Marketing Channels: Larry Kim Teaches Unicorn Marketing
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Marketing Channels: Larry Kim Teaches Unicorn Marketing

– Hello everybody. Welcome to another HubSpot Masterclass. My name is Kevin Dunn. I’m one of the inbound
professors with HubSpot Academy. Today’s masterclass is presented
to you by HubSpot Academy, HubSpot’s official learning resource and the worldwide leader in inbound marketing and sales education. HubSpot Academy offers free certifications and free courses to not
only grow your business but to grow your career. Today I’m with Larry Kim. He’s the CEO of Mobile Monkey. He’s the founder of WordStream. One of the top columnists for, and I think you were ranked number eight on most popular
contributors to So there’s also a rumor that there’s slight obsession for unicorns. Sounds like after today’s session maybe that’s an obsession
we should all share. So, I’ll gladly hand it off to Larry. Thank you so much for joining us. – Thanks Kevin. Thanks for having me. Thank you listeners. Thanks for tuning in
for the session today. Talk about a crazy topic. It’s called the Unicorn Marketing, how to achieve unusually great, remarkable growth rates in marketing, basically every channel of
marketing that you can think of. On today’s agenda it’s mostly we’ll be talking about unicorns
starting with my theory of unicorn marketing
followed by a discussion of donkeys versus unicorns. Next we’ll talk a little
about the latest technologies in unicorn and donkey detection. Followed by introducing
some new concepts around the unicorn alert and
making unicorn babies, and just in case you
thought maybe you went into the wrong livestream, no trust me, this is the correct livestream. We will be talking about
some marketing content there, and specifically some
tips and tricks and hacks for getting unusually great results. Guys, all the slides today are available for download at,, and there’s over 150 slides today. So, definitely try to download
those slides if you can. Before getting all to the
hacks and tips and tricks, I wanted to introduce myself briefly. My name’s Larry. As Kevin mentioned, I’m
slightly obsessed with unicorns, having founded the
International Unicorn Marketing Association of the World. I live in Harvard Square in Cambridge. It’s just a couple miles from here. It’s a very famous area. It’s where Facebook was founded. It was where Microsoft was founded. It’s also where I started
WordStream back in 2008. Maybe like starting it
like a lot of you guys as a kind of sole proprietor,
internet marketing guru, consultant, and working out
of a Panera Bread bakery because of the free wifi and
unlimited diet coke refills. The company’s gotten a lot bigger. We’re over 200 people. We have an office in the Prude mall, and managing hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars
of advertising spent for the thousands and
thousands of clients worldwide. It’s the world’s leading provider of online advertising
software for small businesses, and as Kevin mentioned earlier, I recently took a new job
as CEO of a new venture in the AI mobile chat bot space. Last thing I’ll say about myself
is I have a three year old. His name’s #ppckid and you
can follow him on Twitter. Alright so, enough about me. Back to our story. We’re talking about unicorn
marketing starting with part one my crazy unicorn theory of marketing, and basically guys here’s the problem. When I look at marketing today, the sad story is that 98%
of the marketing efforts that we’re working so
hard on are going nowhere, and I’m not criticizing you. This is the case for all of us. This is the case for me. Let me give you an example. Last year I published
300 content campaigns. That’s a lot of content. And eight of them did well, okay, and the remaining 292
went nowhere, alright. So that’s 2.6% did really well and then 97.4% were donkeys, okay. So, why the heck is this? I think it’s a couple reasons. First problem I see is that there’s, whenever I talk about
this issue with experts and tell them hey guys most
of my stuff goes nowhere, they say like, they give
me these dumb platitudes about oh Larry you gotta focus
on the quality not quantity and I’m like barf because
like this is just like these dumb cliches basically. And basically when I ask them
so what exactly is the quality in these marketing campaigns? They say oh well it’s
campaigns that I worked on, or it’s basically a checklist approach. Basically content that
has like three images or 1500 words or et cetera et cetera, and so they just make
this kind of an argument for a technical definition of quality in terms of checking the
box on 10 or more things, and I’m like well guys I
actually checked the box on all those things on 100%
of my content campaigns and yet still 98% of
these things went nowhere, and so guys I think there’s
more to it going on here. The success rate is actually
getting worse and worse, and there’s a reason for this, and the main reason I think
has to do with the fact that Google and Facebook
algorithms have been changing how they distribute
traffic to your website, and Google Facebook that’s
probably like 60%, 70% of a typical company’s website. They’re driving all the clicks, right, and so what they’re
doing is they’ve changed those algorithms to really reward unicorns and punish the donkeys. Let me give you an example of
what I’m talking about, Kevin. See that curve there? This is like the top post of
the month at Inc Magazine, so I’m a columnist at Inc
Magazine as you mentioned. Every month my editor, she
says here’s the top posts and here’s how many views they received, and look if you go back like
time lapse photography here. Go back to August of
2015, it was a flat line. That green line? It’s like the number one story
got around 200,000 views. The number two got slightly less, but more or less like everyone
was a winner, alright. Kind of flat. Now 2016 August, it’s like
started become more competitive. The top three articles sort
of got a lot more traffic than the other stories
and then fast forward to just this past August,
just a couple months ago. You can see the top two stories
are getting more traffic than all the rest of the stories combined. So, there is something going
on with the distribution here. It’s not just traffic. It’s also social share. So again look at 2015 top 10
stories most shares on Pretty flat. And then fast forward a year to 2016, and it’s like the top two stories got more shares than
everything else on the site, and so basically I think
what’s happening is that these algorithms are changing, and what we need to do is
take account of these changes, and come up with a new strategy for our various channel
marketing strategies. Essentially in a nutshell it has to do with realigning our
definition of quality content to be more in line with how Google and Facebook kind of grade content and less about our own bias ways that we used to judge content in the past. Does that make sense? – [Kevin] Absolutely. – [Larry] Awesome. So let’s go to part two here. We’re talking about
donkeys versus unicorns. I’ve been talking a
little bit about donkeys and unicorns in passing
but let’s kind of nail down a very specific definition in terms of what’s the difference between
a donkey and a unicorn, and the answer is it has to do with it’s a relative difference and a cross channel difference. Relative and cross channel. So what does relative
and cross channel mean? Well, relative means that no matter how crappy your campaigns are, you will always have
