A Guest Post by Eric McCarty of ITD Interactive

Let’s whittle “marketing” down to its lowest common denominator.   What is this marketing business about, at its core?

Every marketing endeavor, regardless of which form it takes, is about connecting people and ideas.

You have a product or service that makes another person’s life better.  That is, in its purest form, an idea.  In marketing, you need to plant that idea, that knowledge of a potentially improved life, into the mind of your prospect.

How Thoughts Became Chicken Sandwiches

The first best-selling “self help” book ever published (over 10 million copies) – Think And Grow Rich – had this message at its core: thoughts are things.  They are real.  Though you cannot touch them or hold them, they are capable of changing people’s lives and producing things that you can touch and hold.

Ever enjoyed a Chic-Fil-A sandwich?  You can thank, in part, Andrew Carnegie, the steel industry magnate who commissioned Napoleon Hill to interview the world’s leaders and write Think And Grow Rich.  Truett Cathy read the book and said it influenced him to help build Chic-Fil-A.  Carnegie’s thoughts influenced Hill’s thoughts which gave Cathy ideas and, voila, you enjoy a chicken sandwich.

Thoughts turned into things.

Notice that there were real people involved in this process.  Truett Cathy read the book because of the people who were interviewed for it and because Carnegie commissioned it.  He had trust in those names.

Names Names Names

Trust in people goes a long way in connecting people and ideas.  That’s why you have names like Richard Petty and Johnny Bench endorsing Blue Emu (one of our clients).  Blue Emu knows that people trust Richard and Johnny.  They want to plant the idea of soothed sore muscles (without the stink) into your mind because you trust Richard and Johnny.

Blue Emu is connecting people and ideas and turning thoughts into things.

There’s something mysterious about names.  Another famous Carnegie (Dale) wrote about the importance of names in How To Win Friends And Influence People.  “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Have you ever noticed how you can skim a page of text and find your name instantly out of all the other characters on the screen?  It’s your own name.  It’s magical.  It’s important because you are important.

The most successful small-town newspaper publisher, Hoover Adams of the Dunn Daily Record in North Carolina, had a mantra of “names, names, names”.  He told his reporters he would print the phone book if he could, just to get more local names in his paper.  That principle guided the decisions of his editors and reporters and created incredible success.

Think about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.   A major component of the success of that campaign was the use of names.  In each video, the participant mentions three names.  “I challenge Jessica Lunk, Erin Posey, and Lindsey Stroud.”  If your name is used it gets your attention.

Pete Frates, who started that campaign, understood the importance of names.

That’s great, you say, but how can I use this knowledge to make my business better?  I don’t know any celebrities who would want to endorse my ideas, products, or services, so what’s the point?

Why Does It Matter To Me?

Remembering that thoughts are things and that names are important can open doors you didn’t think you could open.

I can prove it.

We just published an infographic called Marketing Blog Writing Styles that got shared by six top marketing bloggers – David Meerman Scott, John Jantsch, Pat Flynn, Derek Halpern, Marcus Sheridan, and Spencer Haws.  And only one of them had ever heard of us.

Those were names that our prospects trust and we got a lot of traffic from it.

How did we do it?  We connected their names and ideas.

The idea was to take information that is already out there, connect names to it, and turn it into actionable content.  It’s about connecting people and ideas.

I wondered if it was a trend to break paragraphs up often.  I see that a lot of top marketing bloggers hit the enter key quite frequently.  That is something that could be measured with real numbers and it was just sitting there, waiting to be analyzed.

With a few simple tools, I was able to compare sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, words per post, and characters per word of 12 big-name bloggers in our industry and track their style changes over a 3-year period.

Why is that important?

Because these folks are successful and we would do well to see how they do things.  One of the big takeaways is that nearly all of these guys use short paragraphs.  The median was less than two sentences per paragraph.

Is that actionable information?  Yep.

You may have noticed I’m averaging close to two sentences per paragraph in this post.  I now think about it consciously.

The median word count per post is nearly 1,000.

Is that actionable information?  Yep.  This post is over 1200 words.  “Epic” posts (1,000 words or more) tend to get more trust and shares.  Let’s do epic posts.

So I had names and ideas but how would I connect them to get lots of exposure?  I knew two things.

  1. These guys would be interested in their own stats.  They write for a living (partially) and probably have no idea how many words per sentence and sentences per paragraph they average.  If I were them, I would be interested in that data.  (Nearly all of them who tweeted the infographic used the word “interesting” in their tweets.)
  2. These guys would be interested to see where they stood in comparison to other folks they respect and admire.  If my name was mentioned in connection with some other top bloggers, I would want to share it because it puts me in their league.  We intentionally used some with huge followings and some with moderate followings.  The guys with moderate followings would really like being included!  (All of them are worth following, in my opinion.)

With an infographic we had the opportunity to use not only names but faces and we didn’t have to ask them for their profile pictures.  Those are public.  Here’s what it looked like:

Next we had to figure out how to let these guys know that we included them in our infographic and hope they would spread it around.  Then, if it’s worthwhile, their followers would spread it further.

We took the time to find out where these guys interact online and connect with them in that arena.  Some specifically said email on their website, some said twitter, some didn’t say but we saw that they responded to blog comments or tweets.  So we went wherever they hang out and dropped a note.

The result was six of the twelve made tweets to their combined 300,000 twitter followers.  And their followers tweeted as well.


Connect People & Ideas

Notice that I’ve included the names of 17 real people in this post.  Hopefully that made it more interesting, more real, and built trust in the ideas I’m trying to convey.

Understanding the mysterious power at the intersection of people and ideas can change your business and make the world a better place.

Marketing is connecting people and ideas.  Connect your ideas with people and think your way to success.

EricAbout the Author

Eric McCarty is Marketing Director for ITD Interactive.  He has launched several online businesses and participated in and judged at several Start-Up Weekends.  A proud husband and father, he enjoys reading, running, and learning.