments from your perspective, Dean? And then, we’ll hit him with some really good stuff for all of our I Love Marketing listeners.
Dean: Well, Eben is probably the guy that has done more good in the world, with my ideas, than anybody else.
Joe: That’s true. And, in a lot of ways, everything you learned, I taught you. It’s almost like this is…
Eben: This is weird. And since I taught Joe everything Joe knows, it’s this circle-fest, let’s just call it.
Dean: It’s the snake that eats its own tail, one of those circles. Exactly.
Joe: Eben, who are you, and what do you do, for the listeners?
Eben: Boy, where do I start? I’m a guy that was raised in the backwoods of Oregon, and during my kind of late teenage years, I was a longhaired rock-and-roll guitar player. In my early 20’s, I realized that that wasn’t going to pay the bills, and I wanted to have success in my life. So, I decided to go into business, and I got a real estate license because it looked like all of the realtors drove really nice, fancy cars, and wore nice clothes, and sounded like they all made $100,000 a year. So, I said, “Okay, I’ll do that.” My first year in real estate, as I recall, I sold one and a third homes, which is really awesome, and made like, I don’t know, $2,500 or something the whole year. It was actually performing worse than my $10-an-hour manual labor job. So, I started reading books and listening to tapes and things, and I found sales.
So, I started studying sales, and learned you have to do things like go and cold-call people on the phone and knock on doors. I remember the very first day that I decided to go knock on people’s doors to see if they wanted to sell their home, and I printed off my list of all the homes in the area where I thought it would be a good place to go. And I remember the day that I printed off the phone numbers of I think it was for sale by owners or expired listings or something, and I was looking at the phone, and I was going to call them on the phone. And I got so afraid of picking up the phone; I just sat there looking at it, feeling this dread, that I just went home and went to bed.
Eben: Yeah, it didn’t work out too well. And from sales, I then found marketing. Obviously, we all love marketing. So, I started studying marketing. And that’s when Dean Jackson and I started to become friends, and we worked for a couple, few years together, working with Joe Stumpf, and we were marketing teachers with him, and we did some consulting together. From there, I went on. Dean showed me how he was selling eBooks online, and I kind of learned that system. I applied it to another area of the world, where I had also not had success, which was dating and relationships, and I wrote a book of dating advice called “Double Your Dating,” using a pen name, which is David DeAngelo, and put that online, and went on to build a really big, successful business. We started then teaching dating advice for women.
Then, I took some of the marketing stuff that I’d studied and started teaching business advice. And now, we’ve got a company with, I think, about 50 employees. We do $25-million or $30-million a year in sales of information products. And now, I’ve started consulting and advising with other businesses, and becoming an investor and advisor to other entrepreneurs. So, that’s kind of where it’s at.
Joe: Gotcha. I’ve known you guys for many, many years now, and Eben’s even went and got himself married recently.
Eben: That’s true. I did. I took the big leap, what, 6 months ago or so, and got myself a wife. Or she might say she got herself a husband.
Joe: And we were both there. Me and Dean were both there, wearing our snazzy little outfits, because you didn’t want anyone wearing traditional wedding garb. Now, here we are today, thousands of people listening to this I Love Marketing episode with Eben Pagan. We’ve talked about you a few times on the episodes, and you’ve been nice enough to share – with your audience – our stuff. And we’re all here to help entrepreneurs and people out there, preferably doing really, really awesome, cool, helpful, beneficial, value-creating things in the world, to be more effective at marketing. So, Dean, I’m going to start, and then we’ll kind of toss this back and forth with Eben. Eben, what’s your definition of marketing? What is marketing?
Eben: Well, marketing is, I think, creating the best kind of information package or communication method to communicate the results, the benefits, the outcomes, the relief that your product or service provides to someone who needs that particular result or relief or outcome in their life. The reality is that sales is kind of the mother or the parent of marketing. Before there was mass communication medium, before there was the written word, we just talked to each other one-to-one, or maybe one to a group. So, we had to convince people to buy one at a time, or maybe in small groups. And then once we came up with the written word and – modern day – with broadcast mediums and the Internet, we were able to take that formula that worked, that sales formula, and we were able to do it amass and do it to the large groups. So, that’s kind of what marketing is. It’s sales that have been stylized and kind of replicated across different broadcast mediums, so that we can market to a lot of people.
Joe: There you go. Dean, you got a question for the man? Or do I have to start insulting both of you?
Dean: Exactly. That’s probably exactly what’s going to happen. You know, I like that definition, though, because it’s packaging. Joe and I talked a lot about all of the things that we use, that we still use, that we basically started with 20 years ago. You know, Eben, when I started out with the “Guide To Halton Hills Real Estate Prices,” essentially, we still do that exact same thing here, now, 20 years later. So, a lot of the marketing things, a lot of packaging up the solutions for people are really like enduring things. A lot of times, people think about marketing, and they think about it as the most recent, trendy thing. They think about social media marketing, or they think about Internet marketing, even, as the thing. But those are really just ways that are the latest ways of delivering your packaged message.
Eben: Yeah, exactly. When you talk about your Guide To Halton Hills,” the guide is a list of the latest homes that are for sale, or homes that have sold, depending on if it’s for buyers or sellers. It’s not really about the guide; it’s about the fact that this is giving the valuable information that someone who’s interested in buying or selling a home, it’s what they need. So, it’s timeless. It’s fulfilling the need of the other human being. I think that in marketing, one of the challenges is to actually stop for a minute and imagine what it’s like to be another human being, imagine what it’s like to have those needs, rather than your needs. Because we’re also good at projecting and imaging that what we think they need or what we think they should need is what they’re going to buy. And, of course, as you know, that’s not the truth.
