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Tag Archives: SEO

Digitizing Your Personal Brand Series – Part 2

Post first published 12/27/12 in the “MENG Blend” on the Marketing Executives Networking Group website – www.mengonline.com.  The destination site for leading marketing executives looking to stay ahead of the curve.  We have more than 1800 of the leading marketing minds in the world eager to meet, communicate, help and share our expertise.

Building Your Own Professional Website

In part 1 of my series – Digitizing Your Personal Brand – I made the argument having a specific and unique positioning statement could help you stand out from the competition.  In part two of this series I will focus on using the power of the Internet to take your career searches/lead generation programs to the next level.  Now with advances in CMS (content management systems) it’s easier and cost effective than ever to build and manage your own website.  Moreover, most career experts now agree developing your own personal website is the best tool going forward to build up your brand name awareness.  I will show you an easy step by step process for the average “non-techie” to build their own professional website.

The good news is you can easily customize your site consistent with the content you’re willing to share and/or have to share.  The major types of websites include:

  1. Simple career/client experience summaries/case studies – including videos.
  2. Marketing portfolios (i.e. TV commercials, print ads, brochures, websites etc.)
  3. Blogging –sharing your content with others.
  4. Online news magazines – i.e. Huffington Post
  5. E-commerce
  6. Hybrids of 1-5

Once you’ve identified out they type of site you want it’s time to get started:

Step #1 – Developing your site layout/content/budget:

First, you need to identify what you want out of your website – what do you want to accomplish?  Second, you need to decide how much you want to spend.  There will be some costs associated with web host providers, domain names, etc.  Finally, you need to develop an outline of your site and begin gathering your content – especially if you need to digitally convert images from hard copies/film/videos.  A simple outline will do at this point.

Step #2 – Decide on the web content management system (CMS) you’d like to use:

A content management system is online software which allows “non-techies” to easily set up a website without learning difficult code language like HTML, Java or Visual Basic.  A CMS usually elements like:

  • Online document management and other media
  • Automated coding templates – called “themes”.
  • Extensions to help with site functionality – i.e. plug-ins, widgets, modules, components
  • Edit control
  • Collaboration/posting capabilities

The most notable CMS’s out there include WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal.  WordPress seems to be the most popular.  You will also need to decide whether you wish to use an “off the shelf” theme vs. customized design.  Customized sites are more complex and will cost you 2-3 times more than an off the shelf theme.

Step #3 – Developing and selecting a domain name:

Domain names are simply the name you give to your URL/website. There are two basic types:

a)  Organic:  This means you’re relying on people to find your site “organically” via Google and other search engine providers.  You can either choose your unique name like www.johnsmith.com and/or develop a unique and memorable brand name (i.e. www.marketingguy.com).  This is also called a “parked domain”.

b)  Paid:  You’re paying for a name already developed and owned by someone else which means it should have a well established search profile.  Caution: it can be pricey.

Domain name providers include www.godaddy.com, www.register.com, and www.networksolutions.com.  Go Daddy seems to be the most popular.  You can register a domain name for as little as $2.95/name for the first year.

Step #4 – Deciding Where Your Content Resides:

You can either a) host your own site on your computer (not recommended due to hardware/software costs, 24 hour connectivity issues) or b) sign up with a web host provider.  When selecting a provider you need to consider USA based 24/7 toll free support, operating reliability, traffic/bandwidth issues – especially important if you’re using videos/large files and want e-mail capabilities.  E-mail capabilities allow you to promote your site via use of your domain name in email addresses.  The top 3 providers include www.hostgator.com, www.rochen.com, and www.rackspace.com.  The most popular being www.hostgator.com.  You can sign up for as little as $3.96/month for the first year.

Step #5 – How do you want to build your site:

Now it’s time to build your site.  You can either “Do It Yourself (DIY)” or “Do It For Me (DIFM)”.  You can build your own site for as little as several hundred dollars to a couple of thousand – depending on your content/design.  However, if you don’t have some basic computer skills and are somewhat proficient in Powerpoint, Photoshop, etc. you might be challenged.  In this case, DIFM (hiring a web designer) is a good idea.  You should get exactly what you want from a design perspective, but downsides include a limited technical knowledge of how your site actually works.  This may hinder you with any down the road changes and/or maintenance.  Moreover, it can cost you 2-3 times more than doing the site yourself.  Best approach might be to use a web designer to help build the site, and then let him/her teach you on how to maintain/make changes going forward.  This is what I did for my site.

