Building Your Attention, Traffic, Trust, & Subscriber Base by Owning Ideas

Sep 30th

Some Things Only Spread Because Who is Behind Them

I recently created an Internet marketing mind map and published it on my tools subdomain with a link to it from tools.seobook.com, but nobody mentioned it. A few days later I blogged about it on SeoBook.com and dozens of webmasters linked to it. Same publisher, same content, drastically different results...because one channel has attention while the other does not.

The Flaw of Pull Marketing Advice

Much of the marketing advice offered on blogs assumes that you have a well read blog and can get away with great content spreading based on pull marketing, but when you publish a new site and write about ideas that others covered you don't get the credit you deserve until you build an attention asset. Which means you have to use push marketing until you get readers / subscribers / brand advocates.

Markets are not fair. People are more likely to link to familiar trusted channels then new channels. It can take years to build a significant readership. And if you wait for it to happen on its own it may never happen.

Ineffective Blogging

It is hard to be the regular news spot just by producing similar news to what is available on other channels. If you cover stories that are worth spreading, but are not dong much more than syndicating them, then even if your content is useful the reference links skip past you and on to the end story you wrote about. You might get a hat tip link here or there, but you are not going to get many if you have few readers. And those links are not going to be enough to pull readers away from market leading channels, to do so requires people talking about you. Your content has to amalgamate ideas from multiple sources or unique perspectives such that people are TALKING ABOUT YOU.

Owning an Idea

If you do not have enough leverage to own mainstream ideas then you need to own ideas on the edge or borrow the authority of someone or something else. The first person to crack an iPhone got lots of exposure. Announcing a new Google feature gets you exposure. Real in depth reviews of exciting new stuff gets you exposure. Every market has an Apple, a Google, or some relation to one of those companies.

The easiest way to get a community involved in your site is to ask them for involvement. Collect their feedback and aggregate it in a meaningful format. And interviewing a market leader is an easy way to leverage someone else's brand and gain attention. Getting community involvement is crucial because each trusted person who associates with you moves you that much further away from being irrelevant or potentially spammy. They make you worth paying attention to because they cared enough to participate.

If you get community participation it also protects your idea. It gets competitors called sleazy when they clone your idea and throw a few more marketing dollars at it.

What if you can't get anyone to participate? Desperate times require desperate measures! Wrap your message in a fictitious backdrop based on real world opinions. Want to reach out to financial bloggers? Notice they are talking about Alan Greenspan a bunch recently? Tell everyone why Alan Greenspan thinks Google is under-priced. Quote his principals and use them to justify Google at $2,400 per share.

Published: September 30, 2007

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Comments

October 1, 2007 - 2:17am

Aaron - I relate a lot to what you are saying here.

You already passed "The Tipping Point", so you no longer need to push. Your ideas/posts move by themselves ;-)

When you are starting out, like me, you need to push really hard to get your ideas out.

After blogging for 4 months, I can say from experience that in order to get the attention you seek; you need to do two things:

  • Use creativity to share original ideas that provide significant value to your readers
  • Get those ideas to the eyes and ears of the well connected people in your niche

For me, writing unique and useful content has not been difficult. I have my own experiences to share that are different from most bloggers in my field, but as you said, it doesn't matter how useful or unique your ideas are. They need to be said by the right people and/or in the right places.

One way to achieve this is by writing content for high authority sites. I had great success, initially, writing a couple of post for Youmoz that were promoted to the main blog and got me attention I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Lately and thanks to Sphinn, I can focus on writing for my blog and Sphinn and StumbleUpon gets me the attention that I need. Some authority bloggers such as Maki, Andy Beard and Ralph have helped increase my credibility by linking to my content or submitting it to Sphinn.

For any new blogger, getting attention is not easy and requires a lot of work, but is definitely possible. Setting high goals and breaking them down in small achievable steps is a surefire way to do it.

October 1, 2007 - 5:54am

Congrats on all the exposure Hamlet
You are a great example of a person who did not let nepotism, etc. stop you from being a new voice in the market, and just kept doing the right things to get noticed again and again.

October 1, 2007 - 2:57pm

Thanks for your encouraging words, Aaron. I will definitely keep doing them again and again :-)

October 3, 2007 - 12:33pm

Yet again, you raise some excellent points.

When I first started out in the professional web design arena, I inadvertently used another marketing technique that is quite effective and did not require any extra time than I was already spending.

I got involved in a couple large community forums (over 30,000 each) and I established myself as an authority in certain topics by regularly contributing answers to users questions on those topics. Sometimes this would lead to a linking back to my site for reference, but usually not. All the while, my link was in my signature line and profile.

Within 9 months, this garnered my site top search engine ranking in some very competitive terms, a PR7, Alexa top 50,000 rank and unique monthly hits in the 500,000 range. Given that my target market is highly saturated, I was very pleased with these results.

Now, in all fairness, contributing in communities was not my only marketing technique I was using. I was doing some mild self-promotion, submission to directories, link exchanges, releasing free designs, and I was spending $30/mo in AdWords. However, my server stats showed that more than 75% of my traffic came from the communities I was active in and related sites that had found my site from the community.

The point being, there is more than one way to skin a cat, but you are absolutely correct. You have to get out there and "push" your brand. People will not find your site based on search engine results alone.

There is one down side, however. In focusing my marketing to tightly in large communities, my site naturally became associated with those communities, even though they only represented a small subset of the topics my site covered. When it came time to sell my site, I had to take a much smaller amount than the traffic and backlinks would normally earn because of how tightly related to specific communities the site was.

So, I would say that communities are a great way to get you started, but make sure you diversify your marketing portfolio to ensure you don't end up in community lock-in.

October 3, 2007 - 6:48pm

Brilliant post Jim. I think moderating forums helped me a lot as well. Hard to measure the exact amount other than to say a bunch.

The other thing with it is that if you sold your site and wanted to do something else you could always change those forum sigs and establish yourself as an expert in other topics to have a wider base and keep some of that traffic. But that depends on terms of the site sale.

October 6, 2007 - 9:51pm

Aaron - great post. It's really makes one consider the differences between push and pull marketing. The mind map situation (as posted on the tools site versus the mention on your blog) is a perfect way to exemplify the differences between push and pull. Fresh ideas really drive success, and like anything in life, both push and pull marketing have their drawbacks and tremendous benefits.
Thanks for sharing.

hans99
October 19, 2007 - 11:30am

An interresting question is if the things people links to is the same that they read. An example I have noticed for a site with research news but also fact pages about different kind of food.

People who blog about a receip they have made often link to our fact pages about for example ginger or blueberry. Since our fact pages is the best top ten at Google.se they sooner or later get position one.

But that people links a lot to that kind of content isnt the same that a lot of people search for it or that our RSS readers is interresting in it.

I wonder if Google when calculating the value of a link take also count things like that.

October 23, 2007 - 7:24am

I think people give Google credit for being more sophisticated than they are. Having said that, it makes sense that they like the self reinforcing nature of search and relying their relevancy algorithms on older sites because it is hard for most webmasters to fake age and relying on older and self reinforcing positions requires new sites to be significantly more remarkable to gain traction.

There are downsides to this though...in an attempt to be remarkable many people will create various forms of information pollution.

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