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Photo Credit: Baker County Tourism

Cattle run in giants groups, led by a herdsman on a horse and a dog nipping at their heels. The herdsmen steer the cattle through ravines, over streams, into brush and brambles to a destination that they choose. The cattle goes where they are herded. This is a picture of the modern online marketing and so-called growth leaders that are popping up everywhere.

Have you seen any of these “offers” on Facebook?

“I great my email subscribers to over 400,000 in just 2 weeks doing this trick. I’ll show you how you can too.”

“Go from zero to 3 million followers in short order. Join this exciting new webinar to learn how Jonah Does did it.”

The marketing gurus are herding well-meaning and aspirational builders in the realms of blogging, art and music, and small business to follow the latest gimmick. In the process, the marketers sell their “growth hack” or trick that works for all of 3 days but costs several hundred (or a few thousand) dollars. By the time the builders realize that the trick is on them, the marketer is off to sell something else in a different field.

The Marketing Cattle Run Produces Little That Works In The Long Run

How does the cattle run feel? If you’ve gotten caught up with any of these herdsmen and their gimmicks, does the chase to keep up with the latest trends leave you feeling like a winner? Or are you still panting because the chase never ends and those short spikes in views seem like a let down compared to what was promised on the front end?

Photo Credit: Beat Kung

Photo Credit: Beat Kung

It’s like trying to keep up with the Joneses, except everyone is a Jones

Running around trying to keep up with the herd is tough. Actually that’s not accurate. It’s impossible. Add frustrating to it too, maybe even agonizing. Worse of all, it’s not worth it.

You can play the algorithm game on Facebook and your blog to gain more “followers” or site views. Once the trick to growth by playing the system against itself is adopted by the masses, the system makes a correction to change that. The algorithm doesn’t want a hack. The algorithm isn’t human. It’s a system. It’s the Matrix.

One thing that isn’t done as often or consistently by the algorithm hackers is real human connection. There’s a reason that Neo was a human and not a new piece of software. There are things that real people can do to change the world that no app, social media tool, or digital product can ever achieve.

What the cattle drive looks like and what it doesn’t

People matter. When making a real connection with a person is the priority beyond converting them to your email list, blog viewership or some social media follower number you gain success that lasts.

The cattle drive will take you through all the levels of successful impression, and quite possibly take all your joy and drive in the process. Your highest success, when the numbers you used to fantasize about come in, are overshadowed by the 5 new things you’re supposed to be doing to keep up with the herd.

If you’ve seen online in a webinar,social media or some other marketing pitch that any variation of these things are what you need to focus your time and energy on, you’ve been messaged by a cattle driver:

  • Update your cover image every 4 weeks on social media to remain relevant and engaging to your audience.
  • Make sure your SEO is configured perfectly or you’ll see a drop in viewers.
  • Instagram is the new place to build your following so make sure you’re on it.
  • Twitter isn’t where the kids are talking anymore, now it’s Boogle. Move to Boogle. (“Boogle” is used for example; any social or online platform named Boogle is purely coincidental)
  • Blogging 5 times a week is what increases your readership. If you’re not blogging every day of the week, you’re leaving numbers on the table.
  • If you don’t have a Youtube presence you’re going to be left behind. Start making videos. Make them of the caliber than a major motion picture would be with multiple cameras and high resolution, perfect lighting and beautiful people in each shot.

Oh, and be authentic. “Studies and research show that people want authenticity,” is what marketers say all the time to try and present something that isn’t gimmicky. Authenticity is the biggest hack in their world. True authenticity is simply a matter of you being you, not you following the bandwagons.

What Neo did that we can copy for real growth and long-term success

Where in your growth process is the soul and passion that caused you to start creating in the first place? The cattle drive is a migration away from the main reason you set out on your own to do the 1 thing you feel that you were put on this earth to do. No matter what field that’s in, that goal started as a way to make a positive difference in the world. You found out from the people around you, some of them close friends and other acquaintances (and some complete strangers met online) that what you do is incredibly brilliant, special, and you need to share it with the world. So you started sharing your gift with other people.

Somewhere in our growth stages, the cattle herders started talking to us, mostly indirectly on some digital media platform. Once more people starting catching on to your work, you shifted the focus from changing the world and making it better to attracting a big following. The following is what will make you a big deal, and make your gift valuable, or so they tell us. Somewhere along the way towards you helping to make other’s lives better, you were sold the idea that you becoming the main attraction was what the game was about. That’s when the cattle drive began for you.

But look around. There are incredible amounts of people who are also buying the herdsmen’s lines. The algorithm race is perpetuated all day. It’s a racket. Who benefits from it? Not you, nor the cattle who are all racing to the next trough. How does all of this rat race feel to you?

How much do you enjoy being treated like cattle? Would you rather be a member of the herd or something altogether unique?

PurpleCowYou don’t have to deal in the art of cows, at least not the way the herdsmen want you to. Instead look at what you can do to be a Purple Cow. Seth Godin’s ground-breaking book highlights how it’s the purple cow who truly attracts people to take note and share your offering with others. The sharing is where the growth magic is.

When sharing and spreading isn’t a manufactured thing, true transformation takes place. Those numbers you thought you needed are left by the wayside. Instead, you have a strong and thriving community of supporters. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility here.

Find out more from Seth Godin in this podcast conversation on the idea of being a Purple Cow, creating an Idea-Virus and leading your Tribe.

You can carve your own path or be herded into the crowd whose course is predetermined. The choice is up to you.