Posted by Jill Whalen | Posted in Business, Things I've Learned | Posted on 12-09-2014
By Jill Whalen
Back in 2011 when I was still heavily entrenched in my website marketing career, I wrote this article wondering why people thought Deceptive Marketing Was a Necessary Evil. Throughout my career I had seen examples of marketing through “white lies” such as those mentioned in the article, which always seemed like a bad idea to me.
Let me back up even further…
When I “fell” into online marketing back in the early ’90’s, I literally didn’t even know what marketing was. I was a mom at home who loved computers and the Internet. I had created an informational parenting website (back when there were only 2 others!) and was hoping to attract more people to it. After all, it’s frustrating to have great content (information) but very few people who see it. When thinking about how I might let interested parents know about my website, it was obvious to me that getting it found in the search engines of the day when people were looking for parenting advice would be a big boon. So I set out to learn how to do that. It’s important to note here that there was no such thing as Google or SEO back then, and certainly no blogs or articles explaining how to do this. I simply went about figuring it out on my own.
I also realized that if my website was listed on other websites where interested parents might be reading, I would likely get more visitors that way. So I set out to learn how to make that happen as well. And all of my efforts worked! If memory serves, my parenting website was getting up to 1000 visitors a day, back when very few “regular” people were even online or knew what the Internet was.
Interestingly enough, I had no idea that what I had done to attract those targeted visitors to my website–was marketing. I was just using my common sense.
A few years later, as I realized that my knowledge and ability to bring traffic to websites seemed to be useful to others (and apparently not as common-sensical as it seemed to me), I created my SEO company, High Rankings. I never seemed to have no problem getting clients, even though I had no real strategy in mind. I simply marketed myself and my skills in a way that seemed natural for me. It was obvious to me to find where people who might be interested in what I had to offer (i.e., my target audience) hung out, and start hanging out there too. But more than just hanging out, it also made sense for me to freely share everything I had figured out about SEO. Still, it wasn’t a tactic, I just enjoyed helping people and sharing my knowledge.
Then a funny thing happened.
People with whom I was sharing my knowledge started seeing me as expert on the subject of SEO. And when they or someone they knew wanted to hire an SEO consultant for their website, who do you think they thought of first? ‘Lil ‘ole me. A mom at home playing around on the Internet all day!
And that, my friends, is the power of marketing.
Fast forward a few years (into the new millennium!) and I naturally started learning more and more about marketing. It had become clear to me that marketing was what I had been doing all along for both myself and my clients. In fact, I remember a few times being accused of “not actually knowing SEO, but being great at marketing.” HA!
The thing is, I always intuitively knew that marketing is and always was simply a means of letting already interested people know about whatever great product or service you have to offer.
That’s pretty much it.
However, we can break it down into 3 major steps:
1. First and foremost, marketing has to start with a great product or service. Without that, there’s nothing to market. Yet there are tens of thousands of people and companies who offer great products and services who still aren’t reaching their target market.
Which brings us to the second part of the marketing equation:
2. Being able to clearly and succinctly explain what it is about our products or services that makes them so great and beneficial to a certain segment of the population. And yet while many seem to be able to do this, some find that they’re still not very successful at gaining new customers or clients.
Which brings us to the third part of the marketing equation:
3. Getting the word out to our target audience. This is where we have to first, know who our target audience is, and next, learn where they hang out. Once we know those things, it’s merely a question of getting to know them, and them getting to know us.
While all of the above is often used as a “technique” by marketing agencies and large companies, as it applies to solo professionals, in my opinion, it is most effective when it’s done in a genuine attempt to help. In fact, in my experience, having no attachment to the outcome, yields the best results.
You’d be surprised at how genuinely helping others by freely providing them with your knowledge and skills can translate into paying customers and clients who want to go beyond your free offerings. Try it and see for yourself!
Evil? I don’t think so! – Jill
P.S. If you’re having trouble marketing your amazing services, you may want to check out my personal and business consulting services.