Magical Dwarves and Marketing a Product

I had a friend long ago that joked about how the laws of physics were the happy accidental result of the actions of many, many,  tiny, magical dwarves you can’t see. The theory has some merit. Quantum phenomenon are a sign of their sense of humor. It’s a cosmic wink and a nod. This was essentially my understanding of how sales were related to marketing as of 2008.

In a recent podcast, Rob Walling mentions that he doesn’t believe people with successful businesses actually thrive on “word of mouth” and that some other activity is actually responsible for their success. This is a connection that wasn’t cemented for me until I actually created a product I could sell online and went forward with the mindset that each sale would be a direct result of some marketing action by me. People won’t appear because your product or book is a better mousetrap. Your customers will only help promote it if there is some compelling reason to do so.

Traffic is a result of my SEO, content, guest posts, blog comments, and podcast appearances. Aggregate traffic is what enters the “funnel”. If you have high quality traffic, the people already know a bit about you or your product and are primed to buy or sign up. My first month of traffic into the funnel for my book converted to sale at 26.7%. About another 22% signed up for the email list by requesting a free sample. As I understand it, that is pretty spectacular and bound to decline.

I can see the decline coming. My analytics reports that I have a lot of organic traffic spinning up from a content campaign on my book site, but it isn’t converting very well. My copy isn’t that great and some of the keywords are going to pull traffic from outside my niche audience.

The conversion numbers aren’t the point. The point is seeing the world in a new way. I knew how it worked before, but I didn’t grok it. I started seeing all content as someone working a sales angle a while back. It doesn’t bother me (but a younger me is angry about it). People create great content because it gets attention and attention drives sales. Without the sales, there is no reason to create the great content. Churchill’s quote about democracy comes to mind.

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 11, 1947.

Physics and calculus changed the way I viewed physical phenomenon around me. Selling a product online has changed the way I view marketing, commerce, and sales.

Teton Crest Trail

Death CanyonThis post is a complete departure from the primary substance of this blog, but it’s my blog and primary substance is in the works. This is about a backpacking trip I took in the late summer. There wasn’t a lot of specific information when I was searching to plan my trip so I decided to throw in the pieces I thought were important. Let Google sort it out.

From 13 September 2012 to 17 September 2012 my good friend Brian and I backpacked around 40 miles of the Teton Crest Trail. Any good pictures are purely accidental.

I did a lot of research for the trip before settling on a route and the dates. Since I’m a good ol’ Southern boy I chose September because there isn’t any need for an ice axe in the mountain passes. In hindsight, I think I should’ve done a mountaineering school and made the trip when the flowers were in bloom and snow was still around. Mountaineering school is now on the agenda. I’d be happy to entertain recommendations.

If you’re planning a trip to the Tetons I would highly recommend the path we took. We started at Death Canyon Trailhead and camped at the end of the Death Canyon Zone (map). We then went over Death Canyon Shelf and camped in Alaska Basin near the Mirror Lakes. The next morning we went over Hurricane Pass and through South Fork Cascade to camp in the second site in North Fork Cascade. The last day we eschewed camping the final night at Holly Lake and made the trek over Paintbrush Divide and out to String Lake in one go. From what I can tell, many regular hikers of the area recommend this route and I do as well. The photos I linked to include many of the signs we encountered and try to give you a sense of the scenery and hiking required by the route.Grand Teton from Hurricane Pass

If I were going to pick one place to absolutely see in Grand Teton National Park, it would have to be the walk from Hurricane Pass through South Fork Cascade Canyon. It would be an epic out and back day hike, but I’ve been to many a scenic mountain vista and this was completely spectacular.Death Canyon Shelf

We saw elk, deer, marmot, and approximately 137,048 chipmunks. We were spooked by a black bear near the confluence of the trails between North Fork, South Fork, and Cascade Canyon. He was standing right on the trail. Right between us and our campsite about 1 mile down the same trail. Good times. Sleep came so easily that night.

You should buy bear spray. We didn’t. We hiked during a “bear activity advisory” where you shouldn’t travel in groups smaller than three or be without bear spray. We didn’t do that. It’s probably better to listen, but don’t let spray (or even a gun — which isn’t allowed in the backcountry) give you a false sense of security. That bear was no more than 30 feet down the trail when we could see him. Being effective in that situation with spray (were the bear more alert and angry) would require practice and a very easily accessible storage location.

Water was never a problem. We both used filters and valves that allowed us to pump directly into our CamelBak reservoirs and water bottles. Even in the driest month of the year, water was plentiful. I don’t see any reason to carry more than a gallon at any time.

One final note for anyone without a lot of snow/ice hiking experience is that despite the claims of the pass status page there was still a scramble across 20-30 feet of ice at a steep angle on the descent from Paintbrush Divide. Brian and I are both pretty fit, but we’re also big and we had 60 lbs + in our packs for an extended backcountry stay. Neither of us use trek poles, but I can see the value from that particular experience. Most of the locals and day hikers seemed unbothered by the scramble, but I feel like anyone planning a trip through Paintbrush should be aware.

Grand Teton

From 2nd campsite on big table rock in North Fork Cascade Canyon 15 Sept 2012 near sunset.