Since the new year is right around the corner, bloggers and marketers alike are posting their predictions as if a psychics convention has come to town.
So in keeping with that tradition, I'd like to post a few of my own. But unlike those who post their predictions in point form, I won't make a specific list but rather share with you some of my thoughts.
(Near the end, however, this post will culminate in what I believe will be three major trends to watch out for and dive into, if you want to make some serious money in 2008 and beyond.)
First off, let me state that you may or may not agree with me on these. But something is definitely going on right now that points to these three trends. All the clues are pretty evident, and you've probably seen some of these yourself.
What I'm talking about is…
… Internet marketing is correcting itself.
When the stock market tumbles, short of a full-on crash, they call it a “correction.” Sometimes it happens precipitously. Other times, it takes place over a period of time.
Likewise, I believe that Internet marketing, right now, is going through a similar correction. It may not be as precipitous as the stock market, but it's indeed quite significant.
To explain what I mean, let me back up a bit.
If you've read Geoffrey Moore's “Crossing The Chasm,” then you understand the product adoption curve. (In marketing and academic circles, they call it the “Diffusion Process.”)
In plain English, it means that new markets go through a certain adoption process that looks very much like a bell curve.
At first, new products are consumed by the innovators and early adopters (i.e., niche and early markets). They're the type of people who buy new things the moment they come out.
Then, they are consumed by the majority (i.e., mainstream markets, at the top of the bell curve, where products get widely adopted by the majority of people).
Finally, the laggards make up the late markets. They usually wait until everyone else has tried the products, which are no longer new.
According to Moore, between the niches and the mainstream, there's a gap. A chasm, as he calls it, especially with technology. It's where things seem to slow down once a product has saturated the early markets.
But then, after a while, something happens.
The product, if and when it crosses the chasm, enters the mainstream (often called the “middle” or just the “majority”), and becomes widespread.
This is where the bulk of the market lies (about 68% of the market pie, according to studies). And often, it happens fast. Very fast. (For example, Moore's follow-up book, “Inside the Tornado,” explains this in detail.)
What does this mean in terms of Internet marketing?
It means that the geeks (e.g., the risk-takers, innovators, Internet enthusiasts, and the like) are the first ones to penetrate the Internet market. They set many precedents that shape the way we do business online, whether it's through a new method, software, business model, or teaching.
(That's why we often call them “gurus.”)
We've seen this happen. Top marketers have entered the market, sold many a product, and made massive amounts of money. But now, things are starting to change. We're hitting — if not crossing — the chasm.
One obvious piece of evidence is the recent flurry of “death of” reports. Whether they're meant to promote something or not is a moot point.
Clayton Makepeace listed his own predictions recently, and I not only agree with them wholeheartedly but also view them as part of this crossing of the chasm. To me, the most salient point is that only 18% of the world's population is online — but it's growing at a rapid rate, particularly in Asia.
If you don't believe me (or even Clayton), watch this amazing video.
It's a presentation by a statistical researcher about income distribution around the world, and how quickly some countries are growing in terms of wealth and gross national product, once the Internet enters them.
In short, the video shows that the Internet, while still in its infancy, is growing at a rapid rate, and that there is hyper-growth occurring right now in Asian and middle-Pacific countries, such as Singapore, India, and of course, China.
Let me put that aside for just a moment, and share with you a few observations. (I will tie all of this together very shortly, I promise.)
Here's a question:
Haven't you noticed lately how Internet marketing seminars are changing?
I mean, for many years seminars were not only filled to the rim but also filled with the usual suspects who seem to congregate there all the time.
I remember going to seminar after seminar, and seeing the same faces over and over again. The same million-dollar marketers. The same “big names.” The same expert speakers. And very few newbies or unknowns.
But in 2007, a shift started to happen. Some of those faces are not showing up at seminars anymore. The number of old-timers seems to be shrinking, while new faces are making their appearances for the first time.
With each passing seminar, it seems, the audience is slowly being replaced with new marketers and total newbies — people who are completely new to Internet marketing and even to the Internet in general.
More and more veteran marketers are retiring. Some are leaving the Internet marketing field altogether. Many are no longer attending seminars, speaking at them, or teaching Internet marketing at all.
Is it because the Internet marketing industry is dying or jumping the shark?
Not at all. Quite the contrary, in fact. While some Internet marketers have moved on, many of them have simply refocused their businesses on those three major markets I was referring to earlier.
To give you a hint, let me tell you a true story…
At the last seminar my wife and I attended, I was surprised to see that the vast majority of attendees was completely new. The event was still packed to the rim (and even bigger than before). But many of them admitted to us that this was the first seminar they've ever attended.
In fact, they were so new that, at a previous seminar where my wife and I spoke, we were both surprised by the kinds of questions they asked us.
After speaking on stage and walking towards the back of the room, Sylvie and I were asked questions like, “What is an autoresponder?” Or, “How do you create a text file?” (No joke!)
And it didn't just happen once or twice. It happened many, many times. And it happened at almost every single seminar we've attended or spoke at in 2007.
Now, what does all this mean?
It means several things: Internet marketing is shifting. We are seeing more and more people entering it for the first time. We are seeing less of the successful, seasoned marketers who have made their wealth and moved on.
In other words, what we're seeing is a shift to people who are completely green, entering the world of Internet marketing, and launching a business online for the very first time — with very limited knowledge about it to boot.
And many of the existing, top marketers we have learned from in the last few years have either retired or decided to go after… well… the “majority!” That is, they are going offline.
And that, my friends, is the golden key.
More importantly, we're seeing — and we'll see more of — the Asian market, too, entering the Internet marketing sphere.
The more Asian citizens gain access to the web, the more Internet marketing will change, too, to reflect this shift. China, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and others are definitely going to be forces to be reckoned with.
We're seeing this already.
(Sylvie and I are speaking in Singapore next spring, by the way. Some of these events pack as many as 3,000 people.)
Bottom line, these shifts represent not only a major correction affecting the world of Internet marketing, but also show the three major markets to watch out for in the coming year:
- The newbie market;
- The offline market;
- The Asian market.
And that's my prediction for the new year and beyond. Watch out for these markets. Enter them. Serve them. Or get out of the way.
That said, I do have a few technology-related predictions. (A blog post on new year's predictions wouldn't be complete without them, eh?)
Some of the ones I made last year did come true — and we'll see more and more of them in 2008 as well.
For example, online video will become ubiquitous. The web will become increasingly “widgetized.” People will demand for more samplification. And interactivity will become vastly more popular and sophisticated.
But what about some of the major technology companies?
Well, I hate to make those kinds of predictions because Internet marketing is as volatile as the stock market. But I agree that some major acquisitions are in store for the coming year. My guess? Any one of the following…
- AOL by Yahoo!;
- Yahoo! by Microsoft;
- Technorati or SixApart (makers of MovableType and TypePad) by Microsoft or Yahoo! (likely to compete in the blogging space against none other than giants WordPress and Google's Blogger);
- Or Facebook — maybe by Microsoft, Yahoo!, or someone else.
Speaking of Facebook, whether or not it does get acquired, it's going to see the same kind of decline in popularity in 2008 that MySpace saw in 2007.
In fact, when my kids got me onto Facebook earlier this year, and I refused at first because I told them I already had a MySpace account, in a pretentious tone they replied, “But Dad, MySpace is soooo last year!”
I think Facebook will face the same fate, I fear.
Anyway, there you have it.
Until next time, thank you for your support this year. I appreciate you and wish you a peaceful, healthy, profitable, happy, and prosperous new year!