The Way Of The Guerrilla

17 September, 2014

To be truly unorthodox in the way that you conduct your marketing requires the lessons and strategies adopted by the guerrilla fighter. The right mindset will always produce the results…

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A guerrilla fighter knows that the enemy is stronger in numbers and resources, and must adapt his strategies to overcome this challenge. Much like within the business world, the chances of you and your business operating within a monopoly, or being a market leader in any niche, is probably slim. Your marketing budget, sales force size and experience won’t match those of your bigger competitors. So like the guerrilla fighter, you must also think differently and adopt unorthodox strategies to take down your rivals.

Business is war. And to win the war, sometimes you have to push the boundaries of conventional business and marketing principles.

Here are 4 basic strategies that guerrilla military strategists such as Sun Tzu, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong and Lawrence of Arabia pioneered when either going into attack against a bigger force, or defending against that same force. All of which can be added to YOUR marketing mix.

1. Intelligence A few weeks back I wrote a post on Digital Competitor Reconnaissance that’s as relevant as ever when it comes to researching and knowing your competitors and customers. The Guerrilla fighter will have detailed reports of enemy positions, supplies, numbers and resources amongst many other things that can be used against them. Know your enemy, then you know how to best attack/defend against that enemy in that industry. To be able to fully take advantage you’ll also need to know your terrain (or your market) and to be flexible within this terrain to capture more customers.

2. Surprise Attacks & Ambush One of the best positions you could ever hold within battle is the position where you can choose when to attack on your own terms – which is best done via surprise if you’re the lesser force. Attacking transportation routes, food supplies and other structures through ambush can really catch an enemy off guard – which is exactly why the guerrilla fighter will most probably always emerge victorious with the least casualties. Knowing When To Attack The Enemy can really push things in your favour in business, as marketing is all about timing.

3. Relationship With The Population This is something I very strongly believe in, because if you surround yourself with the people that want you to succeed, then that battle becomes ten times easier. The guerrilla fighter will know that a friendly population can provide shelter, food, allied fighters and a whole lot of other resources to fight the same enemy. If the population – or in our case any given industry or niche – are against us being in there then we won’t last very long above water. This is why networking is so important no matter what your business is doing.

4. Propaganda & Terror Moral is a huge factor in hostile environments and we won’t really know the true meaning of it in war situations unless we actually go into war ourselves. Luckily, the chances of it happening now are slim, though we all know how the use of propaganda can severely hurt the enemy’s morale and have done for years. Advertising through Propaganda is something that you should always consider within your marketing plan because a business that is unsettled will always make more mistakes than others. This is then your chance to attack, because a demoralized enemy is an already defeated enemy. Think about the options you have with this in your marketplace…

If your business is a smaller and less experienced force than your rivals chances are that you’re more committed, mobile, and better equipped to take advantage of guerrilla tactics to battle these competitors. More importantly though, you’d battle in a way that they would least expect and would need more time to react to you, your marketing and your sales strategies. You’d also be marketing in a way that your potential customers haven’t seen before and won’t be ready to shut the door in your face like traditional marketing that the larger businesses tend to adopt.

Your intelligence will tell you what your competitors are already doing so that you can market differently; you’ll be able to do so using the element of surprise in your marketing; your relationship building skills will make you much more desirable to do business with; and your unorthodox and propaganda style marketing will set you out from everyone else. You are deadly serious about succeeding, and will do so at all costs.

Whilst your competitors will be marketing in events and conferences, you’ll be marketing in the streets. They’ll be continuously hurling mass marketing out of the door, whilst you’ll be getting close and personal with each of your potential customers. Whilst your competitors will take things for granted, you won’t sit still and will always look to innovate and evolve.

To be truly unorthodox, you must consider the way of the guerrilla.

A Private Blog Network Strategy That Will Actually Work With Google

10 September, 2014 — 9 Comments

Why Private Blog Networks aren’t all that they seem, plus an effective linking strategy that will get you traffic without hurting your website.

