Showing posts from October, 2017

Talk at Southwestern Michigan College - Modern Marketing Careers

Early in October I had the privilege to give a presentation to students at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac, MI about careers in digital marketing. This opportunity came from a conversation I had with my friend, Scott, who is Dean of Arts and Sciences at the school. He asked me "What is is exactly that you do?" As I described my job to him, he told me that I needed to come to talk to the students about it. Of course, I readily agreed.

One of students did a very nice writeup of the talk, which you can check out on their website.

Judging the US Search Awards

As part of this year's Pubcon experience, I was invited to judge the US Search Awards. This was my first time acting as a judge in this type of event, and I found it quite interesting and educational.

The main thing I learned from this experience: There are a lot of great people and teams doing some amazing work. It was very interesting to get outside my work bubble and see some of the work others are doing. Some of it is quite excellent.

Of course, I can't tell you about all the details, but you can see the short lists on the US Search Awards website. I attended the event a couple years ago when Rockfish was up for an award and can say that the organizers put together an excellent evening.

The US Search Awards will be held on Wednesday, November 8, 2017 starting at 6:30pm at the TI. If you're interested in going, there are still tickets available.

Upcoming Speaking Appearances: Pubcon Vegas 2017

Pubcon Vegas for 2017 is shaping up to be another amazing event. I am also quite honored that I have been invited to speak and moderate several sessions again this year. This will be my 8th consecutive year of speaking at Pubcon. In addition to speaking and moderating duties, I will also serve as track chair for the Organic SEO Track that will be held in Salon A on Tuesday.

Whether you've attended Pubcon in the past, or not, this is a conference you won't want to miss. Check out the coupon code at the end of this article and register today!

The first session in which I will present is entitled "Knowledge Graph Max: From Strings to Things." Eric Enge will be presenting in the session with me. In this, we will share information about how "smart" Search Engines are getting in understanding queries and content and offer hints on how you can better optimize your digital ecosystem for best results. This session will be held in Salon A on Tuesday, Novembe…

Barry Schwartz Gets It - Leadership in Action

Barry Schwartz is certainly a leader in the digital marketing world. Not only is he the CEO of Rusty Brick, he is also the person behind Search Engine Roundtable and the news editor of Search Engine Land. Barry is often the first person to share important news in the world of search, making him an important person to follow online.

Given his prominence and fame online, some might find it surprising that he is most often the one who takes out the trash at the Rusty Brick offices. If you're one of those who is surprised at this, you shouldn't be. Barry is demonstrating real servant leadership in action. When his team is busy doing more productive work, Barry is taking care of business by making sure menial tasks don't get in the way.

Granted, he admits that taking out the trash is a great way to get away from his desk, get in a quick walk and clear his head. The motivation isn't as important as the net result of Rusty Brick people getting things done, practical things be…

Doing Business Right With Alan Bleiweiss

Alan Bleiweiss is an SEO professional in the San Diego area who specializes in auditing client websites in order to help them address issues that hamper their performance in organic search. He's gotten so adept at his process that he generates a fairly significant income for himself and his part-time assistant.

The secret of his success is really no secret. He recently shared some insights from his journey in an article on his website. There are several great pieces of wisdom in there:
Do amazing work and provide value to your customers
Alan's process for relating to his customers is simple, yet very effective. He does great work, he takes care of his clients, he gives value beyond what was promised. Even when he has to fire a client, he works hard to refer them to someone else who can help.Be generous
Alan mentions that he shares a lot in online groups, forums and through speaking at conferences. I can personally attest to his generous sharing from interacting with him both on…

Book Review: "Be Like Amazon - Even A Lemonade Stand Can Do It" by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg

It's not often that I get to interact with an author as they are planning a book. In the case of Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It by Jeffrey and Bryan Eisenberg, I got a small preview of the topic via a Facebook post by Jeffrey. I don't remember the original post, but it was something along the lines of a question asking his friends there if they thought a book that boiled down the principles of how Amazon does business and how it applies to any other business would appeal to them. I responded, playing "Devil's Advocate" wondering if that hadn't already been done. Jeffrey's response was that it was not.

I didn't totally understand his response at the time, but after reading the book, I have to agree. It's far more than just another "Amazon" book. It shares very simple, yet profound truths that are also shared in other works in a very entertaining and thoughtful way.

Some of the lessons shared could have come from Good to …

20 Years In The Business

2016 marks a significant milestone in my career as a marketing technologist.

It was 20 years ago, in the Spring of 1996, when I built my first website. From the time I strung together my first HTML up to now it has been a fascinating, interesting, fun (for the most part) and challenging career.

In 1996 I was a non-commissioned officer in the Army. I was coming up on a year left in my contract and had already made the decision to leave military service for a civilian career. The problem was, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was trained as a Czech linguist and an intelligence analyst. While that in itself was a great career it didn’t really translate directly to a job on the outside.

