Grab your favorite beverage and get ready to have your life and business changed for the better, starting right now. This article is about Internet Marketing with a conscience, and I have some advice for you that you will either completely agree with or you may call me a “goodie two shoe” marketer”, (whatever that is…)
One of my favorite sayings is: “Be wary of giving advice, wise men don’t need it, and fools won’t heed it”. Obviously I must be a fool, because I try to advise people in the hopes of breaking through some mental barriers and changing a life.
However, this article is meant to inspire you to greater heights with your business using some of the sagest advice I’ve ever heard.
There is a wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from the religious texts of this world. There is one story that strikes me as relevant to the philosophy of marketing with integrity and that is the story of the Footprints in the Sand. I will paraphrase the story to avoid mis-statements and will strive to keep the general message clear.
In the story of Footprints in the Sand a person sees his life as footprints in the sand.
When times were good, and things were going well, there were 2 sets of footprints. One was the man’s footprints, and the other was his Ally (again, paraphrasing and taking poetic license here). At times there was only 1 set of footprints in the sand, and this represents the tough times in the man’s life when he experienced strife and pain.
The man said to his Ally,
“Why is it that when times went bad for me there was only 1 set of footprints in the sand? Why did you abandon me when things were going poorly? I thought you were my Ally!”
His Ally responded,
“it was during those times of your greatest need and your greatest pain that I carried you…that’s why there is only 1 set of footprints in the sand”.
- When times are tough, it seems like your friends disappear and your calls don’t get answered.
- When times are tough it seems like you are all alone and with nobody to lean on for support.
- When you’re slugging it out in the trenches trying to find what works for your business and your family members are telling you to stop wasting your time with internet marketing, you are not alone!
It’s times like this when you know who your real friends are and that your greatest Ally has never left you, ever.
What can your greatest Ally be with regards to doing business online?
Integrity can be your closest Ally, if you follow this way of thinking. Integrity begets self-esteem and the 2 Allies of integrity and self-esteem will be there with you and for you through the toughest of times, even when everyone and every thing seems to have abandoned you.
Now, this article is about marketing with integrity, which makes me want to dispel a few myths that are widely propagating my internet marketing gurus.
Have you ever heard the old marketing adage “Fake It ’til You Make It”?
It’s probably one of the worst pieces of marketing advice I have ever heard. That’s the advice many gurus and coaches are giving their close friends who start Internet marketing. They tell their underlings or mentoring students you must position yourself as an expert in order to be looked up to as a knowledgeable person in the field of XYZ, whatever it is they’re selling.
This makes sense on the outset, because the “newbies” look up to the gurus. The weak admire the strong. The unhappy see the happy folks as having the “secret” The dumb kids in class think the smart kids know everything about everything.
People look to the alleged experts for advice, but are they getting expert advice?
Here’s a common example of something that happens every day:
People join network marketing companies for opportunities thinly disguised as products for sale. The typical scenario with most network marketing companies, especially the wealth and health-related ones, is that they say, “we have great products here that really work….but you could attain health and wealth if you promote the opportunity, too”.
That is rubbish! Try the products and see if they work to achieve integrity with your marketing.
Don’t sell the dream, sell the reality (albeit with an emphasis on WIIFM, what’s in it for me).
Before promoting products, find out if they work for you. Did they actually help you?
If so, enjoy marketing that opportunity with integrity. Your enthusiasm will shine through and your optimism will increase your sales. You will become an Internet marketing success simply by having some integrity.
However, if you “Fake It ’til You Make it”, then you’re following what everyone else does. You are a false prophet, guru, marketer, or whatever you want to call yourself. If you follow this bad advice, you join the incestuous world of the blind leading the blind. I also predict that you will end up a very dissatisfied person and marketer, if you follow this way of thinking.
Will you really enjoy the type of success that comes with selling the un-reviewed and untested product/dream?
I guess you could if you’re good at rationalizing your behavior. Just remember that karma is going to take a big bite out of your rear end if you follow this no-integrity marketing philosophy.
Do you have integrity?
* You will become a larger person in a spiritual sense if you do…
* You will become more successful if you do
* You will separate yourself from other businesses if you do.
Do not “Fake It ’til You Make It”… and do not take this piece of advice. There’s no integrity in it.
