Up Against the Walls — Using your head to succeed in marketing

I’m not sure where I saw this video, but it left a permanent impression in my memory. Two burglars are holding up a corner store at gunpoint. The clerk instinctively pushes a button and protective doors and screens fall swiftly to protect him and the cash machine. The alarm sound is unbearable. The burglars are caught completely off guard. One bangs against the door several times with no success; apparently, he assumed the door was locked from the outside. The other pauses to think and, coming to his senses, halts his partner’s futile thrashing and opens the door simply by pulling the handle. It was really funny. 🙂

As marketers we sometimes act like that burglar, banging against the door out of fear and habit. We don’t spend any time researching our target market or carefully preparing an offer that is appealing. We simply try the easiest and most annoying thing first: force out mediocre content on anybody we can get a hold of. As long as spamming yields some results and can be automated people will keep doing it. But I think it is far more beneficial (effort/reward) to just open the door by the handle; i.e. understand what people want and give it to them. (On the other hand, the more lazy marketers there are, the more rewards remain for us hard working ones. 😉 So maybe I shouldn’t be complaining!)

Let me share a simple plan I use to achieve any goal I set for my companies or myself. (Note: you need to have a goal first!)

  1. Study the winners in the market. For example, if you want to be a top Sphinner, monitor the activities of Lyndon, Chris Windfield, Maki, Andy and other top dogs on Sphinn. What do they do? What stories do they submit/vote on? What titles and descriptions do they use?

  2. Find common traits. For example, they submit and vote only on quality content, they comment and submit other bloggers’ posts, not just their own.

  3. Study the market. What do people want? In this example, make a list of all the emerging stories, group them and see which ones became hot first.

  4. Find common traits. For example, the titles used, the descriptions, the value proposition.

  5. Brainstorm similar value propositions. Attack similar problems or offer similar values from different angles/perspectives. The idea is to identify your opportunity.

  6. Be creative and offer unique value. Your brand has to be tightly associated with your value proposition. If you only regurgitate other people’s content or ideas, you might get known but it will be hard to build a strong brand this way.

  7. If one idea or concept doesn’t work, try another. Failing is part of the learning process.

Do you have a formula? Please share it in the comments.

7 replies
  1. Kate
    Kate says:

    Great post! I agree that studying those that lead the pack is absolutely essential. It is only when you have mastered the rules that you can break them!

    Oh, and the scenario at the top of the article reminds me of a fantastic scene from the movie, Snatch.

  2. Hamlet Batista
    Hamlet Batista says:

    Thanks for your comment, Kate.

    Oh, and the scenario at the top of the article reminds me of a fantastic scene from the movie, Snatch.

    I think I haven't seen that movie, but thanks for sharing!

  3. David Hopkins
    David Hopkins says:

    One addition I would make, particularly if you don't have much budget is to start small to see if people are interested in what you offer. If you start big and realise that what you want to do is not viable you will likely crumble; whereas if you start small you may be able to adapt your model or cut your losses.


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