Like the yawning vacuum of space, the online marketing world is an untamed frontier and surviving there takes toughness and adaptability.
Star Trek the original series via Wikipedia
Fair Use for identification and commentary
I guess the recent launch of the Star Trek beta Website inspired this post to some degree. I've always been a huge fan of the show and one alien race I was always able to connect with was the Klingons.
Though always depicted as "the bad guys", the antithesis of the good and noble Federation, already by the end of the first series, fans were seeing the Klingons were not the ogres they appeared to be.
Far from simply an evil empire bent on subjugating the galaxy, the Klingons were later portrayed as a proud, hunter and warrior people attempting to survive in a competitive and sometimes hostile universe.
Though I certainly hope this isn't how you see your market today, I think the Klingons still present a great example of the kind of tenacity and adaptability every online marketer needs in this rapidly evolving field. Here are just a few of the ways online marketers can learn from the Klingon work ethic:
Always project the right image
The Klingons are feared and hated by their enemies. OK, obviously this isn't the kind of image you want to project to potential customers or clients, but you get the idea. The Klingons are taken seriously because of the image they project, and you must do the same. Later we find out that most of this image is just for show. The Klingons simply have a lot of poverty on the planets they control and have adopted the philosophy of taking what they need. But cruising around the galaxy complaining about their poverty wouldn't command much respect. In the same way, you'll find that customers and clients are far too busy to worry or care about your problems. Create a great product or service that people can't ignore or a brand that resonates and you'll have no shortage of attention and respect.
Be sure to leverage your efforts.
The Klingons' can-do attitude is well-known by fans. In the third season episode "Day of the Dove" from which the above screenshot was taken, they are outnumbered and outgunned but still unafraid to take on the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise. In online marketing as never before, size has become largely irrelevant. It's learning to leverage your strengths and skills that matters. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and tools like e-mail and blogs allow you to market on the level of the largest firms by carefully planning your campaign to reach your desired market.
A favorite phrase of Klingon commanders and a great strategy for every online marketer. Make no mistake, your brand cannot be built overnight and takes careful monitoring over time to respond to a changing online community. Blogs, social media, viral video marketing and the rest have made it possible for online marketers to gain an incredible advantage creating the kind of impact that once required a much larger marketing staff and allows online businesses to operate at a much lower overhead, but there is no shortcut to sustained success and your campaigns will be in need of constant attention.
Understand the rules.
Famous for their warlike ways, the Klingons understand the fortunes of war as well, good and bad. Because of this, they will not negotiate with an enemy for the release of prisoners and will meet defeat with the same sense of pride and honor they do victory. In the same way, online marketers must understand the rules of the new interactive environment on the Web, from the give and take of social media to the comment and thread etiquette of blogs and forums to the feedback on user review sites like Yelp. While these tools make it much easier to get your company's message out, they also make it easier for criticism and complaints to get out there too. The name of the game is engagement. Never miss the opportunity to respond to comments good or bad and always make an effort to make things right.
(Shawn Hessinger is a professional blogger at PostRanger.com providing blogging and social media for a variety of businesses and organizations worldwide. Shawn is committed to creating blogs and social media services that are beyond the ordinary and works with a variety of clients to this end including helping businesses and organizations get their blogs and social media presence off the ground.)