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by Frank Reed
A popular question in my house is, “Daddy, what do you do at work?” My kids are 12, 8 and 2 years old, so there is going to be a very limited understanding. As I try to explain Internet marketing to them I find myself getting too technical too quickly. Talk of Web sites and social media cause their cute faces to twist and contort and it eventually leads to them wandering off while I am expounding on the importance of a well written title tag. That was until the other day. It was then that my 8 year old summed it up when he interrupted my lesson on inbound links with “Oh, I get it. You help people.” Wow, out of the mouths of babes.


After I scanned the child labor laws and decided that hiring my son as a sales guy was not the best idea, I thought real hard about his insight. I began to realize that I was very good at complicating the already complicated world of Internet marketing. I also realized that in the end, no one really gives a rip about what is done, as long as it is above-board and can yield measurable results.
I am working with a prospect right now that I realize is interested in simply helping clean up their search results for their company name. My theories and musings on the hows and whys probably serve to irritate rather than to enlighten them. Today’s complicated world of Internet marketing, to those who are not in the industry, requires one thing: simplification.
Search marketing, social media, blog marketing, online reputation monitoring, and the endless list of various offshoots can seem cool and interesting to those of us in the business, but to clients and prospects it’s not cool. It’s business. They simply don’t have the time to care about the details. They just want help. I do believe that we in the industry have a duty to educate them in their “native language” (read non-technical jargon) so they can know what was done, how it needs to be maintained, and why it might be wise to retain our services.
So how do we make it simple for the masses? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Talk about benefits only. Face it. Most people just don’t care about the structure of a strong inbound link. They just care that they get them and that the result affects their bottom line.
  • Help them define success. How you get more leads for someone means nothing. What is important is helping them understand exactly what they can expect from a new visitor from a search engine, and making sure they have the resources to turn that lead into revenue.
  • Don’t baffle them with BS. We can quickly turn our clients gaze into a glaze with our “expertise.” Shut up and do the work. Results speak louder than words.
  • When required to speak, be human. The worst thing you can do for anyone is to come off as a pompous “you know what” because of your vast store of Internet marketing knowledge that you keep close to the vest. Share your knowledge. Give them more than they imagined. Don’t fear that you are giving away anything of great importance or mystery. Most will hear it and not want to do it on their own anyway. They will appreciate your ability to keep them up to speed though which will build trust. Try to write a program to get that from a client. You can’t because YOU have to earn it.

What other things can be done to simplify the whole Internet marketing thing for those who don’t know anchor text from a boat anchor? I know you have some ideas that you have been guarding for far too long. It’s OK. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly and share with us. It won’t hurt. I promise.

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6 replies to this post
  1. My little one likes to simplify also. She describes my job as “mowing lawns”, I own a 7 fig landscape company. I also complicate it when I try to explain my day to day job.
    I your son nailed it. It all does come down to helping people. The result of any task, tactic should be to help someone in some form. If you want to simplify for a newbie, give us something that is easy to implement, with no catches, and is guaranteed to get us a result.

  2. Great post, and true wisdom therein. If a client says ‘I don’t speak your language’ then you’ve failed to adapt your message to their sphere of operations, and it is useless to them. Stick with the basics and get more complex when the client asks for the complexity; don’t impose it on them.

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