Moving with a family while in the military in those days was a challenge. Most military communities didn’t have enough on-post housing available for the growing number of families. That made it necessary for many to seek homes off post. What would normally happen was that one member of the famil…

Book Review: "Thou Shall Prosper" by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Thou Shall Prosper - The Ten Commandments For Making Money has been on my list to read for quite some time now. I first heard it mentioned on The Dave Ramsey Show and the author, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, has also been interviewed on the EntreLeadership podcast. I recently got caught up on this part of my reading list and very much enjoyed taking in some "old fashioned," but very relevant wisdom. As my friend Alan K'necht pointed out in his book, The Last Original Idea, "... there is nothing new under the sun."

While the ideas Rabbi Lapin shares in this work are based on very old wisdom, they still translate very well into modern times. Throughout it all, misconceptions and bad ideas about business are busted and replaced with good ideas.

As the title suggests, the book is broken down into 10 "commandments," and each one builds on the others to make it rather compelling:
Believe in the Dignity and Morality of BusinessExtend the Network of Your Connections to…

Book Review: "To Sell Is Human" By Daniel H. Pink

It's interesting how many different ways we are all selling at some point or another:
If you're an entrepreneur, especially running a small startup, you're constantly selling your business to investors, potential customers and potential partners or employeesIf you're working in a large business, you are selling an idea or a plan for a projectIf you're an employee, you're selling your boss on the idea to give you a promotion or a raiseIf you're looking for a job, you're selling your potential boss on why you are a good fit for the organization. This list can go on forever, but you get the idea.

In To Sell Is Human, the author takes us from this premise, and then shows us the different ways we all can be better at selling. No matter what it is from actual products to ideas, if you have to sell it you can always do it better. Pink goes through many different specific ways to help us sell better, including getting some improv theater techniques.

It was all v…

Book Review: "Unselling" by Scott Stratten and Alison Kramer

I've been a fan of Scott Stratten since I first heard him speak on social media at Pubcon South 2010. I've read and enjoyed all his books:
UnmarketingThe Book of Business Awesome/The Book of Business UnAwesomeQR Codes Kill Kittens. I'm also a fan of the weekly "Unpodcast" show and the semi-regular "Vegas 30" podcast he does, both of which are done in collaboration with his co-host Alison Kramer.

The thing I enjoy about listening to Scott and reading his work is that he is funny, irreverent and he makes me think. There really aren't too many people I can say that about.

His latest venture with Alison, Unselling - The New Customer Experience, is a collection of anecdotes and stories all aimed to help the reader understand that "selling" is not really "selling." "Selling" in this era of the modern internet can really be broken down into several things:
Have the most awesome product or service you can createBuild relationshi…

Book Review: "Repped" by Andy Beal

I consider Andy Beal to be the "Godfather" of online reputation management (ORM). His talk at Search Engine Strategies in 2006 was what really got me interested in the subject. The book he co-authored with Dr. Judy Strass, Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online is one I consider to be the textbook for those who want to get started in the practice of ORM. When I saw Andy had a new book out, I definitely wanted to check it out.

Repped: 30 Days to a Better Online Reputation (Amazon Affiliate link) takes many of the concepts taught in Andy's earlier work, combines it with a lot of newer information and puts it all together into a step-by-step set of instructions that will help anyone wanting to improve their own or their business' online reputation. It takes readers through an A-Z process of
Understanding what an online reputation isHow online reputation can affect individuals and businessesHow to evaluate online reputationSteps to take to impro…

An Example of Perseverance - Hiroo Onoda

If you're looking for an example of perseverance under difficult circumstances, you would be hard pressed to find a better example than Hiroo Onoda. Onoda was a Japanese soldier who hid in the jungles of Lubang Island in the Philippines from 1944 until 1974, when he finally surrendered to Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.

As a young lieutenant in the Japanese Army towards the end of World War 2, the Americans were clearing out resistance to General McArthur's return to the Philippines, Onoda was ordered to stay behind and run guerrilla operations to impede U.S. and Philippine forces, to never surrender and not take his own life. He and three others took to the hills and continued their part of the war. Over time, the others were killed or gave up the fight. But not Lieutenant Onoda, he continued living off the land (and the occasional stolen livestock) until March 9, 1974 when his former commanding officer was flown to the Philippines to finally convince Onoda that the wa…

Book Review: "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook" by Gary Vaynerchuck

I've been following Gary Vaynerchuck online for several years now, but I hadn't yet read any of his books. It wasn't until I heard an interview with him by Chris Hogan on the EntreLeadership podcast about his newest book that I decided to give him a read. I'm glad I did.

The first part of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook covers some basics of getting online and telling your story in a compelling way. The key, according to Vaynerchuck, is not to shout your "right hooks," or calls to action, over and over. Rather, he describes looking at the art of adding value to your customers over and over again without asking for anything. He compares this "jabbing" to the strategy boxers use in order to get their opponents to drop their guards. When the time is right, they come in with the right hook and, hopefully, knock them out. You, as a marketing storyteller, need to time your jabs (informational value adds) and your right hooks (calls to action for purchases or w…

Book Review: "Your Customer Creation Equation" by Brian Massey

I've been acquainted with Brian Massey, The Conversion Scientist™, for quite some time though his speaking at PubCon and following him on Twitter. He's a sharp guy with some great ideas about how to make websites work better to create customers from visitors. When I heard he had a book in the works, I knew I wanted to check it out.