Joe: Eben, right before we did this, we’re recording this podcast here with me and Dean, I had the unfortunate experience of spending over an hour on the phone with you, for you interviewing me for a project you’re doing on entrepreneurism. And you asked me about what are 3 things that people need to know about marketing, and I gave my answers. What are some things that you think people need to know about getting into marketing, using it effectively, that sort of thing?
Eben: Okay, a couple things. One, human beings are primarily not rational, logical creatures. We’re primarily driven by our older brains, by our physical, reptilian, lizard brain and by our newer but still very old mammalian, emotional kind of brain. And the things that motivate or drive these brains, that make them want to take action, don’t really have anything to do with logic. They have to do with other things. In fact, a lot of recent research and so forth suggests that even the way that we think in our logical mind is shaped by the environment that we evolved in, and the ways that we process information are actually shaped by these older brains and by these older experiences. So, that leads to the conclusion of stop trying to convince people logically to buy your stuff, and realize that the reason why someone is out looking for something or they want to buy something is because they have a more basic primal or emotional need that they want to fill.
So then, once you realize that, you then get that when you’re doing your marketing, which often uses things like words and video and letters and pictures, that what you’re not doing is trying to logically convince some… What you’re not doing is trying to logically convince someone to buy your stuff. What you’re doing is you’re getting into rapport with what’s already motivating them, and helping them see how what you’re offering is going to give them the benefit or the result or the outcome that they want. So, that’s kind of a mindset. Another thing that’s really important to understand is that human brains, the rational part of our brains, the conceptual part, let’s call it, they run on concepts and symbols. And we call these concepts and symbols words. A word, if you really break down what a word is, it’s an arbitrary sound or set of sounds, it’s an arbitrary set of letters, that are put together to represent some other thing. It can be something very specific, or it can be something very abstract. It can be a keyboard on your computer, or it can be the concept of beauty. These words can represent lots of different things.
As you become more familiar with how brains use words and symbols to think, you have the insight that some words and some symbols are far more powerful and motivating than others, when it comes to triggering a person’s primal drives and their emotional drives. So, Joe, one of the things that you teach is you take out a $1 bill and a $100 bill, and you say, “What’s the difference between these?” And then you say, “It’s the message that’s printed on them. Same paper, same ink, they’re just printed a little differently. And here in America, if you’ve got a $100 bill, that will buy you 100 times as much as a $1 bill. And the same thing goes for words. There are some words that will trigger very little primal or emotional response or motivation inside of a human, and there are some words that will trigger a lot of emotional response. So, just for a moment here, and let me ask you guys. What do you think? I’m going to give you 3 different words here. Which one triggers the most primal emotional response? The first one is animal. The second one is fish. The third one is shark. So, it’s obvious here.
Joe: I would say shark, or spider monkey, if you would have thrown that in.
Dean: But spider monkey would create excitement for you, more than fear, like the shark.
Joe: Yeah, but still.
Eben: The news outlets and the tabloids, of course, they’ve really mastered this. I’ve started becoming very interested in news headlines that don’t mean what they say they mean. Where it’s like, whatever, “President of X country shot,” and you look, and it was some photographer that took a picture of him. And you’re going, “Wait a minute!”
Dean: Eben, now that you live in Florida, you’re going to see, in hurricane season, headlines like “Thousands urged to flee Miami.”
Dean: Or “Miami braces for hurricane…”
Joe: Why, because Eben moved there? Or something else?
Dean: Yeah, exactly. Like “Miami braces for hurricane Floyd,” you just get this feeling of people holding for dear life.
Eben: Exactly. So, I went through my first summer, last year, in Miami, I was down there a bit during the summer, and everyone talked about the hurricanes and how dangerous it is. And in my building, they had these things on the counter that said, “You need to have 2 weeks’ worth of water.” Then I started talking to people that live there. I was in a cab one time, and I said, “How long have you lived here?” And the guy was like, “25 years,” or something. And I said, “So, what’s the story with the hurricanes?” And he’s like, “Never seen one. Never had a problem.” Of course, if you talk to someone that was there in 1926, when it completely destroyed South Beach and leveled most of the buildings, that’s a different story. But that’s exactly it.
We tend to be focused on those things that push our buttons. And in marketing, if you can learn the words that are associated with kind of the highest emotion value, as I like to call it. And you start using those, your marketing is going to work a lot better because there are $1 words, there are $10 words, and there are $100 words. And, as a marketer, it’s your job to almost be like an archeologist or a social science researcher, where you’re trying to discover that set of words that evoke the greatest primal and emotional responses in your customers. And then use those words when you’re communicating with them – not in an unethical or scammy way, but in a way where they really feel that you understand the gravity of the situation.
Dean: Have you had an experience, personally, that you’ve seen the difference in the emotional words like that? Was there something that kind of solidified that for you? What’s the lesson behind the lesson there?
Eben: Yeah. Some of my earliest marketing experiences drove this home for me. Probably, the most powerful word in marketing is the word “free,” as we all know. And most people stay away from that word, because they go, “Aw, I don’t want give away my thing for free,” or “That’s been overused.” Of course, it’s been overused, because it worked.
Joe: I want to come back to that, as you said, being overused, because we hear that about a bunch of different things. So, just make that a note, because I want to ask you about that.
Eben: Great. Dean, I think you know this story. When I first started trying to figure out how to get customers in real estate, I went to a real estate seminar, and the guy running the seminar was selling this book of advertisements and templates that you could buy. And you could kind of replace it with your own stuff. I took one of the ads in this book – I bought the book, it was a couple hundred bucks or something, which was a lot of money to me – and I went and ran an ad, which was like another couple hundred dollars in the real estate newspaper, and I thought it was really clever. It had a picture of a director’s chair, with a light shining on it, and the director’s chair was empty. And the headline underneath said, “Eben Pagan is far too busy, helping people buy and sell real estate, to pose for pictures.” And then, it had my name and my phone number underneath it.
