Sunday, March 8, 2009

Content-Based Marketing... Is content enough?

Whether we are discussing online audience-building or traditional marketing channels like print media or television, the balance between content and presentation can be the difference between pennies-in-the-pocket and empty pockets.

"Content drives traffic to a Web site, helping you to build your audience, but only if that content is presented in ways that search engines can understand" - Richard Seltzer

You have probably heard the sales mantra before: "Our product sells itself". What is really meant by this phrase is simple; the qualities of the product are so well-catered to the target market that there is like a cinderella-shoes-fits-perfectly relatinship. In other words. What the customer wants, the product provides.

But tell me this, if I was to take your product and hide it in a locked warehouse with no street access, no windows and, for a bit of fun, let's say no keys to "unlock" these doors. Even if your product was so gifted as to craft its own compelling integrated marketing campaign; fashion a clever and balanced marketing-mix strategy; or, mount a wicked and naughty Richard Branson-esque PR stunt involving low-cut lashing-ladies; your product would still be "Dead and Gone" to borrow a song title from TI & Justin Timberlake.

So your product sells itself does it? Well if your product is yelling at the top its lungs in the middle of the Arizona desert, is anyone going to hear it? The answer is a big fat "NO!"

If a tree falls in the woods, does anyone hear it? Good question, right? Not so much. The tree may well have not even existed. Forget about the tree. Forget about the woods. Forget about quality content that will sell itself. Nothing sells itself. You need to be able to "unlock the warehouse" so to speak. In web-terms, Internet Evangelist Richard Seltzer makes a very helpful assertion.

Your content must be "presented in ways that search engines can understand". Webbers refer to "spiders" that crawl the web for info to help organise and rank content for search engines. So to continue to run with this theme, if you don't leave out some flies or know the culinary delights of the arachnid, there will be no dinner for the spider and no ranking and search results for you. Your quality content will remain locked in the detached warehouse where not even the spiders can find it.

Non Web-based Marketing

Essentially, the same can be said about regular marketing channels like print and television. Great content or a great product is integral. But this is only potential power. I seem to be obsessed with the bottled water industry of late ( but for good reason. This industry serves as a valuable reference for the power of marketing. The truth is, you could tip out five bottles of water into plastic cups and have a group of individuals taste and discuss. Perhaps there will be a bottled water fanatic whose finely tuned palate will be able to discern between the clear and flavourless line up. But chances are the differences in taste are negligible.

My point? As much as we could like to consider ourselves immune to brand marketing, branding is a powerful thing. Even if we were informed that two products were produced in the same warehouse. We are loyal to what we know and trust.

Quality content or a quality product is unfortunately not enough. Sure it's potential power. But you need more. You need to study the spider and his culinary habits. The good news? The spider is always hungry.


Greg said...

so what exactly is this saying.....we need more spiders?

David Bakunowicz said...

Hi Greg,

These "Spiders" I was referring to are programs that search for material (ie. content presented in a particular way) on your web page.

We don't so much need more spiders as much as we need to know their "appetite".

In reference to a web page, to make your website palatable for a "spider" you need to include your specific content in text rather than in pictures (picture content cannot be read as such).

Additionally, you will often read about "keywords" in SEO (search engine optimisation) extracts. These words should capture your content succinctly and exist in the form of titles- both in visual as well html "< t i t l e >" form.

I am by no mean a SEO specialist (although I have been learning a lot of late). I recommend checking out:


These are just a couple of my favourites.

Essentially it comes down to connecting your "content" with your target market. The spider serves as the "delivery vehicle" taking your product to your target market.

I hope this is helpful.

To answer you question simply: No, we don't need more spiders. We just need to know their eating habits.