Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Questions Anyone?

In all my years as a chef and restaurateur I was little concerned about issues of motivation and reward. I cooked food, I sold food or I consumed it... and nothing was disguised about anyone's motivation OR reward - because the truth is always in the tasting, isn't it?

Such was my grounded thinking before my explorations into the netherworld of internet publishing and marketing.

The world I once thrived in... automatically assumed everyone is an expert... and I would never deign it within my power to think just because I might be rather more expert preparing your food... that I was really more or less of an expert than other folks - who certainly were experts about foods they liked or didn't like!

Thus framing the way I approached everyone was simple. Always in the spirit of utmost hospitality... like that of an enthusiastic host... I was sensitive about ensuring everyone had a good time. I wanted that no one ever be hurt or insulted... so nothing was left to chance. For me to sense that one single someone... might somehow not feel included in the merriment... of just feeling the sheer pleasure of the moment... I had worked (played) so hard to make happen... was anathema to all that mattered to me.

I find I enjoy amusing myself sometimes when asked to respond to questionnaires from marketers, writers and copywriters - most anyone I come across, and respect, online. Along the way I've learned to not expect any real feedback, as my questions relate less and less to any serious intent on my part to engage as a real customer. Since more and more of the messages I receive are merely about selling me more of the same old recycled information... or more of the same new-and-improved whiz-bang gadgets or insider tips... or another exclusive membership to a club, a mastermind group or one more inner circle... I wonder if I'm not being set up for a practical joke... and I shouldn't just have my chuckle and move on to the next one... so as to not feel I'm being rude by simply ignoring them.

Words which really turn me off include...

I will show you or I will teach you - even if I'm convinced the vendor truly is capable, if not extraordinarily well-qualified.

Must said vendor be so damn convinced of his first-person self worth? Why is so much information I need to make an informed decision simply not stated - whether accidentally or intentionally omitted... or not?

I have the secrets is another. I've often been inspired to ask if they might want to barter with me, as I've got a lot of secrets too I'd like to trade.

Next time you wanna sell me $197 worth of secrets how 'bout I sell you $497 worth of my very own proprietary trade secrets in exchange?


I DO like to over-deliver, ya know!

I'm rich and successful so, by its own implication, this means you must not be if you're reading this sales letter right now.

Take a look at my toys if you don't believe me!

This is always from some twenty-or-thirty-something young hot shot who just hasn't realized yet a million dollars or two ain't what it used to be - given that s/he's probably only a year or two removed from some hell-hole of a cheap suburban box and a ten-year-old car... which only yesterday repaired this person back and forth from his dead end ivory tower job downtown.

Here's a screen shot - it's proof of my earnings, AND of how smart I am!

Boy, it's like hitting the jackpot, ain't it? Hey, what you do in Vegas stays in Vegas, okay?

... Then I've got the ideal training course - or coaching program - just for you!

Man I hate these words program, coach, or course because they sound so, you know, canned. Sounding a little bit fishy for me, it's like imagining the fates of a few dozen sardines in a crowded tin - each one programmed or coached, of course - for a fantastic career as a success merchant or widget dealer. In a tried-and-true mogul-in-training, climb-the-corporate-ladder language I can only describe as corporate-speak... delivered in a streamlined fish factory sorta way, I hate knowing how easy it is that our own fates can be sealed by someone else's idea of an afternoon snack.

So it's good to remind yourself: To be spoon-fed someone else's idea of a good time is to invite them to chew you up and spit out your bones!

It calls up that achingly sad scene with our old friend Willy Loman... near the ending of Death of a Salesman... when for one brief heart-wrenching moment... he's brought to the sudden realization... he'd been living a lie all along... and his world crashes down upon him... hurting all those he'd held dearest.

Remember him? Had it all figured out, didn't he? All Willy needed in life was the right kind of program to fit you into... plus a shoe shine and a smile!

This is the fear I personally fear the most, the fear that living my life will have been predicated on one big fat lie, one on top of another, and I ultimately hurt all those around me - myself included.

No wonder it calls to mind this startling truth: "Man is one of the few species left on Earth who still preys on its own."

Then I'm presented the terms guru, as in I am your guru, and newbie, put to me like You are my newbie, which are meant to be taken, I'm given to understand, in all sorts of new and interesting ways.

How they are perceived - and acted upon - by either party, though, is how big lies often get started.