donkeys and unicorns, okay. So everyone has donkeys and unicorns. This is an example customer
that posted 129 status updates on their Facebook page over the last year and basically you can see
most of the status updates. They’re getting around 1%
or 2% click through rates, or 0% to 1%, 1% to 2%, 2%
to 3% click through rates. Those are all the donkeys but
notice Kevin on the right side there’s three status updates that got 10 or more percent click through rates. Those are the unicorns. Those are like three, four, five, or even 10 times more
engaging than everything else. Those are the outliers
and the interesting thing about this distribution is
this happens everywhere. So like meaning it’s not just, I’m not the only one that has unicorns. Everyone has unicorns. There’s always gonna be some post. Like most of your posts do badly and a few of them do
really spectacularly well. The other thing about unicorns and donkeys is it’s cross channel. It’s not just social, blogging. Like typically if you
look at Google Analytics what you’ll see is that
10% or 5% to 10% of stories will generate 50% or 60% of the traffic, and that’s your unicorns
are really driving the lion’s share of the traffic, and so sometimes when I talk a little about donkeys and
unicorns people they say, oh Larry you’re crazy. I can’t create like a viral hit. That’s too hard. I can’t create like a Gangnam Style with like three trillion
views or something, and I’m like of course you can’t. That’s like so hard. The chances of that happening
is like one in a gazillion. Right? I’m not talking about creating viral hits. I’m saying focus on your unicorns, the top 3% of the content
that you already have because we’re just looking
at a relative distribution of your own content campaigns. And so when it comes to finding the difference between
donkeys and unicorns, we need a way to discern
donkey and unicorn performance, and it has nothing to do
with those stupid checklists of like 1200 words and
infographic blah blah blah. It has everything to do
with click through rates. So, click through rates. These are really important
because think about all the different channels that
you’re using for marketing. So, AdWords for example. AdWords has always been about
user engagement quality score. If you have an ad with a
high click through rate, you get really, really,
really cheap clicks, and if your search ads have half a percent click through rates, then you pay this 400%
cost per click penalty. It’s the same thing with
Twitter and Facebook ads. So if you have a promoted
post that’s garbage like 1% click through rate, then you’ll be paying $3,
$4, $5 for those clicks, but if instead you can
raise the click through rate of the thing that you’re promoting to 7% or 20% or 30% or 60%, then your cost for click would fall from three bucks to eight
cents to three cents to two cents to even one
half of a penny, okay. So there’s a lot of leverage
here in the paid channels, but it’s not just about paid,
it’s also about organic. So think about organic search. It used to be if you
wanted to rank for stuff, it was all about just getting
the keywords on the page and having a lot of crap
ton of links to your site. It’s not like that anymore. So like here’s an experiment. Again, it’s like time lapse photography. I was taking photos, snapshots of data of sort of 1,000 search
listings for a site and kind of taking photos like
May, June, July, September, and just noticing how Google was reordering those search results, and what was happening is the stuff that was getting unusually
high click through rates was being reordered to show
up in higher organic spots and of course because it’s zero sum gain, those gains have to come at
the expense of someone else, and basically the donkey stuff, the stuff with below
average click through rate is sinking to the bottom. And so, hopefully I’ve convinced you it’s not just about Facebook. It’s also Google. So what about organic Facebook? Like organic social? And the algorithm is the same
algorithm that they’re using on the organic side for Facebook newsfeed. It’s basically whenever
Facebook shows you something in the newsfeed, they’re
actually auditioning that piece of content to
see if this is something that you’re interested in. If you engage with it, you’re more likely to see that kind of stuff in the future. Not only that, people like you
are going to be more likely to see stuff like this in the near future. If people don’t engage,
well you become increasingly less likely to see this
kind of stuff in the future and it becomes a death spiral, and so like I’m saying,
it’s cross channel. It has to do with all of
marketing channels you’re doing, even email marketing. Obviously click through rate, the more people open your email, we can agree that that’s
probably a better idea if we could have two or
three times more people opening the email than deleting it, but it’s not just about that. It’s also about these
new email spam algorithms that are trained using machine learning, and so like Gmail has the promotion tab. I call it like an email dungeon basically. Outlook has clutter. You see what I’m saying? So it’s like these
algorithms are all triggered by click through rates. Like you know how I know this? It’s because like even my
internal company emails like the ones like the engineering updates or the bug reports that I
don’t open all the time. They end up in the promotions
and the clutter box. These are legit things
that I signed up for. I’m just not engaging with them, and so Kevin what’s so
exciting about this strategy is it’s not just about driving more clicks to your site through email
and social and paid and SEO. It’s also about raising
your conversion rates. So, obviously who cares
about if you’re getting all these clicks to your site
if they’re not converting, and basically I’ve done
a lot of studies on this, and basically what I find is that the higher the click through rate of the thing that’s leading
them, traffic to your site, whether it be paid or organic
search et cetera et cetera. The higher the click rate, the
higher the conversion rate. And so why the heck is this? Well it’s because if you
can get people excited about clicking on something to your site, that excitement tends to carry through to a purchase or a sale. You see what I’m saying? Or a lead sign up. And just giving you a
quick example of this. Like that was an E-commerce company with thousands of different products. What we find is that
the different products have different click through rates. Like Picnic Pants is the worse possible invention in the world. It’s totally unsanitary. You’re eating off your own crotch. I don’t know why you would ever buy this. This is an example of product with a very low click through rate, and of course running low conversion rate. Conversely think about drones. Like this is amazing. Like this has like three, four times higher click through rates, and three, four, five times
higher conversion rates, and this is because it’s
more exciting product. And so my bottom line here, Kevin, it’s just basically what I’m saying here. It has to do with these unicorns in terms of the difference
between the two. It’s cross channel. The thing that they have in common is unusually high click through
rates, engagement rates, and so in summary let’s just agree here that all of the channels that we’re using like paid and organic search
and social and even CRO. These all to some degree are using like machine learning algorithms that reward high engagement campaigns with substantially more