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You’ve probably heard all the hype around Private Blog Networks. The idea has been around for some time but more recently everybody has decided to jump on it to launch their businesses into outer space. We’ve heard it all before: “It’s the latest hot thing, therefore I must embrace it.” But hold on a second…

If you didn’t know, Private Blog Networks are all about links you can buy to help out with your search rankings. Historically, “old” blog networks have had a bad reputation with Google and anyone that connected their websites to them would have been penalised. A few years back blog networks would have worked brilliantly, but Google found out and didn’t like the linking method which meant they penalised everyone on the playing field. Basically, you’d be doing your SEO strategy and your business huge harm if you did something similar again.

And yes, Private Blog Networks are similar as they follow the same linking principle, yet are also different because they’re not connected to each other (are private) in the same manner and rely on purchased expired URL’s that already have a good history with Google. So, there’s a little to play with here.

But never forget what happened to the first blog network craze because it may well happen again. Screw it, I’m going to say that it WILL happen again.

This is where you always have to think about Google if you’re looking to improve your rankings, because SEO is Google. SEO is a competition run by Google and they will always call the shots. More importantly (and this is where online businesses need to look out) is that Google are always on the lookout for somebody scamming their ranking systems or cheating within their competitions. You’ll probably know of the continuous algorithm changes they regularly introduce to catch these kinds of people out. And, when they get caught out, their websites will only ever have darkness ahead.

But not you. You won’t be at risk because you’re not going to risk your website with these networks. You’re going to be smart and play Google at their own game.

Here’s the solution. This solution is in all reality, it’s a real simple one: Indirect Linking. That is to build links back to your links, and then link those to your Private Blog Networks. This way you’re not putting your main website at risk. Think about creating your 2nd tier links that are there to feed your 1st tier webpages – if they get punished then so be it because they’re not hurting your actual main website. Your website would lose the traffic coming from those 1st tier sites, but your business wouldn’t get hurt overall.  That’s precisely where I’d be using a Private Blog Networks – because the risk is so low. Your 1st tier links are at risk but all they are are your second in line behind your main website.

Of course, SEO is all about spreading links over the internet to boost them search rankings. So if you can do so without spamming then great! There are many ways to do this, and the hottest method of doing so is through Private Blog Networks.

Though the people that don’t know enough about blog networks – and SEO for that matter – won’t know that Google will be keeping a close eye on you. Eventually, they’ll be coming after you and your websites… and they will get you.

But this solution is a great way to help with your rankings even though I’m not entirely convinced by the idea of blog networks a sustainable SEO strategy. There probably will never be an out and out “long-term” SEO strategy either because things change so quickly online.

So, take the safe option and protect your core website and think about “indirect linking” through 2nd tier links, because the smart digital marketer will know too well that bad or spammy links will always hurt your rankings, and therefore your traffic, and your revenue. And if you’re not using 2nd tier link building yet, then you probably shouldn’t go anywhere near Private Blog Networks for the time being.

I’m still not recommending Private Blog Networks, but if you choose to go down this route, then then way you’ll get more traffic is if you (1) know your niche and your keywords, (2) can identify the right sort of URL’s to purchase that are carefully analysed, (3) get the right sort of hosting.

Digital Competitor Reconnaissance

04 September, 2014

Competition is fierce in business nowadays, especially online. But here are some tips and tools to get ahead of those competitors through some basic digital reconnaissance.

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Okay, we all know the scenario. We come online to make some money within a niche or industry and NEED to know what’s going on in the marketplace – to find out what our competitors are doing. But where do we start?

It’s not enough to find out what your potential customers’ needs and wants are. You need to know who are the businesses that are currently meeting those needs and wants, and how they go about doing so. Added research yes. Added work to your already mounting pile of daily tasks, also yes.  Though you’ll gather so much important ‘intelligence’ in the process, you cannot push this aside.

Because thereafter you’ll be able to statistically determine what your competitive advantage could, but more importantly, should be. And just as business guru Jack Welch once said: “If you don’t have a competitive advantage, you don’t compete.”

