Sleazy Sales & Why Your Neighbours Make You Poor

March 2, 2009

Sleazy Sales

Does the idea of using traditional sleazy online sales pages make your stomach churn? You’re a nice person right? And you’ve got a successful blog and hundreds of social networking contacts. So couldn’t you just skip the sensational sales copy and ask folk who know and trust you to buy your stuff – because you’re nice?

If Your Friends & Neighbours Were Your Only Customers – You’d Probably Starve

I’m not saying folk you know will never buy a thing off you. I’ve sold stuff to online and offline friends. But if I relied on them as my only customers, my family would have starved years ago. It’s not like they think you suck. There’s a whole bunch of reasons why they won’t buy from you including these ones:

  • They’re simply not in the market for what you’re offering.
  • They’re skint.

  • They think you should give them it free or cheap, because they know you.

  • They think you’re making a fortune and they begrudge adding to your wealth.

  • They find it difficult to accept that someone they know is great at what they do.

  • They think you suck.

But don’t let all that put you off trying to sell your stuff. Even Jesus struggled to get folk from his own village to buy into him and he wasn’t charging a penny for the miracles he performed. But he still found plenty other people who wanted what he was offering. And you can too.

Just make sure you actually look for those people. If your regular readers, commenters and visitors from social networking sites are the only visitors to your blog – you need to learn SEO now. Stop promising yourself you’ll get round to it and just DO IT. The cheapest and easiest way to learn SEO is SEO School.

What If You Don’t Want Strangers To Think You’re Sleazy?

I’m not saying you need to resort to some of those sleazy online sales techniques that have put you off trying to flog your stuff online. The truly naff stuff like yellow highlighting, dodgy earning reports and tacky pictures can be avoided. But some decent sales copy is guaranteed to help you sell more.

If you suck at copywriting, hire someone like Brad Shorr. And if you can’t afford to hire someone learn how to do it youself. Ultimate Supertip by Harvey Segal will give you some amazing ideas and it’s free.

You don’t need to lie or bullshit – and you shouldn’t. Just write copy that appeals to folk who want what you’re selling and show them the benefits of using it. Remember – what they really want to know, is how your product will improve their life. And if it has improved your life too – make sure you tell them about it.

But Isn’t It Wrong To Use Manipulative Words?

Using particular words encourages people to buy from you, including – You, Opportunity, Effortless, Secret, How To, Unique, Simple. If you do a Google search, you’ll find a whole heap words that are especially powerful in copywriting.

Some people feel that the use of particular words is manipulative. I would describe them as persuasive. If your sales page is written to attract people who want exactly what you are offering. And you have been clear about the benefits of using your product or service. And it’s a good product or service, there’s nothing wrong with persuading people to buy it.

What About Deadlines – Aren’t They The Lowest Of The Low?

If you’ve bought anything online before – you’ve probably seen deadlines. You know the kind of thing: Buy at the introductory price by INSERT DATE HERE. And I know they piss some people off – but they work.

You don’t need to have an introductory price deadline, if you don’t want to. You can add value to what you’re selling by including additional stuff for free, if your customer buys by a certain date.

The only one I would be inclined to avoid is the one that says “This price is only available until midnight on (insert todays date here)”. Most people aren’t that stupid and they know that if they come back to your website the following day, your offer will still be there.

What If You Try All This & You Don’t Make Any Sales?

You can’t guarantee that everything you try will work. And if you write a sales page on your website and nobody buys – don’t take it as a sign that you should switch to some lame “buy from me – you know I’m nice” spiel.

If it doesn’t work – try again. Practise it and improve it until you’re getting the results you want. And if you’re still struggling – get someone else to do it for you.

If you have a blog and you want to sell your stuff on there – subscribe in a reader now, to discover why people don’t want to buy from you.

Does the thought of promoting your own products and services online make your stomach churn? Do you worry that some of your marketing activities will be seen as sleazy? Please share in the comments section.

Image Credits

Sleazy Marketing by mattmangum

Related Reading On This Site

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47 Brilliant Blog Marketing Resources

Related Reading On Other Websites

Bloggers Paradise – Hilarious song by Hunter Nuttall about bloggers struggling to make money online.
How To Write A Website – A really useful series by Brad Shorr and Karen Swim.
Is Your Tribe Holding You Down? – Sonia swim discusses the differences between Social Media Influencers and Internet Marketers.
Interview With A Bootleg Video Broker – Most of us know that it’s wrong to sell pirate videos. But this interview still makes hilarious reading.

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23 Responses to “Sleazy Sales & Why Your Neighbours Make You Poor”

  1. Jason Cohen on March 2nd, 2009 6:18 pm

    Wow, your “reasons why friends/family won’t buy” are awesome. It’s so true but I was never able to articulate it like that.

    Things like a “call to action” or other deadlines or pressure is only sleazy if you make it so. When it’s said only because it’s a “device,” it’s bad. But it’s easy to say it nicely.

    For example, you can have a limited-time offer because it’s a “recession offer.” Clearly that won’t go on forever, and you can bill it as “We know everyone is struggling, so this is our little way of helping out.” Of course that can’t continue forever!

