I just read a story in the New York Times related to Jiffy Lube and it’s recently changed and newly-lubed marketing approach. The oil-change brand is infusing some humor into its ads and fresh-penned tagline, “Leave worry behind.”
Ha ha, I get it, Jiffy Lube; you’re poking fun at consumer anxieties. Good one! I chose to write about this because the topic is fresh in my mind. About three months ago, I brought my Jeep Wrangler in for an oil change at a local mechanic shop. I moved to a new area about four months ago.
When I picked up my car after the oil change, something I’ve come to almost expect (sarcastically) confronted me. “You got a leak. You’ll need a new water pump.” Admittedly, I can wrap my head around ‘water’ and ‘pump’; but, I have no idea what a “water pump” does, costs, looks like, how to assess if it’s damaged, etc…
It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. Is this mechanic taking me for a ride, especially since I’m a ‘noob,’ a new person in town? Maybe it is paranoia, maybe it is experience, but I can’t help but ask the question…
The mechanic mentioned the job would tally over $300. I’m just a poor writer. I opted to let it go for a while and get other recommendations. Two days ago, I brought my Jeep to another mechanic, my landlord’s (who is also my friend) friend. I told him I needed another oil change and told him about the leak.
For one, he advised me that shops, that solely do minor jobs like oil changes, can ‘beat him out’ on the price of oil changes. He charges $80. A “jiffy” place may charge half that or a little more; they get price breaks on oil apparently. I like having money…but I also like doing business with honest people… I may shell out the additional $30 to $40 just because this guy was honest.
Additionally, he looked at my ‘leak.’ He did mention a slow leak but nothing I should be immediately concerned about. I thought that was odd since the first mechanic, from three months ago, mentioned there was “no way” I could let that water pump go for another month (“at the very latest!”) Hmm…seems two ‘experts’ have a difference in opinion, yes?
Well, let me bring it all in together. So, Jiffy’s new ad series will poke fun at situations like mine. From NY Times story:
“Because most people are not proficient in the mechanics of a car, they’re worried when they bring their car in for something that a mechanic will find something different that they weren’t aware of. There’s always that uncertainty: ‘Is the work being performed on my car really necessary?’”
How many out there, receiving some form of online marketing or SEO advice or services, feel the same way? I feel your anxiety! However, I’m not sure if I would lampoon your anxiety to promote online marketing services.
Ethically questionable or unscrupulous practices are not a laughing matter in my world. I don’t think making light-hearted attempts to express a dark side of an industry is a way to assuage the anxieties of unknowing consumers. It would be comparable to an SEO company attempting humor at simulating situations of ‘burned’ clients, while simultaneously trying to attract clients with the same needs.
Alternatively, if I’m a brand that recognizes injustices, I may engineer my ads to express an upstanding personality, like the one of the second mechanic, rather than possibly add to the insult of my industry through humor. What are your thoughts?
Any time a business uses a third-party’s services, it’s placing itself in a vulnerable position. This goes for any outsourcing, but especially for SEO and online marketing.
How many impressions can be had regarding your campaign? I don’t mean the traditional advertising kinds of impressions, such as the number of times drivers cruise pass your billboard. I mean the impressions of onlookers, whether they are consumers, peers, potential consumers, etc.
I can’t stress enough the importance of the diligence of the business owner in approaching an SEO service. Marketing is all about associating your market back to your brand and services/products. Wow, you’re leaving that up to another source entirely?! Okay, the notion of ‘outsourcing’ is not mind blowing, but the notion of electing a hands-off, leave-it-to-the-experts is very much so.
Here are a few things your marketing company can be messing up for you.
Sure, at present, the Penguin update is a heavy topic of discussion; yet, the notions behind the update are as old as the Web itself. I believe many businesspeople have a limited understanding of SEO. It’s not an insult to their intelligence; it’s just plain fact.
It wasn’t totally insane for businesspeople to be led to believe that a high number of links, signaling what you sell (anchor text), would grant you traction on this totally cool platform ‘everyone’ is now using to shop for goods/services, search engines.
However, let’s speed up time to now, when traditional sentiments of marketing caught up to the totally new, cool way to market. Why should a particular domain/page associated with a product/service necessarily be a better provider of such because a search engine says so? Understood, the theory behind engines leads browsers to believe such, but it is a marketing promise (Yes! These engines are brands too! They want you to think they’re great! And great for your business too!) – not a foolproof reality.
DO NOT allow your marketing service to go for numbers rather than quality. Do you make a distinction on quality? Why are you engaged in the matter to start from such a limited position of knowledge? Why are you letting others make decisions for your business?
