Great question. I believe that all aspects of it can be taught, but some aspects can't really be learned; you either "get it" or you don't. For example, anyone with a modicum of computer skills can learn how to set up a website (even build one from scratch if they're so inclined), get traffic, set up autoresponders, write SEO'd content, etc.
However, a lot of people fail at conversion. That's something that's neither easy to teach nor easy to learn, unless you're already good at figuring out what makes people tick AND you're willing to test your marketing and advertising like a mad scientist. Being good at conversion also requires doing a lot of in-depth market research to really understand your ideal customers, and most people can't be bothered to do this -- they just want to make a quick buck.
Not only that, it seems that most people who get involved in Internet marketing don't really want a business. They just want money, and they don't want to do any work, so they don't take learning seriously. Very few people have what it takes to succeed as entrepreneurs, online or offline, and it's often because they don't want to invest in their education. (Then you have another group of people who are addicted to learning but don't do anything with their knowledge. It's most frustrating to teach students like that.)
Hi Alan. Great points. I like the fact that I was a salesman that learned how to do SEO, Build Websites, and do Online Marketing rather than a tech guy trying to learn how to sell.
Now, I have other people do most of the coding and design stuff so I can focus on conversion optimization, lead generation and sales. Those are what I do best and with the number of types of coding involved now, my old HTML skills are mostly obsolete.
And as far as design, I respect those who really know design, but the only thing I care about is that the graphics on the page, especially the header graphics, let the user know immediately they are at the right place. And that the site looks professional and provides me with the right type of spaces to put in killer content that converts sales.
I leave picking all the prettiest colors and stuff to the designer, while I design how it will navigate and how it will encourage visitors to respond to what the client has to offer.
I don't think anyone can do it all and be really good at all of it. The problem is that many designers and SEO guys believe that because they have been able to sell their own services, they are qualified to make sales for the client as well.
For instance; A guy might do very well selling insurance. Give him a new job where he has to sell Industrial Equipment and he may be totally lost.
Some salespeople can adapt to any job, others cannot.
Every industry and every client is different. Unless you have the ability to pretty much sell anything and to quickly learn products, services and the target audience for each, you won't be very effective. You also have to have the ability to recognize and take advantage of opportunities as they pop up.