So, we’re back from the World Internet Summit. It was an experience. It’s tempting to post an amusing satire on the event to illustrate some of the hype and shovel selling which went on (and you know how much we loathe that stuff here at BlogPiG) but, well, that could belittle the bigger issue.
Just to set the scene, I’ll explain that WIS is really a beauty pageant or pitch fest for Internet Marketing ‘systems’. Nothing unusual there, these events occur across all industries so that suppliers can get in front of potential customers and customers can see multiple soultions in one place – it’s quite an efficient model, really.
So, you had some well known names standing on a large stage for 90 minutes at a time telling the audience of several hundred how they’d made their fortune and how the audience could now buy the very system behind the wealth to make an income (or fortune) for themselves. So, you had the ‘gurus’ and you had those people who were looking for a system with which to make money online or to enhance what they were already doing online. Then there were a bunch of us there who were attending in order to network and keep up with industry gossip and trends. I’ll say now that we only sat through two full presentations and stepped in and out of about five others – the rest of the time was spent talking to people.
The spectrum of knowledge there was immense, from people who were completely new to IM to those who’ve been making a living out of it for over a decade. As it goes we spent most of our time with the more seasoned end of the scale.
What seared an impression onto my brain was the spectrum of ethics which was also on display. I’ll leave it to our new friend Andrew Hansen to illustrate just what it was like at the lower end of the ethical scale. I was standing opposite him on the Friday when I overheard the same anecdote. I had exactly the same feeling I had at a bank I once worked for, when I heard a person in a significant position refer to our customers, or potential customers in a particular manner. I’d never wanted to work anywhere less.
What I cling to is that we met so many people who do operate within the world of IM in an ethical and fair way. There are several guys out there who work really, really hard to create genuinely useful and valuable products for their customers and it was a pleasure (and a relief) to meet them. But they’re generally not the millionaires and are often not on the stage. Long has it been thus.
I asked the same question five times to different people (all established IMers, several of whom have ‘brand names’): Is the tide turning? Will those of us who have a product proposition which ‘does what it says on the tin’ and who skip the hype be able to make more headway in 12 months’ time? Will customers begin to see that you can’t make tens of thousands of dollars just by spending $27 on an eBook, or $2,797 on just one part of the puzzle? No-one could answer that question. The consensus seemed to be that there would still be enough newbies piling into the top of the funnel to keep feeding the ‘guru beast’.
Now, I’ve done enough psychometric testing exercises in my corporate life to know that I come out as an optimist and an idealist BUT I am still putting my stake in the ground and saying that I think the tide will turn and that IMers will get smarter and more savvy so that even if there are newbies piling into the top of the funnel, more of them are going in with their eyes open and are popping out at the bottom as clever internet marketers. So I do think there is a place for those of us who plug away at non-hyped products and that we don’t have to resort to launches which are based on groundless hype and bonuses.
I put it to some like-minded individuals at WIS that we could head a revolt against the hype (I’d had a couple of glasses of wine by this point on the Saturday night) and form our own circle of ethical IMers. I’ll be honest and say that this just generated some nervous shuffling of feet. Some of these people perhaps aren’t sure yet that they can survive beyond the existing IM playground.
But having spoken to one of our savvy customers on Sunday and hearing his thoughts on things, I think that the thousands of people out there who look for IM solutions do deserve some kind of indication of which side of the fence those people selling IM solutions stand on. To be honest, some of the big names would even benefit because not all of them sell smoke and mirrors, some of them genuinely provide the important building blocks of starting an income online and that includes some of the presenters at WIS – but they’re getting tarred with the same brush.
Now, our said savvy customer did not quite go for my idea of a badge or logo (he had his own good ideas, and a logo could be abused anyway, just like the widely abused overt premise ‘are you sick of all the hype? Me too, it’s disgusting so you should buy my product and here are 40 reasons, a load of bonuses and a major false promise to make you’ which seems to adorn 50% of the hypey sales letters now) but he did make me think we could all just share with our respective customers when we think we have found someone else who is operating fairly. Surely banding together like that can make a difference? A difference to those of you looking for a solution and those of us offering one? And of course we who build products must also stick to our guns and continue to operate fairly!
So where has the WIS left me? Well, having run a gauntlet of emotions throughout the weekend, by Monday morning I am feeling steadfast. I know that BlogPiG has to continue along the path of delivering products which do what they say they do. I know we have to continue to leave out the BS. I know we have to find others who do the same.
So, am I a crazy woman? Did I just not get enough sleep this weekend? Are there any big name gurus out there whom you’d give credit to for your own journey and success in IM? Do you think the sales letters and launches we ‘enjoy’ now in IM will stand the test of time? Will those tactics still work for the masses in 2011? Or 2012? Are there any companies out there who you think deserve a shout for being honest that you want to share with the rest of us?
Tell me! Because if all along you’ve wanted me to write you a sales letter with claims about my vast wealth, a picture of my house, my car, my last holiday, my gigolo, my cat and a list of bonuses then I’ll do it! I now know how it’s done! :-)