A few months ago I was launching my own personal Web site and I had the simple goal of getting it on Google’s front page when people searched my fairly common name: Rob Kelly.
Well, a search of “Rob Kelly” now places me first on Google’s front page.
I enjoy sharing learnings from such projects so I decided to deposit some of the knowls that helped get my personal website on Google’s front page right here in this article.
Warning/Alert: If you’re looking for SEO trickery to figure out how to game Google’s search engine, you’ve come to the wrong place! In fact, if that’s you, please leave right now…I don’t want your kind here!
The tips I’m sharing are logical/legitimate approaches to improving your Google website ranking in hopes of getting on the front page of Google in an honest fashion.
Ok, for the rest of you honest folk, let’s do it! …
I was intrigued when I noticed that at least 10 of the The Top 100 Synonymous Genericized Brands I posted included alliteration: brands like PowerPoint, RotoRooter, Google and Armor All.
What is alliteration?
The definition of alliteration is repeating the same sound in two or more words in close succession, such as:
“She sells sea shells by the sea shore.”
Alliteration is widely accepted in the research/scientific community as a tool to enhance memory.^
While alliteration in such toungue-twisters (there are also many in poems and songs) is fun — I’ve been thinking about alliteration in business and brands lately.
So, I’ve compiled a list of examples of alliteration used for commercial purposes (e.g. company names, products, real-life and fictional personalities and even fruit, sayings and other stuff).
How do you create a “Kleenex”-like brand that is synonymous with its product category?
After I crafted The Top 100 Colloquial Brands, I came up with some observations about these brands that might be good tips for you to use to name your brands.
Top brands use alliteration, which is typically defined as using the same sounding first syllable sequentially. Examples of alliteration in the …
How many brands can you count in the following sentence:
“I needed some aspirin, a band-aid, ace bandage — and probably a jacuzzi!– after my zipper got caught in an escalator while my realtor friend and I carried a bubble-wrapped ping-pong table from a dumpster to our jeep and slipped on our California stir fry with broccolini take-out.”
If you counted thirteen then you are correct!
They are brands whose names are used in day to day conversations as generic terms synonymous with their product categories (e.g. more people refer to a “frisbee” (a brand) than a “flying disc.” (the category)).
Note: These brands are called by many different terms: “Colloquialized,” “Synonymous,” to “Genericized” to “Generic Trademarks”.
I made a list of the top 100 of these colloquial brands using one simple criterion: would I use the brand name instead of the product category if I was referring to the product/activity in a sentence (e.g. “I need a band-aid” versus “I need an adhesive bandage.”).
I just finished reading a terrific book called Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney.
If you’re interested in Steve Jobs or Apple or technology or design, I highly recommend you read it.
I dog-eared a handful of pages of favorite bullets or quotes – here they are:
Jobs is careful to announce new technology (e.g. the Mac OS X) still under development before it’s ready to be sold…so as to avoid the “Osborne Effect”(named after the Osborne Computer Corporation) in which sales of existing technology or products being sold can be hurt.
The Osborne Computer Corp. took more than a year to get its next product available, ran out of cash and went bankrupt in 1985.
The inspiration for the type of plastic case (a first for computers) for the Apple II came from Jobs seeing a Cuisinart food processor in the kitchen section of Macy’s.
Additionally, Jobs showed up at a design meeting for the Quicktime software product with a brochure from Hewlett-Packard with the H-P logo in a brushed metal.
The brushed metal ended up being adopted in across much of Apple’s software and some high-end hardware including the Safari Web browser and iCal calendar.
Former Apple CEO John Sculley believed that a key part of Jobs’ greatness were decisions he made about things NOT to do.
Kahney points to an interesting study by Elke den Ouden, of the Eindhoven University, in which nearly half of products returned by consumers for refunds still work perfectly but new owners just couldn’t figure out how to use them.
Jobs and Apple are widely credited with keeping their product line lean and product functionality simple.
