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The Death Of Internet Marketing As We Know It?

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.
Overwhelmed.
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?

How To Crowdfund Your Next Book

You don’t need an agent or a publisher to make your new book a success! You can use the power of the crowd to pre-fund your book and create your own virtual signing bonus. That’s what I did. I raised over $30k in 30-days for my new book series. Want to know how to do it? That’s what this book is all about.

Note: If you order a copy during the month of November, 2011, I’ll give you a free copy of my How To Catch Happy book in audio form. Just send me the purchase receipt at jim at jimkukral dotcom.

I know what struggles you have as an aspiring author. One of the biggest ones is book marketing, and selling books. I’ve written this book to help give you an easy way to solve those problems. In this book I take you step-by-step through how I did it myself, and show you how you can do it as well.

Who is this book for?

  • Anyone who has ever thought of writing a book or had the idea for a book, on any topic, in any niche
  • Anyone who doesn’t want to deal with the agents and big publishers and wants to have control to do it themselves
  • Anyone who wants to make money selling books before they even put pen to paper

You know there’s a better way to publish books. This is it. Take this simple, easy-to-follow strategy and make it a reality.

What’s in the book?

  • Step-by-step instructions on how to create your own crowdfunding or “pre-funding” campaign
  • Including details on how to set up your funding campaign and landing page
  • Advice on how to build your own platform you can use to drive awareness for your book
  • Tools and resources you can use to create your pre-funding campaign

It’s all here. I’ve taken my entire experience of pre-funding my own books to the tune of over $30k and put it into this book for you to read and follow and do yourself! The best part is, anyone can do this.

What others say

“Jim Kukral shows you the new rules to publishing in the digital age. Follow his advice and you’ll increase your chances for fame, influence and profits.” – Dan Janal, Founder of www.PressReleaseSender.com

“Having published the “traditional” way I read with delight how Jim Kukral and others are becoming their own publishers and distributors of their content. “30K in 30 Days” is stuffed with first-hand knowledge and advice on how to take control of your own content, publish it, and promote it in a simple, easy-to-follow process. As Jim says, you may not reach 30K in 30 days like he did, but the advice and guidance is itself worth 30K. Highly recommended.” – Troy Rutter

“In No Publisher Needed, Jim Kukral once again hits a home run. Through his own unique and proven experience, Jim explains how to “crowdfund” your book before a single page is written. That way, you can prove the viability of your idea, build a loyal fan base, and obtain initial funding to create a book that succeeds in the marketplace. I know I am excited to begin my next book project and to put Jim’s advice to use.” – Brian Newman

“After reading Jim’s 30k in 30 days, how could you not want to start thinking about writing your own book series? Jim has pushed the publisher and high fees of consulting and book printing to the side, and made a huge profit before even writing his first words for the book. This book is a glimpse into the future and how the world of publishing will truly change forever!” – Zac Johnson

Pick up your copy today.

I’m 40, Now What?

I turn 40-years-old today. And I’m loving it. I couldn’t be more blessed personally and professionally. I love what I do and I love my family and I’m grateful for all of my friends.

So now what?

I may be weird, but I tend to break down my life phases into 10-year chunks. Do other people do this?

1-10 – Childhood in the 70’s. Being a kid. No plan.
11-21 – Growing up. Still being a kid. No plan.
22-30 – Start a career. Figure out what I’m good at.
31-40 – Start a family. Build a successful career hopefully doing what I love.

40-50 – I think I know. I would tell you that 10-years ago the answer would have been “make a lot of money”. Today that answer is NOT the same. In fact, if I had to rank money on the list of important things to me as I turn 40, I’d put it down around number 6 or so. Want to know why? Read this.

So here are my goals for turning the big 4-0.

1. Be a better husband and father.

2. Become one of “those” fit people I see but have never been. “Those” is what people like me call you people who are always in shape and healthy.

3. Start a non-profit organization that helps people use the power of the Internet to raise money for worthwhile causes. Helping families in need financially overcome disasters. To use my skills as an Internet marketer to inspire and assist them in coming up with strategies to raise money.

4. Write about 10 books a year, at least. For the next 10 years.

Oh, and fishing. :)

Happy birthday to me. Life is short. Make it count.

Review: PPC Training “Want To Learn Pay Per Click?”

