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Click here to learn the quick and easy shortcut to
Click here to learn the quick and easy shortcut to rapid earnings online.
“Annihilation Engine.”
“The $14-Million Dollar day”
(by mike long)
I began writing Annihilation Engine nearly five-years ago, starting shortly after
Product Launch Formula first went on sale in November of 2005.
It all began with some unique and powerful ideas that my friend David Mills came up
with, that we applied and had great success with, first as professional Magic: the
Gathering players, and then later in business and even in personal relationships…
We call those ideas “The Method.”
But when I tried to share “The Method” with my friends, family and other folks I
came into contact with, I was dismayed to find out that I had a great deal of difficulty
getting them to give it a chance…
…That’s when, through fortunate circumstance, I met a very special group of guys,
including Frank Kern, John Reese, Jeff Walker and Kelly Felix. By working closely
with them for years, and learning a lot from them, my life changed forever.
I was able to discover how to, in situation after situation, build a devoted following
of folks who were willing to give some of David’s ideas from “The Method” a try…
…And then I discovered to my great surprise and joy that in case after case, the
devoted following turned out to be chomping at the bit to pay me millions of dollars
for advice, training and other services!
With the help, support and guidance of this special group of guys I mentioned above,
I decided to call the testimonial based, super-charged conversion process that I
uncovered, the Annihilation Engine.
It's taken me nearly five-years to share this first volume with you because I
conducted several other experiments with Annihilation Engine after my
involvement in Product Launch Formula in 2005, helping found $21.2 million dollars
in sales in various niches.
The main lesson is on our success strategy: winning in preparation.
Mike Long
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October 3, 2006, the $14-million dollar day:
The knock came at my door at 8:15 A.M. I was still groggy and half delirious from
months on end of almost zero-sleep days. I had come to hate the ringtone on my
phone because it was the alarm clock that I could never escape…
I cracked the door open and Frank Kern stood there, grinning ear-to-ear, cheap
sunglasses obscuring his eyes. “Wooo! I live for this! Let’s make $10-Million Dollars
today!” I could have been annoyed. But I greatly appreciated that Frank was the one
of only a handful of others who really believed, by his actions, that we would actually
do it, besides David Mills. I actually cracked a smile.
My partners were without a doubt brilliant. Brad Fallon, the mile-a-minute fast
talker who never saw a deal he didn’t like, and Andy Jenkins, the nose-to-thegrindstone yeoman who had helped dozens of folks conquer top SEO rankings.
But the fact remained that they had only prepared for a maximum of 300 clients,
while my goal was to transform 1000 or more people’s lives forever, and vault them
into the search rankings of Google, hopefully for good.
Frank, well over 6 feet tall, his previously mushy body now ripped from months of
dedicated surfing, strode through the door with the energy of a young bull.
His energy was in part due to the fact that he had sidestepped much of the “work” of
this launch in favor of surfing, while I had taken the real bull by the horns…dealing
with the swarm of affiliates and partners darting and diving every which way…. It
cost me more than sleep. Hopefully it would all be worth it, not just for us, but also
for the hundreds or possibly thousands of members I hoped would join us that day.
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I didn’t resent Frank one bit for not working crazy hours every day. He had his own
life and his own websites going on, and besides, we needed him to be fresh.
Frank had already created and helped create a number of very successful launch
events, including three separate million dollar successes, including one with his
partner Ed Dale on Underachiever Mastery, an online marketing product, one on his
own with Serializer, an online marketing training event, and one with Neil Strauss,
Matt Kadish and his cousin Trey Smith on Annihilation Method, a relationship advice
product.
(I’ll explain the connection between Annihilation Engine and Annihilation Method in
a few pages.)
Plus Frank had created his own niche website serving up hundreds of thousands of
dollars worth of dog training advice.
At around the same time I had been at ground zero for several very successful
launch events myself. The Traffic Secrets million-dollar day was John Reese’s
magnum opus, based on a brilliant set of moves that John formulated over 5-years of
intense focus. And it totally changed the way folks looked at online marketing
forever.
Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula event followed a little over a year later,
connecting the dots on a brilliant career that Jeff had enjoyed selling financial advice
and helping others, including John, Frank and I with great ideas for launches. While
PLF didn’t break the million-dollar mark it did bring in just under $600,000!
And David Mills and I had built MTGInsider, a soft launched niche site for Magic: the
Gathering strategy advice, where I’d honed my skills in mini launch after mini
launch, collecting thousands of dollars a month, while enjoying more testimonials
than customers, because so many of our prospects succeeded with our free
materials, and because so many of our customers succeeded again and again.
David’s advice to me during the Traffic Secrets and PLF launches was, as was
typically the case with him, invaluable.
All three situations were awesome heart-pounding, fist pumping triumphs that led
to massive profits for John, Jeff, David and me, but also for hundreds if not thousands
of clients.
Within a few hours of Frank walking in the front door of my La Jolla beach house the
online marketing world would never be the same.
All together, the experience that Frank, David and I had, as well as the experience
and effort of a number of other folks including Andy Jenkins, Brad Fallon, John
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Reese, Kelly Felix and many, many others came together to create a truly magical
event in the history of online marketing…
…Something that has never been duplicated.
The $14-million-dollar day.
But it wasn’t as if Frank just woke up on that bright October morning and just rolled
over to my house, and we received a $14 million dollar check.
The story began years before, for each of the players involved. As you’ll soon
discover, it wasn’t a story of random happenstance, but of intense and careful
planning. It was a matter of winning in preparation.
As is the case with many stories, there are a number of places that I could begin…
So Here’s the scoop...
Shortly after I graduated from James Madison University, I started a game store that
I would run for five years, called “The End.”
I started it because I was an accomplished, professional “Magic: the Gathering”
player. This is a strategy card game for self-declared nerds such as myself and my
good friend David Mills. There were tournaments all over the world and I was flown
in to play, where the top prize was anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000. Dave and I
were ranked #1 and #2 in the world, and because of my success, I appeared on
ESPN2, MTV, CNN, and on the pages of Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Spin
magazines. Here's a video of me playing Magic on MTV:
During that time, I began to develop the beginnings of what I now call my
Annihilation Engine strategy. It all started with 2 things: events and online
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marketing. And later I would learn several unique ways to combine the two into
huge profits that made my Magic winnings look like peanuts.
“events.”
My definition of an “event” is any situation that’s organized in advance, has a “reason
why” and is social. The human mind goes crazy over events and can’t get enough of
them.
In my store, I started an “elementary Magic league”, built off of announcements that I
made to the small email list I had been collecting on a legal pad in the front of my
store. (an old-school opt-in!)
I charged $170 to join my 8-week league. By the time the store was around a year
old I had over 100 kids enrolled in Magic and Pokémon elementary leagues.
I would also hold events every Saturday. At first only a handful of kids came. After
word began to spread, I had 40 kids showing up every time. And it wasn’t just
because I was good at Magic. It was also because I ran events where the kids felt
really recognized and appreciated.
For instance, I would announce the pairings like Michael Buffer, the famous guy who
says “Let’s get ready to rumble!” before big boxing matches, only I would
individualize it to every kid.
It turned out that this mixture of teaching kids sound game strategy, combined with
making each situation a really acknowledging event where excellence was
celebrated boisterously in public, really worked for swelling my little crowd of
followers…
By default, our brains want to be around people who celebrate our successes –
especially publicly. That's just how it is wired. Show me someone who truly
celebrates their friends' successes, and I'll show you someone with a huge social
circle.
An example of a bullet from one of the emails to my subscribers might be:
This week Don “The Rock” Norum took his first tournament win, with his Ocean
Blue deck, upending Paulie “Pied Piper” Michel, and his signature Green Machine
deck. Way to go Don!
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(Note that now-a-days brick and mortar stores can even more easily take advantage
of my email list strategy using Facebook, because Facebook has made it easier and
easier to promote events to fans of your business.)
Another real world example of celebrating success is the fantasy football league
Kelly ran last year. There were 12 of us in the league and Kelly was the
commissioner. During the first few weeks Kelly would write an entertaining email to
all 12 teams about the matchups, and the following Tuesday he would write a fun
summary of what happened. It was like a weekly “event” for our league.
After week 2 he got sidetracked and stopped writing the emails. The result: several
team owners really became uninvolved in the league and just kind of disappeared.
The incentive of having their wins publicly celebrated (or their losses not made fun
of!) was gone, so they jumped ship (this wasn't a money league). I know for me, the
emails really inspired me to want to win that much more,, so I could see what he
would write! I was really bummed when he stopped writing them.
“upside down.”
Everything was going great with my store, until one fateful day I got a call from one
of our biggest distributors, telling me that we were massively behind in our
payments. Several similar calls followed from other distributors.
That partner (I won’t give his name here) admitted that he had been gambling
money out of our account on investments that he was sure were going to pan out for
us, without mentioning them to me. But they had all gone south, all the while
extending our line of credit deeper and deeper with a growing number of
distributors to cover the shortfalls.
