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”.
The thing is, the crowd isn’t always right.
I know that (despite popular conception) lemmings don’t actually commit mass suicide by jumping off cliffs but you’d be forgiven for thinking that sometimes we act in much the same manner. If everyone else (the crowd) is doing something then it must be right.
Historians will point out numerous instances where that wasn’t the best judgement call and even now cults use the same kind of logic to keep members in line.
The thing is, once something becomes popular enough to have lots of people using it, several things happen:
- What was once novel and fresh is now “oh no, not again”. I’m sure that the first few times a pop-up happened, people were intrigued. Now the first response of almost everyone I know is to either hunt down the “close” option or press back. The pop-up could be giving dollar bills away for all I know – it’s just an un-asked for interrupt, much like those auto play video adverts that my ad blocker successfully eliminates.
- Free is a hard sell. Supermarkets use free fairly successfully – buy one, get one free offers, that kind of thing but even then, newspapers often report on how the price was deliberately increased before the magic price drop. Or how those price drops oddly occur at the same time as the product coming into season – here in the UK, strawberries and daffodils and lots of other items appear at “half price” when they’re plentiful. On the web where most of us know that the “cost” of a PDF or video is essentially zero, free is more difficult. Especially when the no fluff, exclusive, information so often turns out to be full of waffle and regurgitated junk. Small wonder that people have a separate, essentially unmonitored, email address to sign up for free gifts
- Video sales letters with delayed payment buttons. I know, I’m guilty as charged here because I sell a WordPress delay content plugin. And I’ve used it on a couple of video sales letters of my own but most of the time I prefer to just have the payment button in plain sight as soon as someone lands on the page. The logic behind a video sales letter with a payment button that doesn’t appear until it’s been on screen (and hopefully viewed) for long enough to get the message across is just that – they want people to get the message before they click buy. Most of the top selling Clickbank products seem to be video sales letter based. I’d suggest that – at a minimum – they could put the text of the offer below the video but that doesn’t happen directly for the ones I’ve looked at. Instead, they use the next point:
- Exit pop-ups. The internet equivalent of a charity mugger on the high street who won’t take no for an answer. To their credit, most of them have been at the game long enough to not pester you more than once in succession but then 100 yards further along their colleague is lurking, trying to get you to sign up for “only” £2 a month or whatever the regular amount is in your country. The “please don’t leave” nature of exit pop-ups can work. I use them occasionally – usually for a downgrade or a freebie option – and I often click on them because some of the sneakier marketers use them for a price drop for the same product or the same product with no bonuses. I’m not a fan of that as I think it gets the buying relationship off to a bad start – they lied about the price on the main sales page, what else are they not telling the truth about?
- Image heavy pages. We’re told that people like images, lots of them. And with sites like Wikihow and Buzzfeed you’d be inclined to agree. If you’ve browsed around this site, you’ll see that I don’t tend to use many images. Sure, the eye candy might help but it’s not my style. So in that respect I’m going against the crowd.
- Hype and yet more hype. Anything from telephone numbers of sales generated through to limited opportunities to buy or a price that’s going up tomorrow (but when you come back to the site tomorrow, you find that tomorrow is still in the future). Again, guilty as charged – I’ve done it, I am a marketer after all, I’ve used countdowns that re-set every day and I’ve used scripts for today’s date. But not false sales figures and rarely a deadline for buying because most of my products stay on the market for the forseeable future. There’s an argument that deadlines help generate sales and I’d agree with that – I use dime sales quite a bit, in my view they’re the closest thing to ethical scarcity for a digital product. But inside some areas of internet marketing they’re certainly something that’s used by the crowd (most of the things offered via Warrior Plus and JVZoo) but outside the internet marketing arena they’re a lot less common so maybe that’s something that could be applied in other niches.
That last sentence is worth re-reading.
What’s common in one niche often isn’t common in another.
So you could follow the crowd in another niche and apply it to yours.
That can work because there’s a good chance that if the crowd are using something, it did work successfully at some stage in the past.
Not following the crowd doesn’t mean you have to be the innovator – quite often the pioneers. When Steve Jobs created NeXT computers he didn’t experience high sales and hadn’t got the rabid following that Apple currently has.
Not following the crowd could mean just being yourself.
That’s the path I like to follow most of the time.
I’m not always right and I don’t always get as many sales as I could if I followed what other people are doing but I’m comfortable with it. And it means that the people who stay on my list tend to trust my suggestions.
For instance, I’ll often describe what a product does and how you could do it yourself. I do that quite often in my sales letters.
The main thing is to find your own path, preferably one that isn’t worn down by thousands of other people in your niche.
You’ll attract people who resonate with your style and you’ll stand out purely because you’re not doing the same as everyone else.
Pick something you’re doing in your niche and flip it through 180 degrees – do the opposite of what you and almost everyone else is doing.
You may not get the volume but that doesn’t necessarily matter. Apple don’t sell as many phones as Samsung but they still make a nice enough profit.
There’s room in almost any niche for someone to be contrarian in how they promote themself.
It could be you.