Have Internet Marketers Lost The Plot?

By Kerry McDuling
43 Comments

Before I begin – a warning, I expect that this post will be quite controversial, because, to my knowledge, this severe fault I have experienced with the internet marketing industry (and the most successful internet marketers within it) has not been addressed, yet!

Sales Technique Or Major Mistake?

The reason I am bringing it to light for discussion today is for two reasons – firstly, because public relations (relating with your audience and customers) is my area of expertise, and secondly, because I was on the receiving end of this particular fault not so long ago.

I am using this forum to address an issue that I believe will be the downfall of the most successful internet marketers in the world, and will stop others from even getting off the starting block. I am most certainly not trying to cloud the reputation of another internet marketer and therefore won’t name him/her. While I can say that this particular internet marketer is currently one of the world’s most high profiled, I am absolutely certain that he/she is not the only one making this mistake.

While I identify the behavior of this internet marketer as a mistake, the person in question would no doubt refer to it as a sales technique. Was it successful with me? No – in fact, the complete opposite. It completely turned me off. Let me explain why…

A Theory Of Human Motivation

Humans have very few basic needs, according to Abraham Maslow in his 1948 paper, “A theory of human motivation.” The most fundamental needs are also the most obvious – the human race does not have much hope of survival without our physiological requirements being met – food, water, sleep, sex, excretion.

Following this category, we have our need for safety – health and wellbeing, financial and personal. And immediately after this human need, is the need of belonging and acceptance. That is, the need to love and be loved by others. The need of belonging is in fact a greater motivator than the need for self-esteem and self-confidence and even the need of self-actualization (achieving your purpose in life and reaching your full personal potential).

To Capitalize On The Need Of Belonging

Knowing this, that the drive to attain these needs is strong and will motivate human beings to action, internet marketers should therefore have a hint as to what will drive customers to buy from them.

The way I interpret this research is that making customers and clients feel special, important and valued will appeal to their intrinsic drive of belonging and therefore encourage them to buy from us. Most of the best businesses in the world, Disney for example, do this extraordinarily well and are therefore successful. They create raving fans who have a brilliant experience every single time and therefore go back, and refer to others.

In fact, why do so many of us go to health practitioners so often, including psychologists, beauticians, masseuses, etc? The answer is simple – because we are effectively paying these service providers to hear us in an increasingly noisy and busy world. We have their full attention and it feels good. We feel important and special. This motivates us to keep going back.

“Scare” Tactics Will Be The Downfall Of Successful Internet Marketers

So, what is the mistake of this internet marketer I am referring to? What did he/she fail to do? The answer is one you will no doubt recognize – instead of using a pull mechanism by making me feel special, he/she used a push mechanism that actually turned me completely off.

I was given a very short time frame to make a decision to do business with them, and part with well over $15,000 of my well-earned money. When I asked for more information, this internet marketer made specific judgements about my character and advised that he/she had already made the decision to not work with me, because I am not an “action taker.”

So, do you imagine that this response made me feel special and valued, or like I do not belong and am not accepted? I expect that the internet marketer hoped that I may purchase out of fear of missing out, but in fact it made me feel like I had made a very lucky escape! And this was also the opinion of friends, family members and colleagues I told the story to later.

Misguided Sense Of Self Importance

Since when did internet marketers and entrepreneurs (and, yes, even celebrities) develop this disproportionate and misguided sense of self importance, when in fact the reason we set out in business in the first place is to serve our clients?

I believe that with the advent of social media and the connectedness it offers, consumers will turn away from those operators who exude these sorts of undesirable qualities, and instead choose to work with people who are affable and personable and make them feel valued, special and accepted. After all, who wants to spend their own hard earned money to make someone else feel even more important?

Treat Every Client As A VIP For Ultimate Success

So, how do you ensure you don’t fall into this trap, that I believe will be the certain downfall of internet marketers and entrepreneurs?

I strongly believe that karma will ultimately ensure that the internet marketers who have their heart in the right place will be the ones who reap their rewards.

Kerry

Image courtesy of mdanys

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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43 Comments

  • Kerry, I wish every internet entrepreneur could read this article. I found it at my site, BeforeItsNews.com where it was cross-posted and think you are right on.

