Posted November 18, 2011 12:30 am by with 6 comments

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Earnest Hemingway once wrote a complete, compelling story in just six words:
“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

A great museum’s curation is defined not only what’s inside, but what’s also left out.

A solution should be as simple as possible, and no simpler.

20% of the work gets 80% of the results.

The Problem With Marketers Marketing Themselves

I’ve been taking a close look at our industry these past few months. As I looked at Ontolo’s marketing tools, the marketing tools of our competitors, and the marketing content that’s pumped out on a daily basis, I began to notice something peculiar…

As you know, value is interpreted, in part, by the difficulty of the task. The more difficult the task, often, the more valuable it is to get the task done.

Online marketers are in an interesting position: The easier it is to market your business online, the less they get paid. Compared to other marketing practices, content costs (blogging, etc) are significantly lower to produce. The pervading mentality seems to be “Why not create inexpensive content that makes marketing look more difficult and, thereby, allow us to charge more for our work?”

I don’t think this is a conscious deception, that’s not what I’m saying. But I am saying that the nature of the online marketing ecosystem promotes this kind of mentality.

And I think that’s a terrible disservice to a lot of businesses, including, probably, yours. I’m not saying that expertise isn’t valuable – it is – but I am suggesting that it’s unnecessary, most of the time, for most businesses. I’m suggesting that doing a great job marketing your business is not as hard as many experts might lead you to believe.

The Simple Solution for Great Marketing

Following a Wolfgang Puck recipe doesn’t make you Wolfgang Puck, but it certainly makes a tasty meal. Do you want to be Wolfgang Puck, or do you want a good meal?

We’ve discovered at Ontolo that there is actually a very simple recipe that extends to every single marketing practice. You might not be the best marketer in the world, but you’ll regularly execute successful marketing campaigns by following this simple formula.

Like a six word story, Occam’s razor, the Pareto principle, or curating works of art in a museum, we stripped away everything that was unnecessary and convoluted and made a surprising, head-slappingly-simple discovery:

All marketing processes break down into four steps:

  1. Research
  2. Produce
  3. Promote
  4. Report

When I first modeled this, I didn’t believe it. It took three days of disbelief and throwing at it every marketing discipline I knew of to see how it held up. In the end, it held up surprisingly well.

Let’s look at some examples:

Ontolo (primarily) creates link building tools, so let’s start there:

  1. Research: Link Prospecting to collect potential link prospects.
  2. Produce: Link Qualification to produce a quality list of link prospects.
  3. Promote: Link Acquisition to promote your site in a way that acquires links (guest posts, link request emails, etc).
  4. Report: PageRank, Backlinks, mozRank, ACRank, etc to demonstrate and manage progress.

And you thought link building was complicated….

Let’s look at SEO:

  1. Research: Keyword research.
  2. Produce: On-site optimization.
  3. Promote: Link building.
  4. Report: Rankings and search traffic.

Or how about Social Media Marketing:

  1. Research: Research influencers and topics to monitor.
  2. Produce: Identify important conversations.
  3. Promote: Participate and engage in the important conversations.
  4. Report: Followers, leads, Klout, etc.

Or how about Content Marketing:

  1. Research: Brainstorm and research potentially-successful content ideas.
  2. Produce: Create or curate new content.
  3. Promote: Promote the content on your site or others.
  4. Report: Links, distribution, comments, views, social reactions, rankings, etc.

A Great Recipe Still Requires Great Ingredients

Continuing the recipe metaphor, without great ingredients, the meal won’t reach its full potential. Ingredients here can be your website design and user experience, sales process, product and more. But even that can be reduced to one simple idea: Results.

Without specific outcomes defined at each step of the process, the process disintegrates. Results are its glue, holding it all together. Thankfully, the simplicity of the process lends itself well to defining simple outcomes. With these outcomes as the focus of each step, the process is optimized.

You’ve done 80% of the work with 20% of the effort.

But we’ll discuss that next time.

About the Author
Ben Wills has been an SEO and link builder for over 10 years, directing the efforts of more than 1,000 clients. In 2008, he started Ontolo, a suite of web-based link building tools that helps you quickly find more relevant and valuable backlinks.

  • Hi Ben, Ontolo looks like a powerful program. I’m going to check it out and try the 14 day free trial. Thanks for your post!

  • This is nice and concise, however, I have to point out that number 3 “Promote” in which link acquisition is the primary activity in promoting is quite hard and time consuming – even using good tools to find and request exchanges – it’s a pain.

  • Yes! I’ve been touting some of the same points for years. I distill it down to strategy. Most SMBs fail to think strategically about their marketing, and don’t have enough experience with digital tools and tactics to create and execute a plan that works for their business.

    Thanks for the post.

  • This sounds like a great system. I think I’ll check into it some more.

  • Sounds interesting. I might give it a try. The Pareto principle is just everywhere!

  • Ric

    I really like your post. I have a question about link building. What do you think of link building services? I’ve tried, but it is very time consuming. I was thinking of trying They seem like a white hat service. What are your thoughts? Thanks.