I read about Morgan Freeman being involved in an auto accident last week and his subsequent surgery so I was pretty surprised to hear him congratulate Michael Phelps on his record number of gold medals in the commercial below. Did the man do the voice over from his hospital bed? Highly unlikely which means VISA taped this spot when Mr. Freeman did his other commercials knowing there was a very good chance Michael Phelps was going to blow everyone out of the water and make Olympic Gold History.

This VISA spot will forever be branded as the commercial vehicle associated with Michael Phelp's Olympic accomplishment, it launched the congratulations heard around the world! There's no price tag for that. Smart smart Visa, thinking ahead pays off.

Do you do any link building planning?

Planning as in mapping out link locations you want to get into and opportunities you can prepare for knowing something specific is coming up?

I know most of us aren't VISA and don't have the resources to hire the likes of Morgan Freeman, but the concept behind the promotion can be adapted to almost any industry. Anticipate an event, look for a content angle, create it and pounce when the moment is right.

A lot of successful "linkbait" is launched on the heels of breaking news or changes. We can't anticipate the future but we can plan around upcoming events, holidays, elections etc and write for them NOW. That way when the time comes you're ready and there before the competition.

The commercial isn't genius, but it's definitely pure gold for VISA. :)

August 14, 2008

Based in Williamsburg Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building campaigns and link training and is the author of the link building blog Link Spiel



So true! (LOVE that commercial by the way). I have a hobby blog on horses, and I started covering the Olympics about a month and a half before they started, which was also a month before any of the other major equestrian sites did. I saw nobody was doing it, and decided to position myself ahead of time as the number one resource for Olympic equestrian information. So far I've gotten tons of links (some from major news media), saw a 5,000% increase in traffic, a 1,000% increase in subscriptions, have seen days where I was getting comments every 10 minutes, have connected with people all over the world and some who know the Olympic riders personally, and have made a lot more money from my Google ads. I have better search engine visibility for Olympic equestrian related searches than NBC, the official Olympic equestrian site, and the other major horse sites. All from planning ahead and getting started early! That wouldn't have happened if I'd only written about the Olympics as they were happening. And the best thing is, I did it on purpose.

Moral of the story: if you've got a major event in your niche, cover it often and early, and plan ahead like Debra said. It will pay off in a major way.

You're smart, cute and thin... it's just not fair. ;) Glad to hear your Olympic strategy worked, see you soon!

Thank you so much for this helpful information. I am just starting this journey and your article has given me great pointers.

Yes, Debra, great point. This technique works with a lot of different things, including:

- newly passed legislation that goes into effect down the road ( 6 months from now when the law goes into effect, they will be reading your analyses and reference materials);

- advance book reviews

- new product releases

- hurricanes that are brewing (I remember one student who wrote about Katrina in advance as the storm was developing, and whose site then became a center for Katrina-related news)

You can even do it in a small way repeatedly with getting the scoop with embargoed press releases of news in your niche, if you develop relationships with PR firms.

The list goes on.

The results can be a nice small bump in traffic -- or phenomenal as Jackie's experience with the horse site shows.


Planning ahead - what a concept!

Excellent points, Debra! And Jackie, what a terrific real-world illustration of how well a little forethought can work.

Kudos to you both. :)

Excellent concept this, planning ahead for your content!
Suddenly, I see a host of new ideas to blog on.

Your ingenious!! and that's all I can say!!

The main concept was plan ahead and build strategy to create a better future.. this time I won't give up.. I'll make it last forever!!

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