The real secret to
Dear Fellow Entrepreneur,
When I write sales letters or talk about Internet marketing, I deliberately tone things down.
The average person - and I'm including some very smart business people on this list -
would simply not believe what's possible with Internet marketing if you told them.
It's the kind of thing you have to experience first hand to realize it's true.
This month INC. Magazine let the cat out of the bag about one of these stories. They even put it on its cover.
It's all about Vancouver-based Markus Frind and his oddly named but wildly successful company "Plenty of Fish."
I've been following Markus for years now and I have to admit two things: 1) I thought his
idea was original and very worth testing and 2) I had no idea how explosively successful it would be.
Let's cut to the bottom line:
Gross revenue: $10,000,000
Net revenue after expenses (before taxes): $5,000,000 a year - straight to Markus' pocket.
Time spent working on the business: On the average, approximately 1 hour a day.
You can see why I wouldn't share this story with "normal citizens." They just would not believe it,
but now it's on the cover of Inc. so we can talk about it.
How the heck is this guy making so much
money with so little work?
You probably want to know what Markus' business is.
To get the full story, I strongly encourage you to get the Jan/Feb issue of INC Magazine.
But here's the gist of it.
Markus is using a formula that the late Ken Giddens shared with us at System 2004 (coincidentally five years ago.)
To paraphrase what he said...
"Why knock yourself out trying to sell expensive content when you can give it away to
build traffic and monetize the traffic with advertising?"
Now, this is not a pitch for going into the web advertising business as you will see later
in this letter. But it is a pitch for trying new things, thinking outside of the box and
focusing on the "traffic plus conversion equals cash" formula.
When Ken first suggested giving away eBooks by posting them on the web for free and being "satisfied" with the AdSense revenue you could make from the traffic many people thought he was crazy.
But a few smart people listened to what Ken had to say and tested it.
Markus had the then "crazy" idea of giving away a dating service...giving it away for free.
Let's look at the numbers
Look at match.com, look at eHarmony, look at chemistry.com.
They aren't giving anything away for free. Not only that, they have huge staffs and spend millions of dollars in advertising each year.
Markus has three employee, works on average an hour per day, and his traffic is 1.6 billion web pages per month...four times Match.com that needs a staff of hundreds.
What can you do with 1.6 billion page views a month? You can sell the viewership to advertisers. The INC. article starts off with Markus looking at a $180,000 order for ads on his desk.
Just another day at the office.
Now let's get to his real SECRET
The INC. article almost reads like an Internet marketing sales letter...
$10,000,000 a year....one hour of work per week...just three employees...
It sounds like an Internet marketers dream.
And it is.
After all, who wouldn't want take home pay of $13,698.63 a DAY every day of the year for an hour's worth of work per day?
But like many Internet marketing sales letters, it's high on the glamour and low on the reality of what it really takes for Markus to get these results.
- It's not the market he's in...
- It's not the business model he's using...
- It's not his technology...
All these things help, but his real secret is buried deep in the article...third page....fourteenth paragraph...last sentence to be exact.
And here it is:
"...He's thinking about the company all the time"
It pays to read the fine print.
I bet a lot of the people who read the INC. article missed this diamond.
Some will feel envy..."How come this geeky guy is doing so well?"
Some will feel ambition... "I want to do what this guy is doing!"...
Many will be happy to sit back and be content to admire him from afar..."Wow. This guy's is a genius!"
Still others will focus on his business model and try to "knock it off."
They're all missing the point and in the process they're missing out on the real opportunity in Internet marketing - and the real path to success.
Guaranteeing success is not an easy thing to do, but I can guarantee that anyone
who missed this little gem will never achieve success in any business.
The good, the bad and the ugly
The great news about Internet marketing is that you can start with no money, no plan and no clue - just like Markus did - and still end up in a very good place.
The bad news - for some - is you have to use your head...and not just for a few weeks or months while you're getting the business geared up, but for as long as you're in business.
Internet marketing is a thinking man (or woman's) game.
This does not mean you have to be a rocket scientist or genius. Far from it.
But you have to be relentless...
"...he's thinking about the company all the time."
And guess what he's thinking about?
