Words of wisdom from Drayton Bird have got me thinking…

Followers of this blog know that the people I follow are only the best of the best. Drayton Bird is one of those. Described by David Ogilvy (The King of Madison Avenue) as “Drayton Bird knows more about direct marketing than anyone else in the World” and author of at least two of the very best books on marketing you could ever read, Drayton posted a blog posted today I couldn’t help but comment on.
He said “I got a tweety message from a guy who wants me to follow him. His description of himself read: “ISMA founding member. Certified Social Media Specialist”.
Two thoughts occurred to me. 1. Start worrying when they start an Institute. It means six guys got together and thought, “Let’s start an Institute. That’ll make it look respectable enough to start taking serious money off people”.
And when something that’s been around for about ten minutes starts having “Certified Specialists” you’re in real trouble. Who certifies these specialists? Another six guys who think, “Hmmm. If you’re “certified” – well, that sounds great, doesn’t it? Up go the fees, right.”

You can read the full post here.
It got me thinking about a meeting I had with someone who runs an SEO company who asked me about whether I thought there should be an SEO Association – something to set standards in the industry. He then went on to prise information out of me about how I do SEO (to which I answered with a load of misinformation because I could smell a rat as soon as I walked through the door) and then went on some sort of personal vendetta against me. And I was really nice to him! There’s nowt queer as folk though, is there?
My initial reaction was the same as Drayton’s. If someone is going to teach you something, coach you, or do something for your business (or life), make sure they can actually walk the walk.
It’s also why I do not ever want to have a “Google Qualified Blah-Blah-Blah” badge. What are they for, anyway? To me, these badges are for inadequate little boys that have bedrooms full of certificates and old cub scout uniforms covered in little badges (with a few notable exceptions). It’s the way most of society works. They are approbations from “authority” organisations to prove that you are “better” than everyone else. Back to my old friend Leonardo:
“Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.”
In the case of Google, a company I love in many ways, their training courses are designed for one purpose only: to make them more money by teaching you to sell their services in the way that suits them, not the client. And why not? They’re a publicly listed company designed to make a profit. But the idea of all these little Google soldiers running around impressing people with their badges just makes me laugh.
Which brings me to the world of teaching internet marketing. I entered this world full of a naive desire to help people. To give people the benefit of my experience. To learn from my mistakes (I’ve made plenty) and victories.
It’s been amazing in many ways. I’ve had some fantastic experiences, not least this week in Oxford helping people with businesses as diverse as chocolate fountain hire, luxury African safaris and selling flying lessons.
But I’ve also been interested to see the massive backlash that is happening with some of the bigger, louder noises on the internet in recent years. I mean, take a look at some of the horror stories unfolding on Salty Droid.
One of the guys being slaughtered on there is James Arthur Ray: someone I first watched in “The Secret” DVD a couple of years ago. Another is a guy who was sending me Twitter messages just a few months ago, Harlan Kilstein. I don’t know either of these people from Adam, but I was aware of their presence on the internet. I also don’t know what is true anymore, but the content on Salty Droid is truly frightening stuff that brings into question the whole “cult of personality” thing.
I made a decision back in February to use my personal domain name to start blogging. It’s been a real journey. I’ve made some incredible, probably lifelong, friends via this blog. I’ve also had the contents of this blog used against me in some of the most vile and horrific ways (which is why I don’t mention my children on here any more).
I made this decision because I reasoned that no-one else could be me. When you are offering yourself out to teach or sell people stuff, should you use a “brand”, or should you just be yourself?
I chose to be myself, but now I’m wondering if this was the right decision and whether or not I should even carry on?
(Don’t worry, the blogging and adwords seminars are still going ahead. I’m not letting any of you guys down :-).

The founder of Attwood Digital, Mark is a digital marketing veteran having been working online since before the dotcom boom. He created the world's first online skip hire service in 2003, has created multiple online courses, lectured on digital marketing and even written a book on the subject. He is also an ICO advisor and crypto-enthusiast.
  1. You remember the Gary Halbert ad when he was
    looking for a new lady in his life?
    He concentrated on selling to the foxes.
    Not the dogs.
    So concentrate on the people who want
    to hear your stuff. Not the dogs.

    1. Cheers Mark. I’ll do that!

  2. Hi Mark
    Just keep on being you, people that no you will support you, I may not always agree with your honesty and you do some time fire from the hip, but that you, and your passion for the subject, just keep up the good work and sod the rest of them.

  3. The moment you ask your customers to forget about internet marketing and instead take part in a bizarre sweat lodge exercise or sip a cup of Kool Aid is the time to worry.