Suddenly, out of nowhere, I found myself scrambling and badly in debt, and wishing
that I had kept a careful eye on the books. My world turned upside down. I felt
lonely and scared.
The fastest way I knew how to make money was to buy cards in America and then
sell them in Japan where Magic: the Gathering was taking off like a rocket. At the
same time, Pokeman was really taking off in the USA. So over the next two years I
would fly back and forth between America and Japan 22 times.
I frantically bought up every Magic card I could find in America and traded face to
face with Japanese store owners for as much cash and Pokémon as I could manage.
Eventually I made the 6 figures necessary to hand over to Uncle Sam.
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Around that time, I also started to realize, as many brick and mortar business
owners were discovering, that there was a great opportunity in expanding my
customer base by reaching out to prospects all over the world through the Internet.
After all, the low fixed costs of an online business were very appealing compared to
the big cost of rent and carrying a massive inventory.
So I created two e-commerce websites for my game store - TheEndGames.com and
PokePage.com. PokePage.com sold Pokémon cards, and TheEndGames.com sold
Magic: the Gathering cards. They were not exactly the greatest looking sites on the
internet right out of the gate, but that was something I would fix over time.
I also started selling Magic cards on eBay... by the thousands. I applied a very
unusual technique that no one else was using, which I'll let you in on shortly. As a
result, our online earnings quickly trumped our offline earnings.
Things really started taking off online, and I quickly realized it was time to close my
physical store.
My trouble with closing my store had always been not wanting to lose the personal
connection I had with my customers, and helping them succeed. I knew that I could
get more customers online than I could offline. But my concern was about how deep
my relationship could be with online customers. I worried about that because I got
so much joy from helping others recognize their own excellence, and expanding
their skills.
I started thinking about the way my online business was growing, and started to
wonder if I couldn’t flat out help more people online if I could just figure out a way to
capture the essence of the way that I was teaching people in the real world…
“Mistakes.”
Looking back on things, there were three things that I would have done differently in
my game store business:
I wasn’t nearly as self-reliant as I could have been when it came to buying new cards
to sell. I was the best buyer for my business, but I often let pride get in the way of
going to events or tournaments, which were the best place to get cards.
There was one time where I went to a big convention, and instead of buying cards, I
played in a tournament. The top prize for the tournament was $15,000. But if I just
bought cards the whole time, instead of playing, I probably could have made that
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much or even twice as much. I ended up getting knocked out in the top 8 of the
event and making around $1,000. It was totally silly.
The second thing I would have done differently is that I would have gone for an
understanding of how to rank #1 on Google for various top search terms that people
were looking for when it came to Magic: the Gathering. I did some stuff to indirectly
get traffic to my new website, but I wasn’t directly going for sustainable top rankings
every day, and in the long run that was wasteful.
The only other real issue was getting angry or frustrated way too many times when
it came to technical issues. It didn't have to be hard, because the answer to every
single issue I came across was the same every single time:
Google search + picking through the results and testing things + patience = solutions.
But there was a missing key when it came to getting all three of these ideas straight
for me in my mind, which I’ll get to in just a moment.
My “home run attitude” hurt me when it came to refusing to work at that big
convention, and instead trying to win the big tournament. When I say home run
attitude, I’m talking about a hitter in baseball who refuses to make moves that will
help his team, like getting walks, base hits, and bunting, because they are being
single-minded and swinging for the fences.
Even though my website was nothing to write home about, it was doing a few
thousand dollars a month right away, mostly selling card singles, which goes to show
that because of the low startup and maintenance cost of building an online business,
if you can put one foot in front of another with a website, you can succeed...
I got most of my traffic the same way we get most of our traffic today - by providing
content. In this case, it was by writing articles. Actually, most of my business time
was spent researching my articles and buying new cards, and figuring out how to fix
various glitches on my website.
Anything that didn’t sell quickly on the site, I offloaded on eBay. I used a program
called “auction works” that allowed me to list hundreds of auctions, or even
thousands at a time.
Soon after focusing on my online business, I caught a VERY lucky break.
I decided to start spending some time with my father. We weren’t very close
growing up. He left my mother when I was around 3 years old, and I rarely saw or
spoke with him.
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While we didn’t turn out to have a big feel good reunion, something very good did
come of it. He had decided to attend an online marketing convention in Cleveland,
and he didn’t want to fly because he had gotten a bit on the heavy side in his golden
years. So he offered to pay for me to attend, if I’d be willing to drive him. I accepted,
more to spend time with him than anything else.
The first two people I walked up to and said hello to were Jeff Mulligan, a cheery red
headed Irishman who was a former top ad executive from New Hampshire, and Jeff
Johnson, a blue eyed, silver haired, former stock market trader from Michigan, who
was just starting out online.
We hit it off right away, and ended up at the Hard Rock Cafe enjoying beer and pulled
pork sandwiches. Mulligan filled me in on many of the details of the strategic online
marketing world that I was totally unaware of, like how it was possible to make six
or even seven figures a year doing it!
“john Reese.”
But the main thing Jeff Mulligan insisted on was that I meet John Reese.
In a later issue of Annihilation Engine, I’ll focus fully on the relationship that I
developed with John Reese, because it changed my life.
For now, sufficed to say that John and I hit it off . Seeing him speak at that event
opened my eyes to what was possible online, even more than Jeff Mulligan and Jeff
Johnson had. And John had heard of Magic, and he had a deep respect for me as a
thinker right away.
I felt such a desire to see over the shoulder of guys like John Reese while they were
making their moves with their web sites. But there was really nothing available like
that at the time.
The best I could figure out was to take what I had learned at that event, mostly about
writing sales copy, and apply it on my website and in my eBay auctions. The results
were surprisingly good. I turned my auctions into mini-sales letters, including
drawing more attention to my bonuses. I was looking for some way to add value to
my auctions, so I created my own cards. I commissioned some paintings with a
popular Magic artist and then used a local printer to make thousands of my own
cards for less than a penny a card. They are still collectable items today:
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I made my auctions more of an event, and spelled out the value of buying from me
instead of somebody else. The result was that more of my auctions closed and the
bids were higher.
Then I found out that John Reese was the featured guest of a special “mastermind
event” in San Francisco on August 20th 2003. - by “invitation only”. I nervously typed
out my application, almost sure that there was no chance that I would get in. But to
my surprise I was quickly accepted!
That was almost as scary as getting rejected though, because now I wasn’t sure if I
really belonged, because there were supposed to be a lot of online marketing
heavyweights in attendance. While I had been in business online for a while, I didn’t
know half as much about strategic online marketing as many of the folks there
would.
At several thousand dollars for my ticket, I was sweating bullets about getting the
same value out of the event that I had put into it.
I also didn’t want to get laughed out of the room when it came to talking about my
business, because I knew most of what I was doing was really primitive...
By the time it was my turn to talk, I was sweating bullets. I don’t remember a word I
said, just that the room was dead silent after I was finished blurting out my
presentation about my Magic business.
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You could hear a pin drop... until John Reese finally broke the silence:
“You’re sitting on a gold mine,” John said dramatically. He explained that I was
powerfully positioned to sell an information product on how to succeed in Magic,
because of all the professional wins I had. I was still in shock listening to John, but
the surprises kept coming…
“Oh my God, that’s Mike Long!” rang out an Australian voice from across the table as a
guy named Ed Dale was now standing and pointing his finger at me dramatically.
“He’s like one of the top Magic players in the world. A total bad boy by the way!” Ed
concluded. It turned out that Ed, another attendee of the event, was a big Magic fan.
Ed offered me a joint venture on the spot to help me develop my first Magic
information product.
“Frank Kern.”
John had invited his close friend Frank Kern to attend the event as well.
Frank was from Macon, Georgia. He was an easygoing southerner with sandy blond
hair, and he made me feel at ease because I had mostly grown up in the south, and
because he seemed easy to understand and relate to.
He explained that he was actually totally broke because he had the terrible luck of
having gotten slapped with a massive fine by the FTC, due to the dirty dealings of
some affiliates posing fraudulently as him.
Frank explained that he had deleted his entire massive online marketing list because
he had a bad taste in his mouth from the whole FTC thing. I could really understand
where he was coming from because of what happened to me with my game store.
Frank said that what he wanted to do was teach happy things, like pet advice, using
what he called his “Underachiever system”. This was essentially taking advantage of
extremely cheap Pay-per-click advertising, at the time around $.05 per click on most
terms, to develop ebook businesses for small niches, after doing smart surveying.
It wasn’t actually seeing over his shoulder and watching him build a business, but
what he was talking about was basic enough that I could at least follow the steps
somewhat in my head, which was really inspiring.
After Frank’s presentation to the dozen or so people in the paid mastermind group,
he and I lingered and chatted a bit. “So how much are you making right now for
teaching folks how to train their dogs?” I asked him.
