The Verge's Joseph L. Flatley delves into the world of Internet marketing scams (those stupid spam pitches you get for "lead generation" and such) in eye-watering detail. Fundamentally, these things are exactly what they appear to be: con artists who suck money out of desperate people by lying to them about the money they can make with "work from home" businesses. They're pyramid schemes. But Flatley lingers on the personalities, the histories, the motivations and the unique innovations that the Internet has given rise to, providing insight into the feel of being inside one of these desperate, sweaty scams.
If anything, Internet Marketing is a form of "pure marketing" that exists often without the complication of an actual product. Rather than develop something useful, Internet Marketers create something out of thin air: likely a worthless e-book, or some sort of coaching session that consists of a semi-regular phone consultation.
"Well, yeah," Dillon Miles said, a little uncomfortably, when asked about this. "I think there's a lot of that going around. There's a lot of people that will teach you how to make money. It's just, the thing is, like, an information product in that niche, is, I mean, how tangible is that information? What is someone going to do with what you tell them. Most people won't do anything with it. You know, 90% of the people who get that information product, really aren't going to do anything with it. It's no different than when our country tells people to go to college for, you know, eight years, four years, like I did and expect a job when they come out. And then there's no job.
It was hard to get him to stay focused. I couldn't tell if he was talented at deflecting this kind of criticism, or if he just couldn't follow a train of thought. Or maybe he felt bad about the whole thing and refused to think about it. When pressed, he would either offer a variation of the "it only works if you work it" language of Alcoholics Anonymous, or express his frustration at not being able to get a job. He repeatedly positioned his Internet Marketing materials as a replacement for college, or said that college is the real scam.
"I just want to make sure we're clear," I said towards the end of our conversation. "You said that this was no different than going to college, but then you said college was a rip-off. Is this [Internet Marketing info-products] a rip-off? Is that what you meant?
"Well, it could be. I mean, that depends on what the person thinks. I mean, the products we sell, you get a sixty-day, money-back guarantee. I don't remember the last college that gave me a money back guarantee. But I mean, it's all relative. Like, I try to put projects together that people find valuable, but information is such an intangible asset that it's hard to qualify."
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.