Category Archives: Marketing Ideas

We Don’t Shoot Elephants – HostGator Jumps on an Opportunity

A few weeks back, news hit the internet that Bob Parsons, founder of had shot an elephant in Africa and was apparently quite proud of the fact. Stepping aside from whether or not that was right or wrong or not, I will say that it created something of a media storm on the internet, and TV as well I think.

They say that all publicity is good publicity, and I guess that must be what Bob is working off here.

Today though I got a little email from HostGator (their monthly newsletter) and in it they took the opportunity to mention Bob’s elephant shooting antics, complete with a link to the video where he is interviewed about this.

They also included this fun little banner:

HostGator Loves Elephants

I’ve got a couple of HostGator reseller accounts where I host most of my websites, and I think they’re great. I also use Godaddy nearly exclusively as my domain registrar, and they’ve been great too. (those are both affiliate links)

The point of today’s post though is taking advantage of current events… exactly how HostGator has done in this instance. They’ve done a great job of poking some further fun at their main competitor, and apparently are cleaning up a bit in the process.

What’s going on in your niche, and are you taking advantage of the big (or little!) newsmakers as an opportunity to remind people of your products and services?

Can’t think of an example? I’ve done it right here… taking some news as an opportunity to slide in my affiliate links. Keep your eyes open, there’s always SOMETHING going on that you can latch onto as a reason to promote.

The Riches in the Niches

Well, at the risk of turning this infrequently-updated blog into a series of Dilbert re-runs, I hereby offer yet another:

The marketing thought of the day is this:

Start in the niches, but do so strategically, and over time you can grow to dominate a market. Identify the keywords that you want to control, and start with PPC to test them out, then start developing web properties to rank organically on those terms. Over time, you add more and more properties until you’re truly dominating the term.

Rinse, repeat.

Take another term in your market and do the same.

The trick here is to look at a niche as being basically a single keyword or a very small subset of keywords. We’re not talking about “weight loss” as being your niche! Forget it. You’ve got to go WAY deeper than that.

I’m not going to lay it all out for you here, because that would take a lot of time, and frankly, it should be a product. :)

But I hope you get my drift here…

Happy Friday.

The Importance of An Upsell

Back in November I released my first product in my new niche. In December I released the second one. Finally, in mid-January, I made the second one an upsell to the first.

The reason I didn’t get around to doing this right away was quite simple. It was on the list, and clearly not of high enough priority.

You’ve heard all the gurus say it before, but you need an upsell!

It’s quite simple. A percentage of people will purchase it, and if done right, the others won’t mind at all.

Well, I knew all that as theory, but when I finally put the upsell in place, I figured I would be lucky to pull in a 10% conversion rate for the upsell. I gave them a bit of a deal – $10 off the regular price of the second product.

So I installed the upsell late one afternoon, just before heading to Mexico, and let ‘er rip.

My upsell process consisted of a 2 minute video, and probably one paragraph, and that was it. How can that do justice to a full on product?

Well, I’ll let you in on a secret. That upsell, pathetic sales process and all, has converted at over 30% consistently since I put it there. In fact, right now, its north of 40%.

And I haven’t even done anything to optimize that page, make it pretty, or anything! It actually is a bit ugly.

Now the truly ironic thing is that the upsell is converting far better than the actual salespage of that product. The one where I’ve got an opt in page, a sales page, a sales video, a launch style blog with good free content, an autoresponder followup…. the works!

The Guarantor site isn’t converting very well… yet. The upsell? Where I give them hardly anything to go on except for my word that the two products go well together? Yeah, that sucker is performing!

So if you haven’t decided yet whether or not you need an upsell, let me make that decision for you right now. YES.

If you don’t have one created, you can use PLR, or just create another complimentary product that could work. It doesn’t have to be better than the first product, the main thing is that you’re able to raise the overall average transaction value. Great if you can have a $27 front product and $97 backend, but even if your upsell is only $10, if a percentage take you up on it, you’re making more moola.

Marketing Lessons from a Food Court


Whenever I travel to a place called “Whale Watching San Diego” I enjoy looking for new and innovative examples of marketing. Planning a trip to the United States and need to hire a car? makes it easy and affordable to reserve a rental car. To be honest, sometimes I emerge from my cave so rarely (feels like anyways) that the main stream pop culture and the marketing that goes with it is often new (ish) to me.

Which often provides me with interesting observations.

