I read somewhere recently that simply mentioning Paris Hilton on a Web site or blog greatly increases the number of hits it gets. So I want to make it clear at the very outset of this article that Paris Hilton is not featured in any way in this article. While Paris Hilton may be appropriate for campy TV shows, there is simply no room for her—for Paris Hilton—in this article, because Paris Hilton simply has no bearing on my topic.
I mention Paris Hilton only to highlight the Google phenomenon and how marketers are using every possible means to be listed higher on this megalithic search engine, which in turn increases their visibility to prospective customers. Marketers pay lots of money to specialists who use a variety of tricks to maximize search engine optimization. Search engines, as we know, are judged on the quality of their searches and the degree of relevancy of the listings.
But there is one technique that many people seem to have ignored—namely, the art of actually being relevant in the first place. If you have something of real value on your site, bloggers will find it and post about it. The higher the value of the content, the more blogs will post and the more sites will link to it.
A case in point is a viral video campaign I worked on (and wrote about for this publication) in 2005, called "The Institute for Backup Trauma," starring John Cleese. Before the video launched, we Googled the term Backup Trauma and found only a couple thousand random links to hospital services. Today on Google, depending on whether "Backup Trauma" is in quotes or not, you get between 12,800 and 2,860,000 search results. The client didn't pay for search engine optimization; it just had a high-quality interactive video experience on its site that people wanted to see and share.
The Live Vault Backup Trauma video is part of a growing trend by marketers to use rich media content on their sites to engage customers with their brands and drive measurable results. It's no secret that consumers are tired of being "targeted" by marketing and as a result are taking evasive action. Skipping past commercials with TiVo is like watching the dying world of traditional advertising flash before your eyes. Many marketers have poured money into Web marketing, but they've been shocked by the skyrocketing cost of banner placement on popular Web sites.
So one part of the solution is to make customers reach for you, using entertaining Web-based content. Which prompts the question, "How do you make successful, entertaining Web content that delivers bottom line results?" Here are some tips.
Deep down, most people don't want to work. They just want to bang on the drum all day. As a marketer, you can try to get around this fact, or you can embrace it in order to connect with your customers. People don't want to have their entertainment interrupted by your message. But they will choose to enjoy your marketing if it is entertaining all by itself.