The kiss of death when it comes to marketing communications is copy filled with general statements that fail to communicate anything meaningful. Non-specific copy is a red flag that signals puffery and a lack of substance, and yet it’s all too common. Dan Santow of Word Wise gives two great examples of common phrases that are employed to impress, but end up leaving the reader with little to work with.
Here are a few notable things from the past week’s blogging activities:
- Chris Garrett is offering a free 17 page report on creating flagship (or cornerstone) content for your blog or website. Grab the PDF here.
- Jon Morrow hits it big with How to Conquer Writer’s Block – The Ultimate Guide. We may have to put a moratorium on “Ultimate Guides” soon, but they sure do seem to work, don’t they?
- Julien Smith shows companies and marketers what “keeping it real” truly means with his ChangeThis Manifesto. Nice work Julien!
- Chris Baskind launches Lighter Footstep, a website dedicated to sustainable living. Thanks to Valeria for the heads up.
- Chris Pearson and some snarky friends have launched Celebrity Hack (may offend delicate sensibilities), a celebrity gossip/humor site with a twist—funniest comment of the week wins a Video iPod. It will be interesting to see how sites provide incentives for “user generated content” as the year progresses, from You Tube on down. Derek comments on that topic here.
What else cool happened this week? Drop a link in the comments, and you’ll win… a link in the comments.
What’s the key to standing out in the crowded blogosphere?
More importantly, will standing out actually lead to long-term success?
Let’s take a stroll down marketing history lane to see if we can find some answers.
The Unique Selling Proposition
In 1961, a gentleman by the name of Rosser Reeves published a book entitled Reality in Advertising. In this book, Reeves revealed the secret behind his success as a copywriter and later as chairman of the Ted Bates advertising agency–the unique selling proposition (USP).
One evening back in early January, I got hit by a flurry of incredulous instant messages wondering how we managed to get a certain Tubetorial video to the Digg home page. The video was about Akismet, the anti-spam plugin that helps bloggers keep their comment sections free from ads for porn and male enhancement products.
It’s not that the video wasn’t good or useful, because it is. What people where amazed at was the fact that something as “old news” as Akismet could get promoted to the Digg home page. This was not (for once) a “targeted” Digg from us… it just happened on its own, although the fact that a top Digg user submitted it certainly helped.
Blogging is a great way to grow a business, promote a cause, or spread new ideas, because when you take an educational approach to marketing, you gain the attention and trust of people who might otherwise simply ignore old-fashioned advertising. Not only can those people become your customers or converts, they can also become your advocates.
Apathy and resignation.
Last week, I opened up a discussion on whether or not the term “linkbaiting” was the best way to describe what has evolved into a new marketing services sector. At its essence, linkbait is simply great content with an angle that prompts links and social media action.
This isn’t simply an academic discussion. It’s not much of a secret that I’ve been working with clients in this area, despite not advertising it (until today). Social media marketing is the here and now of effective online marketing, as well as its future, and it goes well beyond great search engine rankings (no matter how sweet those can be when they arrive).
We’re at the beginning of a huge shift in what constitutes “advertising” thanks to social media. Advertising legend David Ogilvy worked through a similar period of drastic change, and pioneered some of the most effective techniques of his day.
One would think that the wisdom of Ogilvy would have little application to social media marketing. To the contrary, I think his philosophies are dead on the money.
- Want a juicy tale involving Robert Scoble, his brother Ben, a franchise fiasco, a bullying corporation, and a disappearing post from Scoble’s own blog? Then you’ve got to read this. Additional coverage here and here.
- Speaking of Scoble, he seems to have gone off the deep end because people are not linking to him (which of course has resulted in a flurry of links). I don’t want to break another New Year’s resolution here, but has Scoble slapped on the water skis? Just kidding Robert, but I’ve noticed that you haven’t linked to me in a while…
- Does this “new” WordPress theme look familiar to anyone? Have I just fallen for the latest devious form of linkbait?
- And finally, some good news… after the most topsy-turvy, speculation-filled start of a year for a major web property that I’ve ever witnessed, the Performancing blog is back open for business and helmed by Nick Wilson (and you). Kudos to Nick for saving a great content resource, and something tells me that newly-departed Chris Garrett will be back up and running in no time.
Hey, this is kinda fun. Maybe I should do this every weekend… a Page Six for social media marketing nerds.
Tip your editor with scandalous blogosphere links here.
Along with the debate over whether the term linkbait is good or bad for content creators and marketers, there’s also been a related debate going on. What’s more important, content or promotion?
I wish I had been bookmarking all the discussion along the way, because there have been a lot of key insights. However, I think Lee Odden summarizes the consensus quite clearly:
If you create great content and no one knows about it to link to it, you’re spinning your wheels. A combination of content as well as social networking, link networking, public relations and gaining editorial visibility as well as viral and individual link solicitations will all work together synergistically. Building a community of consumers of your content as well as relationships with the media in your industry is the distribution network necessary to gain the most link value out of creating great content.
Content or promotion? Yes to both.
It’s no secret that I’m a content guy. But I’ve always promoted my content behind the scenes to get started in a niche, and I may have been guilty of taking it for granted that everyone understood that as well. To rectify, I recently followed up my post about cornerstone content with one about getting the word out.
Creating great content makes promoting it relatively painless. In fact, creating great content and not getting it noticed is an online marketing sin.
The key to successful content promotion is to start relationships, not beg for links. Over time, you’ll find yourself part of a relevant network within your niche, and content promotion becomes a whole lot easier going forward.