In internet marketing, much like anywhere else, it’s easy to follow the crowd. You’ve only got to look at the queues when there’s a new iPhone launched or, a few years ago, when a new Harry Potter book came out.
Deep down, we’re herd creatures.
But I rather like the quote from Earl Nightingale: “Look at what the majority of people are doing, and do the exact opposite, and you’ll probably never go wrong for as long as you live”.
One thing that’s been bugging me for a while now is the samey nature of most of the internet markets I’m in – and probably that you’re in.
Lead capture pages that all look the same (maybe because they’re from one of a handful of companies). You know the ones – they often have a large picture in the background and a progress bar as you go from clicking the join button to entering your email address to finally subscribing.
Join my webinar (that I’ve pre-recorded but won’t admit it’s a recording) offers. The auto-play video and the bullet points give the impression it’s live and then once you’ve signed up there’s a choice of dates and times. And if you go back a day or two later there’s a new choice of dates and times. if you try to join late, you can’t as the software won’t let you because it’s pretending to be live and full. Sometimes a limited time replay option but no way to click through and skim. you’re forced to watch the whole presentation. Some will even stop playing if you dare to change from the tab they’re in.
No fluff reports that are full of fluff. Or that tell you the basics – one I’ve just been asked to promote spends the first few “chapters” (aka pages) showing you how to select an offer from Warrior Plus, click on the Aweber “create form” page and add a message to your autoresponder series.
Insider secrets that are common knowledge. Sites you’ve “never heard of” that have 542 million monthly visitors (Reddit in case you’re interested) or advertising platforms that are supposedly guaranteed to add valuable subscribers but that when you sign up you’ve never encountered and no-one else you’ve met has either. Sure, there is an underclass on the web but the mindset is totally different – anyone who’d click on an ad in a pop-under window or stare at a screen for 30 seconds to earn a cent isn’t necessarily going to buy the fantastic $97 product you’re promoting.
Countdown timers that are on perpetual reset. OK, I’m guilty on this front – I’ve used it on an offer or two and it’s used on some of the offers I promote in self help. Interestingly I thought my commission stats were broken the other day when, for the first time in the 2 years I’ve been promoting it, someone didn’t pay the discounted price. Even their email sequence extends the one time only discount, so this tactic still works.
We see those everywhere, so we figure that’s what we should be doing. And, yes, to an extent, they do still work.
But I think their effectiveness is wearing off – the more people become used to them, the more outrageous we have to be to stand out.
But we copy these techniques and expect to be able to stand out from the crowd by doing the same as everyone else.
Maybe there’s a disconnect there.
Actually quite a big disconnect.
A bit like Asda (owned by Walmart) positioning itself as a discount supermarket here in the UK and then being surprised when new discounters (Aldi and Lidl) undercut them and Asda lost market share. If you compete on price,. it can be a race to the bottom with the deepest pockets winning.
Earl Nightingale said “Look at what the majority of people are doing, and do the exact opposite, and you’ll probably never go wrong for as long as you live”.
And I think it’s about time we did that.
I’m currently looking for some ways to break through the “me too” atmosphere that’s far too common.
NLP calls it a pattern interrupt – much like this Dalek meditation in the self help niche
Daleks aren’t exactly relaxing and whoever created or uploaded that has attracted 1.6 million views at the time of writing but they’re not monetising it (there might be some YouTube ads but since I’ve got an Ad Blocker I wouldn’t know).
And that’s a contradiction as well – I’m a marketer but I don’t like adverts.
I watch most TV on a Sky (Tivo) box so I fast forward through adverts – the better advertisers (usually programs that are run in the day time) know this and make sure their ads work at 12 times speed with no sound as well as at regular speed. Most of those are direct response ads with the bottom part of the screen having a permanent phone number displayed.
What can we do to stand out?
Sales letters are one way – most of mine aren’t the pushy, hype laden offers.
They’re closer to the old style advertorial sales letters that took up a whole page in a publication and were designed to look as though they were part of the main newspaper or magazine.
That worked so well that the adverts now have to state that they’re an advert.
And since print advertisers know that we tend to skim over reversed out text (usually white writing on a black background) they minimised the effect of having to tell people that it was an advert by reversing out that declaration.
Advertorials still work nicely but print is in decline so their effectiveness is in decline. To the extent that in some of the print magazines I still buy, the previously regular advertorial companies have stopped advertising. So obviously it’s not paying any longer.
Review pages and long content pages have taken the place of advertorials and the web is moving towards longer and longer content.
That works – but it doesn’t get people on your email list.
So it’s basically a one shot technique,
I get regular sales for that meditation (not the dalek one) from a review page. But I don’t get people I can market to over and over again until they stop reading my emails.
For sales that are likely to be one off, long content is probably the best option. Because despite Amazon’s tracking pixel, it’s highly unlikely that someone will want to buy another lawnmower this time tomorrow.
Some thoughts on getting email signups
Keep in mind that these are thoughts at the moment – not tested but I think there’s a good chance they’d work.
