Larry Brauner

On a My Private Classroom private member conference call last week Diane Hochman reported a major downturn in the effectiveness of social media sites.

Diane pointed to social networking sites such as Facebook, micro-blogging sites such as Twitter and video sharing sites such as YouTube, but she inferred that all online social media were losing their edge.

Diane expressed concern that while top Web 2.0 and Internet marketing players like Mike Dillard and Frank Kern had successfully carved out huge niches and were earning millions, lower echelon marketers are hard pressed to compete with them, with the technical automate-everything gurus, and with the ever increasing online clutter of spammers and hackers.

Diane even went as far as to recommend that we focus on offline marketing.

I agree to some extent with Diane’s assessment. Certainly with most of the “low hanging fruit” gone and with the global recession in full force, a social marketing approach based on

  • free information and training
  • funded proposals
  • back end upsell
  • strong prospecting posture
  • amassing and leveraging a large quantity of Facebook friends, Twitter followers, and YouTube videos

might not work as well as it did in the past and is probably not the best way to go. People are ultra-careful today about parting with money.

However, I do not believe than social media marketing is losing its edge.

Going forward social marketing will depend more upon investing long term in our relationships with the people we meet through online social networking and creative use of websites and a variety of social media.

We’ll adopt a go-giver posture, thinking about solving problems and giving more than we take, as much as we think about prospecting and the bottom line.

We’ll also rely on written content and SEO as much as we rely on social media and online social networking strategy.

And, just as Diane Hochman recommends, we’ll network and market offline too. We’ll get more personal with people.

We’ll be all around networkers and marketers… and fine compassionate human beings.

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Larry Brauner

More Critical Success Factors

This time last year I posted on my blog 10 Simple Success Strategies for 2008. My strategies for 2009 are net very simple, or in any case, they’re not easy.

We were already aware that the mortgage crisis would badly hurt American home owners and the real estate industry, but few people realized that the crisis would quickly snowball into a major global recession.

While I stand by last years recommendations and believe that they are valid today, I feel that I need to add new critical success factors to the mix for 2009.

  1. Be flexible. What worked in the past may no longer work in the present economy. You may have to make some tough personal or business choices going forward.
  2. Focus on your finances. Spend less. Earn more, even if it’s difficult, and even if you have to compromise and do something that’s less than perfect for you. Pay down your credit cards, even if you have to sell some belongings. That’s the advice Dave Ramsey gives in his excellent book, The Total Money Makeover.
  3. Be cautious and use common sense. I hate to sound like a broken phonograph record, but while it is important to earn more, don’t fall prey to someone else’s hedge against recession. Before you invest substantial time or money, read Home Based Businesses Don’t Work and The Darker Side of Funded Proposals.
  4. Persevere. I noticed this year how many people failed to follow through on important plans and prematurely abandoned their blogs and social media projects they had started. Perhaps in some of the cases they should have done more soul searching beforehand, but on the whole I think people get frustrated and quit before their work has a chance to bear fruit. If you think you might lack motivation or need encouragement, create a support system for yourself or work closely with a mentor to whom you can be accountable.
  5. Reach out multiple ways. Network with people online and offline using online business and social networking sites and your local Small Business Association, Chamber of Commerce or BNI. Besides my new social networking site and other Ning social networking sites, I strongly recommend Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn. Connect to me at all these sites and let me know how I might be able to help you. It might be useful to you to visit Social Networking vs. Advertising, especially if you have never before seen that post.
  6. Develop expertise that will serve you now and in the future. In The 80/20 Rule I wrote, “Expertise is a valuable asset when it comes to personal branding. As an expert you can teach and mentor others and differentiate yourself from your competition.” I went on to explain that with a medium amount of reading, studying and experimentation, you can learn more about a subject than 80% of other people.
  7. Smile and laugh as much as you can. Laughter is good for you and for the people around you.
  8. Prepare not only for the recession, but also for afterward. These tough economic times won’t last forever. Think how you might be able to position yourself down the road to profit from the many new possibilities which will emerge in a couple of years.
  9. Keep the faith. No matter how hard life gets, don’t give up hope. Persist as best you can and be ready to start over. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities.
  10. Subscribe to my blog if you’re not yet a subscriber. I have a lot planned, and we can face 2009 together.

Now it’s your turn to share your ideas. Please feel free to comment.

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Larry Brauner

History Repeating Itself
Reading Down to the End of the Comments is a MUST !

Pay It Forward for Profits, a quasi downline club pretending to be a funded proposal, collapsed last year. I hoped people would learn a lesson from it.

Members were funneled into marginal programs such as GDI and Empowerism for the sake of the income streams they provided — and perhaps too because the Pay It Forward founders had a prior interest in those programs. Members had sought to promote their primary businesses when joining PIF4P, but that idea typically got lost in the shuffle.

My Private ClassroomAs Diane Hochman used to teach in My Private Classroom webinars, marketing systems are simply not sustainable. They implode once a large enough number of users adopt or tout the system.

Rather than develop or teach systems and shortcuts, Diane Hochman and I teach key leadership skills and offer excellent social media marketing training.

After all, isn’t it better to invest a few months to develop strong marketing and communication skills that will serve us a lifetime than to invest the same effort in a system that might make us a few fast bucks if we’re lucky?

It’s not good to rely solely on a marketing system to build a business, but when the system itself is the product, as was the case with Pay It Forward for Profits, then the ultimate end comes quickly, usually within a year or two, and the program is completely wiped out.

Unfortunately most people don’t learn. They blame their result on bad luck or external circumstances and jump on one of the next bandwagons to come along.

As Alexander Pope said, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” and new marketing schemes appear every week.

Caution Recommended

What’s astonishing about The Spiderweb Marketing System is how closely it resembles Pay It Forward. When I signed up and looked inside, I could hardly believe my eyes. There was GDI front and center, just as it was in PIF4P.

That’s where the automated blogs are set up. Global Domains is the first paid component of this free system.

Hmm. Did I just say that?

I guess the system isn’t free. Users buy overpriced web services for $10 per month from GDI in order to use The SpiderWeb Marketing System.

When you get to the Direct Matches* sign up, you really can sign up for free. However, if you do, you won’t be able to implement the Direct Matches piece of the traffic system — better pay another $10 per month for that. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

Ever hear of bait-and-switch?

Sorry. Let’s call it upsell.

There are multiple income streams — some pretty good. And there’s no made-up story about funded proposals like with Pay It Forward for Profits — also good. However, I wish they were up front about the cost. Spider Web is not a free system.

Many people will join Spider looking for multiple streams of income, but instead they’ll find themselves saddled down with multiple streams of outgo.

Oh, there is one other thing. In addition to clogging the Direct Matches MyMail system with spammy messages, The SpiderWeb Marketing System is a proponent and proliferator of automated blogs.

An automated blog is a system generated blog. The system creates the blog and pumps posts into the blogosphere faster than you can say “global warming”.

I just though of a name for this new phenomenon, it’s a blog infestation.

Okay. Needs some work. Give me some time. I’ll think of a better one.

All kidding aside, I can’t understand why somebody would want to spend hours spamming members at Direct Matches and Yuwie while polluting the blogosphere on auto-pilot.

There’s a moral issue too which I hope to discuss in detail in a future post. For now, consider this. When somebody visits a blog, they assume that it’s the journal of a real live person — not the fiction of a computer program. How can this type of impersonation be right?

Kimball Roundy, creator of the Spider System, has given us something interesting to watch. We’ll get to see how Google and the other search engines cope with his quasi-blogs and how visitors react to them as well. We’ll also get to see if automated blogs are really scalable and if a substantial numbers of people actually make money with them.

Meanwhile please be careful. If you see a low hanging spider web, duck!

Speaking of ducks, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck. I wish we could still say that about a blog. ;-)

*Direct Matches happens to be one of my favorite social networking sites. Too bad it’s going to be overrun yet again with spammers. I was so relieved when Pay It Forward fell by the wayside. Now I’ll have to put up with another wave of spamming for a year or so until The Spider Web Marketing System runs its course.

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Larry BraunerI was away yesterday with my family. About once a month we all spend a day in a group home for multiply handicapped girls. Our hope is that they will enjoy, at least for a brief time, a warm family environment.

When I arrived home I found three pleasant surprises.

  • Another reader had registered as a user of my blog bringing the total to 105.
  • My blog had moved up to #8 in Google for the keywords online social networking. I’m back to #51 today, but it felt good to receive validation, however temporary, from Google.
  • An envelope had arrived by Priority Mail with my very own copy of Mike Dillard’s Building on a Budget.

Today I’m feeling jetlagged from the advance to Daylight Savings Time, but I’m happy to report that I’ve already read Mike’s book cover-to-cover. Here is my feedback.

My book review of Building on a Budget is mixed.

The advertising promises to show network marketers how to leverage a one-time cash outlay of about $500 to acquire new skills and resources and generate a continuous stream of leads without further expense.

Building on a Budget outlines an excellent marketing approach and provides great tips that all marketers could learn from — not just network marketers. The Internet and social media marketing concepts presented in the book are explained very clearly and concisely.

The book discusses one pre-requisite and five marketing strategies which are more effective than the strategies that most marketers currently employ. There’s a chapter each for lead capture pages, Craigslist classified ads, video marketing, press releases, blogging and funded proposals. I feel that these are all excellent choices.

Social networking sites are mentioned but only in passing.

Here are my reservations about Building on a Budget.

I have the knowledge and the resources to implement Mike Dillard’s suggestions. I’m already using several of these techniques in my online marketing, but what about a newbie?

Let’s say that our enthusiastic new marketer decides to follow the book’s instructions. He or she sets up web hosting, domain names and an autoresponder, all absolutely essential tools, and purchases Magnetic Sponsoring, MLM Traffic Formula, Black Belt Recruiting, a camcorder, Camtasia Studio, and one or two other items. The $500 figure can very easily top $1,000, and paid third-party assistance might still be needed.

I have spent much more than that to educate and equip myself to market effectively in today’s environment, and I’m a former IT professional with more than ten years network marketing experience.

I don’t regret it at all.

What I object to is an unrealistic $500 price point established by Building on a Budget. And not only is it unrealistic, the book itself is a powerful sales letter — not an academic marketing text. It’s written to sell information and recruit affiliates. Mike points out that he’s a great copywriter. I totally agree. However, I don’t fault him one bit.

I will make good use of Building on a Budget. It’s a compact reference that I will want at my fingertips. You may find it useful too. However, please be careful about your expectations.

Oh, before I forget to mention it. I will schedule conference calls to help. So if you purchased the book, expect to hear from me.

I welcome questions and comments about the book, but please, keep them upbeat.

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