This article was originally posted on Creative Deconstruction.
If I were to create a poll to find out the average internet user’s feelings toward internet marketers, how many people do you think would respond positively?
… And how many of that number would be internet marketers themselves?
Next to perhaps lawyers, the internet marketer probably has the worst reputation in Western business. In may cases, this reputation is largely deserved. Like the telemarketers of old, internet marketers make it their business to interrupt peoples’ days with unsolicited messages, brazen advertisements, and questionable ideals.
It doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to act like a tool to make money online.
Human Beings vs. Internet Marketers
The way I see it, there are two ways to approach business online. You can sell like a human, or you can sell like an internet marketer. The question is: which are you?
What is the difference between a human being and an Internet Marketing professional? I’ve taken the liberty of creating a handy list to help shed some light on the disparity:
1. Humans have real conversations. Internet Marketers have agendas.
2. Humans are interested in helping others. Internet Marketers are interested in monetizing each and every interaction.
3. Humans are passionate about creating interesting and valuable content. Internet Marketers are passionate about SEO.
4. Humans value connections with other humans. Internet marketers value leads. (Which do you think is more valuable?)
5. Humans develop mutually beneficial relationships. Internet Marketers develop human sales funnels.
The irony is that the human activities listed above have so much more potential with regard to building a valuable – yes, even revenue generating – network of connections, supporters, customers and fans. The other activities are shallow and transparent. Very few people are fooled by these tactics anymore anyway – so is it really worth trading in your personal credibility?
How Then Shall We Sell?
Selling like a human, to other humans, is not easy. Humans are notoriously unpredictable and difficult to please. That’s why so many turn to the soulless side of internet marketing. There’s a much lower threshold to entry. It also takes much less emotional energy to manage textbook marketing activities, than it does to truly seek to add value to human relationships – whether with customers, fans, clients or other connections.
The answers to selling like a human lie in what makes us human in the first place. Human beings need to connect with one another in meaningful ways. We need to belong to a diverse community of like-minded people. Sometimes we need others to help us, other times we need to share what we have with others. We need to learn, and even at times to be entertained.
If you can help meet these needs in other people, you will be successful in business – and life, for that matter. The other side of that coin is that if you can’t figure out how to contribute to at least one of these needs you will likely struggle.
What does this have to do with you?
Like the internet marketer, modern artists are often out there on there own. There are precious few label deals to go around, and the ones going around may be a gamble, at best. So artists are left to promote themselves and their music lacking key resources and often without any kind of real training. So who do you turn to for direction?
When you’re out here on the internet, especially on social networks, pay attention to how you are going about your business. Are you interrupting peoples’ day with unsolicited messages, brazen advertisements and questionable ideals? (“Check out my MySpace page, fan me on Facebook and make sure you RETWEET!!” – What value does this add to the reader?) Or are you treating people like humans and helping to meet their needs?
People want good music, clearly, but I would even argue that people need good music. What we don’t need is to have artists trying to sell us that music by mimicking the tactics of shameless internet marketers.
Instead, take the time to think about your audience. Who are they? What do they want, and what do they need? How can you meet those needs and desires? Sometimes it’s as simple as giving them something to laugh about, or finding a way to connect like-minded people within your niche. That’s how you’re going to find an entry point into their day.
And that is how you are going to find new fans.