Disclosure | Unskippable - Marketing Keynote Speaker - Jim Kukral

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Disclosure

I have a disclosure policy now, do you? Do you have one? If you don’t, you may want to get one in place soon as the FTC will be tightening up the noose on bloggers coming on December 1st, 2009.

It’s funny, as an affiliate marketer and long-time blogger, I’ve learned these things.

1. Disclosing actually strengthens your affiliate links
2. The vast majority of readers really don’t care, or even know, and once they know, they don’t care. Assuming you’re not trying to deceive them that is.

Ted Murphy at Izea just released another round of super-juicy, well-done disclosure today called the disclosure sandwich. This is good, and funny.

jfk_izeasandwich

Today we’re releasing some important changes in SocialSpark, specifically related to how bloggers disclose in their posts. While in-post disclosure has been required since the beginning of SocialSpark, we’re taking it a step further today, requiring both text and image disclosure. It’s just one of the extra steps we’re taking to make sure that our bloggers and advertisers are maintaining the highest standard for transparency and ethics in sponsored posts.

Nice move Ted. The way the Web and marketing and government and control is all going… more disclosure is the right way to go.

Now is the time I disclose I’m on the Izea Advisory Board.

Sponsored Post – Sears Shopping “A-Ok” With This Blue-Collar Guy

This post is a sponsored post on behalf of Sears via Izea. The opinions are mine.

Read about the contest below. Win one of three $500 value Sears gift packages. As part of their “Don’t Just Give A Gift, Grant A Wish” holiday campaign“. Me, and several other bloggers were chosen to assist in this promotion. Those also participating are: Chris Pirillo, Tamar Weinberg, Aaron Brazell, Liz Strauss, Steve Spalding, Joseph Jaffe, and Chris Heuer.

Since I was a little kid growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, I’ve always remembered going to Sears. Around here, Sears is a staple. You went there for all kinds of things, but mostly in my case it was with my parents to get stuff like paint, or a ladder, or tools, or a washer/dryer. I grew up in Sears all around my neighborhood, so when I was asked to take part in this contest and posting I jumped at it. Read below for the contest.

As I was saying… I went to Sears a lot growing up. But mostly it was the hardware type Sears stores. I had been in the bigger stores where they had all kinds of different items, but to be honest, until I went back for this promotion, I had forgotten the variety of items they have so I was surprised to say the least, at the variety they had.

So MomGoesGreen and I packed up the kiddies and headed out to our local Sears superstore about 20-minutes away. The extra good news was that there was a Chick-fil-a in the mall where the Sears was so double bonus! Shopping and good food!

Toys, Eh?

Yeah, Sears has toys. And they’re right by the front door of course right? So our first 15-minutes inside were spent in those aisles. My 7-year-old daughter of course found the Barbies and unicorns and super pink girlie stuff that she loves. While my 4-year-old boy headed straight for the Craftsman brand toy tools. By the way, Craftsman has got to be on the biggest/strongest brands on the planet by now, no?

So now that the kids got some stuff. Me and MomGoesGreen got to shop a bit. She picked out a nice new fancy coffeemaker. I only drink decaf due to the fact I cut caffeine out of my life about a year ago, but the machine will make that just fine I’m sure. Our old coffee maker was pretty lame so this one is a huge upgrade. She also got into the bedding section and found some very nice sheets and bedspreads. We both thought the pattern was pretty cool.

As for me, I got caught up over in the electronics section. One aisle in particular caught my attention, and that was the audio aisle. Check out some of these awesome items I’ve been drooling over for some time now but never bought.

And of course, no trip to Sears would be complete without a trip to the hardware section. I mean, c’mon, if you go to Sears and you don’t buy some tools there’s something wrong with you, right?

The biggest problem is that I’m the anti-handy guy in the household. Which is ironic since my father taught me how to change the oil on the car, and the brakes, and I’m a whiz at fixing lawn mowers and stuff like that. But… I can’t fix a doorknob around the house for some reason.

Anyway, I did get into the tools section just because, well, I’m a guy and tools rule! My little boy especially loved looking at them too, and wishing he could use them for real. Someday buddy.

On the way out, we did pass the Atheltic stuff. They had about 25 different treadmills which surprised me. And all kinds of other stuff like boxing and other fitness equipment. I almost bought one of those big exercise balls to sit on at my desk by MGG said I’ve never use it. She’s probably right.

At The End Of The Tour…
We walked out of Sears with some really cool stuff and a deeper appreciation for all they have. I have to say that the prices I saw for some big ticket items like the HD tv’s were really competitive. Some people would say that shopping at Sears is beneath them. Pa-lease. I’m a blue-collar guy, living in a blue-collar town. I don’t wear fancy clothes and I don’t presume to think that I’m more or less important because of where I shop, or where I don’t shop.

Now For The Contest
So here’s how you can win your very own spending spree for up to $500 at Sears from their Grant a Wish promotion.

