Niccolo Machiavelli, the well-known philosopher of the Italian Renaissance, poses this question in The Prince: “Is it better to be loved than feared, or vice versa?”

Machiavelli answers his own question, arguing that a prince is much safer being feared than being loved. Inducing fear upon his subjects with cruelty will keep them united and loyal. Those who are fearful of a person of any authority are more inclined not to cross the boundary of disrespect, for fear of punishment.

Against popular “open” political opinion, I agree with Machiavelli.  Behind closed doors, I’d assume that most of our country’s leaders believe in Machiavellian theory as well.

Take for instance the United States of America, one of the greatest nations to live in and simultaneously the single most hated country in the world.  There are thousands of Osama Bin Ladens out there itching to take a shot at our nation.  These people hate us to the point that they’re willing to kill themselves just to inflict pain on us.

Additionally there’s an abundance of jealousy and dislike toward Americans.  A few years ago my parents traveled to France for a summer vacation.  My dad noted that several French men and women were outright rude, one even called my parents “stupid Americans.”  Haha, so I asked my dad what the deal was, did he do something stupid.  He told me that he asked the man for directions, and in return got a snare and a “stupid Americans!”   WTF.

The only thing that keeps these countries/terrorists at bay is fear.  Fear that our stellar US Army will go into their countries and kick the living shit out of them.  Look at Iraq.   Sudham fucked with America, right?  When we eventually attacked, Saddam was hit from hundreds of angles.  The attack was planned out for years and executed in minutes. Saddam never saw it coming. With a noose tied tightly around his neck, hundreds of thousands of Iraq’s slaughtered, and an overrun nation, the last look on Saddam’s face was one of shock and disbelief – then snap!

And that’s key, in business, if you believe you’re going to get involved in a litigation, never let them see you coming. My good friend Jeremy “Shoemoney” Shoemaker recently released a video on legal gotchas. It provides hundreds of thousands of dollars in value – and today it saved one of my clients around $200,000 in legal fees.  Here’s how:

We all know the cost of doing business is litigation.  The more money you make, the greater the chances are of litigation.  Why?

1.  You’re receiving money that would otherwise go to competitors in your industry.  They will feel it if you’re doing things right.
2.  Lawyers love suing people that have money.
3.  People love trying to extort people that have money. (I’ve never heard of someone trying to extort a homeless man).

Ok, here’s what happened.  A well known affiliate network recently suspended the account of an affiliate.  For the sake of brevity, we’ll call this affiliate “Shithead.”  Shithead had decided to promote 3 free trials on his blog – recommending that consumers sign up for all 3 trials.  That’s a big no-no.  Trial offers rely on rebills to survive – that’s why they pay high CPAs.

On a 3 step blog, the offer that’s running at number 3 will have trial offer 1 and 2 rebill before it.  Therefore it is very difficult for trial number 3 to rebill, and if it does, there’s a high probability for chargebacks and refunds.  Afterall, 2 trials rebilled before it, and the 3rd places the consumer in the hundreds of dollars in loss.  Not a good thing.

When the affiliate network discovered Shithead’s tactics, they suspended his account.  I think there was a total of $10,000 owed to Shithead, $7,000 of which the network paid and $3,000 of which was charged back.  The chargeback period was within the contractual time frame and the $3,000 was credited to the advertiser’s account.

Shithead didn’t like this too much.  Instead of accepting responsibility, Shithead attempted to extort money out of the network.   Through email correspondence, he threatened to create websites with the company’s trademarked term in it.  From there, in writing, he threatened to defame the brand.  Brand reputation is everything in marketing.  Companies that value their brands take these threats seriously.

A week later Shithead had created an exact match domain name with the company’s trademarked name in it.  He drafted defamatory comments and started backlinking.  Low and behold a week later he was ranked on the home page of Google for this affiliate network’s name.

My client called me up all freaked out.  “What are we going to do.  Should we pay him?”  No, just like the United States policy to never bargain with terrorists, I firmly believe that when someone has wronged you, plea bargaining is not an option.

We contacted the affiliate network’s legal counsel and advised them of the situation  – it’s always good to give your lawyers a heads up.   My goal was to give Shithead notice that we’re coming after him, and it’s going to be nasty, real nasty.

The affiliate network pulled all of Shithead’s information from his file, including bank accounts, home address, ip addresses, and email correspondence.  We created  a nice little dossier on this guy.

Next we continued the correspondence, giving him enough rope to hang himself.  I had a picture in my mind of Shithead pacing around his house, smoking cigarettes, and thinking he was really gonna get off on my client.  Ohhh yeaaa, that just made it all the sweeter for me.  I wanted him to get riled up.  I wanted him to snort a line or two and feel like he was the king of the hill.

Because we were going to bring him down, bring him down real hard…

Never Let Them See You Coming – Al Pacino, The Devils Advocate

Baam, we hit him with the Shoemoney24 hour notice of lawsuit letter – titled Trademark Email.  Attached were strings of email correspondence that corroborated our claims of trademark infringement, criminal extortion, and libel.

LMFAO Literally – Check Out Tough Guy Shithead’s Response:

Email 1:  After We Dropped The Bomb

Email 2: He’s Getting Nervous, No One is responding

Email 3: Mercy

Now my client had tried to work with Shithead in a very nice manner, even inviting him to their office for lunch.  Shithead mistook  kindness for weakness – a fatal error.   Machiavellian theory at it’s finest.

It’s better to be feared than loved?

What are your thoughts?