Here’s one way to stop thieves from plagiarizing your content

This “old school” tool might be worth looking at again.

I’m thinking about using a century-old marketing practice to counter a new, evil software. Let me put you up to speed.

First, the software. I bought it last week for a totally different purpose than its creators intended.

You see, it lets you create e-books in just a few minutes. You pick out a template, upload your word doc, and it creates a PDF with formatting, page numbers, a good-looking cover and any graphics or pictures you want to drag and drop into it. Already it’s saved me a day of work and paid for itself with new clients.

But there’s a dark side.

Instead of uploading your own file, you can simply insert a url and it will format the content from that page into an ebook. The creators sell this feature as an easy way to make ebooks and special reports out of your blog content…But nudge-nudge, wink wink, you know where this is going, don’t you?

Anyone with this forty-dollar software could make an ebook out of your content, or mine.

I bought this through an affiliate link from a well-known writer and blogger. I’m a big fan of his, so I emailed him about the ethics of this product.

He responded within half an hour, and said, “After seeing my own content posted on other sites with impunity, I guess I’ve been jaded. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. The rules are changing on the internet.”

The rules are changing. That’s a bigger problem than I can deal with here, but I’ll tell you what you can do to keep your most important content safe from thieves.

The Sustainable Advantage

Like the solution, the problem isn’t new.

Nine years ago (!!!) Dan Kennedy wrote in his No B.S. newsletter, “What you do online is instantly visible to all competitors and copycats who can swipe or ride on your coattails with no financial barrier to entry. What you do in _______________________ is not so easily detected and understood, and does have a financial barrier. You tell me where the sustainable advantage lies.”

Fill in the blank, and the copycats will get hemorrhoids  trying to steal from you. They’ll watch you grow you list, making money hand-over-fist, and they’ll be utterly baffled over how you do it.

Before we fill in the blanks, let’s talk about yoga.

Suppose you’ve designed a new kind of yoga mat that has some crazy awesome features which clearly make it better than the ordinary yoga mat. In fact, it costs twice as much as an ordinary yoga mat, but people in the know will gladly pay extra for it. You have a growing, loyal fan base.

Now let’s say you had some extra marketing dollars and wanted to invest in a few Facebook ads. Still with me?

The people at Facebook can guarantee your ads will be seen by 20,000 people who are into fitness. Does that sound good?

What if you could narrow the scope, and show your ads to 20,000 people who belong to yoga-related Facebook groups. That would be even better, wouldn’t it?

But what if you could reach 20,000 people who are actively engaged in Facebook groups about high-end yoga gear, people who routinely buy new gear and post their photos?

Are you still with me?

Probably you’d place your money on the third option. It’s all about your target. And now it’s time to fill in the blanks for Dan Kennedy’s sustainable advantage.

He said “What you do in targeted direct mail is not so easily detected and understood, and does have a financial barrier.”

Targeting is Everything

Direct mail makes no sense at all, unless you are targeting it.

So much money (and paper) has been wasted on bad direct mail that nobody really believes it will work anymore. Better to waste your hard-earned cash on all kinds of digital marketing, where at least you can see how many people are ignoring you, even if someone plagiarizes you sooner or later.

But imagine selling high-end yoga mats to high-end yoga mat buyers through direct mail. The copycats will never see what you’re sending out, unless they somehow get on your list. This is infuriating to them, but that’s not your problem.

The gift that keeps on giving

Frustrated thieves aside, there are a lot of advantages to targeted direct mail, and a lot of new (old) ways you can use it.

First, you now have an economic barrier between your list and your competitors. Direct mail marketing costs a lot more, but if you can make the economics work, you now have a channel where there’s little or no noise to compete against.

This won’t make sense with every business, but:

  • If you have a high-end product with big margins, you can afford more marketing than anyone selling an inferior product
  • If you have a back end, or you sell some kind of prescription or recurring product, you can promote upsells and resells with a print newsletter–virtually nobody will ever steal this content
  • You can get creative with targeted direct mail in ways that you can’t in the digital realm: Try sending a promotion that’s printed on a miniature yoga mat, or a box of incense, or anything else that’s hard to ignore

Targeted direct mail works great for service businesses. If you’re a coach or consultant, a realtor or an accountant, this is something well worth trying out.

I’m planning to use my new software to create an ebook about this. It’s going to take some time, because I am not going to simply vacuum it off somebody else’s blog. I’m writing 100% original stuff. Stay tuned, and I’ll let you know how to get your copy.

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