The Original “Rain Maker” Campaigns – 3 Ads To Sell Anything

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately looking for ways to simplify my Direct Marketing business. Not just for myself, but for clients and co-workers as well.

Our industry as a whole has gotten unnecessarily complicated and it’s driven us to the point of analysis paralysis. I see it every day. Rather than moving forward and testing new ideas clients get stuck in an endless loop of trying to stay on top of the best, most up-to-date marketing advice.

Here’s the reality. Almost all of that stuff is minutia. It’s unimportant compared to the big concepts of direct marketing. And if you understand those big concepts, it really doesn’t matter what sales funnel you use or what marketing tool you build with.

So if this direct marketing stuff is so simple, why does it seem like it has to be updated every single week (according to the gurus) in order to remain effective?

Because it’s the nature of the beast. The marketing industry is built on convincing people to spend more money. If you’re a marketing expert, it is literally your job. If they can’t convince you to buy stuff, they don’t have an income. And telling people to go look up 200-year-old books in the library generally doesn’t drive up sales. LOL.

So, as unprofitable as this might be… I’m about to reveal something that could save you a whole lot of money.

Almost all direct response ad campaigns being run today can be traced back to less than a dozen campaigns created over 200 years ago. People don’t change. Psychology doesn’t change. And just like the movie Industry, there are very few original plots.

So what are these original “rainmaker” campaigns. Well, as much as I’d love to go into detail on all of them (and we may one day) today I’d like to focus on three in particular. The coupon campaign, the application campaign and the giveaway campaign. And it is my firm belief that with just these three advertising campaigns you could sell nearly anything. So let’s dive in.

The Coupon Campaign

Originally invented by Claude Hopkins, sometime when dinosaurs roamed the earth, this has been one of the most widely adopted and effective advertising campaigns in history. In fact, this campaign is so ubiquitous that you may not even think of it as an advertising campaign. Almost every retail business in the world uses this as a staple form of marketing. But at one point, sometime in the past, these were all brand new ideas!

So what is a coupon campaign? Well, if you haven’t figured it out by now… It’s a coupon! Specifically, it’s a coupon for a great deal pushed up against a deadline. And that alone, put in front of an interested audience is often enough to get a buyer to purchase. Of course there are other mechanisms at play. Things like convincing headlines, benefits, features and social proof, but the main ad campaign boils down to a discount and a deadline. And this still works incredibly well today. incidentally, this was one of the first methods advertisers used to track response. Different coupon codes were used in different cities and when the campaign was over, everything was tallied and they knew which advertisement performed best. 200 years later it still works incredibly well.

The Application Campaign

I love this one. Out of all the campaigns that I’ve used in the past, this one is my favorite. Why? Because it flips the dynamic of the sales conversation entirely. Application campaigns are used to sell higher priced items or products with longer sale cycles where a client needs to be educated first.

Typically when selling more expensive items or services a client discovers your business by looking for a solution to their problem. They may visit your website, they may attend your presentations and they may read your emails. But at the end of the day, almost all of that material serves the same purpose – to try and convince them to give you money. And that is the exact same strategy that every other business out there is using as well. The business tries to convince the prospect. There are entire books around the concept of “ The Sale Starts At No.” But what if “No.” isn’t even part of the equation?

Rather than trying to convince a prospect to sign up, why not first ensure they’re a good fit and that you can actually help them? Flip the script. Explain that it would be unethical for you to take their money unless you can help them and for that reason they need to go through a short application process first. Have them fill out a short application form asking qualifying questions to make sure they’re a good fit. Then book a short phone interview with them. In almost every case the client ends up spending the majority of the phone interview excitedly explaining why they’re a great fit. I’ve literally lost count of the number of times clients have said “this is the best sales call I have ever been on.” Everybody ends up happy, and there was almost 0 sales friction because there is no uncomfortable sales pressure.

The Giveaway Campaign

This campaign is so effective for e-commerce and retail that it should be illegal. Ok, I say that for dramatic effect. But it’s really good. And just like the rest of the advertising campaigns in this article, I guarantee that you've seen this somewhere at least once in the past week. These giveaway campaigns are that prolific. Why? They deliver a 1-2 punch of getting you sales immediately, while covering your advertising costs upfront at the same time.

The best modern-day day example I can think of for this would be the McDonald’s free coffee campaign. A few times a year McDonald’s has one day where you can get a small coffee for free. No strings attached. Just go in and get your free coffee. But McDonald’s isn’t stupid. They know that the vast majority of people that go in for their free coffee – perhaps people that haven’t been McDonald’s coffee drinkers previously – will also get a muffin or a breakfast sandwich. They were enticed by the free giveaway, which cost almost nothing to for fill, and purchased other items which covered the cost of the coffee. And McDonald’s not only brings in a whack load of cash every time they do this, but they bring in new customers as well.

