Those blog posts with carefully crafted advice about link building make me want to puke. Yeah, you read that right.

They say Hell is paved with good intentions, so I suppose they mean well.

A few neat steps and you're on your way to posting your links everywhere — and for free.

All it takes is a quick browse of a few sites, warm up a couple of tired topics, send your pitch to a bunch of bloggers, and you're on your way.

Except for…

Like anything in life, execution goes a long way.

My inbox has been brimming with all kinds of requests to post what I would refer to kindly as run of the mill, formulaic copy authored by strangers with the expectation of getting link juice from this site.

A personal site — not a blog network built on the work of several (often unpaid) writers in exchange for exposure. That's a different deal.

Guest posts and interviews on this blog are upon invitation only. I ask once, by the way.

Want to build links?

Start by writing content and stories that work — on your site. And get social.

You can be straight forward and honest as you develop your relationships, not just with the entitled ask, just like normal people. Unless, of course, you're buying the become-a-millionaire-overnight mythology. In that case, you're on your own.

This kind of approach doesn't happen only with link building tactics. There are many areas where people are still trying the hard sell instead of showing and telling.

Execution gotchas

(1.) People overpromise and underdeliver

There's a tendency to overpromise to get in the door. A different group in the best scenarios, or no one at all, is left holding the candle on the execution or operational side.

(2.) Consumers don’t care about your strategy

That’s right, your customers won’t care about your carefully crafted plan. All they want to know is if your service or product will make their life easier. And they don't want gimmicks.

(3.) A small marketing budget (or amount of effort) can do wonders

Believe it or not, I do think that the potential of social media will be realized most by B2B companies. After a career spent working with them, I know how small their budgets are and how creative teams get with them. They also know how to think more long term due to longer sales cycles.

(4.) If you start to get feedback from customers that your product is anything but great, don't forget that you only get one chance to make a first impression

This point is really hard because it feels like you need to keep backing a decision made to invest time and effort in something. In the link baiting building (I keep confusing them) case, if you really wanted to start a relationship, your email pitch would be worded differently. Go read it as if you were the recipient.

(5.) Don’t be afraid to take risks

One of the worst habits organizations get into is that of not taking any risks, which translates into not supporting individuals who think outside the benchmark. If it’s not been done before, there are no benchmarks.

(6.) Be that smart person who's not afraid to go off script

Why do so few individuals do that? Are work ethics getting so compromised that taking the time to think about a better way to make an exchange a real one and truly help someone is faked? You're a human being, not a script.

(7.) Never forget the crucial role influentials play

Every industry, type of service, and product has them. Go find out who they are and involve them in the process. Testing, providing feedback and input will shave time and effort and provide you with a ton of additional learning from which you can extract insights.

There is one caveat — don't make it a pitch one marketer, get one free daily deal.

(8.) If it doesn't work the first time, be open to the idea that it might work down the line

Sometimes it does pay to be persistent, to go back and fix the bugs or undesirable product features. In the case of the pitch, your feedback is likely the delete key, unless your note is short and demonstrates you're not just looking for a one night stand.

(9.) Don't be afraid to poke fun at yourself

Loved this video of Bill Gate’s last day at Microsoft. When used appropriately, humor can take you a long way. After all, as the saying goes, laughter is the shortest distance between two people.


As with case studies, while you may get some ideas, you cannot see under the hood (and may not have the exact same engine there anyway) to apply literally. The problem with canned advice is that it's for canned people — and I don't know any of those.

This is as valid for the la-di-da posts about link building as it is for operational aspects of business.

We learn the most when we apply ourselves to solving the problem at hand creatively. And by that I mean actually taking the time to read your email pitch and make sure it makes sense. "I've been reading your blog and here's what I want" skips the part about relevance altogether.

Good execution will make a winner out of failure. 


0 responses to “Failure”

  1. Do you think that impersonal, mass communications are how most business does business? If so, why? I think they’ve lost sight of why they’re in a business if their idea of connection with customers is collecting customer data.

  2. cost and scale. You’re headed in the right direction with your thinking – a better return is tied to understanding why you’re in business, what your trade is vs. a solution in search of a problem.

  3. Totally. Why you’re in business is what drives how you do business and, ultimately, what you offer.
    Your first point above, Valeria, really speaks to me. There seems to be a lot of over-reporting benefits while under-counting costs. I believe in under-promising (still promising a lot) and over-delivering.
    And the only strategy the customer cares about is the one which the customer see directly benefiting him.

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