Have you ever been in a room filled with people and felt like you didn’t quite fit in?
That describes my feeling as I sat in the first morning session of Google Guru Perry Marshall’s Internet Marketing workshop a few years ago. It quickly became obvious to me that everyone there was seriously into the math/numbers techie stuff. They passed around spreadsheets and nodded their heads knowingly. They were freakin’ excited about spreadsheets. Heck, I have to hire someone to create columns for me in Excel.
And I thought to myself, “If this is what I need to know to succeed online, I’m screwed!”
It turns out there was room for English geeks like me who never quite “grokked” calculus. I managed to pick up some pretty solid stuff from Perry.
Today’s Internet opportunities raise these questions: What if you aren’t a techie, or a professional marketer, or even a very good writer? Can you really make it online?
What if you already run a full-time business that you enjoy, and all you want to do is create some leverage? Do you also have to learn how to become an “Internet Marketer” to succeed online?
I’ve got some good news for you.
There’s a whole new wave of Internet opportunity already gathering force, and within the next few years, this wave will crest and sweep over the entire World Wide Web.
What am I talking about? It’s the Personal Web, “the web called you.”
A brief history of Internet Marketing
Until now, if you wanted to find a teacher to show you how to build a business online, you’ve been limited to three basic types of Internet Marketing teachers: the techies, the marketers, or the copywriters. And, depending upon which model you chose to follow; you’d build a site just like they told you to. Problem was, maybe you weren’t a techie, marketer or copywriter.
In order to figure out where you best fit in the online world, it might be helpful to vastly oversimplify the history of Internet Marketing . . .
Wave One: The Techies.
First, there were the techies: the people who dreamed about calculus in school. They created the tools, they made them run, and for a decade or more, the techies pretty much had their run of the World Wide Web.
They built stuff other techies could use and understand, stuff that pretty much left the rest of us out of the conversation.
The techies started teaching other techies how to sell stuff on the Internet. And an industry was born.
Today, I’d estimate that half of the biggest Internet Marketing Gurus are techies.
Wave Two: The Marketers.
Seeing all the money the tech-geeks were making online, the marketers flooded the web. It was the new gold rush. The marketers saw that they could only sell stuff if the tools were easier to use and access. So marketers started telling the techies what they wanted to see. And an uneasy alliance was forged.
Let’s say that roughly one-fourth of Internet Marketing gurus are pure marketers.
Wave Three: The Copywriters
Finally, along came the writers. These folks had made a fortune selling stuff through advertising and direct mail, and the Internet created a whole new world of opportunity for them. When the copywriters joined forces with the techies and the marketers, the first Internet Marketing millionaires were created.
For kicks, we’ll estimate that the final fourth of Internet Marketing Gurus are copywriters.
Where do you fit in?
So, you’ve got some expertise or knowledge and you want to go online. The value you offer the world is an expression of your passion, your art, and your creativity. Let’s call this your “product.”
All three of these groups of experts have a different way of looking at the products people sell online, and each group is selling with great passion and conviction their model of success – the same model they used to get where they are today. They assure us that if we’ll just tack their gadgets, formulas, or headlines onto our web site, we’ll really score this time.
The techies invite you into their shiny Tech-mobile to tinker 24/7 with all the numbers and gadgets. While they’re great at creating the new technology we all count on, the downside with techies is that some of them are always discovering new ways to “trick the search engines,” or some such nonsense.
Their product? Naturally, they’re selling technology. But a hefty percentage Internet Marketers are teaching people how to make money online and “do what they do,” which has perpetuated a virtual “pyramid scheme:” people teaching other people how to teach others how to make money online using the newest gadget. This business model is currently in the process of suffering a slow, painful death.
The Marketers are all about product – any product will do. They’ll encourage you to pick something – anything – and sell it — to anyone. It doesn’t matter what it is. Marketing is all that matters. Can’t sell your magical widget online? Then you’re doing it all wrong! The solution must be another marketer’s latest course.
Their product: Doesn’t matter. Really, it doesn’t.
And the copywriters know exactly what you need to become rich online: You need to become a great copywriter. Use enough persuasive, sparkling copy, you can convince anyone to buy anything!