Dean: Right. We’d better call Eben!
Eben: Exactly. So, I got exactly zero calls from people who wanted to buy and sell real estate, on that one. I got a couple of calls from my friends, who said, “I saw that ad, and it was great.”
Dean: Yeah, really.
Eben: So then, I went to another real estate seminar, with Joe Stumpf. That’s how you and I met. We eventually worked with him. He was teaching this thing called direct response marketing, which is where you run advertisements that offer a lot of value, look editorial, and have really compelling headlines and offers. So, that night, after that seminar, I really got it, and I went home, and I designed another ad. And I went and ran the ad in the same paper, same real estate paper, and spent about the same amount, a couple hundred bucks, a few hundred bucks. But instead of it talking about me and saying, “Eben Pagan is too busy to sell real estate,” the headline was something like, “Free report reveals expensive mistakes to avoid when buying or selling a home in Eugene, Oregon,” which is where I lived.
I remember when that ad came out, the secretary from my real estate office just started calling me over and over and over – I was at home – with people that were calling because they wanted that free report. The phone just rang off the hook. I realized the power of words like “free report reveals expensive mistakes, these kinds of things, when someone’s buying or selling a home and they’re making the biggest investment or the biggest sale of their life, that’s when they really don’t want to avoid expensive mistakes. And if they can get a free report that teaches them how to avoid these things, they’re going to go after it. That was my first impression with that stuff.
Dean: When you were telling that story about expensive ads and that director chair, that was using cleverness and humor, which is often what people try and do, use words to put like a clever spin on them, and be kind of tongue-in-cheek or think humor is going to motivate people. But, that reminded me of you and I working on a little ad for a guy who was selling these lofts in San Francisco. Do you remember this?
Eben: With Jack. Of course.
Dean: With the turtle. They were selling loft shells, and they were doing big, like half-page or quarter-page ads, maybe even full-page ads, in the San Francisco Chronicle, that had like an overhead view of a turtle, with a little arrow pointing to the turtle’s shell and pointing to the turtle, saying, “This is you,” and then the arrow pointing to the shell saying, “This is your new loft at,” whatever the name of the lofts were. And they were running these ads, and nothing was happening. Eben and I, we just sat, and we wordsmithed this little-classified ad that we carefully chose every word, to make it seem like one person, selling one loft. I think the ad, if I remember it correctly, was something like, “Soma,” which is south of Market, was the lead word. “really cool loft. You finish inside. Information on my voicemail,” and we left a phone number for the thing. And we made it sound like when they dialed the voicemail it just said, “Hi, this is Jack. If you’re calling about the loft, I’m going to be over there on Sunday afternoon, around 2:00. It’s on whatever the street, south of Market,” and he ran that little-classified ad and I forget how many people came through, but more than 20 people came through.
Eben: It was dozens.
Dean: Yeah, dozens of people, from just this one little classified, using words that people would use to describe what they’re looking for. If they’re looking for a loft south of Market, they want a really cool loft. So, we used those words. It is amazing. I’m constantly amazed at how words have such power.
Eben: What also, there, I think would be interesting for listeners is the other ad with the turtle, and “This is you, and this is your shell,” you could never figure out it was even about real estate. They had paid some fancy advertising agency, I think, tens of thousands of dollars to create the campaign. And then, they had to spend like whatever, $10,000 a time or something, that they ran it in the paper.
Dean: I was just going to say it was $10,000 just to run the ad. Yeah.
Eben: And no one paid any attention. And then, we ran a little classified that I think you spent, what was it, like $75 or something, and got dozens of people.
Eben: And then, the end of the story is really fun, because he came back to us and he said, “Yeah, but remember the developer saw the ad and didn’t like the image, so they stopped running the classified.” And they stayed with their…
Dean: That is amazing to me, but that’s what people are most excited about, is sometimes putting their image above the actual results.
Joe: Let me mention something, because I think it’s important. What we’re always talking about on I Love Marketing is direct response. We’ve not really talked too much about that, because the assumption is that people listening already know direct response. People that have been listening since the beginning totally get it. And Eben Pagan, me, you, we all use direct response marketing. And you guys were talking about the image advertising, and that people like putting their logos and stuff. And I want to have a conversation, first off, to define what direct response is, from Eben’s perspective. We’ve given ours on the I Love Marketing episodes many times, Dean. But basically, not only what is direct response, but why there is constantly an aversion to using it and always a default back to image advertising and things like that? I have my own perspectives on it, but I want to have a discussion with you guys about it.
So, Eben, what is direct response, because there are many different types of marketing? And when people say, “Marketing,” I cannot tell you how many people I come across that have business cards that say, “Director of marketing,” “Marketing Executive,” Vice President of Marketing,” “Chief Marketing Officer.” They don’t know jack shit about marketing. They couldn’t sell their way out of a paper bag – many. Not all, but many. So, basically, what is the type of marketing you use? Would you put it in the direct response category? How would you define it?
Eben: There are a couple philosophical approaches to marketing. One of them is to try and get as many people in the world to know who you are, as possible, thinking that if more people know who you are, then they’re just going to automatically decide to come and buy your stuff. Another approach is to actually take responsibility for connecting with someone who’s potentially a prospective client, and convincing them to make the decision to buy your stuff, and then actually following it all the way through, until they trade you their money for the value that you offer. That responsibility is the mindset behind direct response marketing. Direct response marketing is marketing that demands a response. In other words, at the end of the marketing piece, it asks the customer to take action, asks them to actually buy the thing. It doesn’t just say, “Here’s the name of our company. Come give us some money someday, if you’d like.