Anyhow, I found myself last night in a mall near Seattle (on my way to Mexico.. oh yeah!), grabbing some food with some friends at the food court. It was about 5:30 Friday evening, and the food court was nearly empty.

We wandered around looking for food, past all kinds of restaurants with nobody in line.

Then out of the blue, there’s this little guy in a big red chef’s hat calling us over and offering us a free sample of Teriyaki chicken on a toothpick. “Only $5.69 for a meal!” he told me.

Now you find me one red-blooded male who’s in the process of looking for food who will turn down a nice juicy chunk of hot Teriyaki chicken that’s being waved in his face, and I’ll show you a race of jungle pygmies that walks around on their hands, using their feet only for basket weaving.

Of course I tasted the chicken, and it was marvelous.

Mustering up supreme amounts of willpower, I pulled myself away from the delicious chicken, forcing myself to make a rational evaluation of ALL my options. I was immediately aware of the power of this form of marketing, and though my marketer’s brain loved it, I still wanted to be sure I was making the best choice!

So we walked around, and around, and strangely, I noticed that the more distance I put between myself and the chicken, the easier it was to contemplate eating something else. All the same, the chicken was now the the gold standard, and everything else was being evaluated against the savory flavor still lingering in my mouth. And, it was being evaluated against the price – a rather tempting under 6 bucks for a meal. Most of the other meals were 8 to 10 dollars, thus seeming to be in a different class.

Despite my wanderings, in the end the known quantity won out over the wild cards, and I opted to go back for the chicken. Partly because of price, and partly because I already knew I would like it.

I hopped into line, grabbing an extra sample on the way in 😉

As I sat in line I contemplated their marketing a bit further. Their lineup was 2 rows deep… a total of 25 people in line at the moment I arrived. I had a quick look around. There was a pizza place on the right, with not a soul in line, but tons of pizza sitting there in the warmer. Every now and then someone wandered by and inquired about the price or something.

On the left, there was a Mexican place with about 4 people in line for burritos.

That was the same story all around the food court. In fact, if you added up everyone currently in line, in the entire food court, you’d probably have about 50 leads at any one time. The line I was in had a full 50% of those.

Alright, so I’m sitting there in line. The staff were all hopping… efficient and really giving it all they had. Yelling at each other, chopping stuff, and having a good time – generally looking like they were working hard for the their money. I looked again at the menu… yeah, the chicken looked good. Then I noticed you could substitute noodles for rice, for only 50 cents. Hmm.. I like noodles. Then I noticed just before the till a nice big glossy picture of Teriyaki chicken, and a sign that said “double meat for 99 cents”. Hmm… that sounds good! And then I noticed there were spring rolls as well….

Plus, the meals didn’t come with a drink… so most people in line were buying a drink as well. I skipped that one, but as I looked, nearly every single order (7 out of the 8 that I counted) got the little green toothpick in their carton that indicated double meat. I figure the average order came close to $10, with a drink.

Even though there were 25 people in my line, it moved through pretty quickly, due to the efficiency of their system. I didn’t have to wait to pay, to order, or anything – that was all done well before I ever got to the till. The girl managing the till was taking orders 4-5 people in advance, getting them ordered, prepped and paid before they ever got to the till.

So… What Can We Learn?

A few things stuck out to me from this experience, and I think they’re worth mentioning. First…

The FREE Offer
These guys were out there full time, giving away free food (extremely tasty too) to draw people into their line. They were the only place doing that… in fact most of the other shops looked like you might need to wake up somebody to take your order.

It struck me that all those other shops were seemingly apathetic about their state of affairs. I don’t know if they just never put two and two together, but to me it was obvious. You get someone in with free food, they get that taste in their out, and typically they’re going to want more. Why rock the boat? Go with what you know. Plus, now you feel a slight indebtedness to these guys, as they’ve been so kind as to give you something, asking nothing in return. (Read Predictably Irrational sometime for more on this)

So did they think that THEIR food wasn’t suitable for a toothpick delivery system? I’m sure you could cut up a pizza and do that with toothpicks. I’m not sure how you’d do that with a burrito – though they sell meat too, so why not do the exact same thing? The fast food greasy burger place could offer chicken nuggets or something, or parts of a chicken cutlet. The fish and chips place… chunks of fish. If they really put their mind to it, there would be way. However, nobody did.

I guess this is a good example of ‘moving the free line’ and adapting that into a retail / service environment. Can we do this online? Of course. Offer a free report, or an ebook, or a something.

