Building an Agency

 

When I built my first SEO agency 5 years ago, I was incredibly keen, full of knowledge and desperate to be successful. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, but then quickly became frustrated by my lack of progress.

Despite my best intentions, I made an awful lot of errors. I am pleased to say that I learnt from these. During some reflection I decided to create a list of 7 pieces of advice that I would have offered myself when starting out.

The hope now is that this may well just benefit someone else on their journey. Whether that is in the form of finances or time, these were some of my learning’s.

 

My 7 pieces of advice


1 – I knew that I wanted to write a blog to help show that I knew my stuff. I wanted people to know that I was the real deal.

 

So I wrote…. a lot.

After my first 30,000 words of blog posts I was incredibly proud of my achievement. I had done something that would really hep my business. However there were only 3 readers of my blog; myself, a friend in the industry and a family member. I was spending my time creating content that no audience was going to read.

I had missed out the critical factor of actually building an audience. If I had to do this again, I would spend at least 80% of this time actually promoting my work, and only 20% creating it. This would have saved me an incredible amount of time and frustration; and made my content a lot more valuable to my agency.

 

2 – I would focus on just one niche and one service that I would offer.

 

I can recall now creating my first homepage. I listed all of the services my agency would offer:

 

  • SEO
  • Social Media Management
  • Reputation management
  • Advertising
  • Website creation
  • Website optimization advice

 

These services were available to everyone. I tried to offer everything to every industry; and as a result I got very little in terms of clients. Now I am very specific about which niche I target and what services I offer. I target one niche with one service.

It is so much easier to be viewed as an authority this way, rather than as just another agency.

 

3 – Know your pricing structure and stick to it.

 

I recall being nervous the first time I was asked for my prices, but I had no need to be. I knew I would provide value above and beyond what I was charging, and I knew they could afford it; however I had created a self-doubt. So when I told them my price they tried to haggle. It was clear they believed in me, and wanted my services. However I must have given a sign that there was room for maneuver.

I would never ask a professional if their fixed prices are negotiable. So I always charge a fair price, and stick to it. As long as you know your worth and what you will provide; I don’t believe you should sell yourself short.

 

4 – Make client acquisition your number one priority.

 

This will make or break your business. You can have a beautiful website, a strong PBN and a stunning logo. However without clients it all means nothing.

I still today make reaching out to leads a daily practice. This is how I will continue to grow and scale my business. Previously I seemed to think that if I built the site, the customers would come.

This was certainly not the case and it took me a little longer than it should to realize this.

 

5 – Don’t spread your social media usage too thinly.

 

I had previously tried to be a valuable resource on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook. It was too much to try and manage as well as the day to day running of my business.

I decided to focus on one platform only, and give it my all. As a result of this recent change I feel I have more concentration and give better interaction with a higher quality of social media content.

 

6 – Avoid shiny object syndrome.

 

I studied a lot about SEO previously. I also went through a paid course, and then another. I was feeding my knowledge and almost waiting for one gem of information to jump out at me.

I already knew exactly what I needed to do. I simply lost focus. I would highly recommend that you decide on one direction, one course of action and stick to it and become successful. Continue to drive to succeed.

Once that is achieved you can expand your horizons and grow further. However it is so easy to become distracted and lose the end goal.

Knowing what I do now, I am so much more efficient in my working day. I work smarter than I ever have done, and achieve a lot more. Hopefully these tips will help someone else on their journey.

 

 

About the author

Alan Allsopp is an internet marketer, and the founder of expropria.com, providing SEO for estate agents.

Marketing & Magic

Can magicians really read your mind, cut people in half, and make the Statue of Liberty disappear?  Well, it depends on how you approach the question.  Realistically, they can’t achieve these feats but they can trick your eyes and brain to think such.  Marketers are not magicians, yet great advertisers use the same neurological principles to influence target markets.

Magic may not be ‘real’ yet a number of truths influence the way people see, comprehend, and react.  Learn four truths about marketing magic and better advertising.

 

Multitasking is a Myth


 

Your boss or favorite entrepreneur is likely to champion the notion of multitasking, but ask any neurologist; multitasking is a myth.  Our brains are not wired to do two or more things at once, at least not as efficiently as we would wish.  It’s a matter of science.  We use the area of the brain called the striatum to learn new skills and the hippocampus when we recall information for higher level thinking and functioning.  When we multitask, the striatum area, not the hippocampus, is activated.  We may physically do more than two things at once, yet we’re using the area of the brain devoted to low-level thinking and functioning.

Magicians know such truths and use it to deviate attention or make you comprehend several things while others are going on right in front of your eyes.  For example, in a study, researchers made people watch a basketball video, noting how many times the ball is passed between players.  The video features a man in a gorilla suit jumping from the stands and on the court, yet those concentrating on counting passes totally missed this out-of-the-ordinary sight.  Why?  You already know the answer.

