Saturday, April 29, 2006

True Church Marketing: See a Need, Fill a Need?

True Church Marketing?
To me, true Church Marketing is really communicating the works of God. God is not mocked and He does not need an advertising campaign or a marketing campaign to show himself. But, He does need the faithful to follow His commands on evangelizing and "marketing" the Gospel.

In other words, the product is already there. The product - the Gospel, the works of God - is already there. Church Marketing is really letting the product speak for itself.

God's Way: See a Need, Fill a Need
I think the best Church Marketing is really following a simple Godly principle (which is also a great business and marketing principle): see a need, fill a need.

I watched the movie Robots recently and one scene really stood out to me. It was when Rodney Copperbottom, the main character, went to the big city to find his dream job. He lands in a decripit neighborhood where all these other robots are in need of repair but can't find parts because the main company stopped making them.

Rodney begins fixing some of the robots, and before long, the entire neighborhood is coming to him to fix them.

This situation has church parallels: seeing a need a filling it. Some of today's big corporations began in similar fashion by seeing a need and filling it. To me, that's true Church Marketing.

"Church Marketing" Sucks

I have a problem with "Church Marketing" and I personally think there is a danger with Church Marketing. It is not the idea of Church Marketing that bothers me. It is the practice of Church Marketing.

Is This Church Marketing: Church Ads on Cable?
The United Church of Christ is making a big push this year on cable networks. I've seen plenty of UCC commercials and "sponsored by" ads on cable programming. They even have some beautiful websites to support their campaign (here and here). I think the message is beautiful.

But, I am left thinking: is that what the church does with the money that is given to it? Even as a believer I wonder if this is the best use of resources. And I wonder how does this come off to unbelievers?

This is why I have a problem with Church Marketing. In my opinion, the purpose of church marketing is to communicate the Gospel in a better and more effective way. But that way does not mean resorting to the same carnal methods of the world.

I like and Heal Your Church Website. These two are among others that address Church Marketing, web design, and marketing communication. Sometimes they have critical thinking that is very analytical, thought-provoking, or on-point with Church Marketing.

Friday, April 28, 2006

SEO & Marketing: First Page or Bust - Why is it so?

SEO & Marketing: You Need to Be Visible for the First 3 Search Pages
This article from eMarketer may not last for too long, but the research from iProspect's "Search Engine User Behavior Study" should last for a while.

Now first page or bust is not really surprising. Every marketer and website business owner knows that first page listings, especially in the top 3 rankings are ideal.

Numerous research like iProscpect, Hitwise, and many others show both surprising and unsurprising search behavior. And almost all research show that users lose interest after the first three pages.

But this study quantifies why search users lose interest past 2 or 3 pages.

Why Do Searchers Lose Interest?
The reason most searchers lost interest after 3 pages is their confidence in the search results.

What I observe when I am searching for something is that results can tend to be "irrelevant". For example, I may start on a search for "teleradiology" and my intentions are to find out more about the business of teleradiology. My results show medical information about teleradiogy which is not what I want. But as I progress from #1 to #10 and from page 1 to page 2, the results are going to be similar.

After 1 or 2 pages, I conclude that the results are not what I want. I lose confidence in the search results and I stop searching deeper.

Of course, I make this conclusion and decision within 5 minutes of reading and scanning the results.

Where Do They Go After 3 Pages?
I think searchers do one of two things:
  1. type a more refined search query
  2. go to another search engine using the same query
This is backed up by the research. According to the research, users who don't find what they are searching for:
  • 41% change either the search query or the search engine after failed 1st page results
  • 88% change either the search query or the search engine after failed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd page results
  • 82% use the same engine but refine search queries with more terms.
Basically, either the searcher will refine the search query more (more words) or the searcher will try Yahoo or MSN.

Going Beyond the Top 3 Page Scare
The ramifications of the study show that it's important to be in the top 3 pages of search results.

But, digging deeper and understanding the searcher further is more important. You must be in the top 3 results for targeted searchers. That is, you must aim to be in the top 3 pages of search results that bring in the type of searchers that want your services or your products.

Sometimes that means highly refined niche searches. And remember, niche searches can generate higher conversions for lower volume.

Having Fun with Business Titles

Well a previous rant about business titles has got me just going on and on for no reason. Probably the absurdity of it has me amused. And also probably cause it's so late at night.

