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Talking to Internet Marketers about Blogging

In two weeks time I’m heading to Washington DC to speak to 400 internet marketers about blogging and I’m both excited and a little daunted by the prospect.

The excitement is largely around the opportunity to meet new people doing things in related fields to mine (both co-speakers and attendees). I expect to learn a lot.

The ‘daunting’ feelings don’t come from being afraid of public speaking (I’ve been doing that for years) but more because to this point I’ve always found internet marketing ‘types’ to be slightly different (or extremely different) to blogging ‘types’.

While I know that internet marketers are a great bunch – I’ve always found many that I’ve had something to do with a little over the top and hype oriented.

I don’t respond well to spin (especially when it hits my inbox 20 times a week in the lead up to a product launch), I don’t take well to being told something is the answer to all my problems if it just answers one of them and I would rather get to know the person on the end of the sales letters and emails first before being asked to buy their latest product – no matter how rich that product might make me.

I know I’m generalizing a lot here – but I guess what I’ve been grappling with today is what should be the main thrust of my one hour slot in Washington DC?

If you had the attention of 400 internet marketers for an hour and were given the brief to talk to them about blogging – where would you take the session?

Am I asking you to write my presentation for me? Well no… and yes.

I’ve already got my outline – but the beauty of a blog is it’s interactivity and the learning that goes back and forth between blogger and readership (point #3 of my presentation).

I’ll happily share my presentation with you – but without swaying where the conversation might go I’d love to hear your thoughts.

I’m also well aware that many ProBlogger readers are much more a part of the internet marketing community than I am and I’d love to hear a little of how you’re using blogs to support you in your entrepreneurial activities.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. I too prefer a relationship and I think online retailers should develop this much more. It would benefit them greatly.

  2. Brian York says:

    Two things to talk about:

    1) How a blog is editorially different than a website. You would be suprised how many of my colleagues have simply taken their e-mail newsletters and posted them verbatim onto their “blogs”. In other words, show the marketers that a blog is about personality, opinion and relationship.

    2) How a blog can be an effective lead gen tool WITHOUT being overly salesy. Most internet marketers tend to ruin blogs by putting ads everywhere.

    Enjoy D.C…. I am originally from Baltimore just a few miles northeast of there.

  3. Mike says:

    How to make sure adding a blog to an existing website, doesn’t damage an existing business.

  4. ShoeMoney says:

    Interesting. I am a marketer first and somehow along the line I got involved with a blog.

    In order to relate to internet marketers you are going to want to talk about goals… like what is the goal of your blog. Is it to get rss subscriptions or is it to get adsense clicks or is it to get chitika clicks or whatever it is. This is something internet marketers always want to know first is what the end goal is then once that is established…. what is the best way to get there.

    I usually give quite a presentation/talk about just determining what your goals are. For instance if your goal is to get RSS subscriptions then littering your site with adsense is definatly not going to work…

  5. Mat says:

    Read your post back to yourself Darren.

    Sounds like good material for a speech to internet marketers for me. I find it incredibly annoying, too.

  6. I’d tell them to read the Internet Marketing Ethics Handbook – I’m sure its only a quick read!

  7. Kevin OKeefe says:

    Explaining marketing with a blog is more like a ‘Rotary Meeting’ than marketing with website is something that is working well for me when speaking. Blogs are networking with your target audience. Assuming you have Rotary, Kiwanis, and the like in Australia, it’s those associations that people use to network so as to grow business.

    Of course it takes some time leading up to this analogy, but I have found audience members come up to me afterwards and say they like the analogy.

    And best of all with blogs & RSS, you get to identify a Rotary meeting with only those interested in your niche. Plus networking online is like networking on steroids compared to networking offline.

  8. Yoav says:

    In my opinion, the blogging community is the greatest force in the Internet today. Especially where Internet marketers are concerned. Writing a blog, reading blogs and taking part in the conversation in a way that is not directly related to the current product you are trying to sell is a must for Internet marketers that want to understand the playing field.

  9. Bee says:

    Speak to them as non-believers, ‘preaching’ – doesn’t work, it is boring and dull. When you add the feeling and the personal experiences into the equation, it becomes more. It becomes something that everyone wants to be part of. Blogging is popular because of the readers endless thirst for knowledge, we learn from bloggers. Whether it be how we react to a situation on a personal blog, to how to create and maintain a blog – it is all about learning and growing. It is creating a connection between readers and writers that makes them keep wanting to come back for more. And at the end of the hour, they will all want to go out and be part of the blogging community and then there will be 200 more blogs added to the bazillion blogs out there.