    Jason Cohen’s last blog post..LinksFor.Us: Track links to your blog for free

  2. Brad Shorr on March 2nd, 2009 6:37 pm

    Hi Cath, Thanks for the plugs! I owe you one … OK, more than one. For some people, persuasive is synonymous with sleazy. Not so! If you believe in your product or service, what’s wrong with persuading people to buy it using every legitimate and effective means at your disposal? You have to trust your gut. If your promotional efforts are making you feel sleazy, could be you’re taking the wrong approach for you and your market.

    Brad Shorr’s last blog post..7-1/2 Reasons Why I Won’t Follow Someone on Twitter

  3. Mike on March 2nd, 2009 7:02 pm

    Topical for me as I have been agonizing over a sales letter for a book I will be selling on my travel blog. Like you, I really hate with a passion those endlessly long, yellow highlighted, the price will double in a week, type sales letters. If I’m brave enough I’m going to try a simple one. Here’s the book, these are the features, these are the benefits that relate to you – BUY IT! Will let you know how it goes.

    Mike’s last blog post..Maintaining Motivation in the Middle Phase of Blogging

  4. Betsy Wuebker on March 2nd, 2009 7:20 pm

    Hi Cath – It’s amazing how we accept negative messages from friends and family members as gospel when we wouldn’t tolerate or give them a second thought from people we don’t know. As you say, the reasons for the negativity are myriad, and more often routed in the other person not ourselves.

    A recent example: Pete and I have affiliated with a referral-based travel opportunity – it’s really cool. Ridiculously low start-up cost, online business in a box, positive and enthusiastic people, everything one needs to get going and doing.

    It would be a perfect opportunity for a friend of mine who has been out of work since June. She declined. Why? Earning money at this venture might “jeopardize her unemployment” payments. W.T.F.?!?! Umm, yeah, jeopardizing your unemployment status is sort. of . the. idea! A family member thought we’d be better off looking for a job, but passively-aggressively added that she hoped it worked out for us. Ummm, thanks.

    It is very hard to deal with people’s disapproval, but it is harder to accept unreasonable reasoning. You just have to keep moving. Your suggestion to tweak and keep trying is right on.

    Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..MORE PHOTOGRAPHY GIGS LIKE THIS ANYTIME

  5. cathlawson on March 2nd, 2009 7:25 pm

    Hi Jason – I guess I’m just used to folk I know not buying, or wanting something free or cheap.

    Agreed – you’ve got to give someone a reason to want to buy now – not just feel like the deadline is a device to pressurise them.

    Hi Brad – you’re welcome – I don’t keep count. I hear what you say about trusting your gut. Sometimes, I wonder if folk who are not confident about selling there stuff, are worried deep down – that there product just isn’t good enough.

    Hi Mike – I hate the yellow – I used to use it excessively. But I think deadlines are fine, so long as they’re realistic. A week and a price increase is probably fine for a book.

    But if you’re selling something that requires thousands of dollars investment – a deadline like that will put people off.

    Another danger is making the “real price” of your product, the offer price, then saying it will double. If folk see it as only being worth the offer price – nobody will buy it after the price increase. So then, you’re setting yourself a deadline to sell X amounts of your product before a certain date.

    Good look with your book. At least you know it’s not the end of the world if your first letter doesn’t work.

  6. cathlawson on March 2nd, 2009 7:32 pm

    Hi Betsy – Congratulations. It sounds like a great opportunity. I hope you will be able to get me some good deals. I looked into those type of travel business a while ago and it seems a lot easier to become involved in the travel industry that way. Going it alone, it seems you need licences and a whole heap of bond money.

    I spoke to an ex Rainbow franchisee who had joined a global travel franchise and they seem to be doing really well and much happier too.

    Your friend sounds crazy – I would hate to rely on the government to provide me with money, instead of earning it myself.

    It sucks when friends and family try to put down everything you do. I used to get that to the point where I’ve avoided and even stopped speaking to certain people.

  7. Melissa Donovan on March 2nd, 2009 10:02 pm

    I love SEO School and it definitely works! I do have trouble with sales pages that are over the top. Give me a good, valuable product and show me how it will benefit me, then I’ll buy. I use that perspective as a seller too.

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Ten Tips for Better Online Productivity

  8. James Chartrand - Men with Pens on March 2nd, 2009 11:05 pm

    Hehehe… “If you suck at writing, marketing and sales, hire Men with Pens. Because they don’t.”

    Can I make that my new tagline?

    I’m with you on your post. Sleazy is as sleazy does – the point being that you can sell without looking like trash, if trash isn’t your thing (and for many people, it is. And that’s okay.). If you run around screaming, “Sales are sleazy!”, then thank you, because I will definitely take the customers that you refuse to pay attention to.

    I know it’s tough for some people to uphold their values and market effectively, but I’m here to say it can be done, and it can be done well, with integrity and with confidence.

    No sleaze required.

    James Chartrand – Men with Pens’s last blog post..Sticky Business Contest Winners: Congrats!

