Mark Blasini


Market like a spider


As you remember learning in grade school, when a spider wants to catch its prey, it doesn't start by chasing after it. Nor does it try to get its prey's attention with some sweet-smelling trap.

Instead, it builds a web - an elaborate, finely-threaded, sticky web, one that is virtually impossible for its prey to see - in places where its prey is most likely to fly.

Then the spider just sits back and waits for an unsuspecting fly to come buzzing around and get stuck on the web, at which point the spider moseys on over and takes its meal.

Reading about my favorite bloggers, artists, writers, and entrepreneurs, I find that they too had this "web" approach to marketing. Instead of chasing after people or announcing some flashy, attractive offering, they focused on building a large network of connections that would promote them or their blog, books, business, etc.

Think of Tim Ferriss, for example, who, as he was writing his soon-to-be bestselling book, The†4 Hour Workweek, spent a year or so building connections with everyone and anyone. He made friends with inventors, tech forums, bloggers, entrepreneurs, etc. Like the sticky strings of a spider's web catching hold of an unsuspecting fly, it was these people who put the word out for his book.

With a different take on the strategy, Ryan Holiday, media strategist and author of Trust Me, I'm Lying, didn't market his book by openly promoting it. †Instead, before publishing the book, he staged a web of media stunts on popular blogs and news websites, inventing stories that were passed as "true" and thereby getting a lot of attention from readers.

When it was "revealed" that the stories were false, the readers, curious about who made them up, would research about Holiday and learn about his new book, whose whole premise revolves around how manipulative online media can be.

You don't need to go as extreme Ferriss or Holiday in order to market your blog, book, business, or work of art. †But if you want to use the "web" strategy to do marketing, there are three simple steps you should follow:

  1. Build connections where your potential followers or buyers are. Who are you marketing to? And what blogs or websites do they already visit? Where is their activity? Where do they leave lots of comments?
  2. Form connections with people who already have your audience's attention. Reach out to the bloggers, artists, writers who are writing for the audience you want. †(Make sure these people are accessible.) Email them compliments, ask them for advice, write insightful comments on their posts. Interact with them.
  3. Strengthen the connections by being useful. As you develop relationships with these people, find ways to be useful to them. Share their blog posts. Connect them with people who might be valuable to them. Write them guest posts that you think fit with their website. Bring them people.

Yes, the process can be arduous and take awhile. And like all advice, take this one with a grain of salt.

But the big benefit from this "web" strategy is that it saves you from having to be noisy and selly. †Instead of promoting your work, your connections will do that for you. †All you'll have to do is sit back and wait.