  10. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here Darren: “I would rather get to know the person on the end of the sales letters and emails first before being asked to buy their latest product”.

    The big problem I have when I look at most of ‘internet marketing’ offers is trust – why would I buy from someone I’ve never heard of? Especially when this offer sounds too good to be true?

    And blogs are a very good way of building trust, so it would seem to be a perfect tool for an ‘internet marketer’.

    I’ve heard the reason so many of them use such long sales copy is that it’s more effective than short sales copy – but I can’t help thinking that a blog would be more effective still.

  11. Yaro says:

    Hi Darren,

    As a blogger who blogs about Internet marketing and makes money from Internet marketing affiliate products, I tend to cross into both worlds, which I think really gives me a unique perspective on a subject like this.

    The hype issue is certainly not something you associate with *successful* blogs (plenty of not so successful blogs blast out the cut-n-paste emails given to affiliates during each product launch – I know not to do that if I want to keep my readers!). The hype is something we will always see as long as it continues to deliver results, but anyway, that doesn’t answer your question.

    As I said when I spoke to you on the phone, Internet marketers want to know two things

    1 – How you make money online with blogs so they can replicate what you do well.

    2. – Advice you can provide that they can directly apply to their business to make money.

    Some of them will look at blogs as a money making opportunity. These are the opportunistic types who likely buy way too many information products on Internet marketing and “fall” for the hype. Most of these people don’t ever make much money online because they want quick solutions and lack direction.

    Others will have established businesses, with solid back-ends, and will look at blogs as a possible front-end vehicle to further fuel their business. This is a much more sound strategy and if you can teach them how to do that in simple language, I suspect you will have a happy audience at the conference.

    I’d focus on your background story for a brief introduction, then offer basic tips to help the beginners understand why blogs are better than/different to normal websites and perhaps finish with advanced materials for monetizing a blog and building traffic.

    I hope that helps!

    Yaro

  12. I will post more thoughts on my blog but the key for me is that they should join the conversation. When I speak to internet marketers who are dipping a toe into blogging a lot come with the mentality that it is a cross between their min-sites and newsletters. That is only part of the story, we need to remember blogs are a group communication medium.

  13. ploop says:

    I think there is a clear line here between marketing and internet marketing. Internet marketing seems to be predominantly about SEO and ads and they know what they’re talking about. Get offline marketeers talking about blogging and that’s where the trouble starts. They see hype and follow it, crashing in on blogs with ads etc … and I think those could be the people that you’ve found over-hyped.

    Things to remember if you are anxious. Put simply you run a hugely succesful and well read blog – you know probably far more about the mechanics of blogging and the etiqutte than anyone else invited. A good deal of what you know, you probably think is obvious – but just because it is to you doesn’t mean it is obvious to others. You are taking along knowledge abour the one subject they are crying out to learn about.

    You will rock, I’m sure.

  14. I’d start from the perspective of the WIFM axiom (What’s in it for me–or, in this case, for them).

    In order to help them understand that their current overhype truly does have the effect of annoying bees buzzing around our heads, you’d have to offer them alternatives that would help them get to their goal more effectively.

    Succinctly, your job, should you choose to accept it, is to:
    1. Let them in on the fact that the “spaghetti on the wall” approach doesn’t “stick” anymore. In other words, tell them nicely that they’re currently having the opposite effect they want to have.
    2. Offer better ways they can market, with less hype, ways that would survive the dreaded delete button.
    3. Remind them that the marketer with the most sales is the one who takes the time to build relationships.
    4. Suggest that they take a cue from bloggers–the most winning approach these days is to be real.

  15. Blogs have come to epitomize the Web 2.0 “conversation” meme, but it was possible to have conversations and relationships with customers online long before blogging.

    I started in CompuServe forums in 1993, moved on to the Usenet, an email discussion list, and finally newsletters. I called this “Internet marketing” because I didn’t know what else to call it, but it’s very different from the “us to you” model that you so dislike, and it got rave reviews from the customers who participated. (Not surprising, since almost everything I did was the direct result of a suggestion from one or more of them.) If I was doing the same sort of job today (offers welcome!), I would use blogs, alongside other online communication tools that may be more familiar and comfortable to your audience.