But we’ll keep competitive advantage for another rainy day. Let’s dive straight into competitor reconnaissance, where the first task is to find 5 of the biggest players within the field.

Then look at how your website is doing relative to those of your competitors. There are plenty of grading sites that will look at your website alongside those of your competitors to see how you’re doing with everything on there. I’d suggest using the website “Grader” by HupSpot to find out.

Social media is also another good place to start. Determining how much Facebook fans, how many followers on Twitter and Google+, and how people are connected to that business will give you an idea of their business size. You’ll also be able to see precisely who these people are with a general idea of their interests and why they are loyal to these businesses. The “Facebook Ads” function is also a great place to do some reconnaissance because you can look up the number of interested users by typing in a business or website name. Nice, huh?

Another important area to recon is of course Traffic. The number of unique visitors and pageviews a website generates both give you a huge idea of how your competitors may be doing in terms of the numbers coming in, and how long visitors staying on the website browsing through pages. There are plenty of websites that offer such services such as “Alexa”, and you’d be a fool not to check this out.

Whilst we’re on the topic of traffic, we wouldn’t be making the most of organic traffic if we didn’t look at Google. Therefore, do your keyword research. Also look at who are appearing on the first 3 pages with your keywords. The right hand side and the sponsored results will also give you an idea of who the main players are. You can actually find out how companies are doing through a tool called “SEO Book” alongside “Google Adwords.”

I’ll finish off with links, because it’s one of the most important when it comes to rankings. There are free services and software products that can determine how many backlinks a website has. By knowing this you’ll be able to find out exactly how much links you’ll need to get further up the ranking ladder and get more of your products or services seen before those of your competitors.  Use “Market Samurai” for this purpose amongst the many other functions related to SEO that this tool provides.

That’s pretty much it.

The people that tell you that it doesn’t matter what your competitors are doing are bad at business, and are even worse at digital marketing. If you’re new in the online game, then chances are that your competitors own a large percentage of the market. So you absolutely need to know your numbers in the market.

If you’re a fan of sports, you’ll know that the individuals or teams that go into a competition or game without researching their opponents – without knowing their opponents’ strengths and weaknesses at the very least – will end up on the losing side. Especially if they’re the least skilled (or least talented) of the two. This is the same when it comes to war, and any other event, duel or contest when there is competition against someone else.

But if you know your competitors, it’s a completely different ball game, and the competition becomes a much more balanced affair because you will have done your reconnaissance and will have your market intelligence. Then the customers within touching distance.

And guess what? Okay, it’s a lot harder to beat the competition online, but gathering the intelligence to out-think the competition is much easier than in the traditional world. So by all means make the most of it.

NOTE: There are no affiliate links within this post.

Getting People Talking About Your Stuff (Like District 9)

29 August, 2014

There is no rule book to ensure that your marketing campaign goes viral, and gets people around the world talking about your stuff. But there are a few things to look out for… 

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We’ve seen some remarkable movie marketing campaigns in the last 15 years. This one for ‘District 9’ is certainly among that creative bunch.

District 9 takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa and follows the events after an alien spacecraft enters the city’s air space. The alien population of this ship are then confined to a government camp as prisoners. After some time conflict occurs between the aliens and the locals, and the movie focuses on the process of moving these aliens to a new internment camp outside the city.

Based on this periodic unrest between alien and human, Sony Pictures launched its “Humans Only” marketing campaign designed around the segregational billboards that appeared within the movie. Posters, billboards and signs began to pop up in major cities throughout the world a year before the movie’s official release letting people know that these areas weren’t non-human friendly!

They added further reality to this campaign by providing free phone numbers to report ‘non-human’ activity, and more so launching a website run by the fictional military company MNU at appeared within the movie (which has since been taken down due to a proposed sequel). This brought life to the entire concept through news feeds, alert systems and regulations for Johannesburg inhabitants.