My business partner has "Chief Technical Officer" as his title instead of the more standard business title of "Chief Technology Officer".

But in my state state of "je ne sais quoi", I see it as "Chief Tactical Officer". Now I'm the Chief Marketing Officer and again, in my state of "I don't know what", I see it as Chief Mobilization Officer.

See, ever since my days with the boy scouts, I've had a somewhat paramility fetish. And to me Marketing, has some military language that tickles me.

And with Garden Storm and War Room on my mind - following the whole German name to it (how much more "military" can you get than using German names?) - I decided to just get creative:
  • der Sturmgarten
  • das Kriegzimmer
  • der Oberstermarketingfuhrer (the proper term is "Oberhauptmarketingoffizier") - Chief Marketing Officer, or Leader
  • der Oberstertechnologiefuhrer (the proper term is "Technischer Direktor") - Chief Technology Officer, or Leader
  • Oberster Befehlshaber der Gesellschaft - Chief Executive Officer
  • Marketingsturmtruppen - Sales Reps
Anyway, that was fun - silly but fun. Here's a great site for simple language translations.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Business TV Shows and the Entrepreneur Channel

I watched the History Channel tonight and saw a show on the history of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. I mean it traced the history and the Cola Wars, it delved into the marketing, the advertising, the strategy, everything.

It occurred to me that programming like this can provide invaluable business education, but it doesn't seem to be prevalent enough.

There really should be a bundle of Business Cable Channels. One channel should be for new entrepreneurs oriented towards celebrating the stories of entrepreneurial success. Startups and entrepreneurs need encouraging stories to help them keep their dreams and visions alive. A history of established companies like Coca-Cola and Nike can be inspirational. Reality TV shows like The Apprentice can be both encouraging and educational - as espoused in a previous post.

Another channel should be geared towards the more established entrepreneur. The programming would include information on accounting, finance, management, organizational management, legal matters, and marketing. The shows would be more appropriate for entrepreneurs managing a business instead of starting one up.

And a final channel should be geared towards general business. Stories, news, and critical analysis of economics, financial markets, how to invest, building portfolio, analyzing news events, and politics.

As the cable channel package grows, maybe more specialized channels like the Marketing Channel, the Management Channel, and more can be added.

I would love to see more of this kind of educational and inspirational television available. Channels like The Discovery Channel, the History Channel, and TBN are wholesome, educational, inspirational, and spiritual. To me, that's a good thing for everyone.

Website Copyrights, Who Owns?

One company I work with recently had a client who actually followed through with copyrighting their content. The problem this time though was that the client spoke with the company's VP of Marketing who is a complete dope. I mean seriously - a dope (he insisted that link farming was something he wanted to get involved with despite all the resources I threw at him telling him it's bad)!

Now what the VP did was to tell the client that the company can just copy the website files and send it to them. The website files - meaning all coding, source files, and everything.

Now, I had a problem with that because content copy is one thing - but coding is another. That client's site had some proprietary tracking code from me and I was not going to allow that client to copyright any of my code.

Of course, all of this can be avoided simply by addressing copyrights in the contract. This brings to mind just how protective do you get about your intellectual property? If you are the client, do you protect your website copy? If you are the designer, what do you protect? And if you are the SEO and client provides the content, what rights do you have, if any?

While Servaunt has incorporated measures like this in our contracts, I'll still be keeping a close watch on all of this copyrighting and intellectual property issue.

Market Your Knowledge & Say Something

One client I am working with is a carpet business who sells online exclusively. He has a site up and is hurting for traffic so he wanted SEO help.

Of course, first things first, I had to get over the fact that his business and his website was not at all built to be entirely online. In other words, his site had poor design, no conversion metrics, poor navigation, and very poor data capture.

Moving beyond that, the website's content was miniscule. This was going to be a factor in both SEO and marketing. I asked the client one big question: "What makes you more attractive than Empire?"

He immediately had a lot to say and when he was finished, I asked him, "Where is all this on the website?"

Market Your Knowledge for SEO and Marketing
The client's website had virtually no content so any searcher that lands on the site had no reason to convert into a lead. Just because the front page says "Free Consultation" doesn't mean the searcher is interested. In fact, the searcher probably expects a free consultation.

