The Language of IM: To Swear or Not to Swear

37 replies
So I'm going to be very interested in feedback on this post and hear what other people's thoughts on this subject are...

I've been in the IM field for roughly about a decade now, and I've noticed that it's not uncommon for Internet Marketers to swear in their sales copy. But of course there are many who don't. Some consider it unprofessional and potentially offensive and therefore harmful to sales; others feel it comes across as passionate and daring, and therefore good for sales.

My personal feeling is that it really depends on the audience you're targeting - as with most things. But I think in the bigger picture, it would be better not to do it. And of course I'll explain my reasons as this post develops.

Myself, I'm not a "frequent" swearer. If you hear me swear it's usually because I'm irritated or frustrated with something; I only occasionally swear in casual conversation. Is it because I'm uptight or some kind of prude? I don't think so. I think it's more of the image that comes to mind for me when I think of those who swear casually, frequently, loudly, without regard to who's present, etc. I generally think of such a person as one who is something of a "base" person, lacking self-control and consideration of others. I mean no offense to the reader here.

To me it's like smoking. There are two kinds of smokers: ones who are considerate, and try to stay downwind of non-smokers, and those who are inconsiderate, either because it simply hasn't occurred to them that their smoke is offensive to non-smokers,or because they just don't really care.

Although I have that view of people who swear excessively, I'm not offended by swearing. I've read things by marketers who swore but have offered valuable information - and it's really only the valuable information that I care about.

But I'm also very much aware that there are people who are extremely offended by excessive swearing. And I'm not willing to write them off because I would see it, as our IM cliche says, as "leaving money on the table".

I read an article on the subject by a swearing marketer not long ago and he said, one, you cannot please everyone and shouldn't try to. And two, if they're offended by swearing, he said, "I probably don't want them on my list anyway."

That seemed over the top to me. People who don't like swearing are perfectly welcome on my list - particularly if they're buyers. I'm more than happy to oblige them by not swearing. And as for not being able to please everyone - that's true. However you should please as many paying customers (or potential paying customers) as you reasonably can.

My point is that, like it or not, there are people who are offended by swearing. But I've yet to hear of anyone being genuinely offended by the absence of swearing. I'm not saying there are no such people, but I have no doubt they are far more rare a breed than those who dislike swearing.

The most important thing is that you speak naturally. And when you do, people don't tend to notice if you're swearing or not. But I should add this disclaimer: Don't make yourself look dorky by using "substitute expletives". Words like "darn" and "shoot" only draw attention to the fact that you're making it a point not to swear, and therefore your speech doesn't come across as natural.

The use of the expletive adjectives aren't really necessary to natural sounding speech. Whether you say, "This is so f***ing awesome!" or, "This is so darn awesome!" - either can be off-putting, depending on the reader. You can just eliminate the adjective altogether by saying, "This is so awesome!" The latter is unlikely to offend anyone, and still conveys passion and sounds perfectly natural.

Am I saying you won't be successful in IM if you swear? Not at all. I'm just saying that it's my opinion that you could probably do better if you didn't. But it's like grammar. I myself am somewhat of a "grammar nazi". My biggest grammar pet peeve is when people don't know the difference between then and than. I laughed at a post I saw on Facebook where someone wrote, "I'd rather be pissed off then pissed on." What they wrote literally means, "I'd prefer to be really angry and afterwards have someone urinate all over me." They should have used than - not then.

But I'm so bad about my grammar peeves that if I go to a sales page that is full of grammatical errors (particularly if their sales copy says something like, "There's more people making money online now then ever before", I will not buy the product. Because in the back of my mind is a thought that says, "If they couldn't even be bothered to pay five bucks to have someone on Fiverr proofread their sales copy, how good could their product be?" I see it as a cavalier attitude toward quality.

Nevertheless, bad grammar people are successful online left and right. They may not get my business, or the business of those who are as anal about grammar as I am, but they can still make a lot of money. I think of the guy behind theplrstore.com - his is some of the worst writing I've ever read - grammatically speaking. But it hasn't kept him from being successful.

