Internet Marketing: is it for you?

Internet Marketing, unsurprisingly enough, is the

…marketing of products and services over the internet

according to Wikipedia. But while it’s a relatively new phenomenon by this definition, limited by the amount of time the internet has been in existance, in fact its roots go back a lot further than that. Internet marketing is really just an evolution of Mail Order / Direct Marketing, which has been around for well over a hundred years.

junk mail
Image courtesy of Heart for Japan

Overview of the Direct Marketing strategy

Yaro Starak recently wrote a very good overview of the elements of an internet business founded on these principles, in which he outlines three steps:

  1. Get as much exposure for your business as possible
  2. Make the first sale
  3. Target these existing customers with higher-value products

The first sale is not where the money is made – its purpose is to convert members of the general public from step 1 into customers, the theory being that once someone has bought something from you once, they are far more likely to buy other stuff further down the line, which is where the real money is made.

I’ve often seen the exact same strategy being used for charity fundraising. The general appeal is usually pretty innocuous, something like

…by giving only £2 a week, you can help save an abandoned puppy / feed a starving child / etc

What they don’t tell you up front is that once you “sign up”, you’ll go on their mailing list and face a never-ending series of much higher-value appeals. Now don’t get me wrong – most charities do a great job, and I in fact support several myself. But this approach does tend to make you a bit cynical once you’ve been exposed to it a few times because it’s somewhat misleading: you, the “customer”, do the right thing, only to find yourself the target of a campaign of heart-rending appeals, and ignoring them is tantamount to saying I don’t care if another child in Africa starves today.

It’s all a bit distasteful

Yes, I’m afraid I do find it distasteful. It’s one thing being on the consumer side of the equation, but I ask myself – is this the way I want to earn a living? Sorry, but no. It’s a bit like the film Glengarry Glen Ross in which an estate agent goes to increasingly desperate lengths to try and sell real estate to prospective customers (great film, by the way, with a great cast).

Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way – Caroline Middlebrook is also uncomfortable with direct selling. She prefers to employ less direct methods to generate an income: affiliate marketing and displaying advertising on her site. And in fact, I estimate that this is a far more common approach than the one Yaro outlines, not necessarily always due to a conscious decision, but simply because it’s less strategic and easier to adopt.

Incidentally, it’s also the approach that I prefer. So while you can see I have a few ads around and about, and include the odd affiliate link in my posts, I have no intention of implementing a full-on sales funnel on this site. Note that I don’t claim this is a better approach – in fact I believe you can make more money by employing a more direct strategy – I’m just not prepared to do it.

What’s your strategy?

These are not the only ways to make money online of course, but I think they’re two of the most common methods. Do you know of or employ a different strategy? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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9 Responses to “Internet Marketing: is it for you?”

  1. Gravatar of Rajiv Web 1 Rajiv Web

    Hi Its really very informative post.
    today i have learned something new. keep it up…Please

  2. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 2 Rodney Smith

    Rajiv: you’re most welcome :-)

  3. Gravatar of Jane 3 Jane

    I can hardly believe what happened, I recently was so frustrated with this industry of internet marketing because of all the crap that people make you buy. However a little over a month ago I came across a totally Free Internet Marketing Course that really helped me. Is is I now have a website up and running, with traffic and my first few sales…Finally. Andrew

  4. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 4 Rodney Smith

    Jane/Andrew: the course may be free, but I’m guessing that once someone’s signed up to the mailing list they’ll be pitched other stuff that isn’t? Classic sales funnel.
    And the truly unscrupulous would sell off the mailing list too – I have no reason to believe that’s happening here, mind you, but it’s something to watch out for.

  5. Gravatar of Lisa 5 Lisa

    I’m in two minds about this. I agree with both you and Caroline that the sales process is just a bit too full on for me. Particularly with internet marketing. Anytime someone does a release I get dozens of emails from Frank Kern/Yaro Starak/John Reese etc with affiliate links to buy the stuff. Its just annoying.

    In saying that though I signed up for a mailing list for a clothing affiliate who send me links to what’s on sale. If I like I buy and it keeps me in touch with my market. I’d like to do something like this, so long as I know that those on my list (should I ever eventually get one) really are interested in what I’m sending them.

  6. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 6 Rodney Smith

    Lisa: thanks for commenting. Yes, I get some of those emails too – Yaro sends out some good content amongst the affiliate plugs, which is why I stay subscribed. And I guess that’s the key: as long as you’re building your list ethically, with opt-in/opt-out, the choice is up to the recipient whether they want to receive stuff from you or not.

  7. Gravatar of Armen Shirvanian 7 Armen Shirvanian

    Internet marketing might be for everyone, because most individuals want to show their material to a larger audience. The title of this article is appropriate because it makes the reader recognize that it has to be for them.

  8. Gravatar of Air Jordans 8 Air Jordans

    I agree. I have been flooded with offers that I don’t really want after signing up for a free tutorial.

  9. Gravatar of Rodney Smith 9 Rodney Smith

    Like they say – there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

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