    This goes even deeper to the core moral values people lack these days. People harm each other for just a little profit and in business, it feels like no one cares about the welfare of their customer. Isn’t that why we are in business in the first place…to serve society?!?

    • Chris, thank you for your feedback. And yes, you are right – you need to be careful what you say to people because you never know the background of that person and what effect your words will have on them.

  • Absolutely agree 100%. The self indulgent responses I’ve heard as to why they charge ridiculous amounts for so little value is “if we don’t we may not be taken seriously as one of the big guns” – I steer well clear of them all. There’s lots of things I could do with $15,000 than give it to them!!! Prove yourself is what I say and not by shoving a PayPal account or something in my face, that comPletely turns me right off – rant over lol

    • Thanks for sharing your experience Trish. I also think its important internet marketers can prove value and build trust, respect and a relationship before going in for the hard sell.

  • Sensible and wise words Kerry. It’s good to revisit the basics in a post like this. I hate that really archaic ‘high pressure’ time frame selling. Such a turn off!

    • Andrea, another thing that just came to mind is cultural differences when it comes to the hard core high pressure sales technique. While it works well with some cultures, in other cultures this approach is considered disrespectful and is just not done.

  • Refreshing, Innovative and Old Fashioned thinking all at the same time. Thank you for the article. After all it’s all about helping the client succeed with exceptional service.

  • Nothing like back to basics.

    It’s frightening how some start to believe in their own hype. Business is all about value-for-value, and as you rightly pointed out, I fail to see how scare tactics could possibly motivate anyone to buy into the “club”.

    Unless said customer is already suffering from major self-esteem issues … in which case, God help him or her.

    Excellent article, Kerry.

    • Thanks Dee – I also would rather not be part of a group or community that uses scare tactics and push mechanisms, but are rather positive and kind.

  • Hi there Kerry – just wanted to let you know that I really love this article! Having dealt with my share of IM jerks, I can say without a doubt that most are suffering from huge self-esteem issues and must therefore inflate their ego to such proportions that they don’t even realize the delusions of grandeur they’re suffering from. It’s a sad fact in IM, unfortunately. GREAT article and I wish every new IM-er could read it!

  • Great article, its easy to forget that we are just human. There are some really basic needs that drives us to do what we do. In today’s high-tech society its easy to forget that.

  • Kerry, I commend you on a good article, and I especially like your final 4 tips on “How To Treat a Customer”.

    How hard is it to be nice to people even if they ask probing questions? I suspect the person in question suffers from the “I’m Too Good For You” syndrome.

    • Thanks Gerry – my questions weren’t probing – just basically wondered what sort of training I would get for my $15,000 – a very simple description would have done the trick. I didn’t even get that. Interesting sales technique, but great lesson for the rest of us!

  • Spot on, I’m new to the IM business and this is one of the main beliefs within our group, we are taught to use the pull method. This is part of the reason I joined with my group.
    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

    • Great, Kieran, sounds like you are on the right path! All the best with your journey and please check in!

  • .Patrick van der Helm

    Hi Kerry, excellent post. I’d like to think this counts across all industries. I know that IM has probably the most over inflated personalities, but how about public speaking? I can think of a few there too and I am sure this goes for a lot of industries. The frightening thing I think is that this might scare a lot of the audience and make it harder for new entrepreneurs starting in the industry!
    Thanks for the post and the tips on your website too!

    • Thanks Patrick, and you are right about a sour reputation for even those who do the right thing.
      Glad you also loved my website.

  • Hi Kerry, I absolutely love this post for it’s down-to-earth honesty. I am an internet marketer so going around bashing other internet marketers and pointing fingers would be counter-productive.

    I prefer to apply the lessons in this article to myself. It is easy to forget our original values when things start looking up; when the calls for interviews come and our websites start showcasing those ‘as seen in’ buttons or we are listed in some Forbes list. It is easy then to start thinking that it’s all about us and not about those we’re in business to serve.

    I don’t want that to happen to me or to any of the beginners I mentor. I’ve had internet marketers treat me badly but what I do is learn from them and know what NOT to do to my customers. This is why I really appreciate this post, Kerry.

    I am a fan of old fashioned values and I teach it repeatedly. The fact is a person’s business behaviour will usually spring from that person’s values. I will take down your list at the end and use it as a reminder, particularly when the 6 figures start pouring in;).

