How Online Marketing got me addicted to cocaine

You probably expect a visceral confession or a sort of dirty secret to be revealed. I promise you’ll get both if you continue reading until the end. As you’ve probably figured it out by now the title was a shameful click-bait.

But don’t go just yet.

We’re only just beginning the ride deep into the mind of most online marketers today.

Let me tell you what has become a sort of cocaine for me since I’ve started working in Online Marketing: numbers.

How can numbers have effects similar to cocaine?

Numbers are boring.

Well, they stop being boring when tied to their growth are a set of actions.

While most actions are known good case practices, you always need to put them in just the right combination down to minute details.

Down there is where the magic happens.

If you do things right, numbers grow. And you’re suddenly high.

Surely that’s a metaphor, right?

Well, let’s look at the effects felt by people on cocaine:

  • an increasing sense of energy and alertness
  • an extremely elevated mood
  • a feeling of supremacy

Especially as a solo marketer, the brain’s response to growing numbers is almost always all of the above.

You’ve become a rainmaker, baby!

In business, a rainmaker is a person who brings in new business and wins new accounts almost by magic, since it is often not readily apparent how this new business activity is caused.

Don’t get me wrong, you expect growth. You’ve planned for it. But actually seeing it go — it feels like magic.

And you can get addicted pretty easily.

You’re off searching for you next hit. This is where the professionals get separated from the amateurs.

The professionals put in place processes to slowly and consistently improve and sustain growth over a long period of time.

Things need to move fast from poking tiny holes into the market towards capturing as much of the rain as possible.

Numbers don’t get you high any more, they feed you, guide you and keep you alive and well.

If you read them properly, that is.

The amateur would be long gone to another place where the high would have the potential to be as strong or stronger than before.

They’re looking for that new magic combination of actions that will unlock a high.

The amateurs gave birth to shameless click-bait titles that we all hate. They only live for the high. They don’t care about anything else.

And if they can’t get their hit soon enough they get the reverse of the coin:

  • irritability
  • paranoia
  • restlessness
  • anxiety

Anxiety is the worst of all. It pushes you into a sort of gambling state where you stop thinking rationally and just go with actions that are preying on human vulnerabilities.

You reach into scare tactics, gross exaggerations, utterly fake information just to see the numbers finally grow.

Black-hat tactics are just a few clicks away from you. Exploiting the system suddenly sounds like a great idea.

At a certain point you have to stop.

The only way to do that is to fully recognize that you’re addicted to numbers. And then starting to use that natural drive for growth and the brain’s capacity for dopamine secretion to do real work.

Realize that those numbers are actual human beings with expectations and a life as rich and complex as your own.

You’re doing marketing to address human needs not to grow that number by any means for your own pleasure receptors.

Most quit online marketing after they reach their darkest point.

Some take the real marketing route out of sheer love for the profession.

While a college degree in Marketing will not guarantee anything at all, one definitely must move away from the quick-fix of the “21 step to online marketing” article and treat Marketing as the beautifully complex profession it is.

Obviously always keep this in mind:

Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with your marketing.
 Mike Volpe

Reaching a balance between the high of growth and the investment of nurturing is not only healthy but brings a more deep sense of achievement in time.

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