Sunday, February 27, 2011

Scammers, Joseph Campbell, and the Eternal Story

Howie Schwartz, a self-admitted black-hat marketer (turned grey) gave me this clue in the depths of some material he marked "Confidential". (Although I've found the same actual datums in several places, such as Charles Heflin's SEO2020.com.)

Howie said this about a social site:
"One of the strategies that work very well in rapport with [site concerned] is to put the accent in the personal point of view. Self improvement systems or anything that can be connected with the solution of problems affecting us in an emotional level are very easy to market with the appropriate line behind. 
"The structure is the same of a story: it has the opening with the presentation of the problem and the protagonist, a transformation suffered by the protagonist thanks to the presence of an external element (contained in the product being sold) and the happy ending. 
"Interesting elements to be added is the presentation of the protagonist as authority in the subject as a consequence of the transformation. Authority can be showed by the presence of a website dealing with the problem."

And of course, this is Joseph Campbell with his "Hero with a Thousand Faces", his Jungian archetypes, and it also rolls back to T. Harv Eker and his Peak Potentials training.

Let me fill in the details.

All life could be considered a story. Each person, being, entity, form in it is here for a specific purpose. To that end, we all have our problems to face and to solve.

Campbell hit on this when he studied mythology for ages and boiled down all their plots to a single one. Mythology, of course, is the stuff of the verbal lessons handed down for generations before they were ever written down. These are the same as our fairy tales in terms of plot and substance. Horrific adventures when you boil them down. Much worse than what we face in our day-to-day over-filled-with-media lives. (The modern tragic-filled media simply gives us the ethos and pathos we want to feel we need in our lives.)

So Campbell figured out this one single plot. And then found out that the Jungian archetypes he was using actually had something to do with analyzing anyone's individual life - that a person could use this material as a form of self-analysis. You could see where you were on your own journey - and that even the archetypes had their own journey they were following.

Schwartz tells the classic point that marketing in all it's 30-second TV ads and even a good elevator pitch, is telling a story. It says that this product can help the prince find the princess, waken her with a kiss, and then live happily ever after. He is saying that marketing is all about solutions to life problems.

This was Robert Collier's claim to success as well. While known for his landmark "Secrets of the Ages", he also known in marketing circles for his "Million Dollar Sales Letters" book.

The success of these sales letters were in the stories they told. In every case, you find that they contain heroes and protagonists, challenges overcome and boons fulfilled. In just the space of two single-spaced pages of type, the reader is catapulted into a world of mystery and adventure - and brought out the other side with a simple request: share in this adventure and buy this solution. Your problem is mine and now my solution can be yours.

The authority Schwartz speaks of above is that of the story teller.

But that authority is offered by the reader, based on the value inherent in the text (or modern video) which is offered. Does the story entertain? Can we see something in our own lives or something we could use to solve the problems in our own lives? Is our own story explained here?

That's the value of marketing. To bring solutions to people, to engage them personally, to help them to act.

In this way, marketing is another route to enlightenment.

Of course, the marketer themselves may be the Trickster, or the Changeling, or some other protagonist archetype. However, this is still another part of the story. In those cases, the scammer is bringing the lessons home on a personal level. And so you have to consider that being scammed was a lesson you learned.

And far from being angry or resentful toward scammers (particularly after you get your money back) - you should be grateful for recieving the lesson offered.

The best marketing involves the reader and gets them to decide. Modern sales letters condense this into short, pithy diatribes which are formulaic and able to be skipped right down to the bottom line of "how much is THIS going to cost me?"

But not if they are well crafted.

And if you do follow modern marketing legends such as Jay Abraham, you'll see that he teaches the underlying and foundational principles which have guided humankind all through those ages.

Self-proclaimed Black Hats like Schwartz (and those scammers who live shadow lives) also know this.

The same principles which allow a sale are those which will solve any problem set in front of anyone of us.

And that is the same set of problem which Robert Collier found when he had to do his own research when dying of a mysterious illness. He cured himself with what he found, then wrote it all up in his "Secrets of the Ages."

His story is also yours, according to Campbell. And it's the story you can find when you pick up any modern tabloid and read the ads inside. It's the same story you'll view on the evening news.

It's my story.

It's your story.

And the ending is the one we pick for ourselves.