The latest BS pitch from an Internet guru? No.
Whether or not he should spend thousands of dollars on a "coaching" program? No.
The latest and greatest new technology (i.e. a fad) that everyone is buzzing about. No.
He's thinking about the one thing that not 1 out of 100 Internet marketers gives enough thought to, and the gurus never talk about...
He's not thinking about how to outsmart his customers...or how to persuade them to buy things
that are too expensive for their budget...or how to whip the marketplace into a frenzy so that
they buy his stuff before they wake up and realize it's just hot air.
He is thinking about his customers...
He's constantly seeking to understand them better...
So that his service is more attractive and useful to them...
That's how you get 1.6 billion page views (and growing) per month.
You don't get their by being the "smartest marketer" on the block.
Guess who else follows this model?
A success story so huge
that few can wrap their mind around it
Do you look to Google as inspiration for your own business?
You should and here's why:
Just seven years ago, Google was a "me too" company in a very crowded marketplace dominated by a few "deep pockets" giants who had the whole market sewn up.
No one would have ever guessed that just seven years later (and it only took them four years in reality) they would be the undisputed #1 power on the Internet and one of the most important media companies in history.
Two guys...an idea..impossible odds...
How did they do it?
And more importantly how can you extract the lesson so that you can do the same in your arena?
This secret is so simple that everyone missed it, including me until last year...
Google tells all at the System Seminar
Two years ago, Timothy Seward of ROI Revolution, one of just a handful of
Google-certified partners, suggested that I invite Google to speak at the System Seminar.
I liked the idea a lot, but didn't know where to begin to make it happen.
After all, you don't just called up Google and say "come speak at our seminar."
Timothy used his insider connections to get a hearing for us. And after a long process - Google checked us out thoroughly - we got the answer we were hoping for: they sent one of their tracking and testing sharp shooters.
Apparently, Google liked what they saw because this year they're sending us another speaker,
Trevor Claiborne. Trevor helped launch Google Ad Planner, Trends for Websites, and Insights for Search. He's also one of the founders of Google for Business Educators, and writes for the Inside AdWords and Website Optimizer blogs.
I'm really looking forward to hearing what Trevor has to say because last year's speaker from Google,
Tom Leung, blew me away.
Here's how I got the real gold
First, I liked his talk and took away some nuggets from it.
Then, I talked with Google AdWords super heavyweights like Perry Marshall, Glenn Livingston and Howie Jacobson and grabbed some valuable insights I'd missed.
But it wasn't until a year later, when I was editing excerpts of Tom's talk to share with everyone
on the web, that the big take away really hit me.
And if I hadn't been simultaneously editing a talk that marketing legend Drayton Bird gave
at the System Intensive I'd probably have missed it.
(By the way, you can watch very same videos I'm talking about for free online.)
Drayton said two things that really resonated me with:
1. It's not always the new things we learn that make us money. It's being well reminded of
the "old" tried and true
that most often shakes the money tree best and...
2. To get the biggest audience and make the most money, your communication should be...not clever, not persuasive, not filled with embedded commands or any other nonsense...it should be first and foremost...
...a service to the reader!
Now, I've always run my business this way, but it was great to hear this articulated so clearly from a tough-minded, super experienced direct marketer with decades of real world success under his belt and billions of dollars worth of sales to show for it.
So, you ask, what does this have to do with Google's secret?
Google is all about service
There's two ways to look at customer service.
One way is to have real people answer the phones (like we do at the System Seminar office - try us during business hours).
The other way, equally as legitimate, is to make your web pages and instructions so darn simple and clear that just about everyone can "get" what to do at the first glance.
Making things as easy as Google does is not simple, but it is the #1 key to their success.
You want search results?
Google gives the best search results with no fuss or muss. (This is why Google won the search engine wars and Yahoo blew its huge lead and is now on the ropes.)
- You want to buy advertising on the web?
Google created a simple self-service format that lets anyone get qualified traffic to their web site in
minutes instead of days and weeks.
- You need to track your traffic and get the most from it?
Google gives away two of the best, most sophisticated tracking and testing software programs on
earth - the very same ones they use themselves - for free.
