Small business owners and professional service providers often know next-to-nothing about marketing. I know this is true, because after owning several businesses which spanned everything from financial services to retail stores, all I knew how to do was place ads in local media.Newspaper, radio, television and magazine advertising was my idea of marketing. Sure, every so often I’d send out a press release, if there was an event to publicise, but aside from that I didn’t have a clue.Then the Internet blossomed. I looked at it as just another kind of advertising vehicle, and that impression was bolstered by the reps from all of the media I had been advertising with. They all were flogging online ads on their respective websites. Some even offered “online marketing plans” which were almost entirely composed of different styles of paid ads, bundled together.Results from my offline ads were slowing down. Even ads in the papers which used to bring immediate results stopped producing. So, I dove in and spent thousands on Internet advertising. I should have thrown the money into a sewer. I had no idea what I was doing, and tried to use the same approach which once worked in my offline ads. The results were nonexistent.In desperation, I tried one website after another, tossing dollar after dollar and watching the business in my stores grind to a halt.That is when I knew that there had to be another way. I went onto the Internet looking for a better site to advertise on, and ran across an article about Internet marketing. It was full of terms like auto responder, SEO and social media, and it also mentioned a magic word. “FREE.”My curiosity was piqued. I made a project of getting educated on “Internet marketing,” and found a variety of sites which all gave the best marketing tips for small business professionals. Eventually I was able to get glimpses into what techniques were free, and which ones cost money.It did take a while, and a lot of effort, to sort things out. It seemed that some of the “gurus” I found were having a blast making every tip and technique convoluted and “secret.” And it was also glaringly clear that they were all either self-taught or hiding the source of their own Internet marketing education.After months of digging, I discovered a single source for all kinds of Internet marketing education. It is perfectly suited for professionals and small business owners, and was exactly what I was looking for. I signed up.At last I was armed with the ability to find new business leads online without spending a fortune to get them.However, I had to adjust my expectations when it came to the timing of results. You see, when I relied on advertising, I expected quick response from the customers. I still like direct response advertising for that. But with online marketing, things were different. It was like watching a slow motion movie of a flower growing.The closest analogy I can think of is that Internet marketing is like planting seeds. The marketer cannot expect to harvest a crop until it has grown. And notice that I say “seeds.” Plural. Planting one seed will not yield a crop.That was a difficult lesson. For Internet marketing to work for any business, the marketer must do a lot of it, over a period of time, consistently.Eventually, intelligent marketing action will start to yield the desired results, and make all the effort worthwhile.It all starts with getting a solid Internet marketing education.