I remember when the whole pay per click business came out years and years ago. Being a performance marketing guy myself I immediately saw the potential. So I jumped right in and began to learn how to become a PPC master. Unfortunately, along the way, I got away from doing a lot of PPC which is silly of me because it truly has become a MAJOR way for your business to advertise online.

So recently I jumped back into the frey and needed to learn, or re-learn, some of the tricks and knowledge I have since forgotten. Of course, I knew that I was completely out of date with how it works today (almost) so I needed a refresher. That’s when I found PPC Training. From the same team that brings you SEOBook.com (affiliate link), Aaron Wall. By the way, this review was not paid for.

From the site…

Even if you’re new to Google Adwords or PPC, you may have noticed something:

It’s getting harder. A lot harder.

Harder to learn. Harder to compete. Harder to generate profit.

That said, ever get the feeling that there’s significant money in the Adwords game if you could just figure it out?

Hundreds of thousands of businesses have opened up Google Adwords accounts over the past few years.

They get it: The customers are there – just waiting for you…

Interestingly though, only a select few have managed to turn Google advertising into the next big thing in their business.

It could be that you’re doing “OK” with Adwords, but you’ve noticed lately that there are some players in your niche whose ads seem to be EVERYWHERE…

How do they do it?

This is exactly what I needed to read. Because, yes, I need to know how they do it! I need the inside goods!

So I signed up and checked it out because one of my biggest frustrations with PPC in the past was that I ended up bidding way too much when I know I shouldn’t have. The PPC Training promised me that “your competitors are running around paying only a fraction of what Google is charging *you* to advertise, and generating more net revenues from search than they ever dreamed was possible!”. Yep, that was exactly my problem. Here’s what I found out about the program.

It’s good. Really good. I teach classes for the University of San Francisco and I got a LOT of questions about the specifics of PPC. I needed this to help me answer those questions! I mean, I can’t know everything can I? :)

When you first login to the system you’re greeted by a lot of choices. You can either go right into the forums, or you can read some articles, or scroll down and use some of the tools. I didn’t really know where to start (so much information) so I just started at the Google Adwords Training Index. I read about Adwords policies, and about Adwords and affiliate marketing, and the proper way to do keyword research (which I already knew, but hey, wanted to make sure I was right!).

But what stood out to me was finding out about the Adwords editor, a tool that let’s you manage your ads from a desktop application (cool!). If you have never heard of this, here’s what it does.

Among many other things, the Adwords Editor allows you to:

* Create, change, delete and upload new keywords, ads, and campaigns in bulk
* Download all of your campaign stats and change bids en masse
* Copy or move items between ad groups and campaigns
* View and edit your account structure with a bird’s eye level
* Create or make changes in an offline “sandbox” that doesn’t affect your running campaigns
* View and edit multiple My Client Center accounts

So to keep this review under 100 pages, I’ll just give you some summary points to take away. It’s not just for Adwords (although that is a big part of it). There is training in there for Facebook ads too. And Yahoo!, Myspace and Microsoft Adcenter too.

Tools
The tools are worth the cost alone. I’m not sure if I should be posting this video here, but it was embeddable on the site so here goes. This is a little training video.

There are web analytics tools, budgeting tools, research tools and more. Lot of valuable stuff.

There’s a whole bunch of coupons in the module as well. Like a $50 Adwords coupon and a $25 Yahoo! search coupon.

Forums
The forums are really active. A neat forum I found is where you can have your copy reviewed by other people. You can also have your landing pages reviewed. Very valuable. Other forums are specific to each network, which is smart since they all kind of operate differently.

The Bottom Line
If you want to learn, or re-learn, PPC then you’d be crazy not to subscribe to this service. Aaron has done it again! First SEObook, now PPCTraining. I recommend you get in and start learning. This is also perfect to agencies who need to be better at doing PPC for their clients, and I think that any business could take what they learn here and give it a go on their own without hiring a third-party agency, assuming they had someone on staff to really dig in and learn this.

Connect The Dots

My wife called me recently and said, “I’m in line at McDonald’s and this is the slowest service I have ever seen!” I don’t know if that McDonald’s had a particular problem that morning or what the specifics were behind the counter. However, what I do know is that my wife, who happens to like McDonald’s coffee, found the service experience to be distinctly different, in a negative way, compared to what she’s used too.