The reason why I think people avoid direct response marketing is because they avoided the thing that they would have needed to learn to be good at direct response marketing, which is sales. And the reason that they avoid sales is because they avoided something that would lead to sales success, and that is self-esteem and confidence, and the ability to ask people to do things and accept that they may say no, and accept that they may actually reject you. There’s kind of an unconscious human assumption that, if I’m rejected by another person, that’s the biggest sin that can happen. And I think this goes back to our primitive wiring, where if we were rejected by the group 100,000 years ago, we would die. We couldn’t survive on our own. So, we’re really sensitive to rejection. There’s some research that shows that rejection is processed in the brain, in same way that physical pain is processed. So, it actually triggers the same part of the brain that triggers physical pain. So, when you kind of put all this together, you realize, “Oh, so we don’t ask people to do things directly, because we don’t want to be rejected. We don’t go into sales because we never ask people to do things. And we don’t go into marketing because we never learned how to do sales.”
So, if you really want to go upstream, I think it’s important to start working on your self-esteem, learn how to ask people to do things, learn how to be persuasive, learn how to speak to groups. Overcome these primitive fears that you have, that just come up and block you. And realize that a lot of these beliefs that you have around asking people to do things, selling, marketing, they’re just beliefs that were inherited from culture and from other people, but they’re not real. They don’t actually mean very much. If you go out and learn how to sell professionally, what you learn is that professional sales is about asking the other person questions in a way that you really understand what their needs are, to the point where you might even understand their needs better than them. And then once you understand their needs, then you offer them solutions that meet their needs. It’s not about trying to talk people into buying what you’re selling. That changes the whole story. It changes the whole game.
Professional marketing is not about hawking a bunch of stuff people don’t need, it’s about understanding the needs of a large group of other people, and then creating a product or service that meets those needs very, very well; and then, learning how to communicate in a way that gets the prospective customer to pay attention, get their desire going, get them to make a decision, to take action, and to buy. And it stops being this unethical manipulation game, and it starts becoming almost what we might call a hyper-conscious, hyper-ethical game.
Joe: I like that.
Dean: It almost becomes ethical in the other direction. Dean Graziosi and I were just talking about this last week, that if you’ve got the solution, absolutely, and you have 100% certainty, and you know that you know that what you have is exactly what that person needs, it almost becomes like an ethical responsibility to make sure that they get it.
Dean: That’s a whole different belief than the rejection.
Joe: That was some interesting perspectives on that, and I like the distinction of professional marketing, because marketers totally get thrown in a category all the time. There’s such an adversity and an ignorance of selling and the importance of it, but also how to be effective at it. It’s amazing to me how marketers, if someone has a bad experience with marketing, and everyone has, immediately marketing becomes like a bad thing in so many people’s eyes. But that doesn’t happen with many other professions, like doctors. Or you have a bad experience with a lousy teacher or a manipulative teacher, or just not a good human being, you don’t immediately say, “Oh, teachers are terrible, and education sucks.” Why do you think marketing gets such a bad rap, Eben? Because, simply, people just don’t know how to do it, and it’s the whole what people are up on, they’re down on? Or do you think it’s something else?
Eben: You know, I’ve thought a lot about this. There are 2 things. Once someone learns how marketing works and the power of it, if they’re not kind of ethically developed, if they haven’t considered ethical implications in life, and so forth, they’re likely to go out and just use it to sell a lot of stuff. And you can do that. And a lot of marketing crosses over that line. So, a lot of people have seen that kind of marketing, or they’ve fallen prey to it, and then they just hate all marketing. It becomes generalized. I think another reason is because people don’t like people that are direct and that ask people to take action. They just don’t like the emotional pressure, so they demonize marketers. In other words, a lot of it’s legitimate. A lot of it, we’ve kind of done it to ourselves, as marketers. We’ve overused certain techniques.
Another thing, too, just to add to this conversation, when I teach marketing, one of the things that I teach is that every marketing project is essentially an ethical dilemma in and of itself. You can go too far with your marketing anywhere. Some people will look at some of the marketing that I do for dating advice, and it might say something like, “How to avoid getting rejected by a woman,” or “Why most men are rejected when they start a conversation with a woman.” They might say, “Wow, that’s just too much. You’re going overboard there. Do you have to be that sensational?” The reality is that to the man who’s socially awkward and nervous, and every time he sees an attractive woman his entire neurology lights up with fear and terror and all kinds of different negative emotions, that actually makes sense to him. It makes sense.
And frankly, when I look back at some of the marketing I’ve done in the past, as I grow my business, sometimes I look at my marketing, and I say, “You know, I went a little too far there. I promised a little bit too much. I went a little too far down the road of this ‘will fix this problem instantly and forever,’ or ‘it’s guaranteed to work every single time,’ that kind of thing.” And as I see those things, I attempt to smooth them out or update them, that kind of thing. So, I think you have to face yourself ethically, and you have to ask, “What do I really believe here, and what does the customer really need, and what’s their language?” And you have to be willing to take some leadership and say the thing that is the honest, direct thing to say, and also say the thing that works, whether or not it might meet with popular approval.
Joe: Well, like you said earlier, the word “free” is an example. People say it’s overused. And the reason I’m bringing this up is because I said I wanted to bring it up. I think it’s important, but it also has to do with what you’re saying. A lot of methods and a lot of techniques, they work. And I’ve said it a million times. I really wish that people would just buy things that I have to offer, that I think create tremendous value in other people’s lives, and other people that have things to sell, that are really good people, that have really good products and services, be it information products or brick-and-mortar business, or a service business, or whatever. And I really wish we didn’t have to write long sales letters and shoot videos, and use social proof, and guarantees, and compelling copy, and all of the different “methods,” “techniques,” “processes,” and “strategies” that we use.