visibility in the newsfeed or in the search results or in the ad, sponsored ad or whatever. Like more visibility at far
less cost in the case of paid and so if there’s one
sort of money ball metric that you should be focusing on in terms of the unicorn marketing, it’s basically the click
through rates of your campaigns. Any questions so far? – [Kevin] No, no. That’s great. Deal on the official decree. – [Larry] (laughs) Alright, it’s settled. Alright guys so now with
that out of the way, let’s talk about the latest advances in unicorn and donkey detection because the problem with marketers is that nine out of ten marketers so
90% of us on the call today suffer from a terrible terrible illness known as donkey denial syndrome. Hate to break this to us all. Basically the idea here is that marketers think they’re
crap doesn’t stink. They think everything they work
on, personally they’re bias, so they think they start
drinking the kool-aid. They think everything
they work on is brilliant. They think everything’s
a unicorn that they touch even though it might not be a unicorn. It could be like, I don’t
know, a narwhal or a mosquito or a rhinoceros or triceratops. Some other creature that
they thought was a unicorn but was actually something else, and so we need a way to
kind of overcome the scourge of donkey denial syndrome and to do this I have created a new device. It’s very powerful. It’s a donkey detector. It’s super easy to use. And this donkey detector, it’s basically a way
to find unusually high and low click through
rates and engagement rates. Engagement rates are
basically click through rates. More or less. And so it’s basically a
unicorn kind of pyramid scheme. So what we’re gonna do here to make this donkey detector
work, we’re just gonna produce and audition a lot of different campaigns. So like a lot of different Twitter tweets. A lot of different status
updates on LinkedIn. A lot of different ads. A lot of different blog posts. We’re gonna produce a lot
of different campaigns and then we’re gonna
measure the engagement rates for these different campaigns
within each channel, okay. So you have to compare
emails to other emails. You can’t compare an email to like a Facebook ad or something. Next step, step three, we are
going to kill the donkeys. Okay? So this is the biggest mistake, biggest blunder that marketers do. They fall in love with their crap. They blast it out to 10,000 people and it has an half of percent open rate, and the marketer thinks
you know what we need? We need to send this out
to 10,000 more people. And like what? Like if it didn’t do well
in the first 10,000 people, it’s not gonna do any better
in the next 10,000 people. So, you gotta really kill
off these donkey campaigns. Like oops. Like we thought this was
good but it’s a waste of time because you’re just wasting
your time and effort. It’s not gonna do much better. It’s just one of those
things that’s going nowhere. Next what you do is you
keep auditioning things, and when you do find kind of the outliers, the ones that are doing like five to 10 times better than usual, you need to identify these unicorns and sound the unicorn alert. Any questions so far? – [Kevin] What does the
unicorn alert sound like? – [Larry] It’s basically this light that you install on the roof
of your building and shine it. – [Kevin] Like the Batman call. – [Larry] We like to think they copied us. – [Kevin] Yeah, got it. – [Larry] Basically so
the donkey detector, it’s all of these engagements rates. Remember Kevin, what’s
the difference between a high engagement unicorn
and a low engagement donkey? The difference is it’s
cross channel and relative. So, take for example here this is a bunch of emails that I sent out. Some of them have like 46% open rates. Some of them have 10% open rates. The donkeys are the ones
that are like kind of at the bottom going lower
and the unicorns are the ones that are getting three, four,
five times higher open rates or click through rates. Again it’s cross channel. So like think about how many
offers does your company have? Like it used to be that you needed to come up with new offers every week. You know what I mean? Like so you end up with these companies with hundreds of different
offers of things to buy. Well, the typical conversion rate for these offers on the internet in like regardless of whatever it is you’re trying to get people
to sign up for or to buy, it’s around 2%, 2.5%, 2.35% on average, but there’s certain offers
that are just so catchy that they get like four or five times higher click through
rates, conversion rates. Like 10 plus percent. So my point here is like we need to kill off all these donkey offers and just focus your time and attention and resources on just
promoting the top 2% or 3% of the offers that you have. And so there’s this unicorn
power marketing law. Basically it’s always been the
case that most of the efforts most of the RY comes from a
small fraction of the campaigns, but it’s just compounding this. These days what I see is 85%
of the value like the leads and the sales come from
just 5% of the campaigns, and so we’re gonna focus on these top 3% that we’ve just identified
using the detector, and this brings me to part four, which is to sound the unicorn alert. There it is. A visual representation. And also to make unicorn babies, okay. So, sounding the unicorn
and making unicorn babies. You’ve heard of this before yes? – [Kevin] Yes, I believe so, yeah. – [Larry] This is an actual tried and true inbound marketing concept. Basically guys remember
how I was saying (laughs). It’s not really. We just made this up. – [Kevin] It’s not featured in any HubSpot certification yet. – [Larry] I know the guys
who work on that now. The professors. And so, remember I was saying I did 300 content campaigns last year. Eight of them did well. The rest were donkeys. Eight were unicorns. This was one of my unicorns, guys. So this was one content campaign
that did unusually well. It got like hundreds of
thousands of views, guys, and tens of thousands of shares on social, which is like so much better than average. Like typically like I operate
in like the paid search niche. It’s like this doesn’t
have like as much views as like celebrity gossip
and stuff like this. You know what I mean? And so, normally I think like
500 or 1000 shares is great, but this was getting
10,000 plus, 20,000 shares, and normally I think like
1000 views is pretty good. This was getting like 100,000 views. Like I saw like wait a minute. This is a unicorn. This is like doing so much
better than everything else. And so what do we do, Kevin,
when we get a unicorn? So like the mistake that
marketers make is they just they kind of congratulate themselves, and they say we did it, congratulations, and then they kind of go back, look at the marketing
calendar and they say like, okay well what’s next on the calendar, and they say oh it’s December. Why don’t we do like a 12
days of Christmas themed like promotion or something like that? Oh my God. No guys. So the marketing calendar
in some ways is a relic of kind of the old way of doing marketing in that you would just, it was
based on participation points so you would as long as
you filled the calendar with enough activity you would get a certain amount of points
for posting on LinkedIn and posting on Twitter and Facebook and blog posting all this stuff. Like you would get participation points. Now that’s not the case anymore. Remember the algorithms changes? So it’s all the value goes to just the small amount of campaigns, and the rest is basically getting nothing. So what you need to do when