What's going to be the difference maker? The searcher should feel confident that you know what you are talking about. The searcher should perceive that you know what you are talking about. And if you know what you are talking about, you will probably service them well.

Put Your Knowledge on Your Website
Put your knowledge on your website now. Don't naively wait for the prospect to contact you then you tell him all that you know. Close the prospect now by showing him you know what you're talking about. Put your knowledge out there and give the prospect confidence in you and your expertise.

SEO for Impulse Buys & Niche Markets

SEO for Impulse Buys & Niche Markets for More Sales

Every once in a while, I get impulsive buy urges. Chocolate fountains, peacock feathers, business card cases, and even wax seals.

I am one of those consumers who likes to research before I buy - just so I can compare apples to apples. I am amazed at the kinds of research I can gather just by conducting a random search like "wax seals" or "peacock feathers". Where do I go to search? Search engines of course!

My impulse buy journey leads to SEO.

Is your website optimized for such impulse niche market searches? An SEO campaign is supposed to target specific searches. A more targeted search term should bring more targeted traffic ready to convert into a sale.

When prospects come to me and bemoan that they do not have hits, one of the things I look for are niche SEO opportunities. Any opportunity where niche searches can be served is included in my analysis and proposal.

Optimizing your website for niche products and services can help you be more visible, open up new areas for marketing expansion, and ultimately, get more sales.


SEO and CRM do not seem to be topics discussed together by many SEO firms or SEO experts. That's probably because CRM is usually beyond what SEOs focus on or offer.

CRM stands for "customer relationship management". It is a software that allows a company to manage leads from start to close and to manage the continual relationship with that customer. CRM is inline with BI - business intelligence software.

But I find it important for small companies working on SEO to have a bigger competitive edge than just SEO. CRM is the backbone for companies to manage the sales process and the ongoing customer relationship.

Here is a good CRM blog with blogrolls to many other CRM blogs and CRM websites.

Servaunt takes CRM seriously as a way for small businesses to be competitive. Open Source CRMs like SugarCRM help make it more affordable for small businesses to have a CRM system.

For small businesses, being competitive with the big boys means providing your customers with excellent service and quality - beyond that which your bigger competitors can offer. So, for small businesses that want to be more competitive, CRM and SEO may be the best combo choice.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Storm Garden, War Rooms and Bizarre Business Nomenclature

One company I work with has this VP of Marketing that likes to make up words. On his office door, he has a sign that says "Garden Storm" and "War Room".

Every time I see it I think of the "stormtroopers". Not the Star Wars Stormtroopers but the Nazi ones. So for me, "Garden Storm" becomes "Sturmgarten" and "War Room" becomes "das Kriegszimmer" (German is a cool language).

Another company I work with has names like "Client Service Manager" and "Customer Advocate" to really mean "customer service" and "project manager".

Creative Titles From the Dotcom Bubble Burst
I think back to the heyday of the Dotcom Bubble when companies had all kinds of crazy titles. I recall that for an early company I started (called Everything's Fun), I created the title of "Net Director" meaning the CTO. I put that name down on a business plan and folks went crazy for it.

Silicon Valley had bizarre names like "Evangelist", "Guru", and other names. Looking back at it, they all sound so dumb and silly. This website has some dotcom goofups. The site is dumb now - post dotcom bubble burst, but the archives dating back to '99, '00, and '01 are good.

Be Efficient - Speak Business Language
For me, at some point, these names are all pointless. Action speaks louder than words - and adequately descriptive titles are, well adequate.

Creativity is great - but business is business and communication is communication. Speaking the same business language lets us all focus on the task at hand - not the frivolous worthless titles. Communication and execution is the most important thing in business.

Choose Marketable, Brandable Domain Names

Your website domain name is very important. By now, most people know this - but they may not understand this.

Your website domain name is a marketing tool. Not in terms of SEO (although there are some perceived benefits), but in terms of recall and recognition.

Marqui domain names do not have numbers in them and are short enough to remember and spell easily. Domains that contain numbers, unless it is part of the company name like "Pizza 2 Go" (hence, then numbers in domains do not belong.

Now, you might say, but what if all the good domains are taken? For example, say local carpet retailer Carpet Seller wants a domain. Let's say the domain is taken - but is not. Should Carpet Seller take it? The wise marketing answer is NO!

