What was Internet Marketing Like 30 years ago?

by oneano
48 replies
We are not in a new industry. People have been generating leads for other companies for a long time. I know that I have some old magazines where you had to send in SASEs for replies.

Anyone on these forums 'old timers' that can share some insight as to what it was like 20 or 30 years ago? When you generated leads using the news paper and penny savers?
#ago #internet #marketing #years
  • Profile picture of the author Troy_Phillips
    My internet connection sucked 30 years ago :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Louise Green
    My Internet looked like this

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  • Profile picture of the author John Rogers
    110 baud modems were the shlt!

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  • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
    The World Wide Web was only invented in 1993 (although things like bulletin boards existed before then), so I doubt there was much Internet Marketing going on before that time.

    I think my first step into the world of Internet marketing was an email marketing book by Jim Daniels. Wow. That takes me back.

    Some of the good marketers prior to that were busy sending out direct mail pieces, and building their fortunes through mailing lists.
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    • Profile picture of the author Mr. Enthusiastic
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      The World Wide Web was only invented in 1993 (although things like bulletin boards existed before then)...
      ...I was on bulletin boards back then. And they got relentlessly spammed by an atrocious chain letter with the title "Make money fast." While telling you to add your address at the bottom of the list, and send everyone else in the list a buck, the letter writer also swore up and down that it was not an illegal chain letter scam.

      Here's an interesting article about just why that nonsense was illegal:
      The Make Money Fast Myth Page
      And here's a pretty good parody that, unfortunately, is still relevant for the worst of the seamy underside of "make money online":
      BIG.MONEY.FAST! (Page 1)

      The Internet protocols were designed in the late 60's. Domain names as we know them now became available in '82 and TCP/IP became the mandatory standard protocol suite the next year. The first commercial ISP was in '89, the same year the Web was invented. I discovered the Web around '92 with the Viola browser. I started scripting with ASP a few years later. Yeah, get off my lawn.

      On the Internet, I've never yet used a forum or email editor as pleasant, fast and easy as the forum text editors that worked with Fidonet. I also miss the small, friendly community feeling of some of those old forums. In every other way, we're better off with today's technology.

      As for the original question, I think the term you might be looking for is "direct marketing" or "mail order." These were very active areas back then, going back a century to the early catalogs such as Sears & Roebuck, and almost all of their principles carry over to the Internet. It's just another way to get the attention of people who might be interested in your offer.

      Chris
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    • Profile picture of the author catherine ford
      Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

      The World Wide Web was only invented in 1993 (although things like bulletin boards existed before then), so I doubt there was much Internet Marketing going on before that time.

      I think my first step into the world of Internet marketing was an email marketing book by Jim Daniels. Wow. That takes me back.

      Some of the good marketers prior to that were busy sending out direct mail pieces, and building their fortunes through mailing lists.
      That has not made my day I actually rember reading that as part of a computer course with the OU
      Catherine
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  • Profile picture of the author affilorama-portal
    Internet Marketing did not exist 30 years ago
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  • Profile picture of the author MJ Sterling
    The internet is something like 30 or 40 years old.

    It was a military network, then evolved into Jnet, which I used, and shortly after that the web was born.
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    • Profile picture of the author Paul Hancox
      Originally Posted by MJ Sterling View Post

      The internet is something like 30 or 40 years old.

      It was a military network, then evolved into Jnet, which I used, and shortly after that the web was born.
      I doubt the military were doing much in the way of Internet Marketing
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    • Profile picture of the author askloz
      30 or 40 years ago?

      the first developement was in 1957 around the time sputnik was launched (the first satellite).

      it wasn't til 1983 the TCP and IP protocols were created, so before then, there was no way to connect to anything. And it wasn't until 1992 it was commonly used by the public after it was finalized around 1989/1990

      Originally Posted by MJ Sterling View Post

      The internet is something like 30 or 40 years old.

      It was a military network, then evolved into Jnet, which I used, and shortly after that the web was born.
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  • Profile picture of the author MJ Sterling
    Originally Posted by Paul Hancox View Post

    I doubt the military were doing much in the way of Internet Marketing
    I dunno.. the military are pretty good at marketing..

    How many folks are willing to die for a copy of Mass Control
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  • Profile picture of the author oneano
    Excellent stuff Mr. E

    I have interested in sustainability and looking into what worked 20 or 30 years ago for inspiration.