  4. When you first went in to business on your own I lent you a grub stake because I believed in you then and I believe in you now. You could have achieved a level of success much quicker by ripping people off but that is not real success, that is just a house made of straw. You subsequently paid back every penny and now help others to achieve their business goals your house is made of stone.

  5. Hi Mark,
    You seem in a dark place right now and it’s not good – come on get positive again, life’s a bitch sometimes. I’d like to say you have helped me and I suspect lots more people a great deal, so f**k the other moaners and their bitching and carry on doing what you’re good at – see you soon

    1. Wow. Thanks everyone. I didn’t think I was in a dark place, although I have had a testing day 🙂 Sorry for seeming insecure, some people have been grinding me down. By the same token, lots of other people have been fantastic. I really appreciate the support. Now, I’ve got to finish writing my seminar…

  6. Keep teaching – one of the reasons I like this blog, you guys have non internet marketing online businesses. Some one said ‘you ca only keep some people happy, some of the time’ and also following on from that ‘if everyone is your customer then no one is’. as long as you have integrity then what you do is what you do, some people will like it, and other won’t. Ramble over….

    1. Thanks Enzo.

  7. You don’t need badges, Mark, you have the RAF roundels! (Just teasing! Keep up the good work.)

  8. Mark – In a nutshell – sod ’em and carry on.
    why are you worrying about inadequate idiots giving you stick due to their own insecurities? You have immersed yourself in online marketing and are not a theorist but a proven practitioner which I have total respect for.
    If you put yourself out there and get somewhere near the top, you’re easier to shoot at – keep dodging those bullets and carry on regardless.
    Take Care

  9. Mark, it is just a blip! Please carry on Mark, we all need you!

  10. Hi Mark,
    The problem with any written communication is that it is easy for others to get the wrong end of the stick or form an unfounded opinion. I’m looking forward to attending one of your seminars because nothing beats face-time (apologies for the American jargon!).

  11. Illegitimi non carborundum. Not original, not even proper latin, but you get my point!

  12. Recently I launched my own website. Naively I just assumed you put your site on the web and away you go. I knew nothing about SEO but I soon learned, it was a case of having to. The first month I had no idea really what I was supposed to be doing in getting my site noticed by the search engines. When the penny finally dropped and I came to realize about keywords and especially anchor text key words in blogs and replying to blogs, also I found one of the most important tools is original content on your site, it came quite easily in boosting my page position. Having said that, been stuck in front of a pc 24/7 and this is what it takes, is hard work. When I say original content, I don’t refer to writing about something that nobody else has, as this would be extremely difficult unless you have a new product that only you know about, I mean writing it in your own words. I have spent hours rewriting articles for my site and to publish them later on, which brings me to another point. If you have written anything new regardless of the word count, always publish it to your site first and then wait for the search engines to crawl it. Only then go ahead and publish it to the numerous article and blog sites available. This at times seems like you are waiting around forever but it will pay in the long run and while you are waiting write another. You don’t require a degree in English and to the professional writers who do write for a living in may appear sloppy but you are not aiming the content at them. As long as it is readable and makes sense to the public who are interested in your product then great, plus get your key words that are relevant to your site part of the article. When I started out my site appeared on page 27 of Google and this was out of 60 million results that Google pulled up. Within 10 weeks which does seem lengthy but it soon passes I am now on page 1. My other key words pulled up over 240 million results and I am currently on page 2 for this. I have had no training in SEO and I have not paid for a single thing in terms of links or help from any SEO companies. It is boring and tedious but you just have to stick at it, day in and day out. At first the rewards come slow and there are times when you actually think you aren’t making any ground but after 3-4 weeks I did start to notice my position gradually improving and this then gives you the boost to continue. It’s not rocket science but you do have to be dedicated and to have vast amounts of patience to accomplish your goal. You only get out what you put in and this is just the way of the world.

  13. Hi Mark,
    Your blog certainly has resonance with me. Mainly because social networking sites and some blogghing sites seem to be a non-policed arena to quite literally ‘beat the sh..’ out of someone personally or their reputation. Unknown people often to you personally. Gotta be a solution to it all. I know viral marketing is considered a good thing… But! Is it always?
    I liked the blog, made me think that’s for sure about how to use my own blog and how much to reveal, give away and generally put on view to potentially the entire universe.
    Thanks for this
    See ya Monday

