Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs!

I just came back from the dollar store, buying some supplies for one of my (now) favorite holidays. No, not Christmas, though I enjoy that one very much. Nor is it Halloween, another one of my spoooooky favorites. As a patriotic American, I love Independence Day. Anyone that reads any of my other blogs knows that I believe that Election Day should be a federal holiday. And I love Labor Day and Memorial Day because any day that gets me off work with pay is definitely worth celebrating! But this isn’t about any of those, either.

And I’m not talking about Congress appeasing some obscure lobbyist group by naming a day after them, like “National French-Fried Orchid Week”.

I’m talking about the International Talk Like a Pirate Day! What is it, you say? Well, it’s just like it says. It’s a day where you talk like a pirate. Well, for those of you who might be historical purists, it’s really more like “Talk Like a Robert Louis Stevenson, Disney-Style Pirate”. Celebrants of the day go about their normal daily lives, but saying things like, “Arrrr!” and “Ahoy, mateys!” to their families and co-workers.

In other words, it’s a chance to get absolutely silly and get away with it.

Why am I mentioning it here?

Primarily because the awareness of the holiday and its spread is really a story of natural internet promotion. It’s a story of how a unique idea caught hold and grew. It contains lessons we could all learn about web promotions.

According to the creator’s official website, the idea began as two friends began shouting at each other in a friendly racquetball game. Their tone turned to the sound of pirates, and before long, they had decided that a day like that would be fun. They chose a date and began to celebrate it each year.

They kept doing this annually, among friends, but it didn’t really take off until they sent an email to humor columnist Dave Barry. As any good humor writer would, he saw the comic potential, and jumped right on board, writing about it in his column.

At that point, the internet took over. Message boards and forums all over the ‘net ran crazy with the idea, and it’s been steadily growing with fan sites, YouTube videos, and blogs ever since. It’s also played into the ongoing internet pirates vs. ninjas joke.

So what can we learn from it?

First of all, it started as a concept, something unique, and they created an idea around it. They didn’t say, “Let’s find some generic products and try to sell them.” They had a clever idea and they presented it to the world.

They also found the right outlet. They “hooked in” (pun maliciously intended) with their audience, by connecting with humorist Dave Barry. Knowing who can reach your audience and going after them is a key principle in internet marketing.

They got some buzz going, and before they knew it, they were out there. The buzz caught on. Whether they knew it or not, they were using social networking like masters.

So, It’s time to let your inner pirate out! September 19th! Mark your calendars, and shiver yer timbers!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.
Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

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