• Future for Internet Marketers

    Have you ever attended a class where the instructor followed the Socratic method of teaching? You remember, only questions, no direct answers. Some discussions lend themselves best to that format, and this look at some possible future trends in Internet marketing is one of them. Mainly because there are no answers at this point, only the questions we pose!

    Internet marketers by and large are used to creating products for, and selling to, a predominantly western audience. Whether inside the marketing niche or not, today’s web sites, autoresponder sequences, mailing lists, payment processing systems, and overall way of doing business have evolved around the needs and wants of target markets in the western world. And any experienced marketer knows it can be difficult. Despite popular notions that you can start an Internet business and watch the money roll in, the reality is that there is a lot of competition from other webmasters, regardless of the market or type of products you promote.

    Looking ahead, have you considered the impact of even more competition – lots more? In Asia, in particular China and India, large, well-educated populations, a lower cost of living with much-improved standards, and more widely available Internet access may combine in the near future to create a lot more Internet marketers. Many are well-versed in technical aspects of the Internet, including programming and site development. In fact, if you’ve ever used any of the various freelance sites to outsource technical projects, you’ve seen that many of the bidders are from Asia. With populations of one billion people and more in those two countries alone, the current generation is certainly well-attuned to the Internet, and being avid surfers, are no doubt aware of the commercial opportunities and worldwide reach available only on the net. It’s likely only a matter of time before they begin marketing to western audiences themselves.

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    Whether through affiliate marketing, or by developing new products to sell on their own behalf, the prospect of increased competition for current Internet marketers is very real, and likely very near. The biggest hurdles will be language and market understanding. After all, it’s difficult enough to write effective sales letters in ones native language, even if addressed to a market and culture you understand. Over time, even those barriers will fall – face it, just as programming can be outsourced, so can marketing and language assistance.

    The potential competition can sound ominous. And depending on your outlook, it can be. For every new product that pays affiliate commissions, there soon could be lots more marketers trying to promote it to the same audience. And for every new product of your own you develop, similar products with more features and selling for a lower price could appear. That already happens now to an extent. What will it be like with even more marketers and developers competing? But change can also be good news. You as an individual marketer can either complain about the unfairness of it all, or you can choose to adapt your business to the inevitable and prosper.

    As new marketers, and surfers in general, from China, India, and elsewhere come online, they will also create entirely new markets to sell to, markets that weren’t there just a short time ago. After all, as marketers they will need the same types of products and services that western marketers need. And as surfers and eventual online buyers, their consumers will want not only western, but also regional and cultural goods, just as online shoppers in the western world do now. Of course, marketers in those regions will also compete in their local markets, as well as western ones. The globalization of Internet marketing will continue rapidly, no doubt about it. To stay in the game, western marketers would be well-advised to begin their strategic planning for this trend now. New markets and new opportunities are forming – learn to spot them at a distance through global binoculars!

  • Marketing Is A Long-Term Investment

    “Dig your well before you’re thirsty” is the title of a wonderful book by Harvey Mackay.  It is smart advice for investing your money, “Save your money before you need it”, or growing your business, “Market today for tomorrow”.  When times are tough some businesses stop marketing. They reason, ‘No one is buying so why should I advertise?’ The other time some businesses stop marketing is when they are selling like crazy. Again they figure – ‘I can’t handle any more business right now so why promote?’

    Two key points here. Advertising is only one narrow form of marketing. Marketing is about sending messages. You send messages in a plethora of avenues; advertising, customer service, by association, quality, public relations, sponsorship, awards, etc… And the second point; marketing is a long-term investment.  Selling is immediate. When times are slow you need to crank-up the selling efforts. How do you escape from a sales crisis? Improve selling skills, search out new markets, offer more value and most importantly be systematic. When there is a fire, put out the fire.  Preventing the fires of tomorrow is marketing. That is why marketing is so difficult to justify or measure. The good marketing you do today will pay off in a few weeks, months or even years. Is it worth it? Only if you want to be in business in a few years.

    Invest wisely in your marketing. Many of the principles of investing money apply to marketing. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Your message must reach your prospect along several avenues. That conveys more credibility. For example; you might advertise in a magazine, sponsor a community event, send out news releases and offer extras on your website. Your investment portfolio should be diversified, so should your marketing. Warren Buffet’s long-term strategy to ‘make smart investments and hold’ can apply to your marketing. Make a long term marketing commitment to yourself. Stick to it. Be consistent and persistent. That is smart investing and smart marketing.