However, in my experience, it takes enormous amounts of persuasion to get people to do the things they want to do, instantly, not including the things they don’t want to do. So, the reason we do all of this marketing is because you have to. If you don’t use effective marketing, in many cases, your business will never succeed. And we have saved, all of us, have saved people from going out of business. We have, in some cases, made people millionaires, and things along those lines, teaching them how to use effective direct response marketing and, obviously, other business strategies. So, my question for you is if someone doesn’t want to do this sort of stuff, what other options do they have, meaning if people don’t want to use ask people to take actions and learn marketing, what are their chances of success?
Eben: Honestly, Joe, some people are not comfortable with responsibility. Some people don’t have the self-esteem, the self-confidence. They don’t have the drive to have responsibility. And if you don’t want responsibility, it’s probably best, in that case, to find somebody who does, who is a really strong entrepreneur/businessperson, and go to work supporting them. That’s an honorable path. There’s actually nothing wrong with that. I think, in the past, I’ve kind of thought and said, “Well, if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur, then you’re kind of a loser.” I’ve realized now that being an entrepreneur is great. It’s really neat. And there are a lot of rewards. But it’s also a lot of responsibility, a lot of risk, and a lot of work, and there are a lot of things that you have to do that aren’t that pleasant.
So, if you don’t want to do that, if you don’t want responsibility, then go to work with someone who will take the responsibility, and try to support them and help them to be successful. Now, if you do want to take responsibility, then, what it comes down to, is having the confidence and, again, the self-esteem to be able to look another human being in the eye and say, “This is the decision that you should make. This is what’s best for you. And I stand behind it. I’m going to give you the product or service, and if it doesn’t meet your needs, I’ll give you your money back.” Again, this requires a certain level of kind of building up of one’s self-concept, seeing oneself strong and powerful. So, if you don’t want it, get a job with someone who does want this kind of responsibility. And if you can do it, I recommend that you do, because there’s growth and development available that you can’t get any other way.
Joe: Yep. I like it. I like it. Dean, let me ask him about the term “free.” One thing, Eben, that you have made very popular for a lot of people, is moving the free line. So, there are 2 things here. One, things like overused words. People are like, “Well, everyone says that.” Well, really, everyone doesn’t say that, and are simply using something that works because it does work. A lot of people see marketing techniques that are effective, and they’re like, “Well, everyone’s doing that.” Well, if people are in good shape because they’re jogging or because they’re lifting weights or whatever, it’s probably because it works. Most bodybuilding magazines are still going to have articles about curls, squats, deadlifts, bench press, because these are exercises that have been proven to work.
Dean: Those are so old!
Joe: Yeah, like, “Everyone’s using that. We need to go hang from the ceiling and have someone fire lampshades at us.” But people do that with marketing all the time. So, a couple of topics here. One is what you mentioned earlier, about over-used words. Do they still work? The whole thing, “Long copy doesn’t work anymore,” all the shit that you hear people say because they think technology is what makes something, versus principle-based things. So, I’d like to talk about that. And then, I want you to talk about moving the free line, which you’ll have to admit publicly that I taught you that. But that’s what I want to have you talk about. And I was joking about the admit publicly thing. You already know that. But it would not be a fun interview without dissing on you a little bit.
Eben: Yep. Yep.
Joe: And, begin.
Eben: All of us here know Joel Bower, right?
Joe: He’s a character.
Eben: He really is, and he’s awesome. And if you’re a public speaker or you sell from the stage, you’ve just got to go check out Joel’s stuff and see what he’s up to. Joel told the story about I think it was his tailor, who makes his suits for him. His tailor had a mentor, and the mentor taught him how to make suits. When his tailor was getting started, he was trying to be creative, early on. The mentor, who had been making Italian suits for 50 years, or however long it was, would come in and he would catch the mentee, he’d catch Junior trying to be creative and do things his own way. And he said to him, “First, you do it my way; then you do it your way.” It’s a great story; because what it points to is don’t try to reinvent the wheel yet. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel yet. There’s a lot of great, proven stuff that you can go learn and go apply it, try it out, figure out how it works, and then move on from there.
I think one of the great success stories of America and of the western world is the entrepreneurial success story: someone that started a company in their bedroom or their garage and made themselves into a millionaire. That’s a really wonderful kind of hero mythology that we have, and I really like that we have it. But there’s a downside to this, as well, and that is that the famous success stories that you hear about, there was usually a lot of luck and good timing involved. In other words, if Bill Gates had gone into making horse-drawn carriages instead of computer software, at the time when he started his business, he probably would have done okay. He may have even become a millionaire, and figured that out, because he’s really, really, really smart. But he wouldn’t have become a $50- or $100-billionaire. There’s a lot of luck. In other words, he got into the right thing at the right time. Most of the most successful people that I know will tell you that. They’ll say, “Well, there was a lot of luck involved, and I worked hard.”
So, if we try to just copy the people that got really lucky and, on their first try, hit it out of the park and made a billion dollars, we’re going to get this idea of, “Oh, I should just do my own thing right from the beginning.” I think that can be damaging, because if you don’t follow the path of all of the people that have already been successful, and learn what they’ve learned, I think you really cheat yourself. In a way, you rob yourself. One of my friends who’s a musician, he’s one of my favorite musicians in this band in Portland, Oregon, we were talking about music, and he said, “The Beatles really changed the game for music and for musicians. Before the Beatles, like in the ‘50’s, there were songwriters, and there were performers. What happened is the songwriter would write the song, and then the performers would come and perform.
