Thursday, August 13, 2009

Internet marketing: Figure out where you are going before you buy a ticket on the train

I read a recent blog post (What Gives Infopreneurs A Bad Name) by infopreneur expert Melanie Jordan about how the term infopreneur has been co-opted by a group of Internet marketers I call the "Six-Figure Crowd." You know who I'm talking about. These are the self-proclaimed gurus who promise you a six-figure income in as little as six months if you just fork over big bucks for their fabulous program. The programs are usually touted as fool-proof step-by-step systems that will help you realize your dreams.

The truth actually goes something more like this: if you believe this program will help you earn six figures in six months, you are dreaming.

Not all of these programs are bad, and for the right people, they actually do work. Sometimes even to the level of the claims made about them. One problem is that the "systems" don't usually translate well across industries. For example, if you are an Internet marketing consultant, you may have the right skills and the right target market to get real value out of a given program, but if you aren't, you'll struggle with implementation and ultimately fail to realize much benefit. It just isn't the right program for you or your market.

It's not like the Six-Figure Crowd doesn't know what they are doing. They understand how to hype a program better than anyone. The Internet is a noisy place, and getting attention can be challenging. They know how to make a strong appeal to your emotions and build excitement. They know just the right keywords to use to encourage you to "buy now." Is it manipulative? Absolutely. Is it unethical? Maybe. I would say it's only unethical if you probably won't achieve the benefits.

So how do you protect yourself in this noisy, manipulative, Internet marketplace? You need to have a clear idea of what you want.

It seems to me that too many people have more money than sense. They flit from program to program, spend a lot of money, but ultimately get nowhere. They make great connections, but often don't make much of a return on their investment. When that happens, I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that they don't have a clear idea of what they were trying to accomplish in the first place.

It can't just be about the money. Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with your life to give the acquisition of money a meaningful purpose. Only then will you have the focus and the energy to follow through with an action plan that helps you reach your goals.

With clear goals in mind, you can "shop around" for programs that help you achieve your goals. For example, my company Logical Expressions helps non-fiction authors self publish their own books. Our marketing materials talk about the benefits of being a book author, which ultimately translates into money and prestige. If you are committed to the idea of holding your own book in your hands, our system is a good one to help you achieve that goal. But if you don't like to write and the idea of publishing your own book is overwhelming, our Publishize System probably isn't right for you. You need to find a different path.

Don't let anyone else try to sell you a path to success. The path will lead nowhere unless it is one you have chosen to take you where you want to go. Make your own choice about what success means, and then find a path you can follow with a spring in your step.

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