17 Predictions About the Future of Internet Marketing

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It’s common to hear entrepreneurs say “execution is all that counts”– but it’s not. The premises under which your are executing count even more. I’ve been building customer relationships in a broad range of industries for the last 5 years. The quality of my execution seems consistent, yet we are wildly successful in some niches, and barely alive in others. What’s the variable? More and more, I’m looking to the quality of my initial premises.

Winning business strategies often combine proven business models with unproven or trending customer acquisition models.  

In other words, take your membership training site, affiliate blog, or seminar coaching series, and add a twist by betting on a trend or emerging model to attract customers to your product.

To try and help with this type of brainstorming, I’ve listed 17 trends I’m seeing in the “internet marketing” world. Internet marketing (also called “make money online”) is one of the more monied niches online, and as a result it’s also one of the most innovative. Many products in niches like “productivity” or “passion” or “blogging” or “lifestyle design” and countless others are, at the core, internet marketing products as well.

  1. Your customer’s track record will become more important than yours. More than ever before, you need to have a home run answer to the question how much money do you make and what have you done? That’s just the beginning, in the coming years it’ll matter even more how your customers are fairing.
  2. Niche specific tool sets will be huge. Suites of online tools that empower entrepreneurs will no longer require massive scale to develop, so it’ll be much easier (and more profitable) to create custom or white labeled tools to fit niche communities.
  3. Expensive ebooks are dead. I’m sorry. Stop writing that $97 ebook right now. It’s not going to work out. Build a real product, then consider the ebook as a marketing tool, if necessary.
  4. Cultivated and proctored communities will start popping up everywhere. The readers of the TMBA often cite “100 True Customers” as one of our most useful articles. There you’ll find a pretty clear plan for making $40,000 a year as a content producer. I think this appraoch will get utilized a lot more in the coming years.
  5. $2,000 DVD training courses are dead. You know what I mean– they aren’t dead, they are like “Microsoft dead.” They’ll continue to work for people with deep pockets and for those who are in the game. If something like this is your idea of how you are going to get a foothold in a market, I’m on my way to bet against you.
  6. Podcasting is the new blogging. Instead of starting a blog, start a podcast. Recently, Pat Flynn reported the the number of unique visitors to his blog was surpassed by the number of podcast enclosure downloads of his podcast. (Balla Pat!) I’m not surprised…
  7. Blogs will continue to be the most powerful brand building force new online ventures have. They’ll also continue to be the most resource intensive. So it goes. It’s no wonder solopreneuers who use blog-marketing as a customer aquisition strategy end up just being full time blog-marketers.
  8. The market value of chops has never been higher. Podcasts as such powerful marketing tools because even on the 3rd episode of a new podcast, you’ll have an immediate idea of how much you trust the speaker. You’ll also have a clear idea of how knowledgeable they are. If you don’t have chops, don’t worry, you’ll just have to buckle down and do some real work.
  9. Personal freedom is slowly starting to be articulated as “personal sovereignty.” That space will explode in the next 5 years. Get in while the gettin’ is good.
  10. Your customers will need to use your product and be successful for you to have a sustainable online marketing business. I always thought it was dip-shitty when internet marketers feigned complaint that their customers never “implemented their product.” Those conversations will go the way of the dodo. If your customers “don’t implement your product” you’ll “go out of business.”
  11. In-person events and training will explode. Events provide a ton of value, it’s cheaper to move around, and your target market has a more flexible income. Easy call.
  12. The daily podcast format will become prominent. James Shremko is already testing it out (take a walk, listen to this episode, and tell me you don’t run back home looking for a notepad!). People will write me one year from now and  “hey you were right about that daily podcast thing!”
  13. More and more, content will need to be delivered with high-level consulting. No more $2,000 DVDs, instead I’ll get on the phone with you once a week and walk you through a deliverable. This is way better than some worksheet or video. Even Frank Kern is doing it.
  14. More 4th wave internet marketers will emerge. They will be selling you blog networks, software suites, audiences, ad campaigns, e-commerce sites, niche websites, blogs– you name it. 
  15. University educations will start to look more like internet marketing training, and internet marketing training will start to look more like university educations. They’ll converge and find a middle ground in the coming decade.
  16. If you want to start a blog about entrepreneurship or personal development and you don’t have an angle that gets everyone in the room FREAKING PUMPED and saying they’d buy products from such a publisher… don’t do it. It’s getting harder. The good news is that it’s easier to spend your energy on creating a great premise than it is publishing blog posts into the inter-nether world.
  17. Apprenticeship is back. We aren’t all about internships anymore, but this next decade will be.

As always, I’m curious to hear your thoughts as well.

Cheers,

Dan
@TropicalMBA

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Published on 07.24.12
  • http://FoolishAdventure.com Tim Conley

    Personal freedom is slowly starting to be articulated as “personal sovereignty.” That space willexplode in the next 5 years. Get in while the gettin’ is good.

    I think the reason this is happening is that “regular” people have are getting to see a world of personal freedom that they didn’t think was possible before “lifestyle design” came about. And lifestyle design didn’t sound all crazy like those guys renouncing their citizenships and getting overseas trusts and offshore corporations.

