Providing Value: The Most Important Principle of Internet Marketing


There are a million ways to make money online. Many of them are short-term schemes that fool people to invest in a program that promises a way to make money online, but never delivers. Then there are a handful of ways that truly allow someone to earn an income online. The truly profitable internet marketing strategies all have one thing in common: they provide real value to their audience.

The basic recipe for earning money online can be summed up in two simple steps:

  1. Find or create a product/service that people will spend money on, and
  2. drive traffic to the product/service.

Most people think that step #2 is the hardest part, but in fact, step #1 is where most people go wrong. That’s because with companies like JVZoo, Warrior Forum, Clickbank, etc., there are thousand products or services for affiliates to promote. Like a buffet, it may be hard to decide what to choose, but being presented with so many options will eventually result in you putting something on your plate.

However, most people choose a product and run with it, without really considering the actual value it provides to the audience you intend to put it to. Take the buffet example again. This time imagine you’re making a plate for someone else. Would you randomly choose food items without knowing their likes, dislikes, or allergies? The same is true for internet marketing. The products/services need to fit the audience. But most marketers, erroneously, try to make the audience fit the product/service.

If you fill your plate with a bunch of random items, then go out into the dining room yelling, “Who here likes pork chops, macaroni salad, and Jell-O!?” it’s going to be harder to make the sale. Conversely, if you know your audience and what they’re hungry for, it’s easier to feed them. My success with internet marketing has always relied on targeting a specific audience, then asking myself, what value can I bring to them? Here are some questions I ask myself before creating a niche site or affiliate campaign:

  1. What kind of content do they search for?
  2. What kind of products are they already buying?
  3. What types of services do they subscribe to?
  4. Do these service providers already offer affiliate programs?

Let’s create an example. Say we have an audience of parents, whose kids are about to start driving. The tendency is to go right out and search for “car sale affiliate programs” or “car insurance affiliate programs,” draft some quick content and try to drive traffic to it with solo-ads, PPC ads, etc. It could work, but you’re not really providing any additional value to that audience, beyond what’s already being delivered by the affiliate company.

Instead, go through the questions above and truly search for the answers. Ask around, read parenting magazines, parenting blogs and comments, and watch parenting videos about driving fears. Maybe you’ll come up with something like this:

  1. Parents often search for safety related content. They want to know what the safest cars are, how to promote safe driving when they let their child take the car,
  2. Parents are interested in what gadgets can help track speed, location, etc. There are physical devices you can put in the car, but also apps you can have installed in the child’s and parent’s phone.
  3. Parents, especially mothers, subscribe to parenting blog feeds and email lists. Many parents worry about drunk driving and subscribe to the MADD email list for tips on how to prevent drunk driving.
  4. Online retailers like Amazon are great for gadgets, and there are some CPA programs to promote app installations. There is a monthly subscription service with XYZ company that allows parents to monitor detailed information about their child’s driving activities, they offer an affiliate program.

Do you see how asking some simple questions, and becoming genuinely concerned with the answers, teaches you so much more about your audience, their fears, and products/services they truly want and need? Having this information dramatically improves the quality of your content, messaging, and authority in this space!

Now let’s go back to the basic two-step process: find a product, then drive traffic to it. Many people spend so much time worrying about how to get people to their squeeze pages and affiliate offers, and because that’s their focus, they never do. I am a true believer of the saying, “if you build it, they will come.” If you are offering true value to your audience, word will spread. The fact that a dancing cat video can go viral overnight demonstrates the power of “word of mouth” on the internet. In fact, all you really need is a couple social media shares from true audience members and you could start driving traffic from social media alone. Of course promotion via guest blog posts, social media interaction, or even PPC ads can boost popularity more rapidly, but I’ve never focused too much on them. I’ve found that with a little on-page SEO to target the appropriate search keywords (e.g., “parents worried about kids driving” or “parent fears of kids driving”), the content will spread all by itself.

Once you have established yourself in the niche, it then becomes a matter of providing regular updates. If this is your main project, then you want to put in some real time and generate quality content. But, if this was a side project, you may simply create one new post a week/month, or even outsource new content altogether. The key is to maintain your sticking points in all of your content. Don’t start talking about “after-market car parts” simply because your audience is loosely related to driving and automobiles.

As long as you keep providing value, you will keep growing as an authority in the space.

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