Recently, a guy told me on Twitter that he felt marketers kept their best strategies to themselves.
This caused me to ponder.
Then I came to the conclusion that, yes, I keep my best strategies to myself, or at least within my company.
But there are so many amazing digital marketing experts who seem to give it all away in exchange for traffic, links, emails, a chance at thought-leadership and social media shares. I wondered, what do they do?
In this post, I interviewed some of the best digital marketing experts I know. I asked them, "Do you keep your best marketing strategies for yourself? Tell me how that works."
Ready for the answers? Let's go.
Here Is What They Say
Neil Patel (also an Inc. columnist), who's considered by many to be a world leading digital marketing guru, admits that he doesn't disclose all his secrets.
He says, Why would someone share the best marketing tactics they are using? It would cause the tactics to not work as well," he says. "For that reason I keep my best marketing tactics to myself."
That might come as a shock to people who follow him online. Patel is known for giving away valuable information to digital marketers.
And yet he says that he keeps the best tactics to himself.
He's not alone, either. Here's what John Rampton, well-known marketer and founder of Due (and Inc. columnist), has to say:
I feel the best marketers try and share 90% of their secret strategies for success, they hide 10% as their secret sauce. If they taught you everything, what use would you have for them to be around. Most of the time the 90% is far too hard for people to replicate, however it can be. Even I hold back a little bit from telling everything. I have to have something that I can use that nobody else knows!
Rampton makes a lot of sense. He likes to keep the competitive edge.
Brian Dean, founder of Backlinko, agrees, saying: "The best marketers definitely hide most of their best strategies. The fact is: if something works, marketers will beat it into the ground until it doesn't work anymore."
Dean's statement is a reminder of the Heisenberg effect.
If you're not familiar with the Heisenberg effect as it relates to business, it's a theory about how a phenomenon is changed as more people know about it.
You see it in the stock market occasionally. If everyone buys a certain stock because they believe it will go up in value, what do you think is eventually going to happen? All that buying pressure will create a bubble. The bubble will burst and the stock will come crashing back down.
It's the same way with digital marketing. If everybody knows the best tricks, then they'll use those tricks until they're no longer effective. That's what Dean meant when he said that marketers take a good strategy and beat it into the ground.
Many people feel that is what is happening with content marketing right now. So many people are creating content, it is losing its ability to get results.
The bottom line is this: the more people who are playing the game, the more the game is changed and the more competitive it gets.
Barry Schwartz, a well-known blogger and CEO of Rusty Brick also acknowledges that great marketers keep their trade secrets under lock and key.
"I believe that the best marketers do hold their secrets for a period of time, until they can at least leverage enough out of the secret before others find out. With most, they often will tell a friend or two shortly after seeing the success of their strategy. Then those friends tell their friends and so on. At some point, there are enough people to know that at least one may post about it publicly on social media and the information will get out in the public. So I do not believe these secret strategies last that long, maybe a few weeks to a few months before it becomes more widely known."
Sujan Patel, an online entrepreneur and consultant, believes that the best marketers keep their most effective strategies a secret until they've exhausted them.
"The top marketers don't hide their best strategies but also don't share them while they're actively in use. They usually share them after they've seen success and/or have big enough numbers/data to share," he says.
Patel adds: "Another thing to keep in mind is that just because a tactic worked for someone else doesn't mean it'll work for you or you'll see similar results. Ideation, testing and scaling what works is what the best marketers are doing at a fast pace. I recommend marketers repeat the framework/workflow not the tactics."
So Now You Know
If you're in the habit of looking for the greatest digital marketing practices on your favorite blogs, you're going to be disappointed. Great marketers don't share all their most effective strategies.
Honestly, I don't, and neither do all of these industry leaders.
Instead of relying on blogs as a step-by-step guide, use them to get key thoughts that you can leverage into effective marketing strategies for your own brand. Lean on those blogs for inspiration and 90% of the instruction.
If you want to know the best marketing strategies there are two things you can do.
1. Always be testing and innovating.
2. Do lots of competitive analysis and learn to see through the smoke and mirrors. Take a step back and ask yourself, how is that person really doing that?