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What You Need to Know Now About Marketing

Posted by John Rasco on April 14th, 2014

Great piece by Micah Soloman in Forbes Online’s Entrepreneurs section on what has replaced “the 4 Ps of marketing.” About time, since ad guys have said for a long time the human mind really only has room to consider three options. Here’s the salient excerpt:

I would describe the resulting situation in a single all-important sentence: Customers no longer care what you say about your brand – unless it matches what they, or their friends, or the people they trust, experience with your company.

Those 27 words distill the essence of what I call our new 3-H reality, which has replaced the 4P’s of days gone by.

Here are the three factors, the 3-H’s, that determine whether your marketing message will resonate, be ignored, or even be mocked:

H1: Company Sponsored Humans: The Humans your customers interact with, directly or through their behind-the-scenes work, at your company.

H2: Friends And Family Humans: The Humans your customers know and listen to in their personal lives (IRL — in real life – as the tragically amusing abbreviation puts it) .

H3: Online Community Humans: The Humans your customers know, or whose opinions they listen to, online.

Its scary out there….

Here’s the good news.

An outlook that puts humans at the center of your quote unquote marketing efforts, gives you unprecedented power.  Why?  Because traditional marketing, for all its power, always had limitations.

Need Business Resources? New List o’ Links

Posted by John Rasco on February 24th, 2014

Just released by vcfo, one of the top financial consulting firms in Texas, Colorado and Washington: a one-stop shopping page for business and start-up research. Links for entrepreneurs and investors to resources for:

  • business directories,

    business plans,

  • competitive intelligence,logo for top financial consulting firm, vcfo

  • financing,

  • global data,

  • USPTO, SBA and other government sites,

  • hiring & recruiting,

  • human resources,

  • marketing research,

  • investment analysis and

  • statistics

Actually, a lot more topics, but it’s easy to browse. Suggest you bookmark it for reference.

Social Media Marketing: Cheat Sheet for Lookin’ GOOD

Posted by John Rasco on January 4th, 2014

With so many changes to what’s possible over time, the first of the year is a great opportunity to revisit those social media pages and freshen them up. Just saw this on StumbleUpon and knew you needed it!

(Update: our friends across the pond, The Pink Group, recently let us know about their more comprehensive social media cheat sheet. You can download the guide yourself, and continue to spread the love by sharing.)

Social Media Design Cheat Sheet - Infographic

Inbound Marketing: An Infographic for Your Boss

Posted by John Rasco on August 29th, 2013

This comes by way of Pardot, recently acquired by Salesforce. That deal has exciting potential for many, many marketing departments…check out both SalesCloud and MarketingCloud.

This infographic is probably a public service for marketers, who are expected to magically create social media marketing and SEO-worthy content in all the spare time they save with an inbound marketing tool.  Boss, buying the tools doesn’t make me  carpenter, and the same applies to inbound. It takes time (up to a year), a strategy, and the resources to do it well, or why bother?

Buried in the details is the fact that 57% of marketers understand SEO as an important component of their inbound marketing, and see it as a required daily requirement for the marketing department. If by that they mean working on fresh content and blog posts, yes, it’s a really important part of the marketing team’s responsibility. And we are happy to help with strategy.

You might want to print this out and leave it laying around…OBTW, there is a very cool ROI calculator for marketing automation on the Pardot site. I think they want you to buy their CRM.

Inbound Marketing: Tool or Tactic? [#INFOGRAPHIC] - An Infographic from Pardot

Embedded from Pardot

SEO for the CEO: What You Need to Know, How Not to Screw It Up

Posted by John Rasco on August 10th, 2013

This post appeared recently on two client blogs: vcfo and Chief Outsiders. vcfo is a leader in financial advisory services, HR consulting and recruitment process outsourcing, with offices in Texas, Colorado and Washington. Chief Outsiders provides CMO services to midsize businesses across the country. Each has the ear of CEOs, which are the intended audience for this post. It’s the first of two parts.

iStock_000004323139XSmallMaybe it’s happened to you: your board looks at your budget for web marketing and asks about key performance indicators. As the CFO or CEO, you boldly look over the data from your marketing team and condense the complexity to a quick test: How are we doing on these five keywords? One of your board members measures the effectiveness by doing web searches: Are we ranked in the top 3 on Google for this one? And as the wind shifts, Marketing starts to focus on a few keywords, looking at rankings instead of results.