There would be times when the same song would be on the chart in 2 or 3 places, performed by 2 or 3 different artists. And then the Beatles came along, and they wrote all of their own stuff, and they performed their own music, and that became the icon. You’re not cool unless you write your own songs and you perform your own music.” He said, “In a way, that was a real disservice to a lot of musicians because they don’t start out by performing the music of other people and then use that as the springboard.” So, I think we can do a lot better if we study what came before us. I got off on that track, and you were also talking about free.
Joe: I like what you had to say. There are proven recipes for people that just simply need to eat. I learned marketing because I needed to survive. I never learned marketing because I ever thought I’d ever one day teach it to people. That was all a byproduct of first having to be successful in a business – successful meaning not even making tons of money, just surviving, literally paying my bills. Through the study of marketing, it’s what got me out of that trap, and that’s why I have such a deep appreciation for it, because I really had a good positive mental attitude. I really provided a good product and service. I really cared about people, and I was still broke. I was broke because I simply didn’t know how to get people to hire me. I didn’t even know what marketing was.
So, everything you had to say is very, very important, I think, for everyone to hear, and I hope they really took it to heart. The other part was you started teaching, many years ago, moving the free line. Back in 1992, I came up with a free room of carpet cleaning. I started giving away a free room of carpet cleaning. It was in my headlines. It was in my ads; it was in my copy, it was on business cards. I would offer to do a free room of carpet cleaning, up to 200 square feet, and a carpet audit, which was the way that I packaged, instead of doing a quote or an estimate, which everyone else was doing. I came up with a thing called a carpet audit, and it worked really, really well. And because I was making a free offer, it was a very sort of risk-free thing. I really provided people e a great service. Now, you have done such a good job of not only giving away really valuable free stuff to people and how you’ve acquired many clients, but you’ve also taught this to thousands of other people on how effective it is. So, I’d like you to talk about that.
Eben: The idea of move the free line, just to summarize it, is now, with technology and with the costs of things dropping dramatically, we can afford to give more away in the industries that we all work in, where we teach, where we give seminars, lectures, audio programs, video programs, books. The information industry, this is particularly powerful, and it’s one of the fastest-growing industries around the world, right now. Ten years ago, if you wanted to give away a one-hour video to 1,000 people, and you wanted it to be high quality, that would probably cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 or something, because you’d have to shoot the video and have it edited on fancy machines, and then you’d have to have it mastered, and then have them duplicate it, and have them warehoused and packed and shipped and this kind of thing. Minimum of $25,000 to $50,000.
Now, if I want to give away a one-hour high-quality video to 1,000 people, I can open up my Macintosh computer, using the software that comes on the computer, or I can spend $50 or $100 for a really fancy piece of software, I can make a presentation I can have video of me, I can mix the whole thing together, I can upload it to a free video website, and I can give it away to 1,000 people for essentially free, for no money. Because this has been changing over time and most people haven’t really thought about this and the implications of it, what they don’t realize is now that we can give away a lot more, we should, because other people are, and because it’s the best way to build goodwill.
Claude Hopkins wrote, 100 years ago, in his books, he’s kind of the grandfather of modern marketing, he basically said that free samples are the most powerful marketing method. Because if someone can try out your product, they actually get to have the experience of what it’s like to go through it, then they’re going to go, “Oh, okay, this is good. I want some more of this.” With technology and with video and with audio, whether it’s giving them information or just showing them a video tour or giving them tips or advice, we can really give people valuable stuff.
So, people say, “Okay, what should I give away?” My advice is to give away your most valuable thing. Let’s say you’re a weight loss teacher or a health coach, and you want to create a video to give away to promote your business. What I would say is what’s the most valuable thing that you’ve ever learned? What’s the technique that, when someone uses it, it gets them results fastest, most predictably, most consistently, and gets people to just say, “Wow!” and then take that idea and build a product around it and give it away. What you have to overcome here is you have to overcome human psychology. You have to overcome the scarcity mindset that we’re born with, that helped us survive 100,000 years ago and a million years ago.
I have a friend that contacted me several years ago. He said, “Yeah, I saw that you were successful with your book there, and I’d like to write a book, and I’d like to start teaching some courses and things.” And he had done really well as a real estate investor. He said, “How should I start?” I said, “Well, I think you should start by taking your very best investment idea and creating a free report or a free video, and giving it away on your website, and giving it away in exchange for someone opting in.” And he said, “Well, I can’t do that.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “I would only teach that idea to people that paid me a lot of money.” I kind of just knew it was going to be hard for this guy to succeed in what he was trying to do because, to him, it was, “Well, this is my valuable idea. I’m only going to show this to people that give me thousands of dollars.” So, I say, “Could you imagine if pop music stars, if they said, “Okay, here’s my new album and it’s got 10 songs. I’m not going to let anyone hear the best song. In fact, I’m going to keep the top 3 songs, and I’m going to make it so that only people who buy the album can hear them.” Would anyone buy their album? What are you going to do? You’re going to launch the worst song on the radio? Of course not.
So, what the pop music star does is they take their best song, and they launch that one first. They launch the one that they think and the producers think is going to be the best one. People hear it, they say, “Oh, that’s a great song,” and then they go buy the album. That’s what moving the free line is about. It’s about taking your best stuff and giving it away, so that people will say, “Wow, this is a really great experience,” and then they’ll come buy what you’re selling.
Dean: You think about even the ability to deliver stuff, even what we’re doing right now, this podcast, this is 60 episodes. We’ve spent 60 hours talking about our very best marketing ideas, and tens of thousands of people, every week, listen to this. You think about even 10 years ago, what it would have taken to distribute this information to tens of thousands of people. There was no real way to do it, aside from sending everybody a CD.
