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.
Are you tired of hearing of Google pets? I am too. There are some SEO lessons to learn due to Penguin. I’m sure you’ve seen a resource or two so far. However, in this post, I would like to review some business insights to take away from the pet’s recent visit.
Google is not a Given
Google is a business just like yours. Google has an idea of how it would like to offer its search engine service. Sure, Google makes most of its money from advertising; so, it wants you to use its search engine; however, nothing is ‘given’ regarding Google, just as nothing is given regarding other forms of marketing. The search engine is a platform your business can use to intrigue consumers. Your brand must make the marketing channel ‘work’ just like other methods. The Google search engine is not a revolutionary marketing exception; don’t think of it as such.
You Can’t Compensate for Quality
I say this a lot. I hope some are reading and heeding the words. You can’t compensate (EVER) for a lack of quality. You could facilitate more exposure without providing quality; but, such an endeavor seems wasteful in itself. Additionally, consumers have choices. Just because your service/product ranks well, doesn’t secure an eventual purchase or ongoing appreciation. You can’t compensate for quality no matter how you organize your online marketing campaign.
Don’t Chase Trends
It’s likely many affected webmasters did not directly have bad intentions; alternatively, many could have been chasing the ‘trend’ of achieving great rank. Don’t chase trends; organize online marketing endeavors utilizing tools and initiatives which make sense.
Recently, we’ve seen information related to GM, America’s third-largest advertiser. GM no longer uses Facebook for paid advertising. Additionally, GM does not plan to invest in the upcoming Super Bowl advertising fiesta. (To date, advertisers will be expected to invest over $3 million for 30 seconds! Wow!) GM is a perfect example of crafting marketing against brand intentions and markets, regardless of the most ‘popular’ social networks and sense of ‘tradition.’
Listen to Customers, Not SEOs
Every marketing campaign needs to devote unwavering attention to target markets. You know your target market; SEOs do not. SEOs know online marketing tools and platforms. Marketing aligns targets with your brand. SEOs can help from a third-party perspective; but, SEOs can’t do YOUR JOB for you. In theory, such sentiments create potential for a bad relationship. SEOs want to help; but, they can’t compensate for your lack of target-market understanding or quality of service/product.
I, for one, celebrate the recent updates. It ushers a returned sentiment of ‘marketing.’ SEO is a tangent of marketing. Marketing relies on understanding people. When did so many get led astray from the ‘people’ aspect of marketing? SEO is not automated marketing; if you think it is, you need more than my words and a Penguin.
Those, native to Philadelphia, are no strangers to professional sports teams. Philly’s got a couple of great ones, the Flyers among them. In attempts to exorcise their playoff opponent, the ‘Flyguys’ were eliminated this year. True fans are disappointed but hardly turned off of the team, the brand, the Flyers.
It may not come as readily as looking at a name such as Ford or Folgers, but the Flyers are a brand, a business too. They have consumers, just like Ford and Folgers; except in the realm of sports ‘marketing,’ consumers are called ‘fans.’
It’s an interesting concept. Marketing exists for sports teams, yet the heavy lifting is done by the ‘service’ itself, the performance of players. For only one team per year in the NHL, does the service make due on its original promise, to ‘go all the way.’ All but one teams’ mass of fans is ultimately disappointed to some degree. But that’s okay. There’s always next year. The ‘fans’ are okay with that. They’re okay with the trying even though for most, it doesn’t end in triumph. That’s interesting.
Flyers fans are fans of the game. The ‘service’ is supplied by the players. The players have a pure love for what they do. The players played before there was an NHL or Flyers in their personal lives. Such purity is pretty easy to market. The players’ abilities speak idly, just as any business’ services or products should be able to stand alone.
What is your business’ level of purity? Is it comparable to that of natural-born players? I came across a quote earlier while working on today’s previous copywriting post:
“The only reason for being a professional writer is that you just can’t help it.”
It’s tongue-in-cheek, yes, but true. I (literally) have a choice; yet, I kinda don’t; writing is me. It makes a lot of sense for me. It comes naturally. Such a true passion makes it easy for me to market myself as a writer. The writing (hopefully) ‘speaks’ for itself. A product/service should be able to do so. Such a dynamic is not putting the cart before the horse.
Marketing could never take the place of the ‘horse.’ You can’t market a ‘lame’ product or service; the marketing can’t create such inertia. Sure, a business can try; yet, such images (and such campaigns) elicit some chuckles, don’t they?
Of course, it’s horrible to see your team lose. But the players will train harder and get better; because, they have no choice. It’s what they (truly want to) do. Will it guarantee a Cup next year? The odds are against them and their faithful fans. So, why gravitate toward the business, the brand, the Flyers? We’ll keep watching as long as the players keep doing what they love, despite the road bumps and disappointments.
True passion inspires faithful followers. The passion represented in a resulting service/product is really marketable within itself. The marketing part only warrants the reception of the market. The marketing can’t ‘play the game’ for the players; it can only illuminate the passion which was always there.
