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RANT Can You Escape the Giants in an Online Business?

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Virtually every online business model I analyzed recently relies to a large extent on one of the giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. It seems like with each year it's getting harder and harder not to base your online business on one of the big companies. Just to give a few examples:
  • self-publishing - Amazon controls almost the entire market and people are unwilling to buy books if they're not Kindle books. Consequently, as an author your fate is mostly in the hands of Amazon (particularly in fiction). Whatever changes they make to their platform can ruin your business (been there, done that).
  • content marketing (in various ways) - you're dependent on Google (when you want to rely on SEO or YouTube traffic), social media sites, or if you use paid advertising, it's most likely ban-happy Facebook. As for monetization, it mostly comes down to Google (AdSense) or Amazon (Associates).
  • mobile apps - Google or Apple (good luck selling your app if they don't like it).
  • most product-based businesses - Amazon, who's happy to steal your business if they discover it's profitable.
  • podcasts - Apple (good luck growing your podcast if it's banned on iTunes).
This is also visible in other industries such as music where payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% of all US music revenues in 2018.

Let's say I want to start a new online business and can afford to spend some money to promote it. What do I do? I set up a Facebook account to promote it and bam, I'm banned like that for no reason (been there, done that) with no way to get my account back. I choose to advertise on AdWords instead, but with the crazy high CPCs it's extremely unlikely to ever turn a profit. Then maybe SEO? Well, Google doesn't like new websites so it will sandbox you and then a new algorithm update can screw your business overnight even if it's completely legitimate (like Examine.com). Maybe social media? No luck—there was a new update that limited your reach to a fraction of your followers and you need to pay just to deliver new posts to them (and prepare to pay double if you want them to leave the platform and visit your site).

Wherever you turn, there's a gatekeeper who has no issues banning you overnight or changing the way it operates in such a way that your business can be badly hit overnight.

I'm beginning to think that with an online business it's now very hard not to violate the commandment of control. Of course, you can try to diversify yourself, but in many cases there are only two viable options at most and both rely on the giant companies who don't give a damn about you. The smaller platforms disappear or are consumed by the giants and there's more and more power (and less and less interest in an individual) in the hands of the big companies.

Any thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way? Are there any business models where you can still feel relatively safe with your revenue coming in more equal percentages from many different sources?
 

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Virtually every online business model I analyzed recently relies to a large extent on one of the giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. It seems like with each year it's getting harder and harder not to base your online business on one of the big companies. Just to give a few examples:
  • self-publishing - Amazon controls almost the entire market and people are unwilling to buy books if they're not Kindle books. Consequently, as an author your fate is mostly in the hands of Amazon (particularly in fiction). Whatever changes they make to their platform can ruin your business (been there, done that).
  • content marketing (in various ways) - you're dependent on Google (when you want to rely on SEO or YouTube traffic), social media sites, or if you use paid advertising, it's most likely ban-happy Facebook. As for monetization, it mostly comes down to Google (AdSense) or Amazon (Associates).
  • mobile apps - Google or Apple (good luck selling your app if they don't like it).
  • most product-based businesses - Amazon, who's happy to steal your business if they discover it's profitable.
  • podcasts - Apple (good luck growing your podcast if it's banned on iTunes).
This is also visible in other industries such as music where payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% of all US music revenues in 2018.

Let's say I want to start a new online business and can afford to spend some money to promote it. What do I do? I set up a Facebook account to promote it and bam, I'm banned like that for no reason (been there, done that) with no way to get my account back. I choose to advertise on AdWords instead, but with the crazy high CPCs it's extremely unlikely to ever turn a profit. Then maybe SEO? Well, Google doesn't like new websites so it will sandbox you and then a new algorithm update can screw your business overnight even if it's completely legitimate (like Examine.com). Maybe social media? No luck—there was a new update that limited your reach to a fraction of your followers and you need to pay just to deliver new posts to them (and prepare to pay double if you want them to leave the platform and visit your site).

Wherever you turn, there's a gatekeeper who has no issues banning you overnight or changing the way it operates in such a way that your business can be badly hit overnight.

