Q. What’s the most dangerous thing a marketer can do?
A. Grow a Conscience
13 months ago, everything changed. Not in the I no longer rank kind of way either. My whole world, what I believed I believed in regards to work turned itself on it’s head.
Change is a ripple. It begins as a whisper in the back of your mind that will drive you nuts if you start to listen to it. It talks to your conscience; it speaks to your inner core.
My whisper came in the form of an email sent to me from someone I didn’t know who saw an article I wrote. This person had a mother who was suffering from a health condition and the person (it was the daughter) was asking me for advice.
This was despite the fact that I wasn’t in the position to give advice. I ranked for the a few keyword phrases regarding her mother’s condition. The articles were simply rewrites of rewrites. Anybody with a 5th grade education could have done it to be really honest.
In fact, I out ranked medical websites that could legitimately give sound advice. I was just a marketer who had found a product that someone with that disease may want to try. And I happened to know the game of organic search.
So I didn’t respond.
But it got me to thinking about the moral obligations that we, as marketers have to the rest of the world and to ourselves. And the whisper turned into a shouting match with my conscience.
What started off as “doing the right thing”….
It wasn’t always like this. I got into online marketing a little over a decade ago by accident. At the time, I was bending over backwards helping people make the right decisions in a niche that I knew about. Soon, I found out I could make money as an affiliate. And so I did.
I also discovered the power of list building. So I built a large list over time. And I “blogged” (back then there was no such thing as blogging- You simply added new stuff to a page that people followed)
Shortly afterward, I started getting into Sports Gambling, because I was myself a gambler. Once again, I bent over backwards trying to help people. And I made money on the side as an affiliate. Really good money.
When the port act of 2007 was passed, online gambling became illegal. Americans couldn’t affiliate with off shore casinos. Many of the merchants I was affiliated with pulled the plug. I had to start over. And I did.
At this point, niche marketing was the buzz word in the marketing community. I did a bit of keyword research, rewrote articles within that niche and then drove links to the articles. They ranked. I sold products.
I soon learned that the best customers were the desperate. Desperation and fear sells stuff best.
It was at this point that I stopped helping people and started focusing in on what they could do for me…
I wrote about stuff I had no clue about to be perfectly honest. I learned it as I went. I based my decision on what products to sell on epc numbers. If it could potentially convert, I would test it out.
The Problem with Being a Con…
The community of the niches I was in saw me as a con because I was a con.
Let’s be honest here- You can rank for things like plumber widgets or how to install a toilet, but chances are good, you aren’t going to get any love from those who are active within the DIY market unless you know what you are talking about.
Since I couldn’t develop relationships with them, I one-upped them; I developed a relationship with Google Search instead.
Soon, whenever someone did a search like “how to cure genital warts” or “homeopathic remedies for skin tags“, they would find my website up there, click on it and potential buy what product I was selling. Ironically, my competitors weren’t legitimate either. They learned the name of the game as well….
My “real” life as a blog
4 years ago, I started a blog, leodimilo.com in which I talked about how to do these things. I wrote articles on how to shape website infrastructure links to rank better. I wrote articles on how to use parasitic host’s domain authority to rank quickly. I wrote articles on copyrighting and using deception to sell. I developed a following. I started to rank for the keywords within my market.
People would email me asking me for advice on how to do this stuff. I knew how to do it. So, on top of being a generally not-nice person, I was giving advice to people on how to be deceptive as well. And the kicker was the advice, though poison, was good.
That was 13 months ago. And then the email came.
And I re-grew my conscience….
You see, us marketers…those of us who delve deep into keyword phrases and ranking don’t actually think about who we can potentially hurt. To us, it is just about the money. It’s a number’s game. We rationalize things by saying If they are stupid enough to buy it, then they will buy it from someone else…why not us?.
We create junk in the hopes that it will make a few dollars or cents. And then we rank for it because ranking isn’t necessarily precipitated on what others think of us but how we are able to manipulate an algorithm.
The email made me lose the taste of the pleasures that came from ranking well for niches I had no business being in. The money wasn’t worth it anymore.
In the ensuing weeks, I decided that my days as a “con” were over. I would need to do something else. And the only requirement would be that I was helping people get more in some shape or fashion based on things that I knew about.
Why am I admitting this now?
Part of this admission is to just get this off my chest. The problem with carrying secrets is that they tend to fester like open sores. I have been “bad” for too long.
My worldview to marketing has changed. I still do SEO. I still do internet marketing. But I have decided to do it on my own terms and not be man handled by organic search. I have learned over this past year that your network means more to a business than ranking in the search engines. And the only way to build your network is to commit to a niche or market and be a part of the community.
I see marketers that use these buzz words and catch phrases like authority site and diversify your niches and wonder whether they miss the point of it all. For them, it is only about the money. But authority is earned, not made. And when you start to focus only on the money, you start to lose what life is truly about.
That’s what this past year has taught me at least.
And it took an email from a stranger for me to finally see it this way.
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