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The Paradox of 
Exceptional Marketing 
Rand Fishkin | Individual Contributor | Moz
Why is the Night Sky So Quiet?
The mathematical 
odds of Earth being 
the only life-bearing 
planet in the galaxy 
are exceptionally 
low. 
Milky Way Galaxy: 
200-400B Stars 
~100B Planets 
~11B Earth-like Planets 
Orbiting Sun-like Stars 
SOURCE: 
Planetary Habitability Laboratory
13.8 BILLION YRS AGO 
If life can form on other planets 
(or if meteors/ comets can pass 
life between planets), there are 
millions of life-bearing 
candidates.
Two Possibilities: 
1) We’re alone (for now) 
2) We’re unable to perceive whomever else is out there 
(and they’ve decided to ignore us)
Type III 
Civilization 
A civilization colonizing enough of the galaxy to 
be perceptible to us here on Earth doesn’t take 
long on a cosmic time scale.
If any such civilization existed in the last 13 Billion 
years (and their wave emissions lasted long 
enough), we could perceive them today.
Something must be filtering out any 
life that could colonize the galaxy
The Great Filter 
Commonly achieved evolutionary leaps 
The Great Filter 
An evolutionary leap that no 
civilization has passed (yet?). 
Type III 
Civilization 
Species 
Origin
Maybe We’re the First?
Maybe We’re Extremely Rare?
Or, Maybe, We’re F#@%d
Fermi’s Paradox
It is no good to try to 
stop knowledge from 
going forward. 
Ignorance is never 
better than 
knowledge. 
-Enrico Fermi (1901-1954)
To Learn More Read: Wait But Why – The Fermi Paradox
A Similar Paradox Exists in 
the Web Marketing World
The Average New Startup Won’t Last 2 Years 
source
The Web is Huge 
200+ Million Active Websites
Most People Will Only Ever Visit 200-2,000 (1-10 in a Million)
The Millions of Search Results Beyond Page One 
Are Practically Invisible
Recent Data Suggests Searchers Are Less Biased By 
Position #1, But As Unlikely As Ever to Visit Page 2+
Nearly Every Web-Connected Human Adopted 
Social Networking in Its First 7 Years of Existence
But standing out in the ever-increasing stream of social sharing is 
an enormous challenge.
Avg Brand Engagement 
Data Via Forrester Research 
Rate 
4.21% 
0.073% 
0.069% 
0.035%
There are ~100X as many non-spam emails sent 
each day as there are Facebook messages and posts
Data Via Mailchimp’s Benchmarks
5.3 Trillion display and retargeting ads are served annually: 1,700 
per Internet user per month.
In North America, less than 1 in 10,000 ad views result in a click
Being Signal, Rather Than Noise, 
Is An Immense Marketing Challenge
Our Job: Take Companies 
from 
INVISIBLE KNOWN & LOVED
But, those immense marketing 
challenges stand in our path 
U 
s
We Need to Identify, Understand, and Break Through These Filters if 
We’re to Create Lasting Companies & Great Marketing
Six of Marketing’s Great Filters 
AUDIENCE 
COMPETITIVE 
ADVANTAGE 
SERENDIPIT 
Y 
FLYWHEE 
L 
COS 
T 
MESSAG 
E
Ability to Reach the Right Audience
Eric couldn’t have been 
more literal! 
Tip #1: If You Have Great Customers Today, 
Find Ways to ID & Target Their Clones
Long before anyone 
searches for this 
They search for this 
Tip #2: Know What Your Audience Does Before 
They Search For You/Your Solution
Even one person passionate 
about the service can get it in 
front of many others 
Tip #3: Even a Small Element of Virality is 
Worth Repeated Investment and Testing
Mark was among the first to create a comprehensive guide to 
Ello. Timing + content = domination. 
Tip #4: Early Adoption Gives an Unfair 
Advantage
Crafting a Message that Resonates
Tip #1: My Best Content and Stories Always 
Resonated Offline Before I Made Them Online.
If you know that this headline works better, change 
your page title and social shares, too! 
Tip #2: Apply The CRO You Learn in Paid Media 
to Your Inbound Efforts
Tip #3: Consistency of Message Matters. 
Consistency of Format is Boring.
Tip #4: Powerful Messages Are Simple
Tip #4: Powerful Messages Are Simple
Tip #4: Powerful Messages Are Simple
Fitbit isn’t selling “what,” 
they’re selling “why.” 