This brings me to the next piece of “conventional wisdom that rubs me raw, gets under my skin, is false, yet is widely propagated by gurus and marketers everywhere.
The next cliché/fallacy is “content in King”.
Content is merely words on paper, recorded voices, and bits and bytes on web pages. Good content is King, Queen, Empress, Emperor, Tsar, Tsarina etc….
- Good Content comes from Good Sources.
- Good Sources are borne via their single set of Footprints in the Sand.
The trials these Good Sources go through to attain their expertise forge their integrity. This makes them true experts, and makes them believable. Their words have power because they come from a good source.
Have you ever heard the expression, “consider the source”?
This is usually said about someone that cannot back up what they say, and whatever they write, or speak, it’s taken with “a grain of salt”. Like we examined in the first example above of “Faking It ’til You Make It”, this type of person is not believable because they cannot attest to the truthfulness of the statements they put forth.
They haven’t lived it, breathed it, or experienced it. They’re faking it by telling you what they think you want to hear.. Good Sources create Good Content which leads to good income!
Here’s an example of how good content is always the winner.
There are people making 6-figure incomes from blogs simply by reviewing products they tested and wrote reviews for on their blog. They are experts at what they do, they’re considered authority figures in that niche, and they worked hard to get there. However, if they write a favorable review just to get some sort of kickback or affiliate commissions, they won’t see too many repeat customers or get repeat traffic to their blogs.
They will have burned their bridges and they “sold their soul for a donut hole” if they make an unreviewed recommendation for the sole purpose of profit.
They risked their reputation by writing about something about which they knew nothing or they gave a favorable review for something just for some quick bucks. What they lost was everything, expert status, repeat customers, respect, and yes, integrity.
What they gained was a donut hole. Nothing.
Good content is king and it comes from good sources who spent years attaining their expert status. I want you to be a leader some day and you can do this if you make you are willing to see a single set of footprints once in a while. If you want to play follow the leader temporarily that’s OK, too.
Just follow the right leader, i.e. a Good Source
Which brings me to the next piece of advice from gurus that gets under my skin, which is: “If you do exactly as I tell you, you are guaranteed to succeed”
That is so not true! Yes, there are certain basic fundamentals that everyone needs to succeed in life and business but anyone can tell you these basic steps. This type of information is freely available on the Internet and is valuable if coming from a good source.
However, the one thing I have experienced is that many mentors and gurus will tell you to follow their footprints to success and do what they did to succeed. This doesn’t work because you need to make your own Footprints in the Sand and you need to develop as a person.
I’ve been through 3 paid-for coaches and 1 coach who gave advice freely. This is my experience with this, and there’s no greater teacher than experience. The more I paid these coaches, the better the advice was.
However, everything of value that I learned came during the times when there was only a single set of Footprints in the Sand. Late nights slaving away at web pages, web sites, writing articles, content creation, Help Desk tickets etc…
Those are the times when I learned something nobody could take away from me. I learned from experience what my true strengths were, and what it was that I really wanted to do. Looking back at those miserable times of frustration and failure, I can see their worth.
The intestinal fortitude required to get through those times was created with a single set of Footprints in CyberSpace (hence the reason for the title of this post). The lasting effect these times had on me resulted in Footprints in Cement that molded me into what I am today.
Today, I consider myself a Peaceful Warrior who knows that the real battles are fought on the inside. There was a book given to me called The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman. He emphasizes this point and many others.
Here is another example of where his true wisdom shines:
When he talks about a healthy diet, he doesn’t say, “be a vegetarian” or “don’t eat this, that or the other thing”. He admits that even he doesn’t know your body like you do, therefore all he can advise is a healthy balanced diet and some daily exercise.
Only you know what will work for you, and the wise ones know this and will tell you this. That’s why when you hear a guru or coach say, “Follow my cut-and-paste blueprint for Internet riches” you must be wary of the product or program. You have to make your own success happen, nobody can do it for you and it won’t work if it doesn’t align properly with your likes, dislikes and talents.
Your battle is not a lack of knowledge nor a lack of tools. Your battle is within and only you can find your way out of the swimming pool that represents “everybody else”. To break way from the pack, to become hugely and truly successful, you need to walk “alone” for a while, and a good coach can be your Ally here, if you choose wisely.
Here is another example of why you should not follow a strictly defined avenue to success. Have you ever heard of Bruce Lee?
