The Rule of Brand, SEO, Trust and Marketing

Almost five years ago, I started this blog without much idea what was going on. In fact, in many ways, it was an opportunity to pass time at work, in a job that I cared little about and that I was doing little more than doing time with. I setup a WordPress blog, went to town writing about whatever the heck I felt like writing about. It’s a common path followed by a great many bloggers.

At some point, however, I came to find my voice on this blog. I wrote in an authoritative way on topics that I was knowledgeable about. I challenged assumptions made in industry, and brought a common sense, no bullshit approach to conversation. I’ve been rewarded with many fans, followers and friends. Literally, my brand, personal or otherwise, is golden. As it should be.

This blog is not a make money quick kind of venture. In fact, I think I made $35 last time I got a check. Not much more than beer money, but that’s fine – I make my money because of my blog, not via my blog. I don’t play the game of SEO, link building and trying to get the most page views. That is a game played by a few power players who have worked the system and built up alliances. I have built my authority and stature, not on making money with my blog or by selling someone elses product in return for a kickback. I have not worried about how many pageviews and selling CPM advertising. I am worried about the quality of the content, the truth in my writing, the community that pays attention and, basically, changing the world one word at a time.

This is my value. This is why when I talk about Government and the web, even though I’m not one of the Goverati, people pay attention. This is why when I write about marketing, I get listed as a top marketer despite not being one. This is why when I examine technology policy, executives from technology companies email me.

This is the real shit. This is not fraud. This is not get rich quick scams.

I’ve said it many times, the most recently being at the excellent Bootstrap Maryland event… You do not control your brand. Your customers do.

I do not control my brand. My readers do. My community does.

My brand is not destroyed by Google bombing my name or brand into search engine rankings. When I get negative press, I let my community protect my brand. It makes no sense for me to engage in a protectionist way since I can’t protect my brand anyway.

This morning, I woke up to this story, where Jeremy Schoemaker attacks my brand and my name. Besides the fact that the post is completely schizophrenic and not very well thought out, much less executed, let’s look at the marketing techniques and think about brand. The title of the post is loaded up with my name and brand. He makes sure to this because that will weigh higher in the Google index. Indeed, his post is the 7th SERP in Google when you search for my name after only a few hours. Whatever.

It doesn’t change my business. It doesn’t change my brand. In fact, it doesn’t change my authority because my trust is with you, my community. On Twitter, I am being defended. Fine, whatever. I appreciate it.

In today’s online world, I am constantly hearing about companies who are afraid to converse because they don’t want disagreement. They lose the conversation. In some cases, they try to erase bad publicity.

Conversation is going to happen. Negative conversation is going to happen. The reality is that bad PR doesn’t kill a company. How the customers or community respond make the brand.

Class is adjourned.

Working the Room

I love Gary Vaynerchuk. He is possibly my favorite person in social media. It could be his New York style, or his common sense, practical content.

Gary gets it. He gets it in a way that very few other people, even in social media get it. I believe this stems from a lack of pretentiousness that drives him. He is who he is, and he’s focused solely on “the hustle” – the drive to build his brand and make money.

When Gary puts out a video, people listen. Because he knows what he is talking about.

We’ve talked a lot about brands and marketing here. I’ve talked about the trust and transparency factor. How if your customers can relate to you, because you’re transparent, they are going to do more business with you. How if your customers don’t trust you, your brand is worthless because you don’t control the value of your brand – they do!

Gary points out in one of his recent videos that brands of the past succeeded on “presentations” – that is ads, and marketing. They went where the eyeballs were. No one ever got to engage with the brand other than to buy the product. But, he argues, brands of tomorrow will succeed by “working the room” and talking to their customers because social media has changed the game.

Enjoy some Garyvee!

Promises Made, Promises Delivered

Your customer base expects you to do things. They wouldn’t be your customers if not. They expect you to deliver on what you say you can deliver, and they expect you to do it right now. Think about it. You too are a customer and you expect the same thing.

What happens when a company, a campaign, a spouse makes a promise and doesn’t deliver? What happens to the trust? What happens to that relationship?

If Barack Obama promises to ensure that 10% of the nations energy comes from renewable resources by 2012 (he is promising that) and doesn’t deliver, what will voters think of his energy record in 2012 when he is up for re-election?

If Geico promises to save you 15% on car insurance and they end up being more expensive, what happens to their credibility?

If a wife cheats on her husband and he finds out, where will his trust level go?

If an employee is promised a pay increase after 6 months but doesn’t see one until two years, what happens to the credibility of the employer?

Promises delivered create trust which drives sales and delivers brand loyalty. Without that trust, the brand is worthless and the loyalty goes to a competitor. That is never good for business.