Lies Lies Lies: What Internet Marketers Must Learn From The Advertising Industry

I was really thrilled with how my previous article, Have Internet Marketers Lost The Plot was received. It was controversial, but I was pleased to discover my suspicion was correct – new Internet marketers and the customers and consumers of high profile and established Internet marketers want more!

And that is going to be the sentiment behind this blog post too. I believe that many high profile Internet marketers are resting on their laurels, having experienced success once or twice.

Yes, be warned – this post is controversial, but I think the EJ audience deserves to know the truth, plus gather some hints on how they can avoid the potholes the globe’s better known Internet marketers are falling into.

The Past – What Used To Work

I’ll never betray or deceive you my friend but…
If you show me the cash
Then I will take it
If you tell me to cry
Then I will fake it
If you give me a hand
Then I will shake it
You’ll do anything for money…

(Michael Jackson – Money)

OK, so back in the day when Internet marketing was new, it was much easier to make money online. Why? Because anything novel is going to be attractive. A few savvy marketers exploded onto the blogging scene, offering to show others how to make a small fortune. They promised that you, too, can become rich.

It’s very easy, just enter your credit card number here please…

Were they successful? Absolutely! The people who wanted to learn how to also make money online were the very same ones lining the pockets of those few savvy Internet marketers. Did these Internet marketers care very much about helping to make their followers/customers rich too? Usually not – as long as they could do a good job convincing the world they did!

Why Won’t That Strategy Work Anymore?

Well, we aren’t as gullible anymore. We have heard it all before. We have also heard too many stories of con-men, con-women, and encountered plenty of sharks. We have been promised the world and been disappointed. We have heard and followed conflicting advice, and become disillusioned along the way.

Sure, if it’s really that easy, why aren’t we all sitting on a yacht somewhere in the Caribbean? We could probably count on one or two hands the number of people we know of who have made some money via Internet marketing (less we actually know personally).

On the other hand, we could fill a football stadium with the number of disappointed people who have handed over their hard-earned money to someone with a big smile and a bigger bag full of empty promises on the other side of the world. Were their expectations met? Not often. Are they now rich too? Not at all.

So, we are now cynical. We don’t know who to trust anymore. We are reluctant to take any free information because it’s only a matter of time before we are asked for our credit card details. We are bombarded with sales talk from a wide range of different personalities – as Michael Jackson attested in his song “Money” – watch those with biggest smiles, because they are the back-stabbers!

To avoid making the wrong choice, we don’t make a choice at all. In fact, we don’t even feel like opening these marketing emails anymore and are happy to pop them straight into our junk mail.

Parallel With The Advertising Industry

In fact, this is exactly what started to happen with the advertising industry around the globe. As technology evolved, we were hit with advertisements from all angles. Radio was invented, then we got radio ads. Television was invented, before you knew it, we are forced to sit through around 20 minutes of advertisements for an hour program. Print ads, billboards, banner advertising online, pop-up ads, ads in our letter box, on our mobile phone, in our email box – we are now being sold to almost every minute we are awake.

The result of this utter bombardment is that we are becoming immune to it all. We block it out. So advertisers have had to become more creative in order to win attention, let alone sales. This is how advertising has evolved:

  • It mustn’t waste our precious time (of which we have less and less every day). The message is fast and clear.
  • It is more creative and different – in both its design and delivery. We will take notice of the unexpected.
  • It is more authentic and has lost the B-S. We are not stupid, so don’t make us feel that way. Give us the facts and let us make an informed choice.
  • Public relations over advertising – don’t sell us something, inform us. If we trust you as the industry expert, we will buy from you.

