“I have been up against tough competition all my life. I wouldn’t know how to get along without it.” – Walt Disney
What is the biggest challenge facing internet marketers today?
This is one of the questions I was asked at a recent Internet Marketing Mastermind.
Many of the attendees were concerned about what they viewed as regulatory “overreach” by social media platforms. Media like Google and Facebook are becoming ever more restrictive in terms of the advertising they will allow, and that is making it very difficult for small companies with limited budgets to get noticed and make sales.
And they are not wrong to be concerned. When you aren’t a brand-name business, you usually have to create aggressive, “noisy” advertising campaigns to attract the attention your business needs. But when the major media won’t let you be “loud and proud” about your products, what can you do?
One thing many marketers do is to try to sneak non-compliant copy through the gatekeepers, but this strategy is doomed to fail. Others try to make do by placing ads on secondary and tertiary media and by affiliate marketing and even direct mail. These are all better than nothing, but they don’t add up to enough coverage to grow a business of any size.
Everything that is posted on the internet is subject to scrutiny, and that will not change.
So there is only one sure way to solve the overreach problem, and that is to submit to it. Instead of trying to figure out how to squeeze or sneak their old-direct-mail style “promos” on the internet, they need to learn how to produce campaigns that are honest, authentic, and transparent.
Another thing they must do, and this is equally important, is learn how to create video ads, both short- and long-form, that are high quality, entertaining, and persuasive.
The days of selling millions of dollars’ worth of products with cheesy infomercial-quality ads are fading fast. Thousands – no, millions – of small and large companies are learning how to tell persuasive stories through video advertising. Which means that the buying public is quickly becoming accustomed to higher quality ads. Marketers that cannot or will not get up to speed in terms of the entire video production process (script writing, story boarding, staging, lighting, sound, music, acting, directing, post production, etc.) will soon be left behind.
I’ve been making this case to my clients for at least five or six years. At first, none of them had any interest in trying it. They must have thought I had lost my mind. Then about three years ago, I saw a few feeble attempts. In the last year, I’ve seen a few more. But compared to the average level of video advertising I see commonly on the internet, most of my clients are way behind.
My clients went into the internet enthusiastically when it opened up at the turn of the century. And they benefited immensely from it, using most of the same sort of copy and marketing tactics that they used for decades in selling their products and services through the mail. They were – we were – outliers then. But the internet is no longer a market for outliers. In the coming years, the gold will go to those with the intelligence and creativity to produce advertising that is competitive with the likes of 60 Minutes and Coca Cola.
Let me give you an example – perhaps not the best example, since this is an ad for PragerU, a conservative non-profit. It doesn’t attempt to close the sale. But it does demonstrate that PragerU has decided that they want their ads to look like they were made in Hollywood… and create a Hollywood level of excitement in their prospective viewers.
Click here to see what PragerU is doing.
This is the future of direct marketing. For the present, some will continue to have some success with outdated, low-quality, high-noise ads. But as the months go by, those types of ads will begin to lose their ability to compete with higher quality ads. I hope my clients can get up to speed before it’s too late.