Okay, this doesn’t achieve the effect that ‘The Blair Witch Project’ marketing campaign did, though it’s a solid effort. We know that aliens don’t live in Johannesburg, but the combined promotional materials creates a sense of buzz for sure, and no doubt strengthens the case to go and see District 9 at the cinema.

It’s possible that the producers succeeded here because of its timing. Just a year prior to the movie launch, Johannesburg experienced a handful of xenophobic violence where locals rioted and attacked migrants of other countries such as Zimbabwe and Mozambique that also lived in the city. This is news that made global news bulletins, so it’s no wonder how this campaign brought reality to the “Humans Only” messages that also appeared worldwide. This is just speculation of course, but who else can see the similarities?

So to the stats. Before the release of District 9, its YouTube trailer had in excess of 25 million views, its Facebook page over 300,000 fans, and average Twitter conversations of 47,500 per day for “District 9″. The movie made 7 times its production budget at box office and won a string of awards making it one of the success stories of 2009. Not at all a bad outcome.

Lesson: Timing is everything. If you can give reality to something as spectacular as aliens living on earth by triggering a memory of a previous event (in this case a news story) and back it up with the relevant materials (such as a website), then people are always going to be interested in what you have to offer. All triggered by a “Humans Only” alien poster at the bus stop.

For a whole year bloggers, marketers, Sci-Fi fanatics and movie lovers were all asking themselves “What is District 9?” This is the power of real Buzz.

The ‘Business’ Of An Online Business

21 August, 2014 — 1 Comment

What’s the main purpose of your online business? Think about this for a second, because it isn’t an easy question to answer. But really, it should be.

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Determining the true purpose of your online business is harder than you think. Most people that set up online businesses are doing it to dispose of their full-time day-to-day jobs. To get more freedom and to able to spend more time with loved ones, and to be rid of the stresses from the nine-to-five workplace.

Therefore people come online to make money to be able to live this way. To achieve a lifestyle. But going into business with this mindset, and holding on to it, can be very dangerous. Because you DON’T go into business for a lifestyle, you go into it for the customers. If you can’t accept this, then you shouldn’t be in business. Especially not an online one.

Go online and take a look at the marketplace for digital products (a marketplace that I work within every single day, and know too well) and what you’ll see is product after product and claim after claim. The chances are – and this is the harsh reality about the online industry – is that those products don’t do what they claim to do.

In other words, sadly the online market place is full of predators that are out to get one thing and one thing only: your money. But this isn’t the way to go about it.

I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with many good people that are dead against this kind of a business, and therefore have learned that the only way to really build and run a profitable and sustainable business is to be 110% honest with the customer. That is, to over-deliver on what was promised, and go beyond that again.


“The true purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer, not to make you money.”
Theodore Levitt


Sustainability and profitability. Those two things should never be underestimated (or forgotten) in an online business.

Your body needs food to keep yourself going, otherwise your life would abruptly come to an end. But the purpose of your life is not simply to eat, you have other goals and aspirations to work towards. And just like any human body, you need to be constantly feeding yourself, hydrating yourself, excising, sleeping and doing the leisure activities to fulfil your life to get to this goal. Eating is a requisite for something greater.

In business, it’s exactly the same. You’re not there just to make money, you’re there to fulfil your customer’s needs. How else are you going to sustainably run an online business when the internet if full of product reviews, Facebook comments, tweets, recommendations, discussion forums and score cards? You just can’t, because the negative will always be remembered and accessed over again. But if you consider your revenue as a means to keep your business going, and to go beyond to better things, such as better products and services, you’ll start to outperform the competition. Revenue and profit are a requisite also for something much greater.

Look to take advantage of your customers and you’ll soon die of a horrible death. Because no matter how good you are at sales and marketing, if you can’t keep a customer, you can’t run a business. So forget that lifestyle of working on your laptop from the beach… just for a second anyway! Focus less on the making money part, and more on the keeping a customer part. Because the businesses that is there solely to make money won’t be around for long.

