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Don’t Fall Victim to the Latest Digital Marketing Trends

June 24, 2014  /  by  Michael Westafer

Beware of the Gold Rush

I recently got back from an Alaskan cruise with my wife. It was an incredible trip, and probably the best way to see Alaska. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it.

We did a lot of really cool things while we were there. But you know what was my favorite attraction?

It wasn’t the dog sled ride on a glacier, or the hiking in Juneau. It wasn’t the magnificent views of Tracy Arm Fjord, or the lush mountain bike trails.

All of those things were wonderful, but there is one thing I will never forget.

It was a must-see video about the tragic history of the 1898 gold rush that both started and ended the small town of Skagway.

I know, I know. A video? That was the most fascinating part of Alaska?

It’s not what you would expect. But it’s an amazing story full of adventure, heartache and victory –there are even a few lessons for marketers, too!

The story goes that in 1896 a man named George Carmack and two of his colleagues were digging for gold at Rapid Creek (now appropriately named Bonanza Creek), and struck it big.

A few weeks later, Carmack and his friends claimed the entire creek for gold mining discovery.

After much success, they sent two shipments with over two tons of gold to the West coast of the continental U.S., and of course received an onslaught of international news recognition.

Shortly thereafter, over 100,000 gold-hungry men risked everything to move their families to the Yukon Territory in search of riches.

They were sorely disappointed.

Only 30,000 of them made it through the treacherous White Pass to reach the creek. Half of them looked for gold and the other half established businesses to support the miners, like restaurants, hotels and saloons.

Only 4,000 men actually discovered gold, only 400 of them found enough to be considered rich, and only 25 of them were able to keep their riches throughout their lifetime.

And when the gold dried up and the rush was over, shop owners lost their businesses.

But you know who made the most money? You know who died rich, and left an inheritance for his family?

Again, it’s not what you would expect.

It was Captain William Moore, the owner of the local logging company.

Captain Moore was smarter than everybody! He wasn’t interested in looking for gold. He didn’t get caught up in the hype and craze. He didn’t join the Bonanza.

Instead, he leveraged the gold rush to his advantage. He purchased the land next to the port and the whole town became his. And he continued selling logs to miners to build houses, barns, restaurants, hotels, saloons, and grocery stores.

His story is remarkable, and it got me thinking about our industry.

Every day we are surrounded by emerging technologies and bombarded with the latest tech trends. We read articles about how Twitter ads and Pinterest boards are going to help us sell more online. We watch webinars about how new marketing software will reduce our workflow inefficiencies and boost ROI.

And every year it seems like there is another yellow brick road to follow that will give us marketing success like never before; or a new shiny object that we must tirelessly research in order to stay one-step ahead of the competition.

The Internet is a freakin’ bonanza, and as digital marketers we are more susceptible to the tragedies of a gold rush than any other industry profession.

Listen, we’re all pressured to produce more results, create more engagements, generate more leads, and close more sales. The stress is enough to drive any smart marketer to attempt desperate measures – even when all signs point to danger.

I know it’s tempting to throw money at pay-per-click to get some quick, easy results. But remember, when you pull the plug on that stuff the results are over. The gold doesn’t last.

And I know it’s tempting to listen to that guy who keeps calling you and promises to get your website to the top of the search engine results page. But in 6-months when Google finds out he’s been farming bad links, your gold will turn to dust.

When it comes to the Internet, you’ve got to keep your wits about you. Just because one company strikes it rich, doesn’t mean you will too. And just because a guru stands at a podium and tells you it’s the next best thing, doesn’t mean it actually is.

The road to digital marketing success isn’t cool, popular or pretty. It isn’t quick. It isn’t easy. And it’s definitely not risky or dangerous.

True digital marketing success requires a long-term, strategic mindset. It leverages strategies that are tried and tested. It minimizes risk and it provides lasting, measurable results.

If you want to step up your game this year, then check out these 3 digital marketing tactics that I think you should focus on in 2014. There’s no hype, no BS, and no Bonanza – just 3 ways to make a lasting impact on your digital marketing strategy.