Jobs explained in an interview with Wired in 1996 that:
“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it worked. The design on fht eMac wasn’t what it looked like, although that was part of it. Primarily, it was how it worked…”
Apple designers subscribe to the “generate and test” approach to solving problems in which all the possible solutions are generated and tested to see if they offer a solution.
It’s key to use trial and error to make an “embarassing” number of solutions to get to one solution
Apple designers spends 10% of their time on traditional industrial design (brainstorming ideas, drawing, etc.) and 90% of their time working with manufacturing on implementing their ideas.
He quotes the Henry Ford line: “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.”
Kahney says he interviewed many people who work for Apple who say that the management style of Jobs and other Apple leaders is what is known as the “hero/asshole rollercoaster” in which there’s a constant tension at Apple between the fear of getting fire and a “messianic zeal” to change the world.
Apple employees can buy discounted stock of Apple in chunks based on their salary . The stock price is determined by the lowest price in the previous six months plus a small percentage discount.
“The older I get, the more I’m convinced that motives make so much difference,” Jobs is quoted in the book as saying.
“…our primary goal here is to make the world’s best PCs — not to be the biggest or richest.”
“Rembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.
…have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
I really recommend you read this book!
I finished a few books on my trip to Europe last week and one of them – Free by Chris Anderson — was chock full of stats that I found myself dog-earing throughout my flight.
“Free” is a must-read if you’re passionate about the Internet, or just business in general.
I’m gonna keep this simple and just list out some good nuggets (which are mostly stats).
Let the “freeconomics” begin!
The “Freeconomy” Is An Estimated $300 Billion Market
The Free Economy is roughly a $300 billion per year market.
By his own admission, Anderson defines this loosely, including revenue generated from businesses driven by giving away most of their products or services (e.g. TV, Radio, online advertising Web sites, etc.).
Two sub-economies have emerged in place of money on the Web (though they can later lead to money)
1) Reputation Economy – This is best measured by Google’s PageRank which rates on a scale of 1 to 10 how important each Web site (and each page on a Web site) is, according to Google’s secret algorithm.
2) Attention Economy – This is best measured by the traffic a Web site receives (traffic being measured by number of visitors and page views)
To calculate the Economic Value of your Web site (i.e. how to help turn your Reputation & Attention into CASH), Anderson suggests this formula:
(The traffic your page rank brings from Google’s search results for any given term) X (The keyword value for that term)
note: while he doesn’t clarify how to calculate “keyword value,” I’d suggest you could use AdWords.Google’s CPC)
General Web Statistics Related to Freeconomics
User-Generated Content Statistics
Two Cool Social Media Statistics
Interesting Free-Related Trials & Experiments Anderson Mentions
The Case of $.15 Cent Truffles Versus Cheap to Free Hershey’s Kisses
Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) took two kinds of treats: Lindt truffles from Switzerland and Herhey Kisses and offered them for sale to students:
When they priced the Lindt truffles at $.15 and the Kisses at $.01
When they lowered both prices by $.01 so that the truffles were $.14 and a Kiss was free
Conclusion: While both products’ prices were lowered by the same amount ($.01), the introduction of free as an option reversed the students’ preference.
How Does “Name Your Own Price” Work As A Business Model?
Matt Mason, author of Pirate’s Dilemma, allowed visitors to his Web site to name their own price upon checkout of downloading his ebook (with $5 via Paypal as the default option)
Results: 6% of the 8,000 people who downloaded the ebook agreed to pay an average of $4.20 each (generating a couple of thousand dollars) (interesting note: Mason estimates he received $50,000 in lecture fees as a result of the publicity of his exercise).
Hope you enjoyed some of these freeconomics!
The popular and talented Lisa Riolo stopped by my virtual office the other day to talk about Performance Advertising, why it’s important to your business and her new Impact Radius startup.
Here’s our Q&A:
Most everyone understands how “advertising” works. The difference with a performance model is primarily how the pricing works.
When the media with the audience (sometimes called the publisher) agrees to receive their revenue after the advertisements generate results (meaning the consumer actually responds to the ad and, usually, buys something)–you’ve got performance advertising.