“Content is…” I can’t even stomach to finish the line. Actually, how many out there assume content strictly means written copy? It does not. “But Anthony, I need a specific number of keywords occurrences on my Web page or I won’t get ranked, I won’t get traffic, I won’t get conversions…”
So, again, who is feeding you these sentiments? What kinds of content can best intrigue your targeted consumers? It could be a picture. It may be an epic poem… It may be a podcast… “But wait, pictures and podcasts don’t have keywords! I need to inundate my pages with them to rank!”
Sure, ranking well for particular terms helps, but it’s not a be-all-end-all necessity. That’s like saying if search engines ‘disappeared’ tomorrow, your business would have to fold-up shop. Really? That would be unfortunate and majorly make me question what kind of brand you have going on over there.
Pay attention to your consumers and serve them with useful content. If you pay more attention to the desires of your target market rather than how many times engines can count your keywords, your business is likely to be more successful…because you’re in business to please the customer, correct?
Search engine ‘optimization,’ to me, means your brand is finding ways to make engines work for you, not the other way around. So, it doesn’t necessarily mean Google serves you first for your “chosen word”; it means your marketing team has utilized engines as another way to create associations to your users, which can mean A LOT of things aside from rank for a particular term.
Who are you placing in power to produce your content? The agency’s writers? Have you seen their (you know, the writer who writes YOUR content) stuff before? What are their thoughts on content? Should yours be written? Audio recorded? Visually recorded? Stocked with images rather than written sentiment? What do you think about it? Do you have an opinion? Why not? You should know your service/product and consumers BETTER than the third-party provider; yet, you leave it up to someone else to make major decisions for your company?
The title is a bit misleading. I don’t know if the wealthy don’t ‘worry’ about money; but, they likely worry less than those less financially fortunate. A lot of marketing mistakes are due to worry. Probably a lot of mistakes in life have a lot to do with worry and anxiety…
A little while ago, I read a story about wine makers. It features information about particular wineries and their owners, who are already wealthy, and often do not make a lot of funds from the fruits of their grapes’ labors.
It’s a good read; but, here I would like to write upon some business lessons taken from the story:
Do you ever dread your business? Why did you get into it? Was it to make money? Was the business handed down over generations? Did you see no other immediate ways to make a living? Is it your passion?
I’m a realist. I understand situations are not clear cut. However, make sure you’re not fooling yourself. Success means a lot of things. For some, the meaning has nothing to do with money; it has to do with doing something meaningful to them.
A lot of wineries are started because (yes, the owner has the funds, but…) owners have a passion for the process, the end product, and satisfying the taste buds of enthusiasts. Are you truly passionate about your business? If not, you’ll experience a lot more ‘road bumps’ because your intuition is looking for them.
If your business is not about the enjoyment in delivering your product/service to your market, you may never experience ‘success’ no matter how hard you try.
As a writer, I write constantly. Some messages are greeted with more success than others. Does it have to do with my writing? Sometimes. But, I think most times not. There are a lot of writers producing each day. My content must compete on the Web. What separates my post from being read over other content? Sometimes, it has to do with luck and timing. Sometimes it has to do with another cohort reading it, sharing it, posting it to places where others can see it, etc.
For instance, a startup may be doing everything ‘right’ yet does not experience the traction it wants. Such ‘I want it now’ sentiments can get you into trouble or make one think less of their brand. Why? Some very successful people are where they are now thanks to patience and particular timing. When will your time come? I wish I could assuage your anxieties and answer for you; but, I can tell you just about all of us are going through the same. It’s a marathon; it’s not a race.
Operate Your Business
I’ve never owned a business; so, some owners may scoff at this message. So be it. I hope all owners operate business the way it was intended. For instance, in the online marketing space, some suppliers may bend their own rules (sometimes Google’s) to satisfy a client.
Sometimes the client’s needs are not aligned with the owner’s ethics. However, let’s be real, all owners want business. Should an owner compromise the ethics of their brand to satisfy a client? I can’t answer that for you. I know my answer. In one portion of the wine article, one maker tells of those who want that 100-point score and will be hefty prices to do it. What was one winemakers reply? “My first warning is, don’t go into the business looking for a certain score.” He is secure in his decision to stand by his ethics (and that of his brand). Are you?
So, you wanna successfully leverage online marketing. How thick is your SEO skin? Would you mind if I combed over your initiatives with a felt-tipped, red pen. I used to get ‘my red on’ regarding student essays. I wasn’t being malicious; as the song goes, ‘you gotta be cruel to be kind’ sometimes.
I’m going to go ahead and prescribe your medicine. This may hurt (just) a little; but, it will make you better. (Pops the top of the pen, stretches, and puts his kinder sentiments on Penguin ice.)
Your Social Media Participation is Awful
Are you Facebook fooling me? Are you tweetin out of your mind? The errors are so rampant, I can’t include them in a flowing paragraph. I need to resort to bullets.
- You don’t engage. You simply share.