ENTER TO WIN!! A $500 WISH PACKAGE Giveaway!

I’ve put together three Grant a Wish packages. The winner will receive the package he or she selects. You’ll find the official rules here.

You can enter via blog comment, tweet, or blog post.

To Enter by Comment: Leave a comment here with the name of the wish package you would like to win.

To Enter by Twitter: Tweet out the following message: “RT @jimkukral please grant my wish to win the #Sears (package name) – tweet to win your own wish http://urlbrief.com/25a854”

To Enter by Blog Post: Write a post about the contest and linking back to this post. Be sure to leave a trackback or a comment linking to your post.

The Wishes I Designed for You Include

PACKAGE #1: PHOTO/MUSIC PACKAGE
Sony 8.1 MP Digital Camera, W150
Apple 16GB iPod Nano
IceTech Portable Pocket Solar Battery
Belkin Car Holder/Tunedock for Apple iPod
Jensen Universal iPod Docking Station with Full Scan Radio

PACKAGE #2: BLU-RAY/DVD PLAYER PACKAGE
Sony Blu-Ray Home Disc Player
Magnavox Portable DVD Player w/Dual 7″ Widescreen Displays (includes installation package for in-car use)

PACKAGE #3: XBOX 360 SYSTEM & GAMES PACKAGE
Microsoft Xbox 360 Arcade Bundle (includes five arcade games)
“Guitar Hero 3” 360 + Wireless Guitar Controller
“World Series of Poker” 360 Game
“NBA” 360 Game
“Spiderman” 360 Game
“Bee Movie” 360 Game

The preceding was a sponsored post. For more information about the sponsor (Sears), see Izea. I should also note that I’m on the Izea advisory board.

My special comment on paid posting:
I’ve disclosed this is a sponsored post in 3 places here. If you don’t like that I’ve done a sponsored post, that’s fine with me. However, don’t pretend I was trying to ruse you. I am not. The power is in your hands. If the idea of me doing a sponsored post like this makes your stomach upset… then you know what you have to do… stop reading my blog. It’s that simple.

Disclosure is the key here. I have made it very clear, and now it’s your decision. Personally, for me, as long as I see full disclosure I could care less. Especially if the content is good or helpful or informative. If it’s not, then I might feel differently. Thank you for reading my blog and I hope you come back.

You may want to check out Chris Brogan’s take on trust here.

Sunday Night Roundup, Links & Random Thoughts

Here’s some links and thoughts I had after a beautiful 70-degree, sunny day here in Cleveland, Ohio.

Thought #1: Jason Calacanis interviews Ted Murphy, fucking marketing genius (it’s #1 on Google Ted, you should be proud) and CEO of PayPerPost.com.

A few thoughts popped into my head while watching this broadcast.

1. You ever notice how much nicer people are in person as opposed to when they’re calling someone an asshole on their blog? Ok, to be fair, I don’t think Jason ever called Ted an asshole directly, but he shit on his business model plenty worse. You get the point.

2. Ted Murphy is not only a fucking marketing genius, the guy is a PR wonder. He has kept his calm, clear head from day one of his company’s turbulant launch, and it has paid off big time.

x_donnydeutsch2.jpgHeck, he won me over and I was probably the biggest public hater on PPP besides Jason way back when. I’m speaking at his event in June with Robert Scoble.

Lesson: Never let them see you sweat, and keep a clear, calm head and let your passion never let you sway from your vision.

3. Calacanis is really good as an interviewer, and the show production is very good, making it fun and easy to watch. I would actually liken Jason’s performance to one of my new favorite personalities Donny Deutsch. Fyi, if you don’t watch Donny’s show “The Big Idea” on MSNBC, you’re missing out.

4. Did Jason really say he was the first blogger to ever setup a disclosure policy? Not that I really care, but is that true Jason and do you have anything to back that up? I’ve been blogging since 2001 and frankly, I’ve been disclosing since 2002. Forget it, it doesn’t matter.

Thought #2: Can businesses use social media?

On Monday, March 26, I’m moderating a panel called ‘The Growing Impact of Social Media‘ here in Cleveland.

Each of our panelists will dive into case studies that demonstrate how social media, including blogs and online communities, offer businesses a unique opportunity to interact and learn from their consumers. Be warned! This event is sure to generate a lot of excitement, but the most valuable takeaway will be your newfound confidence to assess social media ideas and the benefit they hold for your business and target audience.

Thought #3: Update On My Question To The Copyblogger

A few days ago I posted a question to the Copyblogger. Dear CopyBlogger, How Did Your Blog Become So Successful, So Fast? Today, he dodged the answer with a non-answer on his blog. That’s fine, Copyblogger.com is still one of my top 5 blogs ever in terms of high-quality information.

Jim Kukral asks me a question that I was going to try to answer, until I realized that the answer is what I write about here. I haven’t done a single thing to develop or promote this blog that I haven’t shared with you. There are no secrets; only poorly-organized information that needs to be compiled and edited into a book, which I need to get focused on.