Domain Names to Avoid
Avoid domain names that:
  • are long and hard to remember: Ex. is bad
  • are long and full of dashes: Ex. (these are hard to remember and also typically the type of domains used by spammy sites - very poor form)
  • uses numbers when no numbers are in the company name: Ex. Carpet Seller = (this is bad)
How Do You Choose Good, Marketable Domains?
Look harder, look deeper! Remember your domain name is a marketing tool. How easily will you be remembered? Try this:

By themselves, the domains mean very little. Combined with the offline marketing they have, they are pretty recognizable.

You might say but those are big companies! Well, yes, but are you special or just average? If you are special, don't you want a brandable name that is easy to recall? Do you want to be or Or maybe you want to be

Think about what's easier to remember - what rolls off the tongue more? Be creative while practical with your domain name.

Educational Business-Oriented TV Shows

On PBS there used to be some great educational TV shows about entrepreneurs. But they seemed to have disappeared from PBS' programming.

Yet the success of The Apprentice doesn't seem to have brought on other business TV show copycats. Why?

I would love to see an American Chopper like educational-reality TV show about entrepreneurs, about starting a business.

Several years ago, I watched a documentary called "" about a startup during the waning days of the dotcom bubble before it burst. It came out in 2001 - when the bubble burst, so it was apt. Now, while it showed failure, post dotcom burst and post The Apprentice success, this type of programming should be resurrected.

If network TV is willing to dump Survivor copies and milk it for so long, why not attempt something more educational and copy The Apprentice?

Oh, and NO - The Benefactor does not count! Nothing against Mark Cuban - but the show sucked.

But I think the Discovery Channel's model of educational, entertaining reality TV vis a vis American Chopper, Monster House - and the other copycats like Trading Spaces and others - are ripe for a business-oriented TV show.

Also, the Food Network did some specials that showed the start of chef services, Bobby Flay's restaurant opening, and so much more.

I think more of these types of shows should be produced. Any takers?

Entrepreneur Tip: Learn to Love Networking

I love to network. I love meeting new people. It's fun to me. Plus I am genuinely interested in entrepreneurs' business ideas.

I find it odd for any entrepreneur not willing to network with other people. Some feel that networking is "brown-nosing". Others have a problem with networking if they cannot find "buyers".

Such attitudes are a shame because networking is not about selling or kissing butt. Networking is about meeting new people and building relationships.

Network for Relationships, Not Sales or Butt Kissing
New entrepreneurs especially need to rely on networking to start building up a strong base. Where you network is important, of course. If you offers products or services to businesses, networking with other entrepreneurs and business owners is important. If you are a retail business, networking may help you get into a relationship with other businesses that can help you grow.

In the case of Servaunt, for example, we are able to build flexible pricing in order to help startup retailers. We can do this for those we network and have relationship with.

Scared to Network?
Of course another reason people don't like networking is because they are afraid to. They may also be afraid to sell. They may also be afraid of rejection. This a handicap since everything in business is relationship and communication. In short - get over it!

Positive Networking Experience
I think the key to networking is to enjoy meeting new people and hear about their businesses. You never know who you meet. Never have any expectation of kissing butt or "getting a sale". Like the church experience, no one goes to networking to be "sold". They are, in fact, there to meet people and promote what THEY do.

Places to Network
There are a few places to network. The first place to start is your local chamber of commerce. If you are in the Philadelphia-South NJ area, check out:
Of course this list, just for the Philadelphia region, is not complete - but it's a start. Check them out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Protect Your Domain Names, Linking, and SEO

My church is working with a firm to help propel the ministry more globally with media and all that jazz to spread the Gospel.

While I love it and pray that it goes well, as an interactive marketing and SEO consultant, one of the things they are doing has me inflamed. Well, I was inflamed but settled down by now - after all, it isn't my call.

But the thing this company wanted to do was to suddenly change the church website's domain. Now mind you, this domain has been around for about 10 years and has already been on TV and radio for at least 3 years. It's an old domain with a lot of good inbound links. Yahoo and MSN both register the site with 121-129 backlinks - pretty good - especially for a church. And links from TBN and other media sites certainly help.

The plan is to turn this perfectly good domain into something else. No redirect, nothing. So in other words, the domain would be hijacked for another project. The church will be pushed to another domain, loose all inbound links, start from scratch, and lose referral traffic as well.