I'm beginning to think that with an online business it's now very hard not to violate the commandment of control. Of course, you can try to diversify yourself, but in many cases there are only two viable options at most and both rely on the giant companies who don't give a damn about you. The smaller platforms disappear or are consumed by the giants and there's more and more power (and less and less interest in an individual) in the hands of the big companies.

Any thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way? Are there any business models where you can still feel relatively safe with your revenue coming in more equal percentages from many different sources?
I think it’s great those big businesses have gathered people who’d buy our products into a few watering holes, and provided tools to access them.

Use those watering holes to get first contact, and sale? Grow with Repeat Business & Referrals?
 

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Use those watering holes to get first contact, and sale? Grow with Repeat Business & Referrals?

The problem for me is that it's getting more and more difficult to get first contact through these sites. People are ignoring ads more and more often (can't blame them), CPCs are getting through the roof, the platforms are getting ever more strict with their policies.
 

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Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way?
Yup, I believe they should be still affected.

Offline businesses like restaurants, services and even property still rely on social media for marketing- or ratings review.

Even in my home country, the ol' mom and pop businesses are starting to latch onto Grabfood, Grabpay or some other payment/affiliate scheme that has something to do with 'the giants'.

I think someone here said that 'online is just a medium'.
 

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Yup, I believe they should be still affected.

Offline businesses like restaurants, services and even property still rely on social media for marketing- or ratings review.

Even in my home country, the ol' mom and pop businesses are starting to latch onto Grabfood, Grabpay or some other payment/affiliate scheme that has something to do with 'the giants'.

I think someone here said that 'online is just a medium'.

That's a good point although I think that local businesses have the advantage of having less competition and more chances at nurturing the clients they already have (I feel like it's now much harder in the purely online world; just compare your loyalty to a great local restaurant that you patronize each week vs your loyalty to, say, a hosting company).
 

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With the company that I work for over 66% of our traffic comes from Google. 75% of new revenue comes from Google. We diversify our marketing and invest into a ton of areas outside of Google. But we can't escape it haha.

If Google decided to ban us, then we'd be in serious trouble from an acquisition prospective. But okay from the revenue side because we deal with subscriptions with low churn.

I think about this a lot. I don't have any solutions outside of building a really good customer base with a strong backend. That's why I like subscription businesses - assuming churn isn't bad.
 

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With the company that I work for over 66% of our traffic comes from Google. 75% of new revenue comes from Google.

That's exactly what worries me. You might be okay because you already have a client base but for a new business it can be super tough if Google bans them when they're just starting out.

We diversify our marketing and invest into a ton of areas outside of Google. But we can't escape it haha.

Same in self-publishing. You can try everything but Amazon will still provide 75% or more of your revenue, which is essentially like owning your business.
 

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Yes, you can escape these giants. I just don't know why you'd want to.

But you are on a forum that people find because of a book(s). Granted, I don't know the stats of the forum, so maybe this is a bad example based on ignorance. I'll give you another one.

I know a guy who manufactured a product so in demand that all he had to do (after manufacturing it) was build a site and post 1 message in the right sub reddit. He sold out inventory in 3 weeks. First month revenue $15k. The community he caters to just told their friends. It's been a year, and he still does no advertising and his revenue steadily grows. I haven't talked to him in a while, but I know in July he had a $35k month.

Find a need. Fill it. And be smart about how you get the word out.

Yes, it is possible...
 

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I think all business have some loss of control especially if you are working within a marketplace. You can reduce risk by having offers in multiple marketplaces.

If you are a brand in a chain of retail stores, what if they decide to pull your product, move it to a less trafficked area, etc...

The best you can do is roll with the punches and evolve. Much better to do with a "productocracy ".
 

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The problem for me is that it's getting more and more difficult to get first contact through these sites. People are ignoring ads more and more often (can't blame them), CPCs are getting through the roof, the platforms are getting ever more strict with their policies.
Yes, people generally have become better at ignoring ads on social media, but I'll remind you that 97% of Google's revenue comes from Search Ads...