Joe: Or being on the radio, but then they still couldn’t get it in real time. They couldn’t do it on their own. What we’re doing here, with I Love Marketing, is literally moving the free line. We’re giving away some of the very best marketing advice on the planet for free. And the people that resonate with it, a lot of them, hopefully, down the road, if they haven’t already, will give me money and keep it away from Dean Jackson. Eben, he doesn’t deserve it, and I think you kind of feel the same way. I was wanting to get your thoughts on that.
Eben: You know what, you’re going to have to ask me that again, because I was just laughing at you, more than with you, and I don’t know what you’re talking about right now.
Joe: First off, in your dating advice, one of the things that you suggest is being cocky and funny. Does that work in marketing, or on this podcast?
Eben: It works to make you more interested in me, but I think that’s the only real possible dynamic here. Intuitively, that’s the feeling I get. Dating advice, for example, cocky and funny is actually rooted in a lot of psychology. It’s not about just being an idiot or a jerk or goofing off. It’s actually about creating attraction. If you think about a socially-awkward man who’s never had success with a woman, what he’s probably going to do when he goes over and talks to a woman is try to be really nice and polite and not make any mistakes, and he’s going to be really self-conscious and twitchy and whatever.
The last thing that he’s going to do is be confident and crack jokes and just be really comfortable. So, cocky and funny stretches his mind and teaches him a new way to approach the situation, something he never would have intuitively come up with. And also something that, when done in the right way, can add personality and make things interesting and really create attraction. That’s for a dating situation. In my newsletters that I write over there in the dating advice, I actually am cocky and funny, and I found this through experimentation, it worked better and better and better, and men really liked it when I combined giving really high-quality advice, but also with a lot of personality.
What I recommend that you do, when you’re getting started with marketing, is study what works. Read David Ogilvy’s books. Read Claude Hopkins. Read some of the luminary marketing minds. Get your hands on some Jay Abraham material. Particularly, see if you can find a copy of his interview with Tony Robbins. That’s just a couple of hours of the best marketing stuff ever. I’ve listened to it dozens of times. If you can find it somewhere, definitely check it out. Take what you learn from these geniuses and go and use it as-is. Then, after you’ve gotten something working, then experiment with a little more personality or adding a little bit of humor, that kind of thing. In other words, first you do it my way, then you do it your way. Study the experts, do what they do, and then go and add your own little twist.
Joe: That’s really good advice. We need to wrap up here soon, don’t we, Dean?
Dean: Yeah, we’ve got some time. We’ve got about 7 or 8 minutes.
Joe: Okay, good, good, good. So, Eben, in order for people listening, they’ve got a lot of really good training with I Love Marketing. What is different today about how you market, versus in the past? There’s principle-based stuff, and then there’s new technology. How do you, as a marketer, handle all of the new forms of media, all of the different ways to communicate, without getting lost and consumed in the technology? One of the biggest inhibitors from people’s success with marketing is they place technology as more important that psychology. And I’ve never really met a great marketer that didn’t take the time to learn the psychological aspects of marketing and persuading human beings, which I don’t think you call yourself an Internet marketer, I think you just look at yourself as a marketer. What are your thoughts on marketing, as it relates to technology? And how does a guy like you make decisions on what you use, what you don’t use, what you pay attention to, what you don’t pay attention to?
Eben: That’s a good question. The thing about marketing is that the underlying psychology doesn’t change. In other words, the basic motivators of human beings don’t change. We want health. We want to avoid pain. We want to live longer. We want to find a mate. We want to avoid rejection. We want to be happy. We want to avoid feeling fear and anxiety. We want to learn. We want to develop. We want to make a difference. We want to lead. We want to solve our problems. There are these common denominators that run through a river of time, through all humans, and you need to learn those. That’s why it’s important to study psychology, behavior, motivation, and roll that up into sales and marketing. It’s really important to do that and learn about the things that don’t change.
On the other hand, reality, for humans, one of the things that’s different for us than it is for other animals is that we are the tool-making and technology-using creature. And what we’ve done, that other animals have not done, is we have created artificial environments that we live in, that are changing over time. First, we would create a little-thatched hut, and then we would create a little wooden house, and then we would create a skyscraper, and how we create space stations, and who knows what’s next. And we live in these environments.
But the living environment is changing and also, the cultural environment, or the environment of ideas, is changing. So, we live in essentially what you might call a semi-artificial reality that’s changing faster and faster. You can call it technology, if you want. You can call it computers; you can call it hardware and software. You can give it any name you want. But the reality is it’s now part of the environment that we live in, and the future is going to have more of it and not less. And if you want to succeed, I think it’s important to learn the cutting edge of whatever is happening and then apply the basic principles of marketing to it. You guys, right now, are not doing campfire chats about marketing in the Australian outback.
Dean: With the tribe.
Eben: With the tribe, exactly. You guys aren’t teaching marketing to natives in the South American jungle. You guys are speaking a modern language, English. You’re using modern recording methods. You’re using the Internet to get this out. All of this stuff is some of the most current stuff that we have, and you’re using the principles of marketing that have worked since we humans first evolved. I think you’ve got to get with what’s going on, on the cutting edge, and you’ve got to learn about marketing. And when you do that, then you find your opportunity. There are always new tools coming out. There are always new communication methods coming out. There are new ways to connect with other people, new ways to advertise, new ways to connect using these technological tools, and there are going to keep being new ways.
