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If You are Marketing to Everyone…You Can Reach No One

Online marketing information can change quickly This article is 14 years and 320 days old, and the facts and opinions contained in it may be out of date.

Pick your niche. Know your demographic. How many times have you heard it? Ten. A hundred. A thousand? Yes. It is cliche. Yes, every SEO, SEM, marketing company, ad agency, and business consultant says it. Mainly because it’s right. No one LIKES the used car salesman approach of the “hard sell”. No one wants your BRAND forced down their throat. They want Tivo’d TV, XM/ Sirius radio, no banner ads, and only products that aren’t blurred out on MTV. They want products that were placed and reviewed positively by people they identify with. They want to buy from someone they trust, who has taken at least five minutes to TALK to them before trying to swipe their pocketbook.

Blogs work because they have a voice. There is a person behind it, and it feels like they are talking to YOU. I felt like I knew Rand, Aaron, Andy, and many others well before I met them in person. Their conversational tones and attitudes that were similar to my own inspired me to drop them a note, and made it pretty easy to talk to them once I did meet them, and realized we were pretty much on the same page (at minimum with many theories of SEO, etc.) Now imagine if I was their customer. Imagine if they had talked to me in that SAME tone, and were selling me something that I really WANTED.

Without going all cluetrain crazy on you, marketing is a conversation, and there is nothing like a good first impression (or a bad one to ruin any hopes of future success). It’s always a pleasant surprise when I get a consulting request out of the blue that says, “I like your honest attitude, and approach to SEO…do you think you can help us?” These types of leads are generally the best, because their reading of the site improved their learning curve by educating these folks not only to my SEO methodology, but my personality and approach as well before I ever spoke to them directly. I’d much rather work with someone who has read this site, then trying to do RFP’s off a site where 10 other people are vying for the opportunity.

Generalities suck. Even with blog posts. So I am going to give you specifics. The specific that worked very well for me, was being a part of Business networking international – without getting into all the pros and cons of the organization, I will just say that it is probably only as good as your individual experience. When I was back in Saginaw, I had a pretty good group, and small business owners can always teach you a lot (because it’s TOUGH to be one and get the bills paid). Being a part of BNI taught me how to talk to YOU – yes, you – the rainmaker in the ad agency that needs to learn to do SEO better, and understands the value of it.

While there were some sketchy MLM-esque qualities to the organization, there were also some very cool ideas that I got from it. The biggest one being – BE SPECIFIC when looking for leads. The principle of BNI is to get leads for and from your networking counterparts – everyone gives a 1 minute “commercial” that tells the rest of the group what types of referrals they would like. I, for example, was selling computer networking services for SAMSA at the time…now do you think I got a better response if I said:

A: SAMSA does computer networking for people in the area. If you know ANYONE who needs their computer worked on, please let me know. We can help.

  • –or–
  • B: I’m looking for the contact information of the network administrator at Acme public schools. I heard that they are planning to upgrade their systems next year, and I’m hoping someone can introduce me to someone there that may know the network admin so I can tell them why we’re the right fit for them without sounding like a cold caller.

    Warm leads are nice. Specifics to the right people help you get the RIGHT leads. That’s the essence of BNI – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. What it TAUGHT me was that the more specifically that I targeted my market, the more likely I was to get a positive response.

    Putting my own theory into action: I’m really looking for a Charter Captain in Montauk, NY or surrounding areas, who’s willing to swap services. I can help make sure every tourist fisherman that searches the web for charters finds your boat first, if you can help me catch a tuna, shark, (or various other tasty species I can stock my freezer with). If you’ve got a nice warm lead for me, I’ll be happy to send you some nice frozen tuna steaks if and when I bring one home, along with probably a link or two, and answers to any SEO questions you may have. If you’ve caught fish in the area, I’d love to hear your stories too:)

    That’s Great – But How Does This Apply to Search Marketing?

    Search marketing is still marketing. It gives you the ability to be MORE granular and specific with your requests. It gives you the ability to be highly specific to what you’re looking for. The more specific you focus your site, copy, and SEO efforts, the more likely you will be to find your “perfect” target customer. If you don’t think about the QUALITIES of your “perfect customer” you will never be able to start a conversation, or actually meet them. Even with permission marketing, you’re going to need a LITTLE interruption to get some attention. You know we all dislike interruption, so you had better use your interruption wisely.

    If you are a florist in San Jose that only works for weddings, what do you think converts better, a search for:
    a – “california florists”
    b – “san jose wedding florists”

    There may be MUCH more volume for “florists”, but chances are if you are JUST located in San Jose, you are going to get a bunch of traffic that you don’t need, and just wastes your time with phone calls. You may get a few diamonds in the rough that turn to business, but if you think like your customer, you can become the customer and understand how they search.

    I repeat: WRITE TO YOUR USERS.

    Combine the title advice of Dan Kennedy and Copyblogger’s surefire techniques with Michael’s how to get your non-tech site into digg and you should start to get the point here.

    Geeks are starting to own media, because they are the only ones who care enough to figure out how to “digg” or social bookmark. Everyone else may be reading, and suddenly geeks are becoming even cooler by default because their interests are rising to the top of places like digg and the new netscape. Understanding technology is geek chic. Understanding “cool geeks” is your mission should you choose to accept it.

    Know your users, and figure out how to talk with them. Figure out their needs, and their wants before they ever respond to the conversation you start, and it will be natural once they do. Don’t try to fake the funk, because they’re gonna see right through you. Be genuine in identifying with people, and they’ll respect what your selling when you do finally make the pitch.

    If you check 1-2, my word of advice to you is just relax
    Just do what you got to do; if that don’t work, then kick the facts If you a fighter, rider, biter, flame-ignitor, crowd-exciter
    Or you wanna jus’ get high, then just say it
    But then if you a liar-liar, pants on fire, wolf-crier, agent wit’ a wire I’m gon’ know it when I play it
    It’s bigger than Hip-Hop

    – “Hip-Hop” by Dead Prez

    More information about Todd Malicoat aka stuntdubl.

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    • jim

      Yo T,

      nice post you got up there man, i like to read it.


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