Meanwhile, the OTHER 500 search terms that are driving traffic go under the radar, and the bounce rate (one page visits) doesn’t budge. While one search term can look like the prize because it has high volume, it doesn’t necessarily convert into new business. And more traffic doesn’t necessarily mean more sales. Top rankings don’t matter if they’re the wrong search terms.

Example: we had a client who was #1 ranked for “data storage.” That’s a huge category (135,000 searches/month), but what we learned is that’s not the term a buyer uses to look for purchase information. It’s an informational search term, not a transactional term. It’s one a consumer might use, but not an IT manager. Web sales went up over 200% when they started ranking on terms like “disk to disk backup,” “d2d backup,” etc. For productive search engine marketing, the objective is to understand “the mind of the market.” Tech-savvy prospects use much more specific search phrases. These keywords have lower volume of search, but higher rates of conversion.

Another client wanted to rank on “track hurdles.” This is a good high volume search term, but it is general: inexperienced searchers could use that phrase to look for videos, for stats, for track events, for coaching tips…or to buy track hurdles. “Track hurdle companies” is right on the money. A term like “international track hurdles,” while having fewer people searching for it, may pull more buyers because of international specifications. Of course, searchers looking to “buy track hurdles” or “track hurdles online” also look more like buyers. One keyword phrase is just one keyword phrase…but it may be related linguistically to over one hundred search terms which are ALSO sending traffic to the site. Web optimization takes into account related phrases, weaving a “market basket” of targeted search terms into the language of your content, and even influencing the site architecture.

Too often, a client comes to us after a site redesign. They’re unhappy with the design firm because the new site did not perform better than the old site. In some cases, they are in crisis because they lost a LOT of traffic, and/or lost their rankings. Guess what? A design firm is not a web marketing agency, and neither are those smart people who are doing your IT. SEO should be strategic; design is a tactic. As such, the first task on a site redesign should be to engage a search marketing firm to develop the strategy for the site. Don’t budget for a redesign and forget to budget for SEO; and don’t guess what it costs. This is the most highly leveraged, most productive line item in your marketing budget.

Optimizing your website for search takes intense research, competitive analysis, deep marketing experience, skillful writing and then patient iteration to improve performance over time. There’s a reason most companies need an outside vendor: the expertise that comes from experience. SEO is strategic, in that it should align your website with your business goals. Once implemented, the benefit lasts for years. Don’t dismiss it as a marketing tactic for people below your pay grade; understood properly, and implemented as an important component of your business strategy, it is a lead-gen gold mine.

Selling SEO into the C-suite

Posted by John Rasco on March 28th, 2013

“Organic search is the indisputable leader in driving traffic that will convert to a website. Yet, it remains among of the lowest funding priorities when it comes to the website or marketing budget.”

This is a familiar complaint from search marketers: why does paid search get so much more funding, when organic search gets almost all the clicks, converts twice as well, and once site authority is achieved, top rankings tend to remain for years?






If you’re selling SEO into the C-suite, there are many more tools and facts in the source article from Search Engine Watch, reporting on Seth Besmertnik, CEO of Conductor, and presenter at the SEO in the Boardroom: Tangible Search Metrics session at SES New York. The session emphasized the importance of executive buy-in when it comes to investing in organic search, and a wealth of tips on how to go about winning it.









Inc. 500: LinkedIn Replaces Facebook as Top Social Tool

Posted by John Rasco on March 1st, 2013

This is for all the deluded clients who are paying an agency which equates social media marketing with a Facebook page. The point of this research report from MarketingProfs is that real business relationships are flourishing on LinkedIn, while we keep our friends over on Facebook:

LinkedIn is the most popular social media tool among the nation’s fastest-growing private companies, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Center for Marketing Research, under the direction of researcher Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD.

