Skeptic surrender – Twitter wins

Note: This started as a “tweet” but I couldn’t fit it all into 140 characters 🙂

But I recommend you test my channel and see if you like it anyway:

Out from the jungle

Right through the 1980s, every now and then a Japanese soldier would be discovered in some remote part of Asia (usually Indonesia or Papua New Guinea) “holding down the fort.”

These guys were told to hold their positions until the bitter end, and they did – for forty years after the war was over!

I’ve been kind of that way with Twitter.

Today, I wandered out of the jungle into the bright lights of Twitter Land.

My tipping point

Recently, I heard the term “micro-blogging.”

I know, I know. People have been using it for years already.

But, I didn’t really HEAR it until now.

I “get” blogging (which is really just writing a column and publishing it online yourself.)

And I get “micro.” I mean who has time to read long stuff anymore (unless it’s one of my e-mails).

Short and punchy is good and you can say a lot in 140 characters. (That took 75 characters)


I just did – and I had 65 characters to spare.

Another thing that lured me from my vine-covered cave was talking to one of my System Eagles who has a serious marketing problem:

He created a product without asking the market if it wanted it – and it doesn’t. Actually, it doesn’t know it wants it and it doesn’t have time to do the homework to find out that it does.

When you find yourself in a situation like this…

You have two choices

1. Throw in the towel, or

2. Establish yourself as a celebrity expert in the niche in the minds of people who are candidates for your product and then use that position to get a hearing.

(There’s a million dollars in marketing advice in that last sentence. Someone could create a $5,000 a seat seminar around it – but not me. I just gave it to you.)

Being an expert is a matter of studying a subject to the point that you actually have something interesting, useful and maybe even entertaining to say about it.

It’s a very straightforward process

You can become a “talking” expert in ANYTHING in six months or less, six weeks if you’re good, and six days if you’re really good. But regardless of the time frame, it’s doable.

But what about the celebrity part?

How the heck do you do that?

And really, what sane person would actually want to become a celebrity?

I mean…Paris Hilton. WTF is that all about?

The not-so-secret secret

Master copywriter and educator Ben Settle recently reminded me of why being a celebrity is a good thing while I was reading his excellent new book, “Crackerjack Selling Secrets.”

Here’s the punch line: You want to become a celebrity because becoming a celebrity is valuable.

And here’s why

People are exponentially more interested in what a celebrity has to say than what anyone else has to say, even an expert.

To prove this to yourself, do this simple mental experiment:

Imagine two people on stage. The first knows a ton, but no one has ever heard of him. The other is someone they’ve seen and heard from over and over again -so much so that the audience feels they “know” him and like him.

Assuming both speakers have about the same skill in presenting, who is going to be listened to with more attention? The guy who knows a lot or the guy everyone has been trained to listen to?

This, strangely enough, is “celebrity”

It’s the result of training, or conditioning, to use a term from the psychology lab.

Celebrity also means attention and attention means M-O-N-E-Y.

Consult the old AIDA formula if you’re confused about this.

Selling starts – and ends – with attention

There is no selling without attention. Period. End of story.

Once you “get” this definition of celebrity, you’ll know what you need to do. You need to become one – in the eyes of your prospects and customers.

That’s right. In the eyes of your prospects and customers.

You don’t have to worry about taking on Paris Hilton in the super celebrity sweepstakes. You just have to become a “celebrity” to the people you want to listen to your pitch.


Because people listen to celebrities. Strange but true.

So how do you become a celebrity, someone people listen to and talk about?

Seems hard, right? It must involve some kind of magical powers -some kind of inborn charisma.

Well, charm doesn’t hurt. And everyone can become more charming. But charm and charisma are not the issue.

What’s the “secret” then?


Are people seeing you? Are they hearing you? Is this happening over and over again?

That, my friends, is what builds celebrity. At the end of the day, there really isn’t that much more to it than that.

So if repeated exposures are the building blocks to celebrity, how do you get them?

Here are the three methods people use – one works

Method #1: Wait for it to happen “naturally.” You know, be discovered. People will see how great you are and then devote their lives to making you famous.

Actually this can happen.

The problem is the odds. How about 500 million to 1? That’s how likely it is that you’ll be “discovered.”

Method #2: Beg people and institutions that have celebrity to let you have some of theirs by writing about you, interviewing you, and inviting you to present at their events.

Begging can work, but it too has a very low probability of success. Besides, you need lots and lots of exposures to become a celebrity and begging just doesn’t produce opportunity fast enough.

Method #3: Create your own celebrity

Elsom Eldridge, marketing wizard and author of “The Obvious Expert” has a great saying about this:

“Build your structure to build your stature.’

In other words, your “celebrity” – call it stature, call it profile, call it visibility – is entirely in your hands.


No one can give it to you.

How do you create it?