I'm sure I'm likely to get some haters responding to this. People condescending, people telling me how "f***ing stupid" I am, etc. But I'm not thin-skinned. I'm genuinely interested in knowing people's thoughts.
#language #swear
  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
    Originally Posted by dbsmitty View Post

    My point is that, like it or not, there are people who are offended by swearing. But I've yet to hear of anyone being genuinely offended by the absence of swearing. I'm not saying there are no such people, but I have no doubt they are far more rare a breed than those who dislike swearing.
    This is really the clincher philosophy for me, but I tend to avoid swearing naturally, bar a few rare cases.

    In the digital product arena (and other areas), people try to gain a supposed angle by adopting the cool n' edgy attitude and swearing is often part of this territory. It's use will really depend upon the target audience, which is still going to vary from each person to the next (avoiding putting the umbrella up over everyone). For others, who don't have a business purpose, it can well be illness and personal injustice. The shifty in the masquerade.

    The 'bros' and 'dudes' are used too and many people don't like this neither.

    It's important to note that Internet business in the digital product arena can differ massively from business in the 'real' world. There's lots of people who might repeatedly make similarity comparisons, but if the swearing, bro's and dude's were taken into a corporate arena (in most sectors), they would be moved along swiftly and politely.

    I think the bottom line for me is, I'll instinctively judge a person upon how they carry themselves within the limited resources the Internet can provide to express oneself and the result of this will determine if I'm in touch with a respectable or questionable individual.

    There's many exceptions though admittedly. A persons text might suggest they are something other than there are. Just recently, I read the copy of a marketer and it contained all of the usual textual undesirables, yet I watched his talking head video which was remarkable.

    Swings and roundabouts.


    Daniel
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  • Profile picture of the author Joan Altz
    If the shit fits, use it.

    Kern can do it, and it's expected, even welcomed.

    Shane Melaugh can say "shit" now and then, using his quick manner of saying it, and it's not offensive. But if he were to go all-out Kern with his swearing, not good, because it just doesn't fit the guy.

    I think this is mostly true what you wrote: "The most important thing is that you speak naturally. And when you do, people don't tend to notice if you're swearing or not."

    People always notice swearing, and they either deliberately skip passing judgement or they don't - and ignoring it probably has more to do with whether they like you or not.

    I get offended hearing sellers I don't like use the word "gangbusters," which isn't a swear word at all. It's just an old-fashioned idiom that sounds ridiculous to me when used in sales. It grates me nerves, laddy.
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  • Profile picture of the author dbsmitty
    I shouldn't have said that people don't notice if you are swearing or not... what I really meant was that people don't really take notice of that fact that you don't. But it's true that it works for some people who have an established following. I guess I'm looking at it more from the first impression aspect.

    And it's also true that it's very different in the "real world". The internet has changed so many things. But I think in many cases there are old rules that still apply.

    I bought an info product once - don't remember anything about it except for the adversarial tone of the opening part of it (it was a PDF). The author started by chewing out people who took issue with his bad grammar saying, essentially, "We're about making money, not good grammar". Then he went after people who were stealing his work (presumably) telling them that they "probably have tiny little dicks".

    So, like I said, swearing doesn't really offend me, but I was very put off by this guy's angry demeanor and never bought anything else from him.

    There's an IM guy who writes kindle books and goes under the moniker "Buck Flogging" - because he doesn't like blogging and thinks it's a waste of time. Anyway, he's a swearer. And I read a review of his book where this lady just gave him a scathing review because of it.

    For myself - it does matter a little. I mean, if I were hiring an assistant or someone to represent my company and someone I was interviewing was swearing as though he or she thought they knew me and just assumed I wouldn't have a problem with it, I wouldn't hire them.