Jim Kukral To Speak At PayPerPost Conference With Robert Scoble

Ok, not “with” Robert Scoble on stage at the same time, but “with” him at the event as a speaker. I’ve accepted a speaking gig at the PayPerPost “Postiecon” on June 1 & 2nd, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.

postiecon.jpg

DID KUKRAL REALLY JUST SAY WHAT I THINK HE SAID?

Yes, I did, and let me tell you why. For those of you who don’t read me here or at ReveNews, you wouldn’t know that I was probably one of the biggest PayPerPost bashers from day one. So those who know my history with PPP, are probably wondering what kind of drugs I must be taking.

The answer is, none, college was over in the early 90’s. Yes, I used to despise PayPerPost, but it was always because of one clear reason, which was the lack of required, clear disclosure that allowed for deception. It was never about anything besides that.

What they are now, and what they used to be are two different things, and I’m on record as saying I think they’re “on the right track”. They are.

postiecon_scoble.jpg

So Why Accept A Speaking Gig From PayPerPost?

Let’s make this clear. I’m speaking at their event, just like Robert Scoble is (who took a lot of heat for it without merit). My invitation to speak does not mean I fully endorse their product, but rather, it means that I think I can help a lot of bloggers learn how to monetize their blogs, and build trust with their readers and build long-term, solid brands for themselves.

The bottom line is that I’m in the “helping bloggers succeed” business, and have been for years and years, way before many even were thinking about bloggers being able to make money.

Side Note: I still remember getting hate mail from people back in 2003-ish when I used to sell my ebook “BlogstoRiches“. They used to email me and say things like “Blogging is pure, you can’t make money with them” or “You’re a scumbag for trying to fool bloggers into thinking they can monetize. FU Kukral.”.

I’m Speaking To Try & Help Bloggers Succeed

My session is entitled ‘The Secrets To Long-Term Blog Success & Profitability’. It will nothing to do with how bloggers can write paid content to make money, and everything to do with how to use your blog to build success and trust long-term, whether that’s for direct profit or for your personal brand, etc…

I hope you can attend the event (which is only about $199), and if so I look forward to meeting you in person.

If you’re an event coordinator that’s looking for a dynamic, informative and well-prepared speaker, please give me a ring and let’s chat about having me at your event. Call me direct at 216.272.4383. Looks like I will be speaking at the Blog Business World event this fall as well, it’s filling up fast!

Affiliate Marketing & Blogging Disclosure Test, Your Help Needed

Would you help me test something? I’ve posted two links below, both are to the same website, but one will have my affiliate link encoded in and is clearly labeled, and the other will be a straight link.

I want you to tell me which one (honestly) you would click on if you saw it on my blog, and why.

Link #1 (non-affiliate link): ReviewMe.com

Link #2 (my affiliate link, I get a spiff if you use this): ReviewMe.com

Would you avoid my clearly labeled affiliate link? Why so?

Would you click on it because it was clearly marked and you knew it would spiff me?

Other thoughts? Leave a comment.

The point? Sure, I have a point. Let’s see what you have to say first, then let’s talk about the results.

I’m An Affiliate Marketer & My Blog Has Affiliate Links. What Else Should You Expect?

Mark at 45n5 (what does 45n5 mean anyway?) is talking more about disclosure on his blog these days. It’s good conversation, but it got me thinking.

I’m a long-time full disclosure guy, having fought the PayPerPost battles and many other blog battles over the years and recently. So I get the need to disclose, heck, I even invented these blog honor badges.

Disclosure is all about deception and intent. If it is your intent to fool or deceive someone for your own personal gain, then you have bigger problems than disclosure, you have ethical issues you need to deal with. Some, like me, would also tell you to watch your karma.

The point is, disclosure is good, but not always necessary. Sure, I’ve used the (aff) before, but you know why? I have used it to specifcally draw attention to a an affiliate link so that my friends and readers would use it because it would be clear to that that it would help me. I do that all the time on blogs that I read.

For example, this is my personal blog. I’m an affiliate marketer. I’m also a blogger. I’m also a “self proclaimed expert” in the industry of which I practice.

So, should I blatently disclose when I have an affiliate link on this blog?

Or…

Should it just be expected that I promote affiliate links because “that’s what I do” and therefore it should be know I’m not trying to “get over” on anyone by tricking them?

So What’s The Difference?

Again, it comes back to intent, and throw in some earned trust. Do I intend on making some money from my blog? Yes. Do I intend to promote products that suck so I can make a buck maybe? No.

You will find affiliate links on this blog.

And when you see them, I hope that you’ll understand that they are there because that’s part of how I make my living, and frankly, why not? I’ve earned the trust on my name through years of experience and work in the industry. I am NOT trying to trick you.

When developing your own ideas about disclosure, be sure to think about what your readers expect from you, and how much they trust you first.