My No-BS Pinky-pledge…

pinky pledge

May I vent a little? 

Last week, I got an email from a business coach (let’s call him “Pinocchio”) who pitched Sai Blackbyrn’s free course. 

Sai is a well-established coach-for-coaches with a complex marketing machine. 

Pinocchio wrote: “I have something very special for you, I just got off the phone with my friend, Forbes-featured, best-selling author and celebrity coach Sai Blackbyrn, and I managed to talk him into giving away one of his highest-rated, paid courses to our subscribers, on how to get a consistent flow of high-paying clients. And I managed to get it for you, free! But for a LIMITED time only.” 

(And on it went.)

That sounded familiar. So I searched my inbox for “I just got off the phone with my friend” and found…

…Almost-identical
emails from
three other people.

One of those people sent the same email in January 2022 and July 2022.

Product vendors like Sai encourage others like Pinocchio to be “affiliates” who pitch the vendor’s products. 

In some cases vendors pay commissions (if the people Pinnochio refers to the free course eventually buy something from Sai, Pinocchio may get a cut). 

In other cases, marketers swap affiliate pitches (“I’ll promote your thing to my list if you promote my thing to yours”).

To make it easy for the affiliates, vendors create “swipe” copy — sample emails, social posts, and other content to promote the product. 

Some affiliates cut, paste, and send swipe copy to their lists without editing. (Some vendors want it that way.)

I get these offers all the time. 

One time, I got verbatim offers from four different affiliates in one hour. 

(Holy “Deja Vu,” Batman!)

I have no problem with affiliate marketing.

When it makes sense for my list, I’ve pitched other people’s products. And I’ve asked others to pitch mine.

But these organized, large-group affiliate-fests bug me. I’ve spoken to people who participate and tell me many (most?) participants don’t vet the products they’re pitching. That’s one of many problems.

I have no problem taking artistic license in emails and other marketing content.

I do it often. And I teach clients how to do it.

But there are limits.

If your artistic license misrepresents the reality, you’ve crossed the line.

In this case, Sai has a product and wants affiliates to pitch it. Maybe Sai vets affiliates before they can sign on (or maybe he partners with anyone who’s part of an organized group of affiliates). I don’t know. 

But I know this: Each individual affiliate does NOT get on the phone with Sai and “convince” him to share the course for free. 

Pinnochio wants us to believe he did something special just for us, that HE hopped on the phone and “convinced” Sai to give away the course for free. 

That’s not artistic license. That’s a lie. 

And while, I hold Pinocchio and the other cut-paste-send affiliates accountable for crossing the line, I mostly blame Sai Blackbyrn who wrote the copy. 

Sai composed the lie, handed it to his affiliates, and said, “Send this to your list.” 

Pinocchio and many others did just that. 

And here’s the saddest thing about it…

The stupid lie was unnecessary!

Sai could have composed swipe copy that said, “I’ve partnered wih Forbes-featured, best-selling author and celebrity coach Sai Blackbyrn to give away one of his highest-rated courses…”

Why claim the affiliate just got off the phone with Sai? Why pretend the affiliate “convinced” Sai to do this “special” thing? 

If the claims were true, it would build credibility and authority for the affiliate.

(Wow! You convinced Sai to get a special deal just for us!?) 

But the claim is false — obviously so. 

And so the affiliates who cut-and-paste the false claim undermine their authenticity and trustworthiness. 

I prefer to be authentic and trust-worthy. So…

…let’s make a no-BS pinky-pledge…

Let’s lock pinkies and promise…

…to understand and respect the line between artistic license and outright lies…

…never to lie to our followers just to make ourselves look good and make a sale…

…to vet other’s products before we pitch them. 

…to write our own emails — in our own, authentic, this-is-really-from-me voice — rather than swiping someone else’s copy and presenting it as our own. 

If we keep that promise, we’ll establish greater authority, build trusting relationships with our followers, and grow our businesses the right way. 

That’s not so hard, is it?

Don't go away yet..

p.s. Coaches, authors, and consultants hire me to power-up their creative content and storytelling to captivate prospects, stand-out and book more business.

Whenever you're ready, here are several ways I can help you become a storytelling stand-out so you'll land more clients without pitching and prodding:

1) Get the Story Power Profit Pack -- 52 Strategies, Tips, and Tactics  to Transform Your Content from Ignored to Adored.

2) Watch the free, 7-minute Micro-Training: “The 3 Most Important Storytelling Keys to Captivate Prospects and Inspire Them to Act -- Without Pitching and Prodding.”

3) Become a Story Power VIP: Master how to discover, assemble, and deliver business-building stories. Twice-monthly live masterclasses. Members-only content. One-on-one feedback and consulting sessions. And more… If you'd like to learn more about our VIP program, just reply to this email and put "Story Power VIP" in the subject line. I’ll contact you with more details.

4) Work with me one-on-one: If you’re interested in working directly with me -- to discover, assemble, and deliver powerful, business-building stories -- simply reply to this email and change the subject line to "Private Client." Tell me a little about yourself, your business, and what you'd like to accomplish, and I'll reply to discuss options.

5) Invite me to speak at an event: I can tailor a presentation that meets the specific needs of your organization. Informative. Entertaining. Virtual or live. Potential for continuing education credits when applicable for your group. If interested, reply to this email and change the subject line to “Speaking Engagement.” I’ll circle back to discuss the possibilities.

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Tom Ruwitch

Tom Ruwitch is the founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. For more than 30 years, he has helped businesses grow by delivering powerful stories using a variety of different media.