He’s one of the most advanced martial artists of all time. Many of his teachings are still ahead of our time and one thing he is credited with inventing is a martial art called Jeet KuneDo. Loosely translated, Jeet Kune Do means “the way of no way”. This became a hugely popular “art form” and people were successful with it even though it defied some long standing philosophies taught by other martial arts schools.
But it works well for those who try it because it plays to their strengths. This martial art is no better than any other. Other art forms may be exactly what people are seeking or other art forms could emphasize certain aspects that practitioners can “dial into”.
“Follow me and do exactly as I say to succeed” doesn’t work well unless you’re exactly like the mentor teaching you, an extreme rarity in this world filled with 100% unique people, talents, and strengths. Your single set of Footprints in Cyberspace is the Way of No Way, the True Path to Your Success.
“Do whatever gets the job done and gets you from point A to point B.” That is the way of the Dan McGonagle and it can be your way, too.
Here’s another popular saying that I have to disagree with: “You will become poor as a marketer teaching people how to fish, so sell the fish”
To me, that equates to selling incomplete solutions to people. This means offering something that doesn’t really address the need but simply emphasizes the need for yet another product. There are a lot of marketers doing this because this is what sells. Aspiring marketers give people what they want and what they seem to want the most.
This is justified by some when they say: “Hey, it sells, I’m just giving them what they obviously want. If I don’t sell it to them they’ll buy it form somebody else…”
How is this different from the rationale employed by drug dealers? Don’t they use the same rationale?
Don’t they sell whatever seems to sell well without regard for their customers? I am pretty confident in saying those people don’t lead normal peaceful lives. I am pretty confident in saying they only enjoy momentary happiness with their proceeds. I am also pretty confident that their businesses are not built for the long haul.
It’s considered good marketing to “upsell” and “side sell” people and I realize that, and I do it. There isn’t one product that you’re going to find that will address all of your needs right away. However, the real goal here is to have your product benefit your customer in some way, and for the product to deliver as promised, and to live up to the words on the sales page.
Here’s another way to become successful as an Internet marketer and how to become a true expert. This is so simple yet many people don’t do it because it seems like work. If you follow this integrity-laced marketing method, you will succeed in ways you never imagined.
What’s the method? Simple.. Try the product before you recommend it.
How many marketers actually experimented with the products they’re touting in these massive product launches you see every so often?
Every time that I bought a product that was highly touted by gurus in some product launch, I bought from them based on their reputation. If the product was a piece of junk I voted my disapproval with my unsubscribe button.
Being the type of person that I am, I wait for the hype to subside before I recommend, or don’t recommend a product to my readers. I’m busy implementing the strategies outlined in these products and am actually reviewing these products before I make a decision on it. There’s a danger to doing this though…
When the hype subsides and the fever pitch is gone, you stand less of a chance to make sales because the best time to “make sales” is during the product launch. If you end up recommending the product after testing it first, your conversion rate will be less. You also risk the chance of seeming like a Johnny-come-lately who isn’t “with it”. In the long run, you gain from this by building a relationship with your list based on trust.
For example, there was a product launch recently for an Adwords product that really was very good. I was lucky to get an advance copy of the report and suggested some changes to be made to it since it was missing a few key elements.
Product owners don’t like to hear that their products are lacking in any way therefore they didn’ t make the changes. So I made up for what I considered the missing information in that report by writing a 2 page report filled with tips on Adwords and pay-per-click marketing. I didn’t make a ton of sales for this product but I also felt happy with what I did.
What is going to last longer for you, money or satisfaction with yourself?
If you answer correctly, you will have a constant ally in any tough times you face, and eventually you will have what most marketers desire: a following.
Money comes and goes quickly, but satisfaction with self lasts forever. Moving forward, I now have the basis for my own product on Adwords. Right now it’s only 2 pages long, but as I gain new experiences my knowledge increases and soon I will have the basis for a complete solution that I can put out there in my name as a true expert, with no stones left unturned.
There are too many people faking it, and too many marketers selling what they don’t understand. Market with pride and integrity and you will always have an ally. Footsteps in Cyberspace isn’t all about integrity or getting through hard times due to poor sales or a lack of progress. It is really the way business should be conducted everywhere.
- The longer you practice “integrity marketing” the more knowledgeable you become.
