How Internet Marketing Is Like Dog Years | 20 Years of Changes for Small Business

Internet Marketing trends change like 'dog years.'

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Things change fast internet marketing world. I like to joke it’s like dog years. Looking back to when I first started using the internet for marketing, it’s pretty amazing at how different things are. And in one crucial respect, how much things have stayed the same.

The early Internet era

Back then – 20 years ago (or 140DY), there were three kinds of businesses:

  • those willing to invest in the future, and take a chance on what the internet could (would) be ;
  • those that saw some usefulness right then, for instance making email a part of their business processes; and
  • those that didn’t have any use for the internet at all.

My first experience with internet marketing was in 1997, when I first started selling websites. Many business owners were resistant. They could make a good case against it. And they weren’t wrong. Even if Joe and Jane Consumer had a home computer, most households were still using dialup. And there was a legitimate concern that consumers would have trouble handling website addresses more than a few letters long.

Internet marketing in the 21st Century

Fast forward to today. Even the slowest internet speeds these days are hundreds or thousands of times faster than dialup was. Nobody has a second thought that using a website address like “” might be too long to remember. We have incorporated the internet into so many aspects of our lives, and invented ways to use it that nobody could have dreamed of. Low cost overseas calls. Video conferencing. Mapping and GPS. How we watch TV and movies. The games we play. The whole social media landscape.

Today, there is only one kind of business. (OK two, if you count those that are not going to be around much longer.) Perhaps the biggest impact the internet has made is the way it has changed how we buy products and services. Internet marketing is now integral in the purchase process. More than 90% of purchases start on the internet. More people use online reviews to evaluate potential merchants than any other source of information, including advice from friends and family.

That’s not just for online shopping, either. Take real estate. A realtor friend recently told me “The first showing is on the internet.” What a change from 20 years ago, when I bought my current house. Not only was the whole of the Multiple Listing Service not available to consumers, but the few listings that were available online were pretty skimpy. I think ours had two or three pictures – and that was exceptional. Now, properties for sale can be found on multiple sites, such as Zillow or or an agent’s own website, with 360 degree “virtual walkthroughs.”

The takeaway

The way I see it, the biggest change the internet has had for local businesses is speeding up the sales process. When used properly, the preliminary steps in the sales cycle go faster, so the conversation with your prospective client happens sooner. That’s how we do it, anyway.

If you’re thinking that the internet will totally take over your sales program, you’ll be very disappointed. Technology should not be a barrier between you and your next customer. If that’s how you’re using it, you’re doing it wrong.

If you would like to learn more about how we put the internet to work for our clients to get more, better clients faster and help tame the cash flow roller coaster, schedule a free consultation here: