Do You Sell Ipods?

In the last 3 days about 3 or 4 friends compared good marketing and branding with the Ipod. How does that related to SEO? Peter Da Vanzo recently posted about his Ipod:

When I was considering buying a music player, some music-gadget obsessed friends offered a wealth of well-meaning advice. "No", they said, "don't get an Ipod because it can't do xyz, unlike the XRX2000 (or whatever), which can do so much more! More stuff! Oh, and the Ipod is overpriced". Those weren't the exact words, but that was the jist.

They were probably right, but the problem is: I don't care.

I knew that if I bought anything else, I'd always think "yeah, but it's not an Ipod".

The other day in an IM Andy Hagans also mentioned his Ipod

I buy Ipods regularly even though I know they're not better. For 3 times the price of the competition. Because I 'trust' them somehow.

How does all this relate to marketing? If you want to do well long-term you have to sell your product or service as a non commodity. The more your product / service / business is sold as a piece of art or something to be thought as being worth paying more for the more you have to move away from just being approved on a rational level and the more you have to have a strong appeal on an emotional level.

The link profile of this site is far less than perfect, but a large part of the heavy anchor text focus on the phrase SEO Book is because I wanted to create a strong brand. If my inbound anchor text were mixed better this site could probably get a ton more traffic, but traffic without a strong branding element has much less value, especially when you sell an ebook for about 4 times the price that most physical books sell for.

Just like selling products, you also have to sell being link worthy if you want to integrate SEO into your market plan. It is hard to do that just by emulating what already exists. To get big rewards you have to create something that is conceptually different, such that you are memorable and evoke an emotional response. If you manage to do that and occasionally target different customers and different traffic streams than your competition by focusing on adding value to their experience it is hard to fail.

The reasons that legitimate content works so well are

  • most markets usually take a while to react to quality content
  • because of that delay, it typically takes spending months or years over-investing before seeing any type of return on the effort required to create something unique and useful that will stand the test of time
  • most people looking to make a quick buck are all fighting for the same shallow traffic sources and are not willing to spend the time to deeply research their topic or emotionally invest in their content enough for it to pay off

Not every page is going to win awards or have a net positive return for the effort that went into it, but as you build a variety of legitimate useful original pages over time the site authority starts to build on itself and eventually you snowball toward the top.

Published: June 1, 2006 by Aaron Wall in marketing


June 2, 2006 - 11:08pm

Well if you are selling cement over the web then that is probably going to be hard to be a non commodity (or profitable), but most commodities are still possible to make non-commodities through marketing and packaging.

bricks are similar to concrete on some level, but some people make a bunch by selling them as antiques or historical

paint is sorta a commodity. by changing the shape of their can Dutch Boy increased there marketshare quite a bit.

I really haven't seen any sites sell gasoline on the web, but obviously not every product is good for the web.

I think some gas company could turn their product into a non commodity as well. And some do. Have you been to a Sheets gas station and seen all the value add services they offer on top of just gas?

June 3, 2006 - 3:30am

"emotionally invest in their content enough for it to pay off"

Aaron I agree 100%

Crap 300 word articles wont cut it any longer.

June 4, 2006 - 2:17pm

Actually, some concrete companies add significant brand differentiation through the use of proprietary formulations that improve various characteristics, such as weatherability, etc. I imagine the same is probably true of lumber and nails as well - perhaps wood that is cut with laser precision or nails that are less likely to rust or bend.

I think Monster Cables are a great example of this - they are able to charge a premium for something that used to be considered a commodity - wires. They created a mystique about the product as well the "feel" of being well built. But I doubt that very many people could tell the difference between a Monster Cable and a "generic" cable manufactured with similar materials.

June 5, 2006 - 1:47am

I guess you're right. Even if you manufacture or sell something that is usually bought and sold as a commodity, you might be able to create a specialty product or service that may not turn a profit but might worth it to generate some good PR or enhance your reputation.

June 1, 2006 - 2:57pm

The same reason someone will pay $5 for a cup of coffee from Starbucks.

June 1, 2006 - 6:23pm

Yes you need to build a brand in order to attain real profit.

Good example.

June 1, 2006 - 6:26pm

Some people can do well without building brands (due to technical knowledge or leverage anti-market forces in their favor) but if you are new to the medium and are taking the time to do everything manually the best way to make it profitable is to be brand conscience.

June 2, 2006 - 10:55am

Steve Jobs is the man, when it comes to building brands, his enthusiasm and self belief are memetically transferred to his desciples who evangelise his product, no matter of price or functionality. His reputation alone swayed the music industry to "get in bed with him" - I believe it's his personal energy which metaphyisically tranmutes his brands.

June 2, 2006 - 10:23pm

That works great if you can turn your product into jewelry or a fashion accessory.

What do you suggest if your product IS a commodity?

What if you manufacture something like cement, lumber or nails?
What about transportation industries?
What about a product like gasoline?

Wouldn't you want the cheapest? Aren't they all the same?
Is one brand that much better than the other to justify paying more?

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