...with almost 200 Million clicks on these ads DAILY...and that's a 21% INCREASE from 2012 when you would think people would've been less advertising savvy.

Personally I click on ads all the time...when they're relevant to me. It's just faster than having to dig through organic search. I'd reckon a lot of people feel the same. It doesn't cost me anything as a buyer to click on ads.

CPCs are more expensive but that just requires a strategy change. CPC costs don't mean much when you have a high LTV of your customer. Most people are still trying to get profitable on the first click, not realizing that that customer will spend 500% more over the next year...and the year after that.

Then it's like pouring gas on your fire while the competition is still trying to light the pilot.

I think mainly it comes down to who controls the TRANSACTION. Is money changing hands on your website or on Amazon? And how can we move it to the former?
 

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The first principles approach says that ultimately business is just being able to make something people want, have a message that makes them willing to buy it, have a medium to deliver that message, and a way to distribute the goods.

Sure those 4 make up a nice chunk of the economy, but not all of it. Hell, the fact that many people think the way that you do means that there is likely a golden opportunity to build up or create some delivery channel that people have never heard of, simply because nobody else is thinking of something new.

Depending on your offering, you could try "antiquated" ideas like direct mail, bulletins, leave flyers in restaurants, bars, & coffee shops; newspaper ads, or magazine ads. You could go to trade shows, join local business clubs like the chamber of commerce, the rotary club, or your local areas unique spinoffs of trade & entrepreneur clubs.

Plus people just like buying from someone they actually know.
 

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And be smart about how you get the word out.

That's the hard part if you don't want to feel like you're a slave to the big companies. For example, I wanted to get the word out using Facebook Ads and they banned me instantly after creating my account. No reason was ever provided and no, I wasn't advertising anything illegal or against their rules (this happens to many people, articles about accounts disabled for no reason are countless).

I think all business have some loss of control especially if you are working within a marketplace. You can reduce risk by having offers in multiple marketplaces.

In many industries the other marketplaces provide little to no diversification so you have almost no control. Almost all of my revenue in self-publishing comes from Amazon and far in the second place (about 10%), Google. The rest (5%) are small, insignificant players.

...with almost 200 Million clicks on these ads DAILY...and that's a 21% INCREASE from 2012 when you would think people would've been less advertising savvy.

I'm pretty sure the reason why they click more is because Google is getting filled with more and more ads and less and less organic results (and it's harder than ever to tell the difference).

Case in point:
Brands vs Ads | SEO Book (particularly the "Ads, Scroll, Ads, Scroll, Ads..." section showing how difficult it is to even get to organic results for some searches)

Hell, the fact that many people think the way that you do means that there is likely a golden opportunity to build up or create some delivery channel that people have never heard of, simply because nobody else is thinking of something new.

I'm actually wondering where it's still possible to do something different because it seems like you're pretty much destined to rely on one of those big companies to grow your business, whether it's paid advertising, SEO, keeping in touch with your clients through social media, etc. (all of the main strategies are on platforms owned by one or two companies).
 

Here

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Virtually every online business model I analyzed recently relies to a large extent on one of the giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. It seems like with each year it's getting harder and harder not to base your online business on one of the big companies. Just to give a few examples:
  • self-publishing - Amazon controls almost the entire market and people are unwilling to buy books if they're not Kindle books. Consequently, as an author your fate is mostly in the hands of Amazon (particularly in fiction). Whatever changes they make to their platform can ruin your business (been there, done that).
  • content marketing (in various ways) - you're dependent on Google (when you want to rely on SEO or YouTube traffic), social media sites, or if you use paid advertising, it's most likely ban-happy Facebook. As for monetization, it mostly comes down to Google (AdSense) or Amazon (Associates).
  • mobile apps - Google or Apple (good luck selling your app if they don't like it).
  • most product-based businesses - Amazon, who's happy to steal your business if they discover it's profitable.
  • podcasts - Apple (good luck growing your podcast if it's banned on iTunes).
This is also visible in other industries such as music where payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% of all US music revenues in 2018.

