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Clarity Lab Issue 89 – No Shout About It
I’m sorry for the radio silence. I’m a one man show and there are times when I need to focus all the lasers on a part of my business that…needs all the lasers for a little while.
I’ve been lasering for many weeks and can take a break for a moment to write you.
And I’ve missed writing to you! I hope all is going well for you over there.
Recently I read a great post by Rand Fishkin recently about how major features in the marketing landscape are changing, and not in a good way.
The gist of Rand’s point is this: what used to work isn’t working anymore and the incentives for people to publish their own content on their own sites are disappearing.
Google is taking over the first page of organic search results with ads, answer boxes, featured content boxes, “people also ask” boxes, and several other things that are taking up almost all of the real estate on the first page of search results.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they start adding boxes that show cute photos of dogs and cats just to take up more space and keep people on the first page longer. They want to own that first page because that’s where the money is, and they don’t care about our need to get organic traffic.
“That’s fine,” you think. “I’ll just use social media channels to get the word out about my work.” Well…that used to work, but isn’t working anymore. Every single social media platform out there will now hide any post with a link to an external site, especially links you post about a new blog post, podcast, or offer you have for sale on your site.
“What about putting links in your bio on Instagram and saying ‘Link is in the bio’?” Nope. That won’t work either. If you type “link is in bio” or any derivation of that phrase, your post will get buried. Why? Social media companies want to keep people on their sites because that’s where the ads are, which is where the money is for the social media companies.
Okay fine but what about paid ads? Rand doesn’t bring this aspect up in his post, but…ads aren’t working like they used to. The war between Apple and Facebook has rendered Facebook ads almost entirely not worth it for smaller laptop businesses. Bigger businesses who can spend $100,000 on ads each month will be fine. Smaller businesses with smaller ad budgets are seeing, over the last 5 months, that Facebook ads aren’t working like they used to, even when you spend twice as much on ads as you used to.
Google Ads still have hope, but Google is moving towards only allowing artificial intelligence controlled ad campaigns in the next 6 months, as opposed to letting you customize everything about your ads and what keywords they’re targeting. Why? Because they want more money. So much for not being evil, Google.
The bottom line: every channel we used to use for marketing is either not working at all or not working nearly as well as it did just a few years ago.
This begs the question: In an environment controlled by a small handful of tech companies that don’t want to keep people on their properties at all costs, what is going to work moving forward in terms of marketing? How the hell are we supposed to get the word out about our work, our free content, and our paid products, services, and events?
I mean, do we need to start printing paper flyers and have them delivered by raven to people’s physical, snail mail mailboxes at their house?
Here’s some things that might work moving forward:
1. Play the game. Create original content and share the actual content on social media platforms without linking off to your site. Build an audience on their platforms. People will Google your site if they really like your work. Once on your site, your goal is to get people on your email list where you can build a much better relationship with them.
This is how Jack Butcher grew a million dollar a year business over the last year from posting his work on Twitter. (Here’s a great, free PDF on how he did that.)
And my friend Ryan Lex thinks it will still work to build an audience on social media sites (without promoting the stuff you’re trying to sell), and then running ad campaigns just to your followers on that platform.
2. Focus more on building your email list. Then build relationships with your email audience by helping them with free content. Once in a while promote something for sale or make commissions by promoting products that you can earn affiliate commissions from. Email marketing isn’t going anywhere. The challenge is now around how to build a sizeable email list given the challenges mentioned above around getting the word out about what you’re doing.
3. OPP…Other People’s Platforms. (If you thought of another OPP, I know you’re Gen X like me.) This is guest posting on other people’s channels or platforms.
Create guest blog posts or show up and be interviewed on other people’s podcasts or youtube channels that have large followings of people in your market. This is still working and will likely continue to work into the future.
You connect with people who’ve built large audiences, provide some free help to their audience, and you get to link to your site or verbally tell people how to get to your site. The goal is to get people onto your own email list from other people’s audiences.
In the end, coming back to the fundamental components of creating a successful business you can run from your laptop will still matter:
- Finding a market of people with a problem you can help them solve; a market of people willing to spend enough money to solve that problem for you to build a sustainable business.
- Aligning what you have to sell with a large enough demand in the market.
- Creating free and paid content that can help the people in your market get results they want.
- Having well-crafted conversion copywriting in the places that matter, like landing/opt-in pages, sales pages, or emails used when launching a product or service.
It’s getting harder to get the word out about our products and services, but remember, even a small, dedicated audience who knows, likes, and trusts you can be enough. The size of an audience like that is well below 1% of all the people on a given social media network, and far less than 1% of the people in any given country. When you round off the percentage your audience actually is of larger groups like that, it’s pretty much 0% of anything. But 0% in this case is enough.
And if you think I somehow have an easier time getting the word out about my work or this newsletter, think again. I’m right in the trenches with you.
On that note, if you enjoy my newsletters and know anyone who might also enjoy them, I’d be ever so grateful if you could forward them the link to this page.
Hope the rest of your week goes swimmingly!