Their product: Usually, copywriting — and the biggies eventually morph into marketers.
So, back to our original question: what if you aren’t one of these three: a techie, or a marketer, or a copywriter?
What if you have a passion for mountain climbing, or yoga, or your medical practice? To become a tech expert, or a full-time Internet marketer, or even an average copywriter would mean you’d have to stop being what you are now. But, what you are now is what the world needs and is the product that people will value and pay for. The web is populated with millions of searchers starved for more individuals willing to step up and be themselves – present the best of what they have to share with others and create value around that.
How do you find your place online without losing the very thing that makes it worth getting online in the first place – your unique voice, message and expertise?
The Next Wave: Connecting on the Personal Web
Increasingly, connection matters more than ever online. A few examples:
- While hiring, companies are paying more attention to an applicant’s online social network connections and recommendations on sites like LinkedIn than they do to the resume.
- When the search engines scan your site, they’re looking for personal recommendations too; who is commenting on your site, and which sites you’re connected with.
- Google is morphing into a “personal search engine,” increasingly serving people highly individualized search results.
Today’s sophisticated search tools have allowed people to look for and find meaningful connections online. When they type something into Google, they are searching for a personal solution, and will buy from the person who is not only aligned with their needs, but who is also willing to spend the time to develop a relationship of trust with the searcher.
The Product Called You
Here’s what’s been missing until now in online marketing: All of these teachers will teach you how to use cool stuff or write snappy copy, but few will help you consider the foundation of online success, now and into the future: begin with your personal platform.
This shortsightedness is not their fault. They haven’t had to develop a system for succeeding online with a personal platform because marketing online was their platform.
The best of the current crop of gurus get it; I follow “techies” like Perry Marshall and Glenn Livingston, and copywriters like Brian Clark — people who understand and teach that it’s not only the tools, it’s the personal connection and relationships you build with others. But most don’t get it. And they’ll get lost on the Personal Web.
Today, the technology is simple enough for anyone to succeed online. And a huge service industry has sprung up to support Internet Marketers – you can find technical support, marketers, and writers anywhere. You no longer have to be a master of tech, marketing or copywriting.
The emphasis has now shifted to what’s been missing in all of this in the past – and that is you. No one else can tell your story, or create the products you will create. No one else has your unique message, voice and personality. No one else can draw the crowd you will draw online.
Here’s how you start out right building a business online that can ride the wave of the Personal Web.
1. Begin with your Personal Platform.
This is your home base, the place you’ll build your reputation, authority, and connect with your audience. In an increasingly noisy marketplace, the unique and genuine voice stands out and gets noticed. People are drawn to real people who speak with authority from personal experience. Your unique blend of knowledge, expertise, interests and passions are the foundation of your business on the Personal Web.
What do you know a lot about? The Internet is driven by fresh and deep content, and to build an online business, you’ve got to be able to write about something you genuinely enjoy. If you don’t, you’ll burn out before you gain any traction.
2. Identify and Lead Your Personal Crowd.
Now you connect your unique passion, story, and voice to an audience looking for what you have to offer. No matter what you’re selling, there are people somewhere searching for you and your solution – it’s just that sometimes, you’ve got to talk about your solution in the audience’s language.
What conversations are already happening online that you can join? What are they ‘talking about?’ What questions are being asked that your message and product can help answer?
3. Chat with your Personal Crowd.
Post and email valuable, relevant content regularly, build a relationship of trust with your “tribe.” If you have a genuine interest in your topic, you don’t have to be a professional writer to write effectively about your message. Of course it will help anyone to learn some basic techniques about headlines and structure, but the irresistible enthusiasm and credibility of someone with genuine expertise and passion are what copywriters have learned to model their techniques after.
Over to you . . .
Once you’ve nailed down “who you are” online, you’ll be in a better position to strategically choose among the best education options out there. The world is going to need those techies, marketers, and copywriters; they’re not going anywhere. But they only provide tools and tactics that are pointless without your unique message.
You and your story provide the fuel that keeps the Internet humming now and in the future.
What are your thoughts? Share them with us in the comments.