you find these unicorns is jump off that content
treadmill which is going nowhere. No matter how much this rhino runs, he’s never gonna turn into a unicorn, and instead what we need to
do is sound the unicorn alert, which is what we were
talking about earlier in order to make unicorn babies, okay. So, how do you do this? This is an example of a unicorn baby. So this blog topic was
doing so well on my blog, so I just wrote it up as
an contributed article, like a guest post on Search
Engine Journal, right. So, this unicorn baby was
on an identical topic. I just kind of reformatted it. Like made it into listicle or something. – [Kevin] Yeah, repurposed the content. – [Larry] So this was the number one story for Search Engine Journal for
the month of May last year. It had 2,300 shares. Their typical story only
gets like 200 or 300 shares. So this is like 10 times better. It got 12,500 reviews which
is around 24 times better than their average article. So like I knew this was gonna do well. Why? Because it’s just a clone
of an existing campaign that has more than proven
itself to be worthy. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Yup. – [Larry] Another example of
a unicorn baby has to deal with kind of just
staying on the same topic where you kind of
further explore the topic in greater depths so it was
five things you need to know about these new features in AdWords. Why not just create a follow up story. One for each of the five features. CNN does this all the time
where like a plane crashes and they’ll be like
they’ll just stop reporting on anything else and they’ll
just bring in psychics and like radar operators. – [Kevin] Dig deeper into that topic. – [Larry] Exactly. Why? ‘Cause they know this story is hot, right. And so we dug in. We just started creating
kind of follow up stories. You know one of the interesting
things about this, Kevin, is that you actually don’t have to have quote unquote quality to begin with, okay. You can always back fill the quality by further exploring the
topic in further detail. As you go, all that’s
needed to start this fire is minimum viable content. It’s was just a listicle of I was just listing out five things. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Sure yeah. – [Larry] It didn’t go
into great depth about what these things do
and why they’re great. It was just the listicle. But see basically that’s
the biggest argument against going all in on quality or
conventional notions of quality is that I just put this
together in like 20 minutes, and I kind of back filled later, and as you can see it
generated hundreds of thousands of views per post which
is a lot for this niche. It might not be a lot for your niche, but trust me this is high
for like a dorky PPC content. Another form of a unicorn
baby has to deal with video and infographicification of unicorns. So generally what I love about video and infographics is that they
do so well when they do well. You know what I mean? – [Kevin] Sure. – [Larry] But what I
hate about infographics and videos is sometimes like
often you spend a lot of time and effort building these
assets and they just go nowhere. This is kind of a bummer. And so what I do is I
de-risk the whole initiative by only creating infographics and videos corresponding to my unicorns because they’ve kind of proven themselves to be kind of great
topics and what I found is that if something does well in one format, it’ll do well in other formats. This is an example of this. This is just an
infographic with Brian Dean on how to raise your click through rates, and it was the number two story on Search Engine Land last year, and I knew it was gonna
be like a top 10 story because it’s just a graphical version of a blog post that I did on my own blog that did spectacularly well. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Yeah, absolutely. – [Larry] Same thing with conference, webinars and presentations. When we got this unicorn, we didn’t just like give ourselves
high fives and go home. I said team, don’t go. We’re doing a webinar tomorrow
to get some registrations so that we can drive some
leads and of course we did this and because it was such a hot topic, it generated 5,000 registrations. So that’s a lot for maybe
not a lot for HubSpot but like our typical webinar might get hundreds of registrations. This was like 10 more times than average. It might’ve done better. The problem the go to meeting
only goes to 5,000 and then– – [Kevin] It capped ya. – [Larry] Yeah and then
the system blows up, but so we had this successful webinar, which is treading style of leads, and then what we did
was I just told my team, guys we’re doing this again tomorrow. Just resend out the invitations. My team was incredulous. They were like what? Don’t you wanna like change the name or like update some of the content? I was like no, no, no, no, no. That’s the thing about unicorns. There’s a reason why
it’s doing so well, okay, and so you gotta resist
the urge to screw it up. You gotta kind of go with what’s working and get as much leverage as
you can out of these things. So we just did the same
unicorn webinar again. I unsubscribed the people
who intended, okay, but basically I got another
5,000 registrations. So like I just did this over and over. Five times making little
tweaks to the title and updating the content here and there, and basically one unicorn webinar and it’s four kind of
repeat and or baby webinar, baby unicorn derivatives
generated 71% of the value from this entire channel for the year. – [Kevin] Wow okay. – [Larry] And so what I love
about this strategy, Kevin, is that it’s not only like
substantially more results, it’s also a lot less work. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Yeah, you’re reinventing
the content every time. Five webinars of the exact same content. – [Larry] A proven
unicorn will always beat an unproven new entrant. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Yep. – [Larry] So like you’re doing more work and it’s not even likely to do better– – [Kevin] To yield the
results, yeah necessary. – [Larry] It’s crazy. Guys, the most important
thing that you need to do with your unicorns is to boost them with paid spending on social media, so I’m talking like
LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. That kind of stuff. And basically why is this? It’s because Facebook ads they have that machine learning thing going on where if you boost something that’s hot, you actually pay very little. So here I boost the post
that I’m getting the clicks that are usually like $3,
$4 a click for one penny. It’s not a bad deal. This is like competitive
markets like in the USA with certain interests
like love marketing, love AdWords et cetera et cetera. I’m getting these clicks for one penny. So it’s like a limited time sale, so you wanna just make
sure it would be like buying Bitcoin at like $100
instead of paying $20,000. So same thing with Twitter. There’s a sale when you
promote really amazing stuff, and here I’m paying like six cents a click for promoting this article
rather than the usual $3, $4, $5. Guys, there’s this game called Battleship. It’s like it’s really old. I don’t know if you guys are old enough, but it’s like from like 30 years ago guys, and then it’s crazy. The goal of this is game is to sink the other guy’s battleship and
the technology is really bad. There’s no drones. There’s no radar. There’s no like guided missiles. No satellite. It’s just crazy I know, right. You have no idea where
