Cocaine and Organic Marketing
We’ve all done it and if you’re a content marketer, there are high chances, you’ve done it too!
You love it and have seen its results over time.
It’s so addictive that once you start, it’s pretty easy to lose touch with how much time you’ve spent doing it.
No, I’m not talking about cocaine. I’m talking about organic content marketing. Sending out creative emails, writing blog posts with interesting titles, and in general, any hair-brained idea that brings traffic to your site naturally over time.
And who else to teach it better than the man himself, Pablo Escobar!!
Okay, you must be wondering, how running a Columbian drug cartel relates to attracting people to a site?
Vamos, let’s get started!
1. Think differently and creatively
When the cocaine market started in Columbia, it was controlled by small cartels and people who weren’t aware of the true value of the powder.
It was Escobar who had this grand vision to ship the powder across America and make millions of dollars. Of course, the rest is history (Escobar, with his cocaine millions, bought half of Columbia).
The lesson here is this. Think of your organic marketing strategy as a long-term strategy. Any real marketer knows that getting traffic to a site with just interesting blog posts and emails will take time, so don’t expect dramatic results overnight. Instead, take small measures towards this greater vision.
Infact, think of it as a small cocaine sapling you’re watering every day. You need to let it grow, harvest it, process it in a lab, and smuggle it across the ocean before you see results. The money will always come (unless the cops catch you, which rarely happens if you’re marketing just content and not cocaine!)
Experiment with a small audience, like Escobar did with Columbia. Always have a target, and then once you do, target your content to reach that defined user base. When the targeted users land on your page, let the content be addictive enough to keep them there and allow them to grow that base with their people; that’s when you know you’ve succeeded like Escobar.
2. Grease the right hands / pay the right people
Escobar had informants in almost every division of the Columbian Law Enforcement Department. These people would tip him off countless times before the cops could raid his place.
He employed kids on streets to do his bidding, track police movements and share vital information.
No, hold your horses, I’m not telling you to recruit young boys and girls to write your blogs.
What I’m saying is, first, create high quality stuff, that’s also engaging, interesting, and informative enough to build your credibility gradually, like Escobar. Then, pay the right people to spread the word, think facebook, linkedin, twitter or other relevant social media platforms, or even influencers and search engines. (PS: Don’t skip this step).
If you’re starting up small, you might have to get your own hands dirty initially, and write a few posts yourself. You can otherwise consider paying a sum to hire quality writers and agencies to write quality blogs. It might also be a good idea to get a mention in a popular blog.
The last part may seem hard, but it’s not impossible. Write quality posts, reach the right people and network your way to the top. Hey, if Pablo could make it to the Columbian Parliament, you can easily get your content published on a popular blog!
3. Diversify your channels / approach
How do you smuggle a ton of cocaine without the cops noticing it? You shape it like a ceramic toilet, ofcourse!
Escobar was known to use many innovative methods to get his stash across the border, and that’s what you should aim for too! You see, for a good organic content marketing strategy to work, you need to repurpose your content to as many channels as possible, all at once.
A post on social media, a blog on your website and an email outreach program, all at the same time is proven to be more effective than using organic marketing in an intermittent fashion. Remember, to keep your audience at the front and centre of everything you do.
There you have it, 3 organic marketing lessons from a Columbian drug lord.
Like this article? Go ahead, comment, share and spread the love, for Pablo’s sake!
Marrying Search With Significance
You can be the most knowledgeable person in your subject, with writing skills that even literature reviewers will envy and awe. But, every writer and content team in 2018 understands that without SEO optimisation, star quality content will not achieve its viewership and reach targets.
So, with great writing, comes great responsibility – to perform well in Google search engines. And so the new lay of the online land is:
Create for people and search engines alike.
But just how do you walk the thin line between marrying your audience to search engine algorithms? Here are 7 beginner lessons.