To me, it's like that scene in Sideways with Paul Giamatti and Thomas Church: Paul is talking about the intricacies of the wine's flavor and Thomas just swigs the wine down and says, what's next? Neanderthalish!

Lesson for you? Protect your domain - especially if it's been around for awhile and has good backlinks! This is valuable for SEO!

Entrepreneur Tip: Learn to Write Well

Writing is important. There is no greater turnoff than a marketing collateral that has simple misspellings or wrong grammar like "they're, their, and there" or "you're, your" and so on. But even beyond that, good professional writing is important.

A prospect recently asked me to evaluate her website. As I reviewed her site, it was clear that the writer was not professional. The voice was clearly biased, there was no third-party view, and it was clear that the writer did not understand the audience.

The site was designed for an annual event but had very little content about the event itself. But the thing that caught my eye was the management team's bio. Each bio was like a self-glorified homage to themselves.

As an entrepreneur (and in SEO copywriting), it is important to know your voice, the purpose of what you're writing, and who you are writing to. No one should write like Norm Chomsky, Dave Barry, or Kurt Vonnegut. No one should write like a text book or law book.

What you should do is write professional copy. Decide if you need to speak directly to your reader or not. Establish these things as you write your copy and always, proof and proof again before launching on a website!

Are You Ready for Influx of Leads?

Does Your Company Have the Infrastructure for Sales Growth?
One of the key things I do first when speaking to an SEO or marketing prospect is to find out what their goals are. This usually helps me to establish performance criteria and also to see what they are thinking.

A common request is to increase leads. After all, they want to make sales. Some get caught up with hearing about all of the marketing technology that can potentially draw leads. Some are able to spend the money. Others are not.

But one of the factors not a single one of them think about at this early stage is, do they have the infrastructure to handle the leads?

Your Company Sales Machine
Getting leads is only part of the battle. In fact, it's darn near establishing the beachhead - as we continue with the war illustration.

Getting leads only gets your foot at the door. Then there is lead qualification. What constitutes a lead?

In managed PPC campaigns, this is an important consideration and is integral in outsourced PPC management because the client is paying for results. But in a general marketing campaign, where communication is the key, this lead qualification step can be overlooked, mistakenly.

Now that you have quality leads, are you able to follow up? If you are handling 2 leads a day, are you able to handle 5 leads a day? Or are you able to handle 10-15 leads a day?

If you don't have the sales machine in place - the sales infrastructure to follow up on leads, nurse the leads, and close those leads - then your first step may not be marketing. You may need to build your internal staffing and lead management system.

A CRM system is one solution, but you should also clearly define your sales process. It may seem like a strange thing to do but knowing your own process helps you to keep track of your sales performance by more than just "hitting the numbers".

When you start in sales, like in the mortgage industry, you are told that it takes about 100 cold calls to take about 2 or 3 loan applications day (*these are based on my personal experience, not industry). It then takes about 10 apps to close a loan. Therefore, at least 100 calls day must be made.

Well, no company can give such instructions unless they have a sales process and have analyzed sales performance in such detail.

As an entrepreneur, you must commit more time to the details in order to be competitive with your bigger, older rivals.

Before you begin a quest for more leads, build your sales infrastructure first to be sure you'll be able to handle the influx of leads.

Monday, April 24, 2006

New Beginnings for AK Works the Blog

Looking back on the last few entries, it has been several months since the last blog update. This is a new beginning for this blog as more topics are explored, more musings are ruminated, and industry news are discussed.

Since the posts seem kinda long, many of the posts will be expanded into articles that will be published on Servaunt. I will probably also distribute them through article submission sites.

Some topics will be explored into full books. Realtor marketing is one such planned book. Others are in the works and will follow.

One of my plans is to write a whole series of books focused on a particular industry. The book would detail how a hair stylist, for example, can maximize the use of a website to better market, capture data, and develop the business.

Much like how I wrote about the selling in the church, these books would help would-be entrepreneurs get into the right mindset and push their business thinking to another level.

Ultimately, I pray these books become a blessing to many who read them.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Entrepreneur Tip: Selling in Churches & The Wrong Approach

How many churches hold fundraiser events that allow vendors to set up shop? Are you an entrepreneur starting a new business or already have a part-time business? Have you ever set up shop at church events?

