Rand Fishkin: Where you spend your money matters

This morning I had a video discussion with Rand Fishkin, who was keen to show what he’s been up to with Sparktoro and how this can be useful for marketers to be smarter with their targeting.

We discussed a number of topics, all of which are available to watch in the video recording below. However, the thing that struck me most from this conversation was Rand’s clear purpose on doing the right thing – with a clear social conscience on where the profits from the corporations are re-distributed to.

There’s a disillusionment with Google and Facebook, who have become too powerful. They hold too much control in terms of where ad dollars are spent, how much traffic/revenue they provide, and the reliance on this for brands means that they have a huge amount of control, that if they turn it all off businesses could hugely suffer, if not disappear, overnight.

If you’re a market leader, brute force media buying wins. If you’re the plucky underdog, you simply have to be smarter with your approach, otherwise the biggest budgets win.

There are many ways you can do that, which Rand shows:

  • Find the publishers who have the most influence within your target audience – this is where you can be smarter with your advertising, rather than having the scattergun approach, be laser focused. I liked the hidden gems list too, which shows some sites you may not have thought of. Equally, this is where being a content creator can be very powerful. Why just have the ad, when you could have the whole article. Surely that’s going to attract more meaningful attention? Of course you have to create this is in a meaningful way for their audience to value and engage with.
  • Find the influencers in your space – these are the people you should be engaging with. If you can help them, they can help you. I’ve always quite liked the concept of finding who influences the influencers. So don’t always go for the big hitters, they can be harder to reach. Maybe start with the lower tiers and work your way up.
  • Find podcasts you can appear on – as a medium, podcasting is clearly hugely popular. Knowing which are the top podcasts in your space can help to leverage audiences, and equally can help to find guests if you have your own audience. Rand shared that he says yes to all podcast requests, even if it has a small audience that can grow. He also explained how one podcast host found advertising, by using the tool to identify his audience and finding the companies they like.
  • Invest in your own personal brand – Rand is a perfect example of this, he started again with SparkToro with a brand audience of zero. But brought with him a hugely influential personal profile in the form of the relationships he has, specifically within LinkedIn and Twitter, to be able to promote content. It’s always important to remember that people trust people, if that audience is yours it has clear value when it comes to distributing your message.
  • Prioritise thought leadership – we touched upon this, with Rand explaining that the most powerful forms of thought leadership for himself are 1) blogging, 2) LinkedIn and 3) Twitter.

I really enjoyed this, and it resonated a lot. I like to think that personally every £/$ I spend is a vote, which is hopefully put towards a good cause – that also works with businesses too. Rand mentioned how giving money to Jeff Bezos has no impact because it doesn’t get spent. And I quoted James Altucher who says every $1 you spend locally is $5 for the economy, because they re-distribute multiple times. I think this is a really important message which should be getting a lot more attention.

There’s so much more we could have dug into further I’m sure, but I found this a fascinating discussion on Rand/Sparktoro’s purpose in what they’re trying to build and be an extension of the tool that helps, how the tool can genuinely help marketers to be smarter, and how to do good in the world where your influence.