    But when it comes to buying IM product, it doesn't really carry a lot of weight - unless the swearing is really excessive. Because my experience has been that the ones who swear loosely and excessively also tend to be some of the ones who produce crappy products. But that's just my opinion.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    If you sell sex, porn, or penis enlargement.... then yeah, go ahead and swear. It's expected.
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    • Profile picture of the author arrival7
      When ever I see marketers swearing, I always say that a better choice of words could have been chosen. It is surely not appropriate on a professional level and we all know that.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        If you're trying to impress me with your arsenal of four letter words, don't bother. For most of you here, I heard them long before you were born. Then again, if your target audience is impressed by cursing, I'm probably not part of it.

        'Hell', 'damn', etc. don't bother me unless I get the sense that the usage is forced. Heck, I think George Carlin's list of the seven words you can't say on TV is down to three or four now. Unless you watch cable, and then all bets are off.

        Enough rambling.

        We tell people all the time to 'use their customers' language' when talking to them. If their language is littered with f-bombs, have at it. If it isn't, then watch your mouth.

        Harvey Mackay sometimes tells a story about an acquaintance who was a strict 'natural foods' guy. The guy had a lunch time job interview with an executive from the Pillsbury company. He shook hands with the exec, sat down, and proceeded to butter a dinner roll and eat it with great satisfaction.

        When Harvey asked him about it later, the guy said "when you lunch with a baker, you eat a roll."

        If your target audience expects you to curse, curse.

        If your target audience expects you to not curse, don't curse.

        If you aren't sure, don't curse. No one will be offended if you don't, but some might be offended enough not to buy if you do.
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  • Profile picture of the author nicheblogger75
    I don't think it's necessary to use curse words in your sales copy or emails. There are plenty of words that you can use to get your point across without swearing. I'm sure there are many people out there who would think it was daring and edgy, but I think there are many who would also get offended.

    My opinion is that there is no need to take a chance that you might offend someone when you have many ways to get your points across that you can be sure will not offend your subscribers. In other words, why take the chance when you don't have to?

    I was in the military so I'm pretty much immune to swearing. It doesn't bother me and it doesn't offend me. I'm not going to unsubscribe from a list because the marketer used a few cuss words. However, some people are more sensitive and will unsubscribe if the word "ass" is used.

    Recently, though, I did unsubscribe from an email I received because it was totally off the wall. I think the marketer must have temporarily lost it or was going through a very tough time in their life or something. This person even said they "hated freebie seekers" and "if you are on my list and you are not going to buy any of the products I recommend then just get lost now," followed by "I have to pay for each subscriber on my list so I have no time for tire kicking a**holes."

    Yeah, this guy was having a real bad day, or something. I understand that all of us have probably felt that way from time to time, but I never imagined that somebody would actually put that in an email to their subscribers.

    Anyhow, great thread. This is a topic I have been curious about for a while.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kalambur
    I avoid swearing naturally, and I would never swear in my letters, videos, blogposts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    This is a non-issue.

    Should you part your hair on the left of the right?

    You'll offend somebody either way.

    At the end of the day: who cares.

    That's the right answer.

    Do what you like; there's a market in either camp. You're not going to hurt yourself that much by swearing or not swearing.

    This is not an impactful component of business. You'll get loud complainers no matter what you do. Who cares about them? They're not your customer.

    When I ran a metal fab shop in the mid-2000s, I'd send out a fax blast. Say to around 200 prospects.

    There'd be 2 or 3 loud complainers.

    And there'd be 4 or 5 buyers.

    I never really gave much thought to the complainers, because they were never going to buy anyway. I simply removed them from the list and continued making money.

    This swearing thing is an example of the herd mind worrying about minutiae and the opinions of dumb, broke people rather than getting on with the business we're here to do.

    Keep wasting your time, folks. While you're navel-gazing, we're making money.
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    • Profile picture of the author TheGMa
      Hi and Happy New Year Smitty, Jason, Daniel, Nicheblogger, John! We're gonna have a great year, I can feel it through and through.

      Smitty, I completely agree with everything you said, and while Jason has a point, a marketer who relentlessly attempts to be shocking turns boring really, really fast.

      Then & than - is that anything like lose & loose? (rolling eyes)

      As with all of you, I subscribe to certain emails & newsletters, some to keep an eye on trends and most to keep up with marketing training.