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“$37 bucks a day.” He said with a grin. “But last week it was $18 bucks.”
“I’ll check back with you and see how you’re doing on that soon.” I said smiling back.
“Please do. Now lets get lunch.” Frank replied.
The best thing about listening to Frank was probably the reassurance that if you
stuck to it with online marketing, there was always a way. But I also got a basic game
plan for how to develop my Magic business based on his underachiever plan.
“Jeff Walker.”
After lunch, Jeff Walker spoke, and I was totally electrified by what he had to say.
At the first online marketing event I’d gone to, when I met John Reese, a guy named
Stewart from Amsterdam pulled me aside to tell me about how excited he was about
having bought Mark Joyner’s farewell to online marketing package. I knew my
father had bought it too, and I could see how vibrant they both felt about the
experience.
Jeff was talking about the same kind of thing, online marketing events with a real
reason why people would buy. Jeff had been selling financial advice with a partner
for years, and ran launch after launch.
Jeff called himself Mr. Scarcity, something that I told him I didn’t agree with. I wanted
my business to be all about abundance. But Jeff was a good-natured fellow and took
my philosophical objections in stride.
His point was that in order to get folks to take action, you had to have some sort of
motivating force. For Jeff, that motivating force was scarcity. But I worried that such
scarcity would eventually lead to burning out his list.
Where we definitely agreed was on the point of natural scarcity. For instance, with a
live event, obviously at some point the sale period has to end… That is natural
scarcity. Not like false scarcity, where an e-book doesn't really need to be scarce at
all because there are really unlimited copies available. Or the phony “sale ends at
midnight tonight” method, which then repeats the next day.
Jeff and I talked excitedly for hours after his talk, well into dinner.
I’ll also write an issue of Annihilation Engine in the future about my relationship
with Jeff Walker, and all that I learned from him, which was a lot.
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But for now, it’s enough to say that from that day on, there were few people that I
would talk to or learn more from than Jeff, especially over the course of the next few
years.
“Live Launch.”
Two months later, I was back in San Francisco in Frank Kern’s hotel room, sweating
bullets before David Mills and I launched our first online marketing information
product with Ed Dale’s help.
I already had around a 10,000 person email list from selling auctions on eBay. Ed
and I had done the surveying that Frank recommended to get the ball rolling by
communicating with that list. And then we’d done a tele-seminar to give folks value,
leading up to the Magic state championships.
In a lucky stroke, somebody on that call had actually won his state championship
and wrote in with a really nice testimonial. Several other folks on the call also did
well, so even though we didn’t have much of a track record with our product, we did
have good testimonials already.
“So how much are the dog ebooks making now?” I asked Frank playfully, as I looked
over the final details of the sales letter Ed and I had put together for Magic Secrets.
“68 bucks a day!” Frank cheerily replied.
“That’ll buy plenty of beer!” I rang back.
“How’s the sales letter lookin?” He said as he lounged back in his chair.
“How would I know!” I laughed back. “The one thing that makes me nervous is that
we didn’t figure out a way to do videos of me actually playing Magic, so I don’t think
it will sell as well without them.”
“Can you play this Magic on your computer?” Frank said, suddenly serious.
“Yes sir.” I replied.
“Camtasia lets you record anything you can see on your screen.” He said.
“No kidding?” I said.
“No kidding.” Frank nodded.
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“Well then I’m putting the videos back into the sales letter!” I said back, jolly again.
I wasn’t all that keen on the idea of launching the sales letter before we had the
product done. But David and I were working on the book already, and Frank made
the Camtasia video thing sound easy.
While Frank was ultimately dead on, and Camtasia would not only transform my
Magic business and my life, I would come to regret the decision to launch the
product prematurely. Especially promising video before I had actually done it,
because that added heaps of pressure for no reason, and made things very stressful.
We mentioned in the sales letter that it would take months for us to deliver the
whole product, which would give us some time. But that just created another
deadline, or another failure condition for the project. If I had it to do it again I would
have held off on the launch and perhaps told folks about the exciting preparation
steps we’d taken in the prelaunch. And then perhaps I would have found a way to
update folks who were interested once the product was completed and launched.
I was still freaking out when Ed and I sat in front of hundreds of seminar attendees
two hours later. But Ed was grinning ear to ear, a dead giveaway that we’d at least
made some sales. It turned out that we’d made more than a few. We’d made almost
two thousand bucks in just over an hour, mailing just the folks who had been on the
teleconference call.
I felt so alive! Not only was I starting to make good money with online marketing,
but I was finally impacting people in a way that really made sense to me.
I hugged both John and Frank as soon as I got off stage, and I couldn’t wait to get on
the phone with David Mills to give him the news…
A few months later I was in Orlando hanging out with John and Frank at an
Underachiever event that Ed was putting on with Frank.
“How’s the pet ebook business doing?” I asked Frank as he drove me from the hotel
to John’s mansion in Metro West.
“$212 bucks a day.” He smiled as we rolled along. “How’s the Magic secrets
business?” he asked.
“A little frustrating. I shouldn’t have promised video before I knew how to do it for
sure.” I admitted. “The reason I had came to Orlando was to try to get help with
getting the video part of the product together. I was sitting at home, recording video
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after video, trying to get it to work, and I just wasn’t figuring it out. John said he
could help...”
“That no good John Reese knows a lot of things about a lot of things.” Frank chimed
back.
I was still buying and selling Magic cards online, which was my main source of
income. But getting the information product together still hadn’t quite happened.
Like I mentioned before, I regretted going on sale before finishing the product more
and more every day.
I spent a few more days with John after Frank and Ed’s event finished. We didn’t
quite break through on getting the video recordings to work, but we made progress.
John was really patient and helpful, which made all of the difference in the world.
David Mills and I completed the book, “Magic Secrets” shortly after that. The format
worked out really well because David designed it. He thought through a lesson plan
in advance and wrote introductions and key lessons for each topic, and then I filled
in the book with several pages of examples.
“Winning in preparation.”
He based the book on “shortcuts”, the idea that whomever had the best shortcuts for
succeeding in Magic had the biggest advantage because there was just so much gosh
darned information to process, and more and more all the time.
One of the most important “shortcuts” that David and I used that was one of the core
parts of David’s Method is winning in preparation. Normally folks teach from a
technical standpoint instead: do this, do that.
But David realizes that we succeed not by making disconnected moves, but by
creating a context for success. For instance, an NFL football player doesn’t just show
up one day and collect a check for $10 million dollars. And he doesn’t just watch a
tutorial on how to toss the pigskin around. He first has to have the context of an
athlete, which includes working on his strength, speed, flexibility and agility. Then
and only then, can you start talking to him about what moves he might want to make
in a game.
That player’s success comes in preparation. Even when it seems like that player
makes a “lucky catch”, it was his preparation and practice that put him in a position
to make the lucky catch.
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Because Magic is very much a mental game, again much like success with building a
profitable website, David wanted to teach our customers how to think straight first,
and then what specific moves to make inside of the game.
I started adopting David's lessons more and more. Instead of trying to find the next
great tactic for instant success, I focused more on winning in preparation. Getting a
good amount of sleep - around 8 hours. Practicing fundamentals like copywriting.
Patiently looking things up on Google when technical glitches came up. (Instead of
getting frustrated or angry and maybe running off in another direction.)
I felt really great teaching based on this winning in preparation attitude, because I
wanted my customers to enjoy success, and I knew it was the best way. That gave me
the confidence that our product would be really successful once I finished the
videos, not just in terms of sales, but in terms of helping folks succeed.
“Triple your profit.”
Shortly after that Orlando event, on March 15, 2004, Frank and I were back in
Orlando for John’s first official online marketing workshop, his “Triple Your Profit”
workshop. John had gathered many of the online marketing world’s best and
brightest for his sold out $4500 per person event.
There were some issues with the binders that John had ordered ahead of time, and
John asked me to help remake them the night before the event. At 3AM, Frank, Jason
Potash, and I were seated Indian style on John’s kitchen floor, assembling binders.
“How's the Ebook business?” I asked Frank, with a yawn.
“$385 a day.” Frank said, still chipper. “Here you go crusher. I gotta get some rest” He
said handing me a binder and standing up.
“That’ll buy a lot of hot dogs!” I said with a laugh.
I didn’t sleep that night, and a massive toothache hit me that morning as I delivered
the binders to John’s workshop.
Frank spotted me swooning and immediately scooped me out of the workshop and
drove me to get a remedy, and then back to John’s place for some much needed R &
R.
Later, I watched over Frank’s shoulder as he tweaked some elements of his ebook
business, and then he sat down with me and helped me make some final
adjustments to my latest sales letter.
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The night, after John’s workshop was complete, John, Jason, Frank and I sat on John’s
porch sipping beers, celebrating his success and how much everyone had enjoyed
the event.
“I want to thank all of you guys for your help.” John said raising his bottle in a toast.
