February 11, 2011

The Problem with “Marketing”

I randomly punched up a podcast on my iphone this morning on my way to the office and it was a short “introduction to information marketing lesson” from Joe Vitale for Nightingale-Conant. I’ve got a few Joe Vitale books and audiobooks (that marketing “works” is not being disputed here), and while I find some parts of them interesting and instructive, there’s a common theme running through them which I find indicative of online marketing gurus: marketing as an end unto itself.

To paraphrase the podcast “You want to make money but you don’t know how, well I’m here to show you that you can make money by selling people information”. From there the basic play is to figure out what you know, perhaps know better than most others, wrap an info product around it, and then sell it online. Yet other online marketing gurus take it a step further: what if you don’t know anything worth selling? Well you can just sell other people’s information products and become an affiliate marketer.

The problem here is it all puts the cart before the horse because the vast majority of the work in this area simply fleshes out new and improved ways to market, but the most important component of marketing, the product or service is an afterthought. What to sell? Who cares…something…anything.

What happens is you get legions of online marketers becoming very adept at creating super-effective marketing and sales pipelines with literally nothing of value to inject into them. You end up with marketing gurus selling marketing systems that teach wannabes how to sell information products, most of which describe online marketing systems.

Ever heard of this place? It’s very instructive and a great example of what I’m talking about. It’s an internet marketing message board, jam packed with primarily….losers. People who are trying to “figure out” and crack this online marketing thing. The most instructive thing about it is this: you go through these forums and you see all these desperate dreaming people kicking around ideas, asking for help, trying to find a way to “make a buck” online (“is anybody actually making a living at this?” is an oft asked question). Then if you look closely, almost every single one of them has a signature file or a URL in their profile directing you to their “online marketing system” or some storefront, or some information product they’ve created on what? You guessed it….online marketing and how to achieve online success.

My business doesn’t “do marketing” in the traditional sense and I didn’t enter my space to “make money” per se. I entered my space with a very specific mission at the time, and it was to solve a very specific problem that I and my customers kept running into and I just went heads down to drive a stake through the heart of that problem. And it was doing that which became “my marketing”. After that came the money, which was really not a driving, motivating goal for entering my space, but a side-effect of conquering it.

So my advice is this:

Don’t come at anything from the desire to “make money” angle.

And don’t bother learning how to market.

Figure out how to solve a problem that other people want solved. Do it well and make it your business (literally) to solve other people’s problems. IF you do that well then one day, you’ll suddenly find that presto, you have something to sell.

That would be a good time to “learn marketing”.


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