      Those that are geared repeatedly to be shocking or try to use street language or try to be "down to earth" or speak in dialect, I open and scan. After the first few, I don't get involved with the message because I know ahead of time what it's going to say. A little goes a long way. Foul language is merely trashy, so it ends up in the Trash. It's neither useful nor informative.

      The pros I adhere to mix it up while still maintaining their own personality. I'm never sure what they might have going on or what their lead-in is going to be, but I know that whatever the situation, their conversation will be useful and informative, and the products they recommend will be solid.

      I prefer a straightforward, professional approach, but it doesn't keep me from occasionally buying a useful tool from someone who is boringly predictable, trying to be something he isn't.

      - Annie
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      • Profile picture of the author MValmont
        I you swear a lot then do it. If you don't swear a lot and do it just because it will convert better then don't do it.

        People have a natural ability to detect if something is natural or not. Be authentic.

        Honestly, I think people in the internet marketing world focus WAY TOO MUCH on small details (what colour should I use? What font size should I use? Should I say that this way or that way?). In the end, your customer wants VALUE. Can you help him, YES or NO. Yes the packaging of your message is important, but in my opinion the message itself is WAY more important and ultimately this is what makes someone successful or not.
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  • Profile picture of the author talfighel
    There are some products out there who do use swear words in their sales page or even their video.

    Most of them have real passion to help others and they don't care if someone gets offended when they swear.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      It would perhaps be interesting to see the response from people if Amazon sent out an email riddled with swearing on a regular basis. Their image would be jarred in an instant. They are internet marketers, like many other businesses who's image is pinnacle in importance.

      For those who sell a few ebooks, perhaps image then isn't so important. They can take risks in a bid to establish themselves as hip-hop, coolcumber in light of others who are doing the same in the same arena.

      Needless to say, the impact of using such language depends upon business and audience.

      Complainers will always be, but as outlined in a previous post, no-one has been criticised for absence of swearing, but swearing just introduces another reason why people might complain. It's about damage limitation.



      Daniel
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by Daniel Evans View Post

        It would perhaps be interesting to see the response from people if Amazon sent out an email riddled with swearing on a regular basis. Their image would be jarred in an instant. They are internet marketers, like many other businesses who's image is pinnacle in importance.

        For those who sell a few ebooks, perhaps image then isn't so important.

        Needless to say, the impact of using such language depends upon business and audience.

        Complainer will always be, but as outlined in a previous post, no-one has been criticised for absence of swearing, but swearing just introduces another reason why people might complain.

        Personally, I know from this fact, which is the safest bet for myself.

        Daniel
        NICHE marketing.

        Amazon isn't niche marketing.

        I very rarely swear in writing but I defend a marketer's right to do it.

        The "shock jock" GMa was referring to above wasn't someone I had in mind when I was responding. That is a bad tactic.

        "Safest bet" isn't a phrase I indulge in. Sounds too much like trying.
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        • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
          Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

          NICHE marketing.

          Amazon isn't niche marketing.

          I very rarely swear in writing but I defend a marketer's right to do it.

          The "shock jock" GMa was referring to above wasn't someone I had in mind when I was responding. That is a bad tactic.

          "Safest bet" isn't a phrase I indulge in. Sounds too much like trying.


          Marketing within a niche isn't really a valid reason to differentiate.

          "Safest bet" or "trying" is the only thing you have, unless of course you know all of your subscribers on an emotional level.

          Everyone has a right to swear. The point raised is that it needs consideration according to business and audience.
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          • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
            Originally Posted by Daniel Evans View Post

            Marketing within a niche isn't really a valid reason to differentiate.

            "Safest bet" or "trying" is the only thing you have, unless of course you know all of your subscribers on an emotional level.
            1 - you ALWAYS have a valid reason to differentiate.

            2 - good line, I think I'll swipe it. What are you doing marketing to a niche if you DON'T know their pain points??
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            • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
              Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

              1 - you ALWAYS have a valid reason to differentiate.
              There are many niche corporate businesses and 'Niche' is not a method of business practice. It describes concentration.