Tip #5: Promoting Your Self/Company is Hard. 
Promoting a Cause/Mission is Far Easier.
Cost of Customer Acquisition
Paid Marketing Spend 
+ 
All Marketing Salaries 
+ 
All Marketing T&E 
+ 
All Brand-Focused Spend 
Sales Spend 
+ 
All Marketing Tech Costs 
+ 
All Sales Salaries 
+ 
All Sales T&E 
+ 
Deal-Closing Spend 
+ 
All Sales Tech Costs 
Tip #1: Break Out Costs of Marketing vs. Sales
Tip #2: Spend Early in Unpaid Marketing 
Channels 
Trying to build 
competence here early 
is far easier than 
building it after your 
paid marketing 
machine is running.
Tip #3: Measure Acquisition Channels by CLTV 
(not just conversion rate)
A free trial may initially show worse converting 
customers than a demo, but if you follow up w/ 
right-looking trialers, you can drastically improve 
close rates & CLTV 
Tip #4: If Possible, Enable Customer 
Qualification 
that Scales Without Salespeople
Enabling Serendipity
Dinner 
Volunteering 
Tip #1: Increase the Potential Vectors of 
Exposure 
Conference 
Phone Call 
Coffee 
Email Reply 
Things You “Really Don’t Have Time For”
And that’s probably why the 
Batman won’t show up 
Tip #2: Things You Hate Probably Won’t Bring 
Serendipity
Tip #3: Know Something About People Before You 
Interact 
Fullcontact FTW!
A Story: Some Recent Serendipity
Find Your Competitive Advantage
Tip #1:
“We could make a better 
Tip #2: Consistently Ask “Could We Do That 10X 
Better?” 
version of that” 
“We can do something 10X 
better than any of these”
Strengths Weaknesses 
Facebook Video Social Ads LinkedIn 
Twitter 
Google+ 
Trade Show Booths 
Spending time 
getting up to speed 
on these may be a 
SEO Retargeting 
PPC 
net loss. 
Content Community 
Email 
Affiliate 
Display 
Partnerships 
Whitepapers 
Content/Native Ads 
Tip #3: Don’t Get Bogged Down By Your Weaknesses
Strengths Weaknesses 
Facebook Video Social Ads LinkedIn 
Twitter 
Google+ 
Trade Show Booths 
Hitting cruise control on 
SEO Retargeting 
PPC 
Content Community 
Email 
Affiliate 
these, rather than 
pressing an advantage 
could seriously hurt, too. 
Display 
Partnerships 
Whitepapers 
Content/Native Ads 
Tip #4: Don’t Get Complacent About Your Strengths
A Flywheel That Scales Without Friction
Get links Grow authority 
Grow network Rank for slightly 
Amplify 
Publish 
more competitive 
terms & phrases 
Earn search 
traffic
Plan for a traffic graph like this 
and you’re doomed. 
Tip #1: Anticipate the First Few Revolutions of Any 
Marketing Flywheel to Be Insanely Challenging
This is much more realistic. 
(via Crain’s Detroit) 
Tip #1: Anticipate the First Few Revolutions of Any 
Marketing Flywheel to Be Insanely Challenging
Get links Grow authority 
Grow network Rank for slightly 
Amplify 
Publish 
more competitive 
terms & phrases 
Earn search 
traffic 
Our social efforts never grow our 
audience… that’s what’s missing. 
Tip #2: Relentlessly Search for Your Flywheel’s Friction
Because Moz has had a lot of 
success driving organic traffic, 
re-targeting is a huge 
additional force on our 
flywheel 
Tip #3: Once a Flywheel is Moving, Any Additional Force 
Pushes it Faster – Leverage Those Forces!
There’s 
Another 
Possibility
There is a Type III Civilization, 
But They’re Not Friendly. 
Type III 
Civilization 
The Great Culling 
To prevent competition, a civilization may be 
killing off any who make it too far. 
Species 
Origin
“(Messaging extraterrestrials is) 
deeply unwise and immature… 
The newest children in a strange 
and uncertain cosmos should listen 
quietly for a long time, patiently 
learning about the universe and 
comparing notes, before shouting 
into an unknown jungle that we do 
not understand.” 
- Carl Sagan (source), 1934-1996
The 800lb gorilla competitors do not, however, 
appear to be the great filters in our world. 
