Three weeks ago, I finished the work on my 4th book in the “How to Change Your Life in 10 Minutes” series. And I haven’t started writing a new book since then.
I know what I want to write about—Internet Marketing (IM). This idea has been nagging me in the back of my mind since February 2013.
By IM, I mean every activity which connects people on the Net. It includes blogging, discussion forums, and social media. The selling is just the most visible part of it, like the top of an iceberg. According to my definition, everyone who puts content on the Web and wants any kind of interaction with others is an internet marketer.
But it is a huge task. It’s not just talking about my personal experiences; it needs a lot of time, a lot of research, and a lot of effort to commit. And I procrastinated with this task.
I’ve used 3 of my writing sessions to procure a 2200 word outline of the book (the outline alone is 20% of my previous booklets’ size). I realized that the scope of the book is probably too wide. I want to illuminate the whole phenomenon and, in the effect, it may be shallow on many topics.
I want to write about several aspects, which are hard to put into the same book, because they include both the perspectives of a prospect and an internet marketer. And I want to write about some philosophical and business aspects, too.
So I decided to ask you for advice. I will enumerate all my ideas and give a short description for each of them. Please tell me what you think. About which one should I write first? What stirs your interests? Do you think should I produce a short book about each topic? Or should I connect several subjects in one, more extended work?
In my opinion, the IM’s job is an occupation of the highest trust, like a doctor. The car dealer is not spamming my mailbox, is not a part of my private life. If I want a car, I go and seek one. But internet marketers want to be a part of my life. They send emails to my private mailbox; they want me to join them on social media, to share their content and to buy their stuff. They want and need a higher level of commitment on my part to effectively conduct their business. Their occupation is different from the brick & mortar business owner’s.
I don’t think they understand this simple truth. I think that direct application of the traditional approach to the internet business is ineffective and stupid. The focus on business metrics, on selling and revenue destroys the bond between their prospects and them.
The global impact
It has long-term negative effects on the whole of society. Internet marketing is the future of the human race, a way for ordinary folk to become entrepreneurs. It is destined for growth, no doubts about that. However, what defines the common folks’ attitudes toward their commitment is how they perceive the IM. If the IM is perceived as fishy and untrustworthy, the honest man will not pursue what he is offering.
Internet marketers have a moral obligation to work according to higher standards.
I can describe, giving examples from my experience, how the process of trust erosion works. I can describe the negative effects it has on both the prospects and the internet marketers.
I don’t know if internet marketers realize that they are perceived as responsible for their followers’ results. Clients have no bad feelings against Walmart if they bought milk there, put it into the fridge, forgot about it and had to throw it away after 2 weeks.
But people feel cheated if they bought a digital product which was supposed to change their lives and they didn’t use it, or used it grudgingly and got poor results.
It may be irrational, but it’s true. And internet marketers have two options:
- Ignore it; that’s what virtually everybody is doing right now and it deepens the negative perception of IM. Marketers say, “Well, you are the loser who bought this crap, you are responsible. You are an adult; you should have known better than give in to a few stupid marketing tricks.” Or they say, “You are the loser; my product is great, I made a lot of money using those techniques, as did some of my students. So if it doesn’t work for you there must be something wrong with you.”
If the marketers don’t say that aloud, the prospects say that in their minds. And they blame the marketers.
- The other option is to accept this responsibility; I know a couple of marketers who aim only for 100% success rate. It doesn’t mean their clients do not have to do their share of the job, but their teachers feel responsible for their success. Their commitment is not only lip service. They care and they give their best.
The prospect’s perspective
I saw the first sales page and the first webinar of my life in November or December 2012. I’m a newbie to the internet marketing world. I had high hopes and high expectations at the beginning. I have been disappointed. I can describe in my example what the process of going from hope to disappointment looked like. I can support it with the testimonials of people I know who have had the same experience.
From that point on, I can show the overall impact IM has had on society.
I can pinpoint mistakes in internet marketers’ tactics. I can give specific examples of sales pitches, products, emails which were flawed in my eyes.
And I can show that those mistakes come from the wrong mindset. It’s not how many eyeballs you will put on your products, it’s how much value you will ultimately provide that determines your success. As Jim Rohn said, “Honesty and integrity are not as important as money or shelter or a telephone. Honesty and integrity are infinitely more important than any of those things. They’re about as important as having air, food, and water”.
