February 12, 2011

The Problem with Marketing: Part II (any idiot can do it, and it works).

It was only yesterday I wrote “The Problem with Marketing” and today a friend sent me a link for the pitch page for some guy named Trey Smith and his “Software System”. My friend asked me to watch it and tell him what I think.

I never made it through the video, because frankly, life’s too short to sit through something you already know the ending for, especially when it’s a marketing pitch for a bullshit marketing course teaching you how to make “big bucks”, in this case on my home turf…the software business.

(Just so the slower students get the formula, it’s like this:

  • Squeeze page to get your email address, welcome to yet another dipshit list, here come the automated sequential mailings….
  • The “free report” or in this case a video “blueprint” is nothing of substance, just a longer pitch for the “course”. If you sit through the video you get the standard issue fare
  • Testimonials from people with half the intelligence and talent than you who made “big bucks” using this system
  • A can’t fail risk reversal proposition: if you aren’t satisfied, you get your money back, how can you lose, blah blah blah

And like I said, I didn’t watch the whole thing, but there was probably a side order of….

  • Scarcity: Because of the value of this information, there is likely a “cap” on the number of “students” who will be “accepted” into this, so he’s capping registrations at 2 billion and ……
  • Urgency: those slots are filling up fast AND there’s a special price on if you sign up in some perpetual “now” moment, after which the course price goes up to some price that looks straight out of hyperinflationary Zimbabwe.

thus ends the standard squeeze-page-opt-in playbook….moving right along)

Almost as if this entire pitch page was made to validate yesterday’s post, the course is about

How To Make Money Using Software

Because, as I said yesterday, the entire online marketing industry is about marketing, and it by definition (almost proudly so), relegates what is being marketed to the back seat.

It's the marketing, stupidSo the entire thrust of “the course” is this:

  • There is “big money” in software (which is true)
  • You can grab a chunk of this, without knowing anything about software!
  • You do this by outsourcing everything and doing it on the cheap (including support)
  • The secret sauce in the formula is the marketing.

Which is all true.

Make no mistake, what this guy says will work, and people have been doing it for years and making huge fortunes at it.

There’s just one problem:

Most of the products suck. Most of the services are sub-par and virtually none of these “fast buck” enterprises ever actually make it to the point where they become viable businesses: with competitive advantages, barriers to entry, strong brands and (tada) recurring revenues.

There Are Two Kinds of Businesses

There’s the kind of business where the dumber the customers are, the better it is for business. Pretty well all the online marketing gurus are marketing toward these people. And after these people take these marketing “courses”, they will pull vaporware “me-too” products and nebulous pseudo-services out of their ass and sellĀ  them to more stupid people. From a high altitude it looks somewhat like a ponzi scam because the people “in early” tend to do well while the latecomers merely serve to enrich the gurus.

The other kind of business benefits from a more informed customer. The smarter the users, the better it is for business. These are the types of businesses I like to invest in and build. These businesses tend to grow organically (albeit slower), but they actually serve a purpose and over time they end up building what’s called “a moat”. A durable competitive advantage that cultivates things like brand loyalty and recurring revenues. The interesting thing about these businesses are that while they take longer to build (in general) they retain and amplify their value. They have resale value. When it’s time to move on you actually have a business with a portfolio of products or services and a customer base with recurring revenues that you can sell to an acquirer.

Me-too marketing pipelines, devoid of any real substance may make a lot of money in the short run, but they can’t sustain. The revenues generally aren’t recurring. A “marketing list” is built up, but it’s not the same as a customer base with ongoing revenues. The marketing list is just your “dipshit list”: people stupid enough to have opted-in or even better bought something from you to which you incessantly bombard with new marketing pitches to sell them more stuff. It doesn’t matter what that stuff is as long as it converts.

I’ve seen marketing businesses with purported revenues in the millions of dollars get to the point where they want to exit and they put themselves up for sale and then there are no takers. They make lots of money but they are worthless as an acquisition.

It seems like a lot of work to put into something that has an exit value of zero (and that’s if you actually get anywhere with it as opposed to just lining the pockets of the online gurus selling you “success formulas”).

If you’re going to invest in something and take the trouble to learn and build, you may as well pour the sweat into a real business and actually have something at the end of it.


Ms Anonimiss - February 18, 2011

I love your blog! Keep it coming!

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