              2 - good line, I think I'll swipe it. What are you doing marketing to a niche if you DON'T know their pain points??
              What percentage of your list favours swearing and what method did you use to collate such data?
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      • Profile picture of the author TheGMa
        Thanks, Daniel; your Amazon remark reminded of something I left out.

        Daniel is right. When the Steve Jobs of the world, and world leaders begin using foul language, perhaps colorful language may be considered. Even Donald Trump, who should have his mouth washed out with soap, doesn't use foul language when he's marketing himself.

        And that is what every marketer is doing - marketing himself and/or the corporate image. There's a fortune trading hands in that market alone - imaging.

        If you want to market yourself using gutter language and feel it works better than Donald Trump's methods, lemme know.

        - Annie
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  • Profile picture of the author MindShifted
    I've been self employed continuously for 23 years.

    I've made enough (single handedly) for my husband, daughters and I to pay the bills and live in 6 different countries over the years. In other words, I've done pretty alright for myself.

    I've cussed in seminars, consultation sessions, blog posts, ebooks, sales copy, you name it.

    If there is some backlash against people who cuss, I can't say that I've felt it.

    My philosophy is that you do what makes you happy in your business, while being really, really good at whatever it is you do.
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  • Profile picture of the author Advanpro
    Some will be offended , some won't. If you feel like it and it's natural within a story then go for it swear away. Who gives a s@&£
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  • Profile picture of the author Augustinus
    I generally never used , because it never crossed my mind : "Hey let's use swearing" . I do not swear in personal life and I do not want to in business
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    See, what you are missing is you've already made some kind of judgement about the topic.

    And good marketing is about FILTERING not persuading.

    So by swearing in their marketing, these guys are filtering Out those who already have judged their style is "gutter language."

    You weren't their target market anyway.

    Look who uses this style of marketing.

    Is it people selling beekeeping equipment? "Look at these ##%** bees!"

    No.

    Sounds like a South Park or Family Guy parody (oh look, a couple places where swearing works just fine.)

    If you want an example of how swearing works in marketing, get on Declan O'Flaherty's list. He doesn't have a preprogrammed series; it's what he feels like writing TODAY. Stay on for a couple weeks and see if it doesn't change your mind.

    Listen to rich guys like Dan Pena. "People talk like this." It's the way people really talk.

    As I said and I think you missed, I don't swear in my marketing. Once in a blue moon. But being worried about swearing is like being worried about an asteroid striking the planet. There are much more important and immediate things to concern yourself with.

    We're down to the level of political argument here, and not going to change either side. My purpose was to illuminate what actually works, for those who haven't already made up their mind. I'm out.
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
      If someone needs to whittle down to a demographic that's deeply invested in swearing, in a lot of cases, I'd guess the integrity of that business needs to be questioned. Yep, some cases more warranted.

      I could have asked you what percentage of your list dislikes swearing. My comment was only to establish the fact that we don't know our audience that deeply and that absence of swearing then, (in most cases, as my safe bet) is surely the best way forward. That works for most I'm sure.

      South Park and Family Guy don't work for me, but I was whittled out for more reasons than the swearing.
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      • Profile picture of the author TheGMa
        Originally Posted by Daniel Evans View Post


        South Park and Family Guy don't work for me, but I was whittled out for more reasons than the swearing.
        Me neither. Oh, don't tell anyone, I have a hit out on Peter Griffin. I thought of hiring the Taz to rough him up a bit, but I don't think Peter would get it. Somebody already tried that with a rooster and it didn't work.

        -Annie
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      • Profile picture of the author MValmont
        Originally Posted by Daniel Evans View Post

        If someone needs to whittle down to a demographic that's deeply invested in swearing, in a lot of cases, I'd guess the integrity of that business needs to be questioned. Yep, some cases more warranted.

        I could have asked you what percentage of your list dislikes swearing. My comment was only to establish the fact that we don't know our audience that deeply and that absence of swearing then, (in most cases, as my safe bet) is surely the best way forward. That works for most I'm sure.

