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Marketing: How to Find Underpriced Sources of Traffic in 2021
The biggest challenge for any brand is to figure out how to get attention. Everyone has Facebook tunnel vision because they’re the 800lb gorilla in the industry.
But Facebook as a platform has become more difficult to work with. Yes, even more than usual.
- Facebook costs keep increasing
- Organic reach is a joke
- Unpredictable banning policies for advertisers. I’ve seen guys running the most vanilla Shopify stores ever getting banned.
- Public approval of Facebook seems to be at an all-time low due to The Social Dilemma documentary and Facebook banning Trump.
- And iOS 14 is coming. Apple will severely limit Facebook’s ability to track users’ activities across the web.
Some people will stick to Facebook no matter how much their platform changes. However, all these changes have many marketers scrambling to diversxify away from Facebook. So the question is, which platforms should you focus on for distribution?
I want to share a mental model that can help you answer that question.
Think about attention as an asset class. Yes, an asset such at the stock market or real estate.
The profits are made when you can find underpriced assets and exploit them. It’s kinda like buying TSLA stock or Bitcoins last year vs. buying them today.
Using this mental model: WHERE can you find attention right now that is underpriced?
If you’re a performance marketer, it’s as simple as costs vs results.
If you’re a content creator, then it’s resources vs impressions. (How much effort it takes to create a piece of content vs how much attention it gets).
What does it take to start a successful business? Everyone talks about having a great product or building a brand.
I’ve seen so many companies over the past decade explode because they took advantage of an undervalued distribution channel.
I’m going to share with you some examples, what causes attention to be underpriced, and where some underpriced attention assets are in January 2021.
Whether you’re a content creator or a performance marketer, this mental model will apply.
Note: I first heard about this concept through a Gary Vaynurchuk video.
Companies Built off of Underpriced Attention
Between 2013–2016, everything I posted on my Facebook page reached at least 75% of my followers.
For example: If I had 10,000 Facebook fans, each post reached 7,500 people. So I took advantage of that and posted twice a day.
These days, I have 30,000 Facebook followers. I’m lucky if posts even reach 5% of my followers.
What happened? Facebook started tweaking the algorithm. They wanted to make more space for ads and posts from friends and families.
But during that time period, so many content powerhouses such as Buzzfeed were built.
2013–2016 was the golden age for Facebook fan pages. Now imagine trying to build a media company in 2021 off of Facebook fan pages.
The playbook doesn’t work anymore.
GymShark is a billion-dollar company that sells fitness clothing. Their marketing came from partnering up with emerging social media fitness stars. They’d give them free merchandise, and the stars would promote their affiliate link. You might know this now as influencer marketing. However, this was groundbreaking back in 2012.
Warby Parker hired a publicist within a few days of launching. The publicist helped them get featured in GQ with an article called the “Netflix of Eyewear.” This led to a 200,000 person waitlist.
So many DTC brands got huge during 2012–2016 because Facebook clicks were so much cheaper.
Are you seeing a pattern? There’s a “golden age” for every distribution channel. There’s no need to whine because you missed out on the golden age for something.
You’re in the middle of the golden ages of several distribution channels right now—you just have to figure out what they are.
What Causes Attention to be Underpriced
Let’s look at the underlying forces affecting attention. Understanding this means you’ll be able to identify opportunities a decade from now.
1/ First, People underestimate network effects.
There’s always a hot new platform. People love novelty, and each younger generation wants to claim a platform of their own.
A hot platform can grow its user base exponentially, and that user base is hungry for content.
There’s a sweet spot where the supply of content can’t meet the demand.
In the early days, there’s not enough content creators to feed the machine. So anyone creating content is going to get a massive organic boost.
That’s why it seems like there are new TikTok celebrities every day, while building a fanbase on YouTube is so much slower.
This reminds me of one of the 22 Laws of Immutable Marketing: “It’s better to be first than It is to be better.”
You HAVE to bring your A-game to stand out on YouTube now. People demand great editing, a charismatic personality, and high production values.
A decade ago? Sitting down in front of the camera and telling stories could go viral. People didn’t have options.
/2 It’s a pain in the ass to advertise. All platforms are a pain in the ass to work with in the beginning.
I can’t tell you how much easier it is to set up ads on Facebook now vs 2008.
Here’s the thing: friction is good for us.
That friction is what’s keeping the competition away. Eventually, the platform will build out its advertising tools to make it easier. Then the floodgates will open.
Right now, it’s a pain in the ass to work with influencers. It won’t be one day. There will be platforms, benchmarks, and standardizations that make it easier.
Prices will go up.
Train yourself to think that “pain in the ass” = opportunity.
/3 Marketers don’t like to take risks.
That’s why marketers always want to know what’s “hot” and they’re constantly stealing ideas from each other.
It’s their way of lowering risk. Some people aren’t willing to give a new platform a try until they see results from other people. They’re waiting for that step-by-step guide or that case study.