Source 
Competitors: 19% 
Competitors beating you in your own 
marketing channels: <19%
Marketing (especially 
through inbound 
channels) appears to 
be a rarely contested 
and, thus, uniquely 
powerful way to build a 
competitive advantage 
and barrier to entry.
The Paradox of 
Exceptional Marketing 
Rand Fishkin | Individual Contributor | Moz

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The Paradox of Exceptional Marketing

  • 1. The Paradox of Exceptional Marketing Rand Fishkin | Individual Contributor | Moz
  • 2. Why is the Night Sky So Quiet?
  • 3. The mathematical odds of Earth being the only life-bearing planet in the galaxy are exceptionally low. Milky Way Galaxy: 200-400B Stars ~100B Planets ~11B Earth-like Planets Orbiting Sun-like Stars SOURCE: Planetary Habitability Laboratory
  • 4. 13.8 BILLION YRS AGO If life can form on other planets (or if meteors/ comets can pass life between planets), there are millions of life-bearing candidates.
  • 5. Two Possibilities: 1) We’re alone (for now) 2) We’re unable to perceive whomever else is out there (and they’ve decided to ignore us)
  • 6. Type III Civilization A civilization colonizing enough of the galaxy to be perceptible to us here on Earth doesn’t take long on a cosmic time scale.
  • 7. If any such civilization existed in the last 13 Billion years (and their wave emissions lasted long enough), we could perceive them today.
  • 8. Something must be filtering out any life that could colonize the galaxy
  • 9. The Great Filter Commonly achieved evolutionary leaps The Great Filter An evolutionary leap that no civilization has passed (yet?). Type III Civilization Species Origin
  • 14. It is no good to try to stop knowledge from going forward. Ignorance is never better than knowledge. -Enrico Fermi (1901-1954)
  • 15. To Learn More Read: Wait But Why – The Fermi Paradox
  • 16. A Similar Paradox Exists in the Web Marketing World
  • 17. The Average New Startup Won’t Last 2 Years source
  • 18. The Web is Huge 200+ Million Active Websites
  • 19. Most People Will Only Ever Visit 200-2,000 (1-10 in a Million)
  • 20. The Millions of Search Results Beyond Page One Are Practically Invisible
  • 21. Recent Data Suggests Searchers Are Less Biased By Position #1, But As Unlikely As Ever to Visit Page 2+
  • 22. Nearly Every Web-Connected Human Adopted Social Networking in Its First 7 Years of Existence
  • 23. But standing out in the ever-increasing stream of social sharing is an enormous challenge.
  • 24. Avg Brand Engagement Data Via Forrester Research Rate 4.21% 0.073% 0.069% 0.035%
  • 25. There are ~100X as many non-spam emails sent each day as there are Facebook messages and posts
  • 27. 5.3 Trillion display and retargeting ads are served annually: 1,700 per Internet user per month.
  • 28. In North America, less than 1 in 10,000 ad views result in a click
  • 29. Being Signal, Rather Than Noise, Is An Immense Marketing Challenge
  • 30. Our Job: Take Companies from INVISIBLE KNOWN & LOVED
  • 31. But, those immense marketing challenges stand in our path U s
  • 32. We Need to Identify, Understand, and Break Through These Filters if We’re to Create Lasting Companies & Great Marketing
  • 33. Six of Marketing’s Great Filters AUDIENCE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE SERENDIPIT Y FLYWHEE L COS T MESSAG E
  • 34. Ability to Reach the Right Audience
  • 35. Eric couldn’t have been more literal! Tip #1: If You Have Great Customers Today, Find Ways to ID & Target Their Clones
  • 36. Long before anyone searches for this They search for this Tip #2: Know What Your Audience Does Before They Search For You/Your Solution
  • 37. Even one person passionate about the service can get it in front of many others Tip #3: Even a Small Element of Virality is Worth Repeated Investment and Testing
  • 38. Mark was among the first to create a comprehensive guide to Ello. Timing + content = domination. Tip #4: Early Adoption Gives an Unfair Advantage
  • 39. Crafting a Message that Resonates
  • 40. Tip #1: My Best Content and Stories Always Resonated Offline Before I Made Them Online.
  • 41. If you know that this headline works better, change your page title and social shares, too! Tip #2: Apply The CRO You Learn in Paid Media to Your Inbound Efforts
  • 42. Tip #3: Consistency of Message Matters. Consistency of Format is Boring.