It's easy to look at Google's massive success and overlook this simple fact.
Google got to where it is by making this easy for its customers while its competitors, multi-billion
dollar giants like Yahoo and Microsoft and AOL Warner tried to be "smart."
How to be smart - and rich -
by being incredibly dumb
I'm going to say something that may sound shocking, but it's absolutely true.
Google is the dumbest company on earth - and maybe the dumbest company that ever was.
"Smart" people know things - or think they know things.
"Dumb" people know that they don't know anything - so they test things to find out.
"Smart" marketers assume they know what their customers want and create elaborate web sites for them - and set them in stone.
"Dumb" marketers know that they are clueless and put up something modest, track the results, and then test possible improvements...knowing every step of the way that they're too
dumb to guess what their customers want.
Are you getting the picture?
Successful marketers are "dumb" and they test their way to success...their goal being to make
things as clear and simple as possible for their customers.
This is how Google does things....and this is also how the world's smartest multi-billion dollar direct marketing veterans do things too.
They test their way to success because they know they're too "dumb" to know anything for sure until they do.
What about the $10,000,000 a year guy?
Does this formula work for Markus Frind too?
Here's what his girlfriend Annie Kancair says about him:
"He's always watching his environment to apply it to his site. Once in a while in the middle of
nowhere, he'll say 'Why is that girl doing that?' or 'Why is that guy posting like that?'
He'll check people out in restaurants and watch how they'll interact. In a way,
he's always thinking about the company."
Actually, to be more precise, he's always thinking about his customers, seeking to understand them
better because he knows he doesn't know.
It's funny isn't it?
Practically every day I meet people who "know everything" about Internet marketing already - except for one small detail....they're not making any money.
At the same time, the most successful people in the business are always probing, always asking questions, always testing new things, always reviewing the fundamentals.
Here's a very profitable idea for you
How many courses, seminars, coaching programs, eBooks and teleseminars are there about something that has to do with Google?
Whether its AdWords or SEO, people spend millions of dollars trying to learn how to "outsmart" Google.
Here's a concept...
How about talking to Google.
How about understanding what Google wants - and why - and instead
of fighting them, partner with them?
What are your real odds of outsmarting Google for the long run? As a colleague of mine who is a brilliant financial markets analyst once said: "You can game the system, but you can't beat it."
It's the same with Google. Yes, I'm sure if you spent enough time and money you could temporarily trick Google into giving you search rankings you don't really deserve - and then they'll figure out what you're doing and send you back to zero.
Does that really make any sense?
And yet, as I write this, the vast majority of Internet marketing programs are all about "gaming the system" - gaming Google, gaming customers, gaming whatever else there is to be gamed.
How about working with them instead...something you can uniquely get on the road to doing at the
System Seminar because, thanks to Timothy Seward, Google now teaches at our events.
But that's not all
Speaking of Timothy Seward, Timothy's company is one of a small handful that is certified directly by Google to offer services like training and consulting to companies that want to use the best state-of-the-art Internet marketing practices.
It's tough to get this certification. The application alone is over 70 pages long and you have to prove that your advice has helped companies make more money...and you have to get re-certified every year. You can't just rest on your laurels.
Timothy Seward will be joining us this year at System 2009 as a faculty member.
If one is good, then three is better
In addition to Trevor Claiborne from Google and Timothy Seward from ROI Revolution,
we're going to have two more Google certified consultants, Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson of Conversion Rate
Experts of London and New York.
Karl is a rocket scientist - literally. That's what he got his degree in at Cambridge University.
But when he met up with web marketer Ben Jesson he realized there was more to math than plotting rocket trajectories.
Now, if you have a business that does $10,000,000 a year or more in sales and you're willing to share revenue with Karl and Ben you can have them apply their combined brain power to your site.
But don't worry that you won't understand what they're doing. Karl uses math to
verify the validity of their results, but when it comes to understanding customers and
developing smart things to test, Karl and Ben's approach is very down to earth.
When I heard them speak at the UK Intensive in London this fall, I knew I had to have them speak at System 2009.
If you're keeping track, that's one speaker from Google and three Google-certified consultants.
You can't deal with the Internet
without Perry Marshall
Whether you know it or not, if you're in the Internet marketing world, or want to get into it,
your path has been smoothed by Perry Marshall.
Perry was the first person to thoroughly sort out the Google AdWords program and explain its potential in plain English to the world. (He did it at the 2003 System Seminar.)
Practically every Internet marketing course since then has "borrowed" from Perry's original work.
Perry is a former engineer turned technology marketer who discovered high level Internet marketing at his first System Seminar back in 2002.
Since then, he's written the definitive book of Google AdWords and he's responsible for helping bring some of the brightest minds to the Internet marketing party, people like Glenn Livingston, David Bullock, and Howie Jacobson who've made their own huge contributions to making Internet marketing easier and more effective.
So that's one speaker from Google...three Google-certified consultants...and
arguably the world's leading educator on Google AdWords at System 2009...and more.
How to throw the rules out of the window
There's a lot to do to build a successful Internet marketing business and
it's easy for
beginners and advanced people alike to get overwhelmed.
My advice to everyone - including myself - is to put the "musts" and "shoulds" to the side - and
focus on making one thing better.
No one does that better than New Zealander Sean D'Souza. If you're doing business online or
planning to, you must make his acquaintance, especially if you're in the info marketing business.
Sean uses no pay-per-click, does no SEO, does not pay affiliate commissions, does not get involved in JVs - and yet every year his business grows and grows all the while leaving him with the leisure time he wants to travel, read, think, sketch and an activity he believes strongly in..."doing nothing."
When I was first exposed to Sean's unique approach, I was blown away and when I introduced him to colleagues like Perry Marshall, they had the same reaction.
Sean is an expert at being "dumb" and taking nothing for granted. As a result he's an expert at not getting stuck and moving his business forever forward.
So that's one speaker from Google...three Google-certified
consultants...arguably the world's leading educator on Google AdWords...and a real, live Internet
marketer who is living the dream at System 2009...and more.
No products, no customers - just cash
99% of all Internet marketing education focuses on selling things.
That's not a bad thing, but it leaves out about one of the biggest opportunities in Internet
marketing: the lead generation business or as our faculty member Gauher Chaudhry calls it "traffic brokering."
Traffic brokering has been one of the best kept secrets in Internet marketing since Internet marketing began fifteen years ago. In fact, some of the biggest "small" online success stories I know of are traffic brokers.
Traffic brokers never handle product and they never deal with customers. They just cash checks. I know this sounds too good to be true, but it's an accurate definition.
What do they get paid for?
For finding and sending qualified traffic to online merchants. Using the classic "buy low, sell high" formula, they find traffic sources that "fit" specific companies, point the traffic at them, and then earn CPA (cost per action) commissions.
Here's why this business works so well...
Most companies that sell things online are totally clueless about how to get qualified traffic. They know how to make their product, how to sell it, how to ship it, and how to serve customers.
Gauher focuses on one thing and one thing only, getting them the traffic they need and once he sorts out a "system" for a client, it becomes a little oil well for him pumping out brokerage fees day in and day out.
So that's one speaker from Google...three
Google-certified consultants...arguably the world's leading educator on Google AdWords...a
real, live Internet marketer who is living the dream...and a master of the semi-secret and
highly lucrative art of traffic brokering at System 2009...and more.
The Internet money machine builder
James Martell was a house builder and when you build houses for a living you quickly learn that you can't do it all and you must figure out how to find, attract, and manage skilled crafts people: excavators, foundation builders, frame carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers, finish carpenters.
Ten years ago, James took a good look at the Internet and realized he could apply the same systematic approach he applied to building houses and apply it to Internet business building.
If you want to, you can do it all, but very often it's a good idea to bring in select people as contractors to handle specific tasks for you.
One of the big lessons that James has learned over the past ten years is how to get lots of
high quality traffic for free. As important, he's learned a simple, no nonsense Google-friendly approach for doing it.
Right now as you read this, thousands of Internet entrepreneurs are spending thousands of dollars and countless hours trying to learn incredibly complicated "tricks" to fool Google into giving them high search engine rankings.
Like the rest of our "dumb" faculty, James found a much easier and more reliable way of doing things
that takes less time.