“Mikey!” John said raising his bottle one more time. “I know you really busted your
butt helping me get everything together and I wanted to say thanks, so I’d like to
know if you want to join me for a west coast tour this summer? I’m planning on
visiting one of Yanik Silver's and Jim Edwards' events. And there’s a guy named
Eben Pagan who’s running a killer business called Double Your Dating, and he’s
asked me to look in on one of his events. I asked them if you could come and they
said yes. Then I’m headed over to a Dan Kennedy event in Phoenix.”
“Wow John!” I said excited, “That would be awesome!”
“copywriting.”
After a while, John and Jason went back inside to get something to eat and Frank and
I stayed outside, relaxing and watching the sunset. In a rare serious moment, Frank
turned to me, his blue eyes locked intensely but without any sort of worry or
frustration, and he said, “You know, I’ve been thinking about it and all that we really
have to do is focus on the copywriting, and that will get us whatever we want.”
“$385 dollars per day,” I said agreeing. I had been spending several hours each day
practicing my writing since that first Internet marketing event, over a year before. I
thought a bit more and added, “Winning in preparation.”
“I’m dead serious, that’s all we really have to do.” Frank said, nodding his head...
A couple of weeks after the event ended, John invited me back to Orlando to stay
with him for several months leading up to the Traffic Secrets Million Dollar day
launch, to help manage the event. In exchange, John said he would help in
completing my third Magic Secrets launch.
(Here are a few comments by John about my involvement in that launch.)
He wanted to help me finish my product once and for all, and to get it launched
properly.
I taught John how to play Magic, shortly after I moved in, and he took to it like a fish
to water.
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John called in a testimonial to my instant audio phone number, and I shared it with
my list. A few days later, another customer named Zaf Molon, from Ottawa, Canada
called in with his own story. And while the details of his story were very different, it
sounded very similar to John’s call.
Soon after sharing Zaf’s testimonial with my list, I got several more testimonials,
each along the lines of John’s testimonial, at least in some way.
Then I realized that John’s call was serving as a template for folks who already
wanted to to thank me.
On John’s advice, I changed the name of the testimonials from “Shared Triumphs” to
“Annihilation Reports.”
“The thing is Mike,” John said, “These guys don’t want to share their triumphs. They
want to call in Annihilation Reports, and brag about how they trounced their buddy.”
Once I finally figured out how to get Camtasia working to record my videos, John
spent days turning them into DVDs, using Final Cut pro.
The DVDs were videos of me playing Magic online, winning matches, and then
talking about what I was thinking when I was making various moves.
When John was done, he commented: “Now you’ve got a product that you can sell
forever.” That’s when the sinking feeling hit me. We had just put so much work into
making these DVDs, but soon new cards would come out and they would make the
old strategies somewhat obsolete. So really I only had a few months to sell these
DVDs before they would lose a lot of value.
I realized that I had actually put myself more behind the curve than ahead of it by
going with a physical DVD product. I decided that next time I would do my videos
online, so things would be more easy to update.
But the product was finally finished, and I was relieved about that. And now that I
was succeeding through preparation, instead of trying to make some brilliant last
second move, my success wasn’t only much greater, it was sustainable…
Frank visited right as Magic Secrets kicked off it’s second big launch, this time
pulling in five thousand dollars in the first few hours, and ten thousand dollars in the
first day or so. “I think it’s the testimonials.” I told Frank, explaining how my sales
had shot up much more than I had expected.
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“Mastermind.”
The next time I saw Frank was a couple of months after the Million Dollar day.
John decided to put together a mastermind with some of his closest friends. Jason
Potash was there, and so was Yanik Silver, whom I’d gotten to be quite good friends
with, and Dean Jackson, whom Frank had dubbed the King of Leisure.
The event was like a much less formal version of the first time I met Frank, where
each of us presented ideas for where our business was taking us. This time we met
in the whiteboard room in John’s pink Orlando mansion, that I had dubbed the “War
Room” during the buildup to the Traffic Secrets million-dollar day.
John and Frank had gotten together and designed a software project to supercharge
Frank’s ebook business, that Frank had given the code name “Serializer”. What it did
was help him automate his pay per click results across a much broader variety of
keywords on Google. For example, the landing pages automatically had the proper
keywords inserted in the headline and salesletter, according to what dog breed the
user had searched for on Google.
So Frank really only had one landing page and salesletter, but it would all be
dynamically re-written, relative to the breed the user searched for on Google.
Frank’s business was now making well over $1,000 per day, and growing by leaps
and bounds. I couldn’t help but look back at the progression of seeing Frank’s dream
come to life.
Frank recommended that I take what he’d learned from the “Serializer” project and
apply it on eBay, hitting a much broader array of keywords. So basically, selling an
auction for every single card name, or at least the hot ones, regardless of whether I
had the card for sale or not. Because every time, I had the chance of selling my Magic
Secrets course on the back-end.
My Magic Secrets business was flourishing. The “winning through preparation”
angle was coming up in spades again and again. For instance, I’d taken my
conversation with Frank to heart about writing copy and now I wrote my list almost
every day, in sort of a constant soft launch.
Almost every day I came up with a new angle or reason to write my list, usually
based on testimonials or letters I’d gotten back from folks.
It was a lot like when John recorded that first testimonial for me, and then I’d shared
it with folks on my list and gotten so many others back.
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Our “winning through preparation” idea wasn’t just working for us. It was working
for our customers as well, and almost every day we were hearing from somebody
who had never had much success with Magic, and was finally starting to win big.
Again, I would constantly share these success stories with my list because I wanted
to celebrate and draw attention to the preparation that folks were putting in, and
how it was paying off for them.
Another preparation breakthrough was finally figuring out how to record videos,
and getting them online as lessons.
Every day that I mailed I got several more sales of Magic Secrets at $50 a pop, and
my information products were finally making more money than just selling the
cards.
eBay was still my primary way of drawing leads, but I’d taken an idea from Yanik and
started sending out a letter with every card that I sold, offering a free trial of Magic
Secrets.
I continued to drive my eBay auctions with video bonuses that were updated every
week, but now I also included videos of me playing Magic in my auctions.
Many weeks I was closing between one and two thousand auctions for anywhere
from $1.99 per auction, all the way up to as much as $50 for more expensive cards.
But John had been right about information being a goldmine, because while I was
selling the same cards as everyone else, I was getting an advantage from my
information products, both in selling the cards, and in making more money per
auction, because I was getting tons of people to take me up on the free trial of Magic
Secrets, and around 50% of them stayed on as paying members!
“Product Launch Formula.”
A few months later, John conducted an interview with Jeff Walker for his upcoming
Product Launch Formula home study course. In that interview he made mention of
my roll in his launch a few times, leading Jeff to contact me and ask if I’d like to also
do an interview to help flesh out his course.
The constant “soft launch” approach to our Magic Secrets business had a lot of
benefits, especially the benefit of David and I gaining lots of experience with online
marketing.
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What was supposed to be a 45 minute interview with Jeff, turned into 2 hours. That
was because David and I had put so much preparation into our Magic business that
we had been able to innovate quite a bit, and we had a lot to talk about.
Something that I’ve always been grateful for, is that David and I started our first
online business about something that we were already good at. Often times, folks
decide to start an online business in a “hot market”, where they have little or no
expertise, instead of choosing something that they are already good at.
Kelly Felix has found this to be true as well. He's created dozens of online businesses,
and he only goes into markets he is passionate about and has first hand experience
in.
Because David and I focused on something that we were already good at, we were
able focus more on learning online marketing, because we didn't need to learn
anything about Magic itself.
Jeff called me back a few days after our interview and asked if I’d be interested in
helping him dot the I's and cross the T's on the Product Launch Formula launch. It
was now only a few weeks away, and he said he loved my passion for marketing. He
also felt that our connection from a couple of years of almost daily conversations
could help me do a great job ghost writing, and to help take some of the load off of
his shoulders while he handled a lot of the tech stuff that can so easily get screwed
up in a launch situation.
I accepted, and quickly went to work on gathering testimonials, something that I’d
helped John with for the Traffic Secrets launch. And instead of TEXTimonials, I
focused on audio, to make them even more real. Nowadays I prefer video.
It's not that easy to get a good testimonial though, because folks don’t tend to know
how to give a good testimonial.
It turns out that even though it’s relatively easy to find a shoulder to cry on in tough
times, it’s actually pretty difficult to find somebody to genuinely celebrate our
triumphs with us when we succeed. This can be due to a lot of factors, such as
jealousy.
Regardless, the skill of appreciation isn’t commonly used by folks nearly as much as
it could be, thus the phrase “you don’t know what you’ve got until you lose it,” all too
often becomes true!
What I’d discovered with my various launches, was that even if you really helped
somebody succeed, it's a whole different job to actually collect the testimonial for it,
especially a good one.
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It’s not the “umms” and the “uhhhs” that are a problem. Quite the contrary,
testimonials that sound too slick and rehearsed are actually much worse because
they lack authenticity.
