Jeff Goins is two-faced and reaffirmed everything is just a sale

Jeff Goins 3

Maybe a week after Black Friday, one of my good friends sent me a text. He said that his “Promotions” tab on GMail had gotten 39 e-mails in the past 24 hours, mostly from charities, marketers, retailers, etc. He’s unemployed right now (funemployed, I believe, is the politically-correct term), so he took the time to research the 39 e-mails. Turns out 34 of those companies hadn’t contacted him in the past six months. Now look, I’ve worked within e-mail marketing, and I know there are different ways people get slugged in MailChimp (“Mail Kimp?”) and other programs. It’s possible he wasn’t receiving e-mails because he was inactive, etc. But it’s also possible that these 34 companies were saying, “The relationship doesn’t matter. Everything is ultimately a sale. We’ll e-mail you at times we think you’re ready to buy/spend and not any other times.” We all inherently know this.

I just had it reinforced myself, by Jeff Goins.

Probably around mid-November or so, I signed up for Jeff Goins’ e-mail blasts, because he seemed like an interesting dude and a good writer and someone who could help me continue to grow this blog. Initially, I got a bunch of e-mails blasted into my Promotions tab, and some had value. Over about two weeks, I noticed he probably sent more e-mails than anyone, including Best Buy, Casual Male XL, and a bunch of others that I seem to hear from daily. Some of Goins’ stuff is interesting and relevant, but a lot of it can be very “Click Here!”-ish. You can read more about that concept here.

Yesterday was kind of a tipping point in my faux relationship with Jeff Goins. He sent out an e-mail while I was at work. I was mostly bored — Friday, near the holidays, many people out — and decided to engage with the e-mail more in an effort to get my blog even further ramped up.

Here’s part of the e-mail Goins sent to his followers:

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Look down and notice he says “Then tell me how it went. Feel free to reply to this email,” etc.

I did. I’ve read a bunch of Jeff Goins’ stuff, and he seems very focused on transparency and building relationships as the cornerstones of writing and marketing. I feel the same way.

So I wrote back, and here was the response:

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First off, it starts with a “Hey There.” Where’s my personalization?

Second off, it just goes right into all the different things I can do for him — schedule an interview, guest post (nope, can’t do that!), and a bunch of his blogs. It’s completely not transparent at all. There’s no relationship-building effort whatsoever.

It pissed me off.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I understand this all contextually. I’m some lowly blogger and Jeff Goins writes books and has 52K followers on Twitter. But it seems, on surface, that his brand is about helping people to be better writers, to push their content better, to grow and learn in this world. Let’s say even 100 people responded to that e-mail from yesterday. He couldn’t have done 5 responses a day for a few weeks on a plane or in an airport lounge or something?

I get it. You’re busy. Thing is, we’re all busy to some extent. It’s a lazy excuse if your brand is writing advice and living a more creative life. Interact with some of the people who want to do that.

This just underscored to me, yet again, that even during the holiday season, everything is ultimately a sale.

Ted Bauer


  1. Interesting. I wonder if that email was just his auto-responder, and you may still yet get a personal email from him. I’ve noticed that a lot more “big names” with easily accessible email addresses have auto-respond emails meant to handle some of the frequent questions they get, but they still read the individual emails (sometimes via an assistant) and reply to some of them.

    Being open and available builds connections and is undoubtedly good for building a tribe, but if course, what do you do when the tribe grows larger than you can easily interact with? Something to think about for me, anyway.

    Also – I too found this post via @jeffgoins.

    • I think it’s just a bit much to constantly talk about transparency as the key to good writing and marketing, and yet … your own shop is set up to predominantly / only drive sales.

      • I guess that’s the thing I’m wondering about. Is a helpful auto-respond email meant to drive sales? Certainly one aspect is sales. If a common question Goins receives is “What’s your advice to become a better blogger?” his appropriate response is probably, “Hey, I cover that pretty well in the TribeWriter course. Check it out.”

        But another aspect might be that it takes an enormous amount of time to read email. I’m have nowhere near the size platform that Goins has, and I get 50-70 emails each day. If I take 30 seconds to a minute to read and write a reply to each one, I’m answering email for an hour a day–and I want to give better responses than that. I try, where I can to link to helpful resources online. When I have a previous post I’ve written on my own, I share a link to that. But even writing a couple sentences and dropping in an appropriate link takes a couple of minutes.

        I imagine that Goins gets quite a few more emails than I do. This year I’ve been struggling with how to respond, as you say, authentically and transparently, since a personal response to each email takes an enormous amount of time — and not all the emails need (or even want) a personal response.

        How would you handle it differently, I wonder?

