Jon’s In Waikiki (AKA The Waikiki Marketer)

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SEO Gurus – Masters of the Obvious

January 18th, 2007 · No Comments

Hawaii has long depended on tourism for its economy. Before World War II, Hawaii actually had other industries such as sugar, pineapple and other agricultural products that made up a large part of the Islands’ wealth. While there was a tourist industry at that time, it was limited to those with higher incomes – the people who could afford the ocean cruises that brought them here.

After WW II, the visitor industry exploded as America suddenly had more diposable income, air travel came of age and prices for both hotels and travel dropped to a more affordable level.

Hotels, restaurants, tour operators all understood that giving visitors the ‘Hawaii’ experience was important. It’s what people came for; it’s what they wanted; it’s what made this place unique from all others. Hotel rooms were decorated accordingly so people had Hawaii inside and out.

Fast forward to now. In most Waikiki hotels, once you get past the lobby, you could be anywhere in the world. If someone knocked you out, flew you here, then woke you up in a hotel room – you would have no idea you were in Hawaii. You get the same bed, tv, chest of drawers as you do in Duluth. Somewhere along the way, with the invasion of major hotel chains, all that ‘Hawaii Experience’ was junked. There’s nothing special about most Waikiki buildings – at least those built in the last 30 years.

And then, in the last couple of years, we suddenly had a revelation brought to us by the Hawaii Visitors Bureau and other marketers of the Islands, and even local. They spoke in reverent tones of this brilliant idea of a ‘Sense of Place’ that they would now incorporate into Hawaii. After a million dollar study, they were shocked to find that people wanted a genuine Hawaii experience. Yes, it took them a million dollars to find this out.

This shows just how clueless these people are. It makes you question why people who can’t see the obvious are making 6 figures in these positions.

I was struck by this same confusion after reading about a similar lightning bolt that has struck a couple of big name SEO ‘gurus’. These are the guys making hundreds of dollars an hour for their services. The perception is that they have talents over and above the rest of the industry. So when they announced that ‘SEO is Dead’, I was intrigued.

Unfortunately, this idea wasn’t as advertised. The reason ‘SEO is Dead’ is because……..are you ready?……..you need to do more than just optimize to get people to buy! That’s right, they said – you need to do Marketing and use Persuasive copy and techniques to make sales today. This was the revelation they brought down from the search engine Mt. Sinai.

And, despite, in my mind, how laughable this is, they have a multitude of disciples pondering how profound it all is; people are not only swallowing this, they’re ordering another round.

The gurus are correct – SEO produces traffic, but you do still have to sell them once they’re in the door. You must work to complete the trip from search engine to purchase form. But if you don’t know this, you should not be in business.

Be careful who you learn from – I’ve learned the hard way that not everybody who is an ‘authority’ actually has authority. They just convinced the right person, or people, somehow.

This great idea they’ve unveiled is Marketing 101 in the real world. That’s why we had the Dot Bomb. The online market was being run by people who would’ve been shown the door had they proposed the same business plan as a bricks-n-mortar outlet. And yet, not all of them are gone, even after the loss of millions of dollars from these ridiculous notions.
Research the marketing leaders you’re considering listening to before diving in. Sometimes it’s not just the Emperor who has no clothes. It’s also his marketing team.

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