    But once they start experiencing more freedom it is so difficult to go back to less freedom and the concept of personal sovereignty no longer sounds crazy, but sounds inevitable.

    One of my all time favorite books is The Sovereign Individual by Davidson & Rees-Mogg. It’s 15 years old, but still completely relevant to what’s going on today. It was and is that predictive.

  • http://lucidability.com/ Jamie Alexander

    Number 1 stands out as a really big one. There is hundreds of MMO blogs and I bet 99.9% of them end up making less than 1% of their readers successful. Last time I looked it wasn’t a very good batting average.

    I don’t think eBooks are dead, though. Not with the amount of Kindles and iPads getting sold. I always think electronic information will be available in some form.

    More or less agree with all the rest apart from 6. I think some people will always read content. I don’t think Pat makes $30,000 per month from Bluehost because of Itunes. I do think podcasts and video will become much bigger.

  • http://www.www.FusionMindfulness.com/ Brian Miles

    I don’t think you can sell an eBook on the Kindle for $97 though. That said, there’s a much bigger market sitting there so maybe elasticity dictates you drop your price significantly because you’ll make it up in sales.

  • Sheyi | ivblogger.com

    Dan, I do not understand no 16 well… can you explain please?

    Sheyi

  • http://lucidability.com/ Jamie Alexander

    Yeah, if you bring price into it I agree. That said, I think the conversion rate will be higher because it’s in Amazon. Not $97 higher; but maybe $27ish

  • Lon David

    I can already see a trend emerging here with the comments and everyone wanting further explanation on a topic, but…
    I am really curious about #9? Would love another post in the future going a little further.
    Thanks as always Dan…

  • http://www.www.FusionMindfulness.com/ Brian Miles

    People who figure out how to harness the explosion in eBook growth through Amazon are going to make a lot of money for a while.

  • http://lucidability.com/ Jamie Alexander

    I think they might be able to keep it going if they have a way to drive traffic ie blog. Amazon will probably become too saturated that it will be hard to get to the top without an external traffic method.

    But if you can still keep sending people to Amazon I think the conversions will stay the same, maybe even grow as tablets and notebooks take over the world lol

  • http://twitter.com/JohnMcIntyre_ John McIntyre

    “#3 Expensive ebooks are dead.”

    I think the real issue here is value. If you can buy an ebook for $97 and get over $1000 of value from it, then it’s a good purchase. Period. But if there is no compelling reason for it to be $97, then yeah, it’s dead in the water.

    As the internet becomes more competitive, it’s no longer enough just to have the balls to try stuff. As competition grows (as the next 3 billion people come “online”), key differentiators won’t be who can do SEO or PPC (because everyone can do it), it’ll be who understands marketing and business strategy (including pricing strategy). Reading “make money online” ebooks is no longer good enough. People are gonna have to understand business fundamentals. This is the difference between John Smith who sets up a few adsense sites and makes $300 a month, and a fully-fledged business like what the Adsense Flippers are doing.

    I’d summarize your post (and the future) like this – tactics are on the way out, strategy is on the way in.

  • http://twitter.com/JohnMcIntyre_ John McIntyre

    If everyone starts dropping their prices, one of the best ways to compete will be to raise prices.

  • http://lucidability.com/ Jamie Alexander

    I was more meaning Kindle books. I have a way I’m going to compete and it’s not price. I don’t mind testing and using the most effective price though.

  • http://www.hustletoparadise.com/ Harrison

    #17.
    Apprenticeship is back.

    Yes. Would love to see more of this, instead of everyone thinking a college degree is always a must. Working alongside an expert (or relative expert) would be much more of an education, than memorizing useless textbook shit.

  • http://www.hustletoparadise.com/ Harrison

    I’d also be interested in hearing more of your thoughts on #9 as well, Dan.

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  • http://www.smallbusinessunleashed.com/ Small Business Unleashed

    “Podcasting is the new blogging.”

    Not 100% sure that you need to jump from one to the other. The people I see that are doing really well are utilising blogging, video and podcast together. James Shramko for example.

    Great article tho mate.

  • Andrew

    “#16 If you want to start a blog about entrepreneurship or personal
    development and you don’t have an angle that gets everyone in the room
    FREAKING PUMPED and saying they’d buy products from such a publisher… don’t
    do it. It’s getting harder. The good news is that it’s easier to spend
    your energy on creating a great premise than it is publishing blog posts
    into the inter-nether world.”
    ——————————-
    What if your goal is to use your blog as a way to network, and you don’t care if it ever makes money?

