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Five Inescapable Web Marketing Trends

MAYA stands for Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. Industrial designer Raymond Loewy coined the term. I learned MAYA reading Hitmakers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction. Derek Thompson’s book is a fitting companion to another favorite marketing book – Made To Stick by the Heath brothers. Reading Thompson, the Heath brothers and Simon Sinek’s Start With Why show five inescapable marketing trends.

  • Simple Works
  • Known Beats Unknown
  • Know Your Network
  • Find Blue Oceans
  • Why then How

Simple Works

Simple is what Uber, Airbnb, and Facebook share. Complex technology makes those applications simple to use, share, and recommend. Hitmakers share a perfect example. Directors pitch movies as unique combinations of known and successful films, ideas, or concepts. Titanic is Romeo and Juliette on a sinking boat. Star Wars is a western in space.

Reaching too far is easy. Many movies attempt to combine too many ideas.

  • Superman IV – Superman, goes to China and bombs
  • Tarzan (1981) – Edgar Rice Burroughs famous tale told from Jane’s point of view missed the vine
  • Ishtar – Two untalented lounge singers go to Morocco and get lost despite big stars

Combine two many ideas results in confusion. Confused customers do many things buying is rarely one of them. Look for the unique combinations of ideas sure to address customer pain points and keep it simple.

  • Facebook – Stay in touch with friends and family
  • Airbnb – Convert unused space into money and stay in expensive places for less with a homier feel
  • Uber – Use your phone to order a car, watch it while it drives to you, and then pay without cash

Known Beats Unknown

People wrestle between two poles – having the courage to try new things and wanting the tried and true. If your ideas, products, brands and website are surprisingly new wrap it in a familiar blanket. Use surprise to inject the “old” and “familiar” with new life and interest. Using a related and well-known idea, thing, or example creates assurance.

When viewers with no prior knowledge of cubist art saw paintings by Picasso, George Braque, and Juan Gris they didn’t like them. As stories were about the art and artists were shared viewers “like” ratings went up.  Stories rich with universal analogies and detail helped cubist art haters become art lovers.

Stories help website visitors become buyers too. But there’s a rub. What your friends, area or country understand as “universal” may be unknown somewhere else. Find stories, analogies, and examples right for your brands and products. Right in this context means easily understood by potential customers.

Look for “universal” examples such as:

  • Driving A Car – For an American or European audience works great possibly less so in other countries
  • Mothers and Fathers – What “mother” and “father” mean may be culturally specific, but we all have or had both somewhere
  • Growing up – Why are there so many teenage angst movies? Because growing up is a universal tribulation
  • Going To School – Another rich vein of Holden Caulfield-like content because almost everyone has been to school
  • Played Games – Games vary by culture, but every one of your customers played or plays games

Know Your Network

We’ve always been fascinated with the 1:9:90 rule of content marketing.

  • 1% of a website’s visitors will contribute something of meaning
  • 9% will share and support a site’s content especially when the content author is one of the one%ers
  • 90% of a website’s traffic will read and possibly buy without the active engagement of the first two groups

We advise our clients to know their 10%, customers willing to advocate, support, and share their content. While knowing our 10% remains relevant, we’ve modified our advice. Today our clients need to know those within their tribe capable of “broadcast diffusion.” Broadcast distribution refers to the one, two or maybe five customers within every popular website’s tribe capable of blowing up an idea.

We used to believe in the myth of viral marketing – that an idea’s merit would carry it to fame one customer at a time. Not so much it turns out since most viral blow ups happen thanks to a source of “broadcast diffusion.” We know how the myth got started too. Sometimes it’s hard to see the broadcaster behind a blow-up. Sometimes the real reason an idea attracted a vast following is dark and unknown. Dig hard and long enough, and you’ll find the Ashton Kutcher, Seth Godin, New York Times behind the trend’s mass adoption.

Knowing your 10% is necessary. Knowing the one, two or five people or institutions willing to help your message blow up is crucial.

Find Blue Oceans

Blue Ocean Strategy: How To Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competitors irrelevant is another great book for web marketing web sites fight the expected battles in well worn ways. We advise Curagami customers to break out, think different, and create a blue ocean. Time is the only thing we can’t spend more than once or in more ways than one.

That’s why we recommend allocating significant resources, strategy, and money to changing the way your customers “do business”. Fighting incremental battles doesn’t scale. Fight the battles you can win and whose victories bring new profits, customers, and make competitors irrelevant. Examples of successful blue ocean strategies include:

  • Cirque du Soleil – Redefining “circus” with lower costs and higher profits
  • Uber – Using smartphones to redefine “taxi.”
  • Apple – Developing technology to prompt and support exploration and education
  • Netflix – Creating and distributing content sure to redefine “TV” and “cable TV”

Why Then How

Entrepreneurs are doers. That’s why it is so hard to slow Curagami’s clients down. Knowing who you are, what your business stands for, and what you’re willing to sacrifice are web marketing CFS (Critical Success Factors). Simon Sinek’s book knows our human tendency to begin building before we know our “why”.  You can’t get there – a website others will love – from here (not knowing, communicating or sharing your why).

The ABOUT page on any website is the most important page. A website’s about page rarely receive the attention, care, and strategy deserved. Every online tribe begins with a creator’s passion. Passion and excitement are contagious. If you can’t write an exciting ABOUT page, a page others want to read and share then you aren’t ready to create a website.

And if you haven’t read Simon Sinek’s Start With Why then you know where you need to begin.


MAYA and the Story of E-commerce – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

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