As an experienced, but self taught, entrepreneur and online business person, after learning to type at school and not much else, I turned to books and mentors when I finally decided I had had enough of being poor and unsuccessful!
Having read hundreds of books and websites, and subscribing to even more newsletters, there are some people who, over the last 10-12 years, have consistently delivered value.
Sometimes it was just one word, phrase, question or comment, that made the difference, but what a difference that was. Each step forward was a real step forward, and we all know that the journey to success is a series of steps, each building on the last.
I wanted to share with you the Top 10 Digital Marketing "gurus" who have inspired me on my online business journey so far and I've tried to tell you about them in chronological order – how I found them (or in Guy Levine's case, how they found me!)
1. Robert G Allen – I became aware of the potential for making money online around 1998/1999, about five years after I bought my first domain name. I had long been aware of the potential for marketing any real world business online, but was totally blissfully ignorant about selling information products, making money by affiliate marketing and building a mailing list to make offers to. I, like many dyed in the wool entrepreneurs before me, was so obsessed by building a real world business, that the potential just passed me by! Luckily I was to meet Guy Levine and Chris Barrow fairly soon and accidentally did a few things right … in the meantime, my sister's husband gave her Robert Allen's "Multiple Streams of Internet Income" for Christmas, which I stole, devoured and which led me to read other great Robert G Allen books like "No Money Down For The 90′s" now updated for the 2000′s, the brilliant and groundbreaking "One Minute Millionaire" and also other great internet books like …
2. Joe Vitale – perhaps best known for his excellent personal development books and being featured in the Secret film, Joe Vitale is also a very experienced internet marketer – he's been around and making money online from the mid to late 90's (which in the history of the internet is very experienced indeed). Email marketing is one of the easiest ways to get started making money online and is, in fact, still the way that I make most of my money, either marketing my own products or services to my mailing list, or by recommending carefully chosen items by friends and colleagues. Email marketing (simplified) involves driving traffic to a page where someone gives you their name and email in return for a gift of some kind, thus building your mailing list. You then need to keep in touch with people so they get used to hearing from you and you build a good relationship with your subscribers. Joe explains how to do this very well indeed in his book "The E-Code" over a couple of chapters and if you want to get started somewhere simple, I recommend you read it. Then check out Martin Avis of Kickstart Monthly, as he is a master of using a simple text newsletter to make money online!
3. Jaclyn Easton – Her "Striking It Rich.com" book which I read around the same time. I had been trying to get an internet business off the ground, based around matching up unsigned artists in the music industry (where my husband and I had worked) with managers looking for artist to read. Jaclyn's book was all about 23 little known websites that make more than $ 1 million per year and essentially many of the business models were membership sites. This inspired me so much I ended up presenting my business plan at the VERY SECOND the dot com bubble exploded, at the fancy Atlantic Bar & Grill in London, to a bunch of Venture Capitalists, during a fire alarm. Which fire alarm bell started and stopped randomly, so I was alternatively shouting into the void, or totally inaudible!
4. Thomas Leonard – founder of the Coaching movement, and Coach U, which was my online college, and then Coachville. Thomas wrote the first coaching book "The Portable Coach", which I highly recommend still and he used email, mailing lists, research & development groups, autoresponders and everything we use today pretty much. I've been using the ShoppingCart he recommended, since 1999, to host my double opt in email list, handle my product inventory, automatically follow up with prospects and customers, deliver digital information products, offer both timed and% off vouchers, split test headlines and pricing via AdTrackers … Thomas was very inspirational and ahead of his time, however, he died very unexpectedly and tragically, having overcome many of his personal demons, in 2003.
5. Guy Levine – going to my first ever coaching convention, in Las Vegas, to see Thomas in action live, led me to meet Chris Barrow (my new business coach) and Guy Levine, his friend and internet marketing advisor. Guy blew me away – he was only about 19 – but one of the brightest people I've met. He knew way more than me about internet marketing and shared his ideas and techniques very generously. Guy has gone on to build a successful SEO / AdWords / PR company based in Manchester, have two babies with wife Martine and buy two helicopters which he flies himself to speaking gigs in. He's a great speaker too! If he was not so much fun you would have to hate him!