While marketers would like to inundate target markets with sights, sounds, and information, it’s better if endeavor, such as a web page, to focus on one sentiment at a time.  The same is true for videos, especially since online attention is extremely limited.  The average person shortened their attention span from 12 to just over 8 seconds in 15 years!

 

Marketing

 

 

Many Choices Is Too Many


 

Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is heralded for the huge assortment of offerings.  However, the dessert’s success is a marketing anomaly.  Our brains are wired to seek simplicity.  Getting barraged with a high number of choices creates anxiety, a negative feeling a consumer could unconsciously associate with your brand.  As above, you want your offerings to be simple, direct, and free of too many choices.

 

marketing 2

 

 

Actually, you can use a competitor’s range of choices against them, bringing the customer’s attention to the fact your sales cycle involves little mental strain and is straightforward versus frustrating and needlessly time consuming.

How many kinds of Crest exist?

 

Crest

 

Perhaps you feel the need to offer a lot of products or services.  That’s okay yet mind your approach and web page layout.

 

marketing 3

Our Memories Are Not Permanent But Ever-Malleable


 

What if you were told that each time you recall a memory, you’re actually changing it, so it’s constantly in a state of flux despite how many times you remember?  It’s true.  So, ongoing, your remembering a memory of a memory of a memory…

Those providing testimony of an event second guess all the time.  In some instances, one cannot tell the difference between what did happen and what could of happened.  In recent news, a popular South Korean author admitted she “must have” plagiarised another piece of literature, though she can’t definitely recall reading it.

 

marketing 4

 

In a world cluttered with information coming in an endless stream via social media, a brand is as good as its last story.  Successful public relations is really just a repeated cycle of positively spun stories.  If we’re told stories of how a brand is revolutionary, edgy, altruistic, or monumental, we’re more than willing to believe, even if facts say otherwise.

For example, Google is a brand that gets negative press yet the brand’s ongoing story tells of its innovation, free tools, and willingness to serve society.  The tech giant may have violated privacy in the past yet it has no problems continuing to be the most beloved search engine in the world.

 

marketing 5

 

Why can Google’s trespasses be dismissed while it continues its reign as top search engine?  Well, you may have heard about its privacy violations, but you’ve heard positive things about the brand a lot more often.  Actually, repetition can outweigh reality if we’re told the same things repeatedly and often enough, even if those things are not true.

Why do you think those late-night infomercials, pushing revolutionary yet hardly-believable products, are so successful?  Will that product really make body hair never grow back (despite centuries of homo sapien hair growth)?

 

marketing 6

 

Will you really lose all that weight in the first week?  Will you really transform your beer gut to a rippling six pack with little effort?  In short, no, not a chance, yet those products get purchased all the time.  In addition to selling the benefits to those hoping the promises are actually true.  The hope makes us believe the claims to be true, even if a part of us thinks otherwise.

For example, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the famous author responsible for the cleverest of all detectives, Sherlock Holmes, was fooled by two young sisters who insisted fairies did in fact exist.  Doyle, very much like his detective creation in real life, initially took interest in the assertion of the two girls, wanting to debunk the visual ‘proof.’  After much speculation and having the photographs inspected, Doyle actually became a mystic and believer of fairies!

How could a highly intelligent man be convinced fairies exist?  Well, in addition to the repetition associated to their reality, a part of the man wanted the story to be true, and voila!

Author Bio

Cam Secore’s interest in business inspired his college education at Keene and entrepreneurial pursuits online. CEO at AllPowerMoves.com, Secore shares his business insights and experiences on Twitter and marketing blogs across the Web.

econtent-magazine

Recently we had the privilege to be quoted in EContent Magazine discussing Gen Y technology topics.

econtent-magazine-maciej-fita

Kendall Sap

We would like to take a moment to introduce you to our newest intern, Kendall. We asked Kendall to answer a few questions so our readers can get to know her a little more.

Tell us about yourself

I am a California-Texas-Florida girl (all the best states!). I love being around my friends and family and I am obsessed with my dogs. I only have one year left at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and call me crazy but I can’t wait to get out into the real world. I am fortunate enough to spend my summer here in sunny Florida with my boyfriend and new friends, and work with the amazing people of Brandignity! I am very excited to dive into fun and interesting work!

What do you like about marketing?

I like to dig deep under the surface and understand more meaning to things. I like to ask questions and marketing fits my personality. To me, marketing is about knowing how to convey a deeper meaning to your audience without them having to do any guesswork. I guess this goes along with my psychology minor, huh? Plus there are so many cool areas of marketing that I am excited to learn more about!

What do you like to do for fun?

