Why Most Digital Entrepreneurs Don’t Have Their Priorities

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I like marketing. I was obsessed from the first days. Done right, it gives you the opportunity to “buy growth”. How much do you want to grow your business this month? What is your budget ? This is growth you can buy. That’s why I got into direct response digital marketing. Not only was it a great way to bring value to B2B customers, but it was also a personal passion of mine. I’m getting really nerdy about this.

When I advise budding digital entrepreneurs, I tell them to nestle. Don’t try to be generalists. Don’t offer a full-service agency. Pick one thing you can become the best at. Maybe it’s web design and only web design. Maybe you love graphic design or you’re a copywriter. Either way, make it a thing.

But that’s a lie to me. Sometimes we do another thing. Sometimes we design landing pages for our clients, but we offer this additional service in very particular and specific circumstances – if the client’s website or landing page is not suitable. As direct response digital marketers, we could use Google and Facebook ads to drive all the traffic in the world, but if we direct that traffic to the wrong landing page, none of that traffic will convert. We are not delivering any value to our customers in the form of increased revenue, so we are losing the business. We sometimes offer this service as an extra, just to make sure we can deliver real value.

It may seem to be inside baseball. It may seem obvious. But there is a nugget of revelation in this fact that I see so many digital entrepreneurs miss – a seismic shift in the whole game. Most digital entrepreneurs put the cart before the horse and lock themselves in from the start. When you put marketing before value, you get it upside down.

Related: Building in Public: How Tech Companies Master Product-Market Fit

The Golden Age of Digital Marketing

When it comes to marketing, I’m downright heavy-handed and conservative. We stick to Facebook and Google ads because they’ve proven themselves. There is a vast body of data to draw from, as well as our own personal experience. That works.

I have seen digital marketing grow since its inception. It gives me perspective, and here’s one thing I can tell you from that perspective: In the early days of digital marketing, you didn’t even have to have a good product to make money. You just had to be good at marketing. Think about it. You could sell absolute rubbish, but the technology was so new and revolutionary that with a tight digital marketing apparatus, you could still make money.

It’s not new. Snake oil sellers have always made money. just look Glengarry Glen Ross if you want proof. But Google Ads and especially Facebook have lowered the barrier to entry and created a generation snake oil sellers.

So what did these early successful users do? They wrote books. They created courses. They set themselves up as gurus and offered enthusiastic students the opportunity to follow in their footsteps, unaware (or indifferent) that the trail they were leading was overrun with tourists. The result: an even larger successor generation of budding digital entrepreneurs, indoctrinated with an older generation’s way of thinking about what it takes to succeed in business.

They all have their peccadilloes – Facebook ads, web funnels, mailing lists, SEO – but they miss the big picture. They miss the fact that the ground has shifted under their feet.

Related: If You Use These Marketing Tactics, You’re Damaging Your Brand’s Credibility

The new digital business landscape

You see, the cat is out of the bag. Digital marketing is no longer new; almost every small business has advertised on Facebook. Did we really want to live in a world where it was so easy to sell someone something worthless? I’m pretty happy the market has corrected. The new order of digital business is value first, marketing second.

Which digital entrepreneurs would I bet on to succeed? Those who go to market and identify a problem that needs to be fixed. Those who stick their nose in the grindstone and relentlessly focus on the quality of the product or service they want to bring to market to solve this problem.

It may be lonely. They could spend years working while the cool kids chase TikTok, new funnels, or any other flash-in-the-pan digital marketing technique takes advantage of its 15 minutes. But value will eventually win out. Focus on creating great products or services, focus on product-market fit, and the rest will be easy.

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