    I will be doing more research on direct marketing


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Direct_marketing
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr. Enthusiastic
    Glad you liked it. Look up the history of Aaron Montgomery Ward, and Sears and Roebuck. The copywriting forum here is a good place to ask about the "all-time hall-of-fame greats" of mail order.
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  • Profile picture of the author GarrieWilson
    People spammed newsgroups before the web.
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  • Profile picture of the author oneano
    This has gotten me thinking about how much I love infomercials. . .Ron Popeil and of course Headset Vince
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  • Profile picture of the author Mr. Enthusiastic
    Did you see the series "Pitchmen" last year? Brilliant behind the scenes look at the world of infomercials, lots for marketers of any type to learn.
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    • Profile picture of the author Sparhawke
      Originally Posted by Mr. Enthusiastic View Post

      Did you see the series "Pitchmen" last year? Brilliant behind the scenes look at the world of infomercials, lots for marketers of any type to learn.
      I actually watch The Apprentice with Donald Trump, since I cannot get Pitchmen here except for a couple of scattered and broken episodes.

      He may not speak much directly to the camera to share nuggets but they are valuable to anyone when he does and though many of them are the most basic of things like "You have to think anyway, so why not think big?" he must be doing something right to have so much money...
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  • Profile picture of the author moneycms
    Banned
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    • Profile picture of the author dljmktg1
      Can't say about 30 years ago. But in 1991 or 1992 I was marketing on AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy. It usually took about 20 minutes to get through the busy signals to connect. I was using a super fast 2400 baud modem that could load a page in under two minutes.

      As far as what it was like. We all spammed everything we could promoting programs we wouldn't touch today. All the ads sounded like "make money in your underwear" or "make money while you sleep" or "2400 per month - guaranteed".

      Biggest difference from then to now is the type of spam. Back then it was mostly for porn. Now it's credit cards, lotteries, and prescription drugs.

      Oh well, got to strip down to my boxers, go to sleep, and make some money.

      Dan
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      • Profile picture of the author Kelvin Brown
        Originally Posted by dljmktg1 View Post

        Can't say about 30 years ago. But in 1991 or 1992 I was marketing on AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy. It usually took about 20 minutes to get through the busy signals to connect. I was using a super fast 2400 baud modem that could load a page in under two minutes.

        Dan
        I started online with the Internet (military) in '84. Got a taste at HQ. Then I promptly went and bought a TRS 80, and ran up $300 - $500 in phone bills calling BBS's from california to australia.

        Made my first money probably on compuserve, selling access to my carddecks that would go out snail mail. Or maybe it was discount long distance.

        By '85 I was hooked and helpless.

        Kelvin
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        Kelvin Brown

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        • Profile picture of the author warfore
          Originally Posted by Kelvin Brown View Post

          I started online with the Internet (military) in '84. Got a taste at HQ. Then I promptly went and bought a TRS 80, and ran up $300 - $500 in phone bills calling BBS's from california to australia.

          Made my first money probably on compuserve, selling access to my carddecks that would go out snail mail. Or maybe it was discount long distance.

          By '85 I was hooked and helpless.

          Kelvin
          Same here, I was introduced to it in the military 1985. We used for something called "email". Pretty rudimentary in those days. I didn't pay much attention to until the WWW came along later. It's amazing the changes since then.
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          Regards,

          Tony

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  • Profile picture of the author Doolder
    I was not even born 30 years ago

    That said, you really don't need to look that far back in time, the whole industry has changed in the last 10 years. When I think I got my first computer in the late 90's I can't help thinking about what would have happened if I had known back then all the things I know today! I know it's easy to say, but what a dream really...
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  • Profile picture of the author Deepak Media
    There was no internet marketing 30 years back, but companies were collecting leads and marketing products to the LIST!

    Also, read Scientific Advertising by Claud Hopkins, its a great book!
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  • Profile picture of the author Shane Hale
    Wasn't this called Direct marketing then?
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    • Profile picture of the author mikeyman120
      Yes, I remember well. I wasn't online that long ago but it was called direct marketing, direct response marketing or mailorder. I placed many ads that made a few bucks here and there, nothing much though. Most ads I placed were simple classified ads in entrepreneur magazine and others, even tabloids were great for leads with small classified ads. Selling information pamphlets was the thing. I even did smc for a while, remember those infomercials hosted by Tom Bosley from happy days. Along with don lapre the then reigning king of infomercials. The good old days, I remember well. That's where I got my start at seeking financial freedom.

      Mike
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  • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
    Well I have only been ONLINE about 26 years so can not speak for 30 years ago ... But back then you had a clunker of a modem you had to hang the phone on and slap what looked like a 8 track in the computer side and it cost $3.99 a minute.

    Had games (text based) and news centers, no browsers, no domain names, no real speed, well it was pretty much like reader the sunday newspaper only more expensive...

