Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a conference of a few hundred people in Raleigh NC. The occasion was the fourth annual Warrior Forum gathering. I had a blast, and learned a lot, as will be seen below.
Before I get into the meat of it, I want to address the Warrior Forum itself, and the way it is viewed by most in the internet marketing community.
(Note: This reflects only my own small experience here. There may be groups of people outside the WF who hold it in high regard. I have not seen them.)
Opinion on the Wf seems to be divided into two camps:
- The Warrior Forum is a good place to get started making money online. The combined experience of the members makes for a tremendously large information resource on most every possible technique available.
- The Warrior Forum is a snakepit of opportunists preying on noobs, and WSOs (warrior Special Offers) are crap products and reports that serve only to separate the unwary from their PayPal balances.
As is usually the case, the truth is somewhere in between. There are troubling aspects to the forum, and to the way in which many WSOs are sold. But there are also numerous vendors and product creators who do their best to provide maximum value to the Warrior community.
Sporadically over the weekend I posted some of my observations to one of the forums I frequent (not the Warrior Forum). The responses were pretty much what I expected, ranging from distaste to morbid curiosity, to genuine interest. I’ll start with these below, as they are raw and unfiltered by reflection. Some are edited for clarity and privacy.
We start off on Friday evening:
Warrior Event 2012 – I am there
So far, flabbergasted by the kind of money people are making. It’s all about the list – some of these people mail multiple times per day. Most common metric I hear: $1.50 per month per person on your list. So if you can build a 10,000 person list…
Tomorrow we have the presentation going all day till 6pm, but I think that the action is in the hallways and rooms outside the meeting hall.
Got to call my sweetie, then grab a bite and back into the mix.
Looks like a 3 day party from here….
I have high hopes for some of the presentations today. These guys know they are not talking to the sheep in the WF – their audience here is the guys who make money off of the sheep.
(Note: I realized later that there were plenty of “sheep” in the audience.)
Already met some pretty big players. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to contribute to the conversations, so I just try to absorb everything.
Some interesting takes on email lists…
“There are really only about 6000 people on the WF who buy shit over and over. It’s entertainment for them.”
“Most people on your list are also on other people’s list – who gets the click is timing / who can add the best OTO promise”
“mail em every day – mail them about everything – just keep trading and sharing lists to keep your subscriber numbers up”
These from a VERY smart guy who is going to present on buying traffic:
“Segment your lists every way you can. Click percentages can be analyzed to predict who will buy – concentrate on those list members and sell sell sell.”
“Automate everything. When someone opens and clicks on an offer, that should determine the entire downstream activity aimed at that person.”
“Never share your lists with anyone. they are gold.”
I also heard some very convincing evidence that Aweber is inflating their stats from a guy who is doing 20,000 plus mailings and testing Aweber against Get Response. Seems for an identical campaign to segments of a list, the half going Aweber reports much larger open rates, but identical click through rates to the Get Response half. Second campaign, switching segments between services – same thing. Click rates identical, but Aweber reporting higher open rates.
Then a general agreement in the group that open rates mean nothing – click throughs are the gold.
No good beer choices at this hotel.
(Edit: later found a halfway decent local brew: Hummingbird. Also the burgers were pretty damn good.)
Overall, I am in way over my head here – there are people here who make more in a week than I do in a year. So I will just take in as much as I can, and see what I can apply to my own (suddenly insignificant) business.
(Edit: the above turns out to be an exaggeration – I think there are a lot of people on the WF making 100k – 500k / year, but very few beating that.)
The smartest guy I talked to last night talked about two niches – weight loss and MMO. He does massive weight loss mailings. So at this level, these guys have the horse power to attack anything. I am not sure what the different approaches are – my guy talked mostly about buy-in and urgency – it seems not to matter as much what the subject is.
One thing no one talks about: websites. These guys are all Google proof. They could give a crap about rankings or algorithms. What’s missing here that you see in MMO forums: The smell of fear. “What’s Google going to do next???!!! They don’t know or care.