Step #6 – Importance of search engine optimization (SEO):

The goal for any website is to be found – that is showing up on page 1 of any search engine result like Google.  This is often time overlooked, but a very necessary step.  First, you will need to develop a sitemap XML file and register it with Google, Yahoo, MSN/Bing.  Most CMS’s provide a plug in extension to help you here.  This needs to be done BOTH with and without the “www” in front of your domain name.  Second, pick a SEO extension plug in for your site.  Popular ones include Yoast or All in One SEO pack – both can be free.  Third, you need to edit the SEO copy for each of your pages and/or posts.  Things like a) Permalinks (permanent URL’s for your pages/posts), b) key phrases and/or words, c) tags – specific descriptions for items, thing or persons on your pages, and d) Meta descriptions – which are the permalink page descriptions.  Finally, you need to actively promote your site to generate “inbound links” – that is getting your site mentioned on other sites more popular than yours.  You can do this via blogging on other people’s sites, Facebook and/or Google+ pages etc.  The more you do this, the higher your site will be ranked from a search engine perspective.

Step #7 – Protect/Maintain the site:

Finally, don’t forget to protect your investment in time and money – backing up your site and protecting it from technical issues.  Back-up software is usually included in web host provider packages.  It’s critical to protect your site from hacking, technical glitches or CMS’s version upgrades.  It’s an insurance policy against having to recreate your site from scratch.  How often you back up your site depends on how often your change or update your content. In addition, subscribe to a SPAM protection service like www.akismet.com – especially if you use your site for blogging.  It’s cheap, only $5/month – well worth it.

In sum, having a differentiated personal brand combined with a personal website can really help build up your brand name awareness.  Fortunately, none of this is technically hard or extraordinarily expensive, you just have to be committed and have patience to go through this personal discovery process and be open to new ways of communicating.  It will go a long way to put you ahead of others who just rely on traditional search techniques.  It will also position you more effectively in today’s competitive and commoditized career marketplace.

Rick Steinbrenner
Chief Marketing Office/Principal, Brand Marketing Advisors
www.globalbrandguy.com
The Global Brand Guy

Is Digital Marketing An Effective Brand Building Strategy?

A recent Boston Consulting Group article says most Chief Marketing Officers aren’t sure. 

Obviously, social media is important/highly efficient and holds the potential for building better relationships with communities of consumers/customers.  Traditional marketing (i.e. TV advertising / promotion / PR) historically placed a premium on brand building and transactions, but has declined in importance due to a combination of message clutter, time pressed consumers, fragmentation of media and the growth of people using the internet to research what others are saying about products/companies.  Nevertheless, what really concerns me is how “tactical” social media has become in recent years and less “strategic”.  It appears almost everyone on the social media provider side keeps looking for the latest tools / technique.  If something doesn’t work, they simply abandon the approach and go for another without regard to strategy.

Social media today seems to be just a collection of curation, SEO / SEM, permalinks, long tail key words, meta descriptions, website crawling, and click through conversation rates (to what we don’t know) and more.  Moreover, when anyone “disses” social media, most assume it’s just driven by a desire to go back to “good ole days” of traditional TV marketing / brand building and they don’t “get it”.  What makes this worse is some digital marketing providers don’t have a clue on how to make social media effective and how it ties to a clients’ business strategy.  I recently attended a social media presentation put on by top online agencies and when asked how they know if digital marketing drives clients’ sales and builds brands the response was: “I don’t know, but you just need to invest in it since it’s the right thing to do”.  No wonder, most CMO’s struggle with social media.  I think most want to use it, but don’t know how to bridge traditional TV marketing vs. the new world of digital marketing.  They also aren’t getting a whole lot of help from digital providers.

To put all this in a fact-based driven perspective, a recent BCG article below was published in January of this year.  It was based on a survey among CMO in global fortune 500 companies. The link is attached below:

https://www.bcgperspectives.com/content/articles/marketing_branding_communication_marketing_capabilities_for_digital_age/

Below is a summary I gleaned from this article. I’m sure you will have your own if you read it and it’s a good read anyway.