By talking and writing and appearing. In short by being visible and making sure that every appearance you make (in text, in audio, in video, in person) produces a worthwhile experience for your readers, listeners, viewers and audience.

Dollars and common sense

Whatever business you’re in, if you want maximum results, you have to also be in the celebrity business and to be in the celebrity business you have to be in the media business.

Pre-Internet, it used to be bloody hard to be in the celebrity building media business.

Printing was expensive, postage was expensive, audio and video production was expensive and outlets were very limited.

For example, when I was a little kid, if you wanted to appear on the TV set in someone’s home, you had three options: ABC, CBS, and NBC – and that was it.

Then cable appeared and that was an improvement. You could actually buy 30 minute slots fairly cheap late at night. But that didn’t last too long.

Then the VCR came along.


Now, if you could just produce a video cassette, convince someone to buy or ask for it, and then actually sit down and watch it, you too could appear on someone’s television set.

Great, but look at all the things you had to do – and all the money you had to spend – to make that blessed event occur.

The reason our time is the “age of marketing miracles” – and it is – is that you can now put text, audio and video in front of your prospects faces for nada. Nothing. Zilch.

Once you produce your message, all the old world costs of duplication, packaging, and shipping are gone.

But there’s always a catch and I did leave something out of this equation.

You need something for all this to work

You need a list

You need a list of people who want to hear from you, who want to know what you have to say and who want to know what you’re up to on a regular basis.

In the old days, it was a direct mail mailing list (still a very good thing to have, by the way).

Then along came e-mail. Magical, marvelous, magnificent e-mail. People can sign up for your list without leaving their keyboard and you can mail to them over and over and over again for nothing.

I LOVE e-mail.

In the past seven days, I did a little promotion that brought me a very nice chunk of change (more than I used to make in a whole year) all thanks entirely to the magic of e-mail. My risk? ZERO. My investment: my time and ingenuity.

What made it work is that I had a list…which is why I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to build my lists and make the people on my lists happy – and working my tail off to make those things happen.

Out of my cave

As I said at the very beginning of this article, I am a traditionalist. I’m conservative. I like new things, but I generally don’t like things that make me work or think too hard.

Twitter (and Facebook, which I’m only just starting to see the light on) seemed like work to me. And worse than that, they seemed like work without a pay off.

I mean who wants to spend all day typing away little Tweets to people on the off chance that someone might actually find what you have to say, read it and do something about it.

Just give me a mailing list and I’ll write a proper sales letter, thank you very much.

Then it dawned on me…

The folks who follow you on Twitter ARE a mailing list.

What’s more, they’re people who, for whatever odd reason, want to hear from you a lot, as in several times a day, as long as…

…as long as you have something interesting, entertaining, useful, and/or helpful to say.

Hey! I can do that.

And I can write worthwhile stuff in bursts of 140 characters or less.

(At first, I didn’t think I could, but then I just jumped in and tried. Lo and behold, it’s not hard at all…if you can write.)

Also – and this is very important – there’s a lot of stuff that will not work in an e-mail that works great in Twitter and will make a positive impression on your prospects and customers….which at the end of the day is what it’s all about.

To recap

If celebrity is money because celebrity generates attention and attention generates sales…

And celebrity is built by exposure and exposure is built by media…

And it’s YOUR job as the entrepreneur to use media to raise your profile, increase your visibility, build your stature and create your celebrity…

If all this is true, then you and I need to go where ever the people are and communicate with them using the channels that they want to communicate with.

And Twitter, this new-fangled thing with the silly name is how a lot people like to consume media these days…and, amazingly enough, now that I’ve crawled out of the cave, I’m now one of them.

The truth about Twitter

If Twitter is new to you – or if you’ve been taught how to abuse Twitter by one of the slime ball Internet gurus who strive mightily to poison everything in their path – let me explain what Twitter is and how to be entertained and informed by it.

Step #1. Open an account at It’s free and truly easy. Took me about 60 seconds once I got down to it.

Step #2. Pick a user name you’re going to be happy living with a long, long time. If your own name is available, grab it. God bless the person who did this for me a year or more ago. If your name is taken, come up with a relevant handle.

Step #3. Fill out your profile. Again, simple and easy. 60 seconds maybe, even for me.

OK, now you have an account and a profile.

It’s time to play…

Here’s how you play Twitter

1. Go to “Find People” and search for friends, colleagues, “celebrities,” news outlets, media, businesses and institutions who are Twitter publishers that you may want to hear from on a regular basis

2. When you see someone you want to hear from, just push the “Follow” button.

When you open your Twitter page, you’ll see SHORT messages from these folks, sometimes self-contained, sometimes pointing to other web resources (articles, videos, interviews) for you to check out.

3. Choosing friends and colleagues to follow is easy. I have friends who I LOVE and don’t get to see anywhere near much as I’d like. What could be better than hearing from them more often? On any subject really.

Celebrities are pretty easy too. You know who you like. You want to hear from Shaquille O’Neil? He’ll drop you a line or two or more every day. Paris Hilton? Ditto. (Though please tell me there’s no one reading this who actually wants to hear from Paris Hilton.)

News outlets?

Personally, I “follow” the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the BBC. All stuff that I follow every day anyway.

I also follow entertainment publications like the Village Voice, Offbeat Magazine (from New Orleans), and the Onion (humor.)

Now instead of going TO this stuff, it comes to me.

“Hmmm…that looks interesting.” Click.

You know what Twitter really is?

It’s an RSS reader that you actually want to use.

(If you don’t know what an RSS reader is, don’t worry. Just use Twitter. For everyone else, I’ve always said that RSS readers were the greatest idea in the world with the worst name ever invented. The Twitter folks, god bless, didn’t make the same mistake.)

OK, now you’re getting all this great entertainment – news items, jokes, notes from your buddies, pointers to interesting articles, now what?

“Now what?” is you start publishing which on Twitter is called “tweeting.”

Tweeting is a stupid name and it’s 90% of the reason I wrongly assumed Twitter was ridiculous

But Twitter is not ridiculous.

It’s a tool for sending good stuff – in short bursts – to people who want to hear from you.

What to say?

Now that you’re ready to start writing, the million dollar question is “what do you write?”

This is the tricky part which is why I suggest that you become a Twitter reader first, before you start writing (or tweeting) anything.

The best way to get good at anything is to find people whose style you like, “follow” them and take the parts of what they do that you like and mash them together into a style you’re comfortable with.

As I write this, I’ve been a Twitter user for less than 12 hours and I can already see what I like and don’t like.

What NOT to do

The thing that I loathe – and it’s a fatal turn off – is people who tell me about their latest product all breathless-like with exclamation points.

Even more offensive is people who recommend something they’re obviously earning an affiliate commission on.

I don’t begrudge anyone earning a commission, but don’t clutter up my Twitter channel with spam so you can play the law of large numbers and grind out a few bucks.

I know there’s already a flock of thieves charging people a fortune to “learn” how to do this. Don’t you be one of them.

On Twitter you’re a publisher – that’s what you are, a micro-publisher, but a publisher nonetheless. Your job is to inform, educate, entertain and amuse and point people to resources that do the same.

If you do this people will read you and they will tell others about you.

This is better than the alternative which is they click “unfollow” and make you disappear forever.

If you’ve got a business, let your prospects and customers know you have a Twitter channel and what your address is. (My personal Twitter channel is:

The question is if you tweet will anyone even care?

Here’s the answer:

It’s the old SW4 rule.

Some will, some won’t, so what? Someone’s waiting.

There’s no accounting for taste and some folks are just plain going to like you. Take the ball when they give it to you and run with it.

If anything I’ve said has struck your fancy, give Twitter a whirl – as a normal user, not as some super slick “social marketer.”

Personally, I already see Twitter as invaluable.

I’m a reader. I’m a news follower. Nothing is more attractive to me than having a steady stream of interesting new stuff cross my desk all day long. Especially since I can read as much of it or as little of it as I want.

As you actually use Twitter (as opposed to cooking up schemes to exploit it), watch and see who is doing it right. Doing it right to YOUR standards. Using the medium in a way YOU enjoy – and then use it the same way.

Guaranteed, you can make millions without ever opening a Twitter account…

But you might LIKE what Twitter does and if you like it, you might figure how to become a contributor to it and if you’re a contributor to it, this will contribute to you raising your profile, increasing your visibility, and adding to the celebrity structure you’re creating. A virtuous cycle.

Bottom line

Twitter is a medium.

It’s a medium some people like – just as some people like newspapers, while others like radio, and still others like TV.

It’s a medium some folks pay close attention to throughout their day.

It costs nothing.

If you personally like the medium and use it – and use it the way you would like it used on you – then odds are you’ll have a good experience with it.

It will never replace sales letters and “old fashioned” offers. No way.

And don’t even dream of starting a business without the “back end” of having things to sell and sales systems to sell them with.

But Twitter will ultimately help you create more readers for your sales letters and deliver them to you in a state of mind in which they’re receptive to what you have to say.

Start by enjoying it.

If you enjoy it you’ll figure out what you need to know to make it work for you.

P.S. If you can get yourself to Manchester, UK on November 16 (it’s a Monday), a bunch of the smartest Internet folks I know will be meeting for a seminar.

It will feature a talk by Ben Hunt, the web designer, and a lot of “peanut gallery” comments from people like yours truly, Lloyd Irvin, Greg Davis, and Ben Moskel. We’re going to talk about blogs and Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and how they can be used to create and leverage celebrity for any business.

If you can’t make it, we share all sorts of useful stuff with you for free here:

– Ken McCarthy

P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.

If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.

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