Correct in An Empty Room

Ian Lurie

In marketing, it pays to start with your audience’s ideas, even if they’re wrong. Nowhere is that more true than search marketing: Pick the keywords they expect, and you’ll have a shot at changing their minds. Demand that they understand, in advance, that the phrase they use to describe your product is wrong, and you’ll fail. For example:

You consider your product a three-wheeled transporter.

Everyone else calls it a tricycle.

You don’t want to call it a tricycle because it’s just so unique. It transcends tricycle-ness. It revolutionizes transportation. It may change the world!

That’s just fine with me. But when you go to search engines looking for customers, you’d better us the phrases they understand. Optimize for ‘tricycle’. Buy ‘tricycle’ for your pay-per-click campaigns. Explain the difference after folks get to your web site.

Otherwise, you may be right, but you’ll be talking to an empty room.

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

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  1. Which is why we are an Internet Marketing Agency, not a Conversation Marketing Agency, though we really are the latter.

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