  • 43. Tip #4: Powerful Messages Are Simple
  • 44. Tip #4: Powerful Messages Are Simple
  • 45. Tip #4: Powerful Messages Are Simple
  • 46. Fitbit isn’t selling “what,” they’re selling “why.” Tip #5: Promoting Your Self/Company is Hard. Promoting a Cause/Mission is Far Easier.
  • 47. Cost of Customer Acquisition
  • 48. Paid Marketing Spend + All Marketing Salaries + All Marketing T&E + All Brand-Focused Spend Sales Spend + All Marketing Tech Costs + All Sales Salaries + All Sales T&E + Deal-Closing Spend + All Sales Tech Costs Tip #1: Break Out Costs of Marketing vs. Sales
  • 49. Tip #2: Spend Early in Unpaid Marketing Channels Trying to build competence here early is far easier than building it after your paid marketing machine is running.
  • 50. Tip #3: Measure Acquisition Channels by CLTV (not just conversion rate)
  • 51. A free trial may initially show worse converting customers than a demo, but if you follow up w/ right-looking trialers, you can drastically improve close rates & CLTV Tip #4: If Possible, Enable Customer Qualification that Scales Without Salespeople
  • 53. Dinner Volunteering Tip #1: Increase the Potential Vectors of Exposure Conference Phone Call Coffee Email Reply Things You “Really Don’t Have Time For”
  • 54. And that’s probably why the Batman won’t show up Tip #2: Things You Hate Probably Won’t Bring Serendipity
  • 55. Tip #3: Know Something About People Before You Interact Fullcontact FTW!
  • 56. A Story: Some Recent Serendipity
  • 59. “We could make a better Tip #2: Consistently Ask “Could We Do That 10X Better?” version of that” “We can do something 10X better than any of these”
  • 60. Strengths Weaknesses Facebook Video Social Ads LinkedIn Twitter Google+ Trade Show Booths Spending time getting up to speed on these may be a SEO Retargeting PPC net loss. Content Community Email Affiliate Display Partnerships Whitepapers Content/Native Ads Tip #3: Don’t Get Bogged Down By Your Weaknesses
  • 61. Strengths Weaknesses Facebook Video Social Ads LinkedIn Twitter Google+ Trade Show Booths Hitting cruise control on SEO Retargeting PPC Content Community Email Affiliate these, rather than pressing an advantage could seriously hurt, too. Display Partnerships Whitepapers Content/Native Ads Tip #4: Don’t Get Complacent About Your Strengths
  • 62. A Flywheel That Scales Without Friction
  • 63. Get links Grow authority Grow network Rank for slightly Amplify Publish more competitive terms & phrases Earn search traffic
  • 64. Plan for a traffic graph like this and you’re doomed. Tip #1: Anticipate the First Few Revolutions of Any Marketing Flywheel to Be Insanely Challenging
  • 65. This is much more realistic. (via Crain’s Detroit) Tip #1: Anticipate the First Few Revolutions of Any Marketing Flywheel to Be Insanely Challenging
  • 66. Get links Grow authority Grow network Rank for slightly Amplify Publish more competitive terms & phrases Earn search traffic Our social efforts never grow our audience… that’s what’s missing. Tip #2: Relentlessly Search for Your Flywheel’s Friction
  • 67. Because Moz has had a lot of success driving organic traffic, re-targeting is a huge additional force on our flywheel Tip #3: Once a Flywheel is Moving, Any Additional Force Pushes it Faster – Leverage Those Forces!
  • 69. There is a Type III Civilization, But They’re Not Friendly. Type III Civilization The Great Culling To prevent competition, a civilization may be killing off any who make it too far. Species Origin
  • 70. “(Messaging extraterrestrials is) deeply unwise and immature… The newest children in a strange and uncertain cosmos should listen quietly for a long time, patiently learning about the universe and comparing notes, before shouting into an unknown jungle that we do not understand.” - Carl Sagan (source), 1934-1996
  • 71. The 800lb gorilla competitors do not, however, appear to be the great filters in our world. Source Competitors: 19% Competitors beating you in your own marketing channels: <19%
  • 72. Marketing (especially through inbound channels) appears to be a rarely contested and, thus, uniquely powerful way to build a competitive advantage and barrier to entry.
  • 73. The Paradox of Exceptional Marketing Rand Fishkin | Individual Contributor | Moz

Editor's Notes

  1. (Working on this one)