Three drastic marketing changes ahead for 2017

drastic marketing

By Mars Dorian, {grow} Contributing Columnist

Since 2017 is about to knock on your screen, it’s important to reflect on your online strategies. For me, the past year has been a paradigm shift in how I treat my personal site and the social networks. I am going to jolt you today with my three most drastic marketing changes I have implemented to survive and thrive in the online world.

Goodbye website

For the longest time, I have believed that your personal website was the most important part of your online presence. The holy grail. The mother base of all missions.

Every social media network and blog was a means to drive traffic to your self-hosted site, where the real conversion of clients happened. The idea was logical: you have control over your self-hosted website where the content belongs 100% to you. Contrary, on social networks, you give away power and are susceptible to their rule changes.

However, I no longer believe that.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the likes have moved away from being pure social networks and morphed into content producing behemoths with massive built-in audiences.

I just set up my Instagram account and even though I’m an illustrator, I know, it’s ba-ad. But here’s the good news: within the first month, I already attracted a couple of clients. Every follower and “soon-to-be” sees my artwork updates and can easily interact with me, which is not the case with the portfolio page on my website.

Another good example is Medium.

The content platform is a better blog than my website. Like Instagram, it’s a platform with a specific built-in audience (sophisticated content readers) which is segmented into topics, such as “technology,” “diversity” and “productivity”. Meaning, a niche-specific tech blogger finds an audience much quicker on Medium than on his personal website. It’s like a comic doing a gig at a popular club versus making the audience come to their house.

A good example is my online friend Srinivas Rao. He’s been blogging for half a decade on his site, but only when he started publishing on Medium did he snatch a multi-book deal with a Big 5 publisher. He could already tap into a huge audience actively looking for content like his.

The reason why content networks work is because they’re trusted brands which users are accustomed to. Readers already know and visit them, as opposed to your personal website.

Connecting beats creation

Oh, can I even mouth these heretical words on Mark Schaefer’s holy marketing blog?

As someone who has worked hard on my personal website, I have to admit that my Twitter and Facebook connections are far more valuable. Before you go keyboard-kill me, hear me out.

Let’s face it, being the best just isn’t good enough anymore. The cream ‘always rises to the top’ has mildewed. Blame the content shock, but there’s simply too much great work in nearly every niche for you to stand out. You have to be exceptional and extreme, but that’s hard to pull off if you’re an even-tempered human.

Thankfully, it’s not all doom & gloom. During the past two years, I’ve witnessed something fascinating:

  • Friends recommended my sci-fi books, which they’ve never read (I asked them).
  • Online buddies referenced my illustration work, even though they’ve never seen a single artwork.
  • Offline pals told other people to check out my blog, even though they barely read them (again, I asked them for specifics).

It’s not that they were lying, it’s because they’re human.

Seth GODin (praise be upon him) once said that people valued connections over expertise, meaning, they’d rather recommend a lesser capable person (if they know him/her), rather than the best (with whom they’re not connected with). You’d recommend good old Johnny, who fixed your mother’s toilet, rather than the best plumber in town.

The personal link colors your perception.

Even though the people in my network knew little about my works, they recommended me because they valued me as a person. We rode a similar wave length and built rapport, so whenever someone in their network needed an illustrator, they mentioned me. Whenever someone liked sci-fi, they tweeted them my books (while @mentioning me).

I know creators who are way better than me and get fewer commissions because they haven’t built the connections. I also know creators who are far worse than me and make wayyy more, because they did build even better connections.

In a world where top quality is one tap away, personal connection will set you apart.

Simple means sales

This relates to the death of the personal website. In the self-publishing world, I see independent authors setting up their fiction membership sites. For about $5-$15 per month, you can read one of their ongoing series and stay in the loop. It makes business sense: the author gets recurring income and is financially independent from ebook juggernauts like Amazon. Wooza!

The ‘only’ downside?

It’s not customer friendly.

First of all, even $5 per month for a single series is too much if the customer can stream the entire Netflix library for about $7. Not to forget the hassle: you have to sign up, pick up the right ebook format (PDF? Mobi? ePub? AZW3?), which you then have to download and drag to your device, for which you have to have the right reading app.

On Amazon, you only click on the ebook and immediately get it on the Kindle (app). It’s easy and comfortable, which is a deadly combo that wins every single time.

I haven’t seen a single author subscription website that’s profitable. Even big players like Oyster who branded themselves as the “Netflix for books” failed. They had to give up because of Amazon’s convenience.

Lesson: dragging people to your site to make them do what you want them to sounds good but is a hassle for your potential customers. Instead, meet them halfway. Selling books on Amazon, showing artwork on Instagram and writing blog posts for Medium is far more convenient for my clients. The price is loss of control. But it’s not about my needs, it’s about the customer’s. Simple sells.


This year has shown that even the most steadily-held beliefs (your website being the most important part of your online strategy) can be a fallacy. With 2017 knocking on our screens, it’s more important than ever to dissect your current online strategies.

mars dorianMars Dorian draws funky illustrations and pens sci-fi thrillers for the Internet Generation. His latest novel is available on Amazon for just $2.99! Consider his artwork for your next project:

Original illustration by the author.

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