The lack of transparency on the Internet wrecks my nerves. There are some great folks out there, like Pat Flynn, who is publishing his income report every single month. But they are few and far between.
What really gets me is not the transparency of a single internet marketer. I would rather observe the transparency of his products, especially so called “money making” products.
OK, someone has become successful in some branch of internet business—affiliate, Kindle books, SEO and so on. Then he makes a program for other people. They pay him the money and he teaches them how to make money. All is fine, all is good, but where are the results? Almost no one presents the results!
Yes, there are some success stories, some testimonials. Well, success stories are everywhere. There are some people who have succeeded in retail business, in the garbage industry, in cleaning. There are always successes somewhere. I don’t need to know names; I need to know numbers. I can read numbers, I can feel them, they are talking to me.
A smelly silence
I’m enormously puzzled about a silence on numbers in internet marketing “industry”. I mean the relevant numbers. It’s common to share several success stories resulting from a book/course/membership/webinar. OK, congratulations to those who succeeded, but I’m still not convinced that it will work for me! Where is the link to my life, to the life of an ordinary person? Where is the law of averages? Is it working with me or against me in this case?
I did some research; I found some numbers. It looks like only 20% of people get significant results, 4 to 7% get terrific results. And my hunch is that those numbers are the same for all human activities. IM is not so special after all, so it’s the role of marketers to make it so—and not by the sales results, but by the results of their students.
The economy of free
The marginal cost of producing the digital product tends to zero. The price on the competitive markets tends to the marginal costs. The Internet is a highly competitive market, one that it is most similar to the theoretic economic models. All digital products designed for the wide market are bound to be free. It’s not wishful thinking; it’s not the rant of a scrounger. It’s the law of economy.
We already see it. I see it on the Amazon Kindle market. It’s unbelievable how much valuable information is sold for one or three bucks there. You can learn how to lose weight, start a business, increase your sales, do professional make-up, eat healthily, grow your own crops, and a zillion other things for that price. It’s true. It’s coming.
But there is a high friction against this law. And it’s sometimes so funny to watch it. I observe the marketers who overprice their digital products and they look like kids who want to overcome the law of gravity by flapping their arms.
It won’t help. The law is the law. You can build sophisticated marketing machines and fly in the marketing atmosphere, but never for very long. The better approach is to work with the law, not against it.
The philosophy of free
The philosophical part is in line with the economical part. Free is the way it should be. That’s a good thing to do. That’s the right thing to do.
There are a LOT of misunderstandings regarding this subject. The blame is on both sides of the fence—marketers and prospects are equally guilty.
Marketers are guilty of giving away free crap, items of little to no value. They are guilty of focusing on sales, maybe not exclusively, but primarily. They disrespect free. They despise free.
The prospects are guilty of preying on free. It’s no longer strange to give your email address to get a lead magnet and then unsubscribe immediately. But, hey! They don’t steal anything; it’s for free, right? Ungratefulness is the plague of the Internet. People read blogs, download stuff, learn the tactics, find the tools … and do nothing to give credit to those who provide that value to them. They don’t comment, don’t share, don’t send a thank-you note. They don’t care.
I don’t want to dissect what came first: the chicken or the egg, the cult of paid stuff or preying on free stuff with no obligation. The reasons are less important. The solution is of greater significance.
And the solution is to respect free. No matter whether you are the marketer or the prospect, it’s the only way to heal the situation.
I can bust the biggest myth about free (“they never care”) and provide specific real-life examples where free has changed people’s lives more efficiently than any paid program.
My inbox is full of internet marketers’ messages. I can analyze them case by case, dissect and show how they negatively affect the long-term interests of the marketers themselves. Those are immaterial things, like trust, identity, brand that I want to talk about, but I’m ready to discuss their impact on the material side of the business (read: sales).
I want to stack my book with practical, real-life examples no matter which subject will be its main part. Whether I focus on trust or transparency, I will provide lots and lots of examples.
As I said at the beginning of this post, it is a Big Job. I seek help. After picking up a specific topic with your help, I will probably ask for a contribution to the book. I may make it a crowd project, if the interest will be high enough.
So please send me a mail, a tweet or just comment below. I count on you.