the enemy battleship is. You have to kind of lob these
shots over to the other side and listen for an impact
and once you get an impact, well then you know that
there’s a battleship nearby, and so then you train
all of your firepower, all of your resources
like in that vicinity in order to sink that battleship that you know is in that vicinity. That’s basically a metaphor for what we’re talking about
here in unicorn marketing. You’ve gotta spread the shots around. Be open to trying out
different crazy ideas that you haven’t thought before. You don’t wanna keep shooting
at the same location. That’s like where you keep writing the same campaign like 100 times. You know what I mean? Guys, it didn’t do work. You didn’t get a hit last time. It’s not gonna work this time, okay. So just you gotta spread ’em around and then just listen for the impact and then kind of move all in. It’s one of the things that
comes out of this discussion is that marketing is a little
bit more of a numbers game than a lot of people might realize. A lot of people get push back on that. Like they say you should
reduce the quantity and increase the quality. My point is like no, no, no guys. You can’t find the quality unless you have a sufficient number of shots. It’s like you see what I’m saying? I’m always surprised at what works, okay, and I’m always kind
demoralize a little bit why the thing that I knew was
gonna work that didn’t work. You know what I mean? – [Kevin] It doesn’t always
align your favorite piece as to what ended Up performing high. – [Larry] Ultimately the arbitrator is the consumers of this content. Was the click through rate 20%,
30% or was it like 1% or 2%? Numbers don’t lie especially if you got like a couple hundred followers. That’s a pretty good sample size. Alright guys so we’re
almost done for today. Well just a quick time check
on how we’re doing here. – [Kevin] Yeah, we got 20 minutes ’til the top of the hour I believe. – [Larry] Awesome. So I just wanted to wrap things up with a discussion on some of my favorite crazy content promotion hacks ’cause I know inbound
marketing is all about getting more visibility for
the content that you create and I wanted to share with
you a couple crazy ideas that I’ve been running in
order to get more value from your Facebook ad campaigns. It’s number seven starting with the Russian ad targeting method. So, spectacular way of
doing Facebook advertising to great effect is to kind of look at what the Russians did and learn from this, and basically the other day this was just like three, four weeks ago. There were all these like
testimonials on congress like about how Russians use Facebook ads, and I wanted to try this out
myself and so basically I just created a fake website like a WordPress. I called it Citizen News Networks. It’s not even a real site. I used a backwards CNN logo. This is a completely fake article, guys. I don’t mean to be political here. This is a fake article. And then I just promoted
the thing on Facebook using like 50 bucks in battleground states to like people who might be
interested in this content, and basically within minutes of launching this fake Facebook page and fake website, you can see it got a crap ton of likes and shares and comments and
people are just going nuts. Like 42 likes, 27 shares, 20 comments. Like don’t you wish all of your content performed like this on 50 bucks? You know what I mean? Like hundreds and hundreds of clicks. And so the bottom line is like you gotta think about those emotional triggers. It’s all about like the confirmation bias. Like I knew there was something to this. This confirms my belief. I’m gonna like and reshare it because there’s this confirmation bias. That kind of thing. Like I’m not saying make up fake things. I’m saying is you gotta look for those hot button things in your niche. – [Kevin] Now did your write up of that experiment also turn into a unicorn? – [Larry] Oh my God, yeah. It got a gazillion views. I turned this into case study. I’m on a couple TV shows that are like doing long form documentaries on like the problem of fake news. – [Kevin] Right. – [Larry] And how easy it is. So like actually even Donald
Trump like tweeted about this. He wrote a tweet about like
a story about fake news and how small amounts of
money being spent on fake news and he was protesting it
and like hundreds of people from Facebook like checked
out my LinkedIn profile. So like yeah and it got
like dozens and dozens of pickups like in
Forbes and other places. So, the point is you gotta
find the emotional triggers, the hot button things
and those are the things that tend to do well. Number six. The inverted unicorn ad targeting method. So what’s an inverted unicorn? So, for many years now guys
I’ve been kind of preaching that you should be very
narrow and targeted in your ad targeting. So that’s where you go. Let’s go after people
who visited you recently who have the right demographics,
interests, and behaviors, and then kind of put this
hot content in front of them and then that’s sort of the key to success because if you can get
people who are interested in your stuff who are
of the right demographic and have checked in recently, well then you’re basically
making a lot of money, right. So the problem with this approach. I mean it’s still a valid approach. The problem with this approach is that this is finding the perfect
audience for your business. Like you lead a horse to water. You can’t force it to drink. So just because this
person is the right person for your product it doesn’t mean that they’ll actually click on it. So the inverted unicorn throws
that out the window, okay. It’s just like instead let’s
take a different approach. Instead of going after
super super targeted people, let’s go after two completely different and unrelated interests, okay. So it’s like what? Why are you going after
unrelated interests? Well, let me give you an example of this. Say we’re selling like our
internet marketing services. Okay? I’m suggesting that we go after people who likes email marketing but
who also like Game of Thrones. Okay? What’s the relationship between people who like Game of Thrones
and email marketing? – [Kevin] Nothing it seems, yeah. – [Larry] They’re completely uncorrelated. Completely unrelated. And so the strategy here is
so you can see the targeting, we’re going after people
who like Arya Stark, or Sansa Stark or like
Jon Snow, et cetera, and who also like marketing topics. The reason why we’re doing this is so that we can create ad experiences that appeal not to just one interest but actually two or more
of the browser’s interests. So making it twice as
compelling for the person to want to click on this. Now, these are some jokes the mother of all email marketing solutions. The funny thing about this
joke is if you have no clue what that joke is about
the beauty of this thing is you would have never seen
this ad in the first place. You see what I’m saying? The only people who are
going to see this ad are the super fans of Game
of Thrones who are marketers. So what we find with this strategy of going after uncorrelated interests and modifying the creative is it actually wields remarkably high click through rates and low cost per clicks and low CPMs because you’re going after
these uncorrelated interests. Like HubSpot for example
did an inbound conference. It was very very successful
with Michelle Obama keynoting. So rather than going after people who like marketing and all this, you can just go after
