Promote What, Exactly?

One of the big arguments that constantly goes on in the internet marketing industry is whether you should be concentrating on content, or on promotions.

And this is a prime example of just how stupid people get when they've had some measure of success: they always start out with the same reasoning. "I've tried both, and promotion is where the money is. Don't waste your time on content. Concentrate on promotions."

Then they go on to explain: "Everybody told me content was king," they say. "But I posted on my blog for months and got nowhere! I had hundreds of posts and no traffic! No traffic equals no sales! So I turned around and started promoting my site, and then I made an arseload of money because promotion is so much more profitable than sales."

Well, gee, you sure are brilliant. Except tell me one thing: what the fuck did you promote?

This is just about where they start stammering and stuttering and trying to work out some way not to say "I promoted those hundreds of posts I wrote - you know, my content."

This is that old chicken and egg problem. You don't make any money selling chickens! You make money selling eggs! So don't waste your time buying chickens.

So... buy eggs, then? Buy... what you're selling. Ahh, there's the real point, right? The real aim isn't to help you. It's to sell his own CRAP. Don't waste your time on content, promotion is where the money is, buy my promotion services.

You know who tells you content is king? Writers. You know, the people selling content.

You know who champions organic traffic? SEO jockeys. The people selling organic traffic.

You know who champions PPC traffic? Ad managers. The people selling paid traffic.

You know who always champions anything? The guy selling it.

The fact is, all this shit works. If you get a lot of great content, people will talk about you. If you do a lot of SEO, you'll get organic traffic. If you go the paid route, you'll get targeted traffic that converts. And all of these things work well for different business models.

If you have a product people can buy right now and download instantly online, and you don't give a shit whether you ever see that person again, paid traffic is your go-to cashflow method. Just treat it like a numbers game. Get your clicks as cheap as possible, drive your conversion as high as you can, and set your price for maximum ROI.

If you have something a little more involved, that people are going to think about for a while before purchasing, that they're going to comparison-shop first... then SEO and organic traffic matter. It's like walk-in customers at a storefront. This is best if you have a big-ticket item in a field with many competitors.

And if you have something really in-depth and involved that only appeals to a tiny few people with whom you want to develop a long-term relationship, high-quality content - slow as it may be - is your core attraction method.

But regardless of which one you're using, you can't buy traffic to nothing, and you can't SEO nothing to the top of the search engines. You need some kind of content. If you have nothing to promote, promotion is a waste of time.

Similarly, once you have a critical mass of content, you want to generate organic traffic through SEO (properly done, that is, which is beyond the scope of today's post) and you want to start using PPC once you have an income stream to attach.

There is no "ignore this and do that." You need all of it. All the elements of the SLOT machine fit together, and technically you can replace "Tribe" with "Traffic" at the end of that if you're more interested in numbers than relationships. (That's not a bad thing. I don't want a personal lifelong relationship with some guy who sold me a taco. Some businesses don't lend themselves well to an LTV metric.) And no matter how you slice it, you need to have content first.

Otherwise there's nothing for your traffic to see and it's a waste of their time.

And with that, I'm going to go and start recording the exclusive videos I need for the Legion of Badass. YouTube has been a bitch lately, but if push comes to shove I'll host them locally on the blog somehow - been putting that together over the past week, as a stopgap. Might even dump YouTube altogether for this.