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Internet marketing and the Kon-Tiki

Most people don’t know who Thor Heyerdahl was. I’m old, so I do, but I have to admit that I hadn’t thought about him much until today. I am in Oslo because I am speaking at a conference tomorrow, and my kind host treated me to the Thor Heyerdahl museum that shows off the exploits of the Norwegian explorer. It got me to thinking about what Internet marketers need to learn from him.


For those that don’t know, Heyerdahl was an anthropologist who believed that the Polynesian islands might have been settled by people from South America. Most scoffed at his theory because they felt that no ancient boat could have made it that distance.
Heyerdahl set out to prove them wrong, by constructing a boat (called the Kon-Tiki) fashioned after ancient Incan rafts, using the same techniques and materials. He put together a small crew and made the voyage in a bit over three months.
Yes, he made it. And yes, he had a crew. Somehow he convinced several other people that this was worth trying. Remember, he was an anthropologist, not a marketer.
So how come you can’t convince the people you work with to try out your ideas in Internet marketing? Why is it that you give up so easily when people say “no”? Do you think that the first five people Thor Heyerdahl asked to go replied, “Alone on an ancient raft for three months on the open sea? Where do I sign? Can we raft back to Peru, also?”
You might have to work hard to be persuasive. You might need to ask a lot more people than you want to. Perhaps you’ll need to pass up a few ideas to get agreement on others. But if you can’t convince people to experiment with Internet marketing, maybe you don’t belong in marketing.
Uh, and maybe you shouldn’t try anthropology, either.

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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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