I used to write for a business-to-business outfit, providing content on an array of services.  Naturally, marketing (on and offline) were amongst the provided services.  I recently came across an article penned years ago on customer retention.  I think it has “evergreen” sentiments, and though today’s offered online marketing company initiatives are prolific, culminating in SEO, SMO, PPC and other opportunities, I don’t think such processes always “work” as expected (by some SEO and online marketing clients).  Some may inquire, “Why?  Aren’t you people supposed to get me more exposure and revenue!?”

Does more exposure always equal revenue?  I believe online marketers know the answer…as well as business owners who don’t want to hear the honest truth…no.  Of course, online marketing and SEO practitioners help businesses, but help those most who have worked to be in a position to help their respective brands establish a core business, one which can deliver quality to consumers.

I read a good post giving a brief history of link building and popular SEO trends.  The author ended with an overall-resounding sentiment:  Don’t worry (or let clients worry) about algorithm changes and trends (too much); place more emphasis on ensuring service providers and respective clients are doing a number of things well, working hard to deliver a great brand experience to consumers.

I agree with the sentiment; there’s only so much an online marketing company can do outside of the hard work the client’s core business is willing to provide.  Practitioners can help give your brand a “shot” at stardom, but ultimately, a brand is weighed and measured by its target market, regardless of ranks, packaging, Web design, 10,000 Twitter followers, 100,000 Facebook friends, etc.

I don’t want to reiterate my thoughts of the past, but I do want to use them to re-present some reminders:

Think Like a Customer

I can’t emphasize this enough; it’s your responsibility to think like a consumer.  Would you want to receive email solicitations?  Would you want to receive automated Twitter messages after following someone?  Would you want to realize the difference between online, organic and paid search results?  Would you want to receive text-to-URL prompts? Would you want to feel “tricked,” clicking on a SERP which seemingly contains the information you seek only to be confronted with a poor piece of copy, illustrating very little yet awkwardly stuffed with keywords?   

Do onto customers as you would have done unto you (as a consumer).  It seems like a very simple, golden rule, but I think it’s easily forgotten or passed over for strict, money-generating desires.  Think like a customer; can’t you tell when a brand is making a genuine effort to attract your commerce and when money seems to be the one and only brand motivator?  I can.

Who’s Making Decisions?

What kind of content are you providing to consumers?  Blog posts?  Evergreen articles?  DIY videos?  Industry-related podcasts?  Are you providing something because it’s the latest SEO “trend” or because you feel your consumers will really embrace and champion that kind of informational channel?  Do you know what your consumers want?  Have you ever asked them?  If you found a large majority of consumers do not engage your brand on Facebook or watch your YouTube videos, would you place more energy towards those tactics because competitors are doing it or online marketing industry sentiments champion the idea?

Analyze Data

A copywriter wrote a humorous post, which received a lot of traffic but you never asked them to write a future, similar post.  Your resource page is the most visited page on your site but you do nothing ongoing to enhance the page.  Your target market regularly uses Twitter and Facebook but your company only briefly logs on to those platforms each week. 

All these sentiments seem like mistakes which can easily be made and unnoticed by a brand that does not analyze data and make decisions based on facts.  Your target market may engage your brand in a completely different way than a direct competitor (for a variety of reasons).  Does it make more sense to emulate the online marketing of bigger (better?) competitors or market toward your specific targets?

Conclusion

SEO and online marketing can most definitely help your brand. There are a lot of passionate marketers who want to help your business, but can’t do all the work for a brand.  A brand must do the necessary “core” work, staying true to its mission regarding its consumers.   Marketers can facilitate a great brand experience but can’t “optimize” the quality of core services, products, and brand-to-consumer dedication.  That’s your job.

Thanks for reading.