Sunday, March 23, 2008

Selling the Sizzle, Not the Steak

Well I found it! I've been in Vegas this past week spending the money!

I wish.

But I have excavated a couple more pieces of the puzzle. And I am even more convinced than last week that a new big picture exists of which those pieces are a piece.

That's not quite true: it doesn't appear to be new, actually. I can't quite put my finger on it just yet, but it is starting to smell like something Melvin Powers used to do. I remember old Melvin Powers, the self-promoted "King of Mailorder." I mean, this guy would promote anything! I think he cranked out a new book of some kind or other every 72 hours or so. I swear!

He was the kind of guy who would run classified ads in 100 little newspapers for 10-cent bars of soap, and then, when the orders started to flow in, he would go out and start looking for some soap maker to sell him soap for a nickel a bar. Anyway, one of the things this guy promoted was books about how to do various things, and music (for some reason he was into hawking sheet music.) He would talk these middle-aged singers (who had used to be popular but hadn't been for years) into recording some of his stuff and going 50-50 with him on any profits. (Melvin really fancied himself an actual song-writer.)

The point that I need you to glean from this turns out to be one of the pieces of that big picture I was talking about earlier. That point, that the old hustler Melvin Powers teaches us, is this: It doesn't, within reason, really matter what the product is. All that really matters is the proper promotion of that product.

If you are an American with a few years under your belt, you will recall the incessant TV commercials of trinket-inventor Ron Popeil. You know--the Ronco Veg-O-matic, and the Ronco this and the Ronco that. And then came the age of TV "infomercials"--long commercials. And when he had run Ronco into the ground, then came the Popeil this and the Popeil that. Ok, maybe you are too young to remember.

Dan Ackroyd of the original Saturday Night Live crew in the late 1970s did a skit which entailed grinding up fish on live TV. That was a parody of Ron Popeil's ubiquitous TV commercial, and of the way Ron talked. (Actually, Ron didn't talk like that; it was an announcer. Ron himself didn't talk like that at all.) Dan did that carnival barker voice perfectly in that famous skit.

This post is getting too long to hold your attention, so I am going to come back and finish the thought in a few days. Just keep the first point I am trying to make in the back of your minds: it's not really the product that's of greatest importance; it's the proper promotion of that product that makes money.

Think I'm crazy? Then while I'm gone, ponder Britney Spears. Yes, Britney Spears. Helluva fantastic singer, right? That voice deserves to rise to the top, right? Sheesh! No, people. What makes the money is product promotion.

Something else to chew on: How even cooler would it be if the product you are uber-promoting is also itself something of great value? What a thought!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Paradigm Change

I have been away for awhile taking care of another baby, trying to teach it to walk on its own. Sorry. While I was away, though, I have been continuing my studies on how to make money on the internet--reading the philosophy of others, as well as reviewing the basics of making money in general.

Mostly, as you probably have discovered as well, the "how to make money" philosophies out there are the same as what I have been preaching on this blog. That is, "think up ways to try and attract a lot of visitors." But you know what? There has been a feeling building inside me for quite a while now that tells me that ship has sailed. There has to be more. I have lately had the queasy feeling that this preacher is preaching the wrong religion. So I have been out probing and poking for the answer, as is my habit.

No, I don't have the complete system figured out for a new and earthshaking method of making money on the internet. Yet. But I have glimpsed a flickering candle down towards the end of this dark internet cave. It is the light of a completely new idea (for me, at least.) It has nothing to do with simply working to apply the Law of Large Numbers, like most of us are doing right now. If it works, it will set us apart from the traditional "make a million with your blog" crowd.

Napoleon Hill, the man famous for the legendary "Think and Grow Rich", wrote another huge volume--his life's work, really--in which he elaborated on his earlier overview. In his monumental "Law of Success" which, I think, is probably now out of print, he related how he was privileged to "sit at the feet" of many industrial giants of an earlier age, such as Andrew Carnegie, and listen to their answers to the same question he kept posing. He said that, on occasion, they would drop hints here and there, without explaining fully, just to see if he had brains enough to see what they were talking about. It took him his whole life, but he finally put the puzzle together. At least as much as any of us can do that, I think.

I certainly don't profess to know all of what Napoleon Hill learned, but I am starting to see a glimmer of what those old Robber Barons all knew very well. And I want to try and apply that concept to internet marketing. If those old boys had had access to our internet today, we'd all be dead. Babes in the woods. They would crush us.

I am only now beginning to put the pieces together, much less devise a workable plan of attack for the internet. I just wanted to make a post and let all you smart people out there (you must be extra smart if you read my stuff, right?) and let you know where I've been.

I'm afraid it may be a week or so before I have an update on the puzzle I am trying to put together. And even then, it is unlikely it will be complete. Please don't give up on me in the meantime.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Making money basics: traffic

Just as there are three major ways to earn money on the internet, there are also three ways to get lots of visitors to your website:

1. Advertise
2. Advertise
3. Advertise

This is not meant to be insulting to you; it is meant to focus your attention.

How many ways are there to advertise? A heck of a lot more than three. A heck of a lot more than Google Adwords.

In short, pretty much every single thing you can think of to do which will somehow serve to publicize your website falls under the general category of advertising. A lot of the things on the following list are things you very likely do already. Maybe you just haven’t thought of them as being “advertising.”

Adwords bidding (I didn’t say not to do it, just that it isn’t the only way to advertise.)

Visiting other websites and commenting.

Syndicating your content.

Creating a topical and informative newsletter.

Forcing yourself to join some social networking websites.

Making a list of relevant forums and being a regular contributor.

Pay for advertising space on popular websites, at least as popular as you can afford.

Write free PDF downloadable informational ebooks.

Be a teacher. Set yourself up as an authority on something. (You are, you know.)

Finally, make sure your website is attractive, informative, entertaining, and fun to visit. Unless you are selling used cars, respect your audience by leaving out the audio, the popups, and the unutterably despicable sticky regenerating exit windows. If you happen to be selling cars, new or used, then the above is ok, because you don’t respect your audience anyway.

Are there more? I haven’t even scratched the surface. Use these to jog your thinking about more.

More importantly, DO them.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Making money basics, part 2

1. Making money selling your own products or services means you ship the product yourself or perform the service yourself. “Yourself” includes dropshipping and 3rd party fulfillment, but the point is that you are the person who is responsible for seeing to it that the customer gets the product they paid for.

2. Making money selling the products and services of others means “Affiliate Marketing.”

3. Selling eyes means Pay Per Click (PPC) banners or widgets on your website, or selling advertising spots on your site outright.

There are variations and combinations, but those are the basic ways to make money on the internet. All of them require visitors to your website (or blog) in large numbers. That’s why I said in the last post that the question of how to make money on the internet is really a question of, “How can I induce a lot of people to visit my website.”

The way you lay your blog or other website out, in ways that are attractive and interesting, which at the same time give the visitor a clear and easy way to buy something, is called “monetization” or “monetizing your site.” Your monetization should not be offensive or even intrusive and should, as much as possible, blend right in smoothly with your editorial content. Blogs which do not have ads of any kind are not monetized. Blogs which do have ads ARE monetized. Needless to say, a blog can be monetized poorly or it can be monetized effectively.

Next: getting people to come to your blog to see all your great stuff.