    I was on a Tandy 1000 I think it was if I remember and the systems back was slow, buggy, and had no umph to them...

    Oh the good old days, ran up my Dad's phone bill and it was like watching cartoons seeing his face turn red, steam come out of his ears, and his head blow off....

    James
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Originally Posted by TheRichJerksNet View Post

      Well I have only been here about 26 years so can not speak for 30 years ago ... But back then you had a clunker of a modem you had to hang the phone on and slap what looked like a 8 track in the computer side and it cost $3.99 a minute.

      Had games (text based) and news centers, no browsers, no domain names, no real speed, well it was pretty much like reader the sunday newspaper only more expensive...

      I was on a Tandy 1000 I think it was if I remember and the systems back was slow, buggy, and had no umph to them...

      Oh the good old days, ran up my Dad's phone bill and it was like watching cartoons seeing his face turn red, steam come out of his ears, and his head blow off....

      James
      You got to be joking.........You mean to tell me I have been putting up looking at your Sarcastic and 'in your face' Posts all this time from a freaking 26 yr. old ??? Damn , that just aint right !!
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      • Profile picture of the author TheRichJerksNet
        Originally Posted by discrat View Post

        You mean to tell me I have been putting up looking at your Sarcastic and 'in your face' Posts all this time from a freaking 26 yr. old ??? Damn son, that just aint right !!
        26 ?? I wish ... I am 41 .... I have been online for 26 years ... :p

        James
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  • Profile picture of the author Kelly Verge
    I ran a subscription-based game BBS on my old C64. Mine was one of the first two BBS's in town. The other was free and was run by the local power company on an Apple. If I remember right, they only had a few text files and one text-based adventure game.

    I had a couple of adventure-type games, but most were turn-based community games (each player had one turn per day).

    I had a 1MB external HDD that cost $999. These were the days of cassette and floppy-based home computers.
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  • Profile picture of the author windtalker
    Years ago the internet was for military purposes. I guess it didn't work all that well. WWW began in 1993, and slowly more people found the internet.
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  • Profile picture of the author mikemcmillan
    Originally Posted by oneano View Post

    We are not in a new industry. People have been generating leads for other companies for a long time. I know that I have some old magazines where you had to send in SASEs for replies.

    Anyone on these forums 'old timers' that can share some insight as to what it was like 20 or 30 years ago? When you generated leads using the news paper and penny savers?


    Yes, you are talking about direct marketing. Being older than everyone else here has certain advantages. I got my start in marketing back in the mid-late 70's. The two most influential books I bought back then were Melvin Powers' How To Get Rich In Mail Order (still available today for $20) and Jeffy Buchanan's WUFR book (Writer's Utopia Formula Report).



    About that time Joe Karbo was selling his Lazy Man's Way To Riches. He sold something like 800,000 copies by running ads in newspapers and magazine across the U.S. In my book, Joe's full page ad is the best sales letter ever written.



    And yes, we used to run ads in newspapers, tabloids, and magazines to generate leads. I ran both classified and display ads in national Enquirer, Globe, Popular Mechanix, etc.

    It's been many years so some of the details are fuzzy, but it seems like it would cost about $80 for a 20 word classified ad in the big tabloids in the "Making Money" or "Business Opportunities" sections. Once you mailed your ad and check in it would take about a month to 6 wks for it to appear.

    People would read the ad and send you a post card requesting info. You would then send them your 1-page ad (maybe more than one page). As I recall, an ad in National Enquirer might bring in 150 inquiries. Just like today, it was all about conversions.

    Here was one of the biggest things I learned. It was tough showing a profit selling little $10 books. So what I did was to buy deeply discounted books from overstock and remainder book companies for pennies on the dollar. I would then make up full page ads featuring the books along with some simple 5-6 page reports I had written. Here's one of my ads below.



    I would then send a copy of the ad to publishers of raggedy tabloids (and some big ones) and tell them if they ran my full page ad they could insert their name at the bottom. Orders would come to them. Once a week they would mail me the names, addresses, and books ordered on index cards--along with 50% of the money they took in for them--and I would fill the orders (drop ship) and send the books to their customers.

    That made me some good money. Sound familiar? It exactly the same model used in affiliate marketing today but without the inventory and shipping!!!

    Man, that brings back some memories. My little reports were only a few pages I typed up and photocopied. Most sold for $4-$6.

    That's how it worked back then. And don't laugh, it was just like it is today. Two percent of the people made 80% of the money. I feel like a kid again!
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  • Profile picture of the author Richnana
    It was AOL that costs you an arm and a leg just to talk to your mother via email. You paid per minute or something ridiculouos. remember the ehaaaehaa when your modem was connecting.

