Traffick - The Business of Search Engines & Web Portals
Blog Categories (aka Tags) Archive of Traffick Articles Our Internet Marketing Consulting Services Contact the Traffickers Traffick RSS Feed

HOME » TRAFFICK ARTICLES » ARTICLE

Permission Marketers: Did We Blow It? By Seth Godin

By Seth Godin, 9/16/2001

Ten years ago this week, my colleagues and I launched GUTS, which,
at least for me, inaugurated a new era online. For the first time, online services
(the world wide web didn't exist) could motivate large groups of consumers to
behave in a way that benefited both consumers and the service. Millions and millions
of people played GUTS, and Prodigy (remember them?) was able to learn a great
deal about what people wanted and how to get their users to do stuff.



Over the next few years, you and I were all lucky enough to be around for the
birth of a mass medium. It's only happened a dozen or so times in the history
of civilization, so naturally, they were exciting times. Alas, I think with all
the rushing around, our industry didn't take a deep breath and stop to think about
how our decisions would influence this medium for years or decades to come.



Looking back, I think the industry blew it.



Short-term pressure led to bad decisions--strategies that seemed smart at the
time, but led to dead-end outcomes. Just as PBS is sorry that they became addicted
to on-air begathons, it's obvious that the Net will regret many of its short-term
decisions as well.



Wall Street said, "If you make your content sites work like TV shows, we'll fund
you." So content interrupted by annoying advertising became the standard. The
venture capitalists kept their end of the bargain, but after the market crashed,
these sites were left with nothing -- no cash in the bank and no big revenue deals
on the horizon. Now, their only plan seems to be to make the advertising more
annoying, more intrusive and less respectful. And still the big advertisers are
staying away.



Wall Street said, "If you make your commerce sites work like Wal-mart, we'll fund
you." So stores that carried everything and sold nothing were the order of the
day. The venture capitalists kept their end of the bargain, but after the market
crashed, these sites were left with nothing. Not enough traffic, too few sales
per customer. Now, the only plan of the remaining online commerce guys seems to
be to do more of the same and hope to last long enough to eke out a profit.



I was having lunch this weekend with an old friend. He told me that his company
(a top 10 internet site) still doesn't measure which content and which promotions
influence behavior. They basically guess, and after they run something, they don't
bother to figure out whether it worked better (or worse) than what they did last
week.



We could have built software that was organized around the user -- web sites that
naturally changed based on what they knew about the user. Instead, most sites
are static, showing a first-time user the very same thing that we show a loyal
customer.



We could have built simple sites that were direct in their presentation and marketing.
Instead, the standard is a complex mix of multimedia, site maps, fancy programming
and little of value.



We could have stamped out spam forever five years ago by building accountability
into e-mail, but we couldn't get a quorum to agree and we missed our chance. Is
it my imagination or is it getting worse?



We could have created web companies that understand why they're in business. "To
make money for our advertisers!" Instead, we're stuck with "information delivery
platforms" and "wireless portals."



We could have created online retailers that focus on finding products for customers.
Instead, virtually everyone selling online offers catalog-ware, working overtime
to find customers for products. Why do retail stores still exceed online stores
in sales per customer?



We could be measuring lifetime value of a customer, but we're still focused on
traffic and (god forbid) hits.



We could be building remarkable products that follow a natural progression from
unknown to ideavirus. Instead, we try to jury-rig "tell a friend" promotions on
top of boring stuff that no one wants to share.



We could be building risky business models really cheap and seeing what works,
but we're getting more and more conservative instead. You and your colleagues
are working way too hard for anyone to settle for a mediocre experience.



In href="http://www.thebigredfez.com">The Big Red Fez I tried to outline how the approach
we take to building a site drives almost all of the poor results web sites are
wrestling with. It's not that we're not smart enough to do it right -- the basic
architecture fights against success! The combination of software, funders, media,
consultants and programmers that we work with seem to conspire against a desire
to build simple, measurable, testable and effective sites. Sites that make users
happy at the same time they earn money for the people who built them.