It reminds me of investing in crypto or a hot stock. By the time everyone’s talking about it on your newsfeed, a lot of the profits have already been taken.
Where to Find the Current Arbitrage Play?
It’s tempting to feel as if it’s too late. Ah, if only I was more aggressive with Facebook Ads in 2015! Why didn’t I start a TikTok account last year?
Remember this: there’s always a new opportunity right now.
Here’s how I train myself to look at opportunities.
/1 Where is your target demographic spending their time online?
I love hip-hop and forums a lot. I remember a few months ago that this app called “Clubhouse” was blowing up.
My fiancé love skincare. I noticed she was posting questions on different Facebook groups.
Get into the trenches and see where your customers are hanging out.
/2 What apps or websites are gaining a lot of traction?
You want to have a macro view of the landscape.
I love looking at charts. I use charts as a way to update my mental database.
Everything looks normal to me except for #8 in the Overall downloads. What is SnackVideo?
It’s important to look for data by demographic.
I saw a chart a few days ago. I can’t seem to find it anymore.
I learned two things from that chart: first, Snapchat is the #1 app for Gen Z. It ranked higher than Instagram and TikTok. I had no idea Snapchat was still popular.
Second, boomers love Nextdoor. If you’re advertising to older people, well they’re all hanging out on Nextdoor. I took a look at their advertising page. I see an advertising department that’s not well built out. Minimum spend is $25,000. This is friction, and friction = opportunity.
Friction is good. Facebook and AdWords make it easy for anyone to advertise online. The easier it is to advertise, the more competitors you’re going to face.
You can think of friction as a defensive moat.
Influencer marketing still works well in 2021. Part of that is due to its inefficiency. There aren’t any standards or efficiency. It’s a pain in the ass working with influencers.
It’ll be much more efficient five years from now. I can see there being more marketplaces and formulas that people follow. Contracts will become standardized. While it’ll be easier for you to work with them, the prices will skyrocket.
/3 Always take advantage of new features on an existing platform. The first-mover advantage is real.
I made bank when newsfeed ads were first introduced on Facebook years ago. It was new and people were slow to adopt it.
Instagram is giving boosts to anyone making a Reels video (Their TikTok competitor). Using Instagram’s “Shop” tab is free money.
On YouTube, creators that are using the “stories” feature and the “premiere” feature are getting attention that they otherwise wouldn’t.
One great way of staying on top of platforms is to follow the right people. Gary Vee is someone who’s always on the cutting edge of social media.
He said that “Musical.ly” was going to be the next big thing over five years ago. If you haven’t heard of Musical.ly, it’s the former name of TikTok.
Next, follow brands that are on the cutting edge of marketing. Watch what they do.
Where are the Opportunities Now in 2021?
You might be wondering where the opportunities are now in January 2021.
Here are a few interesting ones.
1/ Instagram Reels
Death, taxes, and Mark Zuckerberg stealing ideas from the latest social media apps.
He’s scared of TikTok. So he introduced the feature Reels on Instagram to play catch up. They’re incentivizing people to create more Reels by giving them a ton of reach.
If you’re a creator, Reels is a great place to get eyeballs.
If you’re a marketer, test out Reels with influencers. It’s newer so there’s not as much established pricing yet.
Clubhouse is the talk of the tech world right now. There hasn’t been a social media app using audio as the main form of communication until now.
You might be thinking, isn’t that pretty much where people chase clout and try to sell courses? Well, yes.
But TikTok’s reputation originally was where teenage girls dance. Instagram was where people post food and travel pics.
As the network grows, so do the opportunities.
I’m sure in the near future we’ll see more niched rooms. Let’s say you’re starting a skincare brand. Imagine hosting a daily room for skincare Q&A.
/3 YouTube Ads
YouTube ads aren’t new.
Why do I think they’re a great opportunity now?
Google is getting more aggressive about monetizing their videos. YouTube video watch times keep growing.
And finally, it’s a pain in the ass to create YouTube videos. It doesn’t take much to create a 20-second ad for Facebook. Long-form YouTube videos take time and resources. And to be frank, most people seem “scared” to make YouTube ads.
That creates a tremendous opportunity.
/4 Snapchat Ads
When was the last time you heard someone talking about Snapchat ads? Barely at all, compared to Facebook ads.
Snapchat is the #1 app for Gen Z.
There are tons more opportunities out there right now besides the ones I listed.
Here’s the thing: it’ll require experimentation. There’s no step-by-step guide out there.
The Current Opportunity
As an entrepreneur, you’ll always have a feeling that it’s “too late.” You’re looking at the playbooks of other people and realizing you can’t follow them directly anymore. There are too many changes, and too many competitors.
That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
There’s more competition than ever before because the barriers of entry has been reduced.
While you’re thinking it’s too late, there are other entrepreneurs taking advantage of the opportunities that you’re blind to now.
Five years from now, you’ll be thinking back on all the opportunities that were around in 2021!
So train your mind.