I recently received a Kindle version of Brian's book, Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist [Amazon Affiliate link] and I was not disappointed. It's a work filled with great methodology on how to measure what's happening on your website and how to make adjustments to help you can gain more customers. While there is a certain amount of "step-by-step" instruction, it's flexible enough that just about anyone can use the knowledge gained and work out a plan which will help them make their website a conversion machine.

Measurement is all-important as you work through doing anyt…

Book Review: "EntreLeadership" By Dave Ramsey

A few years ago, I attended the EntreLeadership 1-Day event in Dallas, Texas. I was already a fan of Dave, having read "Your Total Money Makeover" as well as attended and coordinated his Financial Peace University class at our church and my former employer. His book, EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches (Amazon Affiliate Link) was released in September, 2011 and has been on my "to read" list since then. I finally caught up with it last week, and I'm glad I did.

Much of the information I remember from that event was included in the book, and a whole lot more. The ideas included in the book aren't just a bunch of theories put together by someone who hasn't "been there and done that." Instead, it is filled with practical knowledge that lets you learn from someone with experience (read: learning from someone else's mistakes).

The book is laid out quite well and is filled with stories from Dave's experie…

WWII From a Different Perspective - Veterans Day 2012

I've written several times about my trip to Pilsen in 1995 to as part of the U.S. Army contingent sent there to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of liberation from the Nazis. It was a fantastic trip filled with many interesting experiences (now ... if I could only find the pictures I took).

On the day of the big parade, after the speech by dignitaries from many nations (Including then Secretary of State Madeleine Allbright, a native Czech herself who delivered her address in "flawless Czech" as described by the newspapers after the event), there was a luncheon for all WWII veterans held in the Czech Army Reserve Center not far from the main square. I was asked to be there in case any translation help was needed.

When I arrived, I found that the hall was full of former American soldiers who served in the area during WWII. That was quite an impressive group of Veterans. From the smattering of conversations I overheard here and there, many were seeing each other for the …

Book Review: The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome by Stratten

Scott Stratten's new book, The Book of Business Awesome / The Book of Business UnAwesome(Amazon Affiliate Link), is a great follow to his earlier work, Unmarketing. It's actually two books in one, where one half of the book is the "awesome" part; flip it over and the other half is the "unawesome."

Scott takes us around the online world and shares some examples of people and businesses doing great, no-so-great and absolutely atrocious things online. Some of the stories you may have already heard; but, with some additional, behind-the-scenes details you may not have heard, the stories become far more alive and interesting. Through the telling of these stories, Stratten teaches some great lessons in how to be awesome in your business -or- how to avoid being unawesome.

One of my favorite examples from the awesome side is this video done by some folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan, created in response to an article on Newsweek's web site which declared the city w…

Job Seekers - Your Online Reputation Precedes You

Your Online Reputation, That Is
I've had had an ongoing conversation on Twitter with someone opening a fast food franchise outlet in the area. He's had a rough time finding qualified and willing workers for his establishment. This doesn't surprise me. I've had conversations with many food service managers in the area who tell me it's hard to find good team members.

I feel for him, because it's tough enough getting the construction completed, certifications, permits, supply contracts, etc. set up. You'd think with lingering unemployment lurking about he'd have no problem finding people willing to join his team. Even with many applicants, he said a challenge to find people with good attitudes he can train to do what he needs them to do.

First, only half of the people with whom he scheduled interviews even bothered to show up. That in itself is telling. Second, he pre-screened applicants, checking their online spaces, and disqualified a few applicants beca…

Hey Hey, My My (SEO Can Never Die)

For all of those who think SEO is dead, here's a song for you ...

Sung to the tune of "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)"  as performed by Neil Young(Amazon Affiliate Link) - with appropriate apologies

Hey hey, my my
SEO can never die
There's more to the searchin' than meets they eye

Hey hey, my my
My my, hey hey
SEO is here to stay
As long as folks are searchin'
We'll make a way
My my, hey hey

Out of the blue, and into the black
You paid for links and that got you banned
And once you're gone, it's hard to come back
When you're out of the blue and into the black

The King is gone, but he's not forgotten
This is the story of Alta Vista
It's better to burn out, Google never sleeps
The King is gone, but he's not forgotten

Hey hey, my my
SEO can never die
Long as there is searchin'
We're lookin' for eyes

What Is Best Buy's Real Problem?

Are the prices too high or is the customer service just too bad?

Best Buy (and many other brick and mortars) often blame online stores like Amazon for their problems. The chief complaint centers on how online stores compete unfairly because they don't have to collect sales tax.

But is that the real reason? I don't think so, and neither do many of those I've spoken with on the topic this past week. Those conversations were prompted by an article on by Larry Downes, "Why Best Buy is Going out of Business...Gradually." He puts some numbers with his poor experiences at Best Buy and comes to the conclusion that it's customer service which really makes the difference - not price.

At the risk of "piling on," I present two experiences I had with Best Buy this past year which I think prove Mr. Downes' point quite well:

Experience The First - Buying Mom a New Computer
Whenever I head up to Michigan to visit Mom, I usually get hooked into doing pro…