(Looks around) Psst. Hey you, come here. I have a secret. I’m not always ‘working.’ Well, better defined, I’m not always doing what I’m paid to do. You see, I’m not being disobedient or having a Peter Gibbons moment. I love my job. I’m just not always doing it. (Gets up, stretches, does some pushups, takes a sip of coffee, then looks out the window.)
Here are a few things I’m doing when I should be working.
(Puts down US Weekly) I don’t believe ‘reading’ is in my job description; yet, I do a whole bunch of it throughout the day. I’ve taken it upon myself to become completely immersed in my particular vertical. In my vertical of online marketing, many bloggers and associated sites exist. My eyes ravenously encounter a litany of lines during business hours. Shh – don’t tell my bosses I’m becoming more proficient in my respective area of concentration!
Well, maybe it’s not so roguish. A little while ago, one of our strategists of SEO, Chris Countey, sent me an email. It was to commend me on my ability to engage the community and vertical. He asked how ‘we’ can replicate such behavior for our clients.
I told him it’s sort of difficult to make suggestions without knowing particular clients’ verticals and goals. Actually, I caught one of Todd Bailey’s suggestions in a recent CNBC Google Penguin post:
“Businesses need to get rid of the philosophy that they need to get as many links and as much content out as there as they can,” Bailey said. “They need to look at a public relations strategy and try to produce quality content by pitching news outlets, doing press releases and guest blogging.
Wait. Todd’s thinks a PR strategy is a sound marketing decision. Well, that’s not in my job description either; yet, I think I’ve found something else to do when I should be working.
Actually, I read a great post on using social media for prospecting and building relations recently.
I used to engage in PR activities; now, I’m technically a copywriter; yet, I might as well summons what I’ve learned while I’m not working. There are a number of social sites like Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc. Personally, I’ve cultivated an affinity for Twitter. I can cover a lot of people and information that way. It works for me in my particular situation.
I know I suggest otherwise in yesterday’s social media post; but, I’m a rebel, remember? Actually, I share a lot of other peoples’ stuff. As a result, I think people who want to learn more and be exposed to different information appreciate my shares and passion for knowledge.
As a peer mentioned yesterday, I’m an ‘outstanding Twitter citizen.’ That means a lot, to me and to the brand; because being a diligent and considerate socialite helps us make more connections and get more solidly ingrained in our respective space. Shh – Don’t tell my bosses I’m building rapports within our vertical!
If you’ve seen a guest post or two by me, it’s because I cared about building relationships in my respective vertical. It’s beneficial.
I’m not sure if thinking is listed on my job description verbatim; but, I’ll assume it’s indirectly implied; though in my younger years, I’ve heard, “You’re not paid to think” a time or two. Why would my bosses want me thinking when I could be working? Hmm.. I recently read a good post by Jon Morrow at Copyblogger (Do you want to learn how to write better copy for the Web, and just period? Read Copyblogger.) Jon’s post speaks of sleeping while making money. I haven’t tried sleeping while working yet…but, I’ll leave that to Jon for now.
In his description of learning ‘how to sell,’ Jon suggests listening to salespeople, or those who know the product/service. I’m ingrained in the online marketing world. I’m a worker bee. I know the service. As Jon suggests, brand messages should reflect that of those who know the product/service; because, those souls better understand how a service/product addresses a client need. Moreover, being on the internal squad, I’m marketing a marketing company; so, I also have suggestions on how to market ‘our’ company too. Shh – don’t tell my bosses I’m always thinking of ways to improve things for us and clients.
Those I report to encourage any ideas or thoughts of mine, which I believe could improve the internal and client process. There’s no quota or specific time of suggestion. I relate ideas and processes when such inspiration strikes.
As you can read, this was another tongue-in-cheek post. I want to get you thinking, and doing PR, and reading too; but, only if it makes sense regarding your vertical and personal contribution. I’ll assume you have a ‘job description’; but, does that mean you have to confine your workday to such? Yes, of course- attend to what’s expected; but, don’t be ‘shh’ shy about doing more professionally for you and your brand.
How much are your ideas worth? It’s a tough question. Can you really place value on ideas? I guess if it materializes to a Google or Facebook then you’ll get some pats on the back for it. However, what about all the other ideas that didn’t make it to epic, FB and Goog heights? Ideas are flying around all day and night. It’s only when we harness them, when we wrangle them in and make something out of them, that we get ‘full’ credit and appreciation for them.
I’m an idea man; but, that means nothing to you unless I can express my muse exists. Here are some copywriting ideas I can give to you. Maybe you can make something more concrete out of them. (Throws coin in idea machine.)
Is someone interesting in your business community? I bet there are tons of people to approach. Interviews have such potential; I think the questions and not the personality really make the interview. Have you entertained some good questions you would like to ask?
Spend less time worrying about the candidate and spend more time focusing on what kinds of questions would intrigue readers. You have social media accounts, don’t you? You could ask followers for their take on some good questions regarding your industry. That way, you know your questions are already burning a hole in inquiring minds.