- The more knowledgeable you become, the closer you come to being an Expert.
- The closer you come to being an Expert, the closer to a real Guru you become.
- When you are a true guru at something, you will realize that the path to your success was paved by your footprints, but you were never alone, not ever.
Remember what integrity marketing and Footprints in Cyberspace is all about and remember that adhering to these principles will get you to the top. You will deserve every ounce of your success if this is the path you chose.
Here’s another cliché that I’m about to destroy: Good Guys Finish Last… Not TRUE.
Good Guys And Gals Finish First Every Time. Here’s why: Have you ever heard of the 80/20 principles that 20% of your efforts will bring 80% of your income? Let’s put this into real world perspective, into words marketers understand: You’ll make 80% of your income from 20% of your list, 20% of your marketing efforts, 20% of your websites, 20% of your web pages, products etc..
How do you get more of the 20% accomplished, what is the 20% and where does it come from? It comes from being real with people, from being nice to people, and from establishing a real connection with people.
Can this be accomplished by creating really good products? Yes, but how many people do you know that have unread or unopened digital products on their computers?
How many marketers have received the following email:
“Hi, I’m really interested in buying your product, will it really help me? I’m on a fixed income and have been trying for 2 years without much success. What do I do and where do I start?” Etc….
Once in a while it pays to send this person a freebie, a free product. Seriously, it costs you nothing to email them a complementary product, right?
Does this mean you give away all your products? No, that would be stupid and not everyone appreciates free stuff, because they abide by the old adage that “you get what you pay for”.
Give away an occasional free copy of one of your products to gain good faith. Every once in a great while this type of person turns into a raving fan and becomes one of your 20%.
Stupid idiot moron marketers finish last, not Good guys and gals.
Another way to get more connected with your readers and listener sis to encourage participation, via surveys, teleseminars, webinars, whatever you want to call them. You can also personalize your message to them. Use the word “you” a lot. Use it without actually saying it. Make the reader or listener feel like you are actually talking to them.
Which sentence works for you best?
“Hey anonymous group of email addresses with wallets attached, buy this”
“Hello Daniel, How are things going? We got buried with snow this weekend up here in Boston and my back is hurting for certain. Anyways, Daniel there is a new report out about XYX by PERSON’S NAME that is pretty good. I recommend you take a look at it if you need to get traffic to your sites quickly and easily.
Daniel, if you live in a warm climate, please keep me in your thoughts and have a nice cold drink for me. We’re about to get 8 more inches tomorrow. Here’s that link again it’s a pretty good read and a very comprehensive guide to traffic generation for an expert in the field.
Thanks, Personal Message Sender”
That’s how you get your 20%,and that’s how Good Guys and Gals Finish First.
Please remember though that if your product is under 9 dollars and people are stressing out about that, then they are probably never going to succeed. There is a whole heck of a lot more money that they’re gonna have to spend and a lot more “frogs to kiss” before they “get it”. That’s if they ever get “it”…
Here the last piece of widespread advice that is commonly propagated: “Shoot for the stars, aim high”
OK, Mr. Guru, I’m going to aim high like you said. Now me, a person with little or no business skills, is going to aim high and shoot for the stars..
I’m gonna make $50k/month in 3 weeks by making money online. That’s right, me. I have little or no business skills, have never run a business before, don’t even know what a business is, but I’m gonna do it because you tell me it can be done if I just aim high enough…”
Shoot for the stars? Aim high? Are you kidding me?
Show me someone who has achieved gargantuan success with little or no developed business skills and I’ll eat every bit and byte of this article….
Aim high? No
Set realistic goals? YES
You see, this is the setup that they’re framing you for. If these legends of marketing tell you its possible, and it doesn’t happen for you like they described, it must be your fault, right? After all it worked for them, was easy for them, and seems like it was effortless for them to produce these results, if these results actually occurred for them.
Maybe you need another product that will do it for you then. That’s the hook.
They tell you anything is possible and quickly if you only aim high enough, and if you believe this tripe, then their next sales page will convert better for them.
Here’s what you’re not being told (by the way you’ll realize this on your way OUT of the swimming pool, but not while you’re in it swimming around aimlessly): Their results are based on having huge lists, cultivating their lists, possessing good business skills, writing a good email to that list and having great copy on their sales pages or web sites.
How do you get the success the obviously enjoy or purport to enjoy?