What humans do is we learn our one way, and then we get stuck in it, and when the new way comes out, we say, “Oh, I don’t need to learn that. My way works just fine.” There are still people that brag because they don’t have an Internet connection and they don’t use email, and that’s fine. But, at some point, they’re going to be so far behind that the language that they speak is not going to be able to connect to the cutting edge of humans. Just as one little last piece of advice here, in order to stay on the cutting edge, I think it’s important to try to stretch your taste and to keep going. In other words, if there’s a type of food you haven’t tried, go try it out. If there’s a type of music that has come out, and you go, “I don’t like that,” try listening to a little more until you find a song that you do like. If you’re weirded out by post-modern art, keep looking at it until you find a way in, until you can understand that, “Oh, now I see what’s going on here,” and you acquire a taste for it.
Try to stay on the leading edge of what’s happening and try to keep your tastes up to date, so that you can relate to other human beings. Because if you get too disconnected or too far away from them, then it’s hard to communicate with them and then it’s really hard to market to them.
Joe: That’s what I’m trying to say.
Dean: I think about that, because you really do a lot of that. You go off and do crazy new things all the time.
Joe: Yeah. I was just talking to Peter Diamandis about this yesterday. It’s about just continually exposing yourself to new experiences and new sorts of things, and that’s how you stay fresh, it’s how you stay excited, and it’s how you stay connected to other human beings. There’s lots of wisdom there. There’s more I could as Eben, of course.
Dean: We could go for 2 or 3 hours, there’s so much stuff. It was a densely-valuable look at the mind of a modern marketer. It’s beyond the mechanics of learning the marketing chops, and going even deeper and learning what’s actually the driver of all of this. Most marketers, if they are really learning and they’re on a curve, where they’re really getting into direct response, they’ll go back to Claude Hopkins, they’ll go back to Breakthrough Advertising, they’ll go back into the David Ogilvy, all of the grandfathers of direct marketing. But, really, one thing that Eben has done more than anybody is gone back to the ancestors of marketing, the cavemen, the thing of what actually drives it all. That’s been fascinating to watch.
Joe: Plus, he’s one of our few friends that spends most of his time watching the Discovery Channel, studying the mating habits of primates, and he’s all around kind of just a very weird dude.
Eben: It’s true.
Dean: You know what, Eben? Sometimes you used to send me links to videos and stuff that you were watching. I miss you doing that. I wish you’d do that again for me.
Eben: Yeah, I will do that.
Joe: He’s saying be a better friend, is what he’s trying to say to you, right now.
Dean: Let’s not get into that.
Eben: The stuff that I read and watch and I’m into these days is so bizarre, that I’m actually afraid to show it to most people, because I think they’ll think I’ve totally lost it. I will do that. You asked for it.
Joe: By the way, let me say this to all of the people listening. If you’ve never been exposed to Eben, both Dean and I know a lot of smart people, and I constantly tell the most important people that I know, because they ask me, “Who are the sharpest marketers that you know in the world?” Eben is usually, unless it’s a very specific category, Eben is usually always on that list, because he has read more books, studied more stuff, applied it. He’s not just a guy that understands it. He does it day in, day out. He’s built a very substantial-sized business. He’s trained tens of thousands of people in marketing, and millions in other categories. And, basically, he’s sharp as hell. If people want to learn from you, Eben, what is the best way for them to do that?
Eben: Well, we’re famous for our dating advice. If you’re a man and you just want to get the best stuff, go to our Double Your Dating website. Just go to DoubleYourDating.com. If you’re a woman, we’ve got a couple of websites. You can go to HaveTheRelationshipYouWant.com or CatchHimAndKeepHim.com. These were what I was up to when I first got online and started teaching. Over the last 5 years or so, I’ve been teaching business and we’ve got a lot of business courses – created dozens of them, in fact. We’ve got a website, right now, where you can watch some of our videos for free and get on my list, and that’s GetAltitude.com. Just go there and register for our list, look at some of our videos, look at some of the stuff that we offer. If you’re interested in our stuff, contact us, and we’d love to help you get some of our trainings.
Joe: Dean, anything else you want to say about this goofball?
Dean: I appreciate you coming on, Eben. I appreciate sharing everything with everybody. I think it’s valuable stuff.
Eben: I enjoy this, guys. Obviously, we’ve done these kinds of interviews in various contexts. Let’s do a follow-up sometime. Let’s take a topic and just dive into it. Whatever, email marketing or branding, or naming, whatever you want to talk about. Let’s do it again.
Joe: And Eben, one last thing. Yeah, for sure, I want to keep it going. I think there’s a lot we can share.
Dean: Why don’t you do it a little later?
Joe: Let’s keep it going right now. I wanted to say this while we’re still recording here. I did an interview with you on experts versus marketers, which I think fits really well with the discussion. Can you send me that link or send me that recording, and maybe we’ll add that onto this one? I think a lot of people would maybe like that.
Eben: Yeah, great. I’ll dig that one up and get it sent over to you.
Joe: You do that. And Dean, I want you to end this episode with singing or anything, however, you’d like to do that.
Dean: Da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da! How’s that?
Joe: Eben, you carry it on. Keep it going, Eben. This is like __ (69:11), where he’s putting people in interview states and put like rap at the end.
Eben: I’d like to do a little spontaneous verse here.
Joe: Eben, famous last words.
Eben: Let’s see. Famous last words.
Joe: It’s not famous last silence, but famous last words.
Dean: Give him, “It’s not you, it’s me. I don’t like you anymore.”
Eben: You know Joe, it’s not you, it’s me.
Joe: Alright. Everybody, thank you for listening to I Love Marketing. Tell all of your friends about it. Eben, have a great day. Dean, you’re a very, very nice man, and we will all talk to you soon, again, later, at some point. Goodbye.