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Skill Level Appropriate for all
(cheerful jingle) - You've started your own business and you need customers. In the 21st century, people are gonna come to you and say the way to get customers is to get into search engines. You have to rank, you have to rank on Google. So you go and you hire what we in the industry call a search nerd, and that person goes off and does mysterious stuff to help you move up in the rankings. And they send you a bill once a month and that's about all you know about it. And then for the rest of the lifetime of your business, you wake up in the middle of the night screaming because of one of two things.
Either A, you're not ranking yet, or B, you're ranking in Google and you're terrified that for some reason, you're gonna lose that ranking, because as it turns out, Google specifically, or a couple of search engines generally, are driving all of your customers to you and that's your only source of business. So what's wrong? Why has this changed? 'Cause this is not the way marketing used to work. What's changed is the existence of search engines have really altered the dynamic of marketing. We've chased search engines into this weird corner where all we focus on is our rankings and we've forgotten about the rest of marketing.
There's a lot more to marketing than search, even today. It's part of this very complex cycle. And that complex cycle works to your advantage, it's not a disadvantage. It's important to keep that in mind. One way to look at it, and the way that I generally look at marketing, is that marketing is all about significance, and search engines, all they want to do is deliver significance. They're just trying to do what works at the core of marketing and always has. And if you keep in mind that marketing is about significance, then you can start to understand that what marketing is really about is showing yourself to the weird, making yourself useful, and using those two things to build significance around you, and your company, and your brand.
If you look at the definition of significance in the dictionary, it's "the quality of being worthy of attention." I have my own definition that I've adapted to marketing, which is the quality of being worth of attention to people who may never buy from you, but will always spread the word about you. And that's very, very important. And significance is not something that you can go out and buy. You can't make people think you're significant. You can't force it. You have to invite it. And you invite significance by standing out to those who are compelled to respond, what I call The Weird and what Seth Godin originally called The Weird in a great book called We Are All Weird.
You also establish significance by making yourself useful. Think about things like Velcro. You want to really aspire to reach the point where you are so useful that people just assume you're there. You become a utility. And you can close the loop by deliberately reaping the rewards. You don't wanna just sit there and wait for people to land on your doorstep once you've done all this work. You wanna make sure that they do land there and make it easy for them. So I'll start by talking a little bit about the weird. Significance must involve you standing out to the weird.
Now, there's two kinds of weird, right? There's weird like me, grown men who play games like Dungeons and Dragons. And then there's weird that just separates your potential customers from the enormous crowd in which they live. You can try to sell to all the people out there, and I'm sure if you've worked in a business or run your business, you've had some time where you've looked at things and said there are a million other people out there saying the same thing, hearing the same thing. How do I get to my customers? The way you do it is by refusing to hang out with the crowd.
Find the people with special interests. Find people who really like waffles. Find people who are allergic to wool. And where you find those intersections between two interests, you'll find the weird. If you think about Will It Blend?, it was a video series done by a manufacturer of blenders, that advertiser, when he was thinking about the campaign, he sat down and, unconsciously at least, thought, well, let's see, I'm selling blenders. Everybody buys blenders. They don't even know the brand of blender they're buying, but people really like to see stuff get smashed.
So maybe what I should do is find the people who are looking to buy a blender and like to see stuff get smashed and put the two together. And that's how he ended up with Will It Blend? When I had to write an article about marketing and I wanted it to stand out, I thought about the fact that there's all these marketers out there and they're very passionate about marketing. And then there's all these gamer nerds out there like me and a lot of them are marketers. And at the crossover, that's where I found the weird that I could talk to. And I wrote this article called Everything I Ever Learned about Marketing I Learned from Dungeons and Dragons.
And even within the search world, that had a really, really good result. So even if I am just looking at search engines, by accessing that weird audience, that obsessed audience, I got lots of people to talk about the article because they saw, oh wait, I play Dungeons and Dragons, I wanna take a look at this article. And then they reached out to people who weren't within that little segment, and that's what that segment can do for you. That's what reaching out to the weird can do for you, is it can get you people who are so impassioned about the message you've given them that they're willing to carry it to other people who exist outside the space that you're trying to access.
It also got me a lot of links. Again, same thing, it got me a lot of links from news sites and marketing sites that don't do anything about Dungeons and Dragons. But because the article started to gain a lot of momentum and a lot of people saw it and heard about it, it started to build momentum and gain links. It also gained a lot of mentions in email, in newsletters, in social media. There were a few people calling me on the phone. So again, it exists far outside of search, but because good marketing is also good SEO, by accessing this audience, by finding that intersection and finding the weird, I got a really good result.
And this has been true for well over a hundred years. If you look at advertisements like the one that David Ogilvy had to do for Rolls-Royce in the 1960s, he sat down and he thought, "Well, let's see. "I'm selling a car for wealthy people "and I'm selling to wealthy people "who like peace and quiet in their cars." Right, 'cause some people may like loud cars, some people may like convertibles. And by putting those two together, he found this unique audience and he put together and ad that talks about how quiet the Rolls-Royce is and it was very successful. Now there's lots of different ways to achieve weird, right? You can do weird and just make huge waves and just do really strange stuff that's over the top.
So if you look at Old Spice, you know, they looked to people who buy deodorant, which is almost everybody, and then they looked to people who like really bizarre, crazy humor, and they came up with the Old Spice commercials, which are hilarious and everybody knows who the Old Spice guy is. Nobody knows his name, but they know who the Old Spice guy is. Your appeal to that weird audience can be over the top, but it can also be subtle. You don't have to make it something completely off the wall. For example, a company called momAgenda makes day planners for moms. And what they did is they found this overlap between moms and moms who want to be really organized and found this little group of people who spend a lot of time on the internet looking for tools and methods to help them organize and plan their families' day, week, month.
So they took their planner and they made printable versions of it. And by making those printable versions available, they got lots of moms downloading them and talking about momAgenda. And the discussion went from online to offline, it grew their own house email list, it expanded the number of people who knew who they were, and it also, again, coming back to search, did build quality links back to their site. So again, good marketing is good SEO. Good marketing is good email list-building. It covered all those bases for them.
You can just go over to whiteboard and start brainstorming ideas, or a piece of paper and just start brainstorming ideas for how you find this overlapping audience, this intersection of interests. Or you can use some tools, and what I'll do sometimes if I'm stuck is I'll go to Facebook and I'll start to create an ad and then I'll go down to this field that's called Precise Interests and I'll type in whatever the product is, or the concept, or the idea that I'm trying to promote, and Facebook immediately shows me related interests. Things that, if people are interested in rhubarb, they're also interested in these other things as well.
If you take a look here, you can see there may only be 10 or 20, 30,000 people on Facebook who've expressed an interest in rhubarb, but there's 3.9 million with an interest in something olive. There's 500,000 with an interest in ginseng. If you take that, you can find the people who overlap, reach out to them, and if they really like what you have to say, then they will reach out to all the other people that they know within the larger audience. And that's how you can use marketing to the weird to get you in front of a much larger group of people.
And you can do this same thing with television shows. You can do it with almost any concept you can imagine. People have created pages on Facebook that other people come in and indicate that they like. So you can do all sorts of interesting psychographic sort of research and find this information on there.