Let’s break it down one by one:
- Huge lists are built up over time
- Cultivating their lists means there is a relationship they nurtured over time
- Writing a good email to that list is a skill obtained over time.
- Having great copy on their sales pages or web sites is also a skill obtained or purchased.
Don’t shoot for the stars. Instead, set realistic goals and achieve them. Do this enough times and you will have achieved a larger goal with even noticing it.
One saying that many good coaches have is that you should treat big success like “eating an elephant”, so how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, not all at once.
Sounds ridiculous, but there’s wisdom in those words. I know, I’ve been there. Here’s my evolution as a newbie who turned into a true entrepreneur. As a newbie, I was lucky to have one “failed” offline business under my belt. That was my high school diploma for business in the real world.
I made my first few dollars online somehow, through trial and error and perseverance through about 20 different programs (single sets of footprints in Cyberpsace).
I earned more money, but got stuck trying to see which business model works best for me, which required more trial and error (single sets of footprints in Cyberpsace) After that I became an intermediate marketer making a full time income online but with no idea how to make more of this “success”.
At this point I considered myself an intermediate marketer and got some coaching but these coaches taught their styles and blueprints. At this point I learned that I have to do what works for me, and its not anything those mentors were doing.
Now, as an advanced marketer I have discovered the secret to 7-figure annual and 5-6 figure monthly income and am pursuing that ideal. Hmm, funny how the end goal was to get to a 7-figure annual salary but I didn’t get there until I set, met and achieved realistic goals.
I am so glad I set realistic goals and took bite size chunks of reality!
Here’s another real-world example that I would like to share:
I ran 2 consecutive Boston Marathons. Well actually it was more like I ran/walked them. Your path to success is very much like a marathon. It is a journey, not a race.
When I got the idea into my head to run a marathon, I had little experience running long distance. The longest distance I had ever run was 5 miles, and I got up to 12 miles before I ran my first marathon with my friend Chris. I ran/walked my way to the finish line in under 5 hours, not bad for a first timer.
When I got to the finish line, I was prouder of myself than I had ever been in my life. I reached my goal, but the arrival at the finish line wasn’t my reward. My reward was the journey and what it taught me about myself.
I learned a little bit more about myself every time I went from walking to running again. My reward was the “measure of the man” that was taken during those grueling hours on the road. There is no greater reward than gaining a true sense of yourself during the trying times.
- Your reward is waiting for you in the single set of footprints.
- Your reward will be life-changing, like mine was for me.
- Your success lies in the single set of Footprints in Cyberspace.
When I ran the Boston Marathon, I did it to raise money for charity. I raised over $500.00 and had the support of my family, friends, and co-workers.
However, during the long 26.2 miles that I endured, that support was meaningless to me. I could not count on their support to urge me forward, or to get moving again. There was only a single set of footprints then, and it was only due to my Ally that I got through the race. The euphoria of finishing my second marathon didn’t last as long as the first, but to this day, the experience has changed me forever.
Now, there are some warnings I would like to give you here. Running extensive miles on a body that is not used to running those types of distances will do damage to your body. I wasn’t really prepared to run this race, and my knees suffered some permanent damage from asking too much of them in a short time frame. I don’t mind though, because every time my knees act up I’m reminded of why they are so rickety, and how they got to be in such bad shape.
Another one of my favorite sayings is: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
It’s during the times of the single sets of footprints that we examine who we are as people and what we’re really made of. There’s no passing or failing grade here, you simply take measure of who you are.
Set realistic goals and achieve them, then move on. Running 2 marathons with little experience wasn’t very realistic, but the little experience I had helped me to the finish line. Since I tried to do too much with a body that wasn’t prepared for it, my knees suffered, but I managed to finish the race, and you get to your finish line if you set realistic goals.
I’m from the Boston, Massachusetts area and we had something going on called the Big Dig, a multi-billion dollar construction project that was the first of its kind to have ever been done.
There was a sign that greeted the passersby where they were most likely to see it and it read:
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. If it was, we would have hired their contractor”.
Your online empire will not be created overnight, but it will be created, have no doubts about that. I would not have been able to write to you about my experiences and my reality had I not taken my own Footprints In Cyberspace.
Thank You Ally, Integrity, and Reality, and Thank You for reading this.
It means a lot to me that you read this whole article.
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