This weekend, it was a rainy day. I was making pulled pork for dinner that night, and because it had been cooking all day in the slow cooker, the house smelled wonderful. As I was preparing the meat, my wife’s little dog, Cindy, stood patiently HOPING something yummy would fall her way. She stood quietly, not making a sound, not begging, but watching my every move very intently.

It occurred to me that so many of us can take this as a metaphor for our online marketing efforts. If we stand by patiently, we hope that the goods will fall out of the sky. If we can just get that one bite, all the deliciousness that is due to us will show up. This is what I’ve heard people like Jeff Walker call “Hope Marketing”. You throw a couple things out there on Facebook, or write a blog once in awhile, hoping that it will stick to the wall and catch the eye of the right person. If only the planets would line up just right…

Unfortunately, it doesn’t really work that way in the real world.

I’ve been talking lately about how the online marketing world has changed. It has changed, and it hasn’t changed. Google has made some long-overdue rule changes that cut out all the crap content and cheaters, and give those of us who are trying to to do things correctly a leg up. These changes are good for all of us, both online marketers, and consumers (because we get better search results).

The part that hasn’t changed is that we each have to have a consistent, reproducible marketing plan for attracting people to our business. There is no magic formula or secret sauce, it’s just a process that anyone can do if done consistently. It’s not about keywords or links or meta tags any more. It’s about telling your story and telling others’ stories, then putting that out for people to consume.

People get so worked up about SEO and what’s the right way to do it. You as a business owner probably don’t really care about keywords or links or meta tags, right? You just want to do what you love – which is your business. A photographer friend of mine, Anna, told me last week, “I don’t want to turn into an IT person. I just want to take awesome pictures!” That’s what she loves.

You’re going to hear Anna’s story in a couple weeks, as well as from three other business owners. These are real people whose businesses depend on being found online and being engaged with their customers.

We’re going to show you that online marketing is real and that anyone can do it without being a web geek or spending hours or a ton of money on getting it all lined out. You can stop using “hope marketing”, just waiting for something delicious to fall from the sky, like my wife’s dog. It all boils down to the five core strategies that every business should do, and just forget about the geeky stuff.

And yes, Cindy’s patience finally paid off in the end when some delicious bites of pulled pork came her way.