Bill Bonner’s Daily Reckoning Video Sales Letters

I know using video for Internet sales letters is all the craze right now and I agree video is the way of the future. So while I was reading Bill Bonner’s “The Daily Reckoning” yesterday I clicked on a link and I wasn’t surprised to find a video starting.

Here’s what did surprise me…

The video was cheesy. It’s merely someone reading (in an obvious “I’m reading” way) a sales letter that someone else had written. The “someone” doing the reading was the editor of the financial newsletter being advertised. They read the letter and a “video” – consisting of text only – ran on the screen while the reader droned on. I asked myself – “Is that really video or just an audio of someone reading a script with some text on the screen to fool people into thinking it’s a video?”

I know. I know. It doesn’t need to be high tech to sell. But I really didn’t find this sales format appealing or convincing. I’ve been involved in telemarketing for nearly two decades and I have an ear for when it sounds like someone is reading a script BUT you don’t even need my special hearing ability when it comes to this video. It’s obvious the guy is reading and it’s distracting.


I clicked on another link in the Daily Reckoning…

Same thing.

I went back to a few past issues…

Same thing.

Now I’m wondering… Is this really working for them?

Knowing that Agora is a powerhouse in direct response marketing I have to ask myself … Would they be doing this if it isn’t making money?

I want to answer “no” but I don’t know.

I do know that I couldn’t make it through more than 2 minutes of any of the videos I watched. I don’t even know what happens after you finish watching one of them. I did try to exit the browser on each of them and when I did the written sales letter pops up and you can read it, but by then I was worn out from listening to people that sound like amateur actors on their first audition for a voice over commercial.

I have watched the web sales presentation of Agora change through the years. First they did multi-page sales letters – where you would have to “click to go to next page.” Then they switched to one page sales letters where you clicked to go to an order form. Now they are moving to a “video” sales letter (really audio with text subtitles) with the written sales letter popping up after and then the order form.

I’m really interested in seeing how the new “video” format progresses.

What are your thoughts?

Here are some of the links from the last newsletter I got so you can judge for yourself:

The Daily Reckoning Video Sales Letter 1

The Daily Reckoning Video Sales Letter 2

The Daily Reckoning Video Sales Letter 3

Since I’m not sure how long the above links will be live (Agora does a lot of testing), you may want to subscribe to the Daily Reckoning for yourself

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About Christopher Tomasulo

At home Christopher Tomasulo is your average dad with three kids. However, here at Covert Comm he is known as “Doc Sulo” and he mind-warps crowds with a tiny flutter of his left hand. He clothespins ideas to unsuspecting gray matter. He speaks lemon-yellow words that splash into ear canals and squeeze themselves into refreshing influence lemonade. It has also been said he's half-way decent at making complex persuasion and influence techniques simple.
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22 Responses to Bill Bonner’s Daily Reckoning Video Sales Letters

  1. Francis says:

    I think these videos are extraordinarily dull and boring. What's more by just having a word-for-word reading of the text, they don't seem to leverage any of the benefits of video.

    In addition, the fact that they don't give any indication about the length of the video means that one has no idea how much time will be needed to watch it.

    As soon as I see one of these videos now, I click away immediately.

    • @Francis

      In VSLF, Ryan advises keeping the video sales letter to around 12 minutes in length, but then I've heard from mates who have done well with 25 and 30 minute videos …

      I totally agree with you re: the unknown length of videos. Time is precious to me so I can't sit there for God know how long watching a video.

      A small line saying "Running Time: 30 minutes" above or below would really help out and wouldn't necessarily be a deal breaker for me. If I was really interested, I'd come back when I had some spare time.

  2. That type of video sales letter is the one promoted by Ryan Deiss’ Video Sales Letter Formula. <= direct link (not aff)

    He tested these "read along" type videos against ones that are bullet points on the slide with the person reading from a script and found the "read along" videos converted better – possibly something to do with putting the viewer into a slight trance or something.

    He also tested ugly page design with "pretty" page design and found that it depended on if you had a pre-existing relationship with visitor.

    I'm on the fence about this method.

    I'm always happy to test something that will increase my conversions, but not everyone has the time to sit through a 15-20 minute video (I know I don't) but that's me applying my judgments onto my marketplaces – a marketing cardinal sin … 🙂

    I think I'll just have to "man up", test it and see what happens …

    • Thanks for commenting Nick.

      Didn't know about the Ryan Deiss product. Did that come before the change over at Agora or did he copy that from Agora? I haven't kept up on all the IM guru stuff.