    So instead of just talking about blogs, you might want to broaden your talk into how to bring the (very desirable) conversational aspects of blogs into other kinds of marketing.

    Feel free to drop by http://www.beginningwithi.com/whatido/ details on what I did, and verbatim customer reactions.

  16. Jen says:

    Many of the comments so far seem to focus on company blogs, as part of the greater blogging community, if I’m reading this right.

    On a slightly different angle, what about the PR types and online marketers who email with requests for the blogger to feature their products?

    My “pet peeve” in this regard is when a PR shill has not taken half-a-minute to check out the blog and make sure it’s a good fit for their product. (Example #1, you mention “fitness” briefly in passing, and then get inundated with press releases for weight-loss products – not of particular interest. Example #2, you get a request to beta-test the latest greatest thing, spend some time exchanging emails about it, only to learn it’s for USA only – when a quick glance at the front-page profile should have made it clear to the PR hack that the blogger’s not American. ) — Time-wasters!

    To be fair, though – the idea of interacting with Other People’s Blogs for marketing purposes (whether to present a product for review, to engage a blogger as an affiliate, or to purchase a traditional ad) is still quite a new territory for most marketers, and it’s possible that the bad old rep of blogs and bloggers is still hanging on…

    I do get that sense that a great many (less sophisticated or perhaps less experienced) marketers are taking a shotgun approach to pitching the blogs — i.e., shoot wide at a big target, and hope for a number of hits.

    But surely, that can’t be the most effective use of their marketing efforts??

  17. Kumiko says:

    Personally I’d prefer if internet marketers didn’t blog, but if they must….

    In my humble opinion, I’d comment that the blog is not a marketing tool in itself but SUPPORTS existing marketing tools (such as a front-end like Yaro said). Any blog that is filled with marketing sales pitches or hype will lose it’s readership pretty quickly. As you eluded to, the blog is the way to get to know the person behind the sales hype. In a traditional setting, such as a face-to-face in-person sales, it’s easier to judge the person and establish how genuine and trustworthy they are…even if it’s just intuition. However, given the ease of deception via the internet, building this trusting relationship is next to impossible based purely upon sales pitches and hype alone.

    What directions should the marketers take on their blog? That depends on their product but the most successful ones that I’ve come across use a “interactive-newsletter” style that presents the latest company, product and market news (like a traditional newsletter) but allows the web 2.0 interactivity via comments, forums, competitions,multi-media (point #3 of your presentation).

    But I’ve found that the cornerstone of effective internet marketing blogs is the “personality” behind it. Even with a plethora of interactivity, internet consumers would prefer a personal-style in the bog rather than a faceless , sterile company-orientated blog.

    Perfect example: Yaro Starak!

    Kumiko
    xo

  18. Hi Darren. I subscribe to ProBlogger and read it frequently. I read this post because I’m starting an online company and vacillating about whether to add a blog to the site. Good food for thought in the comments. Thanks everybody. I have a general request. Is there any way you could indicate when a blog job was posted on the job board? The titles are all so similar and I’d like to be able to ignore those I’ve looked at. Thanks.

  19. Since I manage several Web sites, I use blogs in several different ways. Four of the sites use blog posts as press release vehicles. One of the four promotes new products. The other three promote member benefits and services. The RSS feeds created by our posts are easy for journalists and other bloggers to monitor and pick up.

    Another site uses its blog for editorial commentary to help establish the company as an expert resource in the metal fabricating community. Two more blogs that I write personally are designed to deliver event and product information to subscribers, hopefully encouraging them to visit my site and buy something.

  20. Nick Irons says:

    Darren,

    Is your presentation open to the public? I am an avid reader of your blog and would love to come and hear you in person. Where will you be presenting?

  21. Mrinal says:

    Darren – Our small company is primarily driven by bloggers who have shown us tremendous support. You will see many posts on our blog (and a “Delicious Bloggers” widget in the side bar on the right) that thanks them for this support. I am the blogger and the marketer.
    The key, in my humble opinion, is to be yourself and honest at all times – online and offline. If you are really into people and relationships offline, that comes across more easily through your blog language (read “body language”).
    That drives your content, that drives real connections and conversations (as a blogger or a marketer) – it is way more fun to be interested rather than interesting.
    Finally, at the end of the day, we are all marketers – at work or at home when we are convincing our family to lie back and watch that football game instead of running errands :)

  22. Darren,

    there is a lot of good advice on the other comments already. The only thing I want to add is: tell them stories.

