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.
You won’t have to experience the tumultuousness I have had to endure as an independent marketer looking to bring real value. However, I recognize there is a perceived mountain to climb for one looking to get involved.
With this in mind, I’m reminded of a popular saying in consulting:
“Get a Quick Win.”
A consultant cannot come fresh into a situation and expect to knock it out of the park within the first weeks. I deliberately choose a smaller preliminary project that can bare quick fruit, we then build from there.
As I said, I am unable to teach you my almost twenty years of experience overnight. Don’t believe anybody that says they can.
However, I do have a quick win.
Something for you to initially build on. I have a buddy that I have networked with through the years, attended conventions with, shot the shoot over food, and have gone back and forth with over email. I always attend his key-note speaking workshops. He has been in the game a long time.
His name is Patrick Chan, and he developed a system for the newbie, entry-level marketers that is based on as he puts it: “copying and pasting what he is doing”.
Out of the blocks, that would be my best advice. To leverage someone else’s brilliant work out of the gates. Get your feet wet dealing with a proven marketer’s system and software automation (the real trick). After getting a taste, the skills and principles for you to develop your own ideas/product will be in place as your foundation. In fact, that is his design.
To get you that initial quick win.
He has perfected his system over the past (5) years and it is only gaining more steam. You are not playing the guinea pig here.
In fact, I have a Wall Street venture capitalist friend that owns an island. Yes, dude has amassed some wealth. He says the number one variable he looks for investing in a company is: timing.
If the timing is right, all of the other variables seem to work out from leadership, financial backing, implementation team chemistry, etc. That is the formula he follows, and when he determines it is the right time to act, watch out.
In my professional opinion, the timing is right to act, especially if you have any inclination to promote something on an individual basis. It is the rise of the Solo-preneur!!
Who Could Benefit from Learning Digital Marketing?
Perhaps you already have a profession, well, Digital Marketing is vital to any business today. There are marketers selling houses, sight unseen, using chatbots! No, I can’t do that, but innovation never ceases to amaze me.
Most of my colleagues in the industry run marketing agencies, (where they do it all the work for clients). Their fee continues to rise, and they continually ask me if I can take their overflow. They are slammed. I have moved in another direction, but if I ever did need a job, there would be no problem in getting hooked up, quick. Without a resume. Yes, the demand for our services will only continue to skyrocket.
Why not learn to fish as well?
These skills can be used in a variety of different ways: non-profit organizations, boost your daughter’s Girl Scout Cookie sales or even build a community of like-minded individuals that you share something in common with.
For example, I am a huge Oingo Boingo fan. I do some mean acoustic covers of the group that I have arranged over the years, but not everyone can appreciate them. However, if a Boingo fan hears one of them… they go nuts.
So I put together a small gathering just for Boingo fans. I was able to find them using my internet expertise and met some amazing people. I think I played for nearly two hours.
Perhaps you have a gamer like my son in your family. I am very bullish about the up and coming generation getting involved. We use Digital Marketing to help with his Youtube account and explore the variety of ways he can monetize his Fortnite traffic. He loves it and instinctually gravitates to the heavy analytics knowledge required to understand what we do in the industry. (Everybody eventually finds their own niche in the game.) The kid is 13, but technology is drawing him to better understand what I do. Pretty cool.
I am also unimpressed with all the colleges quickly getting into the social media and online marketing act. DON’T SPEND YOUR MONEY THERE! The last place you can expect to learn you how to be entrepreneurial and make money is at school. Sorry.
Sure, go to college to invest in yourself: meet some people, go to the occasional party, go get a law or doctor’s degree — plenty of money there (and long hours).
You are only being fed on left-overs learning from a professor, any digital marketer worth his salt would never take a college gig. At the same time, this is not intended as a knock on college professors as a whole (some of my favorite people); but this industry moves too fast to feast on dated material or mentors that lack current first-hand experience. Especially if they made a bundle in the past utilizing what is now a dated method — these are the most dangerous people to learn from in any industry.
I doubt any college is funneling millions into their social media testing budget. Again, change is the only constant in online marketing… what is working today can change tomorrow given the high innovation we are experiencing. Infinitely better to learn from someone with years of experience and has the data to back him up.
In fact, reports show that Generation Z is opting for trade schools rather than college. Many are disheartened by this fact, but there is a reason behind this trend.
Yes, I attended college. Got my degree, but ended up leaving the field I studied for Digital Marketing. Mine is not an isolated incident. In fact, if you want to get into law, medicine, education — by all means, go to traditional school.
But Digital Marketing is a non-traditional industry.
You, your son, daughter, etc. could be putting valuable time towards learning a trade that will only continue to grow in demand. (Especially since we are taking over the sales floors of the world.)
This type of wave doesn’t come along very often and it takes experience in order to recognize the big one forming out in the distance. Only those that position themselves properly will be able to ride it, while others are left to watch, or get crushed by it.
The internet has yet again flattened the playing field, again, driven by social media and opportunity is there for the individual once again. My friend Patrick has perfected his system and has geared it with today’s environment in mind; he has been way ahead of the curve for a while now. If he was selling you something that didn’t work, he would be quickly outed in today’s internet environment.
Yes, social proof was non-existent in the early years when people were getting scammed to death with promises of making a bundle at home online, but the testimonials of others run the internet today. We instinctually read Amazon and Yelp reviews now before making any purchase. Especially for tacos.
At least check out what he and others have to say about what his system: