Are Internet Marketing Video’s a good Investment For Your Start-up Business?

I seem to have met a lot of nice people lately who tell me they are getting into the “Digital marketing” business.  When I ask them, “What’s your specialty?”  They often look at me like I have 3 heads and say, “Internet Marketing”. I then reply, “Yes, but what do you do?  Are you a media buyer, an analyst, an SEO expert, a social media manager?  What do you do?”  Upon further examination, I usually learn that these folks are recently unemployed or are going through a metamorphosis and they have bought into a video or web series that promises to make them rich “overnight” in digital marketing. 

The fact is, digital marketing can take a legitimate business from zero to hero consistently over time with a well-developed strategy.  And digital marketing careers are in fact experiencing tremendous growth and demand.  However it is not something you can learn and become successful at overnight, that’s simply not a realistic fact.  Ask anyone working as a digital marketer (with a 4 year degree in marketing) at any of the big tech industry giants. Glass Door lists digital marketing manager base salaries at Amazon at around $90k per year in Palo Alto, California  (The Silicon Valley)  where the cost of living is based on a median income of $129k per year.  So digital marketers are starting their careers well below “millionaire” status.

Some of these webinars may be interesting tools for getting familiar with digital marketing concepts for a legitimate business.  These could potentially be useful for people who have an actual start-up or new business with available funds to market their established business venture. The information gathered in these are usually a vague introduction to the digital marketing landscape.  They might help you get familiar with the basic concepts of digital marketing and a preliminary understanding of the complexity of networks necessary to market your business, but they do not teach the depth of knowledge necessary to become a digital marketer and it is not likely they give you enough information to successfully market your own business.

There is a myriad of specialties in the digital marketing field. A digital marketing department can include many full-time roles as well as a manager and director for oversight.  The director and manager roles require a high-level understanding of each of the roles within the marketing department as well as speak the “language” of those specialties keeping a keen eye on campaign long and short term goals as well as reporting metric analysis to founders, investors, and chiefs. Search engine optimization is a highly developed skill that requires extensive knowledge of search algorithms, coding, and programming, backlinks and PPC buying strategy. Influencer management is an up and coming industry within the marketing world with crossover in the publicity sphere requiring a vast network of relationships and negotiating authority with celebrities and well known CEO’s.  Media buying is a skill that requires broad market research understanding and a deep breadth of knowledge of ad buying and competing for ad space on line. A digital marketing department often employs content developers, programmers, front and back end developers, UX and UI designers,  photographers, videographers, graphic designers, product developers, project managers.  There are many amazing opportunities within the field of digital marketing,  however none of these are skills you can master all at once, overnight using a video to make yourself or your business wealthy.  It is also impossible for one person to perform all of these extensions at once.

If you have a business to market there are many ways you can leverage some of your personal skills as well as your staff to market your business in the digital world.  It is a great idea to utilize those resources within a marketing strategy, doing so will and does save time and money as long as it doesn’t interfere with the time required for you to manage and develop your business.  Internet marketing videos can sometimes point you in the right direction to do that and may also help you get started.  However, very often these videos take many, many hours of your time to give you very little information.  Their business model is to give you as little information in each video or webinar as possible so as to keep you in the cycle of buying. Please remember that you are their client, you are their revenue stream and they have marketed to you. Most importantly above all else, they don’t want you to stop buying from them!  Their goal is not to make you an overnight success.  If all of their customers were an overnight success, their business model would tank pretty quickly. When evaluating the cost of hiring a marketing agency vs learning to do it yourself through video’s and webinars, compare the time that hiring a professional saves you and the expertise it adds to the execution of a well-planned marketing strategy. The opportunity cost of these video’s and webinars are not a great value over time.

If you have bought into or are considering buying these videos or webinars to become a digital marketer, consider first determining if the presenter has had or currently has any actual clients (other than you as described above) or any real experience as a digital marketer.  Know their specialty and find out exactly which skill set they are teaching you for entering the market.  Know what the job expectations are and be familiar with the standard industry salary rate for that role. 

If you are planning to attend any of the seminars offered as an enhancement or companion to these video series and webinars (which can start at $900 to $1200 for a weekend not including travel and accommodations) be sure to get the syllabus beforehand and verify which certifications or skill sets you will harness at the event.  Very often these events are glorified motivational speaking events.  You may walk away feeling inspired having heard the stories of several successful entrepreneurs.  You may learn some fantastic platitudes, be encouraged to push your personal boundaries and get familiar with some lifestyle changes that other successful people have made during their climb for success.  But very rarely do these seminars offer the opportunity to learn or develop your knowledge of programmatic ad buying, SAS or SQL, project management software, google algorithm updates for SEO management, Graphic Design, social media management or any other real skill set used in digital marketing.  Most people walk away from these events feeling inspired but having received little or no direction.

Before you invest in any video or web series, seminar package or even books that promise to make you an overnight millionaire in marketing, determine if you are interested in becoming a digital marketer or if you want to learn how to market your already existing product or business. Know the facts of what is involved in a digital marketing career or know exactly what product you will be marketing. Do not be fooled into thinking that you can make millions simply by “being your best you” and “working only 3 hours a day” after watching these highly produced videos of good looking people peddling their limited knowledge. Again please remember, you are their target client, you are their revenue stream and they have marketed to you. 

If you are considering a career in digital marketing, that’s wonderful!  It is a career path experiencing tremendous growth and you’ve chosen a field with many opportunities for a massive variety of talents.  There are many available courses offered that give accreditations and certifications.  General Assembly offers a great “Introduction to Digital Marketing” course that gives you an “overview of all things digital marketing and the channels that come with it. During the 2-hour session, the General Assembly course will “cover the fundamentals, introduce key channels, concepts, and metrics.”  I personally feel an intro like this is a far better value as you will get considerably more information in only 2 hours vs many hours and many dollars invested in a video or web series.  This would help you quickly determine if a future in Digital Marketing is right for you.  If it is then you can research and pursue gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to be taken seriously in this industry.

If you are considering investing in a video or web series to do your own marketing for your start up or small business venture consider this analysis by CB Insights and published by Fortune. This clearly highlights that when founders and CEO’s are not investing their time in business development issues and raising and maintaining capital they fail. 

A solid marketing strategy developed with knowledge, experience and industry resources will support a growing business model, create awareness of product, establish a “need” in the market, understand the target audience and reach out to compel customer loyalty. This does not happen overnight, even with the help of a seasoned professional.  Hiring a marketing agency is a small price to pay for your long-term game plan.  As my mother always said, “work smarter, not harder” and in this case the sentiment is correct.  Staying up all night learning to market your business sets you behind on your marketing calendar and robs you of laser-focused attention to your business development.  Don’t be a martyr, or the iconic “hero CEO” whose tragic hubris was thinking that she or he could wear all of the hats necessary to launch a business. This goes against the very grain of what Internet Marketers are peddling to you as facts.  Again please remember, you are their client, you are their revenue stream and they have marketed to you.

Wether you are seeking a career in marketing or interested in marketing your own business, please be careful of Internet Marketing and pyramid scams.  If it sounds too good to be true, it is.  I’ve been in the marketing business for a long time.  If it were truly lucrative and requiring no skill set only a laptop computer, everyone would be doing it.  Everyone.