Posted December 28, 2010 9:32 am by with 6 comments

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This is not your typical Top Ten list of “Things to Look for in the Next Year or So!”. There are plenty of those out there and they all pretty much say the same thing. So rather than add to the noise I am going to come at 2011 from a different angle. To be honest, none of these are going to bowl you over. Why? Because most things worth paying attention to really aren’t that sexy. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Here is my “Top Ten Things Internet Marketers Should Concentrate on in 2011”.

1.Choose Strategy Over Activity – This one is a biggie these days. Many people are still rushing headlong into social media, location based services and more so they can say they are doing it. Often though they are doing it without an express purpose or goal. None of the online world works on the “If You Build It They Will Come” principle. Just being there could actually mean you are spending valuable resources and cycles on things that aren’t getting the job done. Create a strategy that makes sense and get involved only in activities based on strategy that will generate revenue. All the rest is just being busy.

2. Get Back to Basics – In the rush to stay ahead of the curve, many businesses have left the basics behind and in most cases incomplete. For Internet marketers (especially the smaller players and B to B marketers) that means making sure that the foundation for your online efforts is strong. Does your website look dated? Change it. Have you not taken the time to make sure you have the basic SEO elements (for example, keyword appropriate content matched with title tags matched with H1 keyword use) in place on each and every page of your site? This is the absolute bare minimum but it beats not doing anything at all. Have you put in basic key performance indicators (KPI’s) to measure your progress or lack there of? Do you check them regularly? You get the point. Basics are boring but they are essential. Just do them before you do anything else.

3. Spread the Wealth – Share your knowledge with others in the company whether they want to hear it or not. Why? Because more and more people are seeing that Internet marketing and social media are rare in that anyone in the company can participate. Many do and don’t even realize it. If you are educating the rest of the company on what they can do to help, you are enabling people to be involved and contribute to the success. People like that. Management likes that. Don’t horde your knowledge. Be an educator and see what others can do to help once they are empowered to do so.

4. Fire Your Consultant – This is something that many people should have done long ago. If things are not progressing with any outside or outsourced help you are paying then stop paying them. The Internet marketing industry as a whole is rife with experts, gurus, mavens and more. If there is no progress in a relationship you have with an outsourced provider then end the relationship. It’s that simple.

5. Hire A Consultant – If you are stuck and have reached the limit of your knowledge in a particular area of Internet marketing (face it, no one as in NO ONE, can know all there is to know about everything related to Internet marketing and social media) then it’s OK to seek outside help. Find someone who is willing to work with you within your current constraints but is then willing to push you beyond those constraints if it will help you succeed. You may cycle through several consultants before you find the right fit. That’s OK. When you make this step though don’t think you deserve anything for free or that experience doesn’t carry value. Many consultants are not cheap and they shouldn’t be. In this area, the expression ‘you get what you pay for’ is a very real axiom so be careful and don’t be cheap!

6. Listen More, Talk Less – We are in an industry that has everyone out in the middle of the town square yelling at the top of their lungs in order to be heard. Don’t join the fray. Sit back and listen for helpful information. Turn your bullshit filter on high and make sure you are only letting in the information that will move you forward. If you try to take it all in you will waste time, money and more and get little or nothing in return. Use tools like Google Alerts or Trackur (shameless plug alert!) to filter through the noise.

Listening is also about knowing what the competition is doing, what people are saying about your company online, what prospects are really looking for. Remember that we are given one mouth and two ears so use them in the same proportion (for those who have a tough time with math that just means listen twice as much as you talk).

7. Don’t Assume – This goes back to strategy and is important in all areas of your Internet marketing efforts. Most people work on the assumption that if something is being written about then everyone must be using it. This could not be further from the truth especially in the Internet space. Make sure that the techniques and tools you are going to consider have a real chance of connecting with your customers and prospects. If not why in the world would you even consider them? Another old axiom that is SO true in the Internet space is “If you assume, you will make an ASS out of U and ME” (thank you Felix Unger).

8. Be A Learner – Never has it been more important to be a “life long learner” than it is today. In the Internet marketing space there are no ‘set it and forget it’ options. Things change rapidly and it is hard to keep up. Budget for and invest in education regarding Internet marketing and social media. If you are not learning everyday in this space then you are falling behind much faster than you could ever imagine.

