Welcome to Web Wednesday!
For our very first official Web Wednesday, I want to go back to another first…
The very first issue of Breakthrough Marketing Secrets I ever published!
It was called “Sophisticated marketers only (Darth Vader with an ecommerce shopping cart).”
And it certainly qualifies as a “Best of.”
Here you go (slightly edited to improve my Star Wars references!)…
My second freelance copywriting client EVER was Ken McCarthy.
If you don’t know who Ken is, you’re missing out.
He was literally the first guy to hold an internet marketing seminar. Back in 1994 — just when Netscape came on the scene, and the visual internet was in its infancy.
He had Marc Andreessen there — the guy that created Netscape and the internet as we know it.
Along with all sorts of other Silicon Valley geniuses.
And all the way back in 1994 Ken was talking prophetically about things like marketing with video on the internet. The need for digital, interactive multimedia content. (And the death of the CD-ROM!)
Mind you — this was when web pages were one-step out of the text-only bulletin-board world.
Plus Ken called for the end of the middleman as we know him — and the dawn of a new era of direct contact and interaction with customers. Creating the “new” model of building a following online, and connecting and engaging directly with your followers.
And — his most important observation of all — he beat the pulpit on the fact that the internet was JUST a new medium. That the techniques that work in marketing in any other medium could be adapted and applied to this new technology and method of message delivery.
Ken also created the definition of the internet as “direct mail on glass.”
Emphasizing that the internet takes everything that’s good about direct mail — one-to-one contact, ability to generate a direct response, efficiency of delivering a selling message — and only makes it better.
Ken went on — in the early 2000s — to create one of the most important internet marketing training programs anywhere.
The System Seminar.
Most of the gurus of internet marketing today can trace their beginnings back to The System Seminar. Either they were students of Ken’s. Or they were students of Ken’s students.
Almost every major lesson taught in the internet marketing world today goes back to Ken. (He’s no longer hosting The System Seminar and now only speaks to a close-knit group of his most dedicated students.)
And it doesn’t matter what new turns the internet takes. Social. Mobile. Whatever.
Ken taught STRATEGIES and PRINCIPLES. Not tactics.
And so, his lessons are enduring.
And this is the big BUT.
I was talking to Ken a while back, and he was lamenting how he would always fall short.
You see, Ken operates from a place of fundamental integrity.
He teaches sophisticated internet marketing strategies and principles. And he teaches them for sophisticated marketers.
He doesn’t hype up the flavor of the day.
He doesn’t sell magic pills.
Sure, some things are simpler than others. And some will generate cash faster than others. But that’s not how Ken decides what to teach.
He finds out what works. The TRUTH about internet marketing strategies. And he shares the truth.
He’s like a friggin’ good Jedi. But what happens when a student without principle gets a hold of Ken’s good Jedi strategies and principles?
You get Darth Vader with an ecommerce shopping cart.
You get the corrupt, shady world of Internet Marketing today.
And Darth Vader — the bad Jedi, the Sith Lord — earns all the money he needs to build a Death Star.
While Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda live like hermits and paupers.
“It’s okay,” Ken told me. “I’ve already made all the money I ever need.”
He doesn’t need to be at the top of the money pyramid. (The good Jedi never needs to be.)
And he can be content going to his eventual grave knowing he played the long game. He taught honest, ethical marketing strategies and principals for sophisticated marketers. That he made a living doing good in the world.
He taught his students how to be a good Jedi.
But then he looks at the Sith Lords. The folks who took his strategies and principles and spun them into flavor of the day tactics…
The drug dealers pitching you a marketing magic pill…
And he sees how much money they make…
How high they fly…
The power they enjoy…
And sometimes wonders, “What if?”
But the good Jedi always remembers…
“Live by the lightsaber, die by the lightsaber.”
He watches as Sith after Sith dies a tragic death. Brought down by the dark forces that oh-so-temporarily lifted him up and gave him seemingly unlimited power. And the good Jedi goes back to teaching the enduring principles and strategies of effective marketing.
He goes back to doing the right thing.
Helping good, honest, ethical and sophisticated marketers who are in it for the long haul generate even better results… Creating more value for themselves and their clients and customers.
Like Ken, I’ve seen the dark side of the force. I’ve gotten up close and personal with more than one marketer who has gone to the dark side.
I’ve also had the fortune of working closely with more than one good Jedi. And understanding that when you use and trust the force, you’re playing the long game.
That the fortune will come. And when it comes, it stays.
In the marketing world, part of the decision is ALWAYS in who you speak to. Who you take on as students.
If you want the flavor of the day tactics and magic pills… If you want all the deadly power of the Sith, of Darth Vader…
You’re not welcome here.
If you want to learn the ways of the force… And use them for good…
If you’re willing to put in the work and effort… And sometimes make the hard decisions required…
If you want to be a good Jedi…
If you’re a sophisticated marketer looking for strategies and principles that work…
You’re always welcome here.
May the force be with you,
In the time since I wrote this, I discovered Ken is coming out one more time to speak at The Titans of Direct Response.
I’m looking forward to seeing him there. It may be one of the last seminars or events Ken ever speaks at, now that he’s effectively retired from the teaching business. One for the history books.
Some of you have already registered. I look forward to seeing you there. If you haven’t registered yet — and you’re a serious student of direct response — I encourage you to do everything you can to get there.
(The VIP spots sold out yesterday — almost 3 full months before the event. There are still plenty of regular registrations, but you don’t want to wait on those either.)
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets