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Sean D’Souza Interview

Something a bit different for this post. The other day I had an opportunity to talk to Sean D’Souza, a cartoonist, marketing guru and expert on sales psychology based in Auckland, New Zealand.

We cover a fair amount of ground but some of the highlights include:

  • Why he doesn’t believe in advertising
  • How he is giving blogging another chance
  • His thoughts on Internet Marketers
  • And why you really don’t want more work

All that and my “club blogosphere” analogy into the bargain. On with the interview …

Chris:   So you are a cartoonist and marketing guru
  How did you get into producing ebooks, audio, courses?
Sean:   I’d never call myself a guru. But yes, I know a lot of stuff. And si, I’m a cartoonist–kinda ex-cartoonist. Marketing and writing takes up a lot of my working time.
  I didn’t set out to create courses, or audio. Or anything at all.
  I actually stumbled on the darn stuff. I wrote my first book by mistake. You see, I was keen to get customers…
  So I conducted a workshop. And people paid me to be part of that workshop–nothing fancy–just a one hour workshop.
  I didn’t get into marketing by mistake. Just the creating of books etc. That was, let’s call it a sort of ‘uncalled for mission’
  I did this workshop and then this woman who attended, asked for notes
  Heck, wasn’t it enough to do the workshop? Well, she wanted notes. So I had to write notes
  Aaaaaaaargh.
  But then I had notes. Took me ages to write the first set of notes. About days or more for pages.
  And then I did nothing.
  Till I ran into an ‘internet marketer’. Who I was drawing cartoons for.
  I asked him to take a look at the notes. Which I’d by then fashioned into a little book. Or let’s call it a booklet (by today’s standards).
  But this marketer said he’d market it to his list.
  I was chuffed :)
  Of course, he wanted me to set up a merchant account and affiliate software in a week.
  Aaaaaaaargh again.
Chris:   Ha, dropped in the deep end eh?
Sean:   But I settled on Clickbank. It did both, even though it kind of gouged you on the commission. But hey , I was earning nothing off books or anything
  so gouging or not, I didn’t care.
  But this Internet marketer never came back.
  He kept postponing the ‘launch’.
  Months passed. But hey our sales pages were up. We could collect payments.
Chris:   You had a product but no list?
Sean:   And yes, we had a small list. We had people reading our newsletter, but we’d never sold before.
  And now, once we slipped in a little pitch in our sales letter, we started…ahem..selling.
  First one. Then two. Then we were making as much as $ a month.
Chris:   For something you had already effectively been paid for …
Sean:   We’d do a dance everytime a sale came in. Of course, today, we’d be dancing way too much.
  That’s right. We’d been paid for. It was pure leverage.
  So yes, two ‘mistakes’ led to our start.
Chris:   When was that, the start?
Sean:   Sept 2002, I think was our first sale.
  Aug 2002, was our launch of the site.
Chris:   A long way in five years
Sean:   But we’d be around for about a year before that, on another site called Millionbucks.co.nz (exists, but isn’t our company)
  Well, 4 years and a half, to be exact.
  :)
  What we did do almost by instinct, is get the list right. We’ve always given great content to our customers.
Chris:   Was the move into doing more digital products gradual or did you get addicted to the order victory dance?
   
