I was curious. Always wanted to know why this or that works. I had piles of opened toys, gutted of their insides, mechanical, electrical. Anything…and everything was open.
My absolute hungering NEED to “know why”…it was a programmed instinct…engraved on every chromosome of my being.
I remember the first time i discovered chat on the internet. I was happy. I bounced off walls with a stupid smile on my face.
One day, I could be speaking with a university student of medicine continents away. Another day, I could be asking questions of the Apple mac lover community…so scarce in those days.
Chat opened WORLDS to me.
From my father’s computer lab at his Malaysian office…all the way to people from Canada, Australia, the world. There was something so “Matrix-ly” adventurous about it all.
You’d have a hard time imagining that sort of excitement if you were of the younger generation. They take for granted this new way to communicate.
Of course, the technology in those days wasn’t as good as now. The most popular chat systems were basic…lines of text on a black screen like Instant Relay Chat (IRC). And what was really in those days was, “Web Chat”–
A basic webpage showing the last 10 lines of past conversation…It refreshed itself automatically every few seconds to show any new posts.
I remember looking at how my favourite webchat behaved, like Luke Skywalker might have looked at a robot and just knew instinctively how to re-engineer it… A bubble popped above my head, i snapped my fingers,
–“Why Golly, I bet i could build something JUST like that!”
And so i did.
Ducked out in my little “Dexter’s Lab”, I programmed the shit out of it.
The end result was beautiful. I gave for free the features chatters were used to paying for. Such simple things as being able to chat in colour was usually something only an “operator” could do with a paid monthly membership.
I still had a paid membership program. But I made their features so cool. They weren’t available anywhere else. Like, for example, I integrated chat with mobile phones and instant messengers. Come to think of it,
I may have been the inventor of the world’s FIRST Instant-Messenger…
Even at 16 years old, I knew what a $37 a month fee from hundreds of members would add up to.
I programmed the “shopping cart” with my own bare hands. Merchant solutions were rugged and raw in those days…they didn’t do much. So I coded automatic billing, expiring unpaid accounts, and upgrading existing ones.
My upgrade packages were IRRESISTIBLE. I knew what to do to get more money from existing customers.
When it was all done, i unleashed it.
My old chat community were my website’s earliest guests. They arrived in flocks and told their friends. They had loads of fun.
So how did free leads KILL my business?
Well, my biggest challenge was getting traffic to my website. And I made a fundamental mistake that I see so many marketers make now. Perhaps you’ve been making the same one.
See, I noticed that when I advertised, I had no problem getting people to login to the chat. But they’d almost immediately leave.
I needed my chat to have chatters at all times if i hoped to keep new guests. So that when someone responded to an ad about the chat, they’d arrive and see that the site was busy and full of potential new friends.
So I cheated.
Don’t give me that look of disapproval. I was 16.
I programmed a set of random nicknames as fake users. So that if someone tried to see who was online, they’d see a hundred people or whatever. I even went so far as to create simple “bots” that would automatically respond to common phrases like “hello”, “how are you”, and
“What’s your bra size?”
When that didn’t work, I tried to get listed in some popular search engines–free traffic. I don’t even know if PPC existed back then…It was all about “search engine optimisation” or SEO.
I’d stuff keywords like “sex” and “nude” into the keyword tags and descriptive text. I figured those were the most popular searches people were doing on the internet lol. And they were!
Although you can’t do that so easily any more, I think most marketers these days are doing something similar. And i’m not talking about using the wrong keywords…it’s something far worse.
I eventually sold that community site to an investor for a lot of money. And aside from a few maintenance calls, I didn’t hear anything about it again.
Little did i know, that I was learning many lessons in business and that I’d eventually use every one of those lessons.
When I grew up, I came back to online marketing.
Once more, I was faced with the same problem. How do i attract people to my website?
I found myself doing SEO and banner advertising all over again. It brought back memories of my chat.
What’s changed since? I wondered
Aside from how much more difficult it is to get found today with so much brutal competition…not much changed.
People didn’t fall for my fake chatters nor for my sex keyword “optimisation” back in the days. And they weren’t going to buy because of my fake “positioning” strategies where I claim i don’t work with everyone because i’m so awesome and in such high demand. They certainly wouldn’t buy because I managed to get listed #1 in the search.
And forgive me for saying this, but so fucking what if google ranks my webpage as #1 for a search term?
Big whoop. Google thinks i’m relevant. But what does the person who clicked to my website think? What does my potential customer get from clicking my website?
I think when we do this traffic thing, we all get so caught up in making Google like us, or Facebook to put our ads near the top of everyone’s profile, or for youtube to give us a featured listing…that we forget what this business is all about.
Because ultimately, it’s people we market to.
They ask me all the time,
“Jim, why do you write these long posts, don’t you know the optimum article length is 400 words? Why aren’t you filling out the meta tags and description text? Why don’t you use this plugin or that…”
… and i don’t have a good answer.
I don’t write for the search engine. I write for YOU.
I know if you have a great time reading my posts, you’ll come back voluntarily. You’ll look for the RSS feed on my blog, god knows if it even works, and you’ll wait to be notified of my updates. You’ll always be excited to receive email from me. Even when I’m selling. Even when i’m being an idiotic wanker. Even when i’m fucking up and sending out broken links or misspelled words.
Even when i’m calling you out on your bull.
You know what?
A few people noticed that this blog doesn’t allow people to leave links in their comments. And they’re angry.
Is there some “traffic” reason behind it? Is it because “I don’t want to leak Page Rank”? Do I want to discourage people from leaving comments?
Not at all. I don’t want you to leave a comment to get something in return. And I don’t want to send you OFF my website.
I want you to leave comments because you receive so much value from me. I want you to have fun here and on your own go and tell everyone else what a great time you had.
I want you to devour my website, and read one post after another. I want you to have such an AMAZING educational, entertaining, experience that you’ll voluntarily share stories from me with your friends by email and twitter.
THAT is what motivates me!
And this has been my approach to traffic. Whether I’m doing PPC or blogging. Facebook or Video marketing.
I want my website’s visitors to feel they got value from me worth more than the time or money they gave me.
It’s from this place of servitude that I conduct all my business. It’s why I get traffic and money with ease.
People who haven’t had success advertising their business yet, they usually get buried in learning the mechanics of traffic and sales, that they neglect the very essence of what they’re doing:
And it’s not to create back-links or beat the quality score.
It’s simply to give something valuable, and exchange it for people’s time or money.
In practice, that’s probably harder than it sounds. But if you’re like me and you believe that it’s all about people, not traffic.
Relationships, not sales…
Then let me help you realise your vision for your business. Let me be the person who finally paves you a way to serve your customers so they love you. Let me be the guy in your story about how you made it…