Why The Online Marketing Model Is Broken

25 Jun, 2021 By Bobby Klinck

The online marketing industry is facing some major problems. Now, if you’ve been around this space for a while, you’re probably thinking, “Well, duh.” But sometimes it can be difficult to pin down exactly what the specific issues are.

Over the past year, I’ve come to realize that the root of the problem is that much of what we’re being taught as online marketers is outdated and not in line with best marketing practices. Now, these practices appear to work… at least on the surface, but the problem is they’re creating a lot of collateral damage.

If we want to make this space a place where people can build real businesses that solve real problems, then we need to adjust the way we’re thinking about marketing and change some of the things we’re currently doing in our online businesses. 

I realize this sounds a bit vague, so let’s dig a little deeper into the four main practices in the online marketing model that are broken.

We’re Living In An Echo Chamber

We’re learning marketing from other online marketers, and most of them learned from other online marketers, who learned from other marketers… you get what I mean?

Now you might wonder, what’s wrong with that?

The problem is we’re getting a distorted view. Like that telephone game you used to play when you were a kid, the message gets translated over and over again, and something gets lost in the process.

In physics, if you have a full chamber and something starts a shockwave, it gets bounced back and forth, gets stronger and stronger, and eventually, can explode. That’s what’s happening in the online marketing space.

We’re being taught certain things that are drowning out everything else, partly because a lot of online marketers no longer look outside of the online space.

A Broader Perspective

I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that I ought to look at brick-and-mortar businesses like Apple, Nike, and GE and see what they’re doing that works. These are companies that have stood the test of time, and they’ve built themselves on marketing.

On the contrary, in the online marketing space, we’re being taught to use techniques that people have cobbled together based on this echo chamber instead of learning from people who are trained in traditional marketing practices.

We’re learning what worked for the online marketing gurus. Yet, that doesn’t mean that it will work for us the same. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the RIGHT way. It only means that it’s ONE way.

It’s a way that works for them, and maybe it will work for us too, but it might not. We need to recognize that reality in the online space.

There’s no guarantee that if we follow their ways, it’s going to work for us as well. You may need to try different online marketing techniques before you find the one that works for you. You also need to be willing to look outside of the online marketing space to get ideas, see what other companies are doing, and learn from them.

Online Marketing Gurus Aren’t Actually Teaching Us Marketing

What the people in the online space are teaching us isn’t actually marketing. Wait, what? Bobby, have you lost it? Nope, hang with me here.

There are a lot of fancy techniques we learn about online marketing to get people to buy our products and services. However, marketing should result in a customer who’s ready to buy because it’s the right time for them. So you’ll know you’re doing online marketing right when you don’t need crazy, high pressure tactics to make a sale.

Now I don’t say that as an indictment. What I want you to understand is that marketing is the process of getting people warmed up. It’s the process of understanding your customers so you can create the product or service they need.

Launch techniques, direct response marketing, and all that stuff are about selling, not marketing. Yes, you have to sell and convert people as part of your overall marketing plan. But instead of focusing on launch messaging, getting people excited, and creating different triggers so that they’ll buy, start by cultivating relationships for the long term.

When you focus on serving your audience first, you’ll build a solid business. When you look at the companies that have been around and built businesses that last, they’re not worried about every last dollar. They’re the ones that have created brand evangelists and loyal customers that keep coming back.

Online Marketers Want A Magic Pill

Many people in the online marketing space want a quick fix that’s gonna give them instant results. We need to stop asking for that, and the people teaching us this stuff need to stop presenting solutions as if they’re a freaking magic pill… because they’re not.

I want everyone to understand that there’s no secret solution. And you wouldn’t really want a magic pill because if there’s only one thing we need to know and learn, then we wouldn’t have businesses because everybody would have it figured out.

The reality is that what makes online entrepreneurs successful is their willingness to do the work. If you’re not willing to do the work, you’re not gonna build a successful business.

People Follow Just One Guru

Another problem in the online marketing space is that people have become guru worshipers. What I mean by that is that people follow one guru and say, “This person has everything I need. That’s all I need to do.”

Let me give you some bad news: it’s not true. No one person can teach you everything you need and help you with everything you need to build a successful business.

So don’t look up to just one person and put them on a pedestal. Instead, you should learn from different mentors. Look at them and see the things they’re doing that you like and recognize the things they’re not doing as well.

They’re going to make mistakes, but more importantly, they’re going to have strengths and weaknesses. So the best way for you to build the business that you want and be crazy-successful is to learn from a lot of different people.

There’s no online business cookie-cutter. There’s no one size fits all. You can’t go to one guru and say, “I’m gonna copy that person’s business.” You’ve got to create your own business.

A Way Forward

If you want to build an online business the right way, you’ve got to expand what you’re doing. You’ve got to look at all the different things we’ve discussed above. Get out of the echo chamber, learn from traditional marketers, stop looking for a magic pill and do the work, and be willing to learn from multiple people.

You can learn more about doing online marketing the right way and building a successful business at BADA$$ Online Marketing University. It’s my completely FREE signature program that’s designed to help you build the business that’s right for you.

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Bobby Klinck

Harvard Lawyer and Online Entrepreneur