    Facts and numbers are boring and people dont take them home. Stories, however, is something they will easily understand and remember.

  23. I would want something practical. I get sick of theoretical approaches to marketing and love practical applications and real world case studies.

  24. Yaro says:

    Hey Kumiko,

    Thanks for the props :-)

  25. What a timely post. I have been thinking about the marketing world and how it intersects with the blogging world a lot lately. I originally started my blog as a marketing tool for my vintage clothing site. But I never used it as a tool to just show my wares. I blogged about anything related to vintage and retro fashion. I guess it would be wise to point out that the old rules of marketing don’t necessarily apply anymore. Blog readers and writers are very savvy when it comes to hype. Blogs are more about community rather than selling you something, and if you try to make it anything other than that, you don’t have a blog, you have a static website.

  26. Darren Rowse says:

    all great stuff above people – lots of food for thought. Thanks to everyone for your ideas and opinions on this. I’m sure it’ll be a worthwhile discussion as a result and as promised I’ll post a summary of my talk after the presentation.

    Nick – sorry but it’s not a public thing. It was open to people to come to (paid) but I’m pretty sure it’s sold out now.

  27. Oops, I’m a bit late coming to this conversation, but I do have an opinion because in my work I have met lots of internet marketers both of the sleazy (sorry!) used car salesman type (the ones that hop from product to product hoping to make quick cash), and also the kind that are real creative visionaries who love to create products that solve problems and who value long term relationships with customers.

    Darren, as far as talking to them about blogging, I think the folks in the audience who will get the most from your talk will be the creative visionaries, not the annoying “internet market-y types”.

    When you started blogging, it was because you loved it, not because you thought you could make a quick buck. Your business sprung from your passion for blogging, so it is much easier for you to have an air of authenticity on your blog and keep a thriving community, even though your blog has advertisements and affiliate products.

    The challenge many internet marketers face is that they didn’t start blogging because they loved it and would do it for free anyway. They created their blogs with the purpose of selling products, and for them it’s an uphill battle to convince folks of their authenticity, which makes it challenging to cultivate a community. Also, they may not even realize that it’s important to have a community or an honest dialogue with readers in order to have business success.

    So one thing that might be interesting to talk about is the soul behind a blog and how a blogger who happens to be an internet marketer can find purpose, outside of making money, for his blog. Your own story would be a huge inspiration to them.

  28. Eber says:

    We get to your website to learn things and to get good and new ideas and we end up having to help you do your stuff??? Don’t you think youre getting a little too lazy?

  29. Miles Baker says:

    Hey Darren,

    I will actually be at this conference, and I look forward to hearing your speech!

    As an Internet marketer with a blog I would like to learn about additional ways to expose my blog, get more visitors/traffic, and build readership.

    I would be interested in any tools I could use to increase exposure, advanced techniques for getting my RSS feeds exposed. Perhaps the best places to publicize my feed to.

    Also, would like to know if social bookmarking is worth having on my site, or is it a waste of time.

    Anything of that nature. :)

    Any additional tricks or tips to getting people back to my blog or getting referrals would be great info. too!

  30. infonote says:

    Hi Darren,

    Just tell them that the same marketing tecniques that is used in the offline world applies to blogging.

    You still need to have:
    - Mission and vision statatement;
    - SWOT and PEST analysis
    - Satisfy a need
    - Kaizen (continuous improvement) approach.

    The only difference is that the barriers to entry in blogging are low. This means that there is more competition.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] This could be the beginning of a really good joke, but it isn’t. This is a question Darren asked over at ProBlogger since he is going to be speaking in Washington, DC about this very subject. [...]

  2. [...] As a strange hybrid of Internet Marketer and Blogger (amongst other things) I noted with interest Darrens worry about Talking to Internet Marketers about Blogging The ‘daunting’ feelings don’t come from being afraid of public speaking (I’ve been doing that for years) but more because to this point I’ve always found internet marketing ‘types’ to be slightly different (or extremely different) to blogging ‘types’. [...]