Think you’re stuck with a not-so-great market or competitive environment? In search marketing, you often have a lot more control over those factors than you might think.
Aren’t You Glad Aren't a Plant?
Imagine it – stuck in the soil somewhere, with no ability to get up and move around. If your soil doesn’t provide you with enough of the right nutrients, you have no choice but to tough it out or die.
Actually, that’s not what happens at all in the wonderful world of botany. You see, plants actually have a lot of control over the quality of their soil.
What plants do is exude stuff (that’s a scientific term) from their root tips that attracts certain types of bacteria and/or fungi. And those microorganisms themselves help determine the nature and ratios of soil nutrients.
If a plant prefers acidic soil, for example, it exudes sugars that attract bacteria, whose waste products contribute to acidic soil.
And the plant that likes alkaline soil produces root exudates (a fancy scientific word for “stuff that comes out”) preferred by fungi, who poop alkaline.
And pH is just one of the myriad soil factors over which plants have control through their exudates. Another example is that of allelopaths, trees such as black walnut and eucalyptus trees that release root toxins that discourage competition.
In reality, the seemingly passive and helpless plants collectively determine their environment at least as much as they are determined by it. And the same is true of you as a search engine advertiser.
The Exudates of Search
What control do you have over your search competitors and prospects? As it turns out, plenty.
First, you get to decide where to advertise (which largely determines who sees your ads), through geo-targeting, keywords, and placements.
- Geo-targeting: Got a tough national competitor? You can outcompete them by identifying your top 10 markets and running regional or local campaigns just in those markets.
- Keywords: Not crazy about the search scene for your biggest volume keyword? You can drop it, or modify it, or choose longer-tail versions that allow you to write more targeted and powerful ads for the valuable few rather than the uninspired many.
- Placements: And you don’t need to jockey for position on AdSense sites with dozens of ads just because those sites are totally relevant to your product. In the Display network, where your primary attraction strategy is flashy interruption (think flowers competing to attract pollinating insects), you can advertise on sites that attract your broad market demographic (i.e., new mothers, gardeners, gamers), and not just sites about your particular product (jogging strollers, greenhouse kits, graphics enhancements).
Attraction Strategies of the Ad
Once you’ve exuded your way into a productive niche, you can now focus on your attraction strategy.
In search marketing, you attract with ads. While there are many ways to construct an ad to allow searchers to self-select, two powerful ways to determine who clicks your ads and visits your site include voice and mentor.
Your ad isn't just words or images on a pixelated screen. Your prospect sees your ad and gives it a voice, or personality.
Boring ads are attributing to boring voices. Some ads are hip. Others are caring.
Ad voices can be humorous, dismissive, conspiratorial, scary, loving, angry, self-righteous, humble, curious, and hundreds of other possibilities.
An easy way to give your ad a voice is to compose it the way a person who exudes that quality would write it. How would Oprah craft an ad for a jogging stroller? How would that differ from the drill sergeant in "An Officer and a Gentleman", or Eddie Murphy’s Donkey from “Shrek”?
Not only will certain voices connect better with specific market niches, you can deliberately exude a particular voice to determine which market niches to play with and which to leave alone.
Another significant attractor, rarely used consciously, is the implied mentor. This is based on Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey model, which teaches that all human beings follow the same basic life path on their way to authenticity and fulfillment.
Without going into too much detail, the Hero (each of us) receives a Call to Adventure at some point in our lives, an invitation to leave the safe and somewhat unsatisfactory ordinary world and venture out into a new, wondrous and typically dangerous milieu. Most of us initially refuse the call, until we find our mentor, that older and wiser person who sees our true potential and helps us see it ourselves.
There are many kinds of mentor, and different kinds attract different Heroes (prospects). There is the wizard, who speaks to the hesitant visionary; the magician, who appeals to the engineer and technician; and the grizzled veteran, who attracts the young warrior.
How do these three mentors function in a real market?
Let’s look at someone advertising gardening hand tools.
- The wizard: “Say no to unnecessary power tools and collaborate with nature.”
- The magician: “Hand-forged tools make you more efficient and productive. Don’t let cheap tools hold you back.”
- The grizzled veteran: “You’ve been settling for crappy tools. It’s time to raise your standards.”
Each of these stances invites the prospect to a different adventure, even though the actual purchase may be identical.
So next time you feel stuck in a market, remember the lesson of the plants: exude strategically to repel and attract, to create an environment in which you can thrive.
Image Credit: lastonein/Flickr
ClickZ Live San Francisco (Aug 11-14) will bring together the industry's leading online marketing practitioners to deliver 4 days of educational sessions and training workshops. From Data-Driven Marketing to Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email, the comprehensive agenda will help you maximize your marketing efforts and ROI. Register today!