people who like marketing and who like Michelle Obama. You see what I’m saying? Those are uncorrelated. And then in the ad you would prominently feature Michelle Obama in the ad? You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. – [Larry] So what it’s
interesting about this is that in marketing it’s all correlated. So when you do a blog post,
it’s like it’s gonna be the same type of people who
visited your last blog post. You know what I mean? Or if you do television advertising, there’s a certain demographic associated with a certain program. It doesn’t really change. So never in the history
of mankind has there ever been a way to like really go after such uncorrelated, unrelated interests and come up with really clever ads. You see what I’m saying? Number five has to do
with unicorn projection. So there’s a crazy hack having to do with how to get your bestselling book onto the New York Times bestseller list. This is a really dumb hack. You just buy like 5,000 of your own books. You just buy them. While on Amazon, order 5,000 of them and take the delivery all at once, okay. – [Kevin] It’s not about who bought it. It’s just the volume of sales. – [Larry] Exactly. It’s a stupid algorithm. So just doing that will make you debut on the bestseller list
and then all the people who look at this bestseller list will say like oh what’s this new thing? I should buy this and check it out. You can claim in your marketing material that you’re on New York
Times bestseller list. So it comes like self-sustaining. – [Kevin] Yeah, for sure. – [Larry] And so like all
of the different sites like Digg, Hacker News, Medium, these are all basically
the digital equivalent of the New York Times bestseller list. They flow the same stupid algorithm. I’ll just give you a stupid example. Medium is like a long form
blog post social network and basically this is an article that I wrote about a year ago. It got 10,000 likes, over a million views. It was so popular, Arianna
Huffington shared the damn thing. It was syndicated on Time Magazine. It’s generating half a
million views per months, and it’s kind of catapulted me to the number eight spot on Medium. Like number eight most popular author just behind like Hilary
Clinton and Gary Vaynerchuck and these really popular people, and it’s not because I’m
like such a great writer. It’s actually because
I’m a clever marketer with a good promotion strategy, and basically all I did was
I just downloaded a list or scraped a list of
active Medium users, right, because you need people
to heart your article to get more distribution. So I just created a custom
audience of Twitter users. Correspond to active Medium users. Spent $50 to get this
thing in front of them. They then hearted the thing
which is the equivalent of me buying like $1,000 of my own books. So Reddit like the chances of
getting something on Reddit to the front page of one
of the popular sub-reads is like one in a gazillion, right? But I can actually get
like dozens of these things in my career on the the
homepage of these things and all I do is I just
find the users of Reddit and then target an
audience that is interested in the topic of the article
plus our Reddit users because those are the ones that have the possibility of voting. – [Kevin] Sure. – [Larry] Any questions on that one? – [Kevin] No, that makes sense. – [Larry] Number found. Larry’s donkey removal ad targeting hack. So this just says like when
you’re creating the targeting for your Facebook ads,
it’s not enough to just target the people who
will like the stories, but you have to exclude the
people who are gonna hate this. So this is an article on LinkedIn Pulse, another one of these kind of top lists ’cause it’s basically like an algorithm. Working moms raise more
successful daughters according to some Harvard study. Who’s gonna like this? Dorky moms obviously. They wanna justify their life choices. Who’s gonna hate this? The stay at home moms who
make just the same amount of sacrifice working just as hard. So just reflect that in your ad targeting to exclude the people
who are gonna hate this. Guys, another crazy idea has to do with my unicorn slush fund. This is my number three hack for today. Kevin, have you ever heard
of a unicorn slush fund? – [Kevin] I have not. – [Larry] So a unicorn
slush fund it’s basically, it’s kind of like the paid
advertising equivalent of a remember how I was kind of like saying the content calendar is crazy? – [Kevin] Yes, a relic of the past, yes. – [Larry] The PPC monthly budget
is kind of a crazy concept. What I mean by this is
as we’ve now discovered, there’s huge differential performance amongst your campaigns. Most of them go nowhere and a few of them do really really well and
so like if I give yoU $1,000 to spend on content promotion on Facebook, are you really gonna say like, well I have 10 articles this month, let’s evenly divide the
budget $100 per post and put $100 by each one? That’s crazy ’cause like 98%
of these are gonna go nowhere, and so that’s the problem with these use it or lose it pay
per click monthly budgets is that it’s like a poker strategy where you have to kind of
go all in on every hand. It’s like what? Like I have two nine, okay, off suit. All in. Like what? This makes no sense,
guys, but this is what all these companies are doing. So basically the unicorn
slush fund just says let’s add rollover to the monthly budget, and let’s just like wait for it. Like just keep doing
your marketing activity and when you have something
that’s doing fantastically well, that’s when you move all
in because we’re trying to maximize the return on investment. Any questions on that one? – [Kevin] No, that makes a lot of sense. – [Larry] My fake unicorn hack has to do with making people think you’re a unicorn, even though you’re a donkey. That’s like you gotta
fake it ’til you make it. And so kind of these top
articles on Business Insider, like the top trending articles. The reason why you have to
get on these lists is twofold because people see them but
also the social media managers of Business Insider look at these numbers and they more aggressively the
ones that are doing better. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] Okay sure. – [Larry] Like there’s probably something like 2,000 articles being
written on Business Insider in any given day and
they only post like 100 of them to the Facebook page. You see what I’m saying? – [Kevin] So they pay attention
to the content of the topic. – [Larry] They’re only
highlighting the top stuff. If you’re a columnist
for one of these place like Inc or Fortune or whatever, you really need to get to top
of these trending articles, and so the key here is
that you’re gonna have to drive real traffic to it, but I’m saying like you don’t have to spend like $5 a click for this stuff. Like I’m not saying buy
a blog or something. Let’s send real traffic but
let’s just be a little less picky about like what countries and what display network placements that we’re choosing from. So like rather than
saying like New York City, which is a very expensive
demographic, let’s go worldwide, and then instead of saying like the Facebook newsfeed algorithm, which is kind of the
most premium real estate, let’s go with the audience
network which is a cesspool. – [Kevin] Welcome in
the low quality clicks just to gain some visibility
and attraction to appear. – [Larry] Yeah so like
for a few dollars here we’re spending you can’t see exactly, but it’s like maybe $12.08 I’m buying 812 clicks to this thing. Yeah it’s from unusual
places I haven’t visited, but you never know if