This approach creates a lot of accountability within the advertising model and let’s everyone involved measure their effectiveness in promoting and selling products.
Sure. About ten years ago–performance represented about 5% of the total spend in advertising for both online and traditional media. In the time since, the processes used to buy and sell traditional media haven’t changed much.
Performance advertising online, on the other hand, has grown substantially and now represents more than 60% of the spend. Why the difference?
Affiliate networks, which aggregates the companies willing to advertise on a performance-basis, started gaining real momentum in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Search engines have also played a key role by opening up greater distribution of ads to a proactive audience.
Offline media hasn’t had a centralized location to discover the real value of performance deals. Instead, the brokers often times pocket up to half of the money being offered for a sale or lead.
Further, I think technology was a big factor in the enormous growth online. Not only do we easily track consumer response online, we deliver the associated data and metrics real-time.
So, the speed of optimization (which is critical to effective performance advertising) is rapid–especially compared to traditional media.
We were amazed to learn that traditional media, which is equally metric-driven as online, waits days, sometimes weeks, to see the data associated with a performance campaign.
Our objective, with Impact Radius, was to deliver the same type of technology that online advertising considers commonplace to offline media.
If all of performance advertising were to have a single technology platform to manage their relationships–the opportunities for growth are exponential.
On the advertiser-side, any business that has established basic awareness of its brand and products should take a serious look at running performance campaigns.
Media partners (meaning companies with media properties that generate some revenue through advertising) should, at the minimum, run some ads on a performance-basis in order to continually establish the baseline value of their ad inventory.
I’ve had so many business-owners, after hearing about this model, say that all advertising should be priced with a performance component.
Unfortunately, they also doubt that the media will agree to run ads on a performance basis. So, finding a willing media partner is usually the challenge for a smaller or new business trying to sell their products and services.
This is why it makes sense for an advertiser to list their “offer” with a company like Impact Radius. It’s easier to discover media partners that will promote them on a performance basis.
That said, either company (the advertiser or the media partner) can usually get a deal in place if they are willing to add a performance component.
It is the metric driven approach and the resulting accountability that brings a negotiation together.
Each one of these companies let performance-pricing drive their early advertising efforts and partnered with companies large and small to refer new customers.
Perhaps more interesting, though, are the companies that earn significant advertising revenue on a performance basis.
Many companies recognize that Google makes a lot of money advertising within their search engine.
Google doesn’t charge for eyeballs, though. Google only charges its advertisers if consumers actually respond to an ad and click through.
The measured response and resulting fees makes that a performance advertising model.
Other companies, like Upromise, earn revenue not only for sending visitors to an online retailer like Zappos, but because those visitors actually complete a purchase. Upromise takes a portion of the money earned on a performance-basis and sets it aside for a child or grandchild’s college tuition.
What I find most exciting, though, is that TV, radio and print media are (to varying extents) struggling to generate ad revenue.
In doing market research for Impact Radius, we discovered that many of these media companies will run more ad inventory on a performance basis than was previously believed.
The media companies understand that if their audiences respond to ads and generate new sales for the advertisers they can earn big dollars. Local newspapers can get a piece of every coupon redeemed or every phone call made.
Advertisers, when approaching media partners, should start off with a “hybrid” pricing model.
Spend some up-front money on placement and add the performance element (e.g. $5 for every incoming phone call or 5% of all merchandise sold) on the back end. Track the results and make sure both sides have access to the performance reports.
Once your local radio station starts getting reports showing their effectiveness at driving sales or leads–they can optimize their efforts. This approach gets everyone aligned and working toward the same end objective.
As a deal grows, it makes sense to utilize a third-party tracking technology.
This is also a relationship business. It is critical, for the model to work, that both advertisers and media partners are in direct communication.
Nobody should be in the dark about your partner or its capabilities.
In the online world, most all advertising is managed on either a CPA or affiliate network.
The upside of this is that most of these networks do offer the ‘trusted’ third-party tracking technology.
The downside is that the partners do not work together directly and, in the case of the CPA networks, are completely hidden.
