Authenticity and the Future of Marketing

By | January 8, 2011


Since it’s the beginning of a new year, a lot of people are giving predictions and forecasts about what’s going to happen next.

My brother-in-law Micah (whom many of you know from Push Button Marketer, and from my helpdesk) showed me a video recently that I’d like to share with you. It was filmed almost a year ago at the 2010 D.I.C.E. Summit, which is basically a conference for video game developers.

Before you watch the video, I want to mention a couple things…

From my website analytics, I happen to know that the readers of Eric’s Tips tend to skew older than 45 years old, and in fact many of my readers are over 65. I guess my “old fashioned” family values, and methodical teaching style appeals more to that generation than it does to today’s youth, and that’s OK.

That having been said, I think the following video will give you some great insight into the psychology of today’s market and marketers. If you’re someone who is out-of-touch with the video game generation, it contains some especially important concepts for you to grasp.

If you’re building a business in today’s market environment, these are things to consider. Here is Jesse Schell, who is a video game developer and professor at Carnegie Mellon University:

Here are a few thoughts and points I’d like to highlight…

  • He said “Lead generation is more valuable than direct payments”. This reinforces what myself and other Internet marketing teachers have been saying for years… the money is in the list. The reason lead generation is so profitable is because marketers are willing to pay for those leads.

  • I liked what he said about feeling obligated to spend money on something BECAUSE you spent a lot of time on it already. The “elastic velvet rope”, as he calls it. Huge marketing lesson there.

  • I also appreciated what he said about Webkinz and other kids toys. My wife and I saw this one coming a couple years back, when our kids received some Webkinz as a gift, and subsequently got involved in the correlating virtual world.

    Schell does a good job explaining some of the psychology behind it, and how it’s used to make money. But one thing he did not mention is how our kids are being CONDITIONED to buy online. Within weeks, I could see how all of these “points” and virtual dollars were affecting how my kids viewed money. Pretty soon, $400 was no big deal. It was just a number to be spent at the Webkinz store on some virtual furniture for the virtual avatar of their stuffed animal.

  • My favorite part of the talk was the part about “reality” and “authenticity”. This is an area that I began to see years ago, and put it to use in my own business. For the past five years or so, my self-appointed title under my picture on this website was “real life internet marketer”. This was an effort to set myself apart from all the “fakes” who were teaching IM without first being successful at it, and who were hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet. And it served me well.

    As Mr. Schell demonstrates, using “real” and “authentic” is currently a hot trend in marketing, and is working well. But a few months ago, I changed my tagline, because I’m anticipating what I believe will be the next trend of authenticity, although it may take years to get here.

    In my opinion, as the “authenticity” trend becomes oversaturated by marketers in all industries, eventually it will not be enough to say you’re real. Instead, you’ll have to BE real. So instead of saying I’m a “real” marketer, I’m just going to say what I am, and let you be the judge of whether I’m real.

    Perhaps that’s idealistic of me to think that way, but I think it coincides with the sentiment of today’s youth. They’ve been burned a million times by those in their parent’s generation who say one thing and do something else. They want someone to speak and live the truth.

    Now, here’s a little tangent, in which I may or may not contradict myself, depending on how you see it…

    I am NOT saying that I think good will soon triumph over evil in the marketing world. To the contrary, human nature will continue to prevail, and unethical marketers will prosper (from a business standpoint).

    When I posted recently about me-too marketers, the feedback in the comments was overwhelmingly negative regarding the marketing practices I was analyzing. There were calls for boycotts. Yet those marketing practices are showing no signs of slowing down right now.

    So I do not predict that the pendulum will swing to the side of “ethical” marketers. For now, it may swing toward the side of those who SAY they are real and ethical. Unfortunately, many of those are the least ethical of all.

    But while unethical marketing will prosper until the end of time, it appears that the path has been paved for truly authentic marketers to prosper too. If you’ve got what’s “real”, the market will be looking for you.

  • He talked about technological convergence, and suggested that technological DIVERGENCE is more the norm. I’m not sure about this one. He pokes fun at the iPad, but I think he was proven at least partially wrong on that point due to the iPad’s ensuing success.