As I've come to understand their meanings I've compiled a few synonyms for each of these insider terms.

The Guru is... a spiritual advisor; the seller; the teacher; an expert; your instructor, maven or guide; the rich one; smarter-than-thou; holier-than-thou; the better one; a smart-ass; the controller; the lister; the targeter.

And the Newbie is... a babe-in-the woods; the customer; a neophyte; a pigeon; the client; a noob, a mark, a victim or the prey; a sycophant; a sucker; the lesser one; a dumb-ass; the broke one; the controlled; listless; the target.

Now don't get me wrong. I enjoy a good laugh like most folks. And, yes, I've bought a lot of this stuff too. Perhaps I felt like I must tip these jokesters from time to time so they'd continue to entertain me!

It seemed the ethical thing to do at the time, I guess. And after all, they were just trying to earn a living, weren't they?

Besides, I learn a lot from these folks, so it's the least I can do - to throw 'em a bone when they're deserving. And I might want to actually engage them seriously one day in a more genuine dialogue or something, so why wouldn't I want to develop a relationship with them - as one-sided and preposterous as it often is now?


Perry Marshall Asks...

What is your most pressing Business Challenge?

... And Lark replies...

My most pressing business challenge is to reconcile my idealism with the demands of an online entrepreneur.

In such a competitive environment I'm convinced our approach - the ways we frame our messages - must be without any hype whatsoever; not to mention, it must be above reproach if we are to expect the mutual respect we hope to engender among our clients and customers.

Fortunately, the things which interest me most go to the heart of persuasion techniques I'm studying - along with concepts of motivation and reward.

Less inclination towards business and more towards busy-ness is at the heart of our message... because there really need be no separation, ideally, between our personal and our professional lives... if work is allowed to feel more like play.

I believe these are some very basic universal principles ordinary people might better relate to with less apparent effort and little or no skepticism - about our motivations... and the rewards to be expected by all of us.

Insights can be found in our brand blueprint - called a Legend Platform - on our blog, which you can access from our first information product...

... at Mark and Lark.com

Thanks for reading... and "thank you" for the audio!


And I'm a sucker for contests too! Here the questions asked are...

Why do you need to learn copywriting?

... and...

What will you do with the lessons you learn about copywriting?

... in 250 words or less...

... though I must tell you I was really thinking about the scene in Scarface when Tony Montana is being asked at the fancy car dealership, "Are you chure you actually ARE a Porcha customer?"

Or words to the same effect anyway.

Laurence Says:
February 10th, 2007 at 12:50 am

Thanks, Ray, for giving voice to the teachings of Ray Edwards via your videos. I enjoy listening to folks... as much as I like seeing their words and pictures on a web page.

It heightens the overall look and feel of the relationship-building process; and it enhances the feelings and perceptions the words and images do not always supply... sufficient enough to make a virtual connection, that is.

A human voice such as yours, once heard, is as magical as the siren song of the Muse in literature... and the impetus for me heeding your call to action today!


We form relationships in life because one is a lonely number - and it often takes two to tango.

It’s why we form personal and business relationships in the first place - our species demands its propagation and alliances lend themselves to our better social adjustment and survivability skills.

For economy of scale and a surfeit of abundance to coexist in nature requires an artful collaboration, doesn’t it?

All’s well... when the music stops, the dance is adjourned, and we’re invigorated by the experience... that ends so well.

Thus begins... our common emotional journey... for nourishment of the soul... and the hunting and gathering of sustenance... anew.

A copywriter’s study ought to begin in grade school and continue over a lifetime.

In today’s increasingly interconnected world all human beings should be learning to eliminate barriers... by overcoming obstacles... and building a happier society... for a healthier sustainable future... simply by applying its lessons.

One lesson learned from the biblical Tower of Babel story is that our once common human language was supplanted by a confusion of tongues...

The confusion many of us have with everyday language is at the heart of all our other difficulties. Irregardless of which language is spoken though, language arts - by way of spoken and written words - are critical of mastery if we are to enjoy any measure of true success in life.

... and in the Information Age it is still but one emergent lesson from this ancient story we would be foolish to set aside and forget.


Mark and Lark, the serial comic adventures of two suburbanites learning to master the intricacies of internet marketing and the skills of the copywriter, was borne from our desire to combine Mark’s love of technology and my love for words.

Let the music – and the dancing – of the acolytes begin!