When is stock photography “business porn?”

On page 83 of my book, I introduced the concept of “Business Porn.” Business Porn is the stock photography found on business websites that is irrelevant at best, and pandering at its worst.

To see if you have business porn on your site, I suggest that you write a caption for the image. For many of these images, the caption would be something these:


Diversity. Just the thought of it makes these white people smile.


We believe everyone works better when they work together,
even if they’re just standing around.

If you would wouldn’t put the caption on your site, don’t use the image.

Both of these images and the caption quotes come from a parody video aired on a canceled TV show called Better Off Ted.  Some of the classic business stockphotos are here:

These people love what they are seeing.
No, it’s not a cat video.

We want to shake your hand so you can
start sending us checks.

“Diversity. Good for us.” Watch on YouTube

Two seasons of Better Off Ted are available on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video.


What Makes Books Sell?

Peep Laja asked me some hard questions about what worked and what hasn’t worked as I’ve brought the new book to market. Here is a brief interview about my experience.

And don’t miss the strange falling picture about midway through. This was the day after Halloween, you know.


18 Unexpected Formulas of Websites that Win

#2 Your visitors don’t care about your company or your products.

Hear the 18 website formulas that will change your fortunes. Click the image to See the Slides.

What if you could finally understand why your website isn’t bringing the leads and sales your business needs?

#5 Every click is a promise that you must keep.

What if you finally saw your site through your visitors’ eyes? Would it scare you?

#8 Avoid business porn.

On Thursday, October 25, the folks at LogMyCalls.com are sponsoring a free Webinar in which I reveal 18 of the most important formulas you can apply to your site.

You have the opportunity to fundamentally change the performance of your website.

I’m going to tell you exactly what questions you should be asking.

Where has your well-meaning designer led you astray?

How has your eager development team made the mistakes that testing shows don’t work?

Why are do your visitors seem so hard to convert?

Why is 98% of your traffic wasted?

#11 The most important part of your design is the dollars it generates.

In one hour, you’ll get all of the most important points from my book Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.

I hope you’ll join me. See the Slides.


Brandscaping for Content Marketing Bigger Budgets and Faster Results [INFOGRAPH]

One of the best books I’ve read this year is Brandscaping by Andrew Davis.

However, Davis gave the audience at Content Marketing World a nice overview of the concepts he champions in the book, concepts that can fundamentally change the success of your brand today and in the coming years.

Here is my Instagraph of his presentation to warm you up. Watch this space for a complete review and watch Amazon to get your own copy.

Andrew Davis Branscaping Content Marketing World Instagraph

Click to Enlarge


Content Marketing Secrets from 29 People Who Should Know

Business content can be fun and educational. Here’s the proof.

TopRank and The Content Marketing Institute have teamed up with 27 smart marketers to put together a notebook of tips and tricks for marketers.

This is serious stuff. By “serious” I mean “seriously can help,” not “seriously boring.”

If you don’t read the 29 secrets eBook, that’s OUR fault.

If you don’t read it, your problems won’t be solved, you won’t see us as brilliant and helpful people, and you certainly won’t buy our books, read our other offerings or hire us to help you dominate the Web.

In other words, no one wins when the content is safe conservative business-speak boring. Think about that when looking at your site.

The folks at TopRank are trying. Here are some of my favorite agents:

Pam Didner #5: “Find your content dream team.”

I talk about building your “Markishing Department” in my new book.

Jim Kukral #9: “Write a book.”

I like this because the hard part is over. The book is launching September 5 at Content Marketing World.

Waynette Tubbs #12: “It’s About Them”

Unexpected Formula #1: Your opinion doesn’t matter.

Julie Fleischer #15: “Serve Needs”

We have an amazing ability to provide a service through our websites. They are actually software programs. Did you know that?

C. C. Chapman #16: “Speak Human”

Just puts a “!” on my point above. Human mans not boring.

Chris Baggott #20: “Blog to Email”

I talk about the blogcano eruption in my book. Love this tip.

Andrew Davis #22: “Your content marketing mission is to find talent. Talent that already has an audience

Lee Odden #28: “Be Amazing”

If for no other reason than because you are.

Yes, I’m in there, too. I don’t know how this line got in there or what I was thinking.

“It even works for content
that is great.”

Give me your interpretation in the comments.


The Conversion Scientist on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

There are two ways to increase conversion: get more qualified traffic or turn more of that traffic into leads, sales and subscribers. SEO is key for the first of these: visitors that need what you offer. Here is an excerpt from Your Customer Creation Equation on Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

From Chapter 6: How Content Fuels Conversion

A Search Engine Translator

Regardless of how good your advertising and marketing are, one thing is certain: More and more of your traffic is going to come from search engines.

The top search engines on the Internet now include Google, Bing, and YouTube, and these are influenced by social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Social networks benefit from a community that helps to sift and tag your content.

Google, Bing, and YouTube suffer from a fundamental lack of comprehension. Your site has the burden of communicating its content and value to these search engines, and it’s a lot like talking to the autistic savant Raymond from the Tom Cruise movie Rainman.

Raymond was the character who could repeat facts and do calculations with amazing precision. However, Raymond—like the search engines—could only understand the literal meaning of what he heard and read.

Google has made efforts to reward sites that have plentiful content, and prefers sites with frequently updated content. Hire an SEO specialist to ensure that your content is being found by the search engines. Your efforts will be rewarded with increased standing for your site, which will translate into more traffic.

From a conversion standpoint, look for SEO experts that have the following characteristics:

They talk about traffic, not ranking.