    Financial success concept

    Consider the different forms of currency in your business. Cash is the most obvious. A signed order is another. Receivables are currency – you can even use them for collateral – or sell them. But some forms of currency look better than others. If cash is best then you might be tempted never to give credit to customers. But you might lose sales because of that. So you may decide to give credit to approved customers – knowing that you can likely convert the receivable to cash. Even signed orders are currency – you can factor them to obtain financing.  Marketing is another form of currency in your business. Good marketing creates customer awareness, goodwill, education, credibility, even desire. All of that can be converted into signed orders, receivables and hence cash.

    All forms of currency are convertible. But the conversion rate is not 1 to 1 nor is it totally predictable. Some receivables become bad debt. Some signed orders get cancelled. Some marketing efforts just spin off into the universe like a lost asteroid. For that reason do not expect that every dollar spent on marketing pays off the same. For example if you do a mass mailing some of those envelopes go undelivered, some never get opened, a few get read – and even fewer acted upon. But you need to mail to the whole list to reach the ones that read it.

    You might believe that cash is a better currency than marketing. Marketing can be better than cash because a creative marketing campaign can pay back many times over. If you realize that when you market you are creating currency – you can view your marketing in a more productive light. The more creative you are in your marketing – the greater leverage you get.  Marketing like currency is synergistic. When you have money the banks will loan you more – but when you have none and want some, what do they say? ‘You got none so we can’t give you any.’

    Marketing works the same way. When you generate lots of exposure – you get more. When you are hot everyone wants you. When you are cold – you get the freezer. Keep sending your marketing messages regularly. Some businesses get busy with business and forget to market. And then the feast runs out and they start marketing again.  Because marketing is currency there are times when instead of cash you might accept payment in marketing currency. This might be a straight barter deal. I give you $1,000 of my product for $1,000 of your product. This is one way to get ‘free’ advertising. Trade your product for ad space or media time. This only works if the media company needs your product and don’t have budget, (cash), to buy.

  • The Key To Stock Market Investments

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    The ebb and flow of stock markets present opportunities to profit if an investor understands these cycles. Since 1900 we have had 27 bull markets with corresponding bear markets to make things interesting. Presently, we are experiencing the 6th longest and the 5th weakest stock market rally as measured by the Dow.

    While this is interesting, it would be more helpful if we could better understand these cycles in the market. Well, the stock market does tend to move in cycles, short term (also called cyclical), and long term (also called secular). Secular markets typically can last between 10 to 20 years, while cyclical markets usually last between 2 – 3 years on average. Think of a secular market as the primary long term trend, while a cyclical market is simply a shorter term cycle within the primary long term secular market.

    As investors and traders, we need to understand where we are within these market cycles, so we can be on the right side of the trend to enhance our success. For example, the market was in a secular bull market from 1982 – 2000, experiencing a strong primary uptrend where the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased over 10 fold from about a low of 800 to over 10,000. Of course, there were short term bear markets such as in 1987, however, the easy money was made on the long side as the primary trend was up.

    However, here’s where the danger lies: The majority of investors today have only experienced a secular bull market, such as the one from 1982 – 2000. Most of us have not experienced a long term secular bear market where the primary trend is mostly sideways to slightly down. The last secular bear market lasted 16 years from 1966 to 1982. Just to give you some perspective, the Dow Jones hit a high near 1000 in 1966, and hit a low in the 800s during 1982. In other words, the Dow essentially was flat for 16 years. During this time, the ‘easy money’ was not made on the long or short side, but by being being a good stock picker identifying undervalued opportunities, special situation stocks, and sectors that are temporarily strong. Understanding whether we are in a cyclical bull or bear market greatly enhances our chances for success.

    The problem is that the secular bull market that began in 1982 ended in 2000. Therefore, while the stock brokers advice to hold for the long term was good advice for a secular bull market, it is totally the wrong strategy for a new secular bear market. The market entered into a new secular bear market in 2000, and as history shows, this new secular bear market will probably last at least until 2010 or longer. The market rally from early 2003 until now is simply a cyclical bull market within the new long term secular bear market. Holding for the long term will not work in this new secular bear market.