November 8, 2010

The Iron Law of Online Marketing: Why Your Ads (Almost Always) Can’t Be Your Competitive Advantage

There is only one interesting way to make money, in any field: develop and exploit a durable competitive advantage.1 Berkshire Hathaway wins because they are the buyer of first resort for good businesses that want to sell, and they can get cheap capital through superior underwriting; Facebook wins because to achieve parity with them, you have to recreate a 500 million-node social graph; the corner bodega turns a profit because that particular corner has a bodega and a half’s worth of foot traffic. In every one of these cases, it’s theoretically possible to compete with the incumbent, but there’s a better ROI in just letting them dominate the industry.

One thing these companies have in common is that their competitive advantage applies to the product or the process—either they can make the same thing for less money, or they can make something nobody else can make. What they don’t rely on is superior advertising. With good reason:

In the long term, the best advertising—the best creative, the best placement—will be sold to the high bidder. And the high bidder is whoever’s competitive advantage lets them earn more from a given customer. Read the rest of this entry »

September 11, 2009

The Typo Test: Do Typos Ruin Online Copy? I’m Going to Find Out

There are two Typo Instincts.

On the one hand: Who cares about a single typo? If someone can’t spell (or run spellcheck), does that really mean they can’t do their job?

On the other hand: Who wants to work with someone who can’t even bother double-checking their first impressions?

I don’t know for sure if typos ruin online sales pitches, but I have a theory, and I’m going to test it.

Read the rest of this entry »

August 26, 2009

Why Not SEO And…

I advocate SEO for the generally sensible reason that I do a lot of it. And the reason I end up doing a lot of it is that it works. But search engine optimization works best when it’s combined with other kinds of marketing. Not to reprise yesterday’s post too slavishly, but: why not try SEO and…

  • Pay per click advertising.
  • Banner ads.
  • Social media marketing.
  • Traditional Media
  • PR
  • No new marketing spending
  • Nothing else

Read the rest of this entry »

August 25, 2009

Why SEO and Not…

Advertising is a competitive business. Budgets are tight, and still tightening. When I persuade someone to use search engine optimization as a strategy, I have to persuade them to use SEO instead of:

  • Pay per click advertising.
  • Banner ads.
  • Social media marketing.
  • Traditional Media
  • PR
  • Cash under a mattress
  • Shotguns next to the canned goods under a mattress that doubles as an all-weather escape raft / emergency shelter.

Read the rest of this entry »