Sean:   It was gradual and fast. Depending on what you’re looking at. In the first year, we did little, but then it really revved up.
    I’d say the first year was gradual. We didn’t add much more stuff than the Brain Audit (which was our first book). :)
Chris:   I love the brain audit, I bought it and found it very cool
Sean:   The problem that people have is they get into business to make money. Not a bad goal to have. But instinctively the wrong goal.
  Instinctively customers want to trust you.
  And you don’t trust people who immediately ask for your credit card.
Chris:   Agreed
  In fact it sends warning signals to run away. Fast ;)
Sean:   So we gave content. And I mean content. Loads of content. And the content was structured.
  Some of the content was about concepts like Attversumption, Consumption, Branding etc.
  Other content was straight to do Like the Power of Three, How to stop your business card being recycled etc. Real stuff that took five minutes to fix. And people fixed their stuff and got results. So they came back.
Chris:   How did you decide what to give away and what information to sell?
Sean:   when I drew cartoons, my mum would say Others will copy you. I always told her A copy is a copy. They still need to know HOW to do the stuff.
Chris:   Gotcha
Sean:   And so I wasn’t afraid of giving the content away.
  In fact, I’m blase about it. You want to hang around and get content, hey, I’m writing articles on Psychotactics.com each year. I write articles on bc (though that’s not all for public consumption)
  And it’s given away.
  Well, why would clients buy? If they could get it all.
  Because there’s a difference between ideas and systems.
  Articles are ideas.
  They spark your brain.
  They make you understand stuff better
  but there’s no paint by numbers
  Paint By Numbers comes in systems
  and even then, you need hand holding as a client
  because you’ll do your own thing
  and I’ll need to lead you back to the right path.
  the right system.
  A good example is the yes-yes factor
  http//www.psychotactics.com/artyes.htm
Chris:   So you give away ideas but sell systems?
Sean:   Give the ideas. Sell the systems.
  One of the Sean-isms :) (if I may be so boastful)
Chris:   heh, it’s your interview ;)
Sean:   http//www.psychotactics.com/Sean:isms.htm
Chris:   Some stuff flew by so it didn’t register – Attversumption?
Sean:   Attraction, conversion, consumption.
  = Attversumption :)
Chris:   I see …
Sean:   Attraction is easy. Conversion is a bit harder. Consumption is the hardest to achieve.
Chris:   Consumption? Pfft, I want *Addiction* ;)
Sean:   This means when a customer buys a book of yours, you’ve got to get her to consume–get her to read the book. Even apply the principles. That’s a territory far out of your control.
  Good point.
  but what happens to you after you’ve been to the same restaurant thrice? And eaten a great meal?
  We sell ‘control’
  People go into business. They work hard. They think their saviour is marketing.
  It’s not.
  Marketing brings more work.
  Work brings more work.
  Life slips by.
  Ain’t much use to see the world on a stroller.
  The core is structure–not marketing.
Chris:   Systems
Sean:   systems, yes, but also how you structure the systems.
Chris:   And the payoff is control?
Sean:   yes. and measured by vacation.
  More time AND money, the ultimate dream
  If you can go on vacation when you please, to where you please, at a week’s notice (or less) then you’ve got control.
  And yes, you aren’t backpacking.
Chris:   You read my mind, it is what I am working towards
Sean:   Well, the point is simple. It’s called time replacement
  I’ve fought to create time. Because time is the most precious of all. Any fool can make money. Time is much harder to create (again, another Sean:ism)
  plus I like vacations.
  And we take at least months off. I mean like whole months.
Chris:   one of the great things about digital products – you don’t have to be in a certain location at a certain time
  and no staff
Sean:   yes, that’s true. But it’s overhyped.
  That pure B.S. that is fed to you by internet marketers
Chris:   Really? I was counting on it working S
  You don’t believe in digital products?
Sean:   Well, the hard work doesn’t go away.
  You have the flexibility of location, yes.
  So that’s true.
  But a business running itself is crapola.
Chris:   You still have to service customers, make sure the site is up, market
Sean:   Someone once said every business is a service business.
  You think ‘Nah’
  But it’s true. There’s no such thing as a product-only business.
Chris:   You always have to give great customer service
  otherwise you don’t have a business before long
Sean:   And we do. :)
  word gets round
  The best autoresponder in the world is a human being.