9. Effective Trumps Cool – Based on what industry you work in and many other variables like resource availability, you may have to come to the understanding that what is deemed to be cool doesn’t impact your business at all so it’s not something to consider. It’s no fun making practical decisions that keep you from playing with the cool kids but at the end of the day wouldn’t you rather have the respect of your colleagues, a potential raise, job security and more over an ‘atta boy!’ by some industry flunkie whose ‘followers’ consist of 95% spammers and automated follows? Not everyone can be an Internet marketing star and really there are only a select few worth listening to anyway. Be effective rather than be cool. But hey, if you can do both then more power to you!

10. Avoid Shiny Objects – One thing that will happen in 2011 is that there will be Silicon Valley press folks drooling over some new technology or service that comes out in January and they will need to tell you just how game changing it is. Truth be told, many of these ‘cool’ things are used by the tech insiders and that’s it. They don’t have mass market appeal and never will. The technology insider press is very incestuous and self-serving (read: self-important) and while it’s tempting to think that what they are talking about could be ‘the thing’, most times it’s not. In fact, by the time you have worked out the plan to get that latest trinket into your system they have moved on, hyped something else and left that ‘next greatest thing’ on the Internet marketing scrap heap. They aren’t much different than that kid on Christmas morning who plays with the cool toy for 5 minutes then complains that they need another cool toy. Maybe we should take a cue from the little kids and play with the box instead. It’s not as cool but it does more!

So there it is. If you made it this far, congratulations. What would you add or take away from this? Agree or disagree? Thanks for playing along.

  • Sometimes I swear that we must have a telepathic connection (or at least drink the same coffee).

    Each of these are important points to make a part of marketing plans in 2011, and a couple that really stand out for me are as follows:

    – Number one is something I stress at great length to clients.

    – Number six is well aligned with a question I posed just hours ago on my blog, and that is “Will Your Social Media Noise Withstand 2011 Filtering?” I believe that, just as in past years, you must become “filtered in” and avoid being “filtered out”. In 2011, it will be more important than ever.

    – Number nine is underestimated and very true. People often confuse efforts with results, at the cost of great waste.

    • @Mark – lol – I just say what’s on my mind and hope someone is listening! I hope that basic becomes the theme of Internet marketing especially for the SMB market. We tend to complicate things and forget how to block and tackle. Ever watch a football team that sucks at tackling? They lose…..a lot. Maybe marketers will slow down but I doubt it. It’s not fashionable to be steady and that’s going to bite many folks in the keester sooner than later.

      • RE: “I just say what’s on my mind and hope someone is listening!” Agreed! Although the proof is statistically significant, it is that sort of humble approach to “expertise” that would serve many of today’s marketers well.

        Noise is the biggest challenge, and being filtered out should be a real concern to businesses of all sizes. I see it in everything from blogs to Twitter. The social media gold rush hit a new high in the past couple years, and a bunch of followers does not translate into value.

        I wrote about it in popular blog posts, and even in one of my books, but you cannot undo what people have been told for decades. They were told that volume is the key, but they get it backward. The volume comes from being awesome, and awesomeness does not come from volume.

        Much of today’s online marketing is approached as if it is something new. Sure, the tools are new-ish, but it is still about people. Yes, people are what makes marketing work, just as it was more than ten years ago when I met my wife at the long-forgotten Yahoo! Groups. One successful company merger and three kids later, I still think there are people in there, somewhere, who make it all valuable.

        It seems that many marketers neglect the value of people in their marketing and focus on irrelevant numbers. People are the ones who make decisions to get up off their wallet and whip out the money. When marketers lose sight of those people, it is just noise.

  • Cynthia

    Excellent list and anyone who quotes Felix Unger gets my vote.

    Shiny Objects – check.
    Strategy over Activity – double check. As a matter of fact, that was top on my list of Marketing New Year’s Resolutions. Along with practicing what I preach! LOL.

    • Oh you had to bring the practice what you preach stuff into this 🙂

      The Odd Couple will always be my second favorite sitcom after Seinfeld. Felix and Oscar were hilarious (In front of a live audience. The first season, not so much.)

  • Thank you for point #2 — Focus on the basics…so few people are actually optimizing their on-site tags and content on a regular basis. Most businesses I talk to want to jump into social media even though they have a website from 2004.