Is Your Audience Gagging on Your Content? A 6-Step Reality Check
By Phil Dunn, co-author of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing

I read a lot of business books, marketing books, and books on Social Media Marketing (SMM), Social Networking, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

There’s one theme that keeps popping up in virtually all of them these days.

You’ll see it on a lot of the popular blogs and video blogging sites as well.

What is it? In a nutshell, don’t try to game the system if you don’t have one or more of the following:

• Good content
• Real value
• Authenticity and a genuine way of expressing your views
• Useful information
• Unique products
• Unique pricing, delivery or some other differentiator

David Meerman Scott puts it nicely in his book World Wide Rave. He says, “performing SEO on a crappy site content doesn’t make any sense.” It’s so true. Why drive traffic to something that people will gag on? If conversions, sign-ups, membership, community or, hey, actual dollars are the game, then crud begets crud (usually in the form of high bounce rates).

Seth Godin, the Tribes marketing guru, frames things similarly when he talks about building value and community first then offering the community products and services of value [aside: I almost wrote Seth Rogin, which would have been really confusing]. That’s the new way to sell books, by the way. You don’t “top down” the process by going out and getting an agent and a publisher then unleashing your brilliance on radio and TV. It happens much more organically. You build a following and then get the book contract. Ask Gary Vaynerchuk about this. He just signed a $10 million book deal with a major publisher three years after the launch of his rapid-growth video blogging community/empire.

So, here are some “action item” take-aways that align with this trend I’m seeing in business books.

1. Stop sweating SEO and get down to the business of creation. Whether you’re developing stories, games, food products, software, business tools, services, nonprofits, financial products, widgets.. whatever.. get back to your workbench and create it with intensity, purpose and superior quality. Pay attention to this, and you’ll be able to gather some attention. Steve Martin put it well when he said, “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”

2. Use analytics (like Google Analytics) to measure the audience you do have and figure out precisely who’s following your efforts. But don’t obsess over each and every click and traffic spike. Like #1 above, worry about the content and value of what you’re producing.

3. Don’t look for the home run link or media/Digg mention every day. It will happen in time. Your consistent efforts will put you on the right radar screens. It’s inevitable, but you can’t necessarily force it. You’ll think it’s a stroke of luck when it happens, but it really won’t be. Your dogged determination and day-by-day efforts will prevail in ways you can’t imagine currently.

4. Block out the “get rich quick,” “15,000 hits with one system” BS-brigade. Unfollow them on Twitter, spam block their emails and don’t spend time on their cookie-cutter, sales letter style landing pages (you know the ones, with highlighted text, suspicious testimonials with headshots, a subhead every 3 paragraphs, and a hard close every 4th. All this stuff is a distraction. Your value is your value. You’ll break out when the time is right.

5. Listen to your audience (in the form of customers, prospects, industry trends, relevant forum posts, etc.). You may talk to them every day – that’s great. You’ll learn a lot by just listening. You can also poll them with things like Survey Monkey and Poll Daddy. Ask them what they want and then build it into your products and services.

6. Circle back and keep focusing on quality. Check in with yourself every hour and make sure you’re building value.

Here’s one last tip that you constantly hear in the biz books – enjoy it while you do it. If you don’t, your audience will sniff it out. And, of course, you won’t dig it, which blows.

---Source: Phil Dunn writes marketing materials and provides strategic consulting for Fortune 500 companies. He is also co-author of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing (McGraw-Hill, 2005). Visit his Web site at










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