In 2001, my resume read that I was an “eCommerce Manager”.
Back then people didn’t know what that was. Also, this was the time of the Dot-com debacle, so even if people understood my vocation they questioned why I would stay invested in such a volatile industry.
The internet was viewed as being useful for emails, and only websites like eBay and Amazon were worthy of sticking around. There were personal websites, but overall a webpage was viewed more like a brochure.
I was encouraged to get in the game: get my real estate license, sick money in mortgage loans, and all my closest friends could hook me into the world of pharmaceutical sales. However, I kept my head down and stayed in Digital Marketing.
Today, the jury is out. Online marketing is now the dominant power. No longer the sales team.
Ten years ago, I consulted a company called Clearlink. They hired me to make more progress within their Digital Marketing division, specifically driving leads to their sales floor.
At the time, they were a complete inside salesman’s dream: extravagant trips, bonuses, a company that took care of you. It was understood that the sales floor were the real money makers.
I recently met some dudes in the sauna that used to “kill it in sales” for Clearlink. They said it used to be the best company in the world. However, all that had changed in their eyes.
I questioned what was the reason for their change of heart? They couldn’t tell for sure, but slowly all of the fun spiffs stopped, commissions went down, and overall… they were not treated like they had grown accustomed to.
I can tell you why.
All of their spiff money and commissions had been redirected towards the increasingly profitable Digital Marketing division. It was no longer viewed just as lead generation for the true earners. In fact, there is a recent quote I agree with:
“The job of a digital marketer is to make a sales floor superfluous”.
Why this switch in direction? Simple. Bad salespeople.
We are done with the heavy pressure from the silver-tongued, slick dudes. In fact, data shows that online users would rather chat with an online bot rather than speak to a real person. By 67%!! They would rather research a product by asking their questions to a program, gather the info they need to make the decision, and then finish the purchase online. This is a dramatically different online marketing world than when I first started. But one constant has remained:
Major innovations and change are the norm.
Today, there is another paradigm shift happening in the Digital Marketing world (a shakeup similar to what these Clearlink sales dudes experienced). I’ve been around awhile to know that this happens every so often, and it leaves all the one-trick pony marketers in the dust. So I actually embrace these overhauls because most of the time, if you are not sticking around, you are usually peddling crap.
Given my experience, I see a shift from corporations being in control, to the power being in the hands of the individual.
And not any individual, the truly genuine individual. Social media is empowering this, especially if the individual can create a worthwhile community.
Yes, because of this shift we are seeing the plenty disingenuous “Instagram Influencers” popping up that unfortunately carry some weight. Crying to their audiences, evoking empathy as the pretty popular girl in high school might do (that everybody wants to get to know for one reason or another).
Then they hit us up with a sales pitch. Bad sales.
These will be weeded out with time (But as for the Kardashians, sorry, they are here to stay). However, the individuals remaining will be the ones with value to give, but the scrambling corporations are empowering individuals such as this. Continually throwing goodies at them. Whatever incentive it takes for them to promote their “FitTea product”.
I wouldn’t want to align myself with these fool corporations. I’ve done my time.
However, if you can give value to an audience, Digital Marketing allows you to be less “obvious” in your selling. In fact, you should never sell, instead, aim to articulate “value”.
When there is perceived value for a pain or problem a person is experiencing, they can do their own research and make the decision to make a purchase. (Again, Zig Ziglar sales moxie is no longer required to convince us to make a purchase.) The internet is now conditioning our buying behavior. Amazon.com converts 22% better than any other website on the planet. One click of the button and product is immediately being picked and is on its way. After we do our research, read testimonials, etc.
Words cannot express how much I love this switch in dynamics. It has been my goal to remain a “solo-preneur” most of my career. But this had been getting more difficult over the past decade. Undaunted, I have stuck with it, enduring some painful projects.
I was getting beat up against the big companies with monster ad spends that would swoop in and buy up all the traffic. The cost of online media over the past decade has absolutely skyrocketed, making Google and Facebook very happy.
In order to counteract this, I focused on emerging markets. The media was cheaper, yet, doing business in under-developed nations proved to be a logistical and merchanting nightmare. Fraud was another huge problem.
I was encouraged at the many marketing conventions I attend to put my efforts into my own work. Since I was already an online publisher, I should be promoting myself rather than giving away my expertise to corporations like I had been doing. So I wrote a book.
I can say this has been the most gratifying project I have ever been involved with. It took long hours, but I enjoyed the entire ride. Having the marketing know-how to push this book on my own has been invaluable (Sorry Scholastic, I don’t need you). I believe with the shift in power to the individual can help you to promote something you value and enjoy as well.
That is if you truly have something to say. Please, don’t start live streaming away without a purpose, you will eventually be weeded out! (The internet is cool that way.)
Today is different than yesterday when you heard people talking about making a killing online. But the jury is out — solo entrepreneurship is possible, even if it has gotten a black eye from people peddling crap through the years.
Yes, we’ve heard it before: “Make Money Online!”, “It’s Quick and Easy!”, etc.
No, it’s not easy. In fact, I would be lying to you if I even claimed I could teach you all that I have garnered over my career.
I have attended clinics, spent thousands on marketing conventions, buy books, listen to podcasts, webinars, mastermind groups, et at. And I still have a lot to learn.
However, today is different because of this shift of power to the individual, where everyone can find a different niche. The playing field is huge and the timing is perfect now to get involved. Why do you think videos geared to market products are no longer slick corporate presentations? Facebook ads have become some dude talking to his cell phone camera. Myself included. The power has shifted from pristine, glossy imaging promoting why you should buy something — to true, authentic conversations.