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“What’s the smartest business in the world?” How’s THAT for a catchy headline?
Admit it, you opened this blog post simply to find out the answer to the question… What IS the smartest business in the world anyway?
If I were a typical Internet marketer, you already know I wouldn’t tell you so quickly. Like the promised clickbait pictures of your favorite celebrity in some salacious and compromising position, I’d make you click through link after link of ads and then probably never even deliver what was proffered in the first place.
Lots of people sharing content online are doing it simply to gather eyeballs and generate sticky engagement – meaning they want to get as many people as possible to spend as much time as possible tuned into their messages.
That’s why those damn Facebook video reels are so long and never actually show you what you tuned in to see in the first place. It’s why so many online “thought leaders” talk on and on about how they’re going to teach you how to make a bunch of money, play the guitar, find love, lose weight, speak Spanish, or achieve work life balance, without ever showing you how.
And it’s why Internet marketers actually sell lists of headlines they claim generate the most openings. Modified versions of these doozies were on a list I was offered recently:
- “Transform Your Sales Team into a Money-Making Factory”
- “Produce More Leads on Your Website, Starting Right Now”
- “Shhhh. Don’t Tell Anyone Else…!”
And my personal favorite:
- “They Did WHAT With a Latex Glove??!!”
Some are questions. Some are statements. Some have extra punctuation. Some have none. Some are yelled. Some are whispered. As you see, each one is different – and these are only five headlines from a list of more than 600.
What they have in common is that they were each written to be intriguing. To make you want to know more – to compel you to open the email. After all, it doesn’t matter what the marketer is selling if they can’t get you to look at their message. And, as you’ve probably noticed from the rare times that you’ve actually been intrigued enough to actually open the note and pursued an answer, they never actually tell you or show you what you were curious about.
After all, the copywriters’ goal isn’t to give you anything; It’s to get something – your time, your money, your email address, phone number, or something equally valuable.
And don’t believe that because they’re not asking for money that you’re not giving them value. Viewers and viewing time can be sold to advertisers. Email addresses and phone numbers can be sold to aggregators. Demographic data (age, gender, zip code, etc.) can be sold to data banks. And all sorts of ancillary data that comes along with your actions (ISP accounts, equipment specs, and more) are valuable to companies who make money knowing who their consumers are and how to reach them.
Banks and credit card companies charge us to play the float with our own money. Frequent flier clubs and retail loyalty cards charge us for products or services while they learn who we are and what we purchase. Cable companies and ISPs charge us to watch their content and they still sell ads. As the old saying goes, “if you’re not sure what the product is, it’s you.”
And I do the same thing here. I write these essays every week because I enjoy writing them, sure, but also because they help me build a relationship with you. No, I don’t sell your data, nor do I share it. But reliably offering entertaining, educational, and enlightening information week after week is still good business; it reminds potential clients to think of me for speaking engagements, help solving branding challenges, or maybe to read my books.
And, speaking of good business, what IS the smartest business in the world?
A hairdressing school.
Because both the person in the chair and the person providing the service behind the chair are paying to be there.