    • Absolutely, Sharon, and I think if you stay true to your values, you will attract like-minded people who are a joy to serve!
      I am so glad you enjoyed my post Sharon, and thanks for taking the time to post your feedback. x

  • Thanks for your post Kerry,

    ‘It doesn’t look like
    a respectful sales approach.’

    On my blog it’s my aim to create an atmosphere where people can freely have a look at the Tips & Tools about Blogging and doing Affiliate Markting that I write posts about, without blaming them not to be action takers when they don’t buy things.

    I expect visitors on my blog(s) to take their own time for getting to know my blog(s) if they want to. I do look at the comments they write to get an idea about how to make possible improvements, I usually also don’t even sensor negative comments, because when it is a really disrespectful and unfriendly I expect my readers to be their own judge.

    • Thanks HP, and I think your clients will respect you for taking the time to respond and take equal note to all comments, not only postive and flattering feedback.

  • Thanks for the Post Kerry. As someone who has just entered the blogging and IM world, being reminded of this constantly helps me ignore some of the advice from other “gurus”.

    • Not sure I qualify quite as a “guru” yet, Tomas, but thats flattering, so thanks. :-)

  • I think you make a great point in this post.

    I believe that too many people take ‘some’ advice from the likes of Dan Kennedy without taking the whole picture. Dan often talks about ‘limiting access’ to him, setting up your business to work how you want to work etc.
    I feel that some marketers focus on this and the result is what you experienced.
    However my experience with Dan was not like that. I attended a conference in Chicago run by Glazer-Kennedy, and Dan graciously had his photo taken with me, I got to meet him (despite not being a big client at all), and we had a good chat but he was very clear about how much time he had to spend with me. -Not rude, just crystal clear.
    Dan has obviously set his business up to operate the way he wants it to. But it is equally obvious to me that he does value his members and clients, even if you aren’t the biggest spender…

    • Thanks Chris, those are valuable points. I think scarcity and a deadline are a very successful (and ethical) sales technique, but IM and sales people of any kind should also be prepared to offer enough information to allow a potential customer to make a decision to buy.
      Coming to a conclusion and making direct character judgements about an individual are not, and certainly not a technique Dan would promote.
      Thanks again,

  • Hi Kerry, Wow look at all the positive response to your article. I think it is great that you have turned your negative experience in to a positive for not only yourself but so many other people in the industry.

    Being told you’re not an ‘action taker’ can make people who are trying so hard feel so excluded. It is a nasty sales tactic which is cleverly disguised as an insult designed to get you to take the action THEY want you to take (I.E Give them money). It has little regard for the customer and amounts to bullying.
    I am so glad that you were able to see this for what it was and share with other people how to identify this sales tactic before they fall victim to the emotional trap that was laid.

    The beauty of social media is that it is helping to reconnect people and give back that sense of belonging to a group. Marketers who fail to participate in this will, as you say, fail as those who embrace these old fashioned values take over.

    • Nick, thank YOU for all your support since we met, and for always sharing your knowledge with me. You are one of the most generous and authentic Internet Marketers I have met, and I would encourage all other internet marketers who wish to learn something from a genuine leader, to take a look at your blog and website.

  • Excellent point. You’ve already said it all and perfectly pointed out why this attitude is a bad move – professionally.

    Also, as Stephen Fry said in many occasions when proving a point – “That is simply not nice.”

  • My concern as well as running a good solid ethical business is the amount of people who are out there peddling “How to get rich on the Internet”. I have seen no examples of any niche that has made people ultra rich. The only niche seems to be telling everyone else how to do it. I am being bombarded with this stuff and I suffer from information overload. Will someone just prove to me somehow that they have made serious money in something other than this overwhelming niche of Internet Marketing? Please! The last webinar I watched by four internet gurus admitted they had not made a cent in anything else other than this niche. The Warrior forum is totally overloaded with these nutcases all pushing the same stuff, now they are even trying the Harvey Norman thing, “Must end Monday”. And “Only two left” Please give me a break!

  • Hey Kerry,

    Kudos to you for stepping up and having the courage to say something – I could not agree more with you and I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently. I am fairly new to the IM world (been here for 2.5 years), and I like to learn by watching what the most successful are doing – then incorporate those aspects if it works for me.

