Halloween Guerrilla Marketing

Halloween Pumpkin CandlesDozens (hundreds) of kids will be lining up on your doorstep tonight. And on the doorsteps of your friends, co-workers and extended family members.

Picture This: Slips of paper, labels, stickers or printable business cards tucked into treat bags. Halloween Puzzles, Word Finds, Coloring Pages. Colorful, eyecatching for kids and parents. Whatever is used as a bag stuffer, printed somewhere is: “Happy Halloween from www.SuperAff.com“.

Preparation For Next Year: Scope out the massive haunted house exhibits in your area tonight. Note their addresses. About a month before next Halloween, approach them and ask if you can sponsor the exhibit in some way in exchange for your website business cards (or Halloween flyer, etc.) inserted in the treat bags they give away that night. They have *ridiculous amounts* of traffic every year.

Grasping The Concept Of Online Targeted Advertising

Knowing your audience is crucial in the online world of money making. Traditionally that meant real world marketers focused on demographics such as:

  • What is the age group? Male or Female? Income bracket? How many kids? Home owners or renters? Working or retired? yada yada.

Companies spent a lot of money to find out statistically what group their product appealed to and experienced greater success with. Those numbers can play a part in successful branding online (think: banner imping and text links), but I propose looking at things a little differently for monetizing your web properties:

  • Who’s visiting your blog or website? How are they finding you? Why are they coming back? What are they looking for? What need are you fulfilling?

I’m not saying forget about age, sex, income brackets. But let your primary focus be to drill down and understand what the intent or motivation is of your visitors when they choose to visit your website.

Here’s a theoretical blog with monetization examples from the two different perspectives:

Blog Topic: Stay At Home Moms Resource & Discussion

Demographics: Female, 24 years old – 45 years old, college education, household annual income $75,000+, two children (preschoolers), home owner, credit card debt.

I polled my visitors and studied the above numbers then carefully picked a variety of advertising and affiliate products to display on my blog. An assumption of a few good picks that would fit with those demographics would be:

  • Online cosmetic shopping, designer handbag coupon codes, mortgage offers, credit card deals, online toy catalogs, shoe shopping, candle sales, discount perfume.

Women in that demographic bracket buy those things all the time. They have mortgages. Credit cards. Wear clothes and makeup. Light candles. So it makes sense that they would visit my SAHM blog, see the ads for those things, and happily click thru and buy buy buy. That’s how targeted advertising works online…errr…Right?

Looking at the other perspective:

Visitors Intent: The motivation for women to visit this blog daily is to share ideas, tips, fellowship with other women in their situation. Discussion of raising happy and well adjusted children, learning new ways to run a home productively, and somehow be organized and effective with days that are hectic and full.

If I focused on the intent of my visitors and readers, the monetization methods chosen would be a whole lot different than the first example. I’d realize that women are coming to my blog for a variety of reasons, but mainly they’re visiting because they want to enhance their life (and their family’s) as a SAHM. They want ideas and discussion that pertain to being an effective, fulfilled, SAHM. What can I present to them, what products will provide solutions to their problems, what services will make their lives easier, what items will help them stay on track and be successful in their chosen lifestyle?

The monetization methods might be:

  • Products and services that *WOW* make a difference or provide a way that makes things easier for them at home (I’m not talking about a Kitchen Aid people), a fantastic deluxe planner that will help keep their lives organized, a set of DVDs about yoga for moms and tots (to tighten up the tummy and have bonding time with mom & tot), a special report on 101 ways to use a crackberry for everything from meal planning to grocery shopping to keeping track of the soccer schedule (including aff links to the crackberry).

Looking at the two different angles when approaching monetization methods, what are the visitors going to “click into” immediately and be tempted by the benefits? What’s going to make them pause for 5 seconds and imagine that product in their lives? Which focus will provide results? The visitor demographics or the visitor intent? Test and see.

Placing targeted ads on a blog or website does not mean: Women = Perfume, Shoes, Cosmetics, Handbags, Mortgage Offers, Credit Card Deals.

Placing targeted ads on your blog or website does mean: Targeting the intent of your visitors.

The easiest intent to convert to sales? Shopping traffic. But that traffic is getting a whole lot harder (and expensive) to find. If you want to successfully monetize “info seekers” or “blog readers”, find products and solutions that are tempting and hard to say no to for the particular motivation of your visitors. They’re subscribing and reading your posts for a reason. Find out why and model your monetization methods around that.

