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The Art Of Hype

Posted by 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:

NFL Pittsburgh Steelers Tankard


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10 Comments »

Mirjam:

sorry to see that your contest isn´t working the way you had planned and I noticed it wasn´t going the way Dennis had thought out for his contest either.

That does make you think though about how to run a contest and especially how to achieve what you want from it. I have some ideas why both didn´t run as planned but would like to see why you think yours didn´t go the way you thought it would …. 😉

Mirjam´s last blog post..Are You Ready for Change?

February 2nd, 2009 | 6:12 AM
Mitch:

Hi Mirjam,

I’m going to answer the “why” question in a post, so don’t think I’m dodging it. I will say, though, that had I been able to build up the hype for it all that it would have become a much different discussion overall.

February 2nd, 2009 | 2:42 PM
Jen:

I almost don’t agree- hype only works to a certain extent because generally hype is about talking something up that may or may not be good. That will only increase traffic and sales for a certain amount of time.

Promotion is where you have to focus. You must promote yourself, your product, and what you are doing and it not only needs to be believable but true for long term success.

Jen´s last blog post..Is Your Blog an Effective-or Defective- List Builder?

February 2nd, 2009 | 9:40 AM
Boyz II Men:

Jen, while hype might only be big in the short term, the important thing to remember is the conversion. The hype gives you the visitors, the next step is to convert them to regular followers in the long term.

February 2nd, 2009 | 10:30 AM
Mitch:

Hi Jen; at least you said “almost don’t agree”. I fully understand your point, but I think Matt kind of got to my point before I did. That being that, for long term results, promotion is definitely the way to go and to keep being relevant. But there’s just no exception to hype. All the things I mentioned, including the video, got no promotion from the creators; others hyped them into being the success they were. I wouldn’t settle for hype long term, but I’d certainly not be upset if I got that short boost of hype coming my way. lol

February 2nd, 2009 | 2:47 PM
Boyz II Men:

I hear you Mitch and it’s a question I ask myself a lot. People say the trick is to write quality content, but we’re doing that everyday and it’s still not reaching the high levels. I’ve tried to find ways to build hype a la contests and what have you, but it rarely seems to replicate the success of others.

It’s almost scary but it sounds like in part, it might be becoming just like you said. Hype is hit or miss and you just have to hope you’re in the right place at the right time. I know a guy at my brother’s college, he got coverage on a couple news networks for a site he was doing in which he petitioned people to send him their pennies to help him pay for college. Before the news coverage, he was getting 50-100 visitors a day. Afterwards, he skyrocketed. How was he able to get the coverage? No idea.

It’s a tough world out there, and we just have to keep fighting to be on top.

February 2nd, 2009 | 10:29 AM
Mitch:

I can see it like that myself, Matt. For instance, I like your site, and you’re talking to some fairly big people in the music industry. You have a lot of content, your site is on topics relevant to today’s music, and it’s ever changing. Then why is it not getting as much buzz as it should, in comparison with a site like Perez Hilton, who I think is more irritating than anything else, yet his site has made him a millionaire and a player in the world? That’s the eternal question in the long run.

February 2nd, 2009 | 2:50 PM
Mitch:

Hey Dennis,

It was way more of a compliment, but also a good example. You’ve done a lot of work in getting your name out there, and you’re linked to tons of pages. One would think it would translate into your having more visitors or more subscribers and the like, as well as more money in some fashion, but it probably doesn’t, in terms of equity balance. I mean, do we have to work on getting to the level of at least 40,000 connections like Lynn Terry just to make any kind of “real” money, or what? And, just how did these supposed gurus really get the hype they have; was it only by spamming the heck out of us and irritating us to death, or was it a concerted effort through JV and other processes that did it?

Lots to think about; that’s why I wrote about it.

February 2nd, 2009 | 2:55 PM
Mitch:

Dennis,

Of course I made a lot of assumptions and generalizations; it’s not like I could do a full investigation of you and find out what kind of money you’re making after all. Well, I actually could, but I don’t want to pay the money to do it. lol

As far as the post, I made no generalizations at all; I merely ask questions based on observations. We both know that 99.7% of all the folks marketing themselves on the internet aren’t making enough money to live on. Out of the rest, and this part is definitely a generalization, I’d bet that .25% of them are making more money than I make in my consulting business on a yearly basis. Those that make big dollars have figured out the art of hype in some fashion. Those that don’t have big dollars but are at least making living money have probably figured out the art of the list, or the niche, or something like that.

So, it is a numbers game; the idea is to figure out which numbers, where, and what to do with them. Now, if you’re the affiliate and internet marketing guru of the group, then maybe you’re the guy to respond to all the questions asked in that article that I’ve added a link to above. Or, if you want to keep it all to yourself, that’s fine also. Honesty, I don’t know. I, and everyone else, only knows what you deem to tell us. But I have read every article you’ve written on DWSM, including those articles you wrote before I met you; that’s the best I could ever do. I think I’ve probably told way more about myself on this blog, but there are still things I have kept to myself. But when it comes to making money online,… been an open book.

And, right now, I still have to write that article for the month.

February 2nd, 2009 | 5:33 PM

hey Mitch,
The comments on this post are as interesting as the post itself.
To thrown in my own answer on successful marketing hype, I’d say is is a magical and usually temporary thing.
But what I really wanted to say is, wow, what a game! I like when the SuperBowl isn’t a blow-out. And it probably didn’t hurt that I put $23 into a pool and got $40 out. My only gambling for the past year (unlike some poker players i know 🙂 ).
~ Steve, aka the “lucky” trade show guru
PS. Thanks for the history on the first SuperBowl games. I had no idea.

Trade Show Guru´s last blog post..Trade Show Zombies

February 3rd, 2009 | 6:20 PM