Let's say I want to start a new online business and can afford to spend some money to promote it. What do I do? I set up a Facebook account to promote it and bam, I'm banned like that for no reason (been there, done that) with no way to get my account back. I choose to advertise on AdWords instead, but with the crazy high CPCs it's extremely unlikely to ever turn a profit. Then maybe SEO? Well, Google doesn't like new websites so it will sandbox you and then a new algorithm update can screw your business overnight even if it's completely legitimate (like Examine.com). Maybe social media? No luck—there was a new update that limited your reach to a fraction of your followers and you need to pay just to deliver new posts to them (and prepare to pay double if you want them to leave the platform and visit your site).

Wherever you turn, there's a gatekeeper who has no issues banning you overnight or changing the way it operates in such a way that your business can be badly hit overnight.

I'm beginning to think that with an online business it's now very hard not to violate the commandment of control. Of course, you can try to diversify yourself, but in many cases there are only two viable options at most and both rely on the giant companies who don't give a damn about you. The smaller platforms disappear or are consumed by the giants and there's more and more power (and less and less interest in an individual) in the hands of the big companies.

Any thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way? Are there any business models where you can still feel relatively safe with your revenue coming in more equal percentages from many different sources?
Pinterest
Quora
Slack
Reddit
Tiktok maybe?

Depends on the field and where your people hang out.

Also if you use google plus facebook plus amazon, you’re already somewhat diversified.
 

WillHurtDontCare

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Interesting article on how Google & Facebook ads aren't as effective as their reputation would have us believe.


"Facebook ads are far less effective than we thought"

"Consider the following: if Amazon buys clicks from Facebook and Google, the advertising platforms’ algorithms will seek out Amazon clickers. And who is most likely to click on Amazon? Presumably Amazon’s regular customers. In that case the algorithms are generating clicks, but not necessarily extra clicks."

"Keep that in mind the next time you read one of those calamity stories about Google, Facebook or Cambridge Analytica. If people were easier to manipulate with images and videos they don’t really want to see, economists would have a much easier task. Realistically, advertising does something, but only a small something – and at any rate it does far less than most advertisers believe."
 

PizzaOnTheRoof

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Interesting article on how Google & Facebook ads aren't as effective as their reputation would have us believe.


"Facebook ads are far less effective than we thought"

"Consider the following: if Amazon buys clicks from Facebook and Google, the advertising platforms’ algorithms will seek out Amazon clickers. And who is most likely to click on Amazon? Presumably Amazon’s regular customers. In that case the algorithms are generating clicks, but not necessarily extra clicks."

"Keep that in mind the next time you read one of those calamity stories about Google, Facebook or Cambridge Analytica. If people were easier to manipulate with images and videos they don’t really want to see, economists would have a much easier task. Realistically, advertising does something, but only a small something – and at any rate it does far less than most advertisers believe."
Still better than pure organic.

ALL advertising does a small something. At least with paid traffic you know if it’s profitable.
 

Yzn

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Have you tried advertising on FB from your existing fb account?

The problem I saw many people have with fb ads is advertising with new accounts. And apparently FB doesn't like that because it allows people to keep coming back with new accounts and advertising banned content.

I'm not accusing you, but was your experience with your personal account that let's say been there for a couple of years?

Their control of everything definitely has many drawbacks, but it's also an amazing platform to find tons of leads.

I remember selling imported gadgets on FB with extremely high results which I could of never done with anyother local platform.
 

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I know is the B2B field I rely on easy of use. I have large competitors but they're very intimidating to most customers and difficult to use.
 

splok

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Wherever you turn, there's a gatekeeper who has no issues banning you overnight or changing the way it operates in such a way that your business can be badly hit overnight.

Any thoughts?

There are ways around each of those problem if you're willing to jump through enough hoops. (FB account banned? start another, pay an agency to do it, etc.) However, all of those problems become less of a problem the more you niche down and/or the farther upstream you can swim. If your target market is people on the Fastlane forum, then nothing you listed is a problem. If your target market is Fortune 500s or governments, you'll likely be doing all of the legwork anyway.

