An Interview With The Secret Marketer
February 18th 2012, a meaningless date for a few but a truly great day for the online marketing community. This was the day that 0110 posted a ground breaking diary post that shocked the industry to it’s very core. I’m delighted to say that he’s back, from the underground, to discuss how his career, life and the online marketing world has changed since the original post went stratospherically viral…
We agreed to meet at the Shoreditch Grind, East London’s favourite espresso bar and the kind of place where the female staff wear moustaches ironically.
He orders a couple of skinny gingerbread machiattos and engages in some friendly small talk with the server. Drinks in hand we choose a booth where he casually mentions that these drinks were on the house. Trying to stifle a laugh I switch serviettes so that mine doesn’t have a mobile number on. I put the recorder on the table and take a deep breath, he looks ready.
0110 – First and foremost thanks for taking the time out to meet me. You’ve experienced huge success and critical acclaim after the original diary post. What have you been up too?
SM – Cheers, I was planning to be faux humble, you know like the success wasn’t coming but I’ve always felt like this was like destiny. My evergreen resource has helped propel me to a career and profile that is more fitting for a man of my talents. I think it’s important for me to clarify something , in fact it’s a pretty big announcement. I’ve left the inbound world (with a heavy heart) to join a fine content marketing establishment.
The change from inbound to content marketing is fortunate for me and my reputation as I left the previous agency in a shambolic state! If you must know we got penalised for creating our own extensive blog network, I had nothing to do with it obviously but it looked bad on the agency and thus my personal brand. I was left with no other choice but to join an agency with higher prestige. Thank the lord for the online marketing industry, you do a shit job somewhere and you can still find another one really easily!
0110 – Interesting, 40% of my Linkedin connections moved jobs last year. Sometimes we all need a change of scenery… So what’s the new role?
SM – It was vital for me that I could show others within the industry that I know my shit, some people inflate their job roles for ego reasons, I don’t need that. My official role is ‘Head of Brand Propaganda’ I think I may be the only one in the world. In terms of my day to day I don’t really ‘do’ a lot, It’s not really what we do in the content creation biz. We like to think, discuss and muse before outsourcing it to the lowest bidder. The majority of my time will be used reading and sharing blog posts with my staff (I don’t have to understand them to pass them on), regurgitating old ideas/views from trusted sources for my blog and pushing my personal and company brand onto anyone that’ll listen. You know, the normal shit.
I’m considering writing an group interview post with some industry big hitters, maybe ask them about their favourite tools or what SEO will be like in 2014. I’m sure they’ll all have refreshing and interesting opinions to share. Once it’s live I’ll be sure to tweet about it at an hourly rate, you never know when people are online these days. If worst comes to worst I’ll just share loads of people’s stuff and expect them to replicate. You think the post would go down well?
0110 – Uh, sure, sounds like another useful resource. You mention your staff, who works for you and what do they do?
SM – Well, when I’ve got a spare second I oversee our specialist teams who are split into three groups:
- Content Artists - A team of interns (with philosophy, maths and physics degrees) who write well researched content that feature keywords and other related terms (we’ve got them down to 1hr per article, great!) I mean no-one really reads these articles which is kind of sad (and probably a good thing) but they trick Google into ranking our sites higher!
- Outreach Ninjas - Our team of outreacher ninjas send unique emails to relevant leads about potential guest posts, broken links and paid links. We have a weekly competition where the ninja that sends the most emails wins a free Greggs lunch. Last weeks winner sent 1837 emails, a poor week really. I’m sure some of the people contacted will reply to him next week.
- Link Removal Detectives - This is basically the group of staff that we were going to sack for not understanding SEO properly but now can’t afford to do so. The amount of business we’ve received for link removals is truly astounding it’s nearly worth spamming your clients to oblivion but we’d never do such a thing.
