Not only is it cheap to access, it's cheap to publish. It's revolutionized so many aspects of life across the entire planet, but most importantly to us, it's revolutionized the way people buy things, and conduct business.
So why then do so many Internet Marketers focus on the automation benefits of an online business - and WORSE, ignore the many opportunities the web creates for us to actually INTERACT with prospects in dynamic and meaningful ways?
In fact, I'd say that there's a whole "subculture" within IM that not only ignores interactivity but actually actively shuns it. It's like there's an aversion to dealing with customers directly at all costs.
My theory is that this behavior has crept into our industry carried by dubious merchants who would quake in fear if prospects knew where they lived. If you sell garbage and use abusive marketing methods, I can understand why you might feel that way.
But I see this tendency showing up in lots of beginners online here, too. People seem to want to focus on going into pure affiliate business models, or even pure contextual advertising models. If you interact with people HERE, what's so bad about interacting with your customers in the same way?
And then as if those models don't already separate the marketer from his market enough already, there's a whole other layer, where people avoid creating real, human content, instead relying on scrapers and spinners.
Or complicated computer programs and mathematical formulas designed to "win" and marketing strictly by statistics. That's all well and good, and I know a few people that make a lot of money working that way. But it's not going to work for most people.
And yet most people still chase THAT side of IM, rather than the side MOST of us are better equipped to handle - the HUMAN side. All of us are on facebook or twitter or myspace or SOMETHING...
Heck, even here on the WF, we chatter all day long. I know I refresh, refresh, refresh... We all KNOW how to interact with people online. Why so much fear and aversion when it comes to doing business?
Now we see more and more people saying "Hey, what happened to my sales!" Well guess what? People can't spend indiscriminately like they used to. I think people used to be able to buy things on speculation a lot more readily.
People used to could buy things "just in case" - maybe they may use it eventually, or maybe it would complete a set of something, or maybe it just sounded good, so why not?
Those days are over now, and for the foreseeable future. I'm not saying that the economic downturn will last forever, but I don't know - it could get worse.
And those purely mathematical, automated ways of doing business are going to erode away as long as they continue to ignore the most potentially profitable mechanism of the internet: interaction.
It's something NO OTHER FORM of media can accomplish. Not TV, not radio, not print...
Here's a secret that all the people complaining don't realize: People haven't stopped buying at all. They buy the stuff they want to, never the stuff they need.
But almost NO ONE around in Internet Marketing in the past 10 years has EVER bothered to actually USE the interactive nature of the internet to GET PEOPLE TO WANT their stuff before pitching it to them.
Here's a hint - if your "pre-launch" talks about your product at all, you're probably doing it wrong.
You see it over and over again - launch after hype-filled launch.
I always used to think "I can't believe people actually get excited for no other reason than some NEW SHINY product is coming out". It just seemed so hollow. Eventually, I had to get over myself and realize that I was not my target market in IM. The level of quality and interaction I wanted myself wasn't really what MOST people even cared about.
But it's certainly different now. I'd say that the entire market - and the entire economy - is shifting more towards MY way of thinking about marketing as a consumer. If you're not even going to TRY to engage me, I don't want to buy your stuff.
I have less money to spend, but I still REALLY REALLY want to spend it. I'm sure you all feel the same way, right? And the person that's going to get my money is the person whose marketing is going to really engage me, and connect with me, and be centered around building a RELATIONSHIP.
Automation for automation's sake just won't work anymore. If you have an autoresponder and all you use it for is repetition - I bet that's losing ground. You can still use automation but for it to succeed now and into the future, I think a lot of marketers will need to re-think the way we've been conditioned to use this wonderful technology.
The internet is NOT a one-way modality. Use the power of automation to develop deeper and more frequent COMMUNICATION with your prospects, and not just one-way MESSAGING.
The opportunity of the internet really does remain as strong as ever. All that's different now is that the work is harder. That doesn't really bother me, because what I do as a copywriter hasn't changed for over 100 years.
In fact, I think a lot of the marketers suffering now could really benefit by looking at ads from the 30s, the LAST time the economy was really down. See how businesses engaged customers and invited them to participate.
Remember that back then, the innovation was in actually mailing marketing to people's homes and going door to door because people stopped going to the stores. The businesses that thrived did so because they went to where their customers were and INTERACTED with them.
I think very soon (and hopefully far into the future) we'll see a renaissance in that kind of marketing. I for one intend to pursue it as well as I can by myself.
But that's just, like, my opinion, man.
P.S. I know that there's a school of thought that says to counter consumer apathy, we need to drop the hype and just be straight with people.
I agree that's a good strategy, and it's really already the same thing that I'm saying here - that angle is actually making an effort to sweep away some of the "clutter" surrounding IM and move the marketer closer to the customer.
When I say "interact" I don't mean necessarily "message more" - I mean just that - INTERACT. Create conversations. Talk about more than just products. Talk about problems and solutions, frustrations and fears. CONNECT and THRIVE.
Remain disconnected and you'll go out of business (or never even get started).