these are real people. Different IP address. And that’ll catapult you to the top so that you can get the
attention that you deserve. Another crazy hack that has to do, so if I can summarize like all of the crazy hacks we’ve been talking about. It’s all about raising your
click through rates, right. Like the higher the click through rate, the more the visibility
and the lower the cost, but there is one crazy hack that remains and that has the most
powerful click through rate doubling and tripling potential and that is basically it’s a brand hack. And so when it comes
to click through rates, there’s a huge difference
in click through rates based on whether or not people
have heard of you before. I’ve done tons of
experiments on segmenting, search traffic and social traffic based on whether or not they’re
new and repeat visitors, and the people who have repeat visitors of course have higher brand affinity because they’ve heard of you before and people who are new visitors
are lower brand affinity because this is first time visiting you. And so what we find is
that it’s not a coincidence that people just click on things. They tend to click on things
they’ve heard of before. So shopping, tourism, education. Like the click through
rates of return visitors are substantially higher 200% to 300%. We’re not talking 2% or 3%. We’re talking 200% or 300%. And it’s just the click through rates. The conversion rates are 200% or 300%. Like people tend to buy from
the places they’ve heard of. And so the hack here is
that we’re gonna have to create a lot of brand affinity outside of our core niche okay to get
in front of these browsers before they decide to be in market for your products or services. You see what I’m saying? Because if you’re just showing up in search at the last
minute, you’ve kind of lost. You have a chance of winning
but it’s like the other guy has like two or three
times advantage over you, and so the hack here is we’re gonna create content outside of the niche, okay. So like WordStream sells
paper advertising solutions. MobileMonkey sells chat bot solutions, but if I only blog
about those damn niches, like it’s just I need to cast a wider net. How? You do audience analytics
and trying figure out of the people who are buying your stuff, what are the topics that
they’re interested in, so that we can get in front of them before they start thinking
about buying stuff, okay? And so it’s how do you do this? Google Analytics has User Explorer. Facebook has audience insights. Twitter even has this
stupid audience insights. So like if you look at the
content that I produce, at least 20% of it is off topic. It’s like stuff like
this like the ugly truth of being an entrepreneur, okay. Why the heck do I do this? It’s because I know, you
see that insight there? 70% of the people who follow me on Twitter are interested in entrepreneurship. So like there’s a good chance that this will resonate with my audience and later when they decide to
actually wanna buy something either a chat bot or
advertising solutions, they’ll think of one of my companies. – [Kevin] It feels very persona driven. Understanding what they care about before they’re actually
looking at chat bots and PPC assistance, right? – [Larry] Exactly and by the way, the whole point of this
like content marketing. Why are we putting out all
these stupid blog posts and tweets in the first place? We’re creating awareness and demand for the products that
we’re selling, right. So we’re creating
inspirational, memorable stuff and then getting it in
front of the right people so that a bias forms in their head, so that later when they do
decide to buy your stuff, they’ll either do a branded
search for your thing, like MobileMonkey or
WordStream or HubSpot. We’ve won, right, because
that’s a branded search. Those tend to get like 60%
or 70% click through rates, or they’ll do an unbranded search. They’ll recognize one of the names and they’ll have a two to
three times more likelihood of clicking on that and that’s the hack. And so this is kind of the crazy summary of my Facebook ad hacks. You can download the slides today from What does it all mean? Guys, just wrapping things up today. We’ve been on an epic journey together from donkey land to unicorn land. So congratulations everyone
for making the journey. Basically there were five really key milestones along the way. Step five it was
optimizing for engagement. Why? Because all the channels
that we’re engaging in email, search display,
Facebook, organic and paid, they all employ machine
learning algorithms that greatly reward
high click through rates with high visibility in the platform. The idea was to it’s a
big of a numbers game. You have to audition
a lot of content ideas and be open to trying out different ideas other than just the same stupid
idea over and over again. You need to kind of find those unicorns, like and everyone has them. I’m not talking about Gangnam Style here. I’m talking about your top
three 3% which you have and we need to find and
focus on promoting those and doing more of that kind of stuff. You have to kill the donkeys. Like all of those campaigns
that are going nowhere, they’re not gonna change. They’re going nowhere. Don’t put lipstick on this donkey. Just slaughter them. Just stop wasting your time on them. Instead you sound the unicorn alert. Go all in on your best stuff. This is how we’re going
to make our numbers in 2018 and beyond. Guys, one of the most interesting thing about the unicorn theory of marketing is that there’s this really
powerful flywheel effect because the first time you execute a successfully unicorn
alert with unicorn babies what you will do is you will
actually generate a crap ton of exposure for you and your brand. So you’ll actually create a tremendous amount of brand affinity. You see what I’m saying? And so what that does is the next time you go through this
process of kind of finding and promoting a different unicorn, you’re way ahead of the last time because remember the
biggest kind of factor that impacted click through
rates was brand affinity and now you’ve got all the other people who’ve heard of you
from the last campaign. – [Kevin] Builds upon itself. – [Larry] Exactly. So you get bigger and bigger and better and better unicorn alerts the more and more you go. So guys, we have a few
seconds here for questions. So what time is it? – [Kevin] Yeah. So yeah, I think we still
got a few more minutes. I know there have been a
couple questions on social, so maybe Larry will spend
the last couple minutes or so and let me see what sort of questions are up in the audience. – [Larry] Awesome, Kevin. – So let’s see. Here’s one here. So hi, Larry. You’ve obviously done a
ton of work over the years to test and learn what
you’re sharing today. I think that obviously. Now how much of your success today do you think comes from the strategies or your bulletproof personal brand? So do you think an unknown
person using these strategies will find similar success? – Wow so, guys. This is absolutely is repeatable. Like the distribution of crap content versus really remarkable content. I see this in every
customer that I focus on. This is all about kind
of changing the strategy. Like really like monthly
social paid budgets? Like that’s ridiculous. Like really a content calendar? We’re just gonna ignore the fact that this thing did like 200
times better than the last one and we’re just gonna jump
on to the next piece? Like guys, this is
absolutely has very little to do with my own. Basically what I’m saying is, the unicorn concept is relative. So I may be able to extract