  • I don’t agree with the picture he paints of a world where everything involves earning points. I’m sure we’ll see some of it, as his contemporary examples seem to indicate more to come. But in my opinion, while technology and advertising WILL be integrated into everything we touch, not all of it will be a game. Of course I could be wrong. After all, the future world will not be built by us. It’ll be built by the video game generation 🙂

    As always, you are welcome to post your comments below.

    Have a great day!

  • 89 thoughts on “Authenticity and the Future of Marketing

    1. Al

      There is so much said in that video that it’s impossible to comment on it all in one single post but I think you did a great job with it.
      As I was watching I couldn’t help but remember Robin Williams’ comedy act “Reality – What a Concept!” It’s a strange world we live in and the internet is definitely where things are heading for the moment. With that said and as capitalism continues to funnel the dollar (or Euro, etc.) out of the hands of the masses and into the hands of a few, doesn’t it make sense to create a sub-economy such as a point system of credits so that money longer holds people back?
      Just one thing I thought of while watching the video and reading the comments. As I said there is so much to consider in there like the idea of Big Brother watching everything we do and rewarding or punishing us for it. Should that really be the reasons we live good lives? I don’t think so personally. I’d rather we lived good respectable lives because we want to: be it for personal, ethical, or religious reasons is irrelevant to me.
      Anyways, thanks for the post.
      Al Smith
      P.S. Can I steal the idea of using credits on my blog to reward people for participating and allow them to use them for purchasing from me? I think it’s an awesome idea.
      P.P.S. And do I get credits for reading and commenting too? 😉

    2. Anonymous

      The video very good makes one think of the future
      and what it holds.

    3. Graham Orphan

      The video very good makes one think of the future and what it holds.

    4. Jacque

      Hi Eric, I’ve been following you for a while. You’ve been a great Dalai Lama. 😀 Building my identity and marketing with as much honesty as I could. At the same time also learning ‘marketing’ itself as I’m not a great salesperson by nature. I hope to meet you in person one day. Wish the best for my IM success.

    5. Caesar

      You are right. Making money on the internet requires a system and you have to be disciplined to follow that system. It is the basics that will make you money in th elong run. As the US employment picture will continue to tank more and more people will want to have the piece of action online. Use ppc to a capture page and direct the leads to the marketing funnel. This strategy will almost never fail unless you abandon it. But it is a LONG TERM strategy because it does not work short-term

    6. Doug

      Hi Eric,

      Very thought provoking and educational video.

      The “fake BS” that surrounds us in 2011, together with the technology advances over the past 20 years, has cut us all off from the real world to some degree, resulting in society’s “hunger for reality”, which explains the emergence of so many reality TV shows.

      Since I am one of your typical list members – male, over 45, college educated, no children at home and browsing the net solely from home – this video explains a lot to me about where we are as a civilization. But I still watch TV to escape the real world – I don’t need to see more reality – and yes I hate Survivor and all the rest of the “reality crap” on the idiot box these days!

      Jesse’s comment about the gaming industry having started out designing games with fantasy in mind, but now being forced by changing user demands, to incorporate more reality into game design, certainly supports his theory that society now wants “real & authentic”.

      His “points system” forecast for the future is bang on, despite some of his exaggerations in his presentation – included for entertainment I’m sure, as much as being based on scientific opinion.

      As it becomes harder and harder these days to stay ahead financially, or even just make ends meet, collecting reward points (or air miles or whatever customer appreciation program you belong to) is already part of my family’s everyday routine. In this regard, technology changes, driven by changing marketplace demands, will certainly impact us all in the years to come.

      I have followed the Internet marketing world for the past 8 years, primarily on behalf of my clients, and am amazed at the changes that have taken place during that time. (By the way Eric, I really enjoy your lessons… keep up the great work!)

      I agree with you totally that being “real & authentic” is the strategy to follow, if you want long-term success in your Internet business in 2011 and beyond.

      Finally Eric… your family values are NOT old fashioned! Timeless yes. Keep doing what you are doing. God bless you and your family.

    7. Grandpa Bill

      Short and to the point:

    8. Eric Post author

      Sure you can steal the idea. I think it would be a great plugin or product for someone to develop and sell to the IM market.