Okay, I’m not against making money. I’ve worked on countless B2B and B2C projects where I’ve worked long and hard to hit targets and make the most sales possible (and more money). But the purpose was always to create a customer with the view of keeping that customer at all costs. It’s all depends whether or not you’re looking for your online business to hang around for the long run?

When it comes to your online business, make sure that you see the bigger picture.

Facebook Is Dominating Your World

15 August, 2014 — 2 Comments

It’s true. If you’re a product creator, seller or an affiliate, there’s one place that you and your business need to be operating in, and that’s Facebook.

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This is the case because EVERYBODY is using Facebook. Meet any person anywhere, and they’ll have a Facebook account. However regular or irregular they log in and use it; they’ll still have a network to tap into and will always have reasons to come online and use the social network.

Let’s look at some numbers for the year so far. Here in the UK, 24 million users log on to Facebook each day.  On average, around the world it’s something in excess of 1.3 billion every month. And those are big numbers. Big numbers that are highly relevant for you and your business because what you have access to is a ton of information about each and every one of them users that you cannot get elsewhere. You can find out where they’re from, what they like and whether or not they’ve bought off Facebook before… and that’s just scratching the surface.

It’s big business.

So there’s a few numbers in terms of potential customers. When it comes to businesses, the numbers are equally as impressive. 30 million businesses now have a Fan Page and 1.5 million businesses spend money on Facebook Ads. Can you see where I’m going here?

5+ years ago Social Media platforms were a mere novelty. Now, they have the potential to drive all of the traffic and potential customer base a business would ever need to fully operate on. This is especially true with Facebook.

The main benefit coming from Facebook is increased exposure. But what makes this exposure so powerful, is that you can choose who this “exposure” comes from. That’s because when you set up your Facebook Fan Page, you can drive your current customers there to engage, and you can then target potential customers that would also come over to your page to engage through Facebook Ads.

YOU can choose who these people are. So let’s make some money off Facebook! The simplest model to marketing on Facebook, and the one I’d recommend for business, is this:

  1. Build a Facebook Fan Page.
  2. Build a Landing Page with a compelling free offer (aka a lead magnet) related to your core offering.
  3. Send traffic through Facebook Ads to that offer and collect email addresses ready to conduct email marketing activities.
  4. Send free content and special offers to the new list of leads to educate and engage with the view of separating the buyers from the non-buyers.
  5. Turn those buyers into full premium customers by selling your core offering or any other form of upsell, and send the non-buyers back to various Facebook posts and other content on your website to determine their interests with the view of selling something else.
  6. Retarget the non-buyer segment again through Facebook Ads.
  7. Use the Facebook Custom Audiences option to upload your current buyers to Facebook and run more ads to it, cross-selling your products and increasing the value of your customer.
  8. Post often on your Fan Page and engage with users, and repeat the process.

In this short post, that’s generally it. And if you’re not doing any marketing or sales on Facebook, then you need to start and start right now. The model above provides a great blueprint for you to start and really get to grips with the potential it holds. And after you get to know its various options, you can expand what you’re doing thereafter.

Facebook is dominating, and it’s through it that you can also dominate your market or niche. In the digital marketing sphere, I do not know of a better place where you can increase exposure – when I say exposure, I mean increased traffic, improved search rankings, developing a list of loyal “fans”, generating leads and making sales. It gives you the ability to sell AND to engage in a social manner. Email marketing, telesales and so-on do NOT have the ability to do this in such a detailed and targeted manner. This is exactly why you need to get on to Facebook right after reading this post.

And Facebook is only going to get bigger and better. Of course, there are other social media networking platforms out there, but none that is set up in this way. Therefore you have no choice but to fully embrace it, jump on the bandwagon and begin better marketing your business online.

If you won’t, then somebody else will.

All-Time 5 Best Ever TV Advertisements (And Why)

07 August, 2014 — 6 Comments

When it comes to TV advertisements, we tend to turn a blind eye. Though there are a few adverts that are so good you cannot help but carry on and watch.