- You don’t share the content of others
- You handle expresses zero personality, you know those things real people have
- You follow people just to gain followers then un-follow them.
- You share the most-popular content, that which everyone else shares
That’s a good place to start. In short, use social media effectively; or, don’t use it at all; because, using it in a poor fashion is worsening your state, as if you were better off not engaging at all. Wow, the irony…
Here are two good resources on how to use social media. Read them.
No One’s Reading That
I get it. ‘Content is king.’ You need content on your site. Let’s plan for good copy. Nah. On second thought, let’s just throw anything up on the site. Readers can’t tell the difference, right? (Sighs) I need to go back to bullets.
- Your content is incredibly basic, even for laypeople, offering little to no value
- Your content does not link to other helpful resources
- You’re focused on quantity rather than quality
- Your site content reads like you’re just ‘going through the motions’ rather than using copy to connect with people
- You don’t devote enough time to the process end-to-end (ideas, research, reflection, etc)
Content is king; but, yours is more like a jester. Do you want to engage consumers or just host content? I can tell the difference. I’m not the only one. Are you serious about improving your content? Read the following.
You Live in an Online World; But, Goods, Services, and Customers Reside Elsewhere
Don’t get too bogged down in search engine obfuscation.’ SEO is marketing using a search engine. Is that so revolutionary of a concept? It’s really not. Perhaps it’s due to limited understanding, but many business owners have a fallacious understanding of SEO methinks.
In what reality does a platform afford the opportunity to discredit traditional marketing sympathies, ones that focus on people? I’ll tell you right now; there’s no such SEO reality. Maybe some providers have you ‘fooled.’ It’s time to wake up now.
- SEO is not magic. It is a form of marketing.
- SEO does not compensate for a lack of brand quality, nothing can.
- SEO is about engines. Any business is about people.
- Learn about SEO before you spend your money and your provider’s time
- Stop chasing trends. Start chasing your consumers’ interests.
This is one of the most recent, simplified, and succinct SEO posts I’ve seen in some time. Read it.
Is timing ‘everything’? I’ve heard such suggestions before, feeling intimidated by the notion of minding yet another factor. Should I go to the grocery store because I’m hungry; and, because it’s dinnertime? Should I wait until the crowd subsides? Should I turn the Flyers game off now while they’re still ahead as not to get disappointed later? Should I approach the girl at the coffeehouse while she’s busy though waiting for the ‘perfect’ moment (which in my mind my never come) could be an error in logic?
Marketers must mind time, especially when it comes to content sharing. Not only do businesspeople have to consider where to share; they must ponder when the best time is to strike the social network chords. Timing definitely warrants premeditation; just don’t think into paralysis like a grown man in a coffee shop.
Consider the following suggestions related timing in marketing:
The “Work” “Day”
I’ll assume most brands share during the traditional workweek, within traditional ‘working’ hours. This seems immediately apropos; but, think about your target market, you know, the people you want reading your stuff.
For instance, WebiMax has a great writer, Ryan Buddenhagen, who writes on ISEO. Ryan has ushered some international looks to the blog. When are those readers ‘working,’ and roving social platforms? They’re on a different time zone. Would it be better for us to think about the best times to engage those international readers, perhaps ‘scheduling’ some ISEO tweets? It could be a benefit.
What about those who don’t use the ‘workday’ to read and engage in social media? I read and write all day, yet the process is conducive to my position and industry. That’s not the case with a lot of professionals. For instance, are you sharing your parenting tips in the middle of the day when parents may be at work, not reading parenting materials? Would such a brand be better off sharing content at night, when a larger pool of its market may be looking for it? It could be a benefit.
Do you want to work this weekend? Ha ha, you don’t have to answer. A lot of brands leverage third-party marketing services. That’s completely understood. Depending on the present state and momentum of a brand, in-house marketing resources just may not be an immediate reality. However, what if the brand offers services and products outside of the B2B sector? Many consumer products/services are warranted during ‘off’ hours, such as on the weekend, you know, when a large portion of target markets ‘have time’ to think about needed goods and services.
Is your brand making marketing motions on the weekend? I know. “But it’s the weekend!” Yes, but it’s not necessarily the weekend regarding your target market’s desires. Actually, the contrary is true in this instance. Why use social media when it’s not being leveraged during one of the ‘hottest’ moments, when consumers’ attentions are piqued?
Use Amigos Wisely
I loved the 80s; I apologize for the references; but, I can’t help it. Remember the comedy, The Three Amigos? It’s a gem of a cinematic piece. Three actors are asked to come to a small, Mexican town to defeat the wicked “El Guapo.” The actors are under the impression they were asked to come to perform, only to realize the wicked nature of El Guapo and clan is quite real. (Get to the point, Anthony.)