        South Park and Family Guy don't work for me, but I was whittled out for more reasons than the swearing.

        Hey Daniel, I like what you do and I almost always agree with you, but in this case there are a few things I don't agree with (and i'm writing this not to argue with you, but I just think people who read this will learn new things)

        -You say that it is hard to know exactly what % of people in your audience like or dislike swearing. My answer to that is this: These people followed you for a REASON. If at the beginning you were swearing, then maybe they like it, or maybe they don't like it, but the bottom line is they CONTINUED to follow you because you bring VALUE.

        -The whole idea to adapt your message to your audience is great on paper but in reality it doesn't always work. As I said, people have a natural radar to spot what is FAKE and not AUTHENTIC. If you didn't swear for the past 5 years and then all of a sudden you make a video swearing all the time, people are going to ask themselves: wait a minute, who is the real guy? Was he fake all that time or is he fake now? In my opinion people focus way too much on small stuff (what language should I use to really connect with my audience) and not enough on what matters (BRING VALUE TO THEM).

        -I'm not saying surveying your customers is a bad idea. I'm not saying marketing research is a bad idea....I'm saying that marketing in 2016 has to be AUTHENTIC. It has to come from the CORE. If it doesn't ,people will not trust you ( and they should not) and you won't make any sales.

        -Why do you think Donald Trump is so popular? He is AUTHENTIC to the CORE. He says what is on his mind. Even if people don't agree with him, they still RESPECT THAT A LOT.

        -Swearing works for Frank Kern because this is who he is. Being Ultra serious works for Eben Pagan because this is who he is. In the end, you have to REALLY look at who you are, speak from the core and this is how you gain people's trust.
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        • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
          Originally Posted by MValmont View Post

          Hey Daniel, I like what you do and I almost always agree with you, but in this case there are a few things I don't agree with (and i'm writing this not to argue with you, but I just think people who read this will learn new things)

          -You say that it is hard to know exactly what % of people in your audience like or dislike swearing. My answer to that is this: These people followed you for a REASON. If at the beginning you were swearing, then maybe they like it, or maybe they don't like it, but the bottom line is they CONTINUED to follow you because you bring VALUE.

          -The whole idea to adapt your message to your audience is great on paper but in reality it doesn't always work. As I said, people have a natural radar to spot what is FAKE and not AUTHENTIC. If you didn't swear for the past 5 years and then all of a sudden you make a video swearing all the time, people are going to ask themselves: wait a minute, who is the real guy? Was he fake all that time or is he fake now? In my opinion people focus way too much on small stuff (what language should I use to really connect with my audience) and not enough on what matters (BRING VALUE TO THEM).

          -I'm not saying surveying your customers is a bad idea. I'm not saying marketing research is a bad idea....I'm saying that marketing in 2016 has to be AUTHENTIC. It has to come from the CORE. If it doesn't ,people will not trust you ( and they should not) and you won't make any sales.

          -Why do you think Donald Trump is so popular? He is AUTHENTIC to the CORE. He says what is on his mind. Even if people don't agree with him, they still RESPECT THAT A LOT.

          -Swearing works for Frank Kern because this is who he is. Being Ultra serious works for Eben Pagan because this is who he is. In the end, you have to REALLY look at who you are, speak from the core and this is how you gain people's trust.
          Yep, an abrupt change in attitude will make people stop and question so it's definitely a factor, but I would question why they chose to begin in that manner (if they truly did) in the deciding that their swearing would be an asset, rather than their knowledge, product and / or services which their non-swearing charisma could possibly carry along effectively without.

          It's debatable what is truly 'authentic' especially when we consider social indoctrination which could be classed as either, but being reliant upon an act only works within the play....and a certain audience (on a case to case,personal level) will only watch that play.

          I think there are many acts being played in business. Some good, some bad, some convincing to some whilst others apparent and deterring.

          I think speaking ones mind is perhaps a little different, since that involves projection of a subjective opinion, rather than language which is a static trend, which people feel obliged to copy.

