5 Things I’ve Learned As An Internet Marketer (That Translate Everywhere In Life)

Being an Internet marketer, I get asked all sorts of questions by my friends, family and those outside the field. It’s especially interesting because many of them have absolutely no idea about what is involved with marketing online. It’s just a very new concept for many.

I usually first explain how it depends whether you’re talking about marketing a website, a bricks and mortar establishment, an online store, a blog, an e-zine, etc. Then I start to get complex with it and go into detail, start providing examples, and end up off on long tangents about all the specifics. Many people are fascinated, which inspires some great conversations.

Anyway, that got me thinking how although Internet marketing isn’t an exact science, and every different project offers its own unique set of challenges (and opportunities), there are some good general learnings I’ve had throughout my career of marketing online that could be applied to most industries:

1) There’s always more than one road to success
Internet marketing is many times a big social science experiment. That’s the main reason I find it so compelling, even the top guys in the field can’t really put a 100% guarantee on success in a project. But, there’s always so many different avenues you can walk down to find success, and you can take a diversified approach with most projects and then really concentrate on what is bringing the desired returns. The silver bullet doesn’t necessarily come easy, and there may not even always be a silver bullet online for all companies online. That’s the nature of pop culture, however, and the social web is in many ways just a big extension of that.

2) Open, honest, transparent communication is best
Being secretive or closed-off when you’re marketing online is always a bad idea. You want to be open, honest and true to what you’re doing. To go against this in any part of life is to be put at a major disadvantage and inspire disdain. When marketing online, you want to always maintain open lines of communication with your audience, and always listen to them. It’s the best (and free) market research there is. But you’ll only get it if you’re open. I’d like to hope this translates into most things (except maybe poker).

3) Only work on projects you’re passionate about
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, is vying for attention online. So, if you’re trying to create an Internet marketing campaign and aren’t passionate about it, you’re already setting yourself up for failure. Sorry if this is a cliché, but to not give 100% is essentially to give 0%. The campaigns and projects in this space created with passion are obvious not only to other web marketers, but everyone online. Web users are exceptionally intelligent…they will see through any of your attempts to do something without passion and probably pass you over for whatever is next. It’s true for artists too…especially pop-music artists. The ones with staying power have passion. The ones flacked and exploited around radio, the web and TV by record labels and are purely backed by a fake image and big marketing dollars don’t usually have real success.

4) You have to be unique
Our world is oversaturated with products, services, restaurants, blogs, brands of soda, etc. To create something that is just a little better than something else is still blending in, and will only create marginally better results. You have to be unique and excel in at least one way. You have to create the extraordinary to see big results. Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for the typical, lukewarm results everyone gets. Be realistic, but be remarkable.

5) Clarity counts
Clearly communicating what you’re doing and promoting on the web is vital to getting the results you want. You can frame something in a way that only a small subset of the population will understand it, that is absolutely fine (in fact, an incredibly powerful strategy is to find an ignored subset of the population, and then speak directly to them). But ultimately, your messages should all be consistent and clear to your target audience. If you can’t explain it clearly to someone in a brief period of time, do you think someone who isn’t close to what you’re doing is going to be able to tell their friend about it quickly and efficiently (or even want to)? Also, never dumb down your message if you’re going after a subset (here’s why).