If they are overly focused on your ranking, proceed with caution. You can easily rank for keywords that aren’t being searched, or for keywords that bring the wrong kinds of eyeballs—eyeballs that don’t want what you offer.

They are picky about the pages they send traffic to.

The best SEO firms have a conversion practice. They will want to optimize pages that are designed to convert visitors.

You can optimize the home page for search all day long, but it is your product and landing pages that will convert search traffic best (as you will soon discover). That is what they are designed for. Hire a search resource that is focused on optimizing effective pages.

Original content is a key to their strategy.

The algorithms that Google and Bing use to prioritize websites like yours change once or twice a year. One strategy that seems to be consistently effective is original content.

Your search engine translator should encourage you to use original content to create keyword-rich content for your site, to place that content on other sites, and to use it in social media. These activities work to build the authority of your site.

Design Your Book Cover for Conversion

While we love to stay in the incredibly measureable realm of the online world, we know that many websites need to fuel action in the real world. As I’m putting the finishing touches on my new book, I am faced with the design that will make my book easy to recognize, easy to describe, and easy to buy.

In the book business, there are two conversions: convert an searcher into a finder, and convert a finder into a buyer.

We’ve already named the book Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Formulas of The Conversion Scientist. Now it’s all about presentation.

My preference will be a white cover with hand-drawn elements and a picture of me. Here is a crude mockup The drawn images are just for placement, and I’ll want to work with my cover designer before doing any drawings.


What do you think? Please let me know in the comments.

There are are some guiding principles I used to come to this collection of elements, many of which you will find in the book when discussing website development.

Here are my guidelines and some examples.

Show the Product

Tim Ash shows a sales funnel on the cover of his book.

In the case of my book, I am the product, as teacher and co-creator of my readers’ digital conversion labs, so it might make sense to put me on the cover.

I don’t find many examples of this in the business book space, and this gives me some pause. However, given the personas I’ve written the book for, it may be a way to look unique in the space.

Encourage word of mouth

When a reader is recommending a book to another person, it is helpful to give them a way to describe the book.

“You really should read the conversion sciences book. I forgot the guys name, but it’s the one with the _________ on the cover.”

In the case of my mockup, they could say “…a guy in a doctor’s coat.” Of course that could sell a lot of books for Bill Nye, the science guy.

The book Presentation Zen might be “one with stacked rocks on the cover.”

Brian Solis book Engage is the “chain” book.

Express Your Brand

Scott Stratten is a funny, self-effacing, contrarian writer and presenter. He says on his Twitter profile that he’s “kind of a big deal on a fairly irrelevant soc media site which inflates my self-importance.”

His book, Unmarketing, is in a plain brown rapper, and looks like it was stamped instead of printed.

This is potentially one of the most powerful integrations of book and marketing, and can make your book instantly recognizable for your most engaged potential readers.

My brand centers around two memes.

Meme 1: The Lab Coat

I wear a lab coat in my presentation and photos. This will be recognized by many of my readers.

Meme 2: Hand-drawn infographs

I occasionally do hand-drawn infographs when at conferences. My book has some of these hand-drawn images in it.

How Leaky is your Shopping Cart

I envisioned an entire lab in hand-drawn fashion, but haven’t had the time to complete it.

Emphasize the author or the topic?

After six years of writing and speaking as  The Conversion Scientist, my business brand is much stronger than the book brand. One could argue that it makes sense to highlight my name more so than the book title.

However, I’m not established as an author, and I’m not a household name. People are more likely to be searching for the book title than to be searching for a book by Brian Massey, or the Conversion Scientist.

I could go either way on this one.

Use universal visual memes

Drawing from universal memes in the imagery quickly communicates what the book is (or could be) about. Philip Graves uses the universal sign for shopping, the shopping cart, over and over again in his book cover.

Universal memes for a book by a “Conversion Scientist” include the lab coat, the ubiquitous test tube, the Erlenmeyer Flask, the Bunsen Burner, and other remnants of High School chemistry class.

The chemical equation will either strike fear or recognition in the minds of potential readers.

I have a whole universe of conversion “elements.”

This is probably too over-the-top.

Own a Color

Groundswell owns lime green.

The “For Dummies” series owns yellow and black.

The Guerilla Marketing books own camouflage.

Avoid business porn

In all cases, I want to avoid what I call “business porn,” or the use of happy, beautiful people who inevitably are devoid of emotion and authenticity. Wiley has built an entire series with cover designs like this. The books are excellent. The covers are uninspiring.

The words should be readable

So easily forgotten in the design of covers is that the title and author should be readable. This means

  • Avoid placing title and author on a busy background.

  • Avoid placing dark text on a dark background. Gradients are especially bad as some part of the text won’t show up no matter which background you choose.

  • Avoid placing light text on a light background

  • Acknowledge that for aging readers, light text on a dark background is harder to read

  • Don’t create font-confusion

Appeal to your readers’ tastes

Once you’ve identified these logical ground rules for your book cover, you can apply your readers’ preferences. This involves choosing designs from other successful books have done in your space.

If you get rid of the business porn, I like the simple design and white background of the Wiley Hour a Day series, and those readers interested in my book have bought lots of books in this series.

I like the had-drawn style of several recent books, and I have some ability to draw a cover such as this.

Stay tuned for the final cover art

I’ll be publishing in less than 30 days, so you can see my final cover.

I’ll notify you wen the book is out if you become a friend of the author. You’ll also get a free video to help you determine your unique site formula to increase conversions.

Talk to me. Comment below.