Another great example of this are all the bath and body shops that give lotion and soap samples away to people that walk by in the malls. You walk in to get your free sample, which cost them pennies, and you walk out with $30 in bath bombs.

You’ve more than likely seen these campaigns online as well. E-commerce owners will give products away for free as long as you cover the shipping and handling. The S&H covers the cost of the product, the advertising, and the handling to fulfil it. So the product seller gets to put “FREE Product” in the ad and get a new customer and you’re happy because you got it for free. From there the product vendor can go on to sell any number of complementary products or services to dramatically increase the average order value.

And no matter what type of business you run these three campaigns can be adapted to fit your needs. You don’t need to stay on top of the latest and greatest marketing improvements. You don’t need to buy any kind of newfangled fancy software. You don’t need to attend long winded presentations. And you certainly don’t need to reinvent the wheel.

I’d love to tell you these are all my ideas. I’d love to be able to claim them as my own and take credit like so many other marketers to, but that would be wrong. There’s a really great saying that comes to mind when I think of our industry.

“I see further because I stand on the shoulders of giants.”

Marketing legends like Claude Hopkins, Robert Collier and John Caples have already developed the wheel for us. This stuff has been tested it ad nauseam. Human psychology doesn’t change over time. We are the same simple creatures we were 200 years ago… except with Netflix. There’s no sense in re-creating what already works. 😉

-Adam Nolan

The Death Of Ad Tracking

Online advertising as we know it is about to change forever. I know you've probably heard dramatic headlines like that before but in this case, it’s the literal truth. And if you’re an advertiser, a publisher, or an affiliate marketer than 2021 may dramatically change how you run your business.

So what’s going on? What’s with all the “sky is falling” fear mongering? First I’m going to preface this by saying that no, this is not the “death of advertising.” This isn’t the end of the world. We will get through this, but we’ve got a storm ahead.

In a nutshell, cookie tracking as we know it as about to disappear.

This is going to directly affect how much your ads cost, your ability to split test, all affiliate marketing, publishers, content creators and essentially anything that relies on tracking cookies.

if you’re not familiar with tracking cookies already, they're the little bits of code that website owners put on their website to tell advertisers when a specific event has taken place. Sometimes that event can be reading an article, it can be opting in to an email list, or it can be purchasing something. But these little bits of code have been the Internets foundational tracking tool for the past 30 years. And by the end of this year, they’re all going to be gone.

The sky is falling.🙂

So how did this come to be? Why are we losing the single most valuable tracking tool we have and what can we do about it?

Well, unless you’ve been living under a cave for the past decade you've probably noticed the ads that follow you around the web. And while this can be incredibly helpful as an advertiser, it can make customers uncomfortable. Imagine shopping online for an item that you might not want others to know about and then visiting a popular website and seeing that item advertised all over where anybody else who uses that computer can see? Yikes!

And that’s why so many people have started implementing ad blocker‘s. How do ad blockers work? They block ads from being displayed, and they block tracking cookies from being loaded. And over the past 10 years as advertising automation has evolved people have become more and more wary about what they share online and how their data is used.

So to address those concerns in 2017 Apple came out with this new technology called ITP. It stands for Intelligent Tracking Prevention. It was designed to address users privacy concerns by limiting cookie tracking on Safari on desktop and mobile.

Apple’s Safari accounts for 10% usage on Desktop and 50% usage on Mobile. So while not a huge deal for Desktop, this is a MASSIVE problem for mobile. Literally half the people that visit your websites are not being tracked!

Since 2017 the restrictions have only gotten tighter to the point where Facebook Tracking Pixels are no longer firing at all. Go ahead, check it out yourself. Visit a website on your iPhone (this one!) that you know has a FB pixel on it. Click the “AA” in the menu bar and go to “Privacy Report”. You’ll see FB, Google Analytics and all other tracking pixels blocked.

Firefox already blocks all third party cookies (tracking, etc). And Google is scheduled to block them all in 2022 due to privacy concerns.

This is a HUGE deal.

This means unless someone finds a solution things like affiliate marketing may not work as well anymore. It means ad costs will go up significantly. It makes split testing nearly impossible. It essentially sends us back to 1990 where all advertisers relied on keyed advertising. It’s a slow, laborious process I’m not terribly looking forward to going back to it. That being said, since FB is poised to take a 40-50% revenue hit unless they solve this, they’ve been highly motivated to find a solution. And they have… kind of (see below)

Now here’s where the dramatic headline comes in. Apple has already told Facebook to stop tracking users. Apple does not want anyone tracking it's users activity. Period. In fact, Apple has gone so far as to tell Facebook that if they continue to find workarounds they’ll be removed from the App store. And when Apple flexes their muscle the entire industry changes (see: floppy drives, cd drives, headphone jacks, etc)

And that is exactly why Facebook has taken out giant full page ads in WSJ trying to get the public to side with them. But it ‘aint happening. And I don’t blame either party! As an advertiser, this is not gonna be fun. As a privacy consciencious citizen, I do appreciate it.

