The Greek tale of the Trojan Horse is among the most well-known stories in history.

After an unsuccessful 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a group of brave soldiers inside.  The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night.

The Trojans received a thoughtful departing gift but there was surprise inside wasn’t there?

While I can’t promise the dominance of a nation (or even Facebook), there is a similar opportunity for marketers today — give people a gift with a little surprise inside. There are three examples that come to mind — perhaps you can name more …

Badges — My oh my bloggers love badges.  I have a few of them on {grow} that I wear with pride, especially if it represents praise from judges or my readers like the Content Marketing Institute Award for being one of the Top 10 Content Marketing blogs in the world.  So my prize was a badge … but there’s a surprise inside!  That badge links to the CMI website and creates a powerful Search Engine Optimization benefit. It’s almost like I added them to a blog roll. They have a semi-permanent advertisement on my blog. Pretty clever, huh?

Guest posts — I like to shine a light on deserving writers and thinkers in the {grow} community by inviting occasional guest posts.  This is obviously great exposure, but if the writer is clever (and they are), they can also create links within a guest post to other posts and web destinations that will benefit their business.  A gift to me? Sure?  But those links are like soldiers leaping out of the horse to drive traffic to their website!

Comments — Even the humble blog comment can have have a traffic-driving strategy behind it.  If you’ve written a post that complements something I’ve written, why not put a link to it in a comment? I consider every comment a gift, but it can also open up opportunities for you. Comments are scanned by search engines, and associating a link with a popular blog article can’t hurt.  Even uber-blogger Brian Solis recently got into the act when he had his own linkbait beach party on my blog. He left the most link-filled comment in the history of mankind — 11 links in a single comment (right). Was he being authentically helpful?  Probably.  But folks … he sure did drag one big Trojan Horse on to the blog!

Here’s the key to success in executing a Trojan Horse strategy — if it appears like you’re gaming the system or being inauthentic in any way, you will be sniffed out and booted, most likely.  Like all aspects of the social web, people still want real value in content and connections.

If you leave a legitimate comment with a meaningful link to explain your position, I respect that.  It adds value for everyone involved.   By the way, I’ve had about 8,000 comments on {grow}. I’ve deleted TWO as being inappropriate.

So I’ve provided three examples of this strategy.  Can you think of other ideas of how this might work?  Does this strategy make sense to you?

I’ll be discussing this idea and dozens more in a free Feb. 16 MLT Creative webinar, Elevating your Blog: Content, Conversions and Content.

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