“I've been tryin' to write the lyric
Non-offensive but satiric too
And if you put it in the A-slot
It's just got to make a mint for you…”
The Raspberries "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)"
One of the primary reasons people such as I blog is to achieve visibility in my industry which (hopefully) will lead to business opportunities from people who will read my stuff and might wish to use me to solve their business problems. Unfortunately, there are a glut of professionals who follow this advice and though we each have made the decision to continue to publish industry specific articles in our field, the problem we all face is being able to distinguish our material & by extension our professional competence from the many others writing on the same topic. Once a certain amount of time has passed after the publication of a particular piece, the knowledge we impart to the public is assimilated into the collective consciousness but our connection to that knowledge is mostly forgotten. Being aware of this fact leads people such myself to be conscious of “tricks” to make sure our writing and competence stands apart from others in the field.
I believe I first became aware of Dave Snyder after reading his most informative post on information architecture. This was an exceptionally good post for somebody that I had been, at best, only slightly aware of and it established him definitely as a thought leader in SEO. I think it got him a lot of good PR at the time and plenty of people probably read it, assimilating Dave’s knowledge into what they already knew about the topic. Unfortunately, a long time (in Internet Years) has past since this story was pushed live and I wonder how many people (outside of a few hardcore SEO types) remember that Dave wrote this article without looking at it again and having an “Oh Yeah” moment. In all likelihood, its current professional value to Dave is likely limited to the people stumbling upon it for the first time.
Recently Dave put a personal post on his website that detailed his personal history before getting into SEO. In the comments, he said he did so “to motivate others” and I’ll take him at his word on that. However, by sharing with his readership in such an uninhibited fashion, he also benefited his professional standing by breaking through one of the hardest challenges marketers face…the ability to distinguish oneself from the crowd. We might not remember all the details of Dave’s story but we remember that he was the one that told the tale and we remember because we’ve all faced our own insurmountable obstacles that we’ve had to overcome in order to succeed (or at least we know somebody that has) and we identify with Dave because he shared in a way online that most of us aren’t comfortable doing.
Other people in search marketing such as Matt McGee, Joanna Lord, and myself have shared personal stories in their writing. I can’t speak for Matt & Joanna but inspired by Rand Fishkin’s My Super Proposal, I wrote about seeing Marvin Gaye’s National Anthem live and up close mostly in order to quit having that untold tale bounce around in my head any longer. 3 years after writing it, I hear more about that story than the rest of my stuff combined. So, I can tell Dave that he’d better get used to people chatting with him about his personal story (and getting theirs told to him in return) even as the memory of his most excellent information architecture piece fades further into the past. Meanwhile, I have a sneaky suspicion that he and his company are going to end up booking business due to Dave’s increased visibility in the community.