  14. Mark Attwood – As far as I’m concerned is a brand aswell as a pretty decent geezer. Whenever I see an email or blog post I read it because I know there’s going to be good content. From the first time I met you, you volunteered great information without me even asking for it. Am I following you because I think you’re a ‘trusted established brand’ or because you’re a ‘good bloke’ – they are one and the same in this instance, and because you’ve helped me and loads of others like me to improve their online business and knowledge.
    I think people who attack you are really trying to deflect the real fact that you deliver great information, tons of tips and occasionally recommend a great product ( because it will help us as opposed to making stacks of affiliate commissions ). Rather than concentrate on manufacturing this cult of personality you simply get on and do your stuff, and by doing this so effectively you gathered a strong and loyal following and will continue to do so. However the so called experts who have often built their expert status around themselves can easily feel threatened and have their ego challenged by someone who over the last few years has come from nowhere to a big somewhere.
    The proof is in the pudding as they say. I don’t care whether it’s Yorkshire pudding, treacle toffee pudding or steak & kidney pudding as long as you keep serving up more of the same. I’m sure there are many, many people who think the same as me.
    Cheers Mark

  15. I, like many, have bought the “mark attwood” brand – to my cynical eyes it seems everything that you wish it to be. Have a little faith in yourself – we do.

  16. I can’t believe that this goes on. I suppose the very nature of blogging is that blogs are shared around all the different social networking sites (meaning they have huge potential exposure). But surely there must be a way to police the drivel and rubbish that people write??…Is there any way to stop or ‘report’ it – as at best it’s libellous and defamatory.
    Keep doing what you’re doing Mark! You’re great at what you do, and if people want to attack you for that (in the most disgustingly vile ways possible) then there’s nothing that can be said for them apart from they’re SCUM.
    A postcard slogan I read years and years ago kinda sums up this situation: ‘Don’t let the B*STARDS get you down’ 🙂

  17. Mark,
    Your down-to-earth and honest approach is what appeals to me and I’m sure many others.
    I don’t see you as an internet marketing teacher. I see you as someone who is also in business, like me and who knows a lot more about something than me and is willing to share that knowledge. The information you provide is relevant, topical, witty and approachable.
    Just keep on doing what you are doing.

  18. When you buy a brand you are paying for just that the brand name.. quite often its may be because someone recommended it.. or that it has been going for several years. When you sell your self as a qualified by such and such in your case google or MS, you are selling the reputation of the brand or name you have the badge for.
    The product might be good, but the customer service may well stink to put it bluntly.
    You may have a bit of paper that qualifies or certifiies you to do this or that, but does it actually mean you can actually do what it says you can and do it well?
    Does it mean you have years of experience at all levels behind you, or does it mean you are still wet behind the ears?
    A young lad I know, came to me and told me he could build a website and build computers and therefore was leaving college and starting up in business himself. He knew it all, he was a member of the appropriate institute, therefore didn’t need anything else. Was his business a success, no because when he got out into the big world he found that he knew nothing, he knew what he read from books but had no experience and therefore could not give his clients confidence in his work.
    Another lady started up as a book-keeper, she had been doing manual book-keeping for a while for various sole traders and felt she knew it all. She didnt market her business on her experience but on the fact she was a member of the Institute, and experienced in using the accounts package. Her web site has the software all over it.. marketing the brand, therefore she knows how to use it… or does she?
    The point Im trying to get across while good software or a brand helps it is not what gets you the clients or the sales. IT is the personal experince and knowledge, learnt with raw power and hard work.
    While a good brand name may get you recognised would it be for all the good reasons. We all know MS but do we know it for the right reasons, we may all know IE but again is it for the right reasons .. or based on the bad word of others?
    Multi million pounds sales and annual turn voer of a brand is great.. but what dos it mean if people ahve no confidence in you as the sales person , marketeer or service provider?

  19. You speak from experience and have integrity and high moral standards, all highly lacking in our industry. In addition, you’ve helped so many people and are such an inspiration to us through your information and experiences you so willingly and generously share to help others. So, please keep doing so and ignore the negative noise and attention seekers with nothing to offer like Salty Droid who make the industry look bad.
    The blogger at the Salty Droid site, saltydroid.info is a bloke who should be reported and stopped at all costs. His negativity, defamation and slander of the names of some of the most reputable internet marketers is a disgrace to this industry. A spurned and unsuccessful marketer with nothing else better to do, Salty Droid or Jason as they call him, has found that it’s his only way of attracting attention.
    Harlan Kilstein is a very reputable copywriter who’s written for some of the largest product launches and his marketing skills are second to none. I’ve found value in several of his products. Perry Belcher is another great marketer with excellent products who was stopped by this horror story of a loser Salty Droid.
    Please don’t give this horrible ugly Salty Droid any more time or mention. He needs to be eradicated from the internet and universe.