The Times They Are A Changin’
-Bob Dylan

So what can we do? Nobody is 100% sure yet. I’m not heavily involved in the affiliate or CPA marketing circles. I’m not a publisher, so I can’t comment on that. But I do advertise – a lot. And here is how advertisers are preparing on Facebook.

1 – Accept That This Is Happening. There is nothing we can do to change it. We can either adapt or die. Sticking your head in the sand and pretending this won’t happen won’t make it go away. So you need to act.

2 – Setup Facebook Conversions API. This is Facebooks response to the “No More Tracking Pixel” problem. It doesn’t track every event (page views, etc) but it does track conversion events – which is mostly what we want anyways. Whenever a conversion event (opt-in, purchase, etc) happens your website speaks directly with Facebooks servers and says “Hey, Bob bought something!” and credits the sale accordingly. Explaining this setup is a bit beyond the scope of this article, but I’ll put references and further reading below. Bottom line – get this setup ASAP.

3 – Verify Your Domain! Yup! This one’s brand new. In the future you’ll only be able to associate conversions with domains that are verified in your business manager account. So make sure you do that sooner rather than later.

4 – Enable Advanced Matching. When going through the ads setup process, make sure to enable Advanced Matching. This increases accuracy so Facebook is able to identify users. The more data you can pass back to Facebook, the more accurate your analytics will be, and the cheaper your advertising will be.

5 – Verify Business (Optional). If you’ve found that you’ve had problems in the past with ads getting denied or account shutdowns (that were reversed) this may help. It’s another “verification” tool that Facebook is using to make sure only high quality advertisers use their platform. All you have to do is send them identification / business registration papers and it may save you a few headaches.

If you’re using WordPress to manage your site, I highly recommend the PixelYourSite plugin as it takes care of both the cookie and the API. There are also native integrations built into the Facebook ads manager for things like WooCommerce, Shopify, BigCommerce, and yes Zapier. So for anything else that doesn’t connect directly to Facebook, (like ClickFunnels) we can still pass the information we need.

There’s a lot going on. And I’m sure this is just as overwhelming for you as it was for me when I first saw it. When the “realization” first hit me a few weeks ago I spent 3 full days researching all of this. There is a lot of confusion out there and it’s only going to get worse. So the sooner you get on top of this, the easier it will be. 🙂

So here is what I would do going forward.

1 – Read the articles linked below so you have a more thorough understanding of what is happening. Start with the “Further Reading” and then move on to the Official Documentation if you’re interested. Reason: FB Official Documentation is much more technical.

2 – Setup your Conversion API’s, verify your domain and business and enable Advanced Matching when running ads.

3 – Tell EVERY advertiser, publisher and affiliate marketer you know. The longer our friends have to wait to find out about this, the more painful the process is going to be!

Well… that’s it for me. I hope this answers more questions than it raises. 🙂 I know reading all of this stuff can be a bit like trying to take a drink from a water hose. But at the very least I’m glad I got to pass on the message. 🙂

Take care and chat soon.

-Adam Nolan

Resources / Further Reading:

FB Official Documentation

About domain name verification:

What happens when Apple implements ATT prompt in 2021:

Ad Reporting and attribution insights:

iOS14 Reporting limitations:

On The Importance Of Controlling User Experience

In one of my previous posts I mentioned a really great tool called lucky orange. Well lately I’ve been using it a lot to observe interactions that visitors are having with my sales funnels. And one of the things that I’ve noticed that has been incredibly consistent across the board is how important it is to control user experience if you want to maximize conversions.

Recently I’ve been doing a test comparing a video sales page with a traditional auto webinar. Based on what is considered best practices I decided to leave the buy button available as well as give viewers the ability to fast forward and rewind the video. Below the video I included a wall of testimonials with multiple CTAs. After observing  100’s of live recordings it amazes me how consistent user behaviour is!

People click through from the email promotion, visit the page, immediately scroll down past the video, read a few testimonials, and click through to the application/purchase page. Less than 10% of the people actually click the play button on the video and even fewer watch all the way through to the CTA! 

When I compare those results with the results I get from running a traditional auto webinar, where the entire video experience is controlled, I regularly see 60% to 70% of registrants staying until the call to action point at least an hour and 30 minutes later! The stick stick rate seems to be incredible. 

