(Note: The following is a reprint of a blog post written by Leo Babauta, creator of ZenHabits. Because I feel it encapsulates my philosophy on online marketing so much, I have decided to reprint it here. Besides, in light of Leo’s uncopyright policy, I didn’t think he’d mind.)
Most online marketing people will teach you how to use social media to reach a larger audience, how to use email lists and the scarcity principle and social proof, how to create authority, how to effectively convert pageviews into sales.
Most marketers, online or off, are full of it.
Converting visitors into buyers is a soul-less use of your creative energy. Reject it, out of hand.
I find more value in creating something of value. I find influence a better metric than sales or traffic or reader numbers.
And I’ve learned something that the screaming marketers will never tell you: instead of screaming, prefer quiet.
When everyone yells “Look at me!”, become quiet.
When others seek attention, turn your attention inward.
When everyone wants pageviews and sales, be valuable.
When others try to pull visitors to their sites, let people find you themselves.
When most blogs have popups and drop-downs urging readers to subscribe to their newsletters, get out of your readers’ way.
When others brag of their success, let others laud you instead.
When others cling greedily to copyrights, give your work away.
When others use goals to drive themselves to change the world, learn to be content, and people will ask to learn your secrets.
I’ve found all of the above to be true. When you’ve created something of real value, you don’t need to do any marketing, spend any money on advertising, or push people to subscribe.
People will find you, and they’ll think you’re so great they want to tell their friends about it. Your readers will become your marketers. Your value will become your advertising budget.
Imagine owning a muffin shop. If the muffins are commonplace, you’ll have to advertise and do some “guerilla marketing” to get customers. But if your muffins make people roll their eyes in ecstasy, they will tell the world of your deliciousness, and the world will pound on your muffin-scented door.
Become quiet, find contentedness, become valuable. These trump marketing every time, and as you learn to listen to your inner music, you can now ignore the marketers hawking their oils of snakedness.