In the end, the Amigos defeated the rogue group by dressing villagers like the Amigos, by visually coming at the gang ‘from all sides.’ I like that kind of tactic when it comes to timing and sharing.
I see this dynamic a lot: A writer just gets done a post and boom, hits the publish button. The published post is noticed by internal people who immediately share it. Awesome, the post is in the social pipelines…for that hour or so, then dramatically drops in shares (unless the post makes it to some sort of sharing site: inbound, reddit, and the like).
Would it be more effective to elongate the publishing? Could the post be shared some when first published, then shared again later in the day or week? I’m not discussing content curation per se; I’m talking about the initial sharing of a piece of content. Some brands share as if they are trying to lighten the load of the brand’s ship, as if saying, “All right, we’ve got this one done.; let’s dump it into the social media sea and hope something happens from it.”
This has more to do with ‘who’ more than ‘when,’ but I want to include this; I think it’s something to consider. Identifying personas is a useful marketing tool. It makes sense; people vary; so, consumer behaviors will as well. Are brand workers segmented, meaning is there a social, copy, database team, etc? If so, maybe it’s important to think about ‘who’ is tweeting what content. For instance, I often share content about branding. I’ve built a following that expects that now. It would make sense for me to share that content rather than someone on the database team, who may have followers interested in different material.
This post will be about branding. Branding is good for online marketing. It expresses passion…which is very unlike my first few lines here. Did you find yourself doing ‘the robot’ as you were reading them? I do that sometimes on and off the dance floor. The latter occurs when reading generic posts. Who’s the author? Why can’t I extract a single, personable sentiment from these things? It’s a small wonder (80′s television reference) anyone but robots are reading these things.
I read an awesomely refreshing post this morning on ‘why I don’t read your blog.’ It’s real and insightful. One of the best points I gathered was not being a candidate for the crowned Mr. Roboto of blogging. I’m not the only writer who agrees:
@content_muse It is definitely important to let your personality shine through! Robotic blogging makes me want to cry tears of boredom.
However, I’m not writing this post on blogging. It’s about inserting the essence of communication (character) into your branding. Why? Same reason as above, businesspeople, partners, and all types of consumers enjoy personality. It helps us makes better decisions, better aligning us with likeable and like-minded brands.
Consider the following:
Having Personality is Not Unprofessional
I like hovering outside of the ‘uber professional’ box; maybe it’s a bit too stuffy in there for my personality. I have one. I’m okay with that; and, I believe other professionals are as well. Having fun with your job, smiling, and expressing personality does not make you unprofessional; it makes you an individual. If you need to keep your brand ‘in line,’ ‘hiding’ the personality of workers and collective beliefs, then something is off. What is your brand’s collective personality? If you can’t accurately identify that, then maybe your brand is a bit too stuffy. If bankers above the age of sixty-five is your market then proceed with minimalistic expression of personality (I guess). Otherwise, it’s okay to be your brand self.
Where’s Your Team?
It’s sad to come across a company site void of worker presence. Who’s onboard your company? I want to know. It just might influence my decision to engage your brand. If you’re not showing your main players, in these times of super social marketing, I just may grow suspicious, wondering, “Well, why not!?” Owners, are you sharing your workers and their work with the rest of us? Why not? You hired them; so, I assume you’re proud they’re working for you. Why hide them and their contributions? No really- I’m actually thinking that when I don’t see them.
Many online brands don’t have storefronts. Many brands don’t attend workshops and events. Many brands don’t have the chance of experiencing consumers three-dimensionally and vice versa. That’s a disadvantage for those with personality and passion. How do you compensate? While so much energy is devoted toward ‘ranking’ services/products so many brands pay no resources toward exposing browsers to their ‘brand.’ A brief about us page is not enough. When was that penned? Five years ago when the brand started? What’s happened since then? Update the about us page. Why not make it into a scrolling, blog-post-like page? Many products and services vary very little when it comes down to it. What’s your brand’s story? I really want to know; I have choices (like the rest of your consumers). Telling me more about the supplied source gives me more reasons to make a decision.
This is BS
Do you think this is BS? (If you’re thinking this is great business strategy, I agree; if you’re thinking of other terms, I hope you reconsider; I’m really trying to fertilize your success.) I predict some owners may read this, giving my words the ‘pfft-into-an-eye-roll’ sentiment. I understand; ‘Anthony’s just ranting about his favorite topic, branding; he’s passionate about wanting me to be passionate; but, I’ll just sit back and keep doing what I’m doing’…the bare minimum of branding. Here’s the thing. I notice. Others notice too. Just like the author of the ‘why I don’t read your blog’ post above is turned off by personality-less posts, people are turned off by personality-less brands, especially in verticals where face-to-face meetings are few to none. You may disagree with me know; but, entertain me; put forth some extra branding effort. I think you’ll thank me later.