PS: If you respond to this post with “Well, Duhhh”, check out the monetization methods on 90% of blogs–grasping the concept of targeted advertising doesn’t come easy.

You’re Not Creating New Attention, You’re Stealing It

Ok maybe ‘Stealing’ is kinda harsh, but you’re definitely taking it from somewhere. When trying to come up with ways to develop hooky content and sites, it’s helpful to realize that you’re not pulling traffic and attention out of thin air. You’re actually trying to take someone’s attention from one website and directing it to your website.

Web surfers have a finite amount of time on the web:

Web Surfers Attention

What you’re trying to do is squeeze your site into their web surfing time:

Web Surfers Attention Including Your Site

What can you do on your websites that will seduce a visitor into shaving off the time they spend elsewhere and direct that time and attention to yours?

When I look at my stats and see thousands of visitors reaching a page they found in a search engine, I know there’s a website or two that I took that traffic from. The better my page is–the higher the chance that searcher stopped digging through the SERPs and stuck to my site.

When I see blog subscriptions rising and email subscriptions growing–I know that visitors will be returning to my website and spending less time on another.

Every time a page of mine is Stumbled, I just raised the bar for competitors to compete with.

That’s what being hooky is all about. Stealing, attracting and retaining attention.

Your Content Has To Have A Hook

The past couple days I’ve been rumbling around the net marketing world reading blog posts, reading forum threads, listening to podcasts and recalling the overall message that I heard when I was new to the “Let’s Make Money Online” world.

As a newbie, there are two things you have to remember:

1. Everyone who’s selling you something wants you to think you can do it. That all you have to do is put time in, whip up some content, upload affiliate links or adsense, and you’re golden.

2. Most everyone is selling you something. Whether that’s a product or themselves or building their reputation.

Here’s the truth:

At one time message #1 was valid. All you did have to do was put in time, c&p some affiliate product links & descriptions, get some links (through your friends or your own network, etc.), and you were golden. You too could be a Super Affiliate!

The first years were like that, but today–if you’re not already established–that’s not the case. The truth is to be a successful money maker online today, you have to have a few things going for you:

1. A domain that’s been around a few years (and not flagged as spam by an engine).
2. A solid network of friends that can help with the inbound links to generate buzz and establish you (or your site) with links.

If you don’t have those two things, you have to have:

3. A hook.

That’s something that I haven’t seen talked much about by the pros and the gurus. It seems today everyone is setting themselves up to be consultants or gurus whose sole purpose in life is to see you succeed. And they’ve got the ebooks and the products and the tips and the secrets to sell you that give you what you want to hear.

But no one is talking about the hook. They talk about content, good content, sometimes. But good content is relative (what’s good to you is only so-so to someone else). And even good content isn’t going to get you anywhere. No one links to good content, and links are the one thing that you HAVE TO HAVE to see any success online (unless you want to pay for traffic).

There are song writers and producers that make jillions of dollars in the music industry who are experts in developing music and songs that are ‘hooky’. They are the Go To people in the industry that shoot singers and rock bands to the stratospheres of success. Their sole mission is to take a song and adjust it until it flat out rocks so the masses glob onto it and buy the song and buy ‘into’ the singer or rock band. An example is Mutt Lange, he’s a guru in the music industry.

A hook in music is:

a musical idea, a passage or phrase, that is believed to be appealing and make the song stand out; it is “meant to catch the ear of the listener” (Covach 2005, p.71). This term generally applies to popular music, especially rock music.

As a developer of content, you *must* catch the attention and interest of the visitor.

In our lingo, linkbait could be an example of a hook. But linkbait gets you attention for one thing (or page) rather than the site as a whole. An example of linkbait is providing a free tool. Yes you’ll get links, but the attention is all directed to that tool or that page. Those links will help the entire domain rise in the SERPs, but if the rest of the site has no hook to it, you’ll have to keep on developing new hooks or new tools to keep accumulating links and new traffic.

That’s why Digg traffic isn’t so hot to trot anymore. Webmasters who have been dugg realize the traffic assaults that one page–but it doesn’t move around the rest of the site over a period of time. Not many subscribers, not many clicks, not many sales. It’s a hit and run sorta deal.