My church has a lot of ministries and holds a lot of events. With nearly 25,000 members, it's important to have a strong variety of ministries to support the specialized needs and interests of a lot of people.

Recently, my church held a fashion show fundraiser for one of the ministries. It's not the first time they did an event like this. A little while back they did a bridal show as well.

Each time there's an opportunity for vendors to have a table, help offset the cost of the fundraiser, and basically, give the vendors a chance to be connected to the event.

I was in the fashion show recently and afterwards, I made my way through all the vendors to network with them. Speaking to each vendor, I would ask them about their business, how long they've been in business, and if they have business cards.

I asked each one of them how things are going and each time I got the same reply: "didn't sell anything" or "didn't sell as much as we wanted."

Now mind you, I do this at all of the church events that welcome vendors and each time, I get almost all of the same responses. This leads me to wonder - just what did people expect?

Wrong Attitude, Wrong Approach
I think many of the vendors are church members with their own part-time business and decided that this would be a great opportunity for them to make some sales. But that's the problem: it's the wrong attitude and the wrong approach.

Their commercial presence is additional to the main event - the church fundraiser. In the case of the fashion show, the vendors who offered clothing, jewelry, makeup, and other products add to the presence of the event. But the main event is still the fashion show - not them.

Their attitude and approach to the event was placed on sales not marketing. They did not comprehend the value of event presence as part of their strategic marketing mix.

Don't Base Your Business on Sales in Church Events
One of the biggest failures of these businesses is counting on sales from these church events. No business should ever count on sales from vending opportunities in church events. This is because there are more efficient and cost-effective sales mediums.

A church flea market will never replace a commercial flea market. A church flea market is limited to the marketing it can produce to attract buyers. A commercial flea market is far more robust in the marketing to attract consumers.

Any vending opportunities in churches are only an additional opportunity to market the business, not an additional place to sell.

Real selling opportunities to grow a part-time business are through e-commerce, advertising, SEO, PPC, classifieds, flea markets, word-of-mouth, eBay and other online auctions, and even price-comparison shopping portals. These mediums are designed for sales and what a business should focus on if the intended goals are for sales.

Marketing & Data Capture Is the Ojective - Not Sales
This comprehension failure caused the vendors to fail in several critical points of marketing:
  1. lack of marketing collateral
  2. no business cards
  3. no data capture
At such events, it is absolutely critical to have marketing material and to capture data. Just because someone is not interested in buying a product does not mean that you cannot capture their information for future marketing.

One of the vendors was a Mary Kay consultant who had a Mother's Day promotional basket. She asked people to sign up for a chance to win. They not only asked women to sign up, but men as well. The information they captured included name, email, address, and phone number. This was definitely the right way to maximize their vending experience.

It is absolutely critical to have marketing material like catalogs to give away. Business cards are also important because that allows you to give prospects direct access to you. And data capture is very important. You should have a prospect card, a prospect sheet, or a notepad for interested people to signup.

Capturing their data for the purpose of building a relationship can be better than making that quick sale. That quick sale may be that one and only sale. But building a relationship may create a repeat customer - which is more valuable than a 1 time sale.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Reflection: Time Passes Fast for Businesses

When it was January 2006, one of board members of the BCBPA, my church's business ministry, told everyone at a networking event that anyone without a business plan by the end of January or February is late and has lost 2006.

I agreed with him then, and I still agree with him today. Yet it still astounds me how fast time flies. It is now April 22, 2006. In business, we are already in May and planning for June.

And of course, there is NEVER enough time in the day. Even running on 5 hours of sleep daily, it is incredibly difficult to get all that you need or want to get done - done!

Experienced managers and enterpreneurs say the only way to do it all is to set your day with tasks and not stop working until you get them done.

But, that still does not make it any easier when you realize that in business, when you reach May, you are in June and when you reach June you are really already in July and August - and so on.

I guess it puts a different spin on "When you're early, you're on time. When you're on time, you're late. When you're late, you're dead."

Marketing Consumer Ownership Customization

While marketers may be shying away from advertising on Myspace because of some quality control issues and legal incidents from Myspace users, there are still companies out there that put up Myspace profiles.

It seems to them that the ability to network with others is a big draw and small enough risk to continue pursuing marketing themselves via Myspace.