1. A short, teaser title that also avoids truncation in search
Most search engines are optimised for titles that are between 50 and 60 words. Anything beyond 60 words runs a high risk of being truncated in search results. And no reader wants to see a half-title, ending with ellipsis either. Your title can include brand name or numbers, but more importantly it should elicit a sense of mystery from the reader.
2. A URL that’s short and sweet
The sin of URLs is its lengthy concoctions of random numbers and letters, that offer no clue to the readers on its content. A URL necessitates keywords that do the job of being descriptive, short, yet meaningful. The URL should enlighten the reader on what to expect at first glance.
3. Meta descriptions
How can words not even present in the main article, hold so much power over page views and readership? Welcome to meta-descriptions. These need to be enriched with words that are targeted towards your audience. It also helps to keep the length of the description between 70 and 160 characters. Now, what would happen if you don’t enter this meta-data? The search engine will automatically gather a random paragraph from your article in its place (which is not always a good thing).
4. H1 tags for competent headings
H1 tags are known to hold high value in SEO ranking of a website. They are the most noticeable piece of content. It is usually an HTML tag that points towards the primary headline on the page. It is necessary that the heading answers the how, what and when of the article, in order to be more receptive. Characters that exceed 70 are prone to water down the impact of SEO.
Protip 1: Crosscheck the source code to ensure your page contains only one H1 tag. While current search engines are technically sound to not confuse multiple headings, this tiny glitch can deal a big blow to your SEO.
Protip 2: If the post is text heavy, like a heavy blog post, make sure to include H2, H3 and H4 headings for reading simplicity and aesthetic value.
5. Keywords, the thesaurus has you covered
Search engines do not particularly like articles overloaded with keywords. So, they have a tendency to ban sites that overuse them. Make sure to strategically use keywords for 2-5% of the entire content. Disperse them among headings, paragraphs and image captions. This is where a great vocabulary (or a thesaurus) comes to the rescue.
6. Eye-popping images
From a visual standpoint, images grab more attention than the content itself. But from an SEO standpoint, it is necessary to use the target keyword in the filename of the image, as well as in the ALT tag. This can ensure additional benefit of the article popping up in image searches. Second, having a large file size can move the reader away from the page, as well as lower your SEO ratings. More importantly, ensure the image aligns well with the text in your article.
7. Internal and External links
In order to show Google that your content is well researched and cites adequate information, links are a prominent part of your SEO tactic. Linking to two or three popular and trusted sites helps boost the overall value of your page, which is sought after by search engines. Also, adding links to your internal (and external) webpages is a great way to increase SEO ratings. Not only does this ensure easier access of relevant content to users, but also aids in search engines recognising your pages. All these translate to a good Google Page Ranking.
Do keep in mind, on-page SEO is just a small piece of the big SEO puzzle. Overall design of the website, ease of browsing in mobile, speed, fonts and quality of images come together to paint the bigger picture. So, make sure to keep these tips into consideration the next time you churn out content for the World Wide Web.
It’s been 10 years since director, Christopher Nolan shot this masterpiece, which is now reminiscent of a cult classic. And although many good movies have come before and after ‘The Dark Knight’, no one can deny the impact ‘Joker’ created on pop culture.
Joker was not only the most loved super-villain, he was also the face for anything anti-establishment. Joker T-shirts, Joker quotes, Joker tattoos, and Joker memes are all still very much part of our daily lives.
Ofcourse, we also see and maybe meet, a person like the Joker in our everyday lives, someone who is anti-establishment and likes to question the status quo. I’m talking about the modern entrepreneur. If you are, or want to become one someday, here are 5 lessons you can learn from Joker.
- It’s all part of the plan.
From the opening scene of the movie, where Joker carries out a brilliantly planned bank heist, to the scene where he breaks out of Commissioner Gordon’s jail, it is amply evident that Joker has a plan for everything. He meticulously thinks of all possible outcomes and then chooses the one with highest chances of winning (which, spoiler alert, till the end of the movie, he mostly does).