The LOW initial price & UPSELL
Another thing that stood out to me was the low price of the offer. $5.69. Walking around that food court, it was difficult to find anything else that low. Does that mean these guys were undercutting on price?

Not at all. As I mentioned, I would estimate the average order was much closer to $10 because of the ingenious little upsets. So they definitely weren’t giving up much revenue, even though they came across as the cheapest option out there.

Think we can do this online? You bet. If you’ve got a product, you better have an upsell. The more relevant the better – i.e. double your meat is a terrific upset. What can you do in your market that is similar?

There’s something about crowds that draws people – subconsciously I guess we’re social beings, and expect that most of the time, most of the people are right. So… why buck the trend? I hopped in that line despite it being more than 4 times as long as any other lineup in the place, and it remained full the entire time I was in line.

How to take this online? The more comments on your blog, or on your site, or wherever, the more people see that as social proof. Testimonials, success stories… there are lots of ways to create social proof and the feeling of a crowd environment.

As marketers, it is our DUTY to watch & learn what people IN OTHER INDUSTRIES are doing to get ahead, and then adapt that for our own market.

There were probably 15 businesses in that food court, and only 1 took the initiative to do something interesting to drum up some business. I can pretty well guarantee you this wasn’t the first time they’ve done it either – so all those other businesses have had opportunity to watch & learn. Have they learned? Nope.

I think that will be true for nearly any market. You’ll always have tons of people in a market, but if you can be unique, exciting, innovative, or provide a different twist on something – chances are even if your competition notices, they won’t follow you.

And over time, they’ll be scratching their heads, still wondering why the heck you’re doing so much more business than they are.

Isn’t it a weird world that we live in?

Your Marketing Strategy

Ever wondered how your marketing strategy could benefit from spaghetti sauce? If you have, please imagine me giving you a very strange look right now.

If not, at least we’re starting on the same page here. The other day I came across a video on YouTube (if the suspense is killing you already, it’s at the end of this post) that talks about the $600 million lesson learned by Prego. Yes, that’s $600 million.

Now what lesson can we as internet marketers and product owners learn from the food industry?

It’s a phrase you’ve heard before – the riches are in the niches. However, I’m going to suggest putting a new spin on the riches in niches approach. Typically when I’ve heard that used, it is in the context of picking a market to go into. Pick one that is specialized enough, appear relevant enough, and there’s money to be made.

But what if you’ve already got a product? Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’ve got an ebook that teaches business owners how to use the power of email marketing to their advantage. Ok, so you’ve picked a niche.

But have you? Can you specialize further? How about specializing for restaurant owners? How about going even deeper and specializing in cafe style restaurants? Could you then go even further and specialize for sushi cafe’s? I think you’re starting to see that you can really drill down very deep when you’re picking a niche.

However, everything I’ve said so far is fairly common, right?

Ok, so you’ve got this ebook, but now why not use if for multiple niches, instead of just one? Chances are, 98% of it is going to be the exact same, no matter what business you’re in. Did you know that humans share 98% of the same DNA as chimpanzees? That doesn’t mean anything about whether or not we’re related; it merely shows the amazing commonality of the basic systems required for life. I’ve heard we share 60% of our DNA with bananas.

The fact is, regardless of your business, it takes the same set of steps to install an autoresponder form on your website. Likewise, setting up the autoresponder is going to follow the same sequence.

So now if you take the 2% of your ebook and customize it, specifically for sushi cafe owners, all of a sudden your book goes from being just one of the ones on the shelf to being the only book that shouts out their name, right off the shelf. By the very topic of the book you’ve identified your target market. If you owned a sushi shop, and you were looking for this information, which ebook would you buy? The one that is generalized, or the one that is specialized to your exact requirements? I think the answer is clear.

So what’s stopping you from creating a dozen of these ebooks? 98% of their DNA will remain exactly the same, and the 2% will be customized to a particular niche. You can now be super-relevant to a dozen niches, instead of somewhat relevant to many. Create one for electrical contractors, fence builders, auto repair shops, sushi cafes, clothing stores, car washes, etc!

Do you see the power of this?

While that thought is percolating through your head, take a few minutes and watch this video clip. I’d love to hear your comments on it afterward.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Malcolm Gladwell.

What is one takeaway you got from this movie? How can you apply it to your business? Please leave a comment and let us know!