But to me, one of the most revealing things is how Myspace users love to customize their profiles. An entire cottage industry has developed where Myspace tools like profile editors, profile templates, and more are available.

What I see is a a maturing and defining trend from the teen to 30-something demographic. I call this "consumer ownership customization".

Consumer Ownership Customization
I don't even know if this term means anything really. I just call it that to describe the trend or demographic characteristic that I observe.

This characteristic I first observed with cellphones 3 years ago. Now, that was just me. Cellphone customization had already taken off several years before 2003.

But the characteristic is the same nonetheless. It seems this demographic age group likes to personalize the stuff that they own. This kind of individualism seems far more prevalent in teens. Of course, it makes sense because teens are in a stage of developing into their own selves. Yet this individualism is carried over into adulthood.

Marketing to Individualism, Customization, Ownership
The automotive industry has long understood the importance of marketing to individualism. Not only do manufacturers offer different options for each model to consumers, an entire automotive secondary market lets consumers customize their

The wireless industry and the secondary market also understand the importance of marketing to individualism. The secondary industries offer new cellphone covers, custom ringtones that sound like real songs, color-rich cellphone wallpapers, and more.

Myspace, Instant Messenger, and Why This is Important
Why is this topic important? This demographic is accustomed to personalization, individualism, and customization. As this demographic matures as consumers, how they receive marketing messages, how they buy, and how they govern their consumer loyalty, will be affected by what they are accustomed to now.

This demographic is exposed to a LOT of personalization and customization. Shows like MTV's "Pimp My Ride" or "Trading Spaces" glorify personalization of owned goods. While personalization of cars and homes do not seem like a revelation, I believe there is a cumulative effect that has ramification with communicating to this demographic.

Entertainment, movies, and artists offer media downloads as part of their promotion mix. Computer desktop wallpapers, AIM buddy icons, and other media downloads are almost an integral part of the marketing mix. All of these things are meant for branding via customization and personalization.

The cumulative effect of this demographic, accustomed to readily customize and personalize their property will affect how they receive marketing messages.

Marketing in the Future
I believe this warrants closer scrutiny and your own personal investigation. Many available marketing research may not have the full data - or the right data.

I believe observing and even immersing in youth-oriented marketing is important for preparing for the future marketing communications paradigm that is already developing.

Friday, April 21, 2006

SEO for Your Name

Are you visible for your name? Can you find your business website searching in Google, Yahoo, or MSN?

One of the familiar stories I hear from SEO prospects and clients is that they cannot find their sites when they search for their name. An even worse case is when they promote themselves and their prospects do a search for their name and cannot find them.

One client we are doing work for recently discovered this problem. He is a new Christian artist making a public launch of his music ministry. What he found as he promoted his ministry was that people would go and search for his name or his ministry's name in the search engines. They get excited about what they hear and try to find him online.

This is a revelation because in today's business environment, not only must you have a website to be taken seriously, you must be visible. This is what Servaunt means when we say "be seen, be visible".

Businesses with Existing Websites
For businesses with existing websites, one of the first and most important terms to be seen and be visible for is your business name. But this is not as easy as it seems.

If your company is First Choice Realty, for example, your name is not particularly unique. Many other realtors can easily use "First Choice Realty". This means being visible for "First Choice Realty" in a giant Internet world is not easy.

To be visible for a "common" name like "first choice", you must put significant effort to SEO your site. You should treat it like another SEO keyword.

On the other hand, if your business name is unique like "Servaunt", then you may be able to put in less effort.

New Businesses with No Websites
For new businesses with no websites, plan your website out before you launch. Think about the importance of visibility for your business name. Follow proper search engine optimization methods and techniques.

If your business name qualifies as "common", be sure to plan for significant optimization of your website for your business name.

If your business name is "unique", be sure to optimize the site for your name. However, you may not need to work as hard on that effort with an unique business name.

Marketing and Branding, the Ultimate Purpose
Keep in mind that the ultimate purpose for this exercise is to be visible when you conduct offline marketing. Whether you are personally conducting the offline marketing or a friend or associate is doing it for you, as long as you are being promoted offline, you want to be prepared to be found online.

This is the reality of the modern business world and the modern consumer. No matter what your industry is, if you are promoting a business online, a website helps establish your legitimacy. But your website must be visible in the search engines, especially for your name.