* Most companies do recognize the need to adopt new ways to reach consumers and build better relationships (i.e. websites, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, mobile marketing, etc.). It can be very efficient, free / cheap, and can easily measure traffic / activity (read efficiency).

* However, some companies are still just experimenting with digital marketing; while others have developed an infrastructure that can share data with relevant internal business groups. These companies usually spend >20% of their budgets on social media.

* Roughly ¾ of all marketing executives in global Fortune 500 companies are still unsure where to best reach consumers via these new mediums. Moreover, 90% feel they don’t have the right metrics that can tie into business objectives.

* Marketers seem to think consumers want information or product reviews from websites. But consumers want marketers to give more discounts and/or access to purchasing products online vs. brick and mortar stores – This is a disconnect.

* Even the mighty Proctor & Gamble is redeploying marketing spend away from traditional media to digital since it’s more efficient and less costly. They announced recently they will lay off 1,600 people and are banking on digital ROI for long term savings.  However, I bet P&G is also developing the internal infrastructure to capture the data and share it with relevant internal business groups to help change their business models.

* Outsourcing of social media initiatives to outside agencies exclusively is probably not best option given need for integrated brand messaging.

* More companies are adding IT capabilities to marketing management job descriptions. Marketing and IT are converging into one function. Marketers now need to learn digital in addition to traditional marketing / brand building skills to be effective going forward.

Source: Boston Consulting Group

Based on this, a few conclusions come to mind.

1) CMO’s need to better understand social media and how it works beyond just giving assignment(s) to outside agency(s). 

Simply outsourcing social media will not work.  They need to know how to effectively use it for impact.  CMO’s really need to know SEO and how consumers are talking / searching about their company / brands.  They then need to have the right strategy(s) and develop the right social media tool(s) addressing those strategy(s).  It also needs to be measurable to make sure it’s working.  Developing the right kind of metrics will go a long way to proving social / digital marketing effectiveness.  This might require testing of alternative approaches to see which works / doesn’t work and not just guessing.

2) When social media / digital marketing is used there needs to be a organized and well thought out customer / consumer feedback loop to the organization. 

Comments / data from consumers, influencers, other stakeholders and communities need to be filtered back not only to marketing, but to customer service, sales, supply chain, finance and even engineering / R&D.  You need an internal infrastructure to capture this information and be able to synthesize it for these groups so appropriate changes can be make to companies business models. Social media is cheap…but there is a huge labor cost involved in using the data to help change your business.

3) Finally, using social media / digital marketing tactics exclusively is probably not a good idea. 

A good business strategy will probably require a blend of BOTH traditional TV marketing and social media / digital marketing.  We must remember digital marketing is a “slow burn” approach and in some cases won’t help brand building that quickly – just like traditional TV marketing.  In some cases traditional advertising or promotions will help jump start a strategy while social / digital marketing will help build the brand in the long run.  Using both to some degree is the best way to EFFECTIVELY grow your business, but again it needs to be driven by strategy and not the latest tool / technique.

Marketing is evolving and social / digital marketing is part of that evolution.  We all need to learn how to use the new tools as well as refining the old.

Rick Steinbrenner
Chief Marketing Officer/Principal, Brand Marketing Advisors
www.globalbrandguy.com
The Global Brand Guy

Digitizing Your Personal Brand

According to most career experts, everyone needs a personal brand today to help differentiate themselves – especially in this competitive marketplace.  This first part of the presentation shows how consumer brands develop their branding and positioning and how it’s executed in their messaging.  A framework is then discussed to help individuals develop their own personal brand and messaging in the job search process.

In addition, you really need more than a business card/resume/linked in profile to be “found” on the internet these days – you need your own website.  The balance of the presentation then details a step by step process on how to develop your own professional website for the “non-technical” user.

(Note: this presentation include a you tube video by Tom Peters. In order to view the video, you will need to do three things.

1) Must have a live internet connection while viewing

2) Save & download the presentation.

3) Then view the presentation in slide show and enable the content when the security alert for macros and active X comes up – (this may or may not happen depending on your computers settings.)