          What I think is interesting is the point that Annie mention above. A lot of people like to think they are comparable to a corporate counterpart, but then they seem to pull their heads back into their Internet shells, wanting to cuss and swear within there in an entirely different realm. You can't dance between the planes if you swear, since it has no place in most outside business circumstances, but non-swearing has a place anywhere. Even if a persons work is Internet based, it's maybe important to consider that personal assets should ideally be transposable or you're building your own spine out of ice cream and the Internet is your freezer.


          The only time admitedly I've seen Frank Kern in a more natural, non-promo setting is during his conversation with Tony Robbins and he was barely speaking words, let alone cussing with them. Based on that, I'm not at liberty to judge who he is.


          Daniel
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeAmbrosio
    Swearing never bothered me unless deliberately used to express something derogatory. Saying "My competitors product is a piece of sh1t" is very different from saying "Buy my sh1t".

    I HAVE used the more "mild" swear words over the years - mostly in emails. I have never had a complaint. In fact, more people have complained when I use "Merry Christmas" when they wanted "Happy Holidays", and when using "Happy Holidays" when they wanted "Merry Christmas".

    Point being no matter what you do someone somewhere will take offense. Or they won't. Don't sweat it too much.
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    • Profile picture of the author myob
      There is a school of thought (perhaps old school) that suggests one should write at the cultural, educational, and experential levels of the targeted audience. Sterilized or "polite" communication rarely converts effectively.

      Certainly Frank Kern and others such as George Carlin and Stan Stuchinski ("Secrets of the Big Dogs") have mastered the art of appealing to certain elements of the profane and antipodal among the masses. IMO, this is pure genius, which consistently beats the competition all-to-hell.
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      • Profile picture of the author Daniel Evans
        Originally Posted by myob View Post

        There is a school of thought (perhaps old school) that suggests one should write at the cultural, educational, and experential levels of the targeted audience. Sterilized or "polite" communication rarely converts effectively.

        Certainly Frank Kern and others such as George Carlin and Stan Stuchinski ("Secrets of the Big Dogs") have mastered the art of appealing to certain elements of the profane and antipodal among the masses. IMO, this is pure genius, which consistently beats the competition all-to-hell.
        Have you single handedly, in one fell swoop robbed these gentleman of all their other traits and qualities?
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        • Profile picture of the author TheGMa
          Gah! Yep, Smitty (the OP) had it right. He knew some of you would get all het up about the topic.

          Bottom line:

          1. Unless they were/are doing Vegas, the big comedians did not/do not use foul language of any kind; but ...
          2. Lenny Bruce, Redd Fox, Richard Pryor, and other notable comedians of that ilk had/have huge followings, and ...
          3. A large part of marketing involves being entertaining, ergo ...
          4. You play to your audience.

          There are a gazillion customers who, for one reason or another, speak in guttereze all the time. There are a gazillion customers who don't, ever. There are a gazillion who are thrilled with alien invasions, spooky stuff, and oddball phenomena (by the way, who is marketing to them other than The Discovery Channels?). And there are a gazillion gazillion customers who only respond to sex.

          Choose what your audience enjoys most because, my friends, they are the ones with the keys to the bank. AND - you'd best enjoy what they enjoy or you're marketing to the wrong crowd. Roseanne Barr does not play to the same crowd as Miss Piggy, but there's plenty to go around for both.

          - Annie
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        • Profile picture of the author myob
          Originally Posted by Daniel Evans View Post

          Have you single handedly, in one fell swoop robbed these gentleman of all their other traits and qualities?
          Actually, each one of them share strong characteristics common to those who have achieved their level of success, forged by overcoming personal struggles and a burning desire to succeed. The language used for marketing purposes is seldom a true reflection of the personal traits of such marketing masters.
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Originally Posted by dbsmitty View Post

    My point is that, like it or not, there are people who are offended by swearing. But I've yet to hear of anyone being genuinely offended by the absence of swearing.

    You've answered your own question right here about swearing or not swearing.

