Self-Deception: An Introduction to The REAL Dot Com Hangover

Ask just about anyone in online marketing how their business is doing today, and you’ll likely hear that things are just peachy. We’ve climbed out of a recession brought on, in part, by the bursting of the dot com bubble. Throughout 2001 and 2002, we stuck with our beloved medium through a shakeout, amid cries of “online advertising doesn’t work” and “online marketing is unproven.” We did this because we knew that what we had to deliver was value and that the value of what we had to offer wasn’t going to dissipate at the whim of high-ranking technophobes entrenched on Madison Avenue.

Personally, I valued this shakeout and have been thanking my lucky stars for it since it became evident the shakeout was with us. It allowed us to shrug off the people and companies that were in our business not to deliver value, but to make a quick buck on empty promises. I’m thankful those people are, for the most part, gone.

The 2001-2002 shakeout was referred to by the press and the industry as the “dot com hangover.” I’d like to suggest that the real dot com hangover is still with us, and comprises many of the concessions we made, hypotheses we blindly accepted as truth, and lies we told ourselves during the period between the emergence of the web as a commercial medium in 1994 and the end of the shakeout in 2002.

As much as we’d like to believe that we can now build businesses in this sector and grow them by the sheer merit of the value they can deliver, we’re still hampered by disservices we’ve done to our own potential for success and wounds we’ve inflicted on ourselves. While the demand for what we provide is most certainly accelerating, demand is only one variable in the equation that allows us to determine the appropriate compensation for the value we deliver.

In taking an inventory of the pillars that are holding up the dot com hangover and keeping it with us, I began to notice a common thread in all of them – the presence of a deliberate and persistent deception. Looking even closer, I found that these deceptions were all of a particularly deadly variety – they were all self-deceptions. In short, we’re kidding ourselves. And we’re doing it in a variety of ways, in connection with a number of factors that are vital to the success of our individual businesses and the industry as a whole.

As someone who has a huge investment of time, effort, faith and cash in a business that makes its money primarily from online marketing services, it benefits me directly to take my inventory of these self-deceptions and do whatever I can to correct them. It’s also a benefit to me to share my thoughts on how to make these much-needed corrections – the more people that read about how we’ve been kidding ourselves these past several years, the more people will be inclined to shrug off the self-deception, and the more they’ll be eager to pay me for the value I can deliver.

The systematic identification, dissection and correction of these instances of self-deception will take the form of a series of articles I’ll publish on my blog and in other channels I have open to me. You may disagree with some of the points I make or some of the recommendations I put forth to address them, but my sincere hope is that you’ll reflect seriously on what I have to say and vote with your actions to negate self-deception. Only then can we truly get over the true dot com hangover and position ourselves for success and profit.

To be continued…