      • Well, the thing that got me pissed here was that the immediate initial response was an upsell for his products/books. If the immediate response was instead, “Hey, I got this, but it is a busy time of year … but I will get back to you,” I’d appreciate that.

        Now, let’s say you get 50 e-mails a day, probably on workdays more than weekends, no? So about 250 a week? About 1,000 a month? That’s no doubt a lot to respond to, so maybe it does become selective. I understand that. However, I go back to the cornerstone element of why I got pissed and why I wrote this: the FIRST response was basically “Hey, buy my stuff!” That’s lame, considering his overall message. I’m not saying I even deserved a response, but to structure the whole context as “Hey bloggers, write to me and tell me this” and then for the first level of response to be an upsell, that seems pretty bad.

        Personally I don’t get 1,000 e-mails on this blog, but I get a few. Probably about 1/4 of that per month. I take 10 minutes to respond to each one here and there. I honestly want to try and build relationships through this thing. He doesn’t seem to want to.

      • Well, if I took 10 minutes to respond to each email, at the low estimate of 250 a week, that would be an additional full time job. 🙂 I guess that’s where figuring out how to be available and serve people online really looks at scale. I want to be relational as well (and I think Jeff does too. At least that was my sense of my personal interaction with him at a conference and in a number of tweets and email exchanges since then), but figuring out how to do that (especially when you make your living selling content on the internet) is a tough nut to crack. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.

  2. Thanks for writing this, Ted. It made me reevaluate some things. I never intended that autoresponder to be an “upsell,” so I’ve made some changes that will hopefully help reinforce the values of transparency and connection. Those are important to me, and I’m grateful for your help in realigning with them. All the best.

    • You do good work, Jeff. You touch a lot of people. I realize a lot of people want your input, but … you should try to be more transparent about it.

  3. This post is a lazy and irresponsible use of your platform. A personal attack on someone who you do not know. Embarrassing.

    Remember that you are the one that asked him for help. He didn’t ignore you. classless.

    • A personal attack on someone he does’t know? Hardly. He critiqued the business strategy of someone with whom he has had an online exchange — which is the primary medium by which bloggers get to know each other in the first place! If we only waited to criticize bloggers whom we met in person, then who would ever call anyone out on their bullshit? An online presence is fair game for critique. It’s not like he’s making fun of the guy’s family or anything.

    • Just wanted to point out the irony that you used words in your criticism of Ted that could be construed as a personal attack – “classless” and “embarrassing” in particular. If you wanted to point out that you didn’t think it was an effective post, you could have just said that. Also helps to encourage people to write better posts by saying something like “you’re better than that”.

      As far as the substance of your criticism is concerned, Andy, what do you suggest is an effective way to criticize bloggers who you think aren’t living up to the standard they’ve established? Do you not think criticism is warranted on occasion?

      • People can be savages out here, sadly … and Goins is still the king of the up-sell, even a year plus after I wrote this.

  4. While I agree with you Ted on how some times writers make it big & try to hold onto that same value “I’m just like you” but then they push us aside when we ask how to replicate their success. I know that’s not exactly what you’re saying but that is the feeling I walked away with after reading this post. The problem I do have with this whole post is your featured image is of the e-mail Mr. Goins sends to his followers. Reading that post inspired me enough to read the whole thing, only to find out the post was of negative feedback towards the person who inspired me to read the post. I think that was a little misleading although it might not have been on purpose. Good luck on your future as a writer Mr. Bauer

    • I understand what you’re saying, good sir. And I understand your criticism as well.

      I think you need to look at it this way, and this is the same thing I said to Jeff as well:

      ” I was at work on Friday and, frankly, I was pretty bored. Most people had left already but I couldn’t, because I had some conference call that ultimately got cancelled. I was just thinking about how I don’t love the cubicle world, and I think I can do more — and then, around that exact time, I got your e-mail. It seemed like some type of “sign,” insofar as I believe in that stuff. It just seemed like, “Whoa, I could answer him, get a response, maybe start a dialogue, talk more about creating, etc.” Instead, I got a sales-y response and it pissed me off. I had a hard time sleeping on Friday night and I woke up and thought about it a little, then decided to write something. I’m sorry if you thought it was classless.

      The bottom line here is that every time you have a “touch point” with someone, you have no idea where they’re at in their own life, and/or how much your reaching out — even if an automated e-mail — might mean to them. I know you’re busy and probably have a lot of people interested in talking to you, but consider that as you keep moving forward.”

      • I totally understand where your coming from. I agree with pretty much every point you made. My comment was just based on the featured image you used for the Blog. I was just a little misled into what I was about to read. However, I did learn from your post so I’m glad I read it. Good luck sir.

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