  20. Mark,
    I don’t usually comment but another IM guy I listen too quit 2 months ago cos of Salty Droid et al. Perry Belcher. No matter what his history his IM teachings are a great loss as would yours be, so I had to leave a comment, please pardon my french in this comment, hypocrites, back stabbers and bitches really get to me and it’s a big weakness of mine.
    I should say unlike you, Perry had been in trouble with the law, which the blog picked up on, but that didn’t mean the stuff he taught on IM was rubbish. They called him a fraud because he taught internet success but was only worth $1 million. For christs sake, what percentage of people have assets of $1 million plus? It’s still pretty good going and I would hazard a guess he is worth more than the little bitches on salty droid.
    I’ve heard Dan Kennedy start many talks with ‘Just cos the messenger is flawed, do not discount or ignore his message’ gary halbert went to jail for good reason, does that mean his teachings on copywriting and making money were crap? Dan K also went bankrupt and if the internet had been around when he was climbing his legendary ladder he may have had hate campaigns aswell – a former bankrupt teaching marketing and business techniques . . oh my god!(Gary Halbert even had a go at him in his newsletters because he was becoming too successful). Can you imagine if DK’s career was cut short by these sorts of people! Horror!
    These sorts of people would of definately still been around back then, but they had no way to tell others about the shit that passes for there opinions. As you get bigger Mark it’s only going to get worse for you, but bigger you will get, i hope anyway, you deserve it.
    Your past in terms of SEO has been exceptional so your integrity is untouchable. I don’t think you would ever quit this stuff cos I know how much you enjoy it and I know you are way too intelligent to listen to negative comments and people. It can be so depressing though to think someone you hardly/don’t know has taken time out of their day to slag you off. I mean Whyd o they bother? It’s ridiculous and if they knew anything about marketing they would know that slagging off competitors never works, it just creates mistrust for the whole industry. Pepsi and Coca Cola failed when using this kind of marketing and so will these pricks. Where the hell do they get the time from, they are some sad b8stards for sure.
    So incase I didn’t get my point across! I think you should carry on :-)Your results are what counts not a profile of you on salty droid or a Google Certificate (you know you will of gone up a level when you do get a section in salty droid by the way!)
    All the best

  21. I don’t normally write on these things… but people knocking things unnecessarily p*sses me off! Case in point… if you stop because of undue critism, do you benefit? No. Do the people you are helping benefit? No. Will your critics fill the void? No. People can vote with their £££pounds, so apologies for being blunt, but if your product is not useful or worse than that, useless, then people will not pay over time. As you have a personality led business, you risk more because any success or failure will be attributed to your name and at the risk of stating the obvious, this stays with you. In other words, you have a greater incentive to publish and deliver good work. As a previous poster mentioned, you have a really nice down-to-earth style and I personally have learnt some good ideas from you (hell, you even inspired my wife to get into the internet marketing business!). So, dust your shoulders off and keep up the good work!

  22. Hi Mark,
    Just because your not in the papers or on TV you are a celebrity in your field.
    Accept it.
    You need to start acting like one (I mean this in a nice way). If you over self disclose you have already found there is a price to pay. You are more than capable of splitting the two, such as Paul Scholes, great on the pitch and when he’s not playing, where is he?
    Keep it up, keep it professional, we don’t need to know about your holidays, kids, new cars, it breeds jealousy.
    I think you know where I am coming from with my background and area of work.

  23. Mark – where else am I going to learn to power skateboard than at your house! Don’t you dare jack it in, I’m looking forward to picking your brains again very soon!
    Twin Hugs
    Del xx

  24. …and another thing (you know how I can talk!)…I have had a lot of media attention over the years and I too thought I was helping people through sharing my personal story but I found that it got all twisted by many of the hacks and they made me look like the Wicked Witch of the West – it was very upsetting but I had to accept that if you put yourself in the public domain then it’s part of their ‘game’ – for some reason, there are folks out there who don’t like a tale with a happy ending! I found you to be a truly genuine guy – don’t let anyone drag you down. Del xx

  25. I think that you are very brave, bold and generous to share so much with us all and to openly say what yoou feel. We all end up with the odd enemy, interestingly especially when we are really doing something special. If you go out there and do something there will always be some who want to criticise or worse. It is really their problem but it can be unnerving, especially on the internet where you don’t really know who they are. Anyway, I am not sure what my point is, but there are clearly many of us who appreciate your posts and all of your help. Thank you.

  26. Hi Mark
    Darren & I understand what it is to put yourself out there personally in business and on a bad day it’s easy to believe that it’s a personal attack but in your case the cloak of negativity that you’re experiencing sometimes is simply concealing….jealousy. By nature, Brits don’t like ambition, expertise or success. Maybe we should formulate The British Dream much along the lines of The American Dream, anything being possible and being applauded for it.
    See you on the 14th.

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