more value out of this strategy as a result of my personal brand, but the distribution curve is the same for me as it is for you. Like only eight pieces out of 300 did fantastically well for me last year. That hasn’t changed. It’s just the difference
is that it’s like in poker when you have a full house or something. You’re not just gonna go after the blinds. You’re gonna play that hand in such a way to kind of snicker into like
better as much as you can so that you can maximize the winnings for that rare hand that
you managed to have. – Now I would say maybe that goes back to the relative piece, right? Like your unicorns are probably gonna be at higher engagement
rates than mine but still, my unicorns are gonna be relative
to my average post right? So that’s how a kind of
unknown would be able to approach it the same way? – Absolutely. If you’re trying to get
three, four, five times more out of your internet marketing efforts for the same amount of work, like this is the strategy
that you should be playing. Maybe our starting points
might be different. Like HubSpot has a bigger
brand than I personally do. So the starting points
are gonna be different, but the results are the same. – Now another question. We’ve talked about content
calendars a little bit. We’re trying to put them to rest. So how do you balance
like okay this is all of the content I wanna audition, but then once a unicorn is identified pivoting into unicorn
babies and promote mode. So, how do you kind of balance those two? Like well we have to audition, but here’s when we hold. – So first of all, you still
need a content calendar. Don’t get me wrong. You still need to come up with
a list of ideas to try, okay. All I’m saying is let’s
build some flexibility into this damn calendar so that we’re not a slave to the calendar– – That campaign does not have
to get out December 15th. Yeah. – Like let’s just do. I mean you might lose some of the topical, like the seasonal things
like March Madness and stuff like this but
those never do well. You know what I mean? Like (laughs) ’cause everyone else thinks they need to do a March Madness campaigns. It’s not a new idea, guys. But basically it’s just
having the flexibility across the team so this
is like particularly amongst the executives, right, to know that we should
suspend calendar operations from time to time and then move all in on certain more timely pieces. Like how basically how a
news organization works jumping on hot pieces. It’s not about participation points. It’s about results. If results are what we care about, then this is the strategy for you. It’s a little bit more
dynamic calendaring. – Sure, so you need a calendar
of content to audition, but you need the flexibility and buy in to move all in once the
unicorn identifies itself? – You got it. – Here’s another interesting question. I believe this is from
Sam, but this goes to what? Is this the inverse unicorn? But are there any copyright
issues when using memes or like Game of Thrones references in ad creative and blog posts? – So, people can sue you for anything. There is this thing in America
called the First Amendment and the First Amendment protects certain concepts like parody, okay. So that’s like why memes aren’t illegal because you’re not just
copying a copyrighted image. You’re kind of marketing up
in a way, in a clever way and adding kind of your creativity to someone else’s creativity. Be creating a derivative piece. So I’m not a legal scholar. Like that’s actually the legal
basis why memes still exist, and so it follows in theory
that what we’re doing is we’re creating some
kind of derivative piece, but just check with your lawyers. – Well you said mother of
all email marketing tools. Like you didn’t use any sort of like, you didn’t mention Game
of Thrones specifically. – Yeah, we didn’t even use their fonts. We didn’t use their characters. – Just enough imagery
to instill the recall. – Exactly. You got it. – Cool. Let’s see. Another question here from Turner. Would you add or change
anything about this information as it relates to B to B? – I would say like 80% of
my work is actually B to B. So I think this is a B to
B strategy fundamentally. Like this notion of the inverse unicorn. Like oh my God like these B
to B offers are so boring. You know what I mean? Like it’s like sign up
for this damn white paper. Like really? Like you really need to use these hacks to raise the click through rates
of your stupid white papers because you’re basically
being judged on a scale. Like for on Facebook like that ads that are competing against
you are like cat warmers and all these weird consumer products. You see what I’m saying? – Picnic pants. – And video games and like mobile games, and so you’re kind of fighting with like a hand tied behind your back unless you’re using some of
these creative strategies because B to B stuff
is just never gonna be as sexy or compelling as B to C stuff. – So yeah this is the same. Like you can approach it the same way. B to C or B to B. – Absolutely. Especially like B to C this notion of the conversion rate unicorns. Like if you are an online shop like a few of your things are gonna
be selling off the shelves and a lot of your products,
they just get no sales. You know what I mean? – Sure. – So like if you have
a small amount of money to promote the products in your shop– – It’s gonna be the ones that sell. – Exactly. – Yeah, that’s great. Looks like that might be it for questions. Ooh maybe one more, alright. In the example of working moms, would it help to include people who will hate the content
like stay at home moms because it’s pressing buttons so you will get more engagement? – (laughs) Well that’s,
so definitely engagement is the key to this game. I think most brands love engagement. They shy away from controversy, and so what I was proposing was a way of getting the engagement while
mitigating the controversy by having like an argument in a vacuum. – So engagement might be up, but the controversy might
not be wanted or desired? – Yeah, it’s like comedy. You’re gonna go up to the line, but you don’t wanna cross the line. – Sure, great point. Awesome. Well guys I think that
pretty much wraps it for us. So I just wanna say thank you
again, Larry, for coming in and then everyone on social media, thanks for joining us and we
will see you again next time. – And just to add if you
need to download these slides as there were like 150 of them
and they take forever to do, just go to I hope you can get some value out of that. – Perfect. – Thanks guys. – Awesome. Thank you guys.

About Ralph Robinson

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4 thoughts on “Marketing Channels: Larry Kim Teaches Unicorn Marketing

  1. @4:33 is when Larry speaks about the 8 blog posts that are successful vs the 292 that were unsuccessful. Can they use an AI bot/tool to predict which content would be successful? They have a lot of free data available on the web that can be used to train the program. You could also do an internal analysis and a global analysis. What does the Hubspot team think about this?
    (I'm 11 months late, I know XD)

  2. Bought 2 codes for mobilemonkey and they refused to honor them nor would they refund me = thief, unethical, no moral compass = bad karma hangs over Larry Kim

  3. Bought 2 codes for mobilemonkey and they refused to honor them nor would they refund me = thief, unethical, no moral compass = bad karma hangs over Larry Kim

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