Here are my all-time 5 favourite adverts; all are there for varying reasons, but they all share one distinct characteristic which is exactly why each has made this list on this unorthodox blog. Can you guess what it is?

5. Sony — “Balls” (2005)

Probably my personal favourite. Director Nicolai Fuglsig’s stunning award winning ad for Sony Bravia sees 250,000 multi-coloured balls unleashed on the steep streets of San Francisco. Released bang in the middle of Sony’s brand repositioning strategy, this successfully positions the “Colour – like no other” theme to market its products through it’s viewing experience.

And this advert really is an experience, because it’s all real. The combination of the camera shots and Jose Gonzalez’s calm music brilliance makes this ad one of the most entertaining I’ve ever seen. You can easily go into a trance watching this. This explosion of colour represents the visual quality of Sony’s range on LCD TVs. Watch out for the flying frog in this advert!

4. John West — “Bear” (2000)

Voted as the funniest TV advert of all time within the advertising industry. This humoristic take on David Attenborough’s documentary style shows a John West fisherman fighting a bear for fresh salmon in the highlands of Scotland. The bear appears to fight back in martial-arts from, and funnily gets distracted when the fisherman shouts “Oh look, an eagle”, who then runs off with the prized salmon!

This entertaining take (on what is otherwise a relatively boring product) makes it one of the UK’s best adverts of all time, and certainly one of mine too. Not only have John West been able to increase market share with this advert, but they also managed to produce one of the most talked about videos online, hitting well over 300 million views in 2006, which then made it the sixth most watched video on the internet.

3. Guinness — “Surfer” (1999)

Another creative ad that won a string of awards is Guinness’ never-seen before surfer advert. Built around the theme of “all good things come to those who wait”, this advert dazzled viewers with similar production technology as that used in the movie Titanic. So it cost a small fortune – but to good effect as this is considered as one of the best TV ads of all time.

Visually, it’s impressive, and filmed in the black and white of the Guinness product itself. A group of surfers are waiting for the perfect wave to take to the seas. This wave arrives and then turns into a hoard of crashing white horses that conquer all but one surfer who is always ‘waiting’ for that kind of wave, just like a Guinness drinker who is waiting for the perfect pint to settle before drinking.

2. Coca-Cola — “Holidays Are Coming” (1995)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Coca-Cola’s iconic and long running “Holidays Are Coming” advert hitting the TV screens. In fact, ever since its first even screening in winter 1995, these adverts build huge anticipation and excitement towards Christmas, all through carefully marketing The Coca-Cola Company’s main product.

The makers have cleverly included a bunch of traditional Christmas stuff, including a signing choir, the thousands of Christmas lights standing out in the night and using Santa Claus to strengthen the brand image. It really is a great TV advert that is proving time and time again to boost brand awareness and product sales during the festive period.

1. Cadbury — “Gorilla” (2007)

Had to be #1 for the UK crowd! What makes this advert such a success – like the majority of the above – is that it’s not really an ‘advert’ as such in the first place. It involves a giant gorilla playing drums over a classic pop song. That’s all. Oh, and I shouldn’t forget the distinct Cadbury colour ever present in the background.

Understandably, people actually wanted to see this advert. That doesn’t happen to your every day ad, in fact, it hardly ever happens at all. Perhaps it’s down to the Phil Collins soundtrack? Or down to the giant drum playing gorilla? Either way, it’s a classic example of a viral advert that won a string of awards and gathered over 7 million hits on YouTube. More importantly though, this campaign resulted in a direct growth of 5% in company revenue.

So, why are all of these so good? The answer is real simple. It’s because they all share a common theme that they are NOT designed nor produced like a ‘TV advert.’ Documentaries, music videos…  The traditional style (for which is still most obvious within the US) is completely absent. This is the main factor that these adverts have not only been a massive success for the creators, but have also been a success for the respected companies in terms of revenue and market share. How else would they have gone viral?