If you are a fan of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) look away now; you are about to be offended. Good – notice the embedded command? OK, what I’m about to reveal shows that the entire basis of NLP could be false. The evidence that we are either “visual”, “auditory” or “kinaesthetic” is scant, to say the least. True, there is some evidence that supports this notion, but equally there is psychological research which finds against it. Yet, you know, that you tend to think in particular ways; you might imagine things when you think – a visual process. Or you might like to fiddle with things or write notes to help you get your mind around things – a kinaesthetic process. So, at first sight there does seem to be “something” in it.
But like much popular psychology that “something” appears to be much more complex. A recent review of the literature suggests that these different styles of thinking might well exist, yet their practical value is, as yet, in doubt. In other words, there’s plenty of room for more research on the topic, giving years of grants to university psychology departments; brilliant.
Whatever the NLP fanatics and the academic psychologists might debate about learning styles, you know what works for you. In spite of seemingly respectable studies which might suggest we learn in all the different “styles”, choosing ones that are appropriate to specific circumstances, you know that you concentrate on one of them – whether it is visual, or otherwise.
The same is true for marketing. Whatever the marketing “experts” might tell you in terms of research as to what works, you still concentrate on one main type of marketing because it is what works for you in your specific circumstances. You might find that your abilities in creating “word of mouth” are substantial and so you focus on that. But someone else in the same industry sector might get just as much business by using, say, postcard marketing alone.
Much like learning style theory, there is no “right or wrong” in marketing; what works, works. Simple.
But online, things are different. Because Internet marketing is in its infancy compared with “word of mouth” or public relations, online business owners are looking constantly to successful Internet marketers to tell them what style of online marketing they should do.
So, you end up with three styles of Internet marketing. There are the “copycats” – people who keep a close eye on other Internet marketers and merely copy what they do. That’s why the web is full of seemingly endless sales letters. Someone made it successful once and the copycat marketers have rushed on board.
Then there are the “chameleons” – these are people who keep trying to change, but end up going back to what they’ve always done. They try a bit of “social media” for a week or two, give that up, then try “pay per click”, give that up and then return to networking marketing because “they know that works”. They keep changing their colours, but always return to their natural state.
Finally there are the “innovators” – these are Internet marketers who do something truly different and unique. They’ve tried copying and discovered that was limiting, they’s tried the “old ways that work” but got bored and so they come up with new ideas. They invent. Amongst the innovators are the inventors of Google, for instance, or the programmers of some of the more unusual iPhone Apps.
So what kind of Internet marketer are you? Are you a copycat, a chameleon or an innovator? What’s clear is that the most successful and most profitable Internet marketers are the innovators. The copycats might like to tell you they earn millions and show you their PayPal account summary to impress you, but it is all short-lived. They have to find someone else to copy when their bubble is burst. And the chameleons may as well not bother with the Internet anyway because they just want things the way they always worked before this Internet stuff got in the way. If you want real, significant online success, you need to throw away those old-fashioned ways of thinking – doing the same as always, or just copying – and truly innovate. And you can do that no matter what your supposed learning style is.
This may be “pop psychology”, suggesting there are just three kinds of Internet marketers, but the chances are you can fit yourself into one of the styles – just like you can fit yourself into one of the so-called learning styles suggesteed by NLP. So, rather like NLP, it doesn’t matter much whether this three-fold style of Internet marketing exists. What matters is that we all think about what we are doing in termsof Internet marketing. Because once we think about the way we are doing it, the chances are we can improve it. But if we don’t think, the chances of improving are zilch.