““If you give your son or daughter only one gift, let it be enthusiasm.”” – Bruce BartonRecently, I participated in a seminar on Internet marketing. I went to listen and learn, but I did make a small presentation.One of the most important points I made about the Internet is that it is not one thing but many things. It is not only a market but also an industry and a medium.

Strike that. It is not just one medium but many media.

Websites are the medium people most talk about when they talk about the Internet. Websites come in many forms and have many functions. There are sites that are nothing more than data-storage centers. You go to them to find something. There are websites for shopping. Websites for news. Websites for advice (like ours). Websites for auctions. Websites to watch sex. Websites to plan travel. Websites to register your opinion. Classified websites. The list goes on and on.

Each kind of website is unique. Yet so much of the advice you read about websites is singular. It makes as much sense to make blanket marketing rules for all websites as it does to apply shopping-center selling strategies to daily newspapers.

And websites are only one group of Internet Media. In addition to websites, we have e-mail, banner ads, insert ads, e-zine advertorials, and much more. Each of these Internet business venues has a unique nature and purpose, But, again, so much professional Internet marketing advice lumps all these things together.

How To Sort It All Out

It’’s no wonder so many businesses have lost so much money on brainless Internet marketing schemes. In a market where money is abundant and good sense is rare, large losses are bound to occur. And they have. A quick tally of the marketing follies that have already crashed and burned would total in the billions of dollars.

Of the marketers attending the seminar, some had made money “on the Internet” and some had not. But all expressed some confusion about what exactly they were doing. When I asked them, “What is the primary purpose of your website,” none had a clear and certain answer.

Yet when I polled those who had been successful, an interesting thing came up. Although they had all toyed with elaborate and fanciful plans about marketing (many of which were based on popular ideas), all had, when it came down to brass tacks, abandoned those ideas in favor of simple direct-marketing techniques.

Rather than lose a bunch of money following somebody’s idea of how to use a website or write an e-mail ad, they fell back on their old ways. And guess what? It worked! It turned out that, contrary to what the self-appointed Internet experts had predicted, the old rules of selling are still effective – and these marketers instinctively knew so.

The Internet Has Changed Business In Many Ways, But One Thing It Hasn’t Changed Is Human Nature.

Most of the early claims about New Economy marketing were based on the (wishful?) proposition that the Internet was going to change human nature. It didn’t.

Thank God it didn’t. Those of us who have built businesses by understanding human nature are happy to be able to apply the same old principles to the new media. And that gives us a very valuable clue. If you accept the idea that the old rules apply, you can be successful on the Internet by figuring out which rules apply to what situations.

The secret to doing that is to look for resemblances. What does e-mail resemble? Direct mail, of course. And if my theory is true, that would make it possible to make good money by sending e-mail solicitations to a list of people with common interests. Of course, that is exactly what porn e-mailers do (with great success) and it is what one of my colleagues has been doing for about a year. (During that time, a list of 30,000 names has yielded over a million dollars.)

What else? Internet insert ads resemble fractional space ads in magazines. And guess what? They work like them too.

Banner ads look like billboards to me. If you know how to make billboards work, you might be able to do wonders with banner ads. (Instead, thousands of companies have spent billions of dollars treating banner ads like I don’t know what – maybe silly business cards – and they haven’t worked.)

Internet classified ads – and advertorials – look like, and work like, classified ads in newspapers. Websites that act as magazines should use the layout and advertising approach that magazines use. The same holds true for websites that resemble department stores. Or websites that are, essentially, daily newspapers.

Figure out what an Internet medium resembles and apply the rules that have always worked on its corollary. Chances are you will be very close to right on.

About two years, ago I created a little website to sell weekly leases for a beach cottage I own. Since I didn’t know any better, I ignored all the rules about what I should have done and followed the rules I knew for selling real estate in classified space. It was a good instinct. A $200 investment has returned almost $80,000 so far.

In the near future, I’’ll show you some specific examples of what I’’m talking about. In the meantime, think about (1) the method you have traditionally used to sell your product/service, (2) what Internet form it resembles, and (3) how that might some day make you rich.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]

Mark Morgan Ford

Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Wealth Builders Club. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.