Takeaway for the modern entrepreneur?
In one word – planning.
It’s obvious that when you step into shoes of the CEO of your firm, you will have to pay attention to the tiniest of detail. From go-to-market (GTM) planning that will help you swim amongst tough competition, to an exit strategy that will help you capitalise on gains, there are hundreds of things to consider while cruising your own ship. Not enough can be said about the importance of things like people, pricing and performance analysis for your product or service. Like the Joker, plan the details of your little mission and then have guts to execute.
- It’s not about the money.
In what is one of the most defying scenes in the movie, Joker makes a big heap of money he’s collected from the mob leaders, and sets it on fire, much to the horror of those around him. As the fire rages on in the background, Joker nonchalantly executes the next part of his plan, while stating the now iconic words:
“It’s not about the money, it’s about sending a message. Everything burns”.
Often overlooked, an entrepreneur needs to be part of the solution to a problem, even if the buyer does not yet know he has one. All major consumer electronics we take for granted these days – personal computer, mobile or tablet device – have been built by entrepreneurs who have focused first on buyers’ problems. Now, I’m not suggesting you run your enterprise like a not-for-profit, but what I am saying is, you make profit a by-product of the solution you are providing. Money goes where ideas flow, and as an entrepreneur, learn to shift focus here, in order to drive profitable margins.
- Introduce chaos and anarchy.
The Joker calls himself an ‘agent of chaos’, and thrives in an environment where things are uncertain. In the near end of the movie, Joker pays a visit to Harvey Dent, the district attorney who got disfigured and hospitalised due to Joker’s own plan. In a bold move, Joker hands him a fully loaded revolver and with the toss of a coin, asks him to decide Joker’s fate. Fortunately for Joker, the toss saves his life. The takeaway?
Be fearless of change. When Garrett Camp and his friends got together and built Uber, they not only started a business that would disrupt the transportation industry, they became so popular in the shared economy space that changes in the industry are now termed “Uberisation”. In other words, train yourself to be “an agent of chaos”, sit back and then enjoy the results.
- Get down and dirty.
What defines Joker and makes him such a good villain (an oxymoron, I know…) is the fact that he absolutely loves what he does. Whether it’s robbing a bank or driving a truck, the Joker is a true leader, for he leads by example.
If you are a passionate coder and have a great idea but refuse to go out, network and sell, your idea will most likely remain just that, an idea. Be comfortable donning all hats in your venture, and do not get bogged down by so-called-operational tasks. Do whatever it takes to get the job done. Period.
- Be a man (or woman) of your word.
I will leave you with one last lesson, in Joker’s signature dark and sarcastic style. The Joker is a man of his word. When he says he will kill one person for everyday Batman refuses to reveal his identity, he follows it up with dead bodies addressed to the latter. Now I don’t mean, you should kill your competition and hang them from the sides of a building, but, be someone who makes realistic commitments that you can back up.
Every startup, like every good business, is built on a solid foundation of trust. Trust from customers, employees, and from everyone associated with the business. Build a strong network of people who trust your judgement and want to invest in you, by delivering consistently on your commitments. People who trust you will be ready to take risks with you, and that is where true success of your startup lies.
In summary, plan, don’t think too much about money, embrace change, get ready to get your hands dirty and be a man (or a woman) of your word.
“And if you are good at something never do it for free”, says Joker in one chilling scene.
As for you, my entrepreneur friend, it’s the only way of making sense of all your startup madness.
You may not have seen them, heard about them, or even know how to find them. That’s because they like to keep it that way. They are an elite unit, working mostly undercover, with a plan for almost anything, and, more importantly, executing the plan with clockwork precision.
They are the Penguins of Madagascar, a bunch of cute and cuddly birds that are so popular, that Dreamworks decided to give them their own spin-off movie. Better still, they teach us some unusual marketing lessons.
But first, the key characters.
