Target audience: Marketing professionals, PR pros, brand managers, SEO specialists, businesses.
[author]If you want to be heard above the din of the Internet, you need to speak clearly and with persistence. It’s not uncommon for someone at a loud bar not to hear you the first time, or even twice. If you assume someone isn’t interested in getting to know you better just because they don’t hear you the first or second time, then you’re doomed. The Internet is the busiest, loudest, most distracting place ever created. It’s global and impersonal and often anonymous. Plus, there’s no accountability.
At least in a bar, you can sit right next to the someone you want to meet and then just bide your time until there’s a lull in the noise or you can catch an eye. The Internet’s just not like that. Social media is loud and tends to be an insider’s club. We resonate with people we already know, be it in our in-boxes, our rivers of news, or our walls, we tend to tune out unknowns. And, in social media marketing, most of us are unknowns, most brands are unknown, and most services, too.
In order to score the digits in content marketing, you need three things: confidence, conviction, and stay-with-it-ness. One of the reasons why people are so coy online when it comes to engaging folks online about brands, promotions, events, products, and services is because they feel like they’re in some way doing something that’s dodgy. That selling is an ignoble pursuit. That what you’re doing – engaging people online in order to have them read, share, write, review, and buy – is sleazy and that what you’re pushing is snake oil.
When singles talk about being attracted to confidence, what they’re saying is that they’re attracted to transparency and authenticity. Confidence conveys a deep belief that what you’re pitching has integrity, be it yourself, when it comes to the art of seduction, or your brand, when it comes to the art of content marketing. Like the dweeb approaching the supermodel, it’s not that nice guys finish last, it’s that folks who don’t really believe they belong doing what they’re doing, pitching what they’re pitching, saying what they’re saying, and being what they purport to be, finish last.
What separates winning content marketing campaigns from the losers? Persistence. From my experience, too many new media marketing campaigns lack bravery, boldness, confidence, and persistence. They do the messaging equivalent of “ahem, excuse me, if you would be so kind, ahem, I don’t mean to bother you or anything, ahem” rather than “hello, my name is Chris Abraham, damned glad to meet you.”
It’s understandable, really. Brands are afraid of the online world, especially earned media, where anything that a brand says and does can be used against it. So, over time, shell-shocked from seeing everyone around them being shot down and rejected; and, after repeatedly being warned by the media and by social media gurus as to how much of a mine field blogger outreach is, once-bitten, twice shy.
If you want to be successful in search marketing, earned media marketing, and content marketing, you’ll need to reach out not once, twice, but three times. We have learned this from direct mail and email marketing, especially when it came to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaigns: if you’re aggressive and email your core demographic repeatedly, you may make a few enemies and suffer a few humiliations – but you’ll probably also raise
Earn that respect a little bit at a time
According to Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post, “3 million donors made a total of 6.5 million donations online adding up to more than $500 million. Of those 6.5 million donations, 6 million were in increments of $100 or less. The average online donation was $80, and the average Obama donor gave more than once.” Also, according to Joshua Green in his Bloomberg Business Week article, The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails, “Most of the $690 million Obama raised online came from fundraising e-mails.”
It’s true. Bloggers are generally more libertarian rugged individualist than sycophantic people pleasers. And, most brands aren’t used to being challenged. “How dare they, those pissants, they’re merely bloggers.” I personally thought that this belief perished by 2010; however, the fear, indignity, and confusion persists. What it’s turned into in many ways, is the world of sponsored posts, native advertising, and guest blogging schemes. These are considered much safer as these bloggers are surely sycophantic people pleasers and are much more predictable than bloggers and journalists who may be willing to be engaged by you, informed by you, and then converted by you to become bona fide brand ambassadors through earned respect.
Go well beyond the A-listers
When it comes to my strategy for blogger outreach, I am committed to reach out to as many bloggers as possible, from the rarefied air the A-listers and celebrities breathe all the way down the long tail to the hobbyists, the passion-players, and committed content nerds and geeks. What I do is collect lists of thousand of bloggers who meet a minimum requirement for interest in whatever I am promoting.
When I promoted Mizuno running shoes, my minimum requirement was that the blogger had, at some point, discussed running, jogging, fitness, or getting in shape. Very broad. This resulted in 100 A-list bloggers, all of whom my associate, Sally Falkow, and I engaged by hand; and then around eight-thousand bloggers who received a mail-merge-personalized email offering them first access to Mizuno’s Mezamashii project as well as lots of opportunities to test Mizuno shoes, to be considered for Mizuno sponsorship, and to be taken into the Mizuno communications and marketing fold. In many ways, it was a corporate olly-olly-oxen-free; and, it was an easy sell: top-quality product, sleeper brand, and who doesn’t like to try out new shoes, eh? It was funny, though, as many of the A-listers were already contractually sponsored by other shoe brands. It was the long tail that really paid off as many of them “had never been kissed” before by brands, though they all winsomely hoped that some day their prince would come, bearing cool shoes and athletic gear for them to try out and review. And, for many of them that day had come.
Even with the deck stacked, we still needed to be persistent. Upon receipt of the first email offer pitch, many of the bloggers assumed it was spam. It rang the “too good to be true” and “who, me?” buttons. It wasn’t until the second outreach when a flood of responses came in with, “yes, please.” And, to make sure we had herded all of the strays, we did a final outreach, a third, to make certain every one of those 8,000 bloggers had an opportunity for first refusal. Mizuno earned hundreds of earned-media-mentions and thousands of registrations for their Mezamashii Running Community – and all of that activation in the space of four weeks.
In the Internet age, it’s no longer enough to be the best looking or most interesting, you really must be the most brave. You need to get your pretty self up off of that bar stool and get right over and start meeting people. The world has become flat, thanks to the Internet, and if you just wait until your Prince Charming comes to you on his palomino horse, then you’ll really only get what you get, and that might be nothing.
(Special Thanks to DC Robbery Lawyer Jason Kalafat for his contributions to this site)