And probably work a lot better than those 591 ebooks that are cluttering up my download folder (and that’s after I had a clearout!) and that I’ll never go back to.
X day courses. This is probably the thing that triggered the thought process for this whole idea. I’ve just promoted a 100 day challenge in the self help niche. The idea is good but I’m not totally convinced I’ll make any sales – the logic is to have a push for the last 100 days of the year. It’s tempting but for me the time of year is wrong – I know what gets in the way for me in October and December, so I’ll likely leave it until January and start the year with it instead. But you could easily create a shorter course as the reason for someone to sign up to your email list – 7 days, 10 days, 14 days or 30 days would work nicely. Which would you rather get? A PDF that you’ll probably never finish reading? Or daily help towards reaching something relevant in the niche you’re interested in. And it’s easier to create a “product” here – it could easily be a daily email or maybe a short video.
A quiz – these have potential to go viral. You see them on YouTube all the time. There are lots of WordPress plugins that allow you to create a quiz. And that would apply to almost any market – how good are you at X, what’s your ideal Y, that kind of thing. These would take a bit more thought initially but I think have potential to get shared a lot more. Add in a Facebook targeting pixel if you’re any good at Facebook ads (not something I’ve had the time or patience to get good at) if you want people to come back. And defintitely add in some “these ideas will help you” links on the results page that potentially earn you an affiliate commission. The email option could be to get more detailed analysis of the results.
Some other compelling reason why – you can tell I’ve had a brain freeze here. The first two options are the ones that immediately sprang to mind. But I’m sure there are other ideas – maybe competitions although I don’t know how many people would be cynical and think they were fixed. Maybe text (SMS) messages – tests show they get opened but the rare adverts I get by text get deleted just as fast and then added to my blocked list so I’m not convinced by that but I know bars and restaurants use them effectively. Feel free to join in this exploration by adding your ideas in the comments below.
NLP (neuro linguistic programming) calls this kind of thinking a pattern interrupt.
We’re bombarded with messages and other media messages – figures vary but whatever the true number is, it’s big.
My monitor has the brand on it for me to see every time I glance near the bottom of the screen. The pen I used to use (Pentel) has the brand on it. Clothing often has the brand exposed. My phone has the brand on it. Shop fronts, adverts on the side of a bus or train, posters at bus stops and on hoardings. Even for a media recluse it’s not possible to escape the messages.
And we’re getting more media aware – my friend’s three year old daughter already knows which are the programs and which are the adverts.
So this is an experiment that needs to happen.
If you’re on my email list, I’ll keep you updated on what I do and what does (and doesn’t) work.
If you’re not currently on my list, somewhere on this page there will be a standard email opt-in box that will get you on it.
This could flop – it could be that the standard, everyone else is doing it, stuff is still the most effective.
But my gut reaction is that it could lead off in a new and nicely profitable direction.
Feel free to add your thoughts and the results of your own experiments in the comments box.
If you’ve been following a niche for long enough, you’ll know that most web sites and marketing begin to look very samey.
Weight loss has before and after photos, so does fitness. Internet marketing has pictures of fast cars, yachts and beaches. Plus probably a rags to riches story or some information about how the product creator took forever and a day to discover the one secret that made all the difference and that they’re now going to share with you for just $7.
There’s a crowd or herd instinct in almost every market online. Partly because (deep down) we’re herd creatures.
Very few of us are loners. And very few of us are comfortable enough to do anything other than blend in with the crowd. Even if that means we don’t sell as much of whatever it is we’re promoting.
Free stuff is everywhere you look and free (or very cheap) is fast becoming the norm in lots of online industries.
Which is all well and good but unless you barter for absolutely everything it’s not going your bills. And there’s not much chance that your electricity company or internet provider or phone company or supermarket will barter with you unless you “barter” with money.
What can you do to set yourself apart and justify charging money for your products?
But, being human, we prefer to make it complicated.
We do that with most things – we’re not content with our phone making calls and maybe sending texts. we want to use it to browse the web, take photos and videos (in higher definition than the camera we used to use), navigate our journeys, listen to the radio, watch television shows and much more.
The trouble is, that complicates things big time and we end up getting paralysed with our internet marketing, deer in headlights mode, and not doing the (often basic) things that will help with our internet marketing.
I first came across the idea of “ready, fire, aim” in an internet marketing discussion group I was involved in, some time around 1996 or 1997. Well before the book of the same name from Michael Masterson got into print.
The concept has stuck in my mind ever since.
And it’s one that’s well worth using, especially if it seems like you’ve been stuck for too long in your internet marketing business.
You need to personalise the content on your website, in your emails and anywhere else you create content for the web.
Your voice comes across in your written content almost as much as it does in your spoken content.
If you’ve ever read a completely sanitised statement from a big company or government department, you’ll already know corporate speak and you’ll know it’s been written, sanitised, kind-of approved and then the whole piece has gone through the process again until it’s completely devoid of any personality.