Chris:   So you have your product, it is selling well to your list —¦
Sean:   Well, we have a theory
  That a list of 50,000 or whatever is overrated
  any dope can sell to 50,000 people.
  2% return on 50,000 is 1000 people.
Chris:   Proven by people selling using really bad google adwords ;)
Sean:   And if you’ve got a product of $100
  If you only sell to 1000 people x 100=100k.
  but try selling to 3000. Or 500. Or even 200.
  The key is how to get exactly the customers you want.
Chris:   So the goal is to get a small list of the RIGHT people?
Sean:   When we marketed the Protégé program
  We marketed to just 250 people.
  And we had 15 seats.
  12 were taken by that list.
  But it’s not magic.
  we’ve cultivated the customers.
  Consumption.
Chris:   But this is a subset of your much bigger list, right?
Sean:   They’ve gone from Brain Audit to bc to a course like Copywriting or Product creation and then over to Protégé
  yes, and the point is always consumption.
Chris:   You took your gold customers, the ones who would crawl over each other to get at your offer
Sean:   yes.
  But we’ve forced consumption. Which is why they’re using what we sell
them.
  Most marketing is sell, sell, sell
  There’s value in that, I guess.
  In our case, it’s make them richer, give them control. And they’ll come back for more riches and even more control.
  This definitely sounds like a plan
  it’s win-win at the highest level. Based on care, guidance, protection of clients.
Chris:   What about if you don’t have 50,000, what if you don’t even have 1000
Sean:   You start where we started
  With what you have
  But they need to know that you’re a teacher. You’re their guide. And you’ll fight to defend them against evil.
  It’s earned trust. Not just marketing.
  We refuse to sell to clients if we think they’re not ready. So clients want to buy everything we sell.
  They’re ready to pay.
  We won’t do it.
Chris:   We are back to not just selling to them, as you said earlier – you don’t trust people who immediately ask for your credit card.
Sean:   You wouldn’t give a kid the candy store
  even if he had his own credit card.
  I detest internet marketers in general, and their whole ‘guru’ concept. Because they don’t give a hoot what happens to the customer, as long as the card goes through.
  A guru doesn’t do that.
  Gurus are teachers. Guides.
Chris:   In every field I guess there are false gurus.
Sean:   More so, where the access is easier.
  And on the Internet, as the New Yorker cartoon goes No one knows you’re a dog. http//forbin.qc.edu/mediastudies/mediasite/newtech/dog.gif
  Your business seems a natural “communicating” company
Chris:   Why did you give up on blogging?
  It seems that close relationship would make an ideal fit?
Sean:   I like my coffee. I like my breaks. I like my vacatio. When I say I have no time, what I mean is “I have no time to spare from my coffee”
  So I pick where I can help my customers most.
  And I did blog Three separate blogs in three different years.
  But I found that there was greater value for me and for my customers with the website.
Chris:   You didn’t find it a good investment of your time?
Sean:   Well, frankly no.
  Not at the time.
Chris:   Do you still feel that way?
Sean:   But I was born in the late 60′s. Doesn’t mean I won’t listen to hip-hop.
  I’m willing to go back and re-orient myself
  I’m not a big fan of re-invention.
  I like to get into mature markets
  Blogging is now mature. There are fewer instances of blogging making money. Or getting or helping customers than say websites.
  but then there were fewer instances of websites working over say direct mail
  Things change
Chris:   But you are willing to give blogging another look?
Sean:   Yes. I’m doing exactly that
  It’s important not to replicate what I’m doing in Psychotactics and bc. That’s a boat load of content each year (and we’re talking Noah’s ark) ;)
Chris:   You are launching a new blog?
Sean:   Yes, I am. With a little help from my friends, I guess. Again, it’s time.
  My mission is slightly different. I want to take the ‘Sean:s’ of the world. I want to take people who were me in the year ’2001′ and show them what they can be in ’2007′.
Chris:   Sounds interesting
Sean:   Psychotactics is about ideas
  bc has analysis of systems (so we take articles and we trash out stuff and learn)
  And Protégé is higher learning Pure skills and micro-management of clients (Just of them per year)
  So blogs need to be something else.
Chris:   Where are you in your plans? Right at the start or have you got your strategy worked out?
Sean:   Strategy is not hard to rollout, but yeah, I’m at th start of things.
  We’re not a big company. It’s just me and my wife. And I’d want to be that small giant. So time is crucial. But more as a factor of 1) How do we change our lives 2) Now how can we change other lives.