What Internet Marketers Must Learn From The Advertising Industry

Those Internet marketers who are going to survive and make money in the new era need to adapt quickly. I would suggest they follow the strategy the advertising industry has been forced to adopt:

  • People are increasingly time poor and don’t have time to read and digest mountains of your marketing collateral. We are not interested in scrolling down for 15 minutes to read your long ad sales copy. Get to the point please. What are you selling, what’s in it for me and how much is it going to set me back? I don’t care about your sales hype and 10,000 testimonials. Sorry!
  • Be different to stand out. Sure, you are all the same and we have had enough of the same old hypey-sales spiel. What is your point of difference? And what is interesting about your product/s and how you are selling them to me?
  • Be authentic! Tell it like it is! Don’t lie to me and treat me like a fool. Don’t tell me you care and then forget about me when I don’t hand over my credit card details just after I have met you. Build a genuine relationship with me first.
  • And finally, public relations over advertising any day – don’t just sell to me, inform me. If I trust you, get to know you, like you, I will buy from you in my own time.


Image courtesy of renaissancechambara.

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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  • Hi Kerry,

    Integrity. Be honest, generate good karma, good things happen for you.

    Using dishonest strategies bites you in the behind, every time. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it does.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Ryan Biddulph

  • An excellent post and tackles what the general industry is facing indeed… What is troublesome is that online, the mechanism to make money is easy and relatively low-risk, hence the proliferation of sub-par products.

    Sometimes, the seller succumbs to desperation (or greed) to sell even if it’s crap with the (weak) justification of “if they didn’t like it, just get a refund!”…

  • I believe having a genuine desire to improve the web with whatever you are doing to make money online has a great impact on how well you differentiate yourself and create relationships online. Rather than go for the sale, I try to ask myself, what would I want to see when I’m online from bloggers and other internet marketers?

  • Kerry

    Be different to stand out, and be authentic absolutely two of the best advices you have provided us with i this article. Its a beautiful thing to be different.

  • Unbelievably I have found it much easier to make money online, probably because I did the work it takes to set that kind of foundation but really two consecutive weeks haven’t passed since last Summer that I have found another monetization method to add to what I am currently doing, not replacing what I am doing with something better paying, I am talking adding.
    We all know what the secret to making money online is, it’s calling doing the work and paying your dies and 3 months or six months or even a year isn’t paying your dues, neither is 3 articles a week or even an article a day after your first few months.
    I see the void in the whole make money online space being taking people who make a $1,500 or $2,000 a month and getting them to the $10,000-$50,000 or more a month which is very very possible with some work and some solid guidance and connections, all of which I had o find on my own since there really wasn’t anyone to help in this space.
    Those who make less than $2,000 a month haven’t done the work, there really is no argument that can convince me otherwise.

  • Hi Kerry,

    Good job pointing out the major issues when talking about online marketing. Back in 2010,I was so frustrated and annoyed by all the internetmarketing crap, that I created a PPP, called” Online marketing Revealed”, where I narrowed down a few basiscs, which every online /aand not only/ marketer should follow.
    A/ Qualit vs Quantity
    B/ Trust and Respect
    C/ Build Credibility
    D/ Exeptional Customer Service
    Hope that many people will read your post, and will take some notes.
    Take care.

  • As with advertising, it’s important for marketers to avoid the “hard sell” route where they preach about the quick and impressive benefits of the brand to the point where it sounds suspicious.

  • This article is definitely an eye-opener. Honesty is still the best policy and I agree to sticking to that. Thanks for your insights!

  • I have to admit that this is far from being “controversial”. IMO, I think you simply laid out the truth, specially for those who are thinking that “internet marketing” is an easy ride. People are being educated every day, and despite leaving the occasional “credit card” details one time, they are learning that doing it again may need a lot more of convincing. There are just too many “systems” out there that will overwhelm a user, and sadly, many do not really deliver. Obviously, it is not totally the marketers fault… I know people who bought ebooks that they have never read, or those that have actually read it, and failed to take action… Some found out that they had to do some work and go for the next product that promises the so called “get rich” on autopilot, leaving more money for, you know who 🙂

  • “…don’t just sell to me, inform me. If I trust you, get to know you, like you, I will buy from you in my own time.”

    This is what it’s really about; building a relationship based on trust. It should be the MO of every business person, sadly, it isn’t.

