Oops, did we just over-promise and, now we’re going to under-deliver – oh well, since you’re here – mind if we send you some more of our marketing material?
How many times has this happened to you? And yet most people, well, all of us really, keep on falling for the old clickbait one-two. It’s like George Bush used to say – “fool me once, shame on you…fool me twice…
“Err, um, ok fine I’ll have two T-shirts and an annual subscription to your online learning courses please”. Wait, how did that happen!
Some marketers tell the truth – some tell you exactly what you want to hear!
There is an old saying – “if it sounds too good to be true” – well then, it probably is. But could I really become a millionaire by stopping what I’m doing and paying this convincing looking chap in the sharp suit, on the other side of the world, talking about hockey stick projections just $149.99 plus VAT per month?
And honestly, did I really think I could write that business plan without the latest laptop that has more memory power than a herd of elephants at the annual Colombo spelling bee championship?
Why is it so much easier to fall for somebody else’s marketing trick than to execute your own? Want to trick some people into buying your product? Sign up to our new digitally disruptive platform and we’ll show you how – for just £1 for the first month and £299.99 thereafter – oh is that the date, better take the funds now then if you don’t mind.
And by and large, we don’t mind. And one of the reasons we don’t is because the internet is a roughly 50/50 split between good products that add value, and complete and utter rubbish. And we, as a species, like those odds.
Sign up to the Financial Times – get good content. Sign up to Netflix – get good movies and TV shows. Sign up to “I will make you a millionaire in less than a year for just $99 pcm**” and…you’ll really enjoy this ride if you like being broke and need to kill a lot of time whilst pretending you are switched on and focused.
Yes, startup marketing campaigns are tricky to get right. You don’t want to set up a pyramid scheme, but you wouldn’t mind being as rich as the guy at the top of that scheme.
Are you selling a product or a feeling?
But you must ask yourself; are you selling a product, or an emotion? If you are selling an emotion, you are saying you can make somebody feel more secure, more confident, can help them get out of bed an hour earlier every day feeling better about their life. Or maybe you are selling a placebo – something that people can hold in their hands and stare at the shiny screen and say to themselves – I have one of these – I belong!
Many credible people sell products like these and it is strangely easy to discover, just by glancing at their online marketing material, who they are.
- There are lots (and lots and lots) of photos of them (and their star pupils on their website – but it is surprisingly hard to get their contact details;
- They say the same thing over and over again, but in different ways; get rich, feel happy, work less hard! They never say something is hard or difficult to do.
- They give examples of how their product can benefit people that are so outrageous, so incredible, that well, they have to be worth a shot!
How to sell a real product online!
Now a startup that has a bona-fide product will most likely have a more earnest sounding website – they have lots of things to tell you about the product and why it can make your life better. But they will be realistic, tested, and truthful. They will be concerned that what they are selling you really is as good as they are saying.
When you are selling a placebo, you don’t really have to concern yourself with this because you either know that what you are selling is complete baloney, or are so big-headed you haven’t realised it isn’t. Because the funny thing about the internet is that being online doesn’t really change anything. Frauds are still frauds, and they make it harder to find honest traders selling decent products.
Here’s another old saying – “money always goes to money” or another way of saying it could be – “good ideas migrate towards other good ideas”. Successful people and enterprises have an uncanny way of finding one another. So do failures, clowns, bullies and con artists. Which group have you found yourself in? Are you sure?
So beware, because online marketing is like walking a tightrope between fantasy and reality – the fantasy that your product will make you rich and successful, and the reality of how rich and/or successful your product will make a consumer.
It’s such a fine line – do Apple tread it, or have they started to believe their own BS? Facebook? Oculus Rift? The world definitely needs Snapchat? Sorry, Snap?
You see, marketing can blur the lines to such an extent that it really is impossible to make accurate value judgments. Many online companies are operating in a way that is dangerously close to being the way monopolies behave. We laugh at North Korea and their 28 internet sites, poor them! Well, try and name 28 sites you visit frequently?
The real value of a product is as hard to establish today as it has ever been. And that’s because, thanks to online, we are now officially living in a computer simulation. That may or may not be meritocratic ; )
Keep on hustlin’
**plus your soul – if you still have one?