6. Brett McFall – after getting to know Guy, Steve Watson, Paul & Philly Fuggle and I were invited to go along and support him when he was speaking at the first World Internet Summit to happen in the UK, in Wembley. There the co-host was Alan Forrest Smith who, while not one of my Digital Marketing gurus on this list, has also been incredibly influential in my life. I resolved, while standing in the audience at that first event, to speak on the stage next year. And I did, thanks to Alan, in fact I went on to speak twice for them, the only British woman to be asked to do so. I became great friends with Brett McFall, one of the co-founders of WIS as it's now universally known, and he's a very inspirational guy. He's a very kind and genuine man who has helped me a lot with my speaking and promoting my business from the stage particularly. He came to Brighton just before one of our Money Gym events that he co-hosted and while we were recording videos there, we captured a very funny video of him being rained on and also being a bit upstaged by a seagull which never fails to make me laugh and remember a great day out.
7. Frank Kern – I was listening to one of Brett's audio interviews around this same time and was particularly taken with a couple of guys who had a simple but dynamite system called "The UnderAchiever Method". Those guys turned out to be Frank Kern and Ed Dale and they had invented a neat little system involving driving traffic to a page where you asked one question "What One Thing Do You Want To Know About …… X? Where X is your chosen niche. The answers were collated and compiled so you could see what most people wanted to know about, and which were the most popular 1 word, 2 word and 3 word phrases people were using. Then you went and created the product ( usually an ebook, perhaps written by a ghostwriter, covering the most popular questions) and then you sold it back to your new mailing list. Most people gave the initial product away as an incentive to answer the questions and this also brought testimonials, so it Was all good. Then the new traffic was sold the product along with real testimonials and using the language of the niche. Very clever stuff. I believe they sold their mini-publishing empire of niche information product pages to a UK publisher for a very large sum of money, in the end.
That was the first time I really realized the value of a specialist, niche market, responsive mailing list of buyers. Both Frank and Ed have gone on to become incredibly successful in their separate businesses, in Franks case not without a few setbacks! He is heavily involved with many huge IM product launches. Frank's online style is laconic, casual and very, very persuasive. Now Frank get's some stick for perhaps being too persuasive but I just love his style and watching his live gig recordings is just hilarious – so rock 'n' roll – I really want to see him live one day. Ed Dale went on to found the highly successful "30 Day Challenge" which walks new internet marketers through a free program (Ed makes his money on the affiliate products he recommends in that free program).
8. Rich Schefren – around 2006 a new internet marketing guru exploded on the scene, except he was a real life business guru who was moving into the internet marketing world, having sold his last business. Having coached many of the big names such as Jim Edwards, Mike Filsaime and many others, he then released his ground breaking report "The Internet Marketing Manifesto" swiftly followed by the "Missing Chapter" and "Final Chapter" reports. Rich blew my mind because he taught a load of solid business techniques that I had NEVER come across before, in an easy to understand and digest way, capturing the attention and admiration of the ADD troubled internet marketing community at the same time. I went on join both his "Business Growth System" and "Guided Profits System" mentoring programs – which are fantastic by the way – and my company started to grow swiftly as a result. Do yourself a favor and download the reports – they are not just about IM but about entrepreneurship – you won't regret it.
9. Gary Vaynerchuk – well, what do you say about Gary? I bloomin 'love him. I first heard him on an audio interview Rich Schefren did for his mentoring students and Gary was just starting to rise to World Wine Domination! Hey, that's a great catch phrase! You can find Gary at WineLibrary.tv and all over YouTube and Ustream – he's the MASTER of online video. Enthusiastic, passionate, straight talking, unconventional, Gary believes in Hard Work, that you can simply "Crush It!" in the title of his first book, if you care about what you do, care about your readers, listeners, subscribers and customers and if you show you care at all times. According to Gary, smaller companies have NEVER had a better chance to dominate their competition.
10. Yaro Starak – I can't remember where I first came across Yaro and his Entrepreneurs Journey blog but I knew instantly he was the real deal. I have subsequently gone back and read pretty much every one one of his blog posts from Day One because I was fascinated in how he grew from a kid selling students Dissertation Editing Services to becoming one of the most respected bloggers in the world. He's got an interesting background and talks very openly about that, and his various challenges – both work and personal – and I love that about him. It's not just how to get traffic, it's how to be a better entrepreneur. Yaro's got loads of great free reports – one called the Blog Profits Blueprint and he's very strong on Membership Sites too, both of which reports you really ought to read if you want to learn more about blogging for your business. He also recommends great people, like Gideon Shalwick who has got the most gentle, enjoyable video presence I've come across for a while. I recommend both Yaro and Gideon very highly.
There they are – the Top 10 Business & Internet Marketing Gurus of the last 12 years or so. For me anyway. I hope you enjoyed the article and you check out some of the reports and books and then PUT THEM INTO ACTION!