    I’ve recently gone and followed some of the really big names in the industry, I’m talking about the guys who almost pioneered the whole industry, and you’re right – there is an overwhelmingly massive emphasis on making you feel as though if you don’t buy (which of course costs thousands) then you’re doomed to fail!

    I came to a very simple conclusion… Make people want to work with me because they like me and they recognize the value I can bring to them – not because I scare them into paying me “or else”.

    Thanks for writing this post, I think you’re right – the new era of online entrepreneurs will move away from this and more towards the ‘over-deliver mentality’ and crafting long-lasting friendships instead of simply scaring the crap out of people! I know that’s how I’m building my business and that’s how I’ll teach others who are coming into this arena as well.

    Thanks so much!

    Pauly

  • Great article Kerry! I especially like your comments on the importance of individualized service. I’m really tired of getting all those cookie cutter emails that you know are being blasted out to thousands. Internet marketers definitely need to put their customers first!

  • Hmmm…this is so very true, and this post reminds me of Dr. Phil’s saying: “people who have nothing to hide, hide nothing”. Just that simple.

  • Wow, I wonder if he got many people to sign up with that technique. At $15,000 a pop I don’t guess it takes many to be profitable though. If anyone wants my money, they’re sure not going to get it using that approach.

  • I agree 100% Kerry. I too have had those sorts of respenses for a couple of Internet Marketers and it demonstrates to me that they are not only arrogant, but also unethical and I would NEVER deal with them.

  • Fantastic article Kerry and critically important. I have been in this niche for almost a decade now, coaching aspiring online entrepreneurs for nearly 6 years now, and I can not tell you how many people I have seen financially taken advantage of and hurt because of these types of scare tactics.
    I personally have quite a bit of anger that comes up just typing this response because of the personal interactions I have had with people who did not have the strength and presence with which you handled this situation.
    Unfortunately there are many people who are easily manipulated by these types of techniques. I personally think these marketers SHOULD be publicly named, so they are forced to change their manipulative tactics. I am getting pretty tired of the hype and overpriced gauging I see in our industry.
    There is a fine line between “sales techniques” and “manipulation”. Perhaps this line is subjective, however, if we as entrepreneurs focus on really SERVING our customers, this line should be clearly evident. These types of practices are a stain on our industry and these types of marketers should be called out. Thank you again Kerry for this important post.

  • I agree with Norbert here about publicly naming people who acted in that way. They have conducted in that manner and that is the “marketing choice” they have chosen themselves.

  • The ‘internet marketers’ that I respect are those who DO have high-ticket programmes but also create a community, give tons of free value/information and teaching and give masses of information about their products and offers.

    The ‘high-ticket’ in itself is not a problem, but not listening or answering questions and putting high-pressure on people can only leave a bad feeling.

    It’s about creating a community of ‘fans’ and ‘followers’ (Seth Godins ‘tribe’) where the ‘hard sell’ is not necessary….

  • Ark

    I think there is a fundamental flaw in the way that most marketers go about doing business. They learn tactics from some “Guru” and never stop to think “Is this a long term business model?” “Will I be able to retain my customers 5, 10 or 20 years from now?”

    In other words, they give no thought to building a real business. If there were one thing we should all learn it would be to build your business just like a shop on main street. You’re there for the long haul, you want to know your customers by name and give them a great experience when they interact with you and your business (see Zappos!). Let’s stop the hit them over the head and run mentality, instead let’s take our clients by the hand and say “I’m invested in providing you a solution, today and in the future.”

  • Hi there — I know this is an older article, but I just wanted to leave a comment about this. There’s nothing that annoys me more than high-pressure sales tactics like this. It’s just never made any sense to me that anyone would run a business like that. Why on earth would you treat someone, who is obviously considering buying your product/service, like that? Not only will you lose their business, but they will tell other people about their experience with you and, they, in turn, will tell others. And you could end up losing even more potential customers or clients. It just doesn’t make sense from a business standpoint, plus it’s just *mean*. And I don’t like mean.

    When people try that tactic with me, it tells me an awful lot about their personality and ethics, and I know that I wouldn’t want to work with them or buy anything from them anyway. But if someone takes the time to answer my questions, and is pleasant and respectful, that also tells me a lot about them, and makes me much more likely to purchase from them, not just for the particular item/service I’m looking at, but I’m also more likely to *go back to them* for future needs, as well.

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