The biggest companies selling merchandise or acquiring new customers (i.e. with performance advertising campaigns) include nationally recognized brands like Amazon and eBay.
There are a lot of small to mid-size businesses, and even start-ups, that build performance advertising into their plans.
There are literally thousands of companies, from bloggers to coupon and deal sites to media brokers, that get paid on a performance basis.
We’ve brought the tools and technology to both online and traditional channels–and have introduced a “clear box” philosophy that ensures direct negotiation and communication. We can track online, call and promo code conversions.
What is also unique about Impact Radius is that we’ve automated all of the processes involved with ad placement, deliver of the data and the exchange of money.
Media partners are excited, for a number of reasons, including that they can paid for the results they’ve driven as often as daily. This improvement in cash flow gives them significant potential for accelerating growth.
Some people have said we’re a better alternative to the affiliate and CPA networks.
I do think we’ve improved on some of the standard product features you’d find in a network, of course.
But the biggest adoption I think we’ll see are the private relationships that migrated off network. The private, in-house relationships are usually kept off network either because of the costs or rules established by the third-party.
So, we really compete with in-house solutions since we’re providing the flexibility and controls of their internal tracking with the added scalability and features usually found only within a network environment. And our pricing is aligned with the advertisers and media partners interests.
My pleasure. I look forward to sharing more in the future. Until then, wishing you and your readers continued prosperity!
I met Nadja Specht recently — she runs a social media marketing company for small busineses.
I asked her some questions to help us figure out how to create a social media marketing plan.
Q: Let’s start off with your definition of social media marketing, Nadja.
I would like to start out by breaking the term down into its two components: social media and marketing.
So what is marketing? It is the systematic approach to generating interest in your products and services.
You start out with strategic questions such as:
Then you decide which tactics to use (print, TV, online etc.).
What about social media?
Social media sums up the suite of tools and features that are available online to share information and collaborate with peers.
Now, what is the result if you combine the two?
Social media marketing is best illustrated by highlighting the following three steps:
1. Integrating with the overall marketing plan
Social media marketing starts out with the integration into the overall marketing plan. It has to follow the same strategic direction that was developed in the overall marketing plan (remember the marketing questions above?).
2. Deciding on the right social media tools
A key element of social media marketing is to decide which social media tools should be used. This depends heavily on the specific situation of each business, which should be reflected in the marketing plan.
Not only do you need to decide on the right tools, but also on the right sequencing and how they interact with each other in your social media ecosystem.
3. Creating a community
Now that you have decided on which tools to use, based on your integrated marketing plan, the next task is to identify the right content and format that your audience is looking for.
Again, this needs to be in line with your overall messaging. But be aware that once the content is out, it takes on a life of its own.
That’s my long-winded explanation of what social media marketing is!
Q: Should all businesses have some type of social media marketing plan?
However, the extent of the social media marketing plan might be very different from one company to another.
Take a company that manufactures and sells wheel-chairs to elderly people as an example.
If studies show that their ideal customer base are not tech-savvy with only 30% being online (illustrative number), then your social media marketing plan might be almost none existent.
However, you need to go through the full exercise of marketing planning and social media planning in order to come up with that conclusion.
In addition, a few years from now the situation might be very different, so you should lay some social media groundwork for the next generation of wheel-chair users.
Q: What social media marketing strategies are effective for a business to grow, profit or organize?
There is really no single perfect strategy – it all depends on the specific situation of each business. The strategy will flow out of your overall marketing plan.
Q: Would you share some basic social media marketing tactics that businesses could do right away?
While you work on developing your social media marketing plan – which everyone should start right away – start doing the following things:
1) Make any existing content that you already have online shareable
The best way to do this is by adding a share button from AddThis . This is a button that allows a visitor to use dozens of different forms (email, Twitter, Facebook, bookmark, etc.) to share the content they are reading on your website.
Don’t worry – it is very clean and simple to use. You just have to get the code from the AddThis website and add it wherever you want on your website.