    I do a lot of internet marketing and I do make money from the internet. Not a lot but it’s decent. Do I consider myself an internet marketer? Nope.

    For me internet marketing (IM) is simply a means of promoting and advertising your already existing business. So I’m a ghostwriter; I write stuff for people and sometimes promote affiliate products which I feel are relevant and helpful to those I’m promoting it to. Does that make me an internet marketer?

    I use IM to gain more clients and push my business out there. And it works. Really well. I view IM as a tool for business people. It’s just like offline marketing; you can’t base your business model on that (unless you’re a marketing firm).

    In the same way, those who make IM their business model will end up relying on those old, tired tricks. Why? Because IMO, IM is NOT a business model. It is simply a tool. When you take a tool and make it the main thing, you will run out of quality.

    What I would advice anyone who is looking to become an online entrepreneur is:

    1. Find a niche you are passionate about (and research it).
    2. Look for a business model you’re comfortable with ( this post from EJ should help you with that

    3. Learn how to use the principles of internet marketing to make your business successful.

    Don’t forget that any business takes vision, hard work and persistence.

    Thanks for this post, Kerry. Sorry to hijack it with such a lengthy comment.

  • Hello, I must say your headline really caught my attention great read nice blog thanks for sharing…

    Wa’Dell L Jones

  • […] Lies Lies Lies: What Internet Marketers Must Learn From The Advertising Industry […]

  • ben

    thanks for the article kerry. whenever i land on a vertical scrolling page i hit the back button.

  • ES

    I don’t even read those big sales pages with a video and large colorful text and a million exclamation marks. I don’t even trust pages that have more than 2 affiliate links (for the same product) in a single article. I think that Internet marketers should stop selling and start educating, as pointed out by this article.

  • Spot on! Times have changed very rapidly especially in this digital age. Once a new advertising stratgey is effective, it soon becomes redundant because everyone is catching on the wave. However, a very effective tool is getting a corporate or animated sales video made for your internet business where it can define your brand to suit your company’s personality and create that engaing aura and authenticity which is very much needed these days in our competitive world.

  • Hello Kerry,
    first of all, great headline to catch the eyes. What you are saying is a bit controversial, but very true. I totally agree with you. Internet space have evolved a lot and so as the business associated with it. The word Evolution itself reiterates that people around here became more mature to cope with the situation and progress with the dynamics of the industry.
    “Liars” (as per you) really can not hold the space long..really not at least for too long. Gone are those days when the EXPERT use fool people with their gimmicks. The actual face has to come out before the audience if anyone made any fake claims.
    I believe people are already having that mindset whatever you have pointed our here. If you can’t relate to people,people will not relate to you. Authenticity plays the role here.

  • i’m one of those who has pulled out the credit card way too many times and has been disappointed every time. i recently decided to try affiliate marketing and i scour the internet almost every day looking for information and insight on how to make affiliate marketing work for me and the people i’m trying to sell to. your article provided insightful pointers. TY.

  • dan

    We’ve always built our site with the view that users are impatient, have very little time, very little loyalty, and only care about getting what they want, when they want it, and nothing else matters.

    You have to be so on the ball to cope with todays internet purchasers..

  • I totally agree with you, I really don’t like these “couch gurus” who give out false promises of fast cash when the reality is that if you get stuck in there and work hard at an online business, yes you will never earn fast cash, but in the long run you will become very successful and potentially will help a lot of people.

  • Excellent post indeed! It really meets some core concerns about internet marketers in this era. Clearly marketing tactics have evolved and this era will see the rise of a wiser client base; people who linger on the meta-cognitive way of thinking. People think differently about a first impression and if you ask me I, an IT Professional and Graphics Designer… simple can’t take the massive texts and hype no more, it’s really getting to me! It would also be a mistake to land on a vertically scrolled design. I don’t have time to check, just time to FIND!

    – GFx Med

  • dan

    This is interesting and something that I keep telling people…
    Customers are time poor, impatient, and loyalty is something that needs to be earned, which is difficult these days…

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