      Another thing…

      I just went to the link you provided and Ryan Deiss DOES NOT sound like he is reading a script. He sounds natural. I'd be more inclined to listen to that entire "video" than one of the ones I heard from the Daily Reckoning bunch (and I probably will after I'm done commenting).

      And another..

      Is it Deiss's idea to use the full long sales letter if someone exits prematurely out of the video or is that just Agora putting in some insurance.

      And finally…

      Why no pause button on the player?


      I know that testing is all that matters. But testing has many variables that are dependent on (among other things) – previous messages and the way the list owners interact with their list. I don't know how long Agora has been doing this. Are they in the testing phase or is this a roll-out?

      • Hi Doc

        As far as I know, Ryan's product came before Agora's changes, although I keep forgetting to check in with Agora (an excellent source for swipe files [grin])

        That video on the Ryan's homepage isn't so much as reading a script, it's a "read along" video, so he's just reading the text on each slide.

        I think you can put Ryan's naturality(tm) down to the fact he's probably recorded quite a few of videos, period and can do them in his sleep.

        I don't remember Ryan having a "sales-letter-on-exit" method, so I'd put that down to Agora trying a second bite at the cherry – not a bad idea, actually.

        Ryan did have a kind of a hybrid model which had the video sales letter AND a mini sales letter underneath it consisting of the main bullet points with an order button, but I think that was visitors who weren't on any of your lists or a previous customer.

        You can pause the video by clicking on it – but you leave off the controls so you're in control of the pace/speed, altering the normal patten of scanning the headline, scrolling down for the price and PS …

        With no controls, people can't pause the video and then scrub forward till they see the slide with the price on (of course the more technically minded can view the page source, download the video and then watch it on their local machine, scrubbing forward anyway) 😉

        I've no idea if this is just a test or a full roll-out from Agora. Ryan's product has only been around 3-4 months, so it's possible it might just be part of a limited test, although if there are a lot of these video sales letters on Agora's site, it could be a full blown roll-out.


  3. nameless says:

    It’s proven to be really effective using this kind of video format… I know it’s boring hearing someone read off a script but I did just that and made 6 figures in 1 week with my launch! Recent Clickbank launches have also been gravitating towards this form of video use…

    • Thanks for posting. That's very interesting.

      How was it set up BEFORE someone got to the boring video?

      I have helped people create boring Camtasia videos that were just voice-overs on power point slides. BUT we set it up by using the "this is sloppy but I just had to get this information right out to" angle and that was just ONE of the components of the marketing message.

    • By the way – congratulations on your launch!

      One other thing…

      Like I said in reply to Nick the Geek above – Ryan Deiss doesn't sound like he's reading from a script (even though he is).

      Did your "video" sound canned or did the reader sound natural (even though it's from a script)?

      I am a big proponent of people reading from scripts. I'm also a big proponent of them *not sounding* like they are reading from a script. A natural conversational tone is best.

      Are you saying that doesn't apply here or did the reader sound natural?

  4. Russ says:

    Hi Christopher,

    I have a little insight into what's happening at Agora – a friend of mine writes a lot of copy for them. Turns out these "lame" sales videos are converting like crazy! Yes, you and I don't like to sit through a boring presentation to get to the meat (I mean the offer). But a surprising number of people will. I think it has something to do with watching video being even easier than reading…

    On another note, I bought an Agora product years ago. Part of the package contained CDs with extra tips and techniques on it. The delivery was IDENTICAL to the delivery of these videos. Obvious that someone was reading off a script.

    Agora is constantly testing everything. If this works for them, you're bound to see more of the same.

    One last thing, I just CAN'T sit through a video presentation of over 10 – 12 minutes tops. I have too much to do and the time seems like a waste to me. Give me a report where I can jump in and out of – look at the offer, etc. then make a decision. I'm even at the point that if the product you're selling is delivered by video, I am not buying it!

    But I may be the exception…

    • Since I've put this post up – you and four other people have let me know that Agora is doing well with these videos.

      I can't argue with success.

      I kinda figured that if they were running those type of ads in multiple slots that they must be doing OK.

      It still seems a little strange to me though – the audios are LOOOOOOOONG and some are just plain horrible in my opinion.

      Some of my subscribers sent me links to other presentations and I'll admit they were good. Maybe I just caught the guys who can't sound natural when they read. I don't know.

      Has anyone tested just audio vs. audio with subtitles?

  5. John Thomas says:

    I'm with Russ on this one.