McDonald’s generally nails their value proposition operationally on a pretty consistent basis. The point is that companies often undermine their competitive advantage by not thinking through the entire value chain of how they deliver on their promises to their target audience. That is a problem, probably not for McDonald’s generally, but certainly for a lot of companies that are promoting or promising a certain kind of experience. For example, any number of banks, when you’re actually in branch, deliver a very different experience than what was promised by the smiling faces on the TV ads.

This is a disconnect that is simply and truly a failure to connect the dots.

This is especially true if you’re going ‘toe to toe’ with an arch nemesis (aka the competitor who is most like you) in the space where you most need to stand out. This happens with large companies and especially and ironically happens to small businesses where there are only 5-10 people who have to know what the corporate promises are – and they can’t even get those straight. These promises could be the salesman’s or the owner’s or your website’s.

  • Have you looked at whether your promises are being backed-up by the organization that you represent? In the way that your customers have been lead to believe?
  • Is everyone in your company really conscious and connected to what your operational promises are?

Do your operations really reflect your advertising?

Whether or not you are a high customer service level organization like Nordstrom’s or a mass marketer and low cost provider like Wal-Mart or a local bank serving a smaller community – connect the dots between message and execution. Failure to do so is more than a failure to communicate – it will become a failure to deliver. Customers become ex-customers when that happens.

About the Author: Jose Palomino is President of g2m Group, Inc, and author of Value Prop; he blogs at StrategicPropositions.com. Jose helps business leaders take their ideas, products and services to market with greater consistency, speed and impact. He has worked extensively with industry leaders including IBM, SAP, Accenture, Chase and Citicorp. A proven strategist, dealmaker and presenter, Jose makes strategic marketing practical and immediately usable. With an MBA from Villanova University, he serves as President of the Executive MBA Alumni Association and is also a Vistage International Speaker.

People Are Desperate to Care About Something. Is It You?

This is a guest post by one of my favorite bloggers in the world Justin Kownacki.

You have a product or a service to sell. Maybe it’s a widget. Maybe it’s a cause. Maybe it’s you. But why should anyone care?

Well, let’s start with something people do care about: Birds.

Dead Pelicans Equal Cheap Media Buys
Tyler Cowen, who writes the deft economics blog Marginal Revolution, recently posted some sobering statistics about the estimated numbers of birds killed by the BP oil spill:

Number of birds killed by the BP oil spill: at least 2,188 and counting.
Number of birds killed by wind farms: 10,000-40,000 annually.
Number of birds killed by cars: 80 million annually.
Number of birds killed by cats: Hundreds of millions to 1 billion
annually.

So why are we so inundated with images of (and concern for) spill-related bird deaths when the numbers of non-spill-related bird deaths are so much higher? Because we have pictures of those birds, which makes them specific.

As Dan Ariely, author of the book Predictably Irrational, explains on his blog:

First, it is a singular event with a precise beginning. Second, while the tragedy was ongoing (and we are not yet sure if it has ended or not) it seemed to become more desperate by the day. Third, we have a single organization that we can villainize… And fourth, the Gulf is so much closer to home (at least for Americans).

So, in order to generate more public interest in a statistically marginal event (at least in terms of pure numbers), our frustration at the Gulf oil spill has been maximized by:

  • Specificity
  • Simplicity
  • Visual reference
  • Raw emotion
  • Relatability
  • Proximity
  • “Heroes” and “villains,” and
  • A ticking clock

In other words, the Gulf spill “works” because it’s a marketable issue. (Or, seen another way, as a classic stage drama with a three-act structure.)

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of birds killed by traffic or windmills aren’t nearly as concise — or as easily-simplified — of an issue, which makes it much harder to convince us that those tragedies are somehow even more worth our attention.

How Does This Translate to Business?
Simple: People are human. We all want to care about things we recognize as being important. And, even better, we want to engage in situations where we have a chance to make a difference.

If you’re passionate about a cause, how can you encapsulate that passion in one image that tells your story?

If you’re passionate about your business, how can you distill that passion into one answer to a question that’s on everyone else’s mind?

People are desperate to find things worth caring about. But it’s up to you to make it easy for them.

About the Author: Justin Kownacki is a blogger and social media strategist who creates some of the most engaging and thought-provoking content on the Web today.