No matter how focused you are and how hard you work–Today, if you don’t have aged domains or a ‘connected’ network of people/websites to work with, your content has to be hooky.

Your content, your site theme and subject, has to have a hook that visitors buy into and can’t shake off. They want to subscribe to it. They want to stumble it, They want to link to it. And if it’s a ‘persona’ you’re developing–you want your visitors to glob onto and ‘buy into’ you. They will be your evangelists and your champions.

So How Can You Hook Up Your Content?

I don’t know. I don’t think being a ‘Hook Expert’ is something you can learn from someone or buy. I don’t think it’s any one thing. You can create ‘Hook Pages’ like controversial posts or providing free tools or a massive reference list that is useful, but the site as a whole?

I’m looking at one of my ‘newer’ sites that hasn’t gone anywhere since I started it. I know it’s got the makings of being a money maker and had complete faith in it. But over time it’s been a ghost town and I realized that although the concept behind it is a keeper, the presentation or the way the site is being developed has no hook to it. There’s nothing exciting or linkable about it. There’s no hook.

Out of nowhere the site was stumbled and although I am enjoying thousands of visitors hitting the site, I’m kinda disappointed I didn’t get a chance to hook the place up first. Without a hook, the site has big holes that won’t retain the juicy Stumble traffic.

Another newer site of mine is hooky and is enjoying attention and links and subscribers and all that good stuff–but that comes from instinct. What I knew would work with a certain crowd and how it was presented.

How To Be Hooky? Know your market. Stand out from the crowd. Trust your instincts. Be ‘cool’ in some way. Just ‘good content’ doesn’t cut it anymore, at least not if you’re new with an unestablished site.

Hey, Is Two Years In Your Plan?

Print and Pin: How to: Build an Affiliate Site You Can Sell for $1M.

I think the quick cash methods, the building for serps plan, the MFA sites, the thin affiliate sites…they can be good starts for the beginner because there are plenty of net-life-lessons involved. Examples:

Serps crashes
Adsense clicks dropping in value
Click rate drops (ad blindness)
Adwords costs getting pricier/more competitive
Duplicate content burns
Crappy converting merchants
Burns from the all-eggs-in-one-basket thing

I also think the idea of building a million dollar website can be poo-poo’d by those who haven’t built their net muscles up a bit. But if you keep at it long enough–at some point, you do learn the lessons the quickies above have to offer you. And from the people getting rich off of selling the it’s-so-easy-dream to you.

When you get to the point that you can’t ignore those lessons, one of two things will happen. You either walk away from it all–discouraged–or you turn your attention to higher ground. And you realize the experiences you gained just might provide you with enough talent/knowledge/assets to really build something special.

Is it too late to start building a full time income online? (bolding mine)

Many people feel that all the good ideas are taken or that they are earning just a fraction of what is needed to make a full time income online and it is natural to look inwards at times and question your own commitment and ability to come out the other side of a long road, and it is a long road. Granted there are large success stories that have surged in a short period of time but aside from them, the majority of webmasters should be prepared for a 12-24 month investment before seeing good financial rewards from their website or blog.

This year continues to be strong for me. Key focus points of mine: Patience, Consistency, Focus, Discipline. I’m not even thinking about cash right now. The driving force is all about creating net spaces that visitors want to return to, find value in and talk about. Thankfully, I have a little bit of thin stuff from my beginner days that still churn & are funding the adventure ;).

ETA:

Eeeps, forgot to include: Is Your Site Defensible? A 10 Point Quiz

  • 1-3 yes’s: You’re fucked. Probably better and easier to start a new Web site that has a more defensible idea behind it than to fix the old site. In the meantime the old site can sit as an (indefensible) passive revenue stream. (It may also be a good candidate to unload at Sitepoint.)
  • 4-6 yes’s: Your site is like most quality Web sites–you have some defensible traits, but still a Google penalty and Adsense booting (or equivalent) would likely cut your earnings by a very high percentage. Even most quality Web sites are fairly vulnerable.
  • 7-10 yes’s: Congratulations, you don’t just have a Web site, you have a real, saleable business.

BootMoney

I remember sending some link love to Shoemoney when he had something like 5 bloglines subs (imagine that!), so what the hey–let’s send a little love to Bootmoney too. Hot damn I can’t stop laughing!

Nice way to start the week ;). Have a good one!