Before I went online I was (surprisingly) offline.
I was in direct mail. In fact there are a few people who kindly read my blog and can remember the early days when I used to write for business opportunity publications.
I had some stunning successes and even more glaring failures and I’d like to share one of the successes with you because it applies just as much to internet marketing as it does to offline marketing. I know because I use this technique in some of my niche sites.
It’s possible that some of you might question the ethics of this method. I’ll leave that up to you. I have no problem with it at all.
Back in the nineties, at least in the UK, people with less than great credit records could have difficulty in obtaining loans and mortgages, (Interestingly it seems as though things are going down the same road at the moment).
I’d noticed that there were one or two publications on sale that offered to show people where they could go to get credit even if they had poor credit records. Once I’d noticed the publications I spotted more and more ads for the same kind of thing. It seemed that there was a market for them.
So I bought a couple. I remember the cheapest was £9 (about $20) and it was 10 roughly photocopied sheets of A4 folded and printed into a small booklet.
All it contained were adverts for small loan companies, offshore banks and details of larger banks who would look at mortgage applications for people who had previously been blacklisted. I phoned a few of these ads and sure enough it seemed as though they did in fact offer sub-prime lending.
After chatting to a few of these people (some of whom were not nice and I got the impression they would ‘send the boys round’ if you missed a payment) I decided to do some of my own research.
Taking the publications I’d bought as a starting point I spent about a week (and over £100) phoning round various organistaions and asking about their policies on sub-prime lending. I went through the Yellow pages and when I’d finished I had enough contact information to publish a decent sized booklet. What’s more the information was up to date.
In essence I’d back engineered an idea after reading through a few publications (which I’d bought legitimately) and improved on their work. Nothing was plagiarised or in any way stolen or misappropriated from the original except the idea, which can’t be copyrighted or ‘claimed’ by an individual.
So I’d seen a good idea and pinched it OR I’d spotted a niche with a few sellers in there already and entered the market alongside them. You decide.
If you’re in Internet Marketing you can’t cry or sulk when this happens to you, because happen it WILL at some point. I had a very nice little income stream coming from an ebook I’d produced about setting up a profitable hobby newsletter from home for a couple of years.
Then suddenly someone came along, bought my book, rewrote it and published the information for free on his website. What hit my business hardest was that he got a higher place in the search engines so my sales dried up. He monetised the site with Google ads and offering a printing service for people who wanted to publish their own newsletters. I was impressed. Very clever – even though it had buggered up my income stream.
I could have tried to do the same – publish the info for free, monetize the site and try to SEO my own site higher in the rankings but it wasnt worth it. I seem to remember banking around $600 a month from the book, but had other streams and genuinely valued the lesson.
So what am I saying about Internet Marketing?
Well I don’t believe the old saying that ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, but I don believe that finding it can be damn hard work.
So I suppose what I am saying is don’t try to be too different. We publish ebooks about how we make money – we give examples, proof of income – the lot. That’s something that’s hard to do unless you’ve made money from IM or unless you’re lying to your readers. There are ways into IM without making a penny as Sara wrote about in a free report some time ago, but if you’re looking for a way in to niche marketing then take a long hard look at what other people are doing.
I’m not saying buy their books and copy them. I AM saying that ebooks are a legitimate source of information if you’re looking to compete in a niche.
Some people have a strange view – that buying a book from a bookshop for research purposes is fine, but buying an ebook with the purposes of entering the same niche isn’t. I think that’s plain wrong.
If you’re looking to get into the viral marketing niche then buy Viral Sneakiness and use the information in it with my blessing. Plagiarise it and I’ll be down on you like a ton of bricks but use the information to create your own product and that’s cool. See the difference.
So if you’re interested in tropical fish, buy some books, some ebooks, read some sites and talk to some people. If there are people in that niche already then COMPETE. Make your product better – make it eaier to read or better value. But don’t be put off by people who think they OWN a particular niche because they don’t.
A mate of mine in IM – a talented and clever marketer – told me about how he went into a niche and dominated it completely. In the process he basically wiped out the business of the person who was previosly top dog. Now he didn’t do this on purpose, it was a by-product of him being better at it and offering better products. But his competitor went crazy. Got very angry and pulled a few underhand stunts.
If you trample on someones income stream it’s unfortunate. I don’t think many people would want to do that on purpose. But we are in the business of making money and a sale going to you can mean a sale taken away from someone else.
But with niche marketing your competitiors are providing you with all the information you need to successfully enter that niche, whether they’re aware of it or not. Look at their ads, buy their products, look at what they offer, their upsells – the whole thing.
Your competitors are almost as important as your customers.
Now you might think that’s all well and good but what if you’re the person who’s book is being used as research. Why spend the time and effort it takes to research and write an ebook just for some lazy marketer to come along and pinch your idea?
Well for a start it WILL happen in you’re involved in IM for any length of time. But it doesn’t mean it will affect your business, Many people enter niches and find they either don’t enjoy them or can’t make a profit out of them and leave. Others will enter but won’t be as successful as you. And many more – in fact most people – will never enter any niche because they won’t take action.
But for me the main answer to the ‘why bother’ question is that whether someone pinches my idea or I end up making $10,000 a month from it is that we – you and I – are Internet Marketers. We’re trying to improve our situation – both financially and from a lifestyle point of view and it simple doesn’t matter what other people do. We’re doing this for ourselves and our families, and not for anyone else.
And by doing this we find ourselves in that tiny, wonderful minority of people who are taking responsibility for their own lives (I know you’ve heard this before but it’s true) and are striving to be independent, fearless and just plain BETTER people for doing it.
Comments welcome as always.
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