SOBCon08 Notes Brian Clark: The Triple A Model for Social Media Success

Presenter: Brian Clark, Copyblogger and http://www.lateracation coming summer 2008


About the SOBCon08 notes series . . .

On May 2-4, Liz Strauss hosted SOBCon08: Biz School for Bloggers in Chicago. During the sessions, I typed notes to share with you. To presenters and attendees: please feel free to clarify and comment. I will share notes from each session along with how I’m using the knowledge to improve my reader/customer experience.

Brian Clark covered the strategic aspects of site-building. It’s good business sense to focus on real people, but you still have to make money.

A business model is NOT . . .

1. it’s not your revenue source

2. it’s not your traffic strategy

3. it’s not blogging

Think of yourself not as a blogger, but as an entrepreneur

A business model IS. . .

1. the right product of service [for]

2. the right target audience [at]

3. the right price

Are you in the content business?

  • content is marketing
  • you’re always selling
  • sell everything possible

Content is an attraction strategy, Agora financial makes hundreds of millions by sending out email. In 2005, Brian started building hybrid sites, which builds your list. Should you offer RSS in any niche? It’s better to offer email first. Content is your marketing, but the real business you’re building has to be selling something: lead generation, ads, products, services. Look at every possible revenue source you can.

The Three A’s of a social media business

Phase One: Attention

Phase Two: Authority

Phase Three: Acceleration

Most of all, you have to understand social media and what the people who use those sites are interested in.

Attention is a huge buzz word. Attention is crucial, but it’s not enough. By itself, it doesn’t do anything. Once you have attention, you have turn it into authority: build on subject matter expertise. His sites are based on expertise because expertise creates authority. Make sure that your agenda is out in the open, never be shy about the fact that you are in business. A subscriber who’s not interested buying something is not good for your business.

Acceleration means you’re building an asset.

Attention Rules:

– choose a high-demand subject area

The long-tail has been misunderstood. It’s good for amazon, but not for you. You want a huge audience that you can carve out a piece of. It’s marketing suicide to try to be everything to everyone. Choose a high demand subject area: making money online, social media, but starting the social media blog focuses on nothing so instead you focus on one: Copyblogger. You have to carve out a reasonable chunk of people.

– position the site to be remarkable

Positioning defines editorial. Ideally, you sell your own products and services. Copy writing is the most important skill you need to learn, it’s up to you as the business owner to develop the prime selling strategy, you have to come up with what is going to be beneficial and attractive to your audience.

– offer independent value with content

Content is the new advertising. Without going overboard, you’re going to need to turn your content into advertising: use direct marketing strategies get people to take action.

– utilize headlines and hooks

Headlines is where the game is won or lost: people are more inclined to ignore you, because it’s easier for them. Copy writing is about how to say something. It’s not what a business sells that matters, it’s how they sell it: Michael Gerber, the emyth

-transform attention into authority via social proof judgmental characteristics. Take shortcuts to deep thinking. If you’re popular, you get more popular, there’s an exponential compounding effect you can measure in many ways via social media – number of comments, quality of those comments, etc.

– capitalize on link equity for search engine optimization

attracting links is the secret to SEO, Aaron Wall is a genius – he says copyblogger is an authority, so many links coming in

– maximize subscriber base and build sub-lists

segment by geography, demographics- divide out different interest areas so you don’t annoy the rest of your audience

key: tell people what they want to hear at the right time

– promote affiliate offers to see what the market wants

Agora built email lists and tested affiliate offers for health, wealth and personal development products and then developed their own. Watch what people say in social media and you can learn a great deal.

Acceleration Rules

– build “back end” pages and spin-off sites

One way to build up a site with authority is to build landing pages with WordPress. Don’t think of your RSS feed as your site, engage your audience with articles, eventually what you’re trying to do is to build traffic. If you’re aggressive about that, you can take it pretty far. Spin-off sites – 2 ways: want an authority site at the middle of a hub and can spin off completely new sites and build up with other site owners who will direct traffic to you.

One of the greatest things about social media is collaboration. Internet marketers don’t see each other as competitors, they see development as a way to help each other. You want to use the authority to build pages out and then spin-off sites before going off into a whole new area. Start with that core site and build around it.

– develop your own products and services

once you have the authority, you have the trust. Teaching Sells is one way to go about this. Tending to move away from ebooks to virtual learning platforms like Teaching Sells.

– test landing page copy and offers

testing is getting a lot easier-Google gives you a free tool. Will hear a lot of information from David Bullock on testing.

– outsource and automate

Remove yourself from the equation, you have to have an asset, not a job. Work at home is really a job replacement, still not that ideal. The most important thing you can resolve is: you need to be able to walk, so that you are not an indispensable part of your assets. Start thinking of ways to remove yourself from the equation in a way that the business does not suffer. Brian will probably do a training program based on this model. He’s now partnering with some people in Hollywood. Everyone at SOBCon08 can get a free 30 day membership to Teaching Sells. This summer Brian, Tony and Mark McGuinness will launch a site on creativity and productivity. If you’re building a site on expertise and you don’t have it, partner for a portion or a whole – much easier than it is to build expertise from scratch.


Wait before you spin off and focus on one site. You can do a whole lot by sharing with other people.

Amazon books are not a great deal for making money.

How do you remove yourself and the personality so you can outsource? Not a personal brand and a media brand.

How do you choose affiliate links? Buy the product personally first, we buy it, if it’s great then we can promote it. The best affiliate marketing is done by reviews, not banner ads. The more you know about a product, the better you can sell.


Reflections and Implementation

Brian, like all of the speakers, was easy to talk to. I asked him when you know it’s time to let go and explore a new niche. He recommended Seth Godin’s book, “The Dip,” as a guide and he also gave me a few pointers on what to look for when you “mess up.” I wasn’t taking notes, but the conversation was about picking the right market: there aren’t that many, having the right offer and knowing when to say when. For me, I think it’s more about charting out the final directions. I often know I’m in the right neighborhood, but I can’t find the driveway.

“Outsource and Automate” is a key takeaway for me, but getting attention is really the priority so I’m testing out Google AdWords and twittering more. What do you do when you want to get more attention online?

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