A Day in the Life
Consumers are more curious about brands of interest. Have you considered making an infographic related to a day at your office? It could be highly informative; it could be silly and humorous. Both kinds of content intrigue readers. What I do love about the idea is that it provides an opportunity for brand expression.
Most people get lost in the design of an inforgraphic; I think it’s more about what readers can get out of them. Ask yourself, “How do I want the reader to experience this? What kinds of reactions do I want from them?” Do you want to invoke a laugh? Do you want more professional respect?
I stopped reading faceless, corporate-like blog posts. They offer very little personality; and, the intelligence is usually highly objective. I can’t really gain much value from them. However, I do get a lot of value from the opinions of others. Sure, they are just that – the opinions of others. I can wrap my head around the experiences of others, consider the messages, and then extract value to use in my own subjective experiences.
Choose five to ten in-industry business practices you celebrate and an equal number of those you disagree with. Use personal experiences to elucidate a truth you came to realize. Perhaps readers can relate, disagree, or want to add. Sharing in-industry experiences is great bait for reads. Think about popular comedians. Jokes, which are more popular, are usually those that are relatable to a greater number of people.
Write a Post on Ideas
How postmodern of me to suggest; but, it makes sense. I would want to hear from more idea people. Where do you get your ideas? What do you do with them? I’ll share some personal feedback:
- I walk around with a small notebook; my ideas like to have fun with me, knocking on my mind’s door at the most inconvenient times. But I found a way to keep them captive until later. Don’t let those little buggers get away!
- Every person is different. Do your ideas follow a cycle of seasons? Mine usually do. I am highly creative in the morning until around noon then experience a creative reprise in the evening into the wee hours. I take advantage of my idea seasons when I can. Why try to write a sunny post when I’m amidst the winter of my content?
- Two creative heads are better than one. There are a few people whom I share rough ideas with. I get more ideas from the feedback of others. Even if they don’t like where a particular idea is going, the addition of their mind into the equation further rattles some more ideas out of my idea machine.
What do you think about when hearing of brands seeking online marketing help? The Web has been ‘exploding’ for some time now. Its popularity blindfolds me at times when conjuring images of clients. I usually think about those with businesses well-footed in the online world. But that’s not the case for many. I read an article today about a company having issues stemming from bringing a traditional company online.
It got me thinking about other situations. Then I started thinking of some brick-and-mortar owners who may not see the need for online marketing at all because the online factor has never really been a topic of discussion for the owners. We often don’t think about what is not immediately in front of us.
IF storefront owners wanted to engage in some online marketing to connect with more consumers, they could consider:
I hear debates amongst many brands regarding the usefulness in creating or optimizing mobile sites. What should you do? It depends. For instance, if a store front offers food and resides within a seasonal-vacation locale, optimizing for smart phone users could make a difference in seasonal revenue production.
Ideally, creating more avenues to find your brand is great; but, not all owners have tons of money to invest, warranting an allocation of resources. For storefront owners, the question to ask is, “Is my product or service something searched (particularly) via smart phones?” People will search for places to eat and be entertained via smart phones. Would they search for a third-party shipping company using their phone? Perhaps, but it’s probably not as likely as the first scenario.
I really like seeing brands use social media; there’s so much potential; however, doing a poor job with handles can introduce the opposite influence. I’ve had brief discussions with a number of offline brands regarding social media. A majority of them ‘have heard’ but don’t quite ‘get’ what social media can do for their business. I understand. I do online marketing; so, I know social media. If I was a pizza shop owner, I would know food ingredients. Offline brands thinking about social media should ask, “Do I have the discipline to address a social media account regularly, constantly striving to make solid connections with followers?” If not, lay off the task for now. Otherwise, consider seeking the service of someone who can address the need for you.
Let’s use the pizza shop example. Hmm…maybe you place an ad by the cash register. “Follow, order, and keep in touch with us on Twitter! – Get a free pizza.” Depending on the shop’s setup, you could have people tweeting orders rather than calling. What’s the difference? All of their followers see them ordering from you…might that appeal to the stomachs of others? It just might.
Video blogging has been on my mind recently. I think it has a lot of potential; it really bridges the personable gap a bit. Sure, you can’t replicate the experience of engaging someone in person; yet, video blogs tell viewers a lot about the speakers. Viewers can see body language, facial features, inflection and tone of voice, presenting more of a personality that you can’t always get via textual information.
Many storefront owners are ‘people persons’ by nature or by business necessity. A lot of SEOs will tell you to put content on a Web site to help with optimization. That’s true. Putting content online can also help with people optimization. If you’re an owner thinking about starting a blog, ask yourself, “Do I feel passionate enough about what I do to share something with viewers (engaging my customers) on an ongoing basis?” I say don’t worry so much about ‘keywords.’ Concern yourself with expressing your business and brand to the public. And realize you don’t have to write. We’re not all writers; yet, most business owners feel somewhat comfortable with speaking publicly. Vlogging is not like getting up in front of a room of people; you can edit to your liking as much as possible before posting, just a thought…