Content is a Net

So we’ve talked about niches, lifestyles, why we buy, why we go online and the three buttons. But what motivates us to actually go online in pursuit of more control over our lives?

The Four Types of Internet Marketing

Last week we talked about Why We Go Online which revolved around Entertainment (changing your emotional state), Utility (how-to’s, news and reviews) and Community (sharing). This is all part of all the ‘stuff’ that happens before someone clicks the Search button or goes looking for solutions to their urgent problems or celebrations of their deepest passions. After they view search results, a customer comes into your orbit and you convince them to become a part of your prospect pool.

There are dozens of formats and channels available to you as an internet marketer. The point of all of these channels is to direct someone into your subscription list – to get them to join your list so you can begin to cultivate those contacts into becoming customers.

Just like search engines. Your marketing and content is like a giant net you hold in your teeth and you throw it out into the muck hoping to grab the right critters.

But first we have to talk about shrimping.

Meaty Treats in the Nasty Muck

When I was a kid our yearly vacation was a week at Pawley’s Island, South Carolina a slightly shabby island of private homes. They only rented to families and we would join a couple other families for a week of reading, eating, sand and sun. One of the dads worked at the Ford plant in Louisville and would snag some truck tire innertubes for us to sit in as we bobbed along in the ocean (we lashed them all together with rope). My dad would also go shrimping with a big cast net. It was a big circular plastic net with weights on the outside ring and a rope in the middle. You fling the net out into the marsh and it opens up into a disc shape. Then the weights drag it down into the water and mud to get the shrimp (you had to grip part of it with your teeth and hope you timed the throw correctly and not lose an incisor). Then, as you pull the net out it closes around your catch, bringing a dozen or so shrimp for dinner.

The tastiest shrimp can be found in the nastiest muck.

As an internet marketer, your content is your net. The murky water and muck is the internet with all the people in the world searching for whatever is motivating them to go online. Tossing your net is your attempt to grab the right shrimp – the right meaty nuggets that might become your prospects.

Your blog posts, articles, postcards, radio interviews, brochures – all of this content is optimized to build your list of prospects.

For now, take the whole search engine optimization piece out of the puzzle. I’m focusing on the tactics we use to get people in front of (and hopefully clicking) your Subscribe button.

Your tactics can be graphed along two axes:

  1. Our horizontal (x) axis is mode: Is this content strategy online or offline?
  2. Our vertical (y) axis is cost: How much does this content cost to deploy? Is it free or is there a fee involved?

Here’s our matrix (mixing it up – no Venn this week):

Before you continue reading just take 10 seconds to come up with at least one content strategy you already use in each of these four areas:

  1. What is one free, online tactic you use in your internet marketing?
  2. What is one free, offline tactic you use in your internet marketing?
  3. What is one paid, online tactic you use in your internet marketing?
  4. What is one paid, offline tactic you use in your internet marketing?

Now let’s take in some detail:

Free, Online Marketing Tactics

Our first quadrant (quadrant #1 for you Covey freaks) is free, online marketing tactics.

This is probably where you’ll spend the most time experimenting. Online tactics are usually easier to get started, quicker to measure and quicker to discontinue. Here’s several of them:

  • Email signature
  • Discussion forum signature
  • Blog posts
  • Email newsletter
  • RSS feed
  • Podcast
  • Blog directories
  • Podcast directories
  • RSS directories
  • Article directories
  • Social bookmarking sites
  • Social networking sites
  • Newsletter ad exchange
  • Comments on other blogs
  • Viral video
  • Local-focused sites and directories
  • Search-engine friendly HTML
  • Webcast seminars
  • Instant messaging and Skype profiles
  • Viral PDFs
  • Contest sponsorship
  • Blog carnivals
  • Organic search traffic
  • Link exchange
  • Group blogging project
  • Guest posting on other blogs
  • Joint-venture referrals

Free, Offline Marketing Tactics

Sometimes you’ll actually leave the house and use offline tactics – but there’s still some free ones:

  • Speaking engagements
  • Newspaper article
  • Column in newspaper or magazine
  • Networking events
  • TV appearance
  • Radio appearance
  • Organizing or volunteering at events
  • Teleseminars

Paid, Online Marketing Tactics

Third, we have free, offline marketing tactics.

Just like the free online tactics, the paid ones allow you to deploy and measure quickly and usually test out in small batches with less cost outlay:

  • Pay-per-click (AdWords)
  • Social network ads (Facebook ads)
  • Ads on other blogs
  • Ads on other sites
  • Placement in another’s ezine
  • Affiliate/referral program
  • Paid placement on a site
  • Paid link exchange
  • Blog sponsorship
  • Press release
  • Podcast sponsorship
  • RSS advertising

Paid, Offline Marketing Tactics

Finally, we have fee-based, paid offline marketing tactics.

I feel these are the more ‘thoughtful’ tactics to use when you’ve road-tested the other tactics and have the resources to go all out.

  • Postcards
  • Radio ad
  • Television ad
  • Infommercial
  • Print newsletter
  • Magazine ad
  • Newspaper ad
  • Pay-to-play speaking engagement
  • Sales staff
  • Business cards
  • Professional associations
  • Events and seminars
  • Telemarketing

I’m not sure if I’m explaining this very well – it is a bit half-baked right now so I need your help articulating it.

What I’m trying to express is that all the content you put out in the world – whether it is offline or online, in person or in print or on the radio – all of this content ideally is focused on bringing more prospects into your orbit. The right prospects. Not a shotgun of crap traffic. All of these prospects are being targeted to your Subscribe button. After that is the courtship where we begin to cultivate and acclimate them to our expertise, products and services so when they have a problem we can solve, they come to us first to solve it – that’s the Buy button.

Another way to think of this is an ever-flowing stream of searches and requests and queries like a cool mountain creek. Can you divert the right amount of flow your way and channel it correctly?

What am I missing? Tell me right now:

This entry was posted in Instant Global Impact on by .

About Andy Wibbels

Andy is an award-winning blogger and author of the book Blogwild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging. His work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Wired, Business Week, Forbes, and other national and international media. He was worked at several San Francisco startups including Get Satisfaction, SAY Media, InMobi, Keas, and Mindjet. Currently, Andy is Director of Marketing at Lucidworks. Tw · Fb · G+ · Li

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