  • Andrew

    Amen! If only I had considered that before sinking $40K+ into a college education…

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  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Hey Andrew, thanks for the question. It’s actually one of the most common questions I get, so I’m going to try and formulate a response today and get something up within the next 24 hrs or so.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    True! I agree. I could re-formulate and say something like, all things being equal, starting a podcast is probably a more strategic edge than starting a text blog.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Amen me 3!!! Hoping to have more opportunities like this in 2012, just need to do some thinking and figure something out…

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Not really, because the value issue is a constant or trueism. If people see value in something like a 97$ ebook or a compact disct or vinyl record, of course they’ll pay for it… what I’m trying to communicate is what I’ve been noticing a lot lately that the trends in my business (that oftentimes I haven’t accounted for) at the beginning are having a big impact on our bottom line, so if somebody is setting out to start an expensive ebook business in 2012, they best know it’s like starting vinyl record printing shop. It’s possible, especially if you pull some kind of reto / iconoclasm thing, but the forces of trend aren’t in your corner.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    sweet thanks for that feedback! I wrote something yesterday, give me a few days to think about it and I’ll put it up here on the blog shortly.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Cheers Sheyi, I’m writing a post about it today, hopefully can publish it tonite.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    That’s probably true! I love hearing the few case studies that I do, as well, because it’s often writers getting paid for the first time for their work. It’s a pretty exciting time re- Amazon.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Hearing the story of CodeAcademy was def. one of the things I needed to hear in order to conceptualize and run our Tropical MBA program. For those interested, here is the interview that helped to crystalize the TMBA idea:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LK6lKCKMQM

    Totally agree RE: the freedom thing. I’m trying to get my hands on this book, but it’s no available in Kindle. What’s up with that!!! So much for future thinking!!!

    I really love the idea for FA as well, and believe it plays to your ‘professorial’ strengths and style. You really shine in real-time with entrepreneurs.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Yeah, I’m referring specifically to the expensive e-book monetization model which is so popular and just tossed out there as a “i could always sell an ebook” kinda thing. No, you can’t always sell an ebook. That shit is hard, and getting harder! That’s my message. :D +1 Amazon being an opportunity, especially for marketing your brand.

  • Davit Svanidze

    #1 – really important. My biggest fear is that coming years we will get some sever recession, with low business activity. Everyone slows down, US, Europe, EM… For me as web design/SEO freelancer it means less new projects, less budgets per project etc.

  • http://twitter.com/CloudVenturesGr CloudVenturesGroup

    I’d like to see more vidopodcast with an audio podcast as an option.

  • http://freedomlovin.com/ Kevin Koskella

    Love this post Dan! One question, you and others are really pumping
    podcasting right now. But can you give examples of this working well for
    non-IM niches? I’ve been podcasting for my swimming site for a couple
    years, and really, it doesn’t give me much of an advantage (despite the
    fact that I’m ranked #1 or #2 most of the time). Here’s why: my
    audience, triathletes, are not near their computers when they hear me.
    They are likely driving or running or biking. So, my calls to action get
    met with little or no response. This is likely the case in many other
    non-tech niches, where people aren’t on their computers all day ready to
    buy the next great thing.

  • Kevin James McAuley

    How difficult is it though to go get a video podcast out there? What I mean is I can handle getting a video up on Youtube, do you have any good resources for doing that?

    Cheers

  • Kevin James McAuley

    Its a joke how good this is, just read the “17 predictions article” and every link near enough on it. Just ending up with my brain getting more and more fried Dan! :)
    Its good though, even if just a bit sinks in I am sure I’ll be better off for it.
    Thanks

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  • John Koen

    #16 – If you start a blog on the generic topic of personal development, lifestyle design, or even making money you are already sunk.

    If you can present it in a way that the person reading it (the guy trying to get started) see that you are talking to him in his terms, and seeing the problems through his eyes, you’ve got a winner.

    I think the key is seeing the path through the eyes of the guy getting started. When you can read their mind and speak in the same language as the conversations going on in their mind… Bingo, you’ve found your tribe.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    That’s tough. My concern is that beginners aren’t that invested, don’t stick around, and can’t see ROI. That’s why they are beginners. You need a huge reach to get down with the beginner market, but for sure there are plenty of great businesses that do it well, I think it’s an overrated marketplace for marketers online.

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Thanks Kevin! It’s a joke how long it took me to notice your comment. Thank you so much for reading!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    Damn, I should write a whole post about this topic. I think the call to action issue is not unique to your niche, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about that. The deep connection you are creating with your listeners should overcome the immediacy of having a link right next to the words. If that’s the reason people are becoming customers you’ll need stronger marketing anyway.

    Project MGMT podcast is a good example outside of IM.
    Mobility WOD video blog.
    ANY tax podcast could be huge (can’t find a good one).

    If you are having trouble with swimming niche, I’d uplevel the focus of the content to focus more on the “WHY” issues– those inspiring personal and physical reason that people decide to take up the lifestyle. Sometimes purely technical content would be better delivered in post or course form, not with an entertainment show (which I see podcasts it’s really important that they are entertainment as well).

    Anyway that’s a ramble!

  • http://www.tropicalmba.com Dan

    That said I do feel since becoming an entrepreneur that these overall factors have much less impact on me. I have basically 100% freedom to choose my battles. If I see a downward trend for my marketplace, I can take my apparatus and structures and place them in a marketplace that is doing the opposite, or taking advantage of the new opportunities coming up from the downturn.

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