Then we get into the actual presentations – more on these later, but first impressions below:
This morning heard from Brad Gosse -VERY entertaining, does marketing videos while he hits a bong LOL. Ex-porn site owner very wealthy.
Anthony Aires (sp?) Very cool guy with a great back story.
Charles Kirkland – Now this guy is the shit – all about numbers, measurement. No affiliates, no JV, just numbers. He is obviously killing it. By far the best presentation in terms of actionable info – lots of good questions from the audience as well.
More on the substance once I go over my notes.
Lunch = pretty good burger by the pool. Pathetically, I miss my sweet wife. Only one day gone too.
I am taken to task by an online acquaintance in the forum @ my comment above on how it seems everyone here is smarter than me. He believes that I am “among scumbags who make their living selling to WF noobs.” Then he cautions me “not to become that kind of guy.”
Well. First off, a scumbag is a used condom, and while some of the guys looked a little worse for wear after the previous evening’s festivities, nobody looked THAT bad. Secondly, I am way too old to change now. Whatever “bagginess” I have is part of me at this point.
My response below:
@ _____ It is easy to get that idea. (That the WF is a snakepit.) But everyone here is nice as can be. And I keep hearing over and over the same thing I say:
“I sold XXXX of these things, and only 20 people came to the free follow-up webinar, and nobody asks me for help or anything.”
People buy like crazy on the WF for stuff that just sits on their hard drives. I think so long as I produce a proper product, it is none of my business what people do with it.
This is a great shiny object lesson for us all. I bet I have 2000.00 worth of courses and memberships – some I worked for a while, some I read all the way through but did not take massive action…
I listened to more than one presenter today hammer at this – don’t buy stuff unless you are going to actually do it. Try to get your customers to actually take action. When customers win with your stuff = upsell opportunities, and plus great testimonials = social proof.
Are there dirtbags on the WF? Sure – but there are nearly half a million members! What do you expect? It’s a city. (I wonder about that number. I have heard all kinds of estimates.)
Scumbags? I haven’t met any. Email list management software designers, published authors, affiliate marketers, etc – and they do sell WSOs – but again – it is the same people buying WSOs over and over that are making these guys rich. Adults spending money in an open marketplace.
Main cause of failure online? Failure to take action! Two of the speakers today – yes, presenters, because they have achieved some real success online – have been in the WF for less than 18 months. They bought WSOs too. But then they actually worked them…
More on the presentation content later, just had to say the above. Not picking you, I felt the same way just 6 months ago.. I used to feel very differently about the WF, but the more people I meet there, the better I feel about it. And they ARE smart – the average person I talk to here is at least as smart as me, and some of them are Tony Raymond smart.
Much more coming later today – long night last night, and I feel I should give credit where it’s due:
Thanks again! You’re a trooper buddy.
Note: A couple new buddies and I spent an entire evening at the bar and I felt it Sunday morning. We did come up with a new iPhone app, as well as a possible WSO to be released later this year.
Another comment from the forum – about the fact that just as most of us are dependent upon Google, the WSO producers live and die by the WF…My response:
I think that does apply to the smaller, cheesier guys – I will put up a detailed post on this weekend on my blog and paste it in here for commentary – but in a nutshell, you can divide these guys into two camps.
- Guys who copy other WSOs and just put whatever crap they can out on the forum to make a buck – their products are typically not so great.
- The real guys – these are the ones I met this weekend. There is some talk about moving off of the WF in these circles – they have what they need – a list. The list is key.
If you depend on WF you are really no diff than someone who lives and dies via SEO – Google can slap you. Once you have name and a list – you are pretty much safe, or at least as safe as you can be.
(Edit: I have to add a caveat here – While Google really doesn’t care who they destroy via de-indexing, changing the algorithm, etc., the guy who runs the WF has a vested interest in keeping WSO producers happy and interested. It costs 40.00 to run a WSO, and I believe I also paid 40.00 to become a War Room member – a prerequisite to running a WSO. At least, that is how I remember it. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.)