It seems as though once people have registered for an event they are far more likely to attend and watch than if the same people are told to watch a video on a page.

These results have held steady across multiple offers and multiple markets now. The more you’re able to control the user experience, and the fewer options you provide, the higher your conversion rates will be.

Remove anything from your pages that isn’t exactly what you want your viewers to do right now. Give leads one option, tell them exactly what you want them to do next, and the benefits of doing it and watch your conversions increase. 


– Adam Nolan

Always Check Your Work

I’ve been burned again.

You figure after doing this line of work for over a decade that I’d learn, but nope.

And I guarantee every single person reading this is going to make the exact same mistake I just made at least once. So if this short little article can help you avoid some frustrations and headaches I’m happy to pass the advice on. And here it is…

Always check your work.

That’s it. It’s not complicated but it will literally save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars and hours of frustration. Why? Because to err is human.

I’ve literally lost count of the number of times I’ve started a new ad campaign, haven’t checked and something was broken but I’ll never forget the first time…

I’m fairly certain it was a holiday sale around eight or nine years ago. I had worked tirelessly for weeks creating a new product, putting together the ad, assembling the campaign and getting everything ready for launch day. For those of you not familiar, a product launch is a very intense few days. Between answering customer support inquiries, making sure everything is working flawlessly and trying to maintain your sanity there’s very little time to actually eat or perform any other human functions.

So to prepare for this monumental product lunch my wife and I decided to go do groceries so that we wouldn’t have to leave the house for a few days. Launches are crazy. And that way we’ll be able to focus on the business.

We were really cutting it down to the last minute. The project was due to go live in the next hour and we had no food at home. So we rushed out thinking everything was set up correctly, that the page would go live and we wouldn’t have any issues. In a perfect world it it should have gone just fine. Sales should have started pouring in. Heck, we would’ve come home probably having our groceries already paid for.

That didn’t happen.

Instead, as affiliates started to promote, I started getting a flurry of panicked messages letting me know that my buy button was not connected! Nobody was able to purchase!

We were literally haemorrhaging thousands of dollars every hour that it wasn’t running.

I left everything we had in our cart and drove home as fast as I could to fix the issue. Talk about a panicked moment!

I’d love to tell you that was the last time that happened, but it would be a lie. Like I said at the beginning of this article you think I’d learn. Nope.

So what prompted me to write this little post today? Well the exact same thing happened just a few days ago. Launched a brand new ad going to a video page using a custom video player. Everything was working flawlessly. I tested it all. No problems.

Except when I started watching the replay videos of customers visiting my page. I noticed something funny. My sales video wasn’t loading and people were leaving the page within seconds! Something wasn’t working.

Thankfully I had installed and was able to monitor everything. But if I hadn’t of done that I’d be continuing to run these ads to a page that nobody could buy from… Again.

The problem? A little tiny piece of tracking code at the end of Facebook‘s link cause my page to break. There would’ve been absolutely no way to test this without running ads first. But because I didn’t check everything thoroughly enough, I ended up spending about $150 sending traffic to a page that was essentially blank.

Always check your work. 🙂

Ok that’s it for me today. I feel like I should go double check work now. Ha!


How To Sell In Any Situation

The wonderful thing about direct marketing is that if you understand how it works, you can apply it to any product or service, in any circumstance and know it’s going to drive sales. 

It gives you the ability to generate sales whenever you’d like. And to be honest, it’s fairly easy. You just need to answer a hand full of questions and give people a logical and emotional reason to buy. Oh! And some urgency thrown in for good measure. 

“What’s In It For Me”

Let’s not beat around the bush. The primary question every potential customer is asking in their head is “What’s in it for me?” What is your product or service going to do that is going to make their life measurably better? So much so that it is more valuable than the money they’re giving you. If you can answer that question on both an emotional and logical level you’re more than half way there. 

Enter The Conversation In The Customers Head

There is always going to be a dialogue going on inside your customers head. At times it’s easier to deduce than others. But it’s always there. What is the reason they’re shopping for the solution you’re selling? Why are they doing it now? Are they shopping for an anniversary gift for their partner? Are they hobbyists looking for the latest gear? Are they preparing for a future event? 

Whatever it is they’re thinking of, play off that angle. If you’re selling engagement rings you know what event they’re being bought for and you (hopefully!) know the reason they should buy your rings! 

Using These Two Concepts Together… 

Using these two concepts together you can sell pretty much anything, to anyone, anywhere. 

It’s all a matter of looking at it through your customers eyes and entering the conversation that is already going on. What are they thinking about right now? What event or circumstance is causing them to want to buy. Frame your product within that circumstance or event, and do it better than your competition and you’ll get the sale almost every time. 

That’s it for me today guys. 

Have a great one. 

– Adam