The Art Of Hype
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Feb 2, 2009
This evening, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Arizona Cardinals in the NFL Super Bowl game for their sixth championship. The game is estimated to have been viewed by more than 600 million people around the world, which is phenomenal because I never even knew that many countries actually followed American football. Of course, it didn’t hurt having Bruce Springsteen delivering a supreme halftime show; wow!
Though the Super Bowl is one of the most hyped sporting events in the world today, it didn’t start out that way. For the first two Super Bowls, they had trouble filling the stadium. That was back when there were actually two separate leagues, and the National League, which was the much older league, was considered superior because the Green Bay Packers won the first two, and it wasn’t even close. However, when Joe Namath vaulted the New York Jets over the Baltimore Colts in the third Super Bowl, the game started to take on a bit more prestige and charm, and, well, look at the behemoth it’s become.
Also, when the Super Bowl, and football itself, was starting to grow, it was still second fiddle to baseball, which already had a bigger presence in at least the Americas and in Japan. It had a major appeal because all baseball took was for each kid to have his own glove, one ball, and one bat, and you could have as many players as you wanted. Football was a different game at the time, kind of lawless compared to today. The players wore helmets, and only the elite names were known. Football players didn’t have the same workout regimen they do today, the money wasn’t as good, and there wasn’t really much marketing. But when the NFL finally decided to start licensing their image, things took off, and they’ve never looked back.
And what else jumped up worldwide? Basketball! Soccer is a very popular sport in most of the world, probably the most played sport in the world, but professional basketball players are just as revered. The talent around the world jumped drastically once basketball learned how football did it and started hyping their best players everywhere. The Dream Team was the most brilliant advertising ploy ever conceived, and look at how it’s raised the standards of basketball in every other country.
So, hype is what it takes for anyone or anything to get really big. Most of the time we have no idea where it’s going to come from. Who’d have ever thought things such as pet rocks, Furbee, Tickle Me Elmo, and this year’s stunned, Snuggly’s, would be such big hits? Those things all went viral, and suddenly everyone, or so it seems, had to have one. Those that didn’t have to have it knew about it and possibly talked about it; now that’s power.
Let’s look at internet marketers for a bit. Almost anyone who’s really trying to do internet marketing learns about the name John Chow. He’s probably the best known name, even if he’s not the best internet marketer in the world. Yes, he makes a lot of money, especially from his blog, but overall, the top internet marketers don’t really consider him as one. Yet, his name is big. Why, most people would ask? I refer people to this article by Garry Conn titled The Day After John Chow Lost To Google. It seems that John Chow was able to create a viral campaign about himself by getting people to write about him and link to him. Doesn’t sound so bad in general, but he told people to do it so that he’d rank high on Google, basically flaunting Google’s natural search requirements.
What happened? Two things. One, he got his site totally de-listed from Google. Go pop his name into Google now; you’ll see a link to his Twitter name, and you’ll find articles written about him, but you won’t find a single listing for his site anywhere there. That’s what happens when you decide to go after Google. Two, however, is that he achieved exactly what he wanted to achieve, which is hype, great hype. He even got his page rank back, because, I guess, Google’s algorithms have to at least be considered as somewhat legitimate, and who would ever believe, with the number of visits his site still gets, that his site wouldn’t have a page rank at all. In my mind, if it were proven that Google could game the system regarding page rank, then everyone’s page rank would be suspect. Not that some of us consider chasing after page rank less than desirable anyway.
So, this begs a question much different than when I asked people how far they were willing to go for promotion. I think, by John Chow’s example, we’ve seen how far. But what he did can only be done once. What John Cow did, by kind of stealing a piece of Chow’s name, was also something that could only be done once. The new question is, other than commenting on other people’s blogs, or intentionally trying to find a way to game the system, how can one really increase their presence online, while at the same time monetizing their site so that they can generate at least a livable income via their blogs? Can it really be done in today’s age?
Actually, yes it can; however, it seems that one has to figure out a specialty, moreso than a niche. One perfect example is Stuff White People Like. This guy hasn’t really monetized his site, but he came up with something pretty goofy that a lot of people actually like (must be the same people who like Howard Stern), and the site has become so popular that it was recently featured on CNN; of all things! It was also mentioned on some other news show on another TV network, and that’s pretty big stuff. Yet, this guy didn’t hype his site; other people hyped his site, and continue hyping his site.
There’s the thing right there; trying to find out just what it takes to get people to write about you, to link to you, to help build your name up so that people want to keep coming by to see what you have to say, and possibly check out something you’re marketing here and there. What is it that can be done, other than, well, the art of the fluke?
Take this blog. At this juncture, we all know that my contest is going to be a flop. I marketed it as well as I could, commenting on a lot of blogs, seeing that it was mentioned on a few others, posting it to Twitter,… nothing big came about it. This blog is linked to over 9,500 other blogs; one would think that would help generate something big. Then again, Dennis’ blog, Direct Sales Web Marketing, is linked to over 18,000 sites; one would think the same about him. So, this tells us it’s not about linking.
It’s also not related to the number of posts one writes; heck, who’s writing more blog posts per day than me that’s not a blog with multiple writers? Who could say that I’m not writing unique content, albeit sometimes a little long (yup, this one’s going to be long)? Obviously unique content isn’t the only answer either.
What is it? In a way, it’s all about publicity, about getting more people to write about you or talk about you some way, or about marketing yourself by non-traditional methods such as Adwords or local offline mailers. Supposedly, it’s also about creating information products and giving them away for free if people give you their name and email address so you can have them on a mailing list; I don’t think that quite qualifies as publicity or hype, although as a marketing and sales strategy it might work.
So, I’ve asked the question; it’s another one of those questions that could probably go with my post on learning affiliate marketing together, but not totally, since that one is more about marketing than about building hype. Can anyone purposely build hype in today’s market, or is it really just a hit and miss thing like the movie clip below? Let me know your thoughts: