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Web marketing is like cooking

My wife is a great cook. Not just good. She’s an outstanding cook. I mean restaurant quality. When we first got married, she learned that I loved Indian food, so she started making Indian food at home. Sometimes I’m drawn to the kitchen by that uniquely Indian scent of 29 different spices wafting through the air. She’s measured her spices ahead of time, each one patiently waiting for the right moment in the process to make its appearance in the hot oil. Even as I write this, I can almost hear the sizzle of mustard seeds landing in the pan. So, what does this have to do with marketing? Read on.


I can go on and on about what a great cook Linda is. She uses fresh vegetables and other ingredients. She makes dishes that are healthy as well as delicious. But there’s something I haven’t told you: She always uses a recipe. In fact, she often uses a recipe even when she’s made a dish many times.
Does that surprise you? Sure, a lot of great cooks can just size up a pile of ingredients and wing it. They don’t need recipes; they can just create. Linda is not that kind of cook. No matter what she’s making, she’ll crack open a cookbook or she’ll Google something. She wants to have someone else’s plan in front of her when she’s doing her creating—she’s not creating a recipe, she’s creating our dinner.
And you know what? I couldn’t care less. The food tastes every bit as good when Linda uses a recipe as it does if some other cook creates something.
Why am I telling marketers this story? Because most of us are not the people who create recipes. Most of us won’t conjure up some entirely new method of marketing. Most of us don’t fancy ourselves the creative type. We are always on the lookout for someone else’s good idea.
And you know what? Your customers couldn’t care less. Your marketing can be just as good following someone else’s recipe as if you created the idea yourself.
Now, understand, I’m not telling you to plagiarize or to shamelessly duplicate something someone else did. I’m saying something else.
Stop feeling held back in Web marketing because you’re not creative. Or because you don’t think your ideas are any good. Or because you can never think of something to try.
The great thing about doing it wrong quickly is that you don’t have to be brilliant. You don’t have to be the one with the great idea. You don’t even have to get it right on the second try.
What you do need is persistence. To be willing to try. To be willing to draw inspiration from someone else’s recipe. If you keep trying things, you’ll eventually lurch into what’s right, even if it wasn’t your idea, and even if you didn’t create any new marketing. Maybe all you’ll ever create is new customers. That’s good enough.
You can be a great cook by following a recipe. The food tastes just as good.
So what’s stopping you? What’s preventing you from giving something a try? What is it that’s holding you back from trying just one experiment today? If it’s lack of creativity, it might be time to break out the recipe book.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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