This post was written by the Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger. Curious? So are we!
There are many less-respectable professions than internet marketing, but even today I get a glare—“so you’re one of those guys”—when I’m introduced to someone for the first time.
For many, the word “marketing” conjures images of people whose sole job is to convince others to spend money they don’t have on products they don’t need, using every tactic possible—no matter how sneaky. The business owners I speak to all the time consciously ignore all forms of marketing because of this.
But I’m here to tell you that you can be a marketer without being a die-hard, arrogant salesman, and the secret is simple: you just need to know where the lines are.
Silence or the megaphone?
You or your product may be the very best, most valuable product in the marketplace, but if you sit in the corner in silence, no-one will ever know your name. On the flip side, if you stand in that corner on a box, and scream how awesome you are into a megaphone, everyone will remember you—but as that irritable person who just wouldn’t shut up!
The secret here is engagement. Be ready to start or join a conversation, and be prepared to listen as much as you contribute. Engagement is a two-way street, and it requires you to get out of your cave not just for face-to-face conversations, but in all your forms of marketing communication. Your customers have a voice. Seek it out, listen, and show you care.
The moral: engage, engage, engage!
Over-deliverer or over-promiser?
Do you write, “This product is going to make you a billionaire!” or “I’m going to share with you all my secrets to becoming a six-figure blogger”? These are two very different approaches to tag lines that I’m sure you’ve seen, and it’s not hard to guess which is more credible in most peoples’ eyes.
When it comes to taglines and copy, it’s very easy to overstep the mark. You’re told time and time again to focus on benefits, not features, and it’s so attractive to launch into the most outrageous, fantastical benefit you can—without thinking about whether it has any credibility, or your product can deliver on the promise.
Keep your messaging benefit-focused, but don’t claim to be able to better the human plight forever—unless you’re convinced your product actually does this. Focus on the benefit for the specific problem your product solves, and you’ll be set.
The moral: promise something great—and deliver.
Humble or egoistical?
A company that I believe has walked very close to the line when it comes to being confident in their product, but not egotistical, is Apple. They were brave with their Mac vs. PC campaign, and initially they focused on what the Mac could do that the PC couldn’t—and it was a great success. Over time, as it became harder to find new points of difference, their approach did devolve into an all-out attack on the PC, but they backed off that tactic pretty quickly.
When looking at the brand you project, as well as your products, if you can instill confidence, it can give you credibility. Arrogance will only project insecurities. Darren and Brian Clarke http://www.copyblogger.com/ are two people who are perfect examples of this philosophy in action.
The moral: be confident, but not arrogant.
Marketer or con artist?
In my mind, the difference between a marketer and a con artist is honesty. If you’re being told that the key to marketing success is to lie to your customers or leads, then you’ve crossed a line—it’s as simple as that. There are also laws designed to protect consumers against exactly that kind of behavior.
The moral: honesty is the best policy.
Friends or profit resources?
If you believe that your customers are your friends, you’ll look at what you do as a gift to the world, nothing more. And if that’s truly what you want to do, then no one will question you. The other extreme is to see people purely as resources from which to extract as much cash as you can; you judge their value by how deep their pockets are.
If you want to run a business, you need to be somewhere in the middle of this continuum. Again, it comes down to solving a problem for someone, and more importantly, solving a problem they’re willing to pay for.
There’s nothing wrong with asking people for something you value—money—in exchange for something they value—your product. It’s been happening for a while, and we’re doing okay so far.
The moral: ot’s okay to ask for money, but not to bleed them dry.
Does it feel wrong?
I have a very close network of people who act as my arrogant-web-marketing-o-meter. I seek them out when something I’m planning feels a little wrong. Just the fact that I feel I need a second opinion is usually warning enough, and in most cases, my suspicions are confirmed by a group of people I trust. Because the reality is, if it feels wrong, it probably is.
The moral: go with your gut feel for what’s appropriate.
Don’t cross the line
In my history I’ve done things that pushed the envelope on every single one of these points. Some I regret, some I don’t, but by doing this I’ve been able to more effectively understand the balancing act that exists between being a marketer and being nothing more than an arrogant salesman.
It’s something that you’ll only really understand over time as you conduct marketing yourself, but all I ask is that you don’t let the worst cast scenario prevent you from using online marketing to help your blog or your business grow.
Stay tuned from most posts by the secretive Web Marketing Ninja—a professional online marketer for a major web brand, who’s sharing his tips undercover here at ProBlogger.