What Can American Idol Teach Us About Internet Marketing?

by Bill Hibbler

Have you been watching American Idol? (http://www.idolonfox.com)

The former music executive in me comes out when my wife and I tune in every Tuesday and Wednesday night. If you haven’t seen Idol, it’s essentially a nation-wide talent show for young pop singers. The winner gets a recording contract and is almost assured pop stardom.

What’s this got to do with Internet marketing? Stay with me, I’ll tie it in shortly.

This week, eight singers competed on the show in front of a live audience. The two that get the most votes from the public move on to the next round, the others go home.

All eight were decent singers but two stood out for me.

Seattle’s Leah LaBelle is a very pretty 17 year-old whose mother is a former pop star in her native Bulgaria. The camera loves Leah and she caught my eye early in the auditions. She chose Whitney Houston’s ‘I want to dance with somebody’, a song that automatically invites comparisons to Whitney’s version. While she has a good voice, Leah’s not in Whitney’s league.

Latoya London (gee, I wonder if these are stage names) is a shy 25 year-old from Oakland, California. While not unattractive, Latoya will never turn heads like Leah. I hadn’t noticed her during the audition rounds partially because the Idol’s producers hadn’t either. She’d gotten zero face time during the audition rounds.

Latoya performed "All By Myself", a big hit from Eric Carmen in 1975 and again when added to the Dirty Dancing Soundtrack in 1987. Eric Carmen performed in a soft distinct voice and is more well-known for his songwriting than his singing ability. Latoya started off slowly but then revealed a very powerful voice. And she blew both the crowd and the judges away.

Last night when the votes were in, Latoya pulled something like 32% of the audience but Leah was beat out by Cyndi Lauper wanna-be Amy Adams. Leah shed a lot of tears on-camera but she could have easily advanced to the next round had she chosen a different song.

Both chose songs that were #1 hits in the past. Latoya chose a hit where people remember the song but Leah chose a song where people remember the performance. In a singing competition, I’d much rather compete against Eric Carmen than Whitney Houston.

So how does all this tie into Internet marketing? Good question. When choosing a niche, are you making the same mistake as Leah? If you’re targeting the ‘how to make money on the Internet’ market, that’s exactly what you’re doing.

Marketers warn us about this all the time but do we listen? After all, isn’t it a bit hypocritical for them to tell us that when they’re going after that market themselves? Well, in a way, yeah. But they also have a valid point.

Choosing to market to Internet marketers means you’re inviting comparisons to Corey Rudl, Marlon Sanders, Terry Dean, Alex Mandossian, Joe Vitale, Armand Morin and dozens of other top marketers. If you think you’re as good or better than these superstars, then go for it. If not, then I’d pick another niche, at least for your first project.

Choosing the right niche is like choosing the right song. You want hit potential and a hungry audience but in a market that’s not crowded with superstars.

And who knows, you may not be on television but you could be the next Internet Marketing Idol.



Bill Hibbler, has been marketing online since 1995 and has tried and tested hundreds of Internet marketing courses, ebooks, software and other products. To get weekly tips, tricks and brutally-honest product reviews, sign up for his complimentary ezine at http://www.ecommerceconfidential.com.


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