The leader of the motley group, a born, or rather hatched leader, who does not take no for an answer, and is always scheming his next move.
The analytics guy, who gathers intelligence and gives logical but impractical solutions.
The demolitions man. He is someone who pretty much swallows everything in sight and saves it for later use.
He’s the one who progresses from being a secretary/ mascot to an invaluable member.
Together, these penguins try to prevent ‘Dave the Octopus’ from global domination. But for us marketers, they are unsung heroes, for they teach us these 5 invaluable lessons.
- They reject nature.
The Penguins of Madagascar are known to be rebels, right from an early age, and that’s most evident when they refuse to walk in line like all other penguins. When an egg cuts loose and rolls away from the line, the other penguins just dismiss it as nature. But Skipper (the daredevil adventurous leader of the lot), says something profound that all marketers should treat as gospel:
Your early Marketing Strategy should be based on these lines.
Throw out the conventional, the known and the mundane. Make an effort to go against the flow, because, at an early stage, not only are you trying to find your own voice, you are also trying to be heard in a crowd where everyone is speaking, all at once.
The more unique your early marketing strategy, the better the chances that people will stand up (or rather sit down) and take notice. A blog with a bit of humour, a campaign video that tugs at an emotion, an infographic that is more than just numbers – these are all simple examples. Use your imagination, and more importantly, reject nature!
- They analyse this and that.
Skipper typically seeks Kowalski’s advice (whom he admits to be the brains behind every operation), on every tough situation. Although Kowalski’s predictions tend to be more pessimistic, they provide important insights into how marketers should operate.
Analysing how early marketing campaigns are working, not only gives headstart over competition, it also helps prevent costly marketing mistakes.
Don’t invest in a fancy sales automation tool if you’re only targeting a test audience. Instead, do A/B email campaign testing, and quantify how well your strategy is performing. And don’t forget, in Kowalski’s own words – be awesome.
- They make their own options.
When the Penguins are captured and sent in a cargo plane to a remote island, Kowalski says that their options are pretty much limited. But does that stop Skipper from taking action? If you’ve been reading so far, you should know by now that the answer is a big No! Skipper does something which they say is down in ‘Penguin history’.
Skipper “makes his own options“, and, as a Marketer, so should you.
Do not let a failed marketing campaign or reduced engagement rates curb your enthusiasm to push boundaries. If your blogs are not generating enough leads, try a different approach, like changing the tone or the language. Fight dismal email open rates by tweaking the subject line or try using short conversational sentences. Go where no penguin has gone, and, if you are out of options, create your own, like Skipper.
- Go big or go home.
The cuddly penguins start their adventures in Antarctica, and travel to far off locations such as Venice and Shanghai – quite an achievement, considering these are flightless little birds.
In marketing terms, this means that from the word go, create a marketing plan that’s big enough to traverse through continents, oceans and even dreams. Remember that in the vast cyberspace, there are no boundaries, and that customers come from everywhere.
So when you get to creating your next blog, ad campaign, promotional video, etc, start from a broader theme, then narrow down to focused groups.
Like the penguins, don’t let small things like national boundaries get in the way of global domination.
- They act human.
The best lesson, as always, is kept for the last. It is something so crucial yet so obvious that most marketing teams give it a miss.
The penguins are successful in their campaigns because they are masters of disguise, blending into any territory with ease.
For marketers, this means, having a call to Action (CTA) that is subtle and non-invasive to customers. No one likes loud banners that talks of freebies and discounts, that are irrelevant and intrusive.
Adding that little human touch (understand what customers want and giving them just that), instead of intrusive campaigning, goes a long way in gaining trust – since people tend to open up more to someone they think cares for them.
In summary, break the rules, think big, analyse, never run out of options, and stay subtle. Marketing, learnt from the most unlikely heroes, the Penguins of Madagascar.
So are you inspired to apply the Penguin philosophy to your marketing techniques?