  Kinda like First you save yourself, then you save the world.
  Or put on your oxygen mask first.
  before helping the person next to you.
  but back to blogs
  I see blogs less as articles–less as a book. More like a newspaper.
  It’s not really of enduring value.
  I’ve never known someone to go back and read all the posts.
Chris:   Interesting
Sean:   because they’re stacked like newspapers anyway.
  It’s not logical stacking. But sequential.
Chris:   You know if you read my ebook, I disagree ;)
  There are blogs exactly like you say
Sean:   Well, that’s my analysis. I’m listening to hip hop. “_
  but then what’s the difference btw the website and the blog
  other than just bloggers quoting bloggers.
Chris:   I’ll use my cocktail party analogy
Sean:   keep going
  Imagine walking into “club blogosphere”
  You look around
  people look you up and down
  There are two options
  1) make a spectacle of yourself
  2) join a conversation
  eventually the hope would be you strike up a good chat
  maybe someone would even like to get to know you better …
  the mistake a lot of marketers make is
  instead of their best dancing gear
  they walk in wearing a sandwich board
  and shouting down a megaphone
  the purpose? get numbers. give numbers
  subscribers. leads
Sean:   I guess so…
Chris:   in your case my guess would be subscriptions to your newsletter
  into your already working system
Sean:   I havent been able to wrap my head around why blogs vs. websites.
  except that it’s a different medium
Chris:   the question your visitor has is “do I want to get to know this person better?”
Sean:   Well they can do that on my website/
Chris:   they pick up on your body language, what you say, your stories
Sean:   They get lots of that on the website.
Chris:   a website is 2d
  blogs are 3d (conversation being the third dimension)
Sean:   bc can be a very noisy place
  on the forum.
Chris:   bc is behind a paywall
  they have already gone back to your place for coffee
  what if I dont put out on a first date?
Sean:   I could just as easily have the conversation without a pay wall.
  a blog doesn’t allow me to pull up and discuss old posts.
  forums do.
Chris:   why can you not?
Sean:   Blogs don’t let me post.
  the post itself.
Chris:   Thats what comments are there for
Sean:   those who read blogs are like those who listen to iPods
  My dad isn’t one of them.
Chris:   most people who read blogs do so without knowing they are reading a blog
  its all websites to them
  which is fine
Sean:   probably
Chris:   even people who use RSS dont always realise
Sean:   but with our strategy, we don’t want replication
Chris:   if you replicate it wont work
Sean:   Google doesn’t like replication. And we agree.
Chris:   Correct
  but you know what they DO like? Links
  Blogs (good ones) breed links
Sean:   relevance is more like it.
Chris:   links are the currency of relevance
  at least until their AI kicks in
Sean:   blogging is the medium that makes links easier
Chris:   blogs and google use the same currency
Sean:   AI?
Chris:   Google are going to use artificial intelligence http://www.threadwatch.org/node/12313
  even then they will have to infer authority from links and clicks
  So, Sean:, when can we look forward to your new blog?
Sean:   It depends on what help I get.
Chris:   Well you know where I am :)
  Have you already chosen a name and a topic?
Sean:   Topic How to Get Clients To You (Instead of Running After Them)
  Name .. Not sure if it needs to stand alone…or be aligned to say
bc/name
Chris:   Well there are pros and cons for both ..
Sean:   what do you recommend?
Chris:   My recommendation for you would be separate
  1) safer
  2) doesn’t look like you are just selling
  3) it’s its own new thing
Sean:   well then, spidersecret.com :)
Chris:   I guess we should all watch that space then!
Sean:   Spiderssecret.com or spidersecret.com
  Got both domain names
  kinda like victoriassecret or victoriasecret
  people get confused so therefore two domain names
  My angle Analysis of how media mucks up.
  So how ads are a waste of money. etc.
  And stuff that works
  So marketing that pulls in is the angle.
Chris:   You never advertise?
Sean:   not yet.
  when i say advertising I mean marketing too
Chris:   You are going to make a lot of friends ;)
  Sounds like it should be interesting
Sean:   The blog will analyse stupidity and smarts. But it’ll be mostly analysis of stuff out there. Not concepts. For concepts I’ll put in links back to Psychotactics.
  I don’t analyse media at all right now.
  We look at tactics, strategies..,mostly from the past.
Chris:   Well I don’t want to keep you too long. I think we have covered a lot of ground. Thank you for your time, be sure to let me know when your blog is up and I will drop you a link
Sean:   si

