Decisively Average

Seth Godin recently published a post about the dead zone between being real and being polished: "It's the banal stuff in the middle that people don't read. And yet, 95% of what I see is precisely in the dead spot of the middle zone. "

I firmly try to stay in the "real" category (largely because I can't tolerate the polished up fake stuff), though someone sent me an anonymous email today telling me I need to polish it up

You know a lot, but

  • it needs to be made far simpler for laymen
  • cut back on the jargon
  • skip the rare profanity. It’s is a real turn off for traditional people
  • you could take a more professional picture

If I tried to take their advice I would end up with a watered down brand in the dead zone. Years ago one of my mentors gave me this advice

I think the best brands, the best sites have a large portion of their founders personality in them. Never be afraid to be yourself, after all there are 1/2 billion people on the www, not all of them have to agree with you. Concentrate on the ones that share your views, concentrate on making their experience the very best it can be, the rest forget them.

Or to put it another way, the best sites say - this is what we do, this is how we do it, if you don't like it go somewhere else.

Published: August 18, 2008 by Aaron Wall in marketing


August 18, 2008 - 6:14pm

Right on, dude. Don't you just love unsolicited advice about how to live your life? I think you hit the nail on the head, and the reason I started reading your blog in the first place was because I could tell from your about page that you were completely authentic. Authenticity gains immediate trust and respect.

August 18, 2008 - 6:25pm

Keep on keeping it real Aaron - the quote was great advice that I plan on following. Thanks!

August 18, 2008 - 7:07pm

What do you want?

Do you want everyone to have a mildly favorable opinion about you?


Do you want a group of people who are fiercely loyal to your brand?

August 18, 2008 - 7:26pm

Mildly favorable is a bad strategy because those people who are mildly interested in your brand are going to love other brands. May as well go for love then.

August 18, 2008 - 8:04pm

Hey Aaron,

You seem to be an expert in this topic (SEO), so do you have any advice on how to get my business on the widest range of search engines for the lowest cost? I found one such company, [redacted], that seems to be able to help with this. Do you have any other suggestions?

August 18, 2008 - 8:06pm

Marketing Sherpa's Landing Page Handbook shows conclusively that "slick" stock photography (no matter how 'appropriate') NEVER performs as well as authentic pictures of real people. A haircut might actually hurt...:)

August 18, 2008 - 10:04pm


Just do your thing. You have helped me out loads with your insight. Rare profanity is always good. Imagine watching rated 'G' movies your whole life. What fun is that? Who are more "traditional people"? I've never seen one. :) To be honest, you do us all a favor by sharing so keep on sharing with a little bit of swearing, Aaron.

August 19, 2008 - 5:13am

Seth wrote about that idea in Meatball Sundae, not particularly fresh here. His example was how the average ice cream cone guy selling a good cone for a good price was losing out to the super-cheapie and the super-premium with all the toppings ice cream guy at either end of the spectrum.

August 19, 2008 - 1:19pm

I fully agree with the advice you recieved years ago.

August 19, 2008 - 1:49pm

I couldn't agree more with the advice that was given to you years ago. Too many people try to "do it all", which is basically marketing suicide.

You've found your niche, that email was from someone jealous of your success.

Would someone that puts his profit first be so helpful and answer every single question in his forums, even if it means giving away trade secrets? I doubt it.

Just be you, man. Once you get all "Hollywood" on us, that's when I'll cancel my training membership!

August 19, 2008 - 4:16pm

I disagree with all the points...

Except the profanity. I know some consultants that cross the line in their personal blogs to the point they would not be taken seriously in business circles. But the occasional profanity should be ok :)

But the rest of the advice. Garbage!

Simpler for laymen. Pfft....

August 19, 2008 - 4:30pm

I dont know what the key to success is, but trying to make everyone happy sure is the key to failure (or something along those lines) - bill cosby

August 20, 2008 - 1:32am

Aaron I think you are doing a great job. And glad to see you're following what you know and think is the right thing. It's working, so why would you stop doing something that's working?

Basically keep your integrity in and just keep plugging along. You'll have people cutting at you when your doing the right thing and making it big that's just part of the game.

Your site is great and I'm sure lots of other SEOs and webmaster would agree!

August 20, 2008 - 2:06am

next time reply the advisor with the question "How far did your own advice get you?"

August 21, 2008 - 12:58am

Another advantage of keeping it real is that you can chug out a whole lot more content when you're not worrying too much about trying to please everyone.

Profanity is fine by me too.

This reminds me of a Kathy Sierra post.

August 21, 2008 - 5:07am

Don't change - remember opinions are like A$$holes everyone has one (sorry if thats too profane).

Also don't simplify or dumb down your writing/ thinking. One of the reasons I read this blog habitually is that you call it as it is. SEO is not simple and cutting edge SEO / internet marketing can't be watered down or simplified too much. You call it as it is which is why you have legions of loyal readers.

August 22, 2008 - 2:39pm

Apparantly I'm in the vast minority. But, I don't believe profanity serves any purpose. It doesn't show you are real. You can be plenty real without using profane language.

In my opinion what it shows is a lack of knowledge. It shows a lack of depth of vocabulary. And even a lack of respect. Have you ever been at a resturant with your family and you end up sitting next to a group of people that every other word out of their mouth is a swear word. Believe me, a 2-year old uttering swear words is not cute.

That being said, I guess I don't read you enough. I haven't seen your posts laced with profanity.

August 22, 2008 - 11:51pm

I generally don't use much profanity...which was why I thought the suggestion to tone it down was a bit absurd. :)

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