Diff from what I posted earlier – yep – I learned a LOT about the WF this weekend, and the disconnect between those who are putting out some incredible products (and how they do it) and those who just dump crap on the noobs – and yes, there are a lot of those guys.
Here’s an example of a really nice product – I stole this thing for about 20.00 when it launched:
More later – I have to catch up my regular biz – my son is out so it’s on me today…
OK – one more and them I really have to get to banging credit cards again.
I think you guys are going to be surprised at my notes – there was a LOT of talk about customers and customer service. There was also a lot of talk about branding and community building.
“Never forget that there is a live person on the other end of that PayPal payment. Somebody just came to you for help in starting a business. Don’t let them down”
“Over deliver – but that doesn’t mean loading up your WSO with a tone of crap freebies – It means giving them real actionable information at a level that they will find astounding.”
“Build a community. Build a brand. Remember your community is not about size – it’s about belonging. You have to genuinely care about everyone that gives you a dollar.”
“Be yourself. I do marketing videos and I’m sitting there smoking a bong. I don’t give a shit. It’s who I am. If you can’t be yourself in front of your audience, you will never connect with them.”
“Get your ass in front of the camera!!! You can’t build a community if no one knows who the f*ck you are. I don’t care if you’re afraid. You’ve got to push your way out of your comfort zone.”
All the above from guys pulling over 250k / year. I don’t think it is a coincidence that these guys are the big earners. They all have tons of rabid fans – because people buy their stuff, use it, and make money. Because they take care of their customers.
Like I said, there are two kinds of Warriors – I want to be like these guys.
Whew. OK that was all I put in the forum – BTW – It may be the best IM forum I have ever seen, and no, I won’t name it or tell anyone about it. It’s relatively small, tightly policed, it rocks and I like it that way.
Now let’s dig into my notes. Here was the agenda:
SATURDAY SPEAKER SCHEDULE
8:00 AM Attendee Check-In (Badges, Agendas, T-shirts)
8:40 – 9:00 Let’s GET PUMPED UP For A Career-Changing Weekend!
9:00 – 10:00 Brad Gosse – How To Be A High Functioning Entrepreneur
10:00 – 11:00 Anthony Aires – How To Leverage Video For Internet Marketing Success
11:00 – 12:00 Charles Kirkland – How to Build Your List with Paid Trafﬁc Virtually Overnight
12:00 – 2:00 Lunch Break (Poolside: BBQ Buffet $8)
2:00 – 3:00 Expert Panel Session (open mic expert panel discussion)
3:00 – 4:00 Kevin Rogers & Ben Johnson – ClickBank Crossover Commissions
4:00 – 5:00 Bolaji O – Steal My System: How I Broke Through To The Next Level
5:00 – 6:00 Rachel Rofe – Outsourcing Product Creation for Kindle & CreateSpace
SUNDAY SPEAKER SCHEDULE
9:00 – 10:00 Dennis Becker – Zero To 6 Figures Thanks To Friends & Thieves
10:00 – 11:00 Barry Plaskow & Roger D – How To Build A Massive Community & Earn ! ! ! ! ! ! Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars
11:00 – 12:00 Maria Gudelis & Tina Williams – How To Build A Scalable, Salable Business
12:00 – 2:00 Lunch Break (Restaurant: Italian Pasta Buffet $9.95)
2:00 – 3:00 Expert Panel / Special Session
3:00 – 4:00 Russ Rufﬁno & Adam Nolan – How 2 Escape Your 9-5
4:00 – 5:00 Dr. Ben Adkins – Product Stacking For Proﬁts
5:00 – 6:00 Willie Crawford – Land More Joint Ventures & Get People To Follow Through
As you can see, that was a LOT of material. Sometimes I took careful notes, and sometimes I just sat back and absorbed. I attended all of the sessions only missing part of the first and last ones on Sunday.
