Change is in the air. You can just feel it, can’t you? It’s inevitable really. Everything changes. Life, the environment, our bodies, love/hate, and even business. As a student of “Internet Marketing” as an industry, I have noticed many changes over the past few years, many of which are causing dramatic shifts in how business online works, and how consumers spend money and how “gurus” make it.
I think it’s pretty obvious to say that a changing and depressed economy, combined with the fact that consumers have become more educated than ever, has resulted in a huge shift in how Internet “gurus”, and the rest of us without such famed guru status, do business online. Case in point, there’s a lot of disgust and anger in the air these days online. Same as in the real world in this soon to be very vitriolic Presidential election year here in the US. That’s just the world we live in now.
There has always been industry insider gossip and finger pointing, but now those same thoughts are starting to bleed out into the fringes; Into the “real world” where regular, non-Internet geek people are getting a glimpse on how this all works. In this piece at The Verge, the author focuses on calling out unscrupulous “gurus” about their boiler room practices of ripping off Grandma’s social security checks through “Internet Marketing” scammery. The title of the piece is, “Scamworld: ‘Get rich quick’ schemes mutate into an online monster – A network of pitchmen have used the internet and fear of a failing economy to play the ultimate long con.” The video is fascinating, but mostly just entertaining.
I believe this is a hacky piece to say the least. It focuses on a few really bad apples and lumps in some quality people who don’t practice tactics that are unethical. Sure, sure, ALL of these people sell the dream. The dream of getting rich. The dream of independence. The dream of australian casinos living the life you want. But if you’re going to condemn people for selling the opportunity to live a better life, you better send me off to jail right now as well. Because I’m guilty too.
Yeah, I have a series of books called Business Around a Lifestyle, but no, not anywhere in those books do I say that you get get rich overnight without work. Nowhere in any of my marketing materials that I’ve ever put out do I claim that it’s super easy to make money overnight in your underwear from your den. Nowhere, anywhere at any time have I ever told someone that I guarantee they’ll be successful or have I ever taken someone’s money for a job that I knew could not afford it.
Which is why I have such a stellar reputation in the industry. But it’s also why I’m not sitting on a beach retired in Cabo San Lucas. Because I won’t become unethical just to make money. There’s lots of people just like me out there who have the same “problem”. David Risley, Chris Garrett, Johnny B. Truant, David Siteman Garland, Sonia Simone and Derek Halpern come to mind. There are many more, and I’m sorry to leave you off. I’m writing fast.
The industry is changing to the needs/wants of the consumer. You’re no longer seeing the same “$2k product pitches” that you saw so prevalent over the past 2-3 years. Why? Because nobody is buying them anymore. First off, in this crappy economy, who’s got $2k to spend anymore, and secondly, most people have been burned multiple times and are now gun shy, and using the power of the Web to talk about their unhappiness and dissatisfied experiences.
Let’s Fix It?
David Risley, mentioned above, just recently made a huge branding change. He went from branding hisname.com, to branding a business name (Blog Marketing Academy). In his epic rant entitled “Why the Making Money Online Niche Is Broken” David says…
Over the last few days, I’ve told you that I am making some changes to my company. I’m not yet going to divulge every detail of that, but I AM going to tell you why I’m doing it.
It is because the “make money blogging” space that I’m in is inherently BROKEN.
… and the “gurus” of this space have failed.
And the result of this is plain as day. Most bloggers are:
Confused on what to do.
Concentrating on the wrong things… if they even have a real focus at all.
Not making any money.
Not seeing much (if any) web traffic.
Now, you tell me…. with ALL these people (yes, myself included) teaching people how to make money blogging – and ALL these people reading our sites, don’t you think we’d have a little better success rate?
I mean, something is inherently wrong with the SYSTEM if all these people are out there consuming this stuff – and yet most aren’t making it.
It isn’t a surprise that this niche is becoming full of freebie seekers and skepticism. All these people are selling stuff and yet people still can’t connect the dots. It is only NATURAL to start getting skeptical.
Makes sense to me. David’s right. The entire model is broken, and it’s in flux. You can put “some” of the blame on the consumer for not taking action. But you can also put some of the blame on the person selling them the information and not supporting them all the way through. Which is I believe, David’s point. The problem with supporting someone from beginning to end is that it’s hard work, and requires time and effort. It’s far much easier, and profitable to just sell an information product in a box and walk away and say “hey, I gave you all the info, you just didn’t follow through”.
But to David’s and my point, it can’t continue that way. Consumers want more, and frankly, should expect more. I’ve always thought of myself as a teacher. My mother taught English to 7th graders for over 30-years. For the past 4-years or so I’ve taught Internet Marketing to students at the University of San Francisco’s Internet Marketing Certificate Program. I love teaching. It’s extremely satisfying to help students work through business models and learn the industry step-by-step. They feel progress along the way and I feel like I’m invested in their success. Everyone wins.
But it’s hard work, and it doesn’t make you rich overnight. The alternative is to just drop all my knowledge and skill into a 22-disc DVD set and send it out to customers and say “Hey, learn this and make millions”. Meanwhile, I’m sitting on a beach someplace. Unfortunately for me, I can’t bring myself to do that. Because to REALLY help people succeed, you need to give more than just a DVD set. You need to dig in and walk them through and invest in their future.
More Factors In The Shift…
The “gurus” felt the heat from the government and lawsuits and have backed off a bit over the past few years. What’s happening now is they’re all trying to figure out the next way to get back in business. Some are “going legit” by creating agencies and brands that help other people do what they did. Others are just sitting on their big piles of cash and waiting for things to calm down. But they’ll be back.
You can tell things are changing because you’re seeing more discounted offers than ever before. Half-offs, free even. You can’t sell the same old crap that you used to sell. It’s not that easy anymore. Even with fancy sales copy. Consumers have gotten smarter. They can smell bullshit from 100-miles away now, and they’re becoming immune to “special offers” as they existed before.
This not to say that tactics like scarcity and exclusivity and bonuses and long page sales letters don’t work anymore. They still do. In fact, they still work pretty darn good. They just don’t work “as good” as they used to. Which makes it harder for those that used those tactics to keep the gravy train full of cash running as fast and heavy as it used to.
Is Internet Marketing Dead? No.
Of course it’s not dead. In ways it’s bigger and better than ever. But it’s changing. Authenticity is key. Your reputation means everything. I can tell you that many of the “gurus” that have made a fortune online over the past 10-years or so are really good people. But because of how they made their money, they are not thought of as fondly as they wish they were. In fact, many are hated, and I’m telling you right now, it bothers them, despite what they say. Unfair? Sure, but it’s part of the business. It’s unfortunate for them now that they have to deal with being lumped in with real criminals.
The truth is that most of these people are dying to be loved. They really do care. To them, they did nothing wrong except try to help people. They truly believed that if someone would take the information they have provided, they could be successful just as they were. And frankly, most of them are right about that.
So that leaves us with where to take it in the future. Grinders like me and David and the others mentioned already know what to do. Continue to provide high-quality, problem-solving support and training and information over and over and over to people who want/need it, for a fair price. The “gurus”? We’ll just have to wait and see what they come up with next. What do you think?