How Blob Marketing Works

I’ve been fiddling around with social media for a while now. Long before that, I was active online. I had a blog before the word was invented. And I promoted that blog (it was an occasional column about California politics I called Content) through a simple email list that I grew to a couple hundred in my spare time. That was back in 1996 or so.

That’s all to say, I dig these tools and I tend to adopt them early. What’s more, I’ve been using them in a certain way for more than a decade now — and most intensively in the last five years.

I’ve developed a method for marketing and tending to my “personal brand” (oh how I dislike that term, though it is apt here) that I have come to call “Blob Marketing.”

Blobs Vs. Targets

Most of theories of marketing or promotions that I have come into contact use a target as the metaphor. Some members of your audience are your bull’s-eye. They are who you want to reach, because they have money, or can act on your ideas, or whatever. They are the special ones in your universe. Outside of that ring is a group of high-propensity folks, who probably are into your stuff and could be turned into customers or evangelists for your brand. Outside of that ring are people who are on the fence, and outside of that are people who might have just heard about you once, and so on. As the rings get larger, the level of attachment is reduced. Your job is to get people moved from the outer ring into the bull’s eye.

For years I tried to use that model and I found that it did not work for me.

Here’s why: I produce too many disparate elements to sequence them like a target. I’ve got a blog, I’ve got my Facebook account (now I have a public page to go along with it), I’ve got my Twitter account, I’ve got an email list I mail to each Friday, and I’ve got a bunch of colleagues, friends and family who sort of know what I do and are interested once in a while.

I see each of these audiences as amorphous blobs, sort of like this:


Working The Blobs

You can see that some people overlap from blob to blob, but not all. Also, it is not necessarily predictable and tidy. For instance, you can see that some of my work colleagues get my email, and some read my blog. Few follow me on Twitter or are friends on Facebook, which are two of my main methods for getting my ideas out there. But all the overlaps are valuable, even ones that aren’t necessarily where I would put the middle of the bull’s-eye if I were turning this into a target. (Note that this is not an exactly accurate depiction of my blobs, I am just illustrating the point. Plus there are blobs I am missing, like YouTube, Posterous, and elsewhere.)

The trick, it seems to me, is to follow a few principles:

  • Add content to each blob on a regular and predictable basis, but don’t flood that blob (ten Tweets a day is OK, but not ten blog posts)
  • Try to vary content from blob to blob (so the overlap people don’t get bored due to redundancy)
  • BUT, cross promote and don’t worry about a little bit of duplication (people need repetition before they will take action on a new idea)
  • Try to track and monitor so you know where your overlaps are (this will help you know what nodes are most important so you can adapt tactics)

Your set of blobs probably looks very different than mine. But I bet you’ve got one.

7 thoughts on “How Blob Marketing Works”

  1. As a visual person, I like the concept. My email blob has atrophied, replaced by Facebook, while the blog and Twitter are currently dominant. Couple of different “colleagues” blobs, plus LinkedIn and FriendFeed. If their adoption rate keeps its current pace, I can see Disqus becoming yet another blob.

  2. How cool that you were able to so clearly articulate some very strategic thinking with a word like “blob”. I love that! Love that things can be a little amorphous, that not everything has to be so specific or linear. It feels so much less stressful to be able to blob than to go after a specific target. A million thanks Brad!

  3. Yes! Neat way to explain the concept. Thank you to Lisa Hickey for showing us your page. We were just having this discussion this morning with a client. Thanks.

  4. This is a simple way of demonstrating “what is” and how you work. It is powerful because you take the moment “here”, depict how it works, and show it as an egalitarian model. Further, you are not doing some kind of evaluative and critical taxonomy that calls upon one to artificially value some more than others (those in the bull’s eye). You have determined the best way to “feed” your little blobs, allowing for “cross-pollination” in some instances…which could be a good thing!

    This is a very empowering model that you would do well to share — as you have begun to do.

    As a gardener, your “blobs” look like a sketch for planning a new landscape to me —

    Thanks as always for the insights!

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