My notes are by no means complete. I only recorded the things that mattered most to me, and that I found interesting. Other times, the nature of the presentation did not lend itself to voluminous note-taking. I also left some things out on purpose – I am using my own judgment here, but some of the stuff in these presentations needs to stay in Vegas, if you know what I mean…
So – you shouldn’t take the amount of notes as an indicator of the quality of either the speaker or this particular presentation, okay?
Brad Gosse – How To Be A High Functioning Entrepreneur
An absolute blast, and a great choice to start off the conference. Mr. Goose has done very well for himself. He was profane and funny.
“Anyone want to guess how much it costs to rent the Playboy Mansion for one night? $250,000. We did this, and I sent a message to all of my advertisers that they could come to our party at the Playboy mansion for free – so long as they spent $10,000 with us the following month.”
As you might imagine, he made a buttload of cash with that little idea.
Be original, be yourself. Brad believes that the only way to really connect with your audience is to show yourself, warts and all. He, like many others here, feels that you have to put yourself out there and get in front of the camera to connect.
Brad gave us a great tip for protecting your WSO threads from haters. Not gonna share this one, but it was sweet.
Watch for opportunities to create brandable lifestyle photos. Brad relates a story of how he had a chance to do a test drive of some very nice autos indeed, and used the opportunity to take some sweet photos. This is something we can all do. I may head out to the Audi dealership myself.
He spent some time trying to get us to ignore the shiny objects. Brad makes the point that the grass is most likely not greener on the other side of the fence, and that once you have something that is working, you need to double down on it instead of working on a million things at once.
And finally, on running a porn site network:
“You guys probably think I spent my days snorting coke off some hooker’s ass. Sorry – most of my time I spent hunched over a keyboard, coding my ass off. And also – porn actresses are the worst people in the world to work with. They are different from you and me.”
Overall, a lot of fun and some good advice. Brad has a site here: http://www.bradgosse.com/
Anthony Aires – How To Leverage Video For Internet Marketing Success
Anthony gave a very autobiographical presentation – he seems like a great guy, and has been through a lot in the last few years. You can’t help but be glad he is finally doing well.
Lots if tips on using YouTube videos, including one on a way to generate multiple accounts.
Here’s Anthony’s site: http://anthonyaires.com/
Charles Kirkland – How to Build Your List with Paid Trafﬁc Virtually Overnight
Charles is a little different – no, make that l oat different – from the other guys. He doesn’t think we should share lists in general, and definitely not a list with anyone on it who actually buys stuff. He is also a big believer in buying lists.
I have to say that this technique appeals to me. I like the idea of paying for a list. That puts in in my lap – now all I have to do is convert.
He’s a big believer in testing. Test everything , headlines, copy, images, offers, if you can vary it, then test it. That makes sense, but clearly you need the list to start with to get going with this.
Charles also loves his buyers, and treats them differently from other people on his lists:
- Never mail them junk. Period.
- Never share your buyer’s emails with anyone else.
- Separate your buyers from your prospects in your lists.
- Give your buyers free stuff.
- Don’t email to your buyers for anyone else.
Then he gives out an email schedule – including email types, quantity and what time of day. Nice. Not sharing that.
Next up a lot of graphics stuff – actual screenshots of email and opt-in form layouts, and more. Very informative, and it matches up with the stuff I have read from Neilsen and others.
Lots and lots more stuff in his presentation – some of it over my head – not due to complexity, but because it refers to traffic generation techniques I simply have not ever used.
Finishes with some ideas on proper upsell strategies. Very nice presentation, and one of my favorites. Definitely one that I will watch again on video. (Yeah, we can watch these over and over. Part of what you pay for.)
Join the Cult of Charles here: http://charleskirklandblog.com/
OK that takes us up to noon on Day One. 3300 words and we still have a day and a half to go. More coming up…