It was a sultry August morning on Florida’s Space Coast.
My daughter and I, neither one of us morning people, dragged ourselves out of bed to take sunrise photos on the beach.
The sunrise was a stunner. As the bright orange globe slowly emerged from the ocean on the horizon, pelicans and gulls glided through the air, dolphins played in the surf and tarpon leaped out of the water through schools of bait fish so large they turned the water black.
With so much activity and so much beauty around, it’s hard to know where to focus.
And then I looked down.
As soon as I did, I stopped in my tracks.
The beach was covered with a pattern I immediately recognized (yet, even with a degree a marine biology, had never noticed on the beach before!).
It’s a pattern so common in nature, most of us don’t even think about it, let alone understand its true power and significance.
And it’s a pattern that, once understood, also holds important clues about what an effective marketing campaign looks like. (In fact, seeing this pattern on the beach led to a breakthrough in my thinking about a new project/business plan I’ve been working on.)
Here’s what I saw that morning (you can click to enlarge)…
Do you recognize this branching pattern?
Miniscule branches leading to tiny branches leading to slightly bigger branches leading to bigger and bigger branches.
On this section of the beach, it’s the pattern the water on the shore takes as it fights its way back to reunite with the ocean.
It’s the same pattern you’ll see in the root system of plants, in river systems and in our pulmonary/circulatory/nervous systems.
It’s a pattern you’ll see in manmade systems as well. Think of our systems of roads where small side streets feed into local roads which feed into main thoroughfares which feed into the major highways.
Why is this pattern so pervasive in both natural and manmade systems?
Well, because it’s so damn efficient and effective!
If a tree just had one big root, it would quickly deplete the nutrients and water in the soil immediately surrounding it. But by branching out, the roots and tiny root hairs reach a much wider area and have more surface area available to extract nutrients and water from the soil and funnel them to feed the plant.
But this article ain’t a lesson in botany. It’s a lesson in marketing.
Hopefully you already see the implications this branching pattern has for marketing.
I talk a lot about diversification and how important it is to not rely on just one marketing channel and/or source of traffic. Because if that one source gets cut off, it’s gonna starve your business.
PPC, SEO, email marketing, social media, direct mail, newsletters, print advertising and more are all branches reaching out from your business with the purpose of feeding leads into your sales funnel. Yes, some will be more effective and carry more of the load than others (there’s a whole 80/20 aspect to all of this by the way, but we’re gonna leave that aside for now) but all play a role in feeding the funnel.
And you can (and should) go deeper with the branching in each of those marketing channels.
Let’s examine PPC. Under the PPC umbrella you have the branches of the different PPC platforms like Google AdWords and Bing Ads.
Under AdWords, you have branches for the different types of campaigns you can run… Search, Display, and Video.
Then you dig deeper into Search and you have branches for all the keywords in your campaign that are out there to attract your ideal prospects and feed them back up into your funnel.
Even within keywords you can branch out further. You’ll have your “core” keywords – individual keywords that, by themselves, get a decent volume of traffic. Think of a keyword like “Chicago plumber”.
But then you have the long tail keywords like “best plumbing company in the Chicago Loop” or “need a plumber to fix a leaky faucet”. These keywords are like the root hairs. Individually they don’t get much action. But when you add the effect of thousands or millions of keywords/root hairs together they have a major impact on feeding your business/a plant.
Let’s go back to that pattern I saw on the beach for a minute.
I’ve been testing a new business model that involves SEO. The importance of the long tail keywords when it comes to SEO is a big deal (even bigger than it is in AdWords). It’s much easier to rank your website for long tail keywords than it is to rank for the main, core keywords all your competitors are also gunning for. So a lot of SEO these days rightly focuses on driving traffic through the long tail.
But that strategy doesn’t work as well for this new business model (which I’m not ready to talk much about yet… but will in the months to come). When I saw those patterns on the beach, however, I had an epiphany.
The epiphany was that the branching pattern for SEO is not just about keywords. It’s also about developing multiple web properties.
See, most SEO revolves around getting one website to rank. Yes, you can have lots of pages on your website – each (at least should be) focused on different keywords – but it’s still just one website.
But you can also have that branching pattern work to feed your lead flow by developing multiple web properties. Think mini sites, Web2.0 properties, videos and more.
Then, not only do you have multiple keywords feeding prospects into your business, but you have multiple web properties targeting multiple keywords feeding them in.
And that, my friends, is MUCH more powerful than focusing all your SEO efforts on just one website. With this strategy the multiple branches (ie. web properties) give you the opportunity to dominate the search results and win the lion’s share of the organic search leads.
As I said before, this branching pattern is so common cuz it’s so damn effective and efficient.
So take some time to think about the additional branches you can stick out there to feed more prospects into your marketing funnel. You could do worse than to follow Mother Nature’s lead in building your business!
Oh, and if you read this article with the hope of seeing some revealing beach photos, sorry to disappoint you. Hopefully you’ll settle for some of the sunrise pics I captured instead…