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Blogging before Blogs…

- by Jason Hart

The year was 1978 and the same Bill Bonner began writing an internet series called The Daily Reckoning. It began as a collection of essays and short notes that Bonner would develop through the years.

In 1978 when Bill began, he was ahead of the innovation curve. He had been blogging before the term blog even existed. As stated in the previous chapter Bill Bonner is an articulate libertarian financial analyst who passionately desired to bring his understanding and views to the masses. So day after day, he would watch what was happening in the world of finance, economics, and politics. And day after day, he would think, ponder, be amused and write. He merely described what he saw happening.

It resonated with his burgeoning readership.

Again, Bonner had stumbled upon something fairly new in the press. Journalists believe their job is to report the facts, not to laugh at them. The whole journalistic field takes itself far too seriously, Bonner surmised. “Who will buy their papers and magazines if they make a joke of it?” In fact the whole world of finance and investments were caught up in the same vacuum; that the world of finance, investments, and economics was serious business. They thought that technology would rule both in technology as well as in financial theory, and it would make them rich.

If the internet made wealth secrets available to everyone – if you could now go onto the internet to find out how to make a nuclear bomb, or a fortune – If people believed that “Stocks for the long run” seemed like an almost risk-free road to riches – Then readers weren’t going to pay someone to make fun of their hopes and dreams and demoralize their ambitions.

So, The Daily Reckoning would be FREE. By providing a free publication, when others were charging for theirs readers could not complain that they were not getting their money’s worth.

He was simply directing an already-existing mass desire. He didn’t create it, he directed it. In doing so, he held sway over an economic force hundreds of times more powerful than the mere number of dollars he would spend to it.
Schwartz calls this the Amplification Effect. In essence, when you follow the formula laid out above, for every $1 you spend on advertising and marketing you realize a ROI of $50 or even $100. This was Schwartz formula in 1966. Now fast forward to the Internet age and the technological advances available to marketers today and the Amplification Effect becomes intensified to a stratospheric level.

The Amplification Effect occurs only when you exploit already existing desires. If you miss-apply it and try to create desire then you end up merely educating the reader which has a far, far lower return on investment.

The Daily Reckoning began amidst stimulating times. Imaginations ran wild. Shortly after it began publication we entered into Afghanistan and then Iraq. Here is an example of the contrarian position of the Daily Reckoning…

“…No WMDs were ever found. These wars made little sense in terms of US strategic interests, said critics. But perhaps they missed the point. Men have desires. History has destinations. Maybe the point was not to win, but to lose. The United States faced no real enemies or probable threats. Nature abhors a vacuum and detests a monopoly. After the Berlin Wall fell, the United States had a near monopoly on military power. She could not find a worthy opponent. So, she had to create one. She sought to destroy herself by spending money she didn’t have on wars she couldn’t win.”

At the time, it was thought that all you needed to do in order to start marketing online was build a website… and people would visit your website in droves and buy whatever you were selling.

People didn’t do it then and they do not do it now. Just throwing up a website with details about your products is not going to appeal to your prospects.

Here the copy writer is dealing with straws in the wind that may indicate a hurricane. Here he needs sensitivity, foresight, intuition. He must also be able to see and catch the rising tide when it’s almost imperceptible – sense which of the several appeals that are built into his product he should stress at any particular moment, and when to shift to another – and, always, how to be there first. – Eugene Schwartz – Breakthrough Advertising

Bill Bonner decided to test a theory — to see whether the direct-marketing methods he had used to launch and run International Living, a profitable offline publishing business could be tailored to run one online business. He has had much assistance in this, utilizing the formidable expertise of Michael Masterson and MaryEllen Tribby.

Michael helped to mastermind the approach that the newsletters would take while MaryEllen focused on the cross pollination of the multi-channel effect. We’ll study these aspects in greater detail in subsequent chapters.

The results they were able to achieve were so remarkable — that the approach that they came up with (and still use today) is known as the “Agora Model.”

If you would like to harness the power of the Agora Model for your own marketing click here.

The Agora Model is based on the idea that online marketing works best when:
• You have a person’s permission to contact him/her.
• You have already established a relationship with that person. They recognize your name and have a sense that they already know you (to some extent).
• You give them something of value beyond what you want them to buy from you.

When you do this, the reader doesn’t feel that you are trying to sell them something. People don’t like being sold.
Here’s how it works in the Agora Model, you first build your list of contacts — the names and e-mail addresses of people who have given you permission to contact them.

By applying Schwartz’ Amplification Effect you can make a lot of money with conventional direct-response marketing, but marketing via the Internet causes the Amplification Effect to go into hyper-drive. For one thing, with conventional direct-response marketing, it can be expensive to build a house file — not to mention the cost of printing and mailing sales letters. It’s infinitely simpler and cheaper to build an e-list, and it costs next to nothing to maintain. Plus, it’s almost free to send e-mails to the names on that list.

The question was, “how to best build the list.” Masterson came up with the idea of offering prospective customers free “e-letters” (online newsletters) — filled with interesting, inspiring, and useful ideas and information — in exchange for their e-mail addresses. By doing that, they would be addressing the three core requirements of the proposed model:

1. They would have their prospects’ permission to contact
them.
2. They would be starting to establish a relationship with them.
3. They would be giving their prospects something of value
beyond what they wanted them to buy.

If you would like to harness the power of the Agora Model for your own marketing click here.

And so the Daily Reckoning, was born giving its readership an knowledgeable and contrarian perspective on the financial world. The Daily Reckoning now boasts a readership of around 500,000, and has a profitable customer list that any online (or offline) business would give an arm for.

Another highly successful Agora e-letter has been International Living Postcards, written by a team of traveling writers and correspondents. When you subscribe to International Living Postcards you get a new story every day about the travels of these roving correspondents in far-flung places around the globe.

With a winner like the Daily Reckoning, Agora, over time, was able to spinoff a couple of dozen successful online newsletters, all contributing to the hundreds of millions of dollars in online sales that Agora takes in every year.

People sign up for these e-letters and tell their friends about them. Then those people sign up and tell their friends. And all of them are willing recipients of the offers e-mailed by the Agora group of companies every day.

If you would like to harness the power of the Agora Model for your own marketing click here.

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