This is a guest post by Jeff Clay. I like this post because it really brings things down to basics, at a 101 level. My readers know that I’m all about building a real business, as opposed to simply blogging. But, what does that actually mean? I’ll leave you to Jeff…

Internet marketing is relatively simple.

You can learn the fundamentals of internet marketing in a couple of weeks if you go to the right source. It might take you longer to become awesome, but you can still learn the basics in a relatively short period of time.

However, there is a problem in the blogging, internet marketing, affiliate marketing world. Too many people fail to understand the difference between a marketing strategy and a business model.

Marketing Strategy

A marketing strategy is how you promote your business to get traffic, clients, customers or whatever it is that your business needs to sustain itself. If you have a website where you sell shoes for cats, then you need people to come to your website and buy shoes for their cats.

How you get people to your site is part of your marketing strategy. Selling cat shoes (direct sales) is your business model (not a good one though).

Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is part of your marketing strategy. You do keyword research and create backlinks and optimize your website to attract visitors. That’s not your business (unless you’re an SEO consultant, of course).


When you create a blog, that is a form of marketing. Blogging is not necessarily how you make money; it’s how you attract visitors to your website. Typically, bloggers make money from selling their own products, promoting affiliate products, advertising, membership programs, or consulting.

How you generate revenue is separate from how you market your business and attract visitors or clients. David hammers this message into the brains of his readers over and over. Here’s one example of his hammering – Reality Check: A Blog Is Not A Business.

Social Media

There are a ton of different social media tools and resources – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, and the list goes on and on. These are all tools you can use to communicate with people in some way or another. When you use those tools, it’s called marketing. It’s not a business model. Twitter is simply a resource you can use to promote your business and connect with other people.

Internet Marketing

There are a ton of ways to market your business on the internet. I listed a few examples. There are always exceptions to the rule, but in most cases, your marketing strategy is completely and totally separate from your business.

Let’s be real though, your marketing strategy does have an impact on your business. When it comes to brand awareness, everything you put out in public, whether it’s a tweet or a blog post, is contributing to how the world perceives your brand. That doesn’t change the fact that your marketing strategy is separate from the way you generate revenue.

Business Model

A business exists to create and maximize profits. Yes, they can help people. Yes, they can provide real value, as well as a lot of other things. But, the bottom line is that people create businesses to make money.

If you want to create a successful business, you need to actually think about the business you are creating and not just your marketing strategy.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they start out in blogging, internet marketing, or affiliate marketing is they think their marketing plan is their business model. It’s not. A marketing plan is a way to get people to your business. It’s not THE business.

Let’s take a look at the typical approach, and I know this is true because I did this myself when I was new and I see it all over the internet.

  1. You decide that you want to make money by blogging.
  2. You create a blog.
  3. You throw up some advertising, hoping visitors will click on it.
  4. You start writing blog posts on your favorite subject.
  5. You start using social media and telling people about your blog.
  6. You get a few visitors here and there but you don’t make any money.

What’s the missing ingredient?

The missing ingredient is that you haven’t yet created a business. You started a marketing campaign, not a business.

Understand Your Market

To create a successful business, you need to understand your market. Find out what they really want. Find out what they’re passionate about.

When you understand your market, you know the problems that they face. How can you solve those problems? How can your business help them with those problems? Those are basic questions you need to understand if you want to design a solid business.

Deliver an Awesome Product

Once you know your market, the rest should be obvious. If you know the problems they face, you need to find the best product or service to solve those problems. Find an awesome affiliate product or create your own. Either way, you need to deliver a solution to your visitors that they will gladly pay top dollar for because it provides more value to them.

Execute Better Than Anyone Else

This is really where the men are separated from the boys (or women from girls). It’s all about execution – meaning how you operate your business on a day to day basis. There is no one path you can follow for guaranteed success. Every business is different, even when they’re in the same markets.

For example, do you want to open a hamburger joint? Great idea, people love hamburgers and fast food. It’s a billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, the idea means nothing without killer execution because the market is very competitive.

Even though McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, In n Out, Five Guys all sell pretty much the same products, there are major differences in the quality of their products, their brand perception, their physical restaurants, and their prices. They succeed because of the way they execute their business strategy, supported by strong marketing.

If you’re in a market that’s saturated, what are you going to do to stand out? How are you going to execute on a day to day basis? What can you do so that people will choose your business or website over every other business or website in the same market?

The path is different for every business, but here are a few things to consider that might help you stand out:

  • Top-quality product or service
  • Outstanding customer service
  • Brutal honesty
  • Extreme transparency
  • State of the art products
  • Unique website design
  • Exclusive news or information
  • Twisted personality

The list could go on and on.

If you want to build a successful online empire, you need to start thinking about your business design as well as your marketing strategy. They are not the same thing.

Spend more time thinking about how you can understand your market, provide them with a high quality product or service and execute better than your competition. If you do, your marketing campaigns will be much easier because people will be happy to buy your product or service and refer you to other people.

What else could help you stand out from the competition?

About the author: Jeff Clay is a business owner, internet marketer, lawyer and pizza connoisseur. If you’re interested in marketing or business, check out the internet marketing basics at Superbad Internet Marketing.

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