Something that I realized is that the only thing that folks are really worried about
when they are making any investment is: “Will it work for me?”
As in: will this new thing that they are considering investing time and possibly
money in actually bear fruit for them, in their unique situation.
And the main way folks figure that out is by finding out if other folks who are like
them are actually having similar success. That is why testimonials are so important.
But what I discovered during my time with Magic Secrets and Traffic Secrets, and
what I formalized in the early days of the Product Launch Formula launch, was how
to gather a proper testimonial.
Jeff had helped several marketers kick off tremendous launches, but most folks were
really confused as to how to explain their results in a way that would make sense to
a listener who wanted to know more about Jeff’s system.
I did two things to help. One is I recorded my own testimonial for Product Launch
Formula, which I was happy to do because I had gotten so much help and advice
from Jeff on our Magic business.
“The Before and After progression.”
Then I would send the audio link of my testimonial to Jeff's best customers, to use as
a template. Then I would tell them to say where they were before they met Jeff, and
then explain where they are now.
Some folks have heard of recent revisions to the FTC guidelines when it comes to
testimonials. But I actually welcome these changes because what they basically say
is that you need to share the context of how folks are succeeding, and not just the
“before and after” picture. That translates to the same thing that we’ve been doing
for years, including not just the before and after, but the progression between those
two points. (Which makes for a much more convincing and powerful testimonial
anyway!)
The FTC also specifically says that you need to disclose when a testimonial result is
not common. In other words, when its extra-ordinary. Well I don't know about you
but I have no problem saying, “Look at some of our customers and their
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extraordinary results with our product!” That sounds pretty great to me as a
marketer.
I’ll talk more about the Product Launch Formula launch in the future, including a lot
of the really smart moves that Jeff Walker made both in setting it up and executing it,
and some of the moves that I made that ended up panning out. I'll also include some
of the mistakes that I personally wouldn’t want to repeat. But I mention the
testimonials right now because far and away the best testimonials that Jeff had
available for Product Launch Formula were from Frank Kern and John Reese.
That's because both Frank and John had enjoyed million dollar launches thanks to
help from Jeff. Underachiever Mastery for Frank, and the Traffic Secrets Million
Dollar Day for John. And they both publicly credited Jeff with having helped them.
Now of course I was already close friends with John and Frank, but I decided to visit
them a couple of weeks before the launch, to gather insight from their launches, and
the way they saw them now.
I viewed visiting John and Frank as the best way for me to succeed with good
preparation. And it just so happened that Frank's place in Macon, Georgia, was on
the way to John’s in Florida. It was a nice drive for me. I would listen to marketing
books on tape along the way.
During the drive to Macon, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize. “Hey
Mike, this is Matt Kadish.”
“Oh hey Matt!” I said. I had met Matt when John and I visited Eben Pagan’s Double
Your Dating event. He was a blogger who went by the name “Thundercat”, and he
was just getting his feet wet with information marketing, about how to approach
single women. We sat down for hamburgers and I drew him out the general game
plan, literally on the back of a Burger King napkin.
On the call I asked him how things were going and how my advice panned out.
“Really great.” Matt said. He sounded happy. “I wanted to call and thank you for the
advice. I’m actually pulling in over ten grand a month now.”
“Awesome dude!” I exclaimed. Matt explained to me how he had taken the bare
bones advice I’d drawn up and added a bunch of great ideas of his own that he’d
tested and figured out, and really blown his business up.
I pulled into Macon in the early afternoon, to a big brick office building that Frank
rented an office from. He gave me the tour of his massive but sparsely furnished loft.
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(he only had a small couch, and a couple of folding tables pressed up against the wall
with rolling chairs)
“scrambler?”
We raced chairs across his floor and then after he edged me by a nose, Frank turned
and said “Scrambler?”
I looked back expectantly with a smile as Frank led me out the door and down the
stairs to where a brightly colored Jeep was parked. “Scrambler!” Frank affirmed,
sweeping his hands towards the jeep.
We raced it all over Macon while catching up on business.
“Dog Ebooks?” I said, my now customary question on the progress of his business.
“Actually, it’s awesome.” he said with a great big grin. “Over three thousand dollars a
day.”
“Wow that’s fantastic!” I said, bursting with pride. “Man I remember when it was
$37 bucks a day!”
“Me too! I’m doing a lot more now with live video. That and my Serializer and…
awww damn!” Frank exclaimed with his traditional impish laugh.
“How is the Magic business?” Frank asked.
“Going great. Video as well. You were right about Camtasia being great. We have
almost two testimonials for every customer, so it’s pretty exciting. Not exactly three
thousand dollars a day, but David and I are both pulling in several thousand a month,
and we’re enjoying ourselves.”
“Nothing wrong with that.” Frank said, turning his Scrambler off the road so we
could do a little bit of off-roading. “How goes the Product Launch Formula?”
“I’m having fun!” I said as we hit a huge bump. “It’s kind of a weird situation because
folks don’t really know exactly what it is we’re selling yet, but there’s a lot of
excitement.”
“Product launches are exciting stuff.” he said as we raced past a bunch of trees.
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We drove back to Frank’s house. Before we had dinner he beckoned me downstairs,
where he plopped two white binders labeled “The Collected Letters of John Carlton,
Volumes 1 and 2.”
“I borrowed some Dan Kennedy tapes from you a while back.” Frank said. “I lost
them. Real sorry about that. Take these instead?”
John Carlton is a legendary copywriter, most famous for his exciting sales letters. Ed
Dale used one of Carlton’s letters as a template for the first sales letter for Magic
Secrets. “Yeah dude, this is awesome! Thanks!”
We enjoyed dinner, and then we retired to the living room with his wife India, to chat
a bit before I hit the road to Orlando.
“The game.”
“Have you seen this?” Frank said, handing me a leather bound book with gold leafed
writing that looked like a bible. It said “The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of
Pick-up Artists.” By Neil Strauss.
“Never seen it.” I said, handing it back.
“It’s crazy.” India, a pretty blond woman who was Frank’s high school sweetheart,
laughed.
Frank explained, “It’s about these pick-up artists who run around Los Angeles and
they get girls like Rock Stars even though they are just ordinary dudes. It’s mainly
about this weird dude named Mystery. And there are other folks in it like a guy
named Thundercat…”
“I met Mystery. And I know Thundercat.” I said, totally surprised.
“Oh yeah?” Frank said.
I laughed, “Yeah, actually it’s funny, when John and I went to California, before the
Traffic Secrets launch, we went to that Double Your Dating event that Eben Pagan
was holding. A bunch of interesting characters there. Mystery was first and
foremost amongst them. Six foot five, plus platform shoes, a big black leather duster,
a top hat, and black painted fingernails. Hard to miss him. We went out with him.
I’ll tell you one thing, the guy definitely knows his stuff.”
“Thundercat is Matt Kadish. He actually called me out of the blue about an hour
before I got here.”
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“No way!” Frank erupted in laughter. “Well my cousin Trey found this book and he
was totally amazed by it. He wants to do a launch with the author, this Neil Strauss
fella.”
“Matt knows Neil. He knows all of those guys. I’ll put you in touch if you like.” I said.
“That would be cool.” Frank replied.
I hit the road for Orlando shortly afterwards and stayed there with John for a couple
of days, mostly playing poker and getting what would turn out to be critical advice
from John on the positioning for the Product Launch Formula launch, which I’ll
discuss in greater detail in another issue.
On my way back up north Frank invited me to stop back by his office for the
afternoon.
I looked over his shoulder as he worked on his dog training ebook business, and I
watched the dollars pour into his Clickbank account, often by the minute. It was
well before noon, and he had already pulled in over a thousand dollars.
“My cousin Trey talked to Thundercat. Thanks for putting us in touch. He thinks he
can get Neil to go for it.” Frank smiled up from his screen as he scanned through his
stats. “Trey is actually coming by during his lunch break from the car dealership he
works at. He’s doing his first launch. Hypnosis training.”
“Cool.” I said, my eyes still dizzied by the pace of Frank’s earnings. I had seen money
roll in at a massive pace during launches. But it was extraordinary watching daily
income like this, especially knowing the modest start it had.
Trey rolled in shortly after 12, tall and skinny with tightly cropped hair and loads of
energy.
Frank pulled up a chair to the folding table where one of his laptops was propped up,
and he grabbed volume 2 of his copy of John Carlton’s collected letters, opened it to a
sales letter, slapped it in his lap, and put his right finger on the headline while he
began to furiously type with his left hand.
I watched as Frank used Carlton’s letter as a template to bang out a sales letter in a
whirl of action for Trey’s launch, every once in a while conferring briefly with Trey
over one point or another.
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Minutes later it was over. Trey fired out an email to his list, and his product was live.
Orders rolled in moments later. “Gotta get back to work!” Trey said, glancing at his
watch, and flying out the door moments later.
