Perry Marshall On The Realities Of Internet Marketing

Submitted by Dmitri Davydov on Tue, 2007-04-24 10:15.
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There are few things with more surface level appeal than selling information, especially selling it on the Internet.  You've heard the pitch: "How to sell Ebooks, MP3s and videos on your website 24/7/365 with 95% profit margins and no customer service headaches, sitting on the beach eating bon-bons... and the really cool part is when your laptop goes 'cha-ching' every time a sale is made."

Reality is no match for a good fantasy, is it?

There is definitely an element of truth in this particular fantasy; there are also some less-obvious practicalities.  The information business is great for some people.  It would drive others into the asylum.  Some of my own thoughts about the info biz:

1.  Don't get into the info biz "just because" the margins are high or you can make a lot of dough or whatever.  Actually the #1 reason to be selling information is one that the seminars and biz-op people tend to barely mention: That you actually do know something that is valuable to other people and you have a commitment to delivering accurate, useful knowledge to them.

Personally I think everyone who teaches others will be judged on the quality of what they've taught and that's not a responsibility to be taken lightly.

If you are up to that task, then the info business could be very good for you.

To that I would add that most people know things that are extremely useful to other people, they usually just don't realize it, and they don't know how to package that knowledge in a way that can be sold. But it is possible to find out how.

2.  All the people I know who are good info marketers have a genuine gift and desire to teach and empower other people.  And I've seen a lot of strange info businesses: aside from the well known common types, ie "business gurus" and such, there are others in completely different fields.  Videos of motorcycle racing events and 4x4's.  Instructional videos for musicians.  Foreign languages.  Guides to building and repairing and buying and selling various kinds of specialized merchandise.  Advice on every known form of investment. Instructions for solving every imaginable kind of physical, psychological or health challenge.

3.  The world has an insatiable appetite for genuinely useful information, regardless of the topic.  More knowledge builds on existing knowledge, endlessly.  The market for information never goes away.

4.  Reality Check: High margins and low product delivery and fulfillment costs are offset by high cost of acquiring a customer. Some people should just sell physical products; in many ways they're much easier to sell, just harder to fulfill and service.  Six of one, half a dozen of the other.  That's why I think that if you're going to be in the info business, it should be something you love to do.

5.  Can you run your business from the beach?  Absolutely, you can. You can run an information business from anywhere.  Northern Mongolia.  Or parts of Western Nebraska.  But is it a "walk away income"?  No it is not.  It is going to require a level of ongoing attention.

6.  That said, I know quite a few info marketers who make low 6-figure incomes (typically in strange and obscure niches) whose businesses are highly automated and require relatively little day-to-day attention.  In many cases they're so specialized they're also relatively immune from competition.

7.  I also know quite a few info marketers whose incomes rival those of, say, presidents of large universities and Fortune 1000 CEOs - high six to low seven figures - who work their buns off and love what they do.  Their lives have a LOT less politics than Fortune 1000 CEO's.  And... compared to the politics of a university(!) ANY info business is surely utopia.  (No amount of money would persuade ME to be the president of Stanford.)

8.  Wanna be a cat on a hot tin roof?  If your topic is one that changes all the time, welcome to the club.  You can't sit still for long.  But hey... if you're a fidgety guy who can't sit still anyway, that's just fine.  (It's not like your wife will let you chase her around the house ALL day long.)

9.  But if it's all about lifestyle for you, pick an obscure niche where things aren't in a constant state of flux.  I know info products whose content and sales copy have barely changed in 10 years. 

10.  Merely delivering a passive information product (i.e. course, manual, video) has income limitations.  A considerable amount of additional growth is possible if you're also willing to offer memberships, coaching programs, consulting and seminars.  The nice thing is from one month to the next you can decide what you want to offer.  And if you need to take the summer mostly off, you can.

Perry Marshall,

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