The Man Who Commercialized The Internet with Ken McCarthy

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In 1993, when most people didn’t even know what an email address was, Ken McCarthy was already pioneering online marketing. He saw the internet’s potential early on and has been a driving force in its evolution. Recently, this “Godfather of Internet Marketing” made a surprising shift to books. Join us as we explore Ken McCarthy’s career, his views on today’s online marketing, and the new direction he’s taking.

Guest: Ken McCarthy is widely recognized as one of the pioneers who helped shape the Internet into the world’s premier marketplace and publishing platform. Time Magazine credits him with foundational insights that have enabled the rise of online business giants like Google and Facebook. Ken McCarthy innovated early internet marketing techniques like email marketing, banner ads, and pay-per-click strategies. He also hosted the first conference on the Web’s business uses in 1994. Beyond his technical contributions, Ken is a respected educator whose seminars and books have shaped the careers of thousands worldwide.

[00:48] In this episode, Igor and Ken McCarthy will discuss Ken’s pioneering contributions to internet marketing, including his early innovations like email marketing and online video. They’ll also explore Ken’s current emphasis on using physical books as a marketing tool and his insights on the evolution of digital marketing.

[07:23] Early Multimedia Marketing:

  • Igor shared his experiences, reflecting on how Ken’s work provided a “loophole” or “escape hatch” that enabled him to build a significant business from a small town in Israel. 
  • in San Francisco, surrounded by early internet and digital media developments.
  • Ken used his common sense and background in direct mail to predict that audio and video would become part of the internet, even when experts doubted it.
  • His initial efforts in online multimedia helped establish the foundations for modern podcasting and video marketing industries.

[09:23] Ken’s Consulting Strategy:

  • Charging $2,000 per hour, Ken targets established businesses and significantly enhanced a client’s revenue from $120,000 to $602,000 in a single day through strategic advice.
  • Ken stresses the need for businesses to stand out in a crowded market, using the analogy of adding “Miracle Gro” to a field of corn to symbolize enhancing visibility and performance.
  • Igor talks about using unique strategies, like introducing new angles and rebranding his programs, to stand out in a crowded market, which led to doubling his business.

[17:00] Strategies for Effective Marketing:

  • Ken emphasizes that copywriting is essential for deeply understanding and effectively communicating with an audience, making it a crucial tool for persuasion in marketing.
  • Standing out in marketing requires innovation and offering unique value that distinguishes you from competitors.
  • Effective positioning embeds your brand uniquely in the consumer’s mind, making it the top choice for specific needs.
  • Ken highlights the importance of engaging customers through a well-structured sales funnel that helps transition them from low-cost items to higher-end offerings, increasing spending.
  • Offering products at various price points allows a business to cater to a broad customer base, enhancing market reach and revenue potential.

[25:32] Insights for High-Value Business Growth:

  • Ken shared how his experiences at high-end hotels like the Four Seasons opened his eyes to the considerable spending power of luxury market consumers.
  • Starting with high-ticket offers and gradually introducing more affordable options proved effective for market penetration.
  • Ken noted that staying in luxury accommodations greatly expanded his perception of potential market size and consumer spending habits.
  • Reflecting on the resilience of the internet industry post-economic downturns highlights the importance of flexible business models.
  • Drawing from his direct mail marketing background, Ken explained how those foundational skills helped him exploit the internet’s potential as a marketing platform during economic uncertainties.

[35:01] Advantages of Physical Books in Marketing:

  • Ken McCarthy has shifted his focus to publishing physical books to stand out from the digital norm and address the minimal effort seen in AI-generated content.
  • He critiques the reliance on AI for content creation, noting that it often results in low-quality, ineffective material that lacks the strategic depth of human-generated content.
  • Physical books enhance a marketer’s authority and credibility, distinguishing them from the flood of digital content and offer lasting value and reminder of the brand or message.
  • Using books in marketing goes beyond generating direct sales; they act as beacons in a niche, attracting and educating potential customers.
  • Ken reflects on the evolution from traditional to modern publishing methods, appreciating the ease of current technologies that simplify the publishing process and make books a viable marketing strategy for any business.

[45:59] Strategic Use of Books:

  • Ken McCarthy highlights his focus on using physical books as a marketing tool, differentiating from the less effort-intensive trends dominated by digital content and AI.
  • Ken discusses his innovative approach to books, not just as written content but as multifaceted marketing tools that include direct mail influences and modern print-on-demand technologies.
  • He shares his experience with strategic book marketing, particularly with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s book, which involved extensive promotion and leveraging Kennedy’s renowned brand.
  • Despite common perceptions, Ken notes that books can generate significant revenue and have a substantial impact when used correctly in marketing strategies. 
  • He provides examples of his sales success and the potential for books to reach wide audiences when paired with strategic marketing efforts.

[51:43] Exploring Medical Freedom and the Strategic Use of Books in Business

  • The discussion emphasizes the importance of the Nuremberg Code in safeguarding patients’ rights to make their own medical decisions.
  • Ken recounts a personal survival story from World War II, highlighting the role of resilience during times of adversity.
  • Igor describes books as powerful tools for business, acting as “business cards” that significantly enhanced and played a pivotal role in building his business and follower base.
  • Igor plans to continue the discussion in a future episode, focusing on topics like COVID, the medical system, and education to share more insights and wisdom.

[58:14] Igor’s Book On Email Marketing:



Igor Kheifets is an amazon best-selling author of the List Building Lifestyle: Confessions of an Email Millionaire.

He’s also the host of List Building Lifestyle, the podcast for anyone who wants to make more money and have more freedom by leveraging the power of an email list

He’s widely referred to as the go-to authority on building large responsive email lists in record time.

Igor’s passionate about showing people how to live the List Building Lifestyle.