One thing that bothers me greatly [to say it lightly] is the use of “spammy” marketing techniques by Islamic organizations. Over the top teaser marketing [“we have a cool announcement but we can’t tell you what it is yet”], elaborate and lengthy copywriting, and just general advertising that makes me feel like I’m watching an infomercial. Shouldn’t Islamic programs be promoted based on the merit of what they contain? I’ve always felt such techniques cheapen the content of these programs.
This does not mean that they should not be marketed or promoted, but it means we need to evaluate the particular vehicles and strategies we utilize to do the marketing. Let’s re-orient ourselves around the fact that we’re trying to spread the message of Allah in whatever capacity we can. The people we are communicating with are just that – people. They aren’t units of sales, or sales ‘conversions’ that we measure ruthlessly. The nobility of our programs should be represented in the nobility of our packaging as well.
Leo Babauta recently discussed the history of how these internet marketing techniques became popularized in the general context of blogging, and also offers an alternative to these methods. His post, The Untold Story About Making a Living as a Blogger, is reproduced below with added emphasis on relevant portions.
The Untold Story About Making a Living as a Blogger
In my previous post entitled “The Scourge of the Internet“, I talked about things that bloggers do that annoy readers. The purpose of the post was to remind bloggers that their readers should come first, not their sales or numbers.
The response from readers was overwhelmingly positive. The defense from a handful of bloggers has been, “But I need to make a living.” And really, while I believe they are fundamentally wrong, it’s not their fault.
Why? Because bloggers have been led to believe that in order to “optimize” revenue and make a living, you need to “optimize” your effective tactics. Things like popups, affiliate ads, ads, mega sales, sales pitches and more … these are the tactics that bloggers have been taught are effective … by Internet marketers.
In the early days of blogging, when bloggers were looking to find ways to make money, they looked to Internet marketers. These guys would lure major bloggers (who will remain unnamed) with stories of millions of dollars made using certain sales techniques. Sure, the Internet marketers were spammy with slimy sales pages and sales calls and mailing lists, but they made HUGE bucks. And so the bloggers listened.
These bloggers, in turn, made a lot of money, because it was new and most people didn’t realize they were being spammed. They had a gut feeling, though. Then these bloggers created courses to teach other bloggers how to make money, using their own stories of huge income streams. They became the new lords of making money as bloggers, and they taught new bloggers their marketing tactics. Then a new wave of bloggers made some money (not usually as huge, but still), and they now had some proof they could use to sell these techniques to other bloggers. That’s the current wave, and you’ll see lots of them teaching people how to launch products, build traffic, sell affiliate products, optimize sales pages, build and milk their mailing lists, and more. They’re all over the place, but at their core, the techniques come from the early Internet marketers, who are now legends. Their techniques came from Infomercials and telemarketers (using telephones!), btw.
That’s Not the Only Way to Make a Living as a Blogger
So do you, as a blogger, need to do this to make a living? It’s the only way, right? No.
The way to make a living is to build an audience based on creating something useful, something amazing, something powerful. And to create a product of your own that’s amazingly useful, amazingly powerful. When it delights your readers, they will spread the word for you. That’s your marketing technique.
Notice that the above paragraph does not require any of the tactics I mentioned in my “Scourge of the Internet” post. You do not need popups to create an amazing blog or product. You don’t need ads, or social media share buttons, or clutter in the sidebar, or multiple pages, or constant sales pitches, or mega sales.
What you need is to create something amazing. Sure, pitch it on your blog — once. Then put it on a “books” or “products” page, and let your reader find it if he wants more from you.
You want to make a living — fine. But remember who you’re making a living from. Your readers. They come to your site for great stuff, not to read product pitches, to hear about your mega sale, to get your popup in their faces. They are not there for your goals. You should be there for theirs. And in return, they will buy your product, if it will help them with their goals. They will help you make a living, if you help them first, and don’t put your goals first.
You don’t need to be a spammy Internet marketer to make a living.