I sat down to write some copy for Jeff’s launch, and Frank baked some of his special
recipe cookies for me. After enjoying every last one of them, I bid Frank farewell and
hit the road, my mind swirling with what I’d just beheld. I was on the phone with
Jeff Walker, excitedly jabbering as soon as I started driving. “Slow down!” Jeff said,
I’m trying to take notes!”
(I’ll never know for sure if it was the excitement of the situation or just how tasty
Frank’s cookies were, but the next thing I knew I was in Kentucky, hours off course!)
Even though Jeff Walker had done a really amazing job of planning his launch,
everything started to pile up. We both worked almost every waking moment for the
next week or so preparing for the launch.
A couple of days before the launch, just as I was finishing my part of one of our big
pre-launch communications, the Back to the Wall report, Jeff called me and asked if I
could weigh in on the sales letter, because he just had so much going on with the
affiliates and tech stuff.
“The amazing swing.”
I agreed, and before I knew it I had John Carlton’s Collected Letters, Volume 1,
opened to a salesletter called “the Amazing Swing”, and I did my best attempt at
what I had seen Frank do a few days before…
Frank called me a few hours after Product Launch Formula went live. “How did it
go?” he asked.
“We’ve pulled in over a quarter a million in sales so far... Maybe more. I haven’t
gotten an update in over an hour. Thanks for the John Carlton book by the way,
because Jeff wrote most of the letter, but he wanted a little help with the beginning.
So the collection of sales letters came in handy.”
It was exciting to feel the reward for having taken a few extra steps to prepare.
Focusing some of my preparation time with John and Frank a bit before the launch
had really come up big.
“Killer!” Frank said. “A quarter million dollars buys a lot of hot dogs!”
“And we’re just getting started. What’s next for you?” I asked.
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“I'm thinking about doing a Serializer launch.” He mused.
“How are you going to do it?” I asked.
“I’m going to fire up ye olde Camtasia, open up my stats, show folks what you saw,
and say gimmie money. Then I’ll show them how I did it.” Frank laughed.
“What’s next for you, once this Product Launch Formula thing is over?” he asked.
“What else? The next product launch.” I cackled. “By the way, what’s going on with
you and Trey and the Neil Strauss launch with Thundercat?” I asked.
“We’re going to do it.” Frank said. “Like you said, the next product launch...”
“Search Engine Optimization.”
Months passed and it was April 22, 2006. I was standing outside of the Hard Rock
hotel in Orlando. Inside, Frank was holding his sold out million dollar Serializer
event, where he was teaching folks how he had been making nearly four thousand
dollars a day with his pet training ebook business, for months on end.
I got a phone call. “Hey!” Said the chipper voice on the other end of the line, “I’m
Brad Fallon.”
“Hey Brad.” I said back, “Nice to meet you.”
Brad said, “I was in Atlanta the other day for Big Seminar and I met some guys who
you’ve been helping out with their launches. They couldn’t say enough good things
about ya.”
“Oh, Foxxy and Miz.” I said, referring to a couple of really bright guys - one in online
marketing and the other in online dating, who I had lended a little help to with their
launches, especially with getting their case studies together.
(They would both enjoy six figure launches a few weeks later.)
“Anyway, the reason I’m calling,” Brad said, getting right to business, “Is that I want
to have a million dollar-day launch.”
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“What do you have to offer folks in return?” I asked point blank. I figured if he could
be shockingly blunt, then so could I.
He said, “I started a wedding favors business about two years ago, a Yahoo store,
powered by organic search from Google, Yahoo and MSN. Now we’re bringing in
about a million dollars a month in sales. Almost totally based on free search engine
traffic. You can find me at the top of the search rankings for Wedding Favors.”
“Impressive.” I said. It really was. “Have you ever helped anyone build a website?”
“My partner Andy Jenkins and I launched a home study course called Stomping the
Search Engines. We then sold a $10,000 per person apprentice course to around 50
people. Everyone in that program has been successful with getting top organic
search rankings. Many of them have built million dollar businesses.” It rolled off of
his tongue as if he had been waiting his whole life for me to ask him.
“Will they be willing to be interviewed for case studies?” I asked.
“Yes. Almost all of them.” Brad said without hesitation.
“Ok. This definitely sounds interesting.” I said. “Let me get back to you.”
Brad said, “I’m headed to China tomorrow. That’s where we get our wedding favors
made. So if I don’t hear from you before then, we can talk when I get back.”
“Sounds like a plan.” I said, thanking him and hanging up.
“Neil Strauss.”
I walked back inside the Hard Rock hotel.
I spied Matt Kadish, who was hanging out in the back of the room with a very
serious, slight, bald man with a devilish looking goatee, and very present dark eyes.
“Neil, this is the guy I was telling you about, Mike Long. Mike this is Neil Strauss.”
“Hey Neil,” I said, shaking his hand.
“Hey Mike,” Neil said, lighting up instantly with a bright grin. “Sorry if I seem so
serious. I just got off the phone with my ex girlfriend, Evelyn. She’s a poker player…”
“Evelyn Ng?” I said, surprised.
“You know her?” He said, looking shocked.
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“Actually, she’s one of my friend’s roommates…” I replied.
“David Williams?” Neil said.
“Yeah, David.” I said, referring to the World Series of Poker champion. “I’ve known
him since he was a 15-year old kid just getting his start in pro-Magic.”
“No way!” Neil said, his eyes dancing. I could see how he had become a world
famous pick-up artist. He was fun.
“So you’re wrapped up in this whole launch thing too?” Neil asked.
“Mike’s actually the one who introduced me to Frank. He gave me some tips at one
of Eben’s events a couple of years back.” Matt said, helpfully.
“No way. Thanks dude.” Neil grinned.
“No problem.” I said.
“What are you up to now?” Neil asked. “Launching stuff?”
“I always seem to be launching something.” I smiled back. “Actually, I’m working on
my second book.” I said. (referring to Annihilation Engine, which is what you're
reading part 1 of right now!)
“Let me know if you want me to edit it.” Neil said instantly.
“Wow thanks.” I replied. “I think you’re a killer writer so I really appreciate it.”
“How goes Annihilation Method?” I asked them, about their latest dating product.
Neil got a pained look on his face. I felt like I had stepped on his cat…and wounded it
fatally.
“Ahh… The tapes got kind of… messed up.” Matt said, referring to the recordings of
their $7,000 per person workshop.
“Gotcha.” I said. As I’ve mentioned more than once in this issue, and as I’ll no doubt
mention in issues of Annihilation Engine to come, so much of online marketing is
about working our way past these glitches. Again, this is a matter of winning in
preparation. I could see by the troubled look on Neil’s face that he was just finding
this out…
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I said goodbye to Neil and Matt and went over to chat with John Reese about the
whole Brad Fallon thing. He said he thought I should look into it. And if the case
studies were for real he said he would get behind it.
I talked to Jeff Walker after that. He told me that he thought I should double my
asking price, with a wry grin on his face. It was flattering coming from somebody
who had just written me a big fat check.
Shortly after I got home from Orlando, I wrote Brad a letter about the launch he
wanted to do. It was a long letter explaining:
1) If what he said was true, I thought we could build an 8-figure business
training folks in SEO.
2) I wanted 10% of the gross, pre-refund proceeds of the launch.
3) It would cost him a $10,000 retainer just for me to investigate his business to
see if I wanted to get more involved.
4) The way we would succeed, if we did succeed, was through a great deal of
preparation.
Here was his reply...
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“The Jewel.”
A few weeks later, Frank invited me to come and visit him in La Jolla, California,
nestled a few miles from San Diego.
As he and India drove me back from San Diego airport, and we rounded the hill into
La Jolla, with a breathtaking view of the mountains crashing into the ocean, Frank
once again swept his arm like Vanna White. “The Jewel.” He said, proudly referring to
the translation of La Jolla to English.
“Wow.” I said.
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Frank put me up in a beach house just a couple of blocks from the La Jolla shore. The
Annihilation Method launch he did with Neil & Matt had gone off without a hitch,
and sold out in record time. Another million dollar launch in the can.
We went surfing that morning to celebrate. It was my first time.
Frank came knocking on the door to my cottage the next morning. I had just gotten
an email with an attached recording from David Mills. David and I had been hard at
work, recording dozens of case studies with Brad and Andy’s Stomper Apprentices.
We recorded them all with Camtasia, looking up each of their rankings on Google,
with the person we were interviewing on speakerphone.
Then we’d ask them where they were before they met Brad and Andy, and what the
progression had been after that. We’d talked to one guy who was now near the top
of the rankings for “Motorcycle Accessories.” And another couple of guys who were
#1 for “Sprint Cell Phone.”
I was careful to remind myself that this was one of the most important “winning in
preparation” steps for the success of the launch. Even though it might not have
“looked” as exciting from the outside looking in, soon thousands and thousands of
people would be studying these videos with great care…
The recording David had just sent over was our best yet.
I answered the door, and Frank was as cheery as ever. “What’s up dude?” You feelin it
from yesterday?”
