I was browsing LinkedIn when I came across a very interesting post by Gordon (Gordy) Curphy, PhD, citing a Bartelby article in The Economist. The Economist article is behind a paywall, so I won’t be linking to it. But as I read Dr. Curphy’s summary (and his snarky comment about writing a book with the title “Leadership Lessons from Jellyfish: Going with the Flow” — I think you have to have a LinkedIn account to see that post), it stuck me as being eerily similar to what I’ve been preaching about Internet Marketing for some time now.
The first point is “always to say that anyone can do it.” As in leadership, Internet Marketing is not something just anyone can do. There are people who just don’t have the needed skillset or talent. Sometimes the skillset can be learned, but there are people for whom that is an insurmountable obstacle — or who just don’t have a personality, aptitude, or attitude appropriate for gaining that skillset. And there are people who simply wander off as soon as they learn that there is substantial work involved (see the tagline on this blog site). So Internet Marketing is not for everybody.
The second point is to overly simplify what is in reality a complex topic. So to write a really popular article on Internet Marketing (or leadership, or sales, or pretty much any other hot topic), you have to say things like “Just do these 3 things…” Internet Marketing is complex and multidimensional, and integrates several different skills, the most important of which is sales. It also helps a lot if you have a basic understanding of how the Internet works, and how to use the various tools needed to get your message out. So the oversimplification amounts to gaslighting.
Next point: Plug a quick fix. Here’s where you can tell the mark how much money your “Done For You” solution will cost, and where to send it. Don’t forget to use the word “only” when referring to the price. Don’t mention anything about the time it takes to develop the necessary skillset, or to make sound decisions about what to do to achieve good results. This is not so much “gaslighting” as just straightforward Lie By Omission.
Of course, you have to be POSITIVE. Just pretend that Bad Things don’t happen — or claim that by just following those “simple” steps, or buying your complete DFY solution, you can completely avoid those Bad Things.
To wind up your popular/viral article on Internet Marketing, use some pithy analogy or metaphor. Like the “Alpha Wolves of Yellowstone” or some such malarkey. While a metaphor can sometimes enhance a point, the platitudes that I’ve seen about Internet Marketing fall short of being really helpful. Even ones from highly successful Internet Marketers.
My own personal failings with regard to Internet Marketing are mostly due to my sales inhibitions. I’m just not very good at sugarcoating unpleasant reality, and I’m not very good at lying, even by omission. Trying to educate the client about how to get the best deal is something that apparently does not really interest many people.
In order to avoid ending this post on a down note, I will plug a few Internet Marketers who I know and have come to like and trust, simply because they don’t follow that simplistic formula. The two that come to mind immediately are Martin Avis and Paul Evans. I had a recent interview with Paul. I’d love to get an interview someday with Martin, but he has some health issues that stand in the way of that.