You Can’t Buy “Authentic” Marketing

Thanks for your reply. But your site is not very related to our products in general topics and other parameters like domain authrioty and traffic. I don’t mean that your site is not good. It’s just we have our considerations like such. So, sorry for this.

One of the greatest benefits on leaving YouTube is that replies like this from vendors no longer phase me. I can shrug my shoulders and move on to the folks that are keeping up with the times.  This vendor approached me about paying for a review on my YouTube channel, and I counter offered with a free interview for the paying members of Failed Normal.

Why I find responses like this from vendors funny is that they do not seem to understand their own demographics, and do not grasp the workings of “authentic” advertising. Since they do not apparently  know their own industry they rely on abstract numbers that do not actually mean much. 840,000 subscribers on YouTube is worth paying money for, while Failed Normal with currently hundreds of paying members is not worth providing any time. They look at the abstract numbers, and not the value behind those numbers.

I get a lot of inbound requests for doing product reviews for vendors, and many times they offer money. By and large I turned the offers down in the past because I do not want to call my loyalty to viewers into question. With how the YouTube algorithm punishes content that is not highly popular there wasn’t much I could counteroffer to vendors. So the conversation was at an end.  Now that I own my platform the equation changes.

Since this site earns its revenue from membership I still will not do paid reviews, but I can create content that I do not have to worry about everyone liking.  So I can do interviews and such with the people at tech companies that gives a better insight in to the companies and their products.  With the number of my members that I know are decision makers this is one of those times where the quality of numbers beats to quantity.  Do you want 5,000 14 year olds watching an ad about your product, or do you want 100 people who are looking to purchase a solution?

It’s sad because the company that reached out to me perfectly hits out demographic.  They have a price range the goes from free to enterprise. Their product offerings are squarely targeting the IT world with products that are still needed and relevant. I’ve used their products in the past and generally like them. But apparently Failed Normal, “is not very related to our products”.

This is why I get so frustrated with modern PR and Marketing folks for tech companies.  They simply do not understand their own market space. With posts such as:

  • High Cost of Free Speech – I talk about the real world costs associated with “free” speech on the internet
  • Buying Art – Talks about how to sell technology solutions based on selling art rather than servers.
  • Talking About Metrics in the Age of Unicorns – Ironically talks about what numbers matter and why in an age when selling products has become to be seen as quaint.

These are posts on topics that decision makers need to think about. Kids and n00bs think this type of content is a joke, but when you’re the one that has to pay a lawyer $350 per hour things like analyzing TOS become very important.  I want to bring these vendors into the real conversation.  I want to show members that these companies are run by real people, that have real motivations, and to explore their offerings so that viewers can learn about the vendor in a more comfortable manner.

I find it odd that the hot topics in marketing today are “native” advertising and being “authentic”, but the people reaching out to creators simply do not understand the people their industry caters to. When I talk with a founder or C level of a company they get what I’m doing.  It’s not hard to understand if you’re part of the demographic.  Trying to explain it to PR folks is a nightmare. “Uhm… well… I have this website where we explore Ducks, and their relation to success in the technological landscape… ‘Ducks’ being a placeholder for ideas and concepts that are not easily understood by the masses”.

“We definitely don’t want to talk about our product on a site that relates to ducks.”

“No… not ducks… ‘DUCKS’… it’s just a placeholder word.  It’s the undefined variable in the equation of building a startup…”

“No… no… Eli… we just don’t want to associate our products with water fowl.”

“Son.. of… a… … do you even… never mind… feel free to ping me in the future of you have anything related to geese…”

“Authentic” means nuance, shared vocabulary, creating the sense of inclusivity by sharing a mythos that the average person does not grasp. “Ducks”, “Rabbit Holes to Hell”, and laughing about,” Do you know who I am?” helps create a vocabulary for a community to more easily speak about the subjects that matter to them.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s powerful for the people that are part of it.

The problem that I see is that PR folks for vendors want to buy their way into authenticity. They don’t want to learn the language, they don’t want to participate in the mythos, they don’t want to sully themselves with actually understanding what they’re looking at.  They want to throw some cash on the table and expect to be let into the party.

My warning to these companies is that people like me will be speaking about them regardless.  Whether through Patreon, or PayPal fan funding is becoming the reliable way to pay the bills and so sponsorship and ad money is becoming less important to creators with a real following. These PR people that think that writing a check is a form of conversation I think are going to learn some harsh lessons as more creators simply close the doors to communication.  If you cannot be bothered to understand us, why the hell should we care about you?

Just something to think about as you try to grow your venture.  I completely understand if this vendor had said they don’t have anyone available for an interview, or they said they’d like to wait to see how the site grows. The fact that they stated the site does not pertain to their products is a laugh. For the moment this is a bit of free advertising that they miss out on, but in the future it also means this is a company I won’t approach once we are bigger.  I only have so many hours in the day, and I’ll use those hours to create content, and setup appointments.  I’m not going to use my time to convince companies to take free marketing….



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