We give them cute names like ninjas, artists and detectives to make them think that they’re doing something exciting. It must be soul destroying doing their jobs each day. I read about link removal for an hour once, it ruined my week. The keen and smart will usually leave to join a more prestige agency or work for themselves, can’t say I blame them.
0110 – No, neither can I. So business is good, do you get involved in selling at all?
SM – With the market being so competitive we look to create a niche in the market where we stand out and are a little bit different. I mean competing to be the best thrives on imitation, competing to be unique truly thrives on innovation or something.
We’ve been working within the content marketing sphere for a number of years but just so happen to be redefining our service. This doesn’t really effect the sales process too much as I often make up a load of shit about quality, relevancy, potential traffic regardless. If I’m really trying to sell it and get a higher budget then I’ll talk about how I create online persona’s, use social to find customers and create community for my clients. The templated sales deck I’ve created is so good that people within our industry think I actually do this… Whilst they replicate my ‘strategy’ I’m outsourcing stolen content ideas to kids willing to write for $1 an hour!
This is real marketing in 2013, none of that scrape and spin shit!
0110 – Quite. I presume that you’ve had a lot of chances to meet up with fellow marketers?
SM – I recently spoke at my first conference, SMX London and I got to see the other side of the industry coin. I looked out into the crowd and I saw desperate smiles from people happy to clamber on top of one another to tweet a quote from yours truly. The type of people who have their phone glued to their hand, hear what the speaker is saying, manage to create a legible tweet but remembers nothing. On the plus side I gave out 27 business cards & sold 3 platinum content marketing packages so it was worth it.
The feeling of being within the inner circle is quite something I can tell you. I nearly got Danny Sullivan’s mobile number the other day although I think he’s still blocking me on Twitter. I’ve been told about a certain Facebook group but I’m still awaiting access.
In case you’re wondering putting together presentations on the fly is a piece of piss. Give me 1 working day, Slideshare, Inbound.org and I’ll make you a thought leader in any online marketing sector you want (yes, even community management, although I’d probably try and talk you out of it.) You want a #protip? Always be sure to tell everyone you’re doing it at the last minute though, it’s what the pro’s do.
0110 – Cool, sounds like you’ve been busy, so what are your plans for the future?
SM – Well I’ve seen that entrepreneurism is the future of pretty much everything online so I’ll probably create a startup or two in my spare time. I’ve bought a suit especially for when Ycombinator reveal me to the press.
Over the last 6 months I’ve stopped writing about Inbound/SEO and started to discuss ideas and thoughts on start-ups, business and the online sphere. As a successful businessman I think it’s important that people get to hear what I have to say about these types of things. My blogging strat will revolve around a mixture of vague motivation, finance and personal posts that will show the true agony and despair of an entrepreneur. I think there’s a definite market for it.
I’ve got a massive backlog of marketing books that I doubt I’ll ever get around to reading. They’ve been worth every penny though as I’ve now got the motivation to write my own ebook! I’ve developed a top class strategy to insure that I create something of value to the community. Basically, copy other people’s content, work with a average to good designer, add a bit of opinion and it’s done. I considered writing a real book but no-one was interested. If you’re reading this and are interesting in publishing a top quality inbound/content marketing book please get in touch in the comments.
0110 – I’m sure you’ll have plenty of offers. One more question. There have been many large changes within the SEO industry over the last 18-24 months, what’s your current definition of SEO?
SM – Your definition of SEO is what the company you work for defines it as. Take a step back and read that again.
You can posture all you want about how you do certain things (you’ve never really done…) or hate certain techniques (that you still do…) but the truth of the matter is that it is rare that a marketer has a free rein over how a campaign is ran and a strategy is defined. Is your input appreciated? Is it even being listened too?
If you do not like your company definition of your service you have 2 options
- Discuss the definition it should be in your eyes & make them change or…
- Leave the company to a) join one that does it like you think or b) start your own business
There are loads of jobs out there. Go work with a company that values your input and agrees with your ideas.
And with that he was gone, off to write a post on how cynical the industry has become or something equally dull.