    I sent a money order to Allen Says to join the Warriors. Compaies were paying $1,000,000 for websites.. and the least you could purchase one for was around $5,000 to have it designed for you. any email you sent was read like it was the numbers for the winning lottery ticket.
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  • Profile picture of the author drmani
    Originally Posted by oneano View Post

    Anyone on these forums 'old timers' that can share some insight as to what it was like 20 or 30 years ago?
    Not sure, but 14 years back, it was fun. I still think it is

    All success
    Dr.Mani
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    • Profile picture of the author Richard Tunnah
      I remember getting started in IM in 95 or 96. As said already when people moan about costs today for things like domians, hosting etc then I don't have much sympathy. I remember domains costing me nearly $200 a year, hosting costing like $100 a month and internet (phone bills - as you accessed via the phone line) for $100's a month!! Christ I remember trying to post on AOL boards back then..only to lose connection and have to wait 5 minutes to get a connection and try again.
      Oh the good old days!!

      Rich
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  • Profile picture of the author mtnbiz
    I was at college back then ('92, '93) so I didn't have to pay for it myself. I remember my friend all excited about Mosaic where you had to type in the exact url. There were no search engines. Then Netscape come out and I started to get excited about this Internet thing.

    My dad had had some success with Proanthenols (antioxidants) helping his prostate. I joined a prostate forum to share the product and everyone got on talking about their prostate numbers and cancer. That kind of took the wind out of my sails.

    I remember seeing the Google home page for the first time like other people remember when Kennedy was shot.

    I made my first money online by charging illustrators a $10/mo premium to list their artwork at the top of my artist database. Good times.
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    • Profile picture of the author theimdude
      Back then I used poopal ............... not much have changed
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      • Profile picture of the author Jeremy Morgan
        Well, 30 years ago I was 2 years old and I have no idea what people were doing other than TV commercials and mail order. Back then it was all about the "TV industrial complex" and that was where people were focusing their marketing.

        But in the early 90s, I got my start in high school running a BBS, and in a way it was marketing. I always took everything I made and put it back into the BBS, so it wasn't exactly a business venture but I learned a lot.

        The basics aren't much different from today actually. I had to build a "list" whic was of course BBS accounts. Out of that list I had to convince some them to sign up for a paid membership, and a certain percentage always did. I had to go out and aqquire more free users to get potential paid users.

        As my paid memberships went up, I ordered more phone lines. Those phone lines made a paid membership more attractive due to less busy signals. With more paid memberships I was able to purchase attractive software, like multiplayer games (legend of the red dragon, and all the plugins). Those games attracted more people.

        I was able to buy CD-ROM drives and put shareware and documents on them (believe it or not back then I paid people to burn CDs. Ahh the good old days). This enticed more people.

        In short, in the early 90s I learned the valuable lesson of giving people what they want, and finding out which investments would pay off, and which ones wouldn't. I would say that internet marketing today isn't that much different, only it's a much larger audience, with many more competitors.
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      • Profile picture of the author NMP
        I started in 1997 adn I can tell the most funny things then was
        the ISP's own webpage and some daily url's in the daily newspaper.

        eCommerce was not even there. Domains cost 50 each and
        only register was Inter-Nic. Make a webpage was not easy
        as there were no website builders.

        Consider 1997 with today... is like go from 1800 to 2000 if you
        look on the expansion. Modem was at 28.8 but fast come same
        year. TCP/IP where you called a phone number was HOT lol.

        Fast speed Internet is not that old really. So rather look 10 years
        back and then FFA pages and banners was the best to use...

        Today you have 1000 of ways to market...
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  • Profile picture of the author Sparhawke
    And in answer to the original question I have been around the internet in various ways for about 10-12 years...
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  • Profile picture of the author Brian Tayler
    10 years ago? Lots n lots of pyramid schemes on BBS
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  • Profile picture of the author badboy_Nick
    Originally Posted by oneano View Post

    We are not in a new industry. People have been generating leads for other companies for a long time. I know that I have some old magazines where you had to send in SASEs for replies.

    Anyone on these forums 'old timers' that can share some insight as to what it was like 20 or 30 years ago? When you generated leads using the news paper and penny savers?
    Dont think there was a proper established Internet 30 years ago, hence no Internet Marketing at all.
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  • Profile picture of the author bozz723
    Like everyone said there was no internet 30 years ago. The "real" internet started existing around 1997. It was around before then but not resembling what it does today. 1999 is when I first downloaded my first song off of the internet. Napster..those were the days..
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  • Profile picture of the author techinik
    Originally Posted by oneano View Post

    We are not in a new industry. People have been generating leads for other companies for a long time. I know that I have some old magazines where you had to send in SASEs for replies.