If Palantir were fully banned from the internet tomorrow, what would happen to their revenue?
 

Mari

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Virtually every online business model I analyzed recently relies to a large extent on one of the giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. It seems like with each year it's getting harder and harder not to base your online business on one of the big companies. Just to give a few examples:
  • self-publishing - Amazon controls almost the entire market and people are unwilling to buy books if they're not Kindle books. Consequently, as an author your fate is mostly in the hands of Amazon (particularly in fiction). Whatever changes they make to their platform can ruin your business (been there, done that).
  • content marketing (in various ways) - you're dependent on Google (when you want to rely on SEO or YouTube traffic), social media sites, or if you use paid advertising, it's most likely ban-happy Facebook. As for monetization, it mostly comes down to Google (AdSense) or Amazon (Associates).
  • mobile apps - Google or Apple (good luck selling your app if they don't like it).
  • most product-based businesses - Amazon, who's happy to steal your business if they discover it's profitable.
  • podcasts - Apple (good luck growing your podcast if it's banned on iTunes).
This is also visible in other industries such as music where payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% of all US music revenues in 2018.

Let's say I want to start a new online business and can afford to spend some money to promote it. What do I do? I set up a Facebook account to promote it and bam, I'm banned like that for no reason (been there, done that) with no way to get my account back. I choose to advertise on AdWords instead, but with the crazy high CPCs it's extremely unlikely to ever turn a profit. Then maybe SEO? Well, Google doesn't like new websites so it will sandbox you and then a new algorithm update can screw your business overnight even if it's completely legitimate (like Examine.com). Maybe social media? No luck—there was a new update that limited your reach to a fraction of your followers and you need to pay just to deliver new posts to them (and prepare to pay double if you want them to leave the platform and visit your site).

Wherever you turn, there's a gatekeeper who has no issues banning you overnight or changing the way it operates in such a way that your business can be badly hit overnight.

I'm beginning to think that with an online business it's now very hard not to violate the commandment of control. Of course, you can try to diversify yourself, but in many cases there are only two viable options at most and both rely on the giant companies who don't give a damn about you. The smaller platforms disappear or are consumed by the giants and there's more and more power (and less and less interest in an individual) in the hands of the big companies.

Any thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way? Are there any business models where you can still feel relatively safe with your revenue coming in more equal percentages from many different sources?
Yes , you can . You can leverage WIFI marketing to create your own ad network.
 

MTF

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Tiktok maybe?

Good ideas (except for Slack, unless you meant something else because Slack is a communication tool), thanks.

Realistically, advertising does something, but only a small something – and at any rate it does far less than most advertisers believe."

"It’s very hard to change behaviour by showing people pictures and movies that they don’t want to look at."

Interesting. I can't help but feel this isn't true, because I do want to look at some good relevant ads and even click on them and buy (rarely, but still).

The problem I saw many people have with fb ads is advertising with new accounts. And apparently FB doesn't like that because it allows people to keep coming back with new accounts and advertising banned content.

It was an account I had for two years or so. They probably didn't like that it was a separate account for this specific business, but I don't want to link all of my businesses with my personal account.

I know is the B2B field I rely on easy of use. I have large competitors but they're very intimidating to most customers and difficult to use.

It seems that B2B business can be, despite their other challenges, a bit more diversified when you have a hard to replicate product.

However, all of those problems become less of a problem the more you niche down and/or the farther upstream you can swim. If your target market is people on the Fastlane forum, then nothing you listed is a problem. If your target market is Fortune 500s or governments, you'll likely be doing all of the legwork anyway.

Good point.
 

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Its always a risk, i say play by the rules, be careful, and accumulate as much "f*ck U" money as possible just in case it all goes to hell.
 

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Its always a risk, i say play by the rules, be careful, and accumulate as much "F*ck U" money as possible just in case it all goes to hell.

100%. That's one lesson I fortunately followed religiously before things in my business got bad due to the control issues.
 