Is it too late?



I'm not sure. Once the templates are set, most forms of mass media resist change.
Radio and magazines, for example, have a business model and delivery mechanism
that's the same as the one they had twenty or thirty or forty years ago. One ray
of hope is QVC. Not only did they challenge the status quo of television, they
are the single most reliable generator of revenue, profit and consumer joy on
the air today. They test. They measure. They reject what doesn't work. It's a
fascinating concept and it could even work online. Go figure!



I'm an optimist. I know that there are really cool technologies that embrace this
thinking. That there are very neat (and underfunded) web sites that are going
to bootstrap themselves to the top of the heap. I think it might not be too late.
I hope we have the will to turn this medium into the commercial (and useful) success
it can be.



Okay, I'm changing my mind. IT'S NOT TOO LATE. Ten years from now, this medium
will still be here. It'll be radically different, unrecognizable in some respects.
The pop up ad will be a dismal memory. The focus and hard work and insight of
a small group of people who are working to change the Net into a viable commercial
medium will have long-term impact. Don't give up... don't give in.




href="http://www.thebigredfez.com">The Big Red Fez
in hard to use ebook reader format



href="http://www.permission.com">Would the world
be a better place if everyone bought PERMISSION MARKETING?




A final aside: as the summer ends, I'm starting to put together a
schedule for seminars in my office outside of New York City. If your company is
interested in getting more details about coming for a day of lateral thinking,
outside the box strategy and whack on the side of the head marketing and change
insight, please let me know. AND, if you or someone you know might be interested
in a career change and wants to consider helping in the marketing and execution
of these seminars, I'd love to hear from you as well. It'll be different, that
I can promise.





Thanks for reading.

Seth Godin is a direct marketing consultant and best-selling author of Permission Marketing. After selling his marketing company, Yoyodyne, to Yahoo, he served for a short sojourn as Yahoo's VP of Permission Marketing. To subscribe to his infrequently-published Ideavirus newsletter, please click here. 

 

Speaking Engagement

I am speaking at SMX Milan

Need Solid Advice?        

Google AdWords book


Andrew's book, Winning Results With Google AdWords, (McGraw-Hill, 2nd ed.), is still helping tens of thousands of advertisers cut through the noise and set a solid course for campaign ROI.

And for a glowing review of the pioneering 1st ed. of the book, check out this review, by none other than Google's Matt Cutts.


Posts from 2002 to 2010


07/2002
08/2002
09/2002
10/2002
11/2002
12/2002
01/2003
02/2003
03/2003
04/2003
05/2003
06/2003
07/2003
08/2003
09/2003
10/2003
11/2003
12/2003
01/2004
02/2004
03/2004
04/2004
05/2004
06/2004
07/2004
08/2004
09/2004
10/2004
11/2004
12/2004
01/2005
02/2005
03/2005
04/2005
05/2005
06/2005
07/2005
08/2005
09/2005
10/2005
11/2005
12/2005
01/2006
02/2006
03/2006
04/2006
05/2006
06/2006
07/2006
08/2006
09/2006
10/2006
11/2006
12/2006
01/2007
02/2007
03/2007
04/2007
05/2007
06/2007
07/2007
08/2007
09/2007
10/2007
11/2007
12/2007
01/2008
02/2008
03/2008
04/2008
05/2008
06/2008
07/2008
08/2008
09/2008
10/2008
11/2008
12/2008
01/2009
02/2009
03/2009
04/2009
05/2009
06/2009
07/2009
08/2009
09/2009
10/2009
11/2009
12/2009
01/2010
02/2010
03/2010
04/2010

 


Traffick - The Business of Search Engines & Web Portals

 


Home | Categories | Archive | About Us | Internet Marketing Consulting | Contact Us
© 1999 - 2013 Traffick.com. All Rights Reserved