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Why Online Marketers Are Stuck In The 1950s

Online marketers today are using marketing concepts that the rest of the marketing world abandoned in the late 1950s. This post share what we can do to move into the present.

Online marketers today are using marketing concepts that the rest of the marketing world abandoned in the late 1950s. Now you might be scratching your head, wondering what the hell I’m talking about… but hang with me here, and I’ll explain.

In order to get to the bottom of this issue, we first need to take a little trip down memory lane to discover why we’re still stuck with these concepts. Then we’ll talk about how we should actually be marketing today.

5 Big Marketing Concepts

Before we dive in, let me forewarn you that the way most people are teaching us to market in the online business landscape is backward. So let’s look at the 5 major marketing concepts that have developed since the 1950s.

Production Concept

This is the idea that people want your product to be easily available and inexpensive. Marketing isn’t everything in your business, but everything you’re doing in marketing should be about making your product cheap and available everywhere.

It’s a race to the bottom. Some things can be cheap, like paperclips, but there are some things that we want to be of higher quality, which contributes to higher prices.

Product Concept

The product concept is the idea that people want a better product, something more innovative and exceptional. While it’s a good development, the product concept leads to the better mousetrap problem where people feel like they need to come up with a “better” mousetrap even when the original one is still more effective and cheaper.

If you think about it, if there’s already a product that does the job and does it sufficiently for 10 cents, I don’t want a better one that I pay 1 dollar for.

Selling Concept

This concept is based on the belief that when left to their own devices, consumers won’t buy enough of your products. So the job of marketing is to generate demand so that people will buy a product that they wouldn’t buy otherwise. This is what is common in the online marketing space.

Remember, people don’t like being sold to all of the time. The selling concept might help you make that first sale, but it’s probably not going to help you make the second sale and create lifetime customers. That’s because they feel like all you’re doing is getting them to buy.

Marketing Concept

In the marketing concept, a marketer is syncing what’s happening in the market and reacting. Instead of trying to create a product first, find customers second, and then generate demand for your product third, you do the reverse.  

Instead of saying, “How do I find more customers for my product,” you say, “How do I create a product for my customers?”

It’s a subtle shift that involves listening first to sense what your audience is telling you and then creating a product to meet that demand.

Holistic Marketing Approach

This concept takes the marketing concept and adds some layers to it. Among other things, it actively recognizes the interconnectedness of everything happening in your business. It recognizes that marketing isn’t just about communicating with the market but also involves building relationships with various stakeholders, including your team, suppliers, and peers.

The holistic marketing concept also says you need to be taking a stance on issues outside the marketing world. You need to be speaking out on things that matter to you socially, politically, and culturally.

Most Online Marketers Are In The Selling Concept

Notice how marketing has evolved over the years to become more focused on the customer? When you’re practicing holistic marketing, you’re so well aligned with your market that you don’t have to hard sell them. Instead people are ready to buy. All you have to do is say, here’s my product, and they’re gonna buy it.

If you’re hearing from people that you have to be really active in selling and getting people to run and buy, it’s a sign that they’re teaching you an approach to marketing that’s not really marketing, it’s selling.

The Launch Mentality

I’m not gonna say that launching is never a good idea, but when you listen to people explain why you should be launching, the explanation is always: “That’s how you create demand for your product.” It’s the idea that without a launch, people aren’t going to want to buy your product.

Launching is about getting people to buy, but candidly, it’s also about getting people to buy who shouldn’t buy. Think about it for a second, what happens during a launch? A lot of people buy because of FOMO (fear of missing out), not because they look up and realize that yes, they need this product. Everybody feels like they have to buy because everybody else is buying.

I’m here to say that’s BS. If you’re selling an online course, that’s something that people want a heck of a lot more than legal templates, but I can sell legal templates without a launch. When you find the right offer, even in the digital space, you don’t need a launch to create demand.

Limited Open Cart Periods

Most of the online marketing gurus are teaching that we have to use limited open cart periods to create urgency and scarcity so that people will buy. In other words, you don’t have your products for sale all the time. Often this is used in conjunction with a launch model but not always.

They’ll tell you that without urgency and scarcity, people will never buy. The reason you need urgency and scarcity is the same reason you need to launch… there isn’t enough demand for your product. With limited open cart periods, you create FOMO, which helps convert people who probably shouldn’t buy.

This is part of the reason so few people finish online courses. They put money into these products, they feel like they have to do those things even when they aren’t really sure how they’re gonna be useful to them. They just feared they won’t be able to buy for another year if they don’t buy now.

What Being A Serve-First Entrepreneur Means

What bothers me about so many of the people teaching us about selling is that they’re describing what they’re doing as serving. You can follow their advice and do what they teach, but don’t tell me you’re a serve-first entrepreneur if you’re using manufactured urgency and scarcity to get people to buy.

Instead, ask yourself, “Is that the best way to serve my audience?” Is forcing a decision now the best way to serve your people?

If you’re focused on making more money by getting more people to buy even when they’re not ready, you’re not serving them. 

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not against making money, I want to be clear. I just don’t want people whose motivation is money to tell me that they’re focused on serving.

Now, maybe you’re wondering what this looks like in practice, so let’s break it down.

How To Adapt Into The Present

  1. Create products in response to what your audience is asking you for

Instead of creating a product first and then trying to sell it, start by researching. You need to listen to your audience and identify what it is that they want to learn from you. And when you figure it out, that’s the product you create in response to the demand. When you understand what your audience needs, you’ll be able to create a product they want to buy.

  1. Use the holistic approach

When you embrace holistic marketing, you’re looking at the big picture and recognizing how everything fits together. You see how listening to your audience fits in with the products you create and how talking to your customers, interacting with your peers, and building relationships with your suppliers and team helps you grow. 

  1. Build goodwill in your business

While other people tell you to do direct response marketing and ask your audience to take a particular action so you can track the numbers, I say go out there and build your brand awareness.

Most businesses in bigger markets outside the online space are built on brand awareness, not on direct response. It’s about getting your name out there. It’s about building goodwill over time and establishing a reputation of being the go-to person for a particular product or service. Goodwill will help you create brand advocates and increase the lifetime value of your customers.

Yes, it takes time. It’s not an immediate response like direct response, but it will pay off in spades.

  1. Take a stand

Think about what you believe in and what you stand for. But think about something that makes you different, something that makes people choose you instead of all the other people that they could listen to. That could be having charity built in your business or taking a stance on social issues. Think about how you can authentically weave this into your business.

Catching Up With The Times

Instead of thinking, “I’m gonna create a product and then go find the customers and generate a demand for it,” it’s time to center your business on holistic marketing and build relationships, connections, and brand awareness. 

I don’t know when the outdated method that the online marketers are using is going to stop working, but I steadfastly believe that at some point it will. And the people who are going to succeed after that are the people who have moved on from these outdated methods and built a reputation, goodwill, and their brand. Which would you rather be doing?

If you’ve made it this far, I’m guessing you’re serious about building a real online business. I want to extend an invitation to you to join my BADA$$ Online Marketing University. It’s my totally FREE signature training program designed to help online entrepreneurs like you build and market their businesses.