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I lost a sale a few weeks ago to Amazon (most likely thousands), customer said they found the same product for $2 cheaper!

cliff.JPG
 
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You can escape the clutches of those companies by buying media the old fashioned way: direct mail. Buy lists from SRDS or any other list service, and do mass mailings to aquire the customers email or just sell to them direct through the mail.

You can't get banned from direct mail.
 
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Virtually every online business model I analyzed recently relies to a large extent on one of the giants: Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Apple. It seems like with each year it's getting harder and harder not to base your online business on one of the big companies. Just to give a few examples:
  • self-publishing - Amazon controls almost the entire market and people are unwilling to buy books if they're not Kindle books. Consequently, as an author your fate is mostly in the hands of Amazon (particularly in fiction). Whatever changes they make to their platform can ruin your business (been there, done that).
  • content marketing (in various ways) - you're dependent on Google (when you want to rely on SEO or YouTube traffic), social media sites, or if you use paid advertising, it's most likely ban-happy Facebook. As for monetization, it mostly comes down to Google (AdSense) or Amazon (Associates).
  • mobile apps - Google or Apple (good luck selling your app if they don't like it).
  • most product-based businesses - Amazon, who's happy to steal your business if they discover it's profitable.
  • podcasts - Apple (good luck growing your podcast if it's banned on iTunes).
This is also visible in other industries such as music where payments from music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music made up 75% of all US music revenues in 2018.

Let's say I want to start a new online business and can afford to spend some money to promote it. What do I do? I set up a Facebook account to promote it and bam, I'm banned like that for no reason (been there, done that) with no way to get my account back. I choose to advertise on AdWords instead, but with the crazy high CPCs it's extremely unlikely to ever turn a profit. Then maybe SEO? Well, Google doesn't like new websites so it will sandbox you and then a new algorithm update can screw your business overnight even if it's completely legitimate (like Examine.com). Maybe social media? No luck—there was a new update that limited your reach to a fraction of your followers and you need to pay just to deliver new posts to them (and prepare to pay double if you want them to leave the platform and visit your site).

Wherever you turn, there's a gatekeeper who has no issues banning you overnight or changing the way it operates in such a way that your business can be badly hit overnight.

I'm beginning to think that with an online business it's now very hard not to violate the commandment of control. Of course, you can try to diversify yourself, but in many cases there are only two viable options at most and both rely on the giant companies who don't give a damn about you. The smaller platforms disappear or are consumed by the giants and there's more and more power (and less and less interest in an individual) in the hands of the big companies.

Any thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way? Are there any business models where you can still feel relatively safe with your revenue coming in more equal percentages from many different sources?

Everyone thought the phone book company was inescapable. Now those companies have been reduced to third rate overpriced web design agencies.

Kmart was once the gorilla in the room. Now barely its corpse remains.

Every giant company cannibalizes it’s profit base and self destructs. Or they become obsolete.

Success breeds arrogance and complacency which allows an upstart to sidestep them.

Yes, you can escape these giants. I just don't know why you'd want to.

But you are on a forum that people find because of a book(s). Granted, I don't know the stats of the forum, so maybe this is a bad example based on ignorance. I'll give you another one.

I know a guy who manufactured a product so in demand that all he had to do (after manufacturing it) was build a site and post 1 message in the right sub reddit. He sold out inventory in 3 weeks. First month revenue $15k. The community he caters to just told their friends. It's been a year, and he still does no advertising and his revenue steadily grows. I haven't talked to him in a while, but I know in July he had a $35k month.

Find a need. Fill it. And be smart about how you get the word out.

Yes, it is possible...

If you sell anything at all to le redditors you are probably skewing value. They are known as the most entitled whiny bunch on the internet.

You can escape the clutches of those companies by buying media the old fashioned way: direct mail. Buy lists from SDRS or any other list service, and do mass mailings to aquire the customers email or just sell to them direct through the mail.

You can't get banned from direct mail.

@458 makes his money through cold calling.

A great offer at the right time, with the right tone, while contacting many leads is the real key.

Any method that hits those criteria can work.
 