    I hate the videos. I won't sit through them. The only reason I will still buy a product on video that I want is because I have the tech to pull the audio off of it and convert it to mp3 (while I'm doing other things, mind you) so I can listen to it while I am doing other things.

    Having said that, I'm seeing these types of videos (complete with dull voice-overs) enough to make it worth testing, and I'd recommend doing so.

    I suspect the work because of the trance effect like Nick said, though Russ may have a point about it being easier than reading the sales letter. After all, reading requires thought… 😀

    – John

    • Hey John,

      I'm with you.

      I don't like watching anything that I could be reading. I read fast and video is a waste of time. If I get a course from someone the first thing I ask is does it have PDF transcripts. I can read in a few hours what takes two days of audio or video to present.

      But that's me.

      What is the demographic for the newsletters in Daily Reckoning?

      I'm wondering if that format would work with my readers.

      I guess I'll have to test it eventually.

  6. Jim Van Wyck says:

    Hey Christopher —

    Glad to see you’re back in a more public mode….

    As for these powerpoint sales letters,
    I agree that these Daily Reckoning promos
    are really pretty lame.

    The audio performance in this format is everything!

    Ryan D does a good job in his really
    quick and dirty approach to throwing up some slides
    and then basically reading them with a little passion.

    The “best” version I’ve seen is Jeff Johnson’s new launch vids

    Really nice production values, solid info,
    and the audio performance is intimate, believable, and compelling.

    I strongly suspect that the days of the long-form sales letter page
    is diminishing (not dying, just shrinking)
    … and all the various forms of visual persuasion are growing.

    Jim Van Wyck
    PS….. if you haven’t yet downloaded Chris’s great little pdf
    showing the roots of the most profitable sales letter of all time,
    then get on right now.

    PPS…. think about this … how would you convert the
    “two young men” sales story to a more visual approach.
    The first half dozen marketers to figure it out each get $10 million.
    will grow …

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  8. Ryan says:

    I thought the videos were decent – yes totally boring, and sounded read, however the demographic can’t tell the difference (or simply don’t care because they just want the information presented) IMO they would get a huge bump with a better voice actor. From my testing it seems the more animated (almost to the point of being over-the-top) the better the video will do…

    But the script has to be tight, voice actor or not… I know a lot of people who simply followed Ryan Deiss’s video format and their videos bombed. They need to be constructed using some serious serious persuasion elements, that are far beyond the scope of Ryan’s product. Not to take anything away from his product however, it’s great for beginners looking to get their feet wet.

    But if you’re looking to get a product that not only converts in your own niche but also to mainstream traffic sources, the things gotta be GOOD. It needs incredible theming, the product needs a great name, and it needs to hit your markets proven sales triggers over and over and over for the entire duration of the video, all the while teaching them valuable content and not giving away that they’re being sold until 20 minutes in…

    And that’s what Bill’s videos do pretty well, despite the boring voice…

    • Hey bro…

      So are the Bill Bonner type videos (with better voice) what you were talking about when you said you had the video sales letter figured out?

      I should have known you would be on the cutting edge. You were doing Facebook ads over a year ago when no one even heard of them and now this.

      Thanks for posting and email me a link so I can see one of your videos.


      • Ryan says:

        yeah that’s the style that’s working really well these days…

        its funny you ask because the whole key to making them work is the same type of stuff you taught me years ago… mental architecture style of pitching, really under the radar stuff where they buy into the first concept, then the next, and the next until the only logical conclusion is to buy… and the whole time they never saw it coming because they felt like they were learning amazing content the entire time….

        i’ll email you some stats and my formula let’s see if we can’t improve it even more…

  9. Jon Mills says:

    They Miss the Whole Point of Video

    1. If you going to do that, bloody well tell the visitor how long the video is going to drone on for ( nothing worse than seeing a video play and wondering, when is this death sentence going to end? )

    2. People like to SCAN – even long sales letters. Reading a damn sales letter in a video doesn’t let them do that. Quite honestly I clicked away after 3 seconds on that page

    3. If your going to do video, get some balls and get on the camera, make it interesting – take a page out of Frank Kerns book ” he does it well”

  10. David says:

    I’ve seen some of those videos. It’s entertaining at first that you see a hand “drawing” the letters of the words and the little pictures, but after a minute or two the novelty wears off and you’re either hooked on the message or you’re not. I once responded to one of those long videos that had a money back guarantee, looked at the quality of the product, and got my money back. Now I know they are ads as soon as they start and I know I’m not interested in the product, so I bail before I get hooked and waste too much time.

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