Before we get started, I should tell you what I mean by traditional marketing techniques. I am not talking interruptive marketing. Sometimes when we think classic marketing, we think billboards, pop ups, and advertising that interrupts our favorite Thursday night shows. That is not the full extent of what marketers do, it is just the obvious techniques.
I used traditional marketing techniques long before I looked into the world of inbound and SEO. I work for an eCommerce site called Good Karmal that uses classic marketing techniques heavily, but we use them to get coveted spots in gift guides of publications such as People Country, Food and Wine, Real Simple, Reader’s Digest, and Good Housekeeping. Our product has also been featured on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and Oprah’s Favorite Things.
The amazing thing is that we have never paid for a PR opportunity except for a small Adwords campaign. There is more to classic marketing than advertising, just as there is more to online marketing than PPC.
18 months ago, we realized we needed to start paying a little more attention to the online opportunities available and the huge advantage to be found in search engine optimization. I was given the command to ‘look into it and come up with an action plan.’ Well, all of you inbound marketers know that is easier said than done.
So I discovered SEOmoz, Distilled, Social Media Examiner…well, you get the point. It was overwhelming, to say the least. Especially the part about linkbacks. I mean, really, I’m supposed to write hundreds of people with thinly veiled linkback requests? My pride decided right then and there that I would not be partaking in that practice.
After some thought and much more research, I realized I was treating online marketing like a totally different species from everything else I had learned in my time as a Marketing Associate. It’s not – not really. Really great inbound tactics actually have their roots in traditional marketing techniques. And here’s how.
You Don’t Have to Trick People to Get Linkbacks
The traditional marketing techniques I have the most success with is this: find an opportunity on a media list or through good old fashioned browsing of last year’s issues. Then find the best possible press contact for what you are pitching, get their information, and send them a press package containing samples and a press release that will grab their attention. BAM! Six months later we find ourselves in Family Circle, Elle Magazine, and a few other large publications. We are working 18 to 20 hour days just to make orders, our goal of 30% growth is in the bag, and I start thinking about next year’s opportunities. Of course the fact that our product is unique, high quality, and visually striking helps. After all, if you don’t have a good product, you don’t get press.
Online Marketing techniques are much the same, you just need to adapt it all to fit within the parameters of the very community-centric attitude of the online world. I don’t have to beg for linkbacks, because I have an awesome product that people want to know about. ”Content is king,” right? If you don’t have faith in your content or product, this won’t work. You’ll have to resort to PPC and advertising and hope you can fool people, or go back to the drawing board and make something people want. I suggest the latter, because trying to market something that no one wants to buy is frustrating for all involved! But that is a subject for another time.
The first step is to figure out which communities your product or content belongs to. This step is similar to what you would do for a print opportunity. Obviously a magazine about high end car parts is not what I want to focus on. I also don’t want any low quality opportunities that would only devalue my brand.
Okay, so I sell high end food gifts. Respected food and gift bloggers with high numbers of unique visitors per month are an obvious. High quality review blogs and mommy blogs are another gimme. So I choose a few that I respect after reading past posts and pinpointing what they do and don’t like. Then I find their contact information and write an email – tailored to my contact – outlining why they might be interested in my product. Ask if I can send samples. I always hear back – because I take the time to find contacts who would have an interest in me, instead of attempting to use huge spreadsheets and crazy programs that find me thousands of links to canvas. To those of you using these techniques…think high quality. Respect your brand, and so will others.
I send off my samples, and guess what? I get a review – a positive one – almost every time. A great example of this is Cool Mom Picks. I chose them because their bloggers actually know how to write and they want to review quality products that are useful to their readers. They are kindred spirits who care about their image and respect what they are producing. The rave review they wrote about us resulted in 405 referrals for the month of April with a 4% conversion rate. Not to mention the other bloggers in the Cool Mom Picks community who were clamoring for samples. This may not sound like a lot, but April is our slowest month, and while most print and television opportunities are non-existent in the spring, there is no such lag in the blogosphere. Not to mention the happy link juice we received.
And that is not the only community with opportunities for us. We are also focused on Eco-friendly practices and spreading goodwill and kindness throughout the world. This is a little different. I am not directly looking for press opportunities here. I am mostly just interested in joining this community as a statement and affirmation of who we are and supporting others who hold our vision. If you are an active contributor in a community that makes sense, the linkbacks will come.
An example is Life Vest Inside. After sending them a gift of our product to thank them for the work they do, they featured us in their blog. So far we’ve had about 200 referrals from their site, with more coming every day.
If you have something useful to give a community you should join forums, write emails, and do guest posts on blogs. Lead the people to the watering hole by bringing them a Nalgene with a note that says ‘hey, there’s more where that came from,’ and a nice, detailed map to go along with it.
To those of you who find crawling around on your knees begging for links as abhorrent and bad for your brand as I do, have no fear! Simply find your community, and reach out. Who would benefit from learning about your brand? Who holds the same goals and values as you do? Research, research, research, and then connect, connect, connect. As Rand Fishkin tells us in this Whiteboard Friday,”Stop link building, and start link earning!” And he’s smart, so you should listen to him.
And guess what? It’s much more enjoyable and fulfilling than long, long lists of thousands of links, canvas emails, and burned out hope. And all of it has roots in classic PR techniques. So next time someone says that ‘classic marketing is losing its usefulness,’ puff up your chest and get all speechy on them (as us marketers are wont to do). Because now you know better. ;P
Hey, while you’re at it, why not try for a print or TV opportunity?
Now that you’ve got the point, and have tried it out on online opportunities…wouldn’t it be awesome to see your product or blog in your favorite magazine? Even those of you who don’t have eCommerce sites can see your smiling face on a glossy magazine page.
If you do have a tangible product, I would suggest subscribing to Gift List Media – it may seem like a lot of money up front, but you get a very large list of press contacts looking for all sorts of different products to feature. It’s much easier to pitch to someone who wants to be pitched to, after all!
If you deal in, say, software, you might need to get a little more creative…but if you are an online marketer, that should already be ingrained, anyhow. My advice is to go with what you already like and respect. Do you have a favorite magazine that focuses on techy stuff? Have you noticed that one of the writers focuses on your subject frequently? Well, find their contact info – CisionPoint is a great media list if you are looking for specific contact information. Write them an email explaining that you love their articles, and would be happy to give them a free three month trial of your product. Ask for their feedback. Chances are they’ll write about it – just make sure what you are selling is awesome enough to get a good review. These journalists and writers are always on the lookout for something to write about – so why not hand it to them? It’s a win win. And everyone loves a victory.
And guess what comes from being in print? Most print opportunities have an online version, so hooray for linkbacks! Mostly, though, you’ll get traffic. Lots and lots of targeted, interested traffic. Than you can use all of the nifty inbound marketing techniques to keep your new consumers around – newsletters, social networks, blogs…it’s sort of like the circle of life, and Scar is black hat SEOs, and you are Simba. ‘Remember who you are, Simba…’
I may be relatively new to the whole inbound marketing thing, but one thing is clear: despite what some would tell me, throwing out my ‘outdated, classic marketing techniques’ would be silly, and slightly impossible. Though we may be using different mediums, all marketers want the same thing – to show people that they should love our product as much as we do! So go forth and market your product, and remember, sometimes oldies really are goodies!