Have you ever listened to a keynote speech and got all pumped and motivated, then found out what the speaker has suggested just didn’t give you the results you hoped for? Or maybe you bought a best-seller and found it page-turning fascinating, but no clearer on what you were meant to do next?
Silver Bullet Poisoning is my name for when your business is harmed by advice or products that look and sound good, but the advice doesn’t work in practice.
The reason I want to talk about this right now is because a handful of my clients have come together with worrying issues or questions that have given me concerns about the current situation in online marketing and social media. Some have been impacted by the recent Google update which has wiped out a lot of site’s traffic, another is switching between different “flavour of the moment” courses, and another is feeling overwhelmed with “all this stuff we are meant to know”.
These are ALL symptoms of Silver Bullet Poisoning!
Originally this was going to be a guest post for Copyblogger but after thinking about it I felt the message might be a tad controversial and I didn’t want the Copyblogger folks catching any heat for my opinions.
The fact is, saying this stuff is not going to make me popular, but I feel like I owe it to you to be honest.
Most of what you are being sold out there on the interwebs and on Amazon is bull hockey with good packaging. At best.
I Have Been There
I have suffered from Silver Bullet Poisoning myself. Back before I turned in my notice at my day job, at the height of frustrating with my role, I was impatiently looking around for anything that would help me escape and generate fast bucks. The techniques I had used before were slow and hard work, and all around me were promises of immediate and easy rivers of cash just waiting to be tapped into.
The key words “slow and hard work” versus “immediate and easy” are probably raising red flags in your mind right now, eh?
Most, of course, didn’t work. One idea seemed to work pretty good .. for a while. I happened across the “Google Cash” technique of sending adwords clicks directly to affiliate offers. Get your clicks down to a low enough price and have enough people purchase then you can make big money. Initially I made some serious and fast coin. I thought I had won the internet. That was until I decided to go away for a long weekend break and leave my campaigns running.
When I returned I found a disaster. It could have been much, much worse. That disaster was an expensive but lucky break.
Rather than open up and see the dozens of sales I was anticipating, instead there were zero sales but a whole bunch of ad clicks. What had appeared to be easy money very nearly turned into a supersonic one-way trip to the poor house.
Maybe slow, hard work wasn’t so bad after all …
The problem with any kind of arbitrage, regardless of if that is adwords to affiliates or SEO to adsense, is you do not control enough to be secure. It is not a business, it is a tactic, and usually a short-lived one at that.
While I do empathize with anyone who has had their income wiped out from losing Google rankings, that is a very good example for why I say you need to create more control.
- If all your traffic is coming from one source, for example Google, then you need to diversify, and I do NOT mean focus on Yahoo!/Bing
- This goes for if you are relying on one JV partner, one guest posting gig, and so on.
- The same with revenue. If all of your profit comes from one source, then you need to diversify income streams.
You do not have to rip off the band aid, but you do need to move to a more scalable and stable structure. If you are using Adsense for income, sell sponsor ads. If you have a bunch of ads then any single ad buyer can not close your income down. After sponsor ads, build up your affiliate income, and so on.
Real control comes from creating assets.
Your first priority needs to be your email list. This is “attention on tap”. Rather than rely on traffic from Google and repeat visitors, build up a loyal list of people who know, like and trust you.
After your list then you need your own product.
I know some people feel like that is too much like hard work when as a super affiliate you can simply send emails and get paid. The problem is, I have seen too many friends send hundreds of sales only for the merchant to turn around and not pay. Why this happens is complicated and variable, but the outcome is the same. Zero dollars income, regardless of how much you have going out in expenses.
Long-term businesses are built on systems and revenue-producing assets.
Yes, there are other kinds of assets, your network would be one example, but combine assets plus control and you have something you can rely on.
Learn from People Who Do
So if you can’t always trust what you are told, what can you do?
- Trust but verify.
- Listen to people who are achieving your goals.
If something seems like too good to be true, it usually is. That said, some things are still compelling without that whiff of BS we are getting so good at detecting. That is when you should ask around, do a small test, look into the testimonials and case studies.
Most of all though is #2 – don’t take business advice from someone who has never had to sell.
You might think “but this person is famous, they are a key note speaker, best seller, winner of awards, and did I say famous?”. That’s great, but if that person makes all their income from speaking and doesn’t do any actual selling, and your goal is not directly connected to being a best selling-author or professional speaker, how is their advice relevant to your business?
There are best-selling authors, speakers, bloggers, and forum loud mouths who DO walk their talk, but not all
Find people who are ahead of you on your path, rather than follow great sounding advice that has not been tested against reality and has zero relevance to your situation.
Finally, if you want to make money you are going to have to sell at some point. Mostly in terms of product and services, but also you have to sell the benefits of joining your email list, sell your ideas and sell yourself. Any time you hold back from making an offer or putting yourself forward is an opportunity lost. The more reluctant you are, the less successful you will be.
You might not like it, but you have to do it.
Look at me. I am shy and introverted. I have still some serious hang ups about money. But I have a family to support, a business to run, and partners who rely on me to hold my end of a bargain up. What kind of person would I be to let all those people down because of some discomfort? Especially when I know those products and services help people?
But still you will see advice saying “Don’t charge money, information should be free”, “incentivising email subscriptions is evil”, “three column blog layouts are for spammers”, “you already tweeted that this week – SPAMMER”, “Yuk, there was a dollar sign in that blog post, capitalist!”, and so on, and so on.
You see that link above that goes to Make More Progress? I will get around a dozen unsubscribes calling me horrible names because of that. Usually said by people who live in their parent’s basement, are broke and simultaneously an expert on what I “should” do, or have a full time government funded day job, heh. Apparently offering a product for sale makes me the worst kind of scum imaginable. I am ok with that, I would rather those folks not subscribe.
We can’t let the critics, the negative types, the anti-business* folks hold us down.
* Why do anti-business people reading a business blog? Baffles me.
Agree? Disagree? I would love to know your opinions, experiences and thoughts, please share in the comments …