Less Online Outreach

ML Jul 12, 2006

So, I’m dialing back on the online promotion for awhile. I think HitTail is getting its fair chance amongst the forum-participating SEO community. And I repeat my thanks to those who run the forums who allowed me to stop by and say a few words–particularly JimWorld and Search Engine Forums, where I made my start, and where they clearly cut me some slack. I’ll only be answering direct questions now in the various threads that I check in on a couple of times a week. For the word-of-mouth promotion to kick it, it’s now up to the HitTailers.

Same goes for Blogs. I’ve made the rounds to those who have blogged about the long tail of search, and asked that they look at HitTail via the comments. I’ve stepped on a few toes. You never know where a message will be well received, and where you’re treading around conflict-of-interest. I read each site I post at, and try to match up the synergies. Anyway, HitTail was originally positioned as an alternative to paying for search hits, which is a little to adversarial to the PPC industry. But they themselves are adjusting to become paid inclusion or pay-per-conversion. And as we’re learning from our beta testers, HitTail goes a long way towards those goals as well. It’s just another tool in the toolbox, and one that doesn’t have to threaten anyone: neither pro SEOs nor SEMs.

None-the-less, my online outreach has reached its conclusion on this monumentus of days, when the reason the service works can actually be described in mainstream language. Thanks to Chris Anderson for making the long tail a new addition to the language of business. I’m almost through the book, and keep picking up gold nuggets. For example, I learned that the math formula behind the long tail is generally the power distribution curve, which is called that because it’s follows the simple 1/x formula–or x to the -1 power. I learned the history of the Zipf curve and how that too was rooted in social analysis. Is every mathematical business term rooted in sociology and attempts to figure out where the money’s going: the bell curve, the tipping point, and now the long tail?

Yes, I watched Technorati for the flow of book reviews, and chimed in. At first, I was a little too forward with mentioning HitTail. Now, I’m just using it as part of my name, and focusing on the commentary, of which I have plenty to say. I reconnected with Marshall Sponder, who I spent a great deal of time talking to at John Battelle’s book launch at the Coliseum Bookstore here in NY last fall. He has an intriguing post about higher profit margins in the long tail in the Wine industry on his WebMetricsGuru site. I’m also in an interesting exchange with Joystick.org about what the theory aspect of the long tail is, where he states that the effect is quite factual, with which I agree. I think one of the overlooked aspects that makes it a theory is that Chris imagines the true shape of the demand curve if perfectly met by supply, by ever-more-perfect filters and distribution.

We will be relying on word of mouth to kick in to spread the HitTail word now. For those who would like to freely interact, there is always our new forum, where it will never look like promotion. And we’ll be looking for more exposure opportunities. The message goes beyond the HitTail service itself, and more broadly into the fact creativity can be used mining your log files for the best clues about what people are looking for. Your little piece of the database of intentions is tied up in those log files, waiting to be gleaned. And doing it well is more than a matter of pulling the keyword list, and perhaps the accompanying HitCount data. There are MANY more clues in there waiting to be discovered, very similar to how linkage was a relevancy clue for search.

And so, we’re looking for other opportunities to get the word out. Thanks to the SEO forums for categorizing us as wheat, as they separated the wheat from the chaff of first-time forum posters who came bearing a URL. We do recognize the exception you made for us, and are reciprocating in kind by attempting to advance the entire state of the industry. By wrapping it in a similar context that “leads into” SEO business, we can set companies down the right path without scaring them away with the luggage that unfortunately now comes with the SEO acronym. Anyone can get relatively short-term natural search improvements through HitTailing, but this will only take them so far. And hungry for more, that’s where the rest of the industry steps in.

And as we learned, the “rest” of the industry includes both SEM and SEO, because the two are inextricably bound in an upwards spiral of relevancy. There are probably two entirely different systems of measuring relevancy at work here, and when one validates and cross-verifies the other, is where some of the most dramatic gains are made. So while as a public relations firm, our heart lies with natural search due to the similarities to editorial content, we acknowledge that it is the less orthodox approach, and perhaps best in cash-tight situations. Budget allowing, the healthy marketing mix should include advertising, where the deal is much clearer, and is more like a media buy.

So, we’re now taking our message on the road. Next week, we’re at the Search Insider Summit. We’ve already spoken at the Magazine Publishers of America (due to how closely aligned natural search is to their audiences’ mission). And we’ll be moving onto other, more general marketing trade shows and conferences, where we think HitTailing may be more readily received than SEO. Selling the entire “SEO” package can be difficult still for the vast majority of business that desperately needs it.

Selling into difficult markets, where HitTailing methodologies were developed, we certainly understand the rule of 5’s or the rule of 7’s, where multiple touches with the prospect occur before winning them as a customer. Some of those touches may be natural search hits, some may be paid, and with high end products, certainly a few of them are phone-calls or in-person meetings. This is part of the principles of Solution Selling.

As you hopefully have gotten the idea by now, even though I will be scaling back my online promotion activities of HitTail, I am brimming with ideas. I’m already a big reader and fan of Drucker and Demmings–the classics, as far as I’m concerned. But I’m also a fan now of some of the contemporary business gurus, of which Chris Anderson just became. So, I’m going to have a lot to say. Just now, you’ll find it mostly here on the blog, abiding by the very HitTail process we prescribe, achieving a much softer, passive “sell”.

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