  9. Ribbon on March 3rd, 2009 1:14 am

    Great post!
    If you wanna take a break and be a comic book super hero come over for a visit and have some fun.

    best wishes :-) Ribbon

    Ribbon’s last blog post..My Hero

  10. Patricia on March 3rd, 2009 2:35 am

    I am not really selling anything yet…I just write…

    I did sell Girl Scout cookies – all that I was required to
    I did sell make up in college – we were isolated but broke, so business gave me pocket money – this was good.
    I worked 14 years selling vitamins and healthy cleaning and wellness products and had 150 folks enrolled but still only made the minimum because no one would enroll people even to just pay for their products. I now make $120 a month from my customers who truly believe in the products and don’t think they are expensive at all for the health benefits – especially for their children. My co-worker has 68 people enrolled she makes $5,000 a month because they all enrolled 8 people.
    My family would not buy from me because they said that would ruin relationships…
    I am taking a course now about my relationship with money…
    I am one of the top counselors, I think on the planet, but could not get health insurers to pay for therapy and treatments….I could only ask for donations….I saw children for free…because no one was advocating for them….Through fund raising I got $500 a month for several years…
    My good friend calls me a volunteer Professional…
    I do wish I had some money of my own….so I am working on that

    Patricia’s last blog post..Sunday Dinner

  11. Vered - MomGrind on March 3rd, 2009 5:13 am

    Yes, yes, YES!

    I think I read it a while ago on Grizz’s blog (whom I found through Monika). He clearly differentiated between the “faceless” Google traffic – the ones he’s selling too – and he’s subscribers.

    Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Pita Bread Recipe: Homemade, Soft and Fabulous

  12. wilhb81 on March 3rd, 2009 5:45 am

    Thank goodness that my customers are not only coming from my best friends, colleagues and neighbors. If it did, then I’ll probably starve to dead long time ago, Cath!

    wilhb81′s last blog post..Business one-liners 40

  13. cathlawson on March 3rd, 2009 7:34 am

    Hi Melissa – I’m glad SEO school is working for you. Almost every time I mention SEO on here, people tell me it’s something they’ll get round to learning. I wish they would just do it NOW.

    People have different ideas on what is OTT and for some it is very little.

    Hi James – That’s a pretty good tagline. I don’t know why some people think sales are sleazy. I don’t – I just thought it was a good title. But a lot of people are uncomfortable with selling their own stuff.

    I do wonder if some of them are not confident enough about what they’re selling. I think that’s probably true of many who are selling their own product or service. But I’m going to talk about that in another post.

    Hi Ribbon – sounds interesting.

    Hi Patricia – It sounds like you just recruited the wrong people. I have no experience in network marketing at all. But you can get a lot of help and advice over at

    Having said that, after 15 years – you might be better using all that knowledge to help you make money doing something else.

    Hi Vered – I read that too. And I also found Grizz through Monika. He really seems to know what he’s talking about. Whenever I have had a traffic spike fron SU or Digg – I haven’t made more money. Some subscribers buy stuff but it’s a v small percentage.

    Hi Wilhb – It’s so true though. You do get the odd ones who are v supportive and will buy from you a lot. But those ones are few and far between.

  14. Davina on March 3rd, 2009 7:41 am

    Hi Cath.
    I do believe what you say about neighbours and friends — absolutely. And I agree about working at it until you find what works best. Sometimes it just takes time.

    When I first started blogging it was because I enjoyed writing. Then I decided that I’d better get my act in gear and monetize my blog and start to promote my business. It does not feel comfortable plugging my business to the readers because I consider them more as friends than customers. But you never know who is reading and not commenting — they could be the next customer in line.

    Davina’s last blog post..Take This To Heart

  15. cathlawson on March 3rd, 2009 8:25 am

    Hi Davina – I guess that’s another thing that makes folk feel uncomfortable. Suddenly they feel like they’re trying to sell stuff to folk who they consider to be friends.

    And because blogs are conversational – it’s easy to forget about the silent reader. But if you constantly go after those readers by using SEO and other marketing methods to attract them to your blog, it will be easier to remember them.

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  17. Christine Gallagher on March 5th, 2009 7:37 pm

    Great tips–I also second your recommendation of SEO School which I also own.

    Your list of reasons regarding neighbors and friends is spot on. And it is always worth reminding people that it is about showing people benefits, benefits, benefits.

    I do think there is a fine line between sleazy and effective non-sleazy marketing. You’ve captured the essence here.

    Christine Gallagher’s last blog post..Recession Marketing: Communicating Value is Even More Crucial Now

  18. cathlawson on March 6th, 2009 8:49 am

    Hi Christine – Thank you. It’s great that SEO School is helping you. I think it makes SEO much easier to understand for a lot of people and it doesn’t cost a small fortune either.

    So many people can’t seem to get their head round “benefits”. I think they need to look at their product through the eyes of the customer and ask themselves what it can actually do for them.

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  20. Hunter Nuttall on December 18th, 2009 12:28 pm

    WordPress has done a fantastic job of informing me of the trackback 9 1/2 months later! Anyway, thanks for the link!

    Some people are naturally salesy, most people are naturally unsalesy, but the key is to find the middle ground. It’s not easy to find it, but being persuasive without being manipulative is where you want to be.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..Personal Development For Polymaths

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