Last night on a whim I sketched this chart to show my current feelings on what works trying to market anything online effectively. Consider the percentages to roughly where you should be spending your time/money/creative energy.
You’ll notice a giant chunk of the chart is something called “soulful bets.” To me, a soulful bet is work outside of the typical purview of marketing: Make a film. Commission an essay. Run a marathon. Sponsor a bake sale. Ride your bicycle from NY to British Columbia.
People want to see your mettle – regardless if your offering is big or small. People buy from people they know, especially when there’s a zillion choices that offer approximately the same value per dollar.
Ads + partnerships are still important which is why they exist on said chart at all. Ads help you effectively get that good work out to new people. Partnerships are critical because it’s just more fun to work together with other like-minded makers. Both of these can/should overlap with so-called soulful bets, but if you’re not purchasing cosmic lottery tickets somewhere you’ll never rise above the noise.