The Sweeney Todd Guide to Blogging

Halloween doesn’t get the respect it deserves. It’s a great holiday to tweak your thinking and consider unconventional tactics. As we try on new identities and new ways to coerce strangers into giving us candy, maybe it’s time to dust off some of our outdated ideas.

Today, I thought I’d take a look at what the legendary character Sweeney Todd can teach us about blogging, marketing and communication.

Always be on the lookout for more ways to extract value from your readers

A little out-of-the-box thinking let Sweeney Todd establish multiple streams of income.

First, he challenged outdated assumptions about pricing. Instead of toiling day after day to make a few shillings for a shave and a haircut, he cut his customers’ throats, and was able to take all the money they might have in their pockets. This simple move was able to increase his average transaction size by 500-1000%.

But Sweeney Todd wasn’t just an early challenger to stale ideas about pricing and value. His business partner Mrs. Lovett developed a truly creative add-on. She turned a liability (dead bodies to be disposed of) into an asset, by cutting the victims up and making them into meat pies, generating a collateral source of revenue. Sadly, we don’t have the precise numbers for this bold lateral move, but some estimates put the increased ROI at as much as 150%.

Perfect your system

Sweeney Todd didn’t just chase his victims down in an alley and ambush them. These would have been amateurish moves, unworthy of his creative intelligence.

Instead, he offered something of real value (a shave and/or haircut) that his market was looking for. He was able to keep his price point extremely attractive, given his assertive commitment to the back end, which allowed him to recoup those costs as the customer moved through the funnel (or trap door, as the case may be).

Marketers call this kind of attractive loss leader an “ethical bribe,” although you probably don’t get to call it ethical if you in fact murder your customer afterwards.

Potential downsides

Before you try the Sweeney Todd method yourself, remember the significant downside: cost of acquisition of new readers. Since repeat business (never mind word of mouth) is impossible when your customers are all dead, the Sweeney Todd method requires marketing at the top of its game to bring new readers in the door.

For a blogger, this might translate into Google AdWords, banner ads, or you might even consider moving offline into direct mail. Guest posting strategies are probably not in the cards, as most bloggers are uncomfortable with aggressive strategies like murder and cannibalism.

However, Twitter may be an option. Just be sure you mix up your Tweets with interesting personal comments. A steady diet of “oops, just slaughtered another reader” gets tiresome, and you’ll lose followers quickly.

Happy Halloween!

Comments

  1. Ben Waugh says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  2. Fantastic tips! ;-)

    And don’t forget that all-important reader interaction. Make a commenter feel special by picking them out as victim-of-the-month. Encourage newsletter signups by promising a particularly grisly murder for one lucky member. Add a little bonus dash of blood to your RSS feed footer…

    Happy Halloween, Sonia and all! :-)

    Ali Hale (from Alpha Student)s last blog post..Eat your way through an essay crisis: foods for energy

  3. Joanna Young says:

    Brilliant!

    Joanna Youngs last blog post..Writing That Comes From the Source

  4. Zoe says:

    Speaking of business plans, I think I’m all set now. I just have to find my own Mrs. Lovett.

  5. A trick and a treat, today, Sonia. Very well done!

  6. Connie says:

    Haha! You have me laughing on this one. I knew it had to be a “Sonia” article when I saw the title – and it did not disappoint!

    Brilliant, and fun!

  7. Drew Kime says:

    Oh, what perfect Digg bait. This is brilliant.

    Drew Kimes last blog post..How To Make Chocolate Fondue

  8. Mary says:

    Oh I don’t want to comment on your blogs, but sometimes I just have to. This is awesome and then some. You are a bright star, Sonia! Even amongst Halloween ghouls.

    Marys last blog post..Webs

  9. Andy Pels says:

    sicko!

  10. Sonia Simone says:

    Thanks all! Especially Ali for getting into the spirit of the thing!

    I actually started this post on something of a wild hair maybe 3 or 4 months ago, but I could never really get it to come together. It’s always fun when those eventually turn into posts.

  11. Josh Hohman says:

    Seriously, Sonia, this is the best post ever. (and I’m getting spoiled by the more frequent posts).

  12. Dave Navarro says:

    The sad thing about this post?

    Sonia bought a workshop from me in July. And I have her address. And she just gave me this wonderful idea to make her my most valuable customer to date …

    Sorry, Sonia. Business is business. Bwuhahahaha!

    Dave Navarros last blog post..The Poverty Snowball Follow Up: Yaks For Everyone, And My One Big Thing

  13. ConnieB says:

    Wow Dave,

    well at least that was a funny shameless plug.

  14. Sonia Simone says:

    LOL. Thanks for the heads up, Dave, I’ll start sleeping with one eye open. Be careful or we’ll lob the toddler potty catapult at you, you might not want to mess with us.

    Thanks Josh! I like getting back into posting more regularly, going to try to keep that momentum.

  15. Ari Herzog says:

    This almost read like an April Fools Joke until I saw your advice on cannibalism and I realized you’re serious. Would you recommend I engage a small business man, a government manager, or a police officer in this ethical bribery?

    Ari Herzogs last blog post..How Social Media Changed the U.S. Presidential Election

  16. Dave Navarro says:

    @ConnieB –

    LOL – wasn’t meant to be a plug, just an excuse to say “Ooh, I have permission to take someone out!”

    Keep up the good posts, Sonia – maybe a different slasher flick every Halloween? :-)

    Dave Navarros last blog post..The Poverty Snowball Follow Up: Yaks For Everyone, And My One Big Thing

  17. ConnieB says:

    No worries Dave, I was just teasing a bit. I’m a fan of yours too lol. I thought the comment was brilliant.

    I second a new slasher flick every Halloween. You could do one on building up suspense with your market ala Scream or something.

    Great concept Sonia. I’ll bet thriller flicks could actually teach us a lot about marketing when analyzed that way.

    ConnieBs last blog post..Positive Books For Teens – A Review of Summer Intern

  18. Hey Simone, I hadn’t been able to visit for some time and what do I read? A wonderful story of murder and money…. and marketing. I usually develop a nice relationship with my clients, so I’d be sorry to apply the treatment you advocate. Maybe that could work with the rest.
    Happy (belated) Halloween counting corpses.

  19. Karen Swim says:

    Sonia, you are so remarkably funny! Murder and marketing? Nicely done!

    Karen Swims last blog post..Trick or Treat?

  20. SteveG says:

    Great Blog, I love the Sweeney Tood marketing method. Now you mention it I’ve notice a few people already embracing the idea. Keep the good stuff coming.

    SteveGs last blog post..Search Engine Optimisation – SEO

  21. Great post for two reasons. Great photo and shocking character. I thought omg, not another “The Guide to .” But Sweeny’s definitely not someone you’d think you’d learn something about marketing or blogging from. As more people pick up on this idea for titles, competition will get tougher. Good job.

    Also, the photo is striking. I remember a Tim Ferris video of Robert Scoble whizzing through his 4,000+ blog feeds. Robert said two things made him slow down to examine a post: lots of links and a photo. You did it with the photo–got me to pause. Great job.

    Demian Farnworths last blog post..dfarnworth: @paulhuse I try to avoid motor oil. I like black, fine coffee. And I’m intrigued by Sbux rolling out "aged" coffee. Seen it?

  22. Sonia
    Interesting, but you’re right, most don’t prefer bloggers that eat people. :) I like your point about mixing your tweets up. Fine, it’s your Twitter account but be prepared to lose followers if you tweet every three minutes. Wow, direct mail… Tell me more! :)

    -Mig

    Miguel Wickerts last blog post..In the Beginning, Blog!

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