“Ummm. Yeah.” I laughed. My whole body was sore from my first surfing experience.
“Hey, check this out.”
I pulled up my laptop for Frank, and hit play on the recording David had just sent
me.
It was from a 70-year old grandmother named Sydney Johnston who had built a
mini-empire for herself based on search engine optimization. She had gone from
just over 10,000 visitors per month when she got started, to 70,000 per month
within a year.
She had top rankings for almost every “how to sell on eBay” term on Google. And she
credited it all to the training she’d gotten from Brad and Andy, and to the community
that had formed around it.
“That’s some serious stuff.” Frank said, whistling as the case study ended. “Do you
have more of these?”
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“Only about fifty of them.” I laughed, thinking of the way that David and I had been
burning the midnight oil for weeks putting together these lengthy investigations.
Something big that I had learned from John Reese while behind the scenes of the
Traffic Secrets launch, was that there were really two launches going on in any
affiliate situation.
One launch was, of course, the launch to the prospects. Because if nobody told the
prospects what was going on, then none of them would become customers.
But the second launch was the one that needed to come before the prospects ever
saw the materials intended for them. I’m referring to the affiliate launch. Getting
affiliates really involved.
In fact, a big part of the reason that Jeff Walker had wanted my help, even though
he’s a really tremendous writer with oodles of experience, is because so much of his
time was getting sunk into letting affiliates know what to do. And because of that, he
ended up needing a hand with preparing the dispatches going out to the prospects.
You see, what John taught me, perhaps more than anything else during the milliondollar day, and what my experience on Product Launch Formula and other affiliate
launches after that had taught me, was that affiliates are just like prospects. But
instead of just being able to order once, some affiliates can effectively “order” several
times, by sending out blasts to their lists…
I didn’t want to walk into the same problem with trying to do two things at one time.
So I needed to bring a writer on board to help. And I didn’t know a writer who I
thought was more capable of making folks get excited about a product, than Frank
Kern.
Plus, I knew that many of the top affiliates respected Frank’s writing, and I wanted to
arm myself with as many reasons as possible for affiliates to promote our materials.
Even though we had these killer case study videos, it would be difficult for every
single affiliate to come up with great copy to support their promotion. I wanted to
provide them with a swipe file that would make them feel fantastic about promoting.
“the $25,000 copywriting job.”
I asked Frank what it would take for him to write the swipe files for affiliates. He
said $25,000. I think he said that because he thought there was no way that I would
say yes.
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(Frank also ended up scripting our videos AND writing the sales letter, all of which
were tremendously well done.)
But I had already talked Brad into hiring Frank in advance. To Brad’s credit, he
never blinked at the cost.
Frank and I had a blast that weekend. It was kind of like a non-stop sleepover.
He recommended that I move to La Jolla. And I realized that I was having so much
fun, and that it would probably be a great place to do this mega launch from, so I
agreed.
“annihilation engine on steriods.”
Now the whole point of my Annihilation Engine is to take stories of individuals
having success and to share it back with the community as a whole, not just to
encourage action, but also to get more stories of individuals having success. The
snowball effect.
We walked in the door, loaded with 50 extraordinary video case studies, and with
John Reese’s commitment to promote. Plus, now we had Frank Kern’s swipe files and
video scripts to provide more fuel to the fire. Our preparation was really getting
there!
Things were already red hot by the time that John started promoting, and affiliates
started following suit, sending out Frank’s swipe files. And because I could focus in
on affiliates, my constant phone calls reminded them of just exactly what John and
Frank were up to, and the results we were getting.
I gained an enormous amount of respect during this launch for the work of both
David Mills and Andy Jenkins, who were tirelessly forging behind the scenes. David
was planning and organizing the machinery of the business, and Andy was providing
content that wowed and amazed our prospects.
For instance, Andy worked tirelessly on the “Going Natural” videos that we shared,
putting valuable ideas on how to rank in the search engines. And most importantly,
he was willing to re-shoot the videos again and again, until they were great.
And the results once again showed the wisdom of going the extra mile to get ready,
because the steady stream of testimonials that poured into our inbox from the free
material alone, was staggering. Every day, we got reports of several people getting
ranked for search terms on Google.
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Then something happened that sent the launch into a total frenzy.
Jeff Mulligan, the guy who had insisted that I meet John Reese years before, also
insisted that I meet someone else, shortly after the Product Launch Formula launch.
Jeff showed me the “Rich Jerk”, a new site that was taking Clickbank by storm. He
told me that the guy who founded it was Kelly Felix, and that he was actually a down
to earth genius, and that I had to meet him.
Jeff introduced me to Kelly in Las Vegas several weeks before the launch began. We
were at an IM mastermind, that was really supposed to be a bachelor party for John
Reese. But since he had broken off his wedding a few weeks prior, it had been
renamed the “Back to Bachelor” party. Kelly and I hit it off in surprising fashion.
I added Kelly to my affiliate list, and after viewing our case study videos, Kelly asked
if we could meet up in his office in Carlsbad.
To make a long story short, (Once again, I will discuss Kelly's involvement and the
Rich Jerk business in much greater detail in another issue of Annihilation Engine.)
Kelly asked for a broad degree of latitude in promoting the launch.
I enthusiastically agreed, because I realized that Kelly had been preparing for a
massive affiliate move with his Rich Jerk list, having never promoted a 3 rd party offer,
and that he could put things over the top in a big way if we gave him the benefit of
the doubt. I got Brad and Andy to reluctantly agree to let Kelly promote the way a
“Rich Jerk” would…
“Firestorm.”
Once Kelly promoted, all hell broke loose.
The Rich Jerk had never promoted anyone but himself, and in true sarcastic style,
Kelly turned what was already a charged situation into a total firestorm of
controversy.
His provocative emails practically begged for Brad and Andy to fire back at him…if
not sue!
We had already been getting a steady gush of emails every single day from folks
excited about the materials we were sharing for the StomperNet launch (John Reese
was the one who came up with the name StomperNet – about half way through the
launch)…
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…But once Kelly started promoting, the gush turned into a volcano of sometimes
heated and other times hilarious emails from prospects. Not to mention that even
though hundreds of affiliates were promoting, one out of every four visitors were
coming from Kelly’s super-heavyweight Rich Jerk list!
Some accused us of actually being the Rich Jerk. Others demanded that we return
fire. Still, others laughed and laughed, complimenting our orchestrated brilliance.
But it wasn’t all orchestrated. In many ways it was a grand chaos, but it was built on
a foundation of solid preparation.
There were so many loose cannons involved, that nobody knew what would happen
next. What would Kelly say next? What would Frank write in his next email? Where
would John Reese come down on things? Oh, and by the way, what would Brad and
Andy say?
But I wasn’t nearly as worried as you might think, because I knew that each player
involved had put a ton of preparation into this thing. And they were all drawing off of
the up front work that Andy had put in, helping his customers succeed in the first
place, and that David and I had documented in our 50 case study videos.
So despite the chaos, there was an underlying foundation of preparation that was
robust. And that allowed us to continue to move forward, especially under David’s
watchful eye, as he managed our business moves.
By a lucky stroke of fate, Frank and Ed decided to have one final Underachiever
event in San Diego. And one of the guest speakers was none other than John Carlton.
Frank and I sat down with John in the secluded speaker room and asked him for his
advice. I used Camtasia on my laptop to record the three of us rapping about what
the exact copy should be, and I transcribed it.
That ended up being our video book that went out to prospects, plus our
testimonials, almost word for word.
That video book was tremendously popular. Now, I mentioned before that it was
lucky that John Carlton was there, but we were also in a position to capitalize on that
luck because of the great case studies we had, because we had Frank working on our
side, and because Andy, David and I were prepared to bring that video book home.
“Tipping point.”
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Right before our original intended launch date, Brad and Andy decided to put the
launch off for a week at John Reese’s recommendation. Frank then announced
through his “swipe file” broadcast that we had postponed the launch for a week, for
a “cooling off” period, during which he would actually explain what the heck was
actually involved in a membership for StomperNet.
This is where David Mills made a chess move that set into play a chain reaction that
turned the tables and made everything go totally berserk.
I had long since figured out that Kelly was actually just a really funny guy who was
trying to sort of pick a “war of words” with Brad and Andy. And I complained to
David incessantly that Brad and Andy refused to mix it up, instead preferring to take
the high road.
Then one night, David sent me an email with something brilliant. He had made a
post on StomperBlog.com with a video where he hit back at the Rich Jerk on behalf
of Andy and Brad.
Now the funny thing is that during much of Kelly’s distinguished online marketing
career, he had gotten the majority of his leads through search engine optimization.
In fact Kelly’s first online business, a credit repair website, had ranked #1 for the
monster search term “Bad Credit” for 3-years running.
But David did a little bit of digging and realized that he had caught Kelly with his
pants down, for the moment at least.