    Anyone on these forums 'old timers' that can share some insight as to what it was like 20 or 30 years ago? When you generated leads using the news paper and penny savers?
    The real Internet marketing started around 1994, that was the first time internet marketing seminar was held in USA.
    Unfortunately 30 years back I wasn't born so I can't tell you what it was like at that time?
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by Mr. Enthusiastic View Post

      Glad you liked it. Look up the history of Aaron Montgomery Ward, and Sears and Roebuck. The copywriting forum here is a good place to ask about the "all-time hall-of-fame greats" of mail order.
      You can add James Cash Penney to the list.

      All three of these folks were running the 1800s version of Amazon. Instead of digital downloads, you had Wells Fargo.

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  • Profile picture of the author MichaelHiles
    I miss my old acoustic coupler.
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Another OLD timer here.

    I sold computer parts and pieces on old bbs in 80's. Hate to admit it, but, also spammed the groups. My first "death threat" came when I spammed many groups selling a book, "How to Start a Cult for FUN and PROFIT"...and a couple of years later Sanford Wallace took over the spamming thing.

    OK. In 1996 I was working for Ben Suarez who owns a large direct marketing company and one of my jobs was to do research and write for his newsletter, The NPGS UPDATE HOTLINE.

    Here is a link to see what it looked like, and this link takes you to "answer" to your question.

    www.angelfire.com/biz/gjbiz/npgs.html

    Ben asked me to go back 20 years, to 1976 and to document and research all things Business Opportunity oriented. It took several months and I went through thousands of magazines and newspapers and talked to some very successful marketers.

    In one of the issues we featured a guy named Marlon Sanders, who at that time was "testing" some direct marketing on AOL and CompuServe. SCI (Ben's company) was selling computers and he actually created one of the first www virtual cities, but was too far ahead of the technology.

    Anyhow, let me point out TWO guys, one of which is a WARRIOR, who were mentioned in the newsletter and have been at the direct marketing, remote direct marketing, mail order, or TV infomercial, etc. game for well over 30 years.

    Melvin Powers and Jim Straw. Jim just recently offered a WSO for his millionaire in a year course.

    The reason Ben asked ME to write this newsletter was because of my in depth knowledge of the so-called Mail Order "Inner Circle" which was a fascinating "affiliate" program using paper and ink.

    I talked to Gary Halbert for this newsletter. I spoke to Harvey Brody (some say the "Godfather" of modern marketing...having been the first to use computers to manage lists, lists of Joe Karbo, Joe Sugarman and just about everyone else out there).

    After several months of research and interviewing, the newsletter you see at the link was sent out. I named it The Winners, The Losers, and the Flukes.

    Let's focus on the WINNERS, OK?

    What was selling 30 years ago? BOOKS. And specialized reports. And NEWSLETTERS. I rec'd over 100 newsletters myself (as part of the job), newsletters from Jerry Buchanan, Bud Weckesser, Gary Halbert, Hubert Simon and many others.

    INFORMATION was selling then as it is today. EDUCATION was selling and still is. When I spoke to Melvin Powers he told me that if had to start over today, he'd start with ONE good SELF-HELP book because people always have and always will want to improve their lot in life.

    HOT products back then? Kitchen gadgets, gardening gadgets, collectibles. Same as now.

    The early days of online communication was text, and the "marketing mantra" was, "get them OFFLINE and then sell them your __________ "

    ALSO, another part of my job was to review and analyze products which had been submitted to the company for possible marketing. About one in 100 was actually chosen to test. I spoke to hundreds of inventors and creative types who felt that "everyone will want it"...and that is usually when I thanked them for their time and wished them success.

    The principles of marketing you'll find in Ben Suarez book, 7 Steps to Freedom, haven't changed since 1993 when the last "big" edition was published. Product development is all about finding what people want and are willing to spend money on. There are a lot of clues.

    My bottom line advice to noobs or beginner's if your prefer is to START with information and learn how to sell something, then you can go up the escalator to bigger and bigger products.

    Today, Ben's company has over 750 employees and does (best guess) over 300 million dollars a year in business.

    Well, now I've got to take a nap, I've worn myself out from all this typing.

    gjabiz Gordon Jay Alexander

    PS. Next Monday I'll be releasing (FREE) a 2010 updated version of a report; Before You Buy Anything. I think many of you Warriors need to read it before you buy anything else.
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