Blogworld 2010 Is Shaping Up Nicely! Get 20% Off Registration

I’ve been a part of every single BlogWorld and New Media Expo 2010 event so far. By the way, use that link in the last sentence and then use the coupon code “KUKRAL” and get 20% off registration.

I think this will be the fourth year at the event. I have to tell you, it’s my second favorite, after Affiliate Summit of course. So… will you make it to Vegas this year? I hope so. This is also my fourth year organizing the monetization track for them.

The monetization track is focused on “how to make money from blogs”. Pretty simple, yet very informative and helpful. I’ve organized my best track ever this year. Check out the people I recruited on my track this year.

* Darren Rowse
* John Chow
* Jeremy “Shoemoney” Schumaker
* Anita Campbell
* Jonathan Fields
* Lewis Howes
* Michael Michalowicz
* Scott Ginsberg
* Barry Moltz
* Dave Taylor

Here’s my recap of the show from 2009. Had a lot of fun last year, including a trip to Zappos, beating Annie Duke, a professional poker player, in a charity poker tournament, and… meeting Chad Vader. Here’s that video.

Join the top bloggers and new media experts in the world at BlogWorld Expo 2010


The Value of Importing from China

This is a guest post. I’ve always been interested in the whole importing business from China. This is a good beginning article to give you some ideas on the value of it.

China has been experiencing unprecedented growth in GDP, manufacturing, exports and other economic sectors. More than ever, importing products from China can generate both immediate and long term profit.

Potential Business
To get a sense of the potential business opportunities when importing Chinese products, consider Wal-Mart. Every year, Wal-Mart imports billions of dollars worth of Chinese goods, and out of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 suppliers, 5,000 are located in China. However, do not think that you cannot tap into the Chinese import market just because major retailers such as Wal-Mart have. Importing products from China can still be a strong business decision.

If you choose to import a product from China that is reasonably priced and tends to sell well, or a specialty product that is otherwise difficult to locate, your potential for profit can be large. However, be wary of any supplier who claims they can sell you name brand electronics or clothing. These goods are almost certainly fake and are often illegal to sell.

Advantages of Importing from China
As long as you abide by customs regulations, you can often buy bulk goods from China cheaper and with lower taxes than you would when dealing with a middleman in your home nation. This is because you are essentially acting as an independent retailer, buying your products directly from the manufacturer and importing them to your own country. China requires no special licenses or permits to purchase goods. As long as you follow national and international trade regulations, you are free to import nearly anything in almost any quantity.

Another advantage you have over dealing with a middleman is that you have direct control over your business’s distribution model. You might consider selling your products online through eBay or Amazon, or you could rent a store and sell them in person. This gives you a level of flexibility that a major retailer does not have. The biggest value of importing from China directly lies in the control you are given over your own business.

Because China’s manufacturing sector has experienced a prolonged, dramatic boom, directly importing from China can prove to be an effective business decision. If you research and plan your business around hot markets, the potential for profit can be very significant.

Go To The Affiliate Summit For Only $24.95

Actually, much less, only $16.83. Here’s the deal. If you pre-order a copy of my new book, “Attention! This Book Will make You Money“, within the time period of July 9-15, you get a free Silver pass ($249 value) to the Affiliate Summit event in NYC in August.

Yep, you read that right. Spend $16 bucks, and get a $249 pass to the show. Pretty great deal! All you have to do is email me (or use my contact form) the receipt of your online pre-order and you’ll get hooked up with your Silver pass.

Now, if you’ve never been to the Affiliate Summit, you need to get there! It’s THE best event out there if you are serious about wanting to learn more about how to be successful online. It’s not just about affiliate marketing. It’s about email, search, landing pages, Google, making money online, etc…

So you get my book, AND a pass to the show. How can you go wrong? Looking forward to seeing you there so I can sign the book for you personally. Remember, I’m one of the keynote speakers for the event this summer. It’s going to be an amazing show.

Want Your Picture In Fast Company Magazine?

Now this is how you go viral. You tap into the egos of those of us online by giving us an easy to setup, and share, project that feeds our narcissistic brains. But it’s all good; it’s very smart.

Fast Company just launched their new project today to find 2010’s Most Influential People. And they way they’ve designed it; YOU could get your picture in the November issue of Fast Company!

ALL you need to do is just go to this link for the Fast Company Influence Project and register yourself. It’s really easy to setup, especially if you use the Facebook integration button. Go for it!

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