This happens to me with some regularity:
A person emails to criticize something I have produced — often a
book, ebook, info product, or one of my landing pages or web
Sometimes they are nice … but more often, a bit snarky.
And wouldn’t you know it, almost all of these emails end the same
way: “Hire ME to fix it for you!”
This doesn’t work, for 3 reasons.
First, you don’t start off any business relationship by insulting
the potential client or customer.
After all, client you are insulting may have done the work you
are saying sucks — not something he is likely to take kindly too.
Second, the person emailing me has only criticized. But they have
not presented a single shred of evidence that they are qualified
to fix it and can improve results.
Third, they think you are unaware of the problem, and that they
are somehow doing you a service by bringing it to your attention.
What they do not realize is: we already know about the problem.
We just haven’t done anything about it either because (a) we
haven’t had time, and it is a relatively low priority or (b) we
don’t agree with them that it is in fact a problem.
And not because we are stupid, lazy, unskilled, or unaware.
For instance, former subscriber (I unsubscribed her) PZ wrote:
“Last week I purchased Writing Brochures for Fun and Profit
ebook. Please issue a credit to my Paypal account.
“I’m more than disappointed, this just feels like a rip-off.
“While some of the ideas are still good, referencing mainframes,
VCRs, and tape reels is not only ridiculous it’s going to send
younger readers to Google.
“Below is a copy of my receipt, and screenshots of a couple of
the most absurd pages.
And of course, PZ moves in for the close:
“If you are interested in having this and other materials
updated, please do get in touch. I do a lot of editing and
updating to repurpose old material.”
I immediately wrote back:
“Why would I want to hire you? I can’t think of a single reason.
“We are going to refund your money, unsubscribe you, and block
you from our shopping cart and our email inbox.
“PZ, you are starving to death with a loaf of bread under each
“Because what’s important is what you said in your email: the
ideas are still good.
“Do you reject books like Ogilvy on Advertising, Scientific
Advertising, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the
Bible because they were written years ago?
“If so, how sad for you. For you are the one missing out. That I
didn’t update mainframe to distributed computing, the cloud, or
whatever has absolutely nothing to do with the value of the
course you bought.”
Two important takeaways if you are a buyer of business and
marketing advice, a seller of services, or both:
1–Technology is transient. But human psychology has not changed
in 10 centuries.
2–Criticizing someone’s business and then offering to come in and
help them make it better is absolutely the worst prospecting
strategy on the planet.
To me, the best I can say about PZ is that she, to turn a phrase
from Coolio, is living in the “Idiot’s Paradise.”
KM, another writer/ignoramus trolling for business, wrote a
letter to my friend, RA.
He said RA’s direct mail package was terrible, and for a fee, he
would rewrite it and make the copy much better.
RA and I had a good laugh over this, because (a) the package was
selling the product like hot cakes and (b) it was written by one
of the top copywriters in the country — RA himself.
And that’s my third takeaway:
3–Talking about stuff without knowing the facts is a good
opportunity to make yourself look like a total idiot.