Of course, if you really want to do it the "smart" way you too can pay big bucks to learn how to
spend 20 to 40 hours a week trying to "optimize" your site according to rules that change every
few months, but I don't recommend that. I recommend James.
So that's one speaker from Google...three Google-certified consultants...arguably the world's
leading educator on Google AdWords...a real, live Internet marketer who is living the dream...
a master of the semi-secret and highly lucrative art of traffic brokering at System 2009...and
a wizard at getting high quality web traffic for free...and more.
The huge opportunity that everyone is missing
One billion people have access to the Internet. Three billion have cells phones.
Traditional access to the Internet requires going home, or to your office, or to a crowded Internet cafe, or lugging a lap top around.
24/7 mobile access to the Internet is carried in your pocket.
Who do you think is going to win?
Thanks to the smart devices like the iPhone and the Blackberry, accessing the web via mobile is becoming more and more common - and the growth curve is straight up.
How many web marketers are ready for this? Right now I'd say less than 1 in 1,000. It could be as few as 1 in 10,0000.
But System grad Kim Dushinski is ready. Her book, the mobile industry-acclaimed "Mobile
Marketing Handbook" is in stores now and she will be sharing the latest and best stuff from this
explosive new marketing channel at System 2009.
(You may have seen Kim's video review of mobile marketing Super Bowl ads. She really
knows her stuff and if you're an Internet marketer, you want to get to know Kim.)
Let's see that's...
one speaker from Google...
three Google-certified consultants...
arguably the world's leading educator on Google AdWords...
a real, live Internet marketer who is living the dream...
a master of the semi-secret and highly lucrative art of traffic brokering at System 2009...
a wizard at getting high quality web traffic for free...and
one of the world's leading authorities on mobile web marketing...
And you'll only find them at once place...System 2009 in Chicago, March 27 through 29.
And I'll be there too.
2009 is the year to make it happen
This is a big year for Internet marketing...but most people don't realize it yet...
They're still playing from last year's playbook.
If you look at my 15 year record of teaching Internet marketing, we don't play that way.
We've always been ahead of the curve and leading the market.
First web marketing seminar ever (1994)
Taught the guy who made the banner ad popular (1994)
Some of the earliest ever tests on legitimate e-mail marketing and list building (1994)
Developed a primitive sequential auto-responder (1996)
Started training people on how to use PPC as a research and direct marketing tool (2000)
First seminar to integrate SEO and pay-per-click with a direct marketing approach to Internet marketing (2001)
The first System Seminar (2002)
One of the earliest blogs on Internet video (2005)
2009, like 1994, is a pivotal year.
Like it was in 1994, the economy is wobbly. The media is saying the sky is falling.
Businesses are cutting back...and I say there's only one sensible response: get tough.
Tighten up your marketing...deepen your know-how...learn how to test, and test more...grab brand new traffic sources...turn on brand new income streams.
That's what my students and I are doing and all the reports I've gotten back are positive.
In 1994, when there was close to zero web business, I made money on the web... In 2002 when
the dotcom crash and 9/11 stopped everyone in their tracks, we expanded...now it's 2009 and after
15 years of marketing online and being on the "inside" of countless Internet marketing success stories, I've
developed a new model for Internet marketing that virtually guarantees success.
I'll be talking about it at System 2009 and to back it up, I'll have some of the world's leading practical authorities helping me.
I've hinted at the method in this letter, but obviously there's a lot more than I can cover in this format.
If you've been thinking about coming to a System Seminar, this is the one you won't want to miss.
If you're a veteran, you are making the world's biggest mistake if you think you "know it all."
Like we did in 1994 and then again in 2002, we're putting together a path breaking, cutting edge
training that's going to leave everyone else in the dust.
If you want to start an Internet-based business, add the Internet to your marketing mix, or greatly expand your current online business, 2009 is the year to do it and System 2009 is the place to launch yourself.
To register for the seminar, you can go here:
To learn more about the seminar, go here:
To hear in depth interviews with each of the experts mentioned in this letter, go here:
Founder, The System Seminar
The Annual System Seminar
March 27 - 29, 2009