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December 19, 2006


Michael Stammer

There seems to be a culture of co-op advertising that has developed in recent years that has become an "I'll endorse you if you'll endorse me" club. Book jackets and forwards are becoming a mutual admiration society - and not always an uncompensated one. Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not pooh-poohing honest praise and admiration. But, for example, I just got a request from someone to endorse him with the statement that he has "helped me increase my business by 300% last year." Not only is this just inaccurate, I got the request the day after he went to a three-day seminar on how to market on the web, and... well, I wonder, where did he get the idea? Yea, I like the guy, but something about it just smells funny. (BTW, he also is a "best selling author" because he wrote a chapter in some vanity press book...sniff, sniff... there's that smell again....)

The whole endorsement process gets to be a tricky. What are we supposed to think, for example, of an "award-winning" author published by a company that is essentially a vanity press, which promotes it's own "award" and sells authors their book websites, then makes their real money by producing seminars to get them doing the kind of tit-for-tat described above. (I saw this one just yesterday.)

How do you know if the book's any good? If the audience for it sees behind the curtain - as in the pay-for-post model - doesn't that undermine the whole promotion effort?

When individuals and companies employ these tactics, they erode not only the confidence in their own products but in the overall buying public mindset. Tricky situation, and sad.

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