    9. Matt Templar

      Eric,Just watched your recent tips. Jesse Schell is teriffic,wow! I used to teach the data processing end of computer science and know a good teacher when I hear one. I’m 79yrs. young yep and trying to earn some real dollars on the web. I need to find a way to drive traffic to my sites and build that all important list. Sincerly,Matt

    10. Steven Goodwin


      Thanks for the awesome video! It really has inspired me! I do agree with his point of view that a points system game is going to run our lives. I know that I got this new workout game for my PS3 and it is motivating me because I have to workout to earn trophies from it.
      This may not be a reality from the baby boomer generation, but generation X and up is being conditioned this way. It is scary but at the same time just plain sad that we need a “game” to get us to “do life” correctly.

      As far as marketing goes, I can see many different ways to implement these techniques. I agree that the current trend is all about fake it til you make it. But, hopefully, with less online anonomousness, we will see more and more of these fake marketers called out for what they really are!

    11. Steven Goodwin

      I have the same problem Gary! I have found that there are not many marketers out there willing to actually do the work to build a true online business. I call them “program hoppers” or “slot machine marketers”. It is so hard to keep your head up sometimes and to try to go against the waves. Hopefully, with IM getting smarter everyday, we will see these fakes exposed and see some sanity restored to the expectations of online marketing!

    12. Steven Goodwin

      Don’t they already have a “reputation” system on a lot of blogs and forums? I wish they could make a universal one that everyone could use everywhere…That would definitely get me motivated to post more!

    13. Judy Narum

      Hi Eric,
      A friend of mine just shared your blog with me and I m glad he did. I found it very interesting. It s so true, there are a lot of unethical marketers out there, I ve been burnt by a few myself. I m a member of a community of network marketors that mentor people for free. We use Napoleon Hill s book “Think and Grow Rich” to work on ourselves. To have more you must become more. We are on chapter 4, Autosugestion – The Medium For Influencing The Subconscious Mind…Powerful thoughts in this chapter. Quote from the book, “Nature has so built man that he has ABSOLUTE CONTROL over the material which reaches his subconscious mind, through his five senses, although this is not meant to be construed as a statment that man always EXERCISES this control. In the great majority of instances, he does not exercise it, which explains why so many people go through life in poverty.” My point is, there are many “real” network marketers out there if one looks for them and uses critical thinking before handing over their pocket book. There are no accidents in life, there is a purpose for everything and like minded people will find each other. I am happy and grateful to say that I am a “real” network marketer and a mentor with a servants hearts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I shall make it a point to follow your posts. I have enjoyed reading this post and all the comments.
      Quote ” No thought, whether it be negative or positive, can enter the subconscious mind without the aid of the principle of autosuggestion, with the exception of thoughts picked up from the ether.” Napoleon Hill

      Respectfully, Judy Narum (aka mentorjudy)


      It nice info but I have problem about ” how to easy index by google ” I want more organic traffic from SEO google pls advice if you have nice trik how to instal the real meta tag for my sites
      Thanks Mr.Eric

    15. Pete Moring

      Super Video Eric. A bit like a modern day re-vamp of Patrick McGoohan’s “The Prisoner” from the 1960’s.

      As you probably know, here in the UK we are all monitored many times more per person than any other country in the world 🙁 So the thought of our privacy being stripped away even more is quite terrifying especially as many Brit’s have got so used to the infringements they don’t register it and in some areas their behaviour has sunk to new lows with drunkenness and crime spiralling out of control.

      Perhaps we’re the testing ground for the rest of you EH? 🙂

      Cheers, Pete.

    16. Karen

      Eye-opening video with a great speaker! I could listen to him all day. Especially like the points and leaderboard inspiring students to do better!

    17. Jane Snowberger

      Hi Eric, Well I certainly related to this video. I am so tired of all the hype and sales pitches I receive and disappointed because I originally subscribed to some of them to learn ‘how to, hopefully, increase my income’ but recieve nothing but “buy” emails. EXCEPT, for you. Thank You so much.

    18. Lloyd Hrdlichka

      Hi Eric, I like the evolution of technology if it is for the betterment of society ,and life in general, but what was shown in the video reminds me of “Big Brother Watching” where we have no more privacy in our lives, and that is sort of creepy to me at least!!…I like the idea of marketing online, or using digital technology for archiving, and preserving old medias, but when every daily action is monitored and measured, where is the privacy??…Just my opinion…Friends, Lloyd.