    Some people will be offended if you swear. No one (or very few people) will be offended if you don't swear.

    So you go with the percentages . . . don't swear!

    You're over-complicating this.

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author dbsmitty
    I appreciate all of the feedback. I had a feeling it would be a topic of varying views, and sometimes I enjoy poking the hive like that - lol.

    I agree that the main focus should be adding value. That and that alone, I believe, at the end of the day is the biggest determining factor of success or failure. Of course there are other factors, but that, in my opinion, is the most vital.

    It's interesting to me though, bringing up something like this and seeing how different people look at things. And make no mistake about it - language always has the potential of offending people. And I'm not necessarily talking about swearing. I don't think the holy book of any faith spells out any specific words considered taboo. But every generation has it's own taboo words and phrases.

    If I had asked the question instead, is it OK to use culturally offensive language - racial slurs, sexist terms, etc. I'm sure virtually everyone would have said I was an idiot for even asking.

    I think it goes to show how important it is - especially as a marketer - to understand that not everyone thinks alike. Not everyone views life and the world the same. Not everyone has the same values. And no - you can't please everyone. But don't be flippant in your attitude about pleasing anyone.

    If you only want to market to a certain crowd, and you're happy doing that, there is certainly nothing wrong with it. But at the same time, if what you're into is knitting sweaters for fish (off the wall example, I know) you'll have a hard time finding much of a market.

    Oh, and - I agree that there are always complainers. There always have been and always will be. I guess what I'm getting at is, don't allow that to become an excuse to not make customer satisfaction essential to your business. There's a big difference between someone who complains because they're a whiner and that's what they do, vs someone who has a legitimate gripe.

    Just my thoughts.
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  • Profile picture of the author Raydal
    Having been around the Internet Marketing arena for a decade and a half
    I can say that there is one pattern I notice with the marketers who swear:
    They didn't swear their way to success. They started swearing AFTER they
    made the big bucks
    .

    -Ray Edwards
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  • Profile picture of the author mustafavanancio
    Swearing seems to be part of some people's nature. You either accept them for who they are or you avoid them.

    To add to Raydal's comment I have noticed a few marketers who only started getting free with their language after they got a bit of fame.

    Some marketers try to mimic success of other marketers who swear or semi swear in their emails.

    How much you can get away with swearing in your sales copy depends on the market, how loyal they are and how much swearing really bothers them.

    Some people wouldn't flinch at reading or hearing swear words whereas some people on the other hand were brought up to understand that swearing is disrespectful and a negative trait.

    I personally avoid swearing in my sales copy and tend to be put off by it because I don't think its necessary to sell a product. Unless you're targeting a market that swears a lot of course.

    But if others are doing well with it then each to their own.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      So by swearing in their marketing, these guys are filtering Out those who already have judged their style is "gutter language."

      You weren't their target market anyway.
      That's true of Kern and RJ and similar 'in your face' marketers. Deliberate as the target market for them is mostly male, mostly young, new, etc.

      The majority of 'marketers' I've seen use profanity in sales pages or emails are simply trying to look cool - and failing. It's your copy and your business so do what you please - your customers will let you know if they like it or not.
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      • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
        Originally Posted by dbsmitty View Post

        If I had asked the question instead, is it OK to use culturally offensive language - racial slurs, sexist terms, etc. I'm sure virtually everyone would have said I was an idiot for even asking.
        Actually, my answer would still be valid.

        If I were marketing to the anti-government right wing, my language would be filled with (at this writing) anti-Muslim, anti-Arab slurs.

        If my target market were selling sheets to the Klan, I'd have the usual racial slurs in my copy.

        I am NOT in either of those markets but, in my random wandering around the web, I have come across such pages. When I have, the back button is so much easier and more effective than getting offended.

        I'll also cop to being an habitual eavesdropper when eating alone. I've listened to people rail against foul language, sexual situations, gay couples, etc. and then talk about an episode of Modern Family, which seems to be based on all three.

        Some people simply enjoy feeling offended because it makes them feel superior. Why give them the satisfaction?
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