There is no shortage of hype on the Internet. A start-up business does not have to look far to find a “Guru” who will offer a miracle solution for the “getting found” dilemma that faces every online business. Typically, this product or weekend seminar (where many more products can be expected to be pitched) virtually guarantees overnight success. This information is usually at a significant price premium over the same information found in an existing book.
Okay, let’s get a reality check here. Let’s remove the online component of this scenario and see how this advice applies in the offline world.
Let’s say you are looking to start a business and you hear that you can accomplish all your goals and be an overnight success by attending a pricey weekend seminar (or if your budget is small, you can still learn it all and succeed with the few hundred dollar CD version instead). Does this make any sense? While continuous learning is vital to growing your business, most offline business owners recognize that actions rather than miracle seminars will lead to success. They surely aren’t apt to spend over and over again every time a new variation of this sure-fire technique is launched. Offline business owners know that there are better ways to spend money to develop their businesses. They realize that a business is built in stages and while they most likely are dreaming about the success that they will someday achieve, they certainly do not believe it will happen as soon as they hang up a shingle. They wisely do not believe success happens by following a magic formula.
Why then do so many individuals, wanting to start an online business, attend seminar after seminar and shell out thousands and thousands of dollars on silver bullets that lose their shine right after the conference is over? The logic of the offline business owner would dictate that there are better ways to spend in order to build a business. It seems that the illogical behaviors of these online wannabes are just fueling the internet marketing guru industry and leaving many would-be entrepreneurs disillusioned and broke.
What is going on here? If you attend any of these conferences, you know it is quite common for the guru to be quite transparent. Small business entrepreneurs, eager for success, are taught that it is important to create a sense of urgency when pitching to their target markets. The guru then proceeds (in almost the next breath) to tell the conference attendees that if they act now (strangely only 17 available!) they will get special conference pricing on the guru’s product. It is amazing to see how many people jump up and run to make a purchase in the back of the room (right after the lesson about creating urgency).
Now, this is not to say that there are no valuable marketing lessons to be learned at these events. On the contrary, the very words the gurus use to stir up the crowds are extraordinary lessons in themselves. Additionally, almost all of the gurus actually teach interesting ideas and provide useful information (one of the principles the gurus always teach is this: Your target market will love you if you give lots of great content away for free – which the gurus are actually demonstrating). The gurus usually laugh and joke with their audiences about how shamelessly obvious they are in promoting their products, but it does not stop the jumping up and running to the back of the room (to buy before the supply runs out).
The hype that is seamlessly woven in with the truth becomes irresistible to these crowds. No doubt about it. The very marketing techniques that are being taught are being used masterfully to get the audience to act. A huge carrot of success is being dangled in front of these spectators (extraordinary wealth is one of the common traits of the gurus) who want to be just like their mentors. I know how powerful and magnetic these events can be. Even when I finally decided to be an objective observer, the hype was hard to resist. I kid you not.
Is that it then? The secret to wealth is the masterful delivery of hype?
Hold on. There is another lesson the gurus teach. It too is true. They state that you must know your target audience. You must give them what they want …when they want it. Sales are rarely made to someone who is not at the right point in the selling cycle.
So what does this mean? Our conference attendees guru wannabes instead of real business start-up people? Out of touch dreamers who are more interested in keeping the dream alive instead of taking actions that may risk failure? Ouch, that seems a bit harsh. How else do you explain thousands of dollars spent that most often never develop into anything further?
There is another explanation. The world of internet marketing is so new. The Internet has only been around for 10 years and is growing at an incredible rate. The offline rules do not seem to apply to the online world. The techniques needed to operate online as a business (rather than as a user) are quite foreign to most people. From this point of view, it is quite easy to see why people look for guidance from those who have had success online.
Yes, the Internet is constantly changing and so are the things that businesses will need to do to succeed online. A lot of that has to do with Google’s major mission in life; to provide user experiences that have quality and relevance. The Internet is changing and successful online businesses will need to heed the actions of their offline cousins. They can start by eliminating hype and then by treating their online endeavors as serious businesses that require long term strategies in addition to short term ones. On line business owners will need to take action instead of looking to some miracle out of the box solution to get a competitive advantage. Those who are still interested in the shortest path should consider spending their guru product dollars on the services of experts who can get it done for them. Not only is this the shortest path, but it also sounds like the most cost-effective small business start-up advice for success as well.
About the author: Lori Olson has a passion for helping small businesses develop a strong online presence. Her team of 250 professionals analyzes & implement SEO, SEM, PPC Campaign Mgmt, Social Media, Copy Writing & Web Development strategies which are customized to fit any needs, wants & budget. Update Small Business also provides leading-edge employee & sales assessment & training; & CRM solutions. http://updatesmallbusiness.com or call 877.265.6568.