2) Start writing a blog
What’s key is that you develop a repository of valuable information that people will find when they search for a specific topic on the internet. Blogs are a great tool for doing this.
Even if you want to hold off with installing a blog on your website, start writing content for your future blog anyway and save the blog posts on your computer for right now.
A blog becomes basically more of a traffic generator for your “main” website pages that include information about your services and products.
For example, an immigration attorney that specializes in helping Mexican immigrants should start writing a regular blog about issues and new laws concern his client base.
When someone goes on the internet and searches for answers in that field, they will very likely end up on his blog.
3) Play around with it
Theory only gets you so far with social media. To truly grasp the magnitude and potential of the various social media tools, you have to experience it for yourself.
So start setting up personal accounts for all the major tools (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.) and play around with them.
Do it on a regular basis for a couple of months and you will start to get a feel for how this world works.
With some experience, you will be much better equipped to decide which tools to use for your business.
Q: When we had coffee, you mentioned a software tool called Hoot Suite — would you describe what that allows?
HootSuite started out as a web based twitter application that developed into a full fledged social media management tool. HootSuite recently started integrating Facebook and LinkedIn.
Now you can manage profiles, schedule updates and track clicks for all three major social media tools conveniently from one interface.
A variety of neat little features come with HootSuite such as link shortening, tracking of clicks on your individual updates (if they include a link), multi-column view and more.
A key element of social media success is to be very productive during a pre-determined period of time you spend on it each day.
It is easy to get sucked into it and spend half a day on checking tweets, wall posts and more. Hence productivity suites such as HootSuite are a must.
Q: Since you run a social media marketing agency, I’m curious, when do you think businesses should outsource their social media marketing to a firm likes yours (versus doing it in-house)?
There are three scenarios where I recommend outsourcing your social media activities:
1. You have no talent in-house and don’t plan to hire someone (and you are not inclined to learn all the details yourself).
2. You have no time to dedicate to social media or think that your time is better spent on some other parts of your business
3. You don’t enjoy social media and basically have to force yourself to learn about it and to actively participate and grow your social media ecosystem.
You might be surprised that I don’t mention cost as a key motivator for outsourcing. With social media it is all about quality!
Think about it: your brand is shaped and sharpened by your social media activities — you directly interact with customers, prospects and potential advocates.
Therefore this is an area that you don’t want to outsource to the lowest bidder, but to someone that truly understands the social media ecosystem and is willing to learn all about your business.
Q: What are some secrets of social media marketing that you’ve learned that you believe most businesses don’t know?
I would like to sum it up in one word – “Patience.”
Business owners need to be aware of the following points when starting their social media journey:
Q: Do you have a favorite social media marketing blog you read (other than your own)?
Mashable is definitely the authority out there on social media. I receive their daily digest to stay on top of what new developments are on the horizon.
It’s definitely not a blog for the social media novice and requires some pre-existing knowledge, however everyone should be able to get there fairly quickly.
Q: Your firm Nuvota provides a number of social marketing services. Would you describe them and tell people how they can get in touch with you?
Sure! So as it relates to social media, we provide the following three types of services:
1) Social Media Planning DIY Kit
We specifically developed a DIY (do-it-yourself) kit for business owners that would like to do the social media planning themselves and just need a structured guide.
Our DIY kit ensures that you think through all the key questions and end up with a very tangible and measurable social media plan.
2) Social Media Coaching
This 6-week program is designed for the complete social media novice who prefers to interact with a social media coach.
In weekly 60-minute one-on-one sessions, we will teach you all the key social media fundamentals you need to know and guide you through the completion of your own social media plan.
3) Social Media Outsourcing
Here we offer to take complete ownership of your social media activities.
First we develop a social media plan that we validate with you. From there we implement the various social media tactics (Facebook page, Twitter account etc.) and maintain them on a regular basis.
Each week you will receive a detailed report on what’s happening in your social media ecosystem (what people are saying about your brand, how many people became your fans, etc.).
We are also currently offering a free report titled “Top 50 social media tools every business should know about.”
For any questions you can best reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.