Find out more about Sean and read his articles over at psychotactics.com/

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Comments

  1. Chris, that was a good interview. Your content is consistent, no wonder I keep coming back to your blog. Sean’s a friend. There you go; full disclosure. His newsletters are one of the small handfull Bryan and I read regularly. We also waited a long time before becoming serious about blogging. Now we monitor over 2,200 blogs and update every hour on our blog plus we write several posts a day. Even with all that reading and writing Sean cuts through the clutter to get read. We anxiously await his new blog.

  2. Chris, that was a good interview. Your content is consistent, no wonder I keep coming back to your blog. Sean’s a friend. There you go; full disclosure. His newsletters are one of the small handfull Bryan and I read regularly. We also waited a long time before becoming serious about blogging. Now we monitor over 2,200 blogs and update every hour on our blog plus we write several posts a day. Even with all that reading and writing Sean cuts through the clutter to get read. We anxiously await his new blog.

  3. Glad you liked it. Sean is a good bloke with some great ideas about marketing, it should be an excellent blog :)

  4. Glad you liked it. Sean is a good bloke with some great ideas about marketing, it should be an excellent blog :)

  5. You might cut off the chat somewhere near the top with the more tag. It got kinda long. I was scrolling down a bit till I reached the other content.

  6. You might cut off the chat somewhere near the top with the more tag. It got kinda long. I was scrolling down a bit till I reached the other content.

  7. Good point, done!

  8. Good point, done!

  9. Oooh.. an IM interview!

    I enjoyed reading it because it felt as if Sean was rapping .. maybe its because he places each new statement on a new line. :)

  10. Oooh.. an IM interview!

    I enjoyed reading it because it felt as if Sean was rapping .. maybe its because he places each new statement on a new line. :)

  11. Yeah a side effect of using IM to interview. Reformatting it was harder than I expected. Sean is talking about maybe interviewing me but with audio :)

  12. Yeah a side effect of using IM to interview. Reformatting it was harder than I expected. Sean is talking about maybe interviewing me but with audio :)

  13. Nice interview.

    I’ve been a 5000BC subscriber for almost two years, and was a Protege of his in 2006. Sean definitely knows his stuff, and yet he’s been hesitant to blog, like he says.

    I’m glad to hear you two had a conversation about it, and to see his ideas for the Spider’s Secret blog. Knowing Sean as I do, it’s guaranteed to be amazing.

    Thanks for the interview, Chris.

  14. Nice interview.

    I’ve been a 5000BC subscriber for almost two years, and was a Protege of his in 2006. Sean definitely knows his stuff, and yet he’s been hesitant to blog, like he says.

    I’m glad to hear you two had a conversation about it, and to see his ideas for the Spider’s Secret blog. Knowing Sean as I do, it’s guaranteed to be amazing.

    Thanks for the interview, Chris.

  15. It will be amazing but I think he still needs a bit more of a push, give him a prod next chance you get ;)

  16. It will be amazing but I think he still needs a bit more of a push, give him a prod next chance you get ;)

  17. Will do. :)

    Funny, I haven’t been as active at 5000BC in a while, partly because I learned so gosh darn much as a Protege, and partly because I wanted to poke around other places that were more “blog-friendly.”

    But I can see the tide turning with Sean — he’s one smart cookie — so I can’t imagine him not picking up this ball and running with it.

    I’ll keep my eye out, though… ;-)

  18. Will do. :)

    Funny, I haven’t been as active at 5000BC in a while, partly because I learned so gosh darn much as a Protege, and partly because I wanted to poke around other places that were more “blog-friendly.”

    But I can see the tide turning with Sean — he’s one smart cookie — so I can’t imagine him not picking up this ball and running with it.

    I’ll keep my eye out, though… ;-)

  19. Well, the push has been made. http://www.spidersecret.com is up and running.

  20. Well, the push has been made. http://www.spidersecret.com is up and running.

  21. Way to go!

  22. Way to go!