More than 8 in 10 companies listed on the 2012 Inc. 500 (81% of them) use the professional networking site, up from 73% a year earlier. Meanwhile, the proportion of Inc. 500 companies using Facebook has declined, from 74% in 2011, to 67% in 2012.

Mad Men and Social Media Battle It Out

Posted by John Rasco on January 24th, 2013

In this corner, traditional creative approaches to advertising. In the other corner, the numbers guys and their manager Big Daddy Data. We have only seen the first round, but the results are surprising.

Just read a NYT article challenging the effectiveness of social media, called “Can Social Media Sell Soap?” Instead of being creative idea types, Dan Draper using imagination to motivate consumers, we now expect messaging and affinity via SM “shares” to supply WOM cred and generate demand.

Based on 4Q results evaluating sales generated from Facebook and Twitter, there isn’t a direct link to sales. It may the problem of measuring the last click, but marketers need to keep this perspective in mind. Social media marketing may be your friend, but it’s more about awareness and belonging than it is a generator of sales.

An Early SEO Christmas: 94% Click on Organic Results

Posted by John Rasco on November 27th, 2012

Well, thanks to the elves at SEOmoz for sharing these Christmas goodies. While we B2B SEO folks tend to be cynical Scrooges about the allure of infographics (can you imagine seeing this on your smartphone?), and for that matter the fear-of-missing-out marketing by so-called “marketing agencies” of every latest fad to companies who have lost touch with their common sense (Post pictures of parties on Facebook! Start a Pinterist page! [Really, for financial services?]), we are only too happy to share this feast of sugar plums. (Source for original post shared below)

We Are The 94%

Occupy SEO brought to you by Poster by The Search Agency

Search engine users overwhelmingly click on organic results on Google and Bing by a margin of 94 percent to 6 percent. That’s according to new research from GroupM UK and Nielsen, published today by eConsultancy, based on a sample of 1.4 billion searches conducted by 28 million UK citizens in June 2011.

This further gem is from the eConsultancy infographic…this is really valuable information for marketers everywhere involved in search marketing. Those rock star readers who read the entire post now have some really incredible intelligence (based on 1.4 billion searches) to factor into their search strategies. (like emptying your stocking after the big presents have been unwrapped and finding a $1000 gift card.)

Bear in mind this is consumer search behavior; B2B searchers will have made fewer clicks at the top of the page, and more in the middle and at the bottom, with 11% clicking on search results below the first-page rankings. Also, B2B searchers are more likely to click on multiple results from their search, as they gather information.

Brand vs. Non-Brand Search Dept

Question: How many ways can you search for track hurdles?

Posted by John Rasco on November 12th, 2012

AAE Track Hurdles at Penn RelaysSometimes a client teaches us something new, and sometimes we do the teaching. In this case, we both learned a lot about the reality of long-tail search from Google Analytics.

The owner of our Pennsylvania client, Aluminum Athletic Equipment, was concerned that they weren’t being found when people searched for track hurdles. As it happened, that term wasn’t on the list of targeted terms we were given, so we had to hustle to catch up after the initial optimization was in place. There were dozens of other products on the site…how much could we improve the performance of this one category?

In their market, AAE is well known, even famous. They make quality hurdles, made right here in the USA, and their track and field equipment is used at the Penn Relays as well as in schools across the country. Now that their site is optimized more specifically for track hurdles, there are 150 different “hurdle” search terms sending traffic to their site. College hurdles, practice hurdles, high school hurdles, etc. So, it’s not ONE search term that’s important…it’s ALL the search terms people are using.

How much is SEO going to cost us? Is it in the marketing budget? What’s the ROI?

In 2010, they got 77 quote requests via their web site. This year, they’re on track to break 500…a 550% increase in leads. Cost? About $25K a year for two years.

As the client says, “It was lower than our PPC spending with a significantly higher ROI.”

An optimized site, with new optimized content being developed over time, will show performance improvement for years. So, in what could be a big shift in how you look at your marketing budget, think of SEO as an investment, not an expense. Your website is that important an asset.