    19. Barb

      Hi Eric, thank you for all of your help. I am a newbie and am trying to absorb as much as possible. I was not able to view the video. I tried refresh and few times.

      Can you make any suggestions?

    20. Scott Kelley

      Great post. Here come the free cell phones with apps built in for your loyal buying habits. Our activities will predict the rewards and prizes we will be offered as the game is played for the most points. Special credit cards in buying groups to keep and track your reward points. Between the Airlines and Marlboro some one will get the picture and combine the two marketing plans. Great post, open your mind and it will probably happen.

    21. Claudia

      Hi Eric,

      Great Video. In part the gamers are right, everything we do will be tracked and used to manipulate out buying habits. I think it possibly could lead us to be “better” and maybe more paranoid about everything we do being watched. George Orwell’s book “1984,” had a very similar scenario. I loved the part about the Technology Divergence being unpended by pockets…ingenius description of people prefering gadgets that are easy to carry and have many functions leading to technology Convergence rather than Divergence.
      So, how do we a students of internet marketing apply this information in 2011-12? I see the idea of “authenticity” very closely related to value of the product we’re advertising. Meaning we shouldn’t advertise junky products that don’t work and we need to be “authentic” about our businesses by being transparent and letting people know who we are. Lastly, I think the “points” may be a great way for us to stimulate our own membership site continuity and make a game of people returning and earning points.
      I’m interested in how you will teach us to apply these trends so that we become the white hat marketers 😀

    22. John Guild

      Here are 3 short video examples of how games are changing behavior in the real world right now: This was the final point in Schell’s video about how games might begin to change behavior for the better (with which Eric disagreed somewhat.)

    23. Ken Jones

      Authenticity sometimes seems a losers way to walk but I cannot bring myself to tell lies and reinvent myself. Very encouraging to see the tone of all the comments on this page. I might succeed more slowly but I will succeed honestly

    24. Resorna

      actually liked the article that you wrote actually. it really is not that easy to discover good posts to read (you know really READ and not just browsing through it like a zombie before going to yet another post to just ignore), so cheers man for not wasting my time on the god forsaken internet. 🙂

    25. fattane

      Hi. How can I get your video files of lessons?
      Is it possible for you send them to my mail?

    26. Micah

      Hello Fattane,

      Currently, the videos are only available online, but you may watch them or re-watch them anytime!

    27. Robert L. Lloyd

      I am enrolled in a course at a local community college. They use Dream weaver software for web site building. Do you have any experience with it.

      Bob Lloyd

    28. Eric Post author

      I do not use it, but it’s a good software program. Being able to create your own sites is a helpful skill, as you can then launch sites on the fly and market new things quickly without having to rely on a webmaster.

      Keep in mind the type of sites they teach how to build may not be the best from a marketing standpoint, but you can adapt them as you learn the nuances of internet marketing.

      Also, many sites are run by web-based scripts such as WordPress. These sites do not utilize a web authoring program such as Dreamweaver, and would require basic HTML and possibly some PHP skills to modify them on your own.

    29. Doc Durdin

      Gee… Can’t we just go back to; this is who I am, this is what I have. If you see good value in it, this is what you need to do. Then follow through with a relationship. Now it’s OMG don’t let them know you are ACTUALLY going to make money, or worse yet you might really be selling something. The people who make you watch 30 minutes of commercials to see 20 minutes of program are OMG, making money! Lots of it!

      Oh, and I’m one of those older dudes who follows, Eric. I only deal in real..

      Cheers, Doc

    30. rhaja

      Dear Eric,

      Thanks a lot for your free lessons on online i personally think you have thought me so many things about the online business, i have accumulate so much knowledge from your lesson i would like to personally thank you, for your tremendous amount of effort to create this video tutorial for free with no charges, i see you are very motivated to teach and help the others to understand the world of online in detail.thanks a lot Eric,may god bless you and your family with tremendous amount of wealth,prosperity,and happiness.

    31. Thomas

      Eric, I’m surprises that you didn’t make a post on my site concerning a scam!!

    32. Thomas

      By the way – changes were made according to your comments from an earlier visit……

    33. Down Or Just Me

      Very insightful predictions here! Great video, as usual. Even though it hasn’t been THAT long since you posted it, I think some of these things are already true of marketing today. Thanks for sharing your views! 🙂



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