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Where to Get Inspiration to Be a Great Online Marketer

  |  November 12, 2009   |  Comments

Start with your customers and the rest will be easy.

A confluence of events over a recent 48-hour period provided me with inspiration in a challenging routine for marketing and online professionals. And inspiration is where good marketing becomes great.

It started last Friday during a meeting with the team responsible for our new event Web site, Online Marketing Summit. We were walking through usability research, as well as putting it through a few use cases. Then, came the first flash of light. What took me so long to go to users and actually do some testing? Had I totally lost my way? Was I really so busy that I couldn't have done this sooner? Then, 12 hours later, I turned my blog network team loose on getting into why we didn't have stronger engagement on the beta site. And bam! Again, right in my face: why had I struggled so long to figure out some of those answers, when what I had to do was get a few users to break it down? And with such powerful clarity, the answers came.

And then, two nights later. After reading a recent post in the social media category on that same blog network, a blogger recanted the famous Zig Ziglar quote, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want." And in that blog, it mentioned my good friend Rand Fishkin using the quote, and it really hit me -- life is as simple as asking. And marketing is no more challenging.

We all get so busy cranking out campaigns, offers, and lead scoring, that we miss the whole point. Just ask your customers what they want, give it to them, and the rest will come easily. Social media is the ultimate victim of marketers asking, "How do I use Facebook to get my message out." When what we should be asking is, "How do my customers want to use Facebook to enhance their everyday lives, and is there a way I can help?" The foundation of good social media strategy and any online marketing plan is content. We need to ask: what content do my constituents want, how do they want it, and why? If you nail these questions down, you start helping others, and the rest will be history.

So, let's get down to business. Here are the five things I started doing after my realization, that I believe have given me the inspiration to be a great online marketer again:

  1. I have created a 10 question task-based usability study for my blog network, and asked five employees to ask a friend/spouse to spend 20 minutes going through that study with them.

  2. I have launched a survey to intercept users on the Online Marketing Summit Web site to offer them free tickets to the event, if they're willing to give me more information about their content needs.

  3. I have recommitted myself to helping my peers and contacts. When I get a LinkedIn request for a job or with a question, I do my best to connect that person to someone who can help.

  4. I have started using Twitter again, to add value to the community and aggregate top Twitter trends in online marketing.

  5. Lastly, I have started listening more, asking questions, and learning. I have tried to do less strategizing in my own head or with business partners, and more out in the field, listening to people's needs and wants, as they relate to where I can help.

In such, I will eat my own dog food, as I have heard folks say, "Aaron, it would be nice if your columns could be a bit more succinct and to the point." So with that, I say adieu.

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Aaron Kahlow

After selling the Online Marking Summit (OMS) event company in 2011, Aaron is now leading the charge of the newest venture, the Online Marketing Institute - the leading eLearning platform and training destination for digital marketing education.

Kahlow is one of the most recognized thought-leaders in the digital marketing and social media space. Having founded, funded, and built three prolific and highly profitable digital marketing companies, Kahlow has also delivered hundreds of marquee keynote speeches around the globe. As a speaker, Kahlow is known for his inspirational style and plain-spoken nature where audiences always walk away feeling both motivated and educated. Aaron is a leading educator translating online marketing technology jargon into simple marketing and business terms. He is a recognized author, columnist (ClickZ, NYT) and authority on social media marketing, sales and marketing integration, demand generation, business-to-business marketing, search marketing, usability, analytics, and digital marketing strategy.

Named Metropolitan Magazine's "Top 40 Entrepreneurs under the Age of 40" Kahlow is also well known for his endless energy as an entrepreneur. Having built Business Online from three guys and a brother in a dentist office to BtoB Digital Agency of the Year; founding and selling the industry's premier digital marketing event, the Online Marketing Summit, and now on his third successful start-up, Online Marketing Institute, Kahlow is synonymous with building successful digital companies. Kahlow also has served on the Board of Directors and Advisory Board to many digital associations and media companies like the International Business Marketers Association, Search Engine Strategies/ClickZ, Microsoft/ BING Prof. Accreditation, Social Media Examiner, as well as many digital technology start-ups.

Today, Aaron can be found in his new home city of San Francisco, working on the global expansion of "Teaching the World Digital" in his eLearning technology venture, the Online Marketing Institute. Facebook and LinkedIn are his preferred places to connect.

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