Having grown up with the internet and in the marketing industry, Scribewisers have learned a lot about search engine optimization over the years. One thing we know, and we believe strongly, is that for most B2B organizations, SEO isn’t all that important. Many B2B organizations are looking for their next 5-10 clients, not their next 500-1,000 customers. Getting thousands and thousands of eyeballs on your website shouldn’t really be the goal—B2B companies’ prospects are looking to validate your offering on your site, not buy something immediately.
We generally think sinking tons of resources and money into SEO is the wrong strategy (and also a dated one that many old-school marketers are stuck on). It’s bullshit. We’ve developed this point of view throughout the history of the agency—we’ve discussed it with friends of the agency, new hires and prospects and clients, who have all generally nodded along in agreement.
So we set out to write, design and develop what we call a Story Stream—a way more energetic way to deliver a big idea —with our point of view on SEO. It’s a format that takes more time to create, but the payoff is that the audience is more engaged, and it showcases something we want to convince others to try. We put hours and hours into scripting, storyboarding, designing and developing the Story Stream, and we were nervous and excited to put it out into the world.
We thought that we were being really bold, but not so much that we’d stir the pot. We thought we knew enough about the topic, but we were afraid that we might not know what we don’t know. It felt a little scary to basically turn our back on an industry that is SO BIG, and a strategy and tactics that so many marketers relied upon (rightly or wrongly).
We made a splash, but definitely didn’t get as much out of it as we thought. It was good, not great.
So, in the interest of being more courageous, here’s what we could have done differently, according to our pillars of Courageous Marketing: Knowledge, Confidence, Action and Evolution.
We developed this point of view over years of working in B2B marketing and talking to clients and prospects. The idea that SEO is largely worthless isn’t totally radical, but there are so many SEO companies and solopreneurs—with loud voices on social media—that it felt a little daunting to put our POV out there. Even when we brainstormed the name, our first thought was to call it “SEO is Bullshit.” We discussed the topic for months (good!), but we ultimately wimped out and went out with “The SEO Delusion.” It’s a fine name, but it actually takes a second to get—not so when you throw bullshit in there.
If we got a do-over, we’d go with the attention-grabbing “SEO is Bullshit” title, which reflects how we really feel about the topic.
Confidence in courageous marketing is about stress-testing your idea. We thought our idea that SEO is bullshit would stir the pot a bit, which made us all nervous. To build more confidence around the topic, we should have floated our argument off of more smart SEO folks in our network to see what they thought. By allowing them to poke holes in our argument, we could refine it and build confidence in our POV.
While “The SEO Delusion” is a piece we show to clients and prospects frequently, and reference often, we absolutely did not spend enough time distributing it. We sent a handful of emails, developed about 12 social posts over two months, presented it at our “Marketing for Humans” event and hoped that no opinionated SEO folks found it and started blowing up our spot on Twitter or LinkedIn.
However, based on positive feedback from clients, and what we know about the split between content creation and distribution—that organizations should spend at least as much time distributing content as they do creating it—we should have invested much more time and budget into distributing the piece.
Few marketing pieces are perfect the first go-round. This is especially true if you’re really sticking your neck out with a courageous marketing campaign. Following our woulda-shoulda-coulda approach, if we had led with a little more courage and made a bigger splash with a longer campaign, we’d probably have some feedback to incorporate into the campaign to make it even stronger.
Because our campaign was completely digital, it’s pretty easy to update over time. Armed with our Courageous Marketing Framework, we may take another look at “The SEO Delusion” in 2023, relaunch and say what we really mean.