As a coach and mentor, Noah Fleming has helped over 700 entrepreneurs start online businesses and get a handle on marketing. He also helps larger organizations with customer loyalty and corporate marketing strategy, and he works with up-and-coming consultants so that they can write better proposals, improve their marketing and reach more clients.
But really I just wanted to interview him because defies the stereotype of internet marketers by providing tremendous value instead of simply trying to sell things people often don’t need. We spoke about content marketing, analytics, the onslaught of info products and creating value.
As a writer, I’ve noticed a shift in internet marketing towards content marketing, where a lot of freelance work is coming not from magazines, but from companies with websites. They’re looking for editorial content that is heavily focused on SEO. Where do you think people are missing the boat? Is there anything you see as an industry trend that’s not working?
I always talk about it almost as sex addiction. People are addicted to marketing, and we’re addicted to marketing because we get instant gratification. We know right away what to do. We put something out there and we essentially see results right away. So I go to these conferences, and people are focused on these things…there’s entire workshops on what’s the best time to send an email, should we send it at 10:30 or 10:44? It’s a stupid question, because they’re not asking themselves first, “Do I have anything interesting to say?” And so we get caught up in things like SEO and all that stuff, but really again it comes down to providing high value content, making sure that content provides a match to the people that you’re trying to reach, and in return all that stuff tends to take care of itself. The last time I looked at Google Analytics for anything I’ve done was a long time ago. Does that make sense?
Yeah, but you said you worked with large companies, so…somebody’s looking at analytics, right?
Sure, a lot of people are looking at analytics, but I’ve also talked to companies that had 44,000 paying members of a subscription and they told me they weren’t even tracking retention. Making that your sole focus, trying to play the Google game and trying to optimize every single thing with a focus on bringing in new customers, is really missing the boat of making great relationships with your current customers.
Don’t get me wrong. Data is huge. All that stuff is super important, especially for building relationships and creating loyal customers. But if the driving force is how we can optimize our marketing to bring more people into our funnel with no real focus on how we keep them on the back end, that’s where I think most companies are missing the boat.
To play devil’s advocate here, a lot of internet marketers will say that building relationships, creating value, etc. isn’t as effective as the pushy sales guy thing.
I think there’s a lot of money to be made in marketing and selling to people, but it really comes down to value that you’re bringing people. And when it comes to essentially sucking profits or sucking cash out of people, their hard-earned money, longevity is an issue. It’ll work for a while, and it does work for a while, but in the end, you’re not going to create the type of customers that’ll be with you for a while. And some of them do, there’s guys that create these massive marketing followings, but I don’t think the longevity is typically there.
I really feel like internet marketing courses, or ‘start your own business courses,’ are sort of like porn. There’s never a shortage of it; there’s constantly a new influx. Why is that?
It’s really the old concept of dangling the carrot in front of the donkey. There’s a gazillion people every single day, and a gazillion new people coming online every day, trying to figure out how they can make a buck, and there’s always somebody dangling the carrot there. It’s a way you can make short-term cash, but it isn’t ethical and there’s no longevity there to create something longer-lasting. People want to create real businesses. You don’t want to create one-off products that might put 50 bucks in your pocket today, but next week you’re struggling again.
It seems like if the courses actually worked, people wouldn’t buy more than one of them, because then they’d be set. The first one they buy will be the only one they’ve ever needed, right?
I understand what you’re saying, but the fact is that the marketers know that a) most people are never going to use those products to build anything and b) they really lack the substance and information that someone actually needs to make or create a big business. There really is no short-cut.
So from the buyer perspective, how do you determine what is valuable?
Well, I’ll give you an example from my own experience. I spend a lot of money on personal development each year. I have my own mentor, I have my own coach, I’m involved in mastermind groups, I pay to go to extensive workshops in different areas. The difference is that I’m not looking for the secret or the get-rich quick scheme. I’m looking at these as experiences that can better me; create a stronger me. I want to look at things that can better myself and ways I can get better at things that I want to do, and that’s really that it’s all about, it’s personal development.
If you know you’re a terrible public speaker, I think it’s smart to invest and go into a public speaking workshop or to buy an info product on public speaking or to read books on that topic. But when you’re buying the course that’s “How to Make 10 Million Dollars Public Speaking Next Week,” you’re missing the boat; you’re really looking at it as a cash grab and not a way to better yourself.
You seem to rely defy the stereotype of internet marketers, who are really annoying and constantly trying to sell people things. It seems like you focus more on not being annoying, on customer experience and providing value. Can you talk about that approach?
My goal has been to really build relationships and focus on one-on-one relationships with people and bring value that way, although I do occasionally sell products. When you bring value to people and create these great relationships, the money seems to follow on its own.
For more valuable content from Noah Fleming, check out http://noahfleming.com/.