He noticed that Kelly’s Rich Jerk business was so reliant on Pay-Per-Click
advertising, and especially affiliate traffic from Clickbank, that Kelly had gotten lazy
with SEO, and didn’t have much in the way of Google rankings to show for his 8figure website empire.
David made a video exposing that fact, and firing back at Kelly on his implication
that the Jerk knew more about SEO than Brad and Andy.
David’s video was an instant cult hit on our Blog, drawing thousands of views and
loads of excited comments overnight.
John Reese seized upon the brilliance of the idea right away and suggested that we
“pile on” to it as much as possible...
“Granny vs. the Rich Jerk.”
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Less than a day later, we went live with a video that set the Internet on fire.
Sydney Johnston, the eBay granny, recorded a video based on David Mills template,
where she lambasted the Rich Jerk for having not only worse rankings than Brad and
Andy, but in fact worse rankings than her!
The result was like a howitzer shot at short range.
Within hours, traffic to StomperBlog.com exploded to the highest numbers yet.
Again, from the outside things looked like chaos, but really it was a matter of a
number of threads of careful preparation being drawn together…
Hours later we sent out this swipe copy that Frank wrote to affiliates, who picked up
the ball and ran with it:
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Just over a week later, Frank Kern banged on the door to my La Jolla beach house.
Launch day.
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“Wooo! I live for this!” Frank called out at the top of his lungs, as we pressed send on
our launch email, and opened up the cart for business.
That day, our launch URL convertlinks.com, came from out of nowhere to become
the 134th most visited site on the Internet.
Months of preparation were coming to fruition, and the 14-million dollar day was in
session.
Click here to watch a clip of a video that Frank Kern and I recorded shortly after the
14-million dollar day, recounting our roles in the chaos that ensued:
Frank Kern and Mike Long on the $14-Million Dollar day.
One of the things that I’ve learned in the last few years, when it comes to my
relationship advice business, is that it’s often much easier to teach somebody to
succeed in relationships. That's because there are so many clear cut milestones, such
as making first contact, exchanging phone numbers, making a date, falling in love,
getting engaged, getting married, having children and so on.
Sadly, when it comes to the way business is taught, the little successes often get
swept under the rug, and wilt in our minds, because they are never properly
appreciated. Without appreciation, we can’t have success.
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Especially without appreciating the importance of preparation.
I was talking to one of our Bring the Fresh customers a few days ago - Travis Sago of
Bum Marketing. I mentioned this dilemma to him, and he had a great insight. Travis
teaches folks how to succeed with affiliate marketing, and he said that one of the big
things he focuses on is celebrating the individual stepping stones in building a web
site, as milestones for success. This is the “work” of appreciating preparation.
For instance, every time one of his customers gets an article posted on a blog,
bringing a fresh inbound link and visitors to their site, Travis celebrates it. That's
because he realizes that much like a romantic relationship, if you can’t appreciate
getting a phone number as a step in the right direction, then how can you end up
married? In the same way, if one of our customers can’t appreciate getting their first
article up on somebody’s blog or on an article directory, or if they can’t celebrate
making their first sale, even if it’s only for a few bucks, then how can they have the
motivation to make all of the moves necessary to build a successful website?
(More on Travis and his Bring the Fresh testimonial in a moment.)
This idea of properly celebrating and appreciating our successes runs much deeper
than most people suspect.
Let me explain…
Earlier I mentioned that I’d gone mostly underground for the last two years,
preparing Bring the Fresh…
…During that time, I not only did in-depth reflecting and researching of the various
successes that I've been a part of. I also scoured business books, and researched
every scientific case study I could put my hands on from the University of Virginia
library, and on Amazon.com.
I arrived at a single study that I think best explains why businesses truly succeed or
fail. In fact, I’m totally astonished that this study isn’t the talk of the business
world…
“Recognizing Excellence.”
Recently the O.C. Tanner company released a white paper, using research data from
the Jackson Organization. The white papers included an eye opening study where
the Jackson Group surveyed 26,000 employees at all levels, in 31 different business
organizations of various size and profitability.
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Respondents were asked to state their level of agreement to the phrase, “My
organization recognizes excellence.”
They could respond with one of the following:
a) Agree
b) Strongly Agree
c) Disagree
d) Strongly Disagree
The responses from each organization were averaged and grouped into four
quartiles. Those organizational results were then compared with these profitability
measures:
 Return on Equity (Calculated by taking the fiscal year’s earnings and
dividing them by the average shareholder’s equity for that year. It is used as a
general indication of how much money a company is able to generate, given
the investment provided by its shareholders.)
 Return on Assets (The fiscal year’s earnings divided by the total assets. This
number tells us how much profit a company has achieved for each dollar of
asset utilized.)
 Operating Margin (The ratio of operating income to sales. Operating margin
shows how much a company makes from each dollar of sales, before interest
and taxes.)
Here are the results for return on equity:
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Here are the results for return on assets:
Here are the results for Operating Margin:
The businesses represented by the green column on the right are the businesses in
which the respondents “Strongly Agreed” that their organization recognizes
excellence. The brown column were those who “Agree”, Red were those who
“Disagree”, and the blue “Strongly Disagree”.
As you can see, the businesses where excellence is recognized, greatly outperform
businesses that do a worse job of recognizing their employees' excellence.
This study reflects exactly what I have seen while working behind the scenes in the
creation of tens of millions of dollars in web businesses.
What measurably counts towards success in business, is appreciation.
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This idea makes up a great part of what I consider my Annihilation Engine. The
idea that recognizing excellence is one of the biggest needs, if not the biggest driving
force in the life of any human being, at least once we’ve got food enough to survive.
“Bring the fresh 2012”
During the past few years that I've been “underground”, I have been preparing a very
special project with my friends Kelly Felix and David Mills (and for a while I didn't
consciously know it).
The three of us have been in contact nearly every day, discussing how we can really
improve not only our bank accounts, but ourselves and the lives of others.
You see, we've already done the big houses, the fancy cars, the fast paced, jet-set
lifestyles. And while I realize many of you reading this may think that sounds great,
it just wasn't fulfilling. Not to us, anyway. (and by the way I also realize many people
will just need to find out for themselves)
But the conclusion we've come to is this:
We want to help people succeed in business and life, and we want to share in their
successes by fully appreciating them.
During our daily phone calls over the past few years, one thing we all agreed on,
almost every time we hung up, is that a lot of folks could really benefit from listening
in on our conversations. So finally, with some relentless urging from Kelly, we
decided not only would we let folks listen in, but we would meet up in person and
actually record video of our conversations, on every topic we could think of that
could help folks succeed online, and in their personal lives.
And after 30 days of filming, and many additional videos being recorded since then,
we are very proud of our video series called “Bring the Fresh”, where you get the
opportunity to look over our shoulders as we take you behind the scenes of our
online businesses. We reveal what we were thinking at each crucial move, and we
show you exactly how we created each and every business over the past 10 years.
Including our current businesses (in several various niches). Nothing was held
back.
Our current businesses are powered by surprisingly effective search engine
optimization tactics that have helped us get hundreds of thousands of targeted
visitors to our sites every month. We showed you our URL's, and our step by step
methods for getting search engine traffic.
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May I tell you the astonishing results?
Our customers have already had massive success using our formula, including guys
like Mike Swanson, from Danville Virginia, who now ranks #1 on Google for “Oil
Stocks” and #3 for “Stock Trading.” (Which is a search term that gets 4,000,000
views each month at an average cost of nearly $15 per click on Google’s sponsored
results! You can see his website Wall Street window below ranked #3!).
Mike Swanson just launched a #1 Amazon Best seller using the free traffic he's
collected...and he's launched a 6-figure product too!
Or there's Chris Cronje a new dad from South Africa...
...Chris quit his job to start up a new venture, only to have the bottom drop out with
the current economic crisis. Bring the Fresh to the rescue! In two weeks this August
Chris used Bring the Fresh to rack up over $50,000 in profits using a technique that
we teach step by step called launch jacking.
Here's a look at just some of Chris' Stats:
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Then there's Rick Rivera from Costa Rica. Rick is a total rookie who's never made a
cent online...
...Until he got Bring the Fresh. Since then Rick has raked in over $100,000, also using
the launch jacking method we teach, and bought himself a brand new luxury
apartment in his home town!
Here's a snapshot of just some of Rick Rivera's $187,000 in earnings:
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Bring the Fresh explains EXACTLY how we prepare, in part because we have
prepared and tested many of the moves that our customers can duplicate in advance,
and in part because we have gone through great lengths to make it easy for our
customers.
Click right here to learn EXACTLY what's inside of Bring the Fresh. (And you can see
case study videos with Mike Swanson, Rick Rivera and Chris Cronje and many
others who we've helped...with their sites and strategies revealed!)
We hope you’ll join us in Bring the Fresh 2012 so we can help you enjoy great and
sustainable success!
It's all happening,
Mike Long
P.S. Here's a screen capture from Mike Swanson's Bring the Fresh earnings:
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