The-J

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They realize that as long as we're making money we won't complain, try to compete with them, or try to innovate past them. Smart guys. That allows them to do whatever they want. Incentives are a powerful thing.

I don't see it changing until technology changes and brings better ways to shop, or better ways to search, or better ways to interact with our friends. Even then, these giant companies have a resource advantage.

You can escape them, but you'd be leaving money on the table. I was working for a company that sold very little on Amazon, and they had calculated that by adding Amazon Prime they could increase revenue by 30%. That's insane. They said no for many complicated reasons, but they did so knowing they'd be closing themselves off to a huge customer base that wanted what they sold.

To me, the only answer is to truly own the customer's interaction with you and use those platforms to facilitate that. Amazon makes it really, REALLY hard though... but not impossible. If people care about your brand, and if you make it known that you can serve them directly, they'll deal with you directly. That might not be everyone, or even most of your customers, but as long as that's SOME of your customers, you have control. Otherwise, access to your business is just another benefit to using the big guy's services.
 

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You can't get banned from direct mail.

The government can prohibit it overnight :)

Every giant company cannibalizes it’s profit base and self destructs. Or they become obsolete.

Success breeds arrogance and complacency which allows an upstart to sidestep them.

Curious if this is going to happen with today's giant companies because they certainly seem too big to fail now.

You can escape them, but you'd be leaving money on the table. I was working for a company that sold very little on Amazon, and they had calculated that by adding Amazon Prime they could increase revenue by 30%. That's insane. They said no for many complicated reasons, but they did so knowing they'd be closing themselves off to a huge customer base that wanted what they sold.

I see a similar thing in self-publishing with most authors opting to sell exclusively on Amazon. I'd rather make a little less but from more sources.
 

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You can still use Facebook, start a page or group, get people to share for you. Hire influencers on IG and YouTube. You have to use these channels, just find another way.

My FB account is banned from ads, but it’s still one of my largest channels.

Another business, I can’t do PPC on FB or google or sell on Amazon so I use FB groups mainly.

Find another way, but don’t avoid those channels.
 

NMdad

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How you acquire customers depends a lot on your target market.

For example, I'm building a B2B SAAS for a very niche market, and the only relevant channel from the big 4 would be Google/YouTube for organic traffic--though that'd likely be a trickle. Since I have a lot of experience in the niche market, I know that better channels will likely be forums where my target market hangs out, strategic partners (e.g., software vendors), & possibly conferences (different from trade shows).

If I was selling a B2C product/service, the channels would be different.

However, there are always more channels than those big 4. The channels with more barriers will likely have less competition & make it easier for you to cut through the noise.

The idea that you need to rely on the big 4 sounds like a limiting belief. You might want to tap into Jay Abraham's stuff, and ask questions like "who already has my clients/customers?"
 

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Any thoughts? Solutions? Personal experiences? Is it time to move on to offline businesses or do you think they're affected by this problem in the same way? Are there any business models where you can still feel relatively safe with your revenue coming in more equal percentages from many different sources?
Haven't read other replies, but an online model where you don't rely on a platform;

  • Affiliate but not as everyone thinks it. Look at the business model of successful cos like stack social, they didn't pay google or facebook for traffic, they built a network of third party publishers and monetise their traffic instead. They act like an affiliate network. Random niche example. Find 10 blogs in (insert niche) with a combined monthly visitor rate of 1m visitors. Do a deal with each blog that you'll boost their monthly revenue by helping them monetise a section of their blog. Then go to related (insert niche) brands and tell them you have access to 1m monthly visitors in their niche and can help increase their sales, create a deal/ create an offer. Then promote that offer across the 10 blogs/ 1m visitors. Just a quick basic example. You're the middle man bringing it all together, everyone wins. You're not reliant on one platform, you're spread out over multiple traffic sources and multiple brand offers that you control. Could be any niche/ market. Only limit is your creativity. Theres successful online businesses using this model but its not so well known. Its more complicated/ requires more creativity than buying ads from facebook/ google that everyone else is doing, but this way you have more control, less risk and a more valuable business.
 

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