I enjoy taking dance classes when I get the chance which unfortunately is not often enough. It’s a fun way to workout! I also love being out in the sun and trying new and exciting things. Of course the obvious ones are shopping and eating!

What are your favorite social networking sites?

Pinterest!!! I am constantly on Pinterest re-pinning wedding dresses or tasty looking recipes. It keeps me occupied even if I never attempt the many recipes or workouts I pin. Facebook is another favorite. It helps me keep in touch with my good friends who go to schools far away and now my mom who recently joined Facebook and comments on everything!!

Why do you think today’s marketing interns should understand SEO?

Googling is ubiquitous. Everybody Googles everything and SEO is crucial for businesses. Understanding SEO can be the difference between a site being on page 5 of Google’s search results and being only one or two down from the top. Do people even venture to the secondary pages? I sure don’t! SEO is important for creating a “household-name” for a company or product. Knowing the ins and outs of SEO can help me differentiate myself in the future!

JCPenney Branding

If you haven’t noticed JCPenney recently did a major brand shift and I will be the first to say that it is absolutely awesome. Good bye to the depressing browns and the pale beige colors it was before. JCPenney has shifted gears and is now taking a fresh approach with up to date design and branding.

I got this new catalog in the mail from them and I felt compelled to do a blog post because we just love the direction this 100+ year old store has taken. JCPenney survived the great depression and countless wars to stand tall and proud. They went soup to nuts on this overhaul and this is not an easy task for an older established brand with a specific clientele. We talk a lot about how important great design and branding is to overall online success and we are not kidding. JCPenney has recreated their website as well to reflect this new branding effort. Good job JCP…good job.

JCPenney Branding

JCPenney Branding

JCPenney Branding

JCPenney Branding

JCPenney Branding

50 Cent CES

You can’t deny it, 50 Cent is one cool cat and when you see him interviewing at the most recent CES electronics show he even seems a bit cooler. 50 Cent was their promoting his new head phone product that is supposed to have one the best sounding head phone systems in the world.

How to Spot an SEO Douche Bag

We have decided to put together a little video series called How to Spot an SEO Douche Bag. This video series is not intended to offend anyone who acts as a professional in the search marketing industry but rather more so to expose the shotty “marketing” practices certain SEO companies or individuals use to prey on other companies and individuals who might not be so keen to pick up the signals of some of the worthless individuals in our industry.

Hey you might watch this and even call us a bunch of dough bags but the reality is that if you do you probably perform the same activities we will be talking about in this little video series, plus we don’t care.

Not really sure how many we plan on putting out but it will certainly be a handful and we will be pouring on a great deal of personality into our videos along with the cold hard truth on what to look out for when shopping for outsourced professional SEO services. Some might find these videos funny, some horrendous but at the end of the day you need to protect yourself from the predators out there and stop being the prey.

How to Spot an SEO Douche Bag Video Series | Part 1

Yikes

For all of you out there that work in the search engine marketing space you know what I mean when I say “things that make you cringe” when you are discussing in person or over the phone different topics and SEM strategies relating to search engine marketing. I know I have heard my share of comments over the years and if you are reading this chances are you have to.

Let’s go over a few shall we:

“Oh I don’t need social media”

What?? Have you turned on a computer or a TV recently? Every television show is starting to showcase Twitter hash tags and the whole world now revolves around Facebook and Google. Google which has spent the last 7 years trying to figure out how to get into this social space which I think they have finally figured out is another large reason why social media is important. The fact is that social media is required by everyone who runs or owns a business, no exceptions. If you want to be successful online you have to be social online because the overlap between traditional search marketing (I know small shelf life there) and social media is pretty thick.
Here are 3 great examples of social media success:

https://www.brandignity.com/2011/11/twitter-success-story-video/

https://www.brandignity.com/2011/10/social-media-statistics/

https://www.brandignity.com/2011/09/10-examples-of-twitter-success/

 

“I have to be number 1 in Google”

We all do. The fact is if your goal for your company SEO is to simply be number 1 in Google you are going about it all wrong. SEO is not a race it is a process and a journey that is almost always engulfed in improvement. Search engine optimization is a rather slow process which is only getting slower because every day more and more content is being dumped and more businesses are firing up their own SEO campaigns. SEO today is all about improving your standings in the search space and building your brand not just being #1.

“Well I was told this is how you are supposed to do it”

There are many different philosophies and approaches to building a brand online and conducting SEM. Often times no two approaches are alike which is why it is important to have an open mind to all SEM efforts and activities. If someone once told you that something should be done one way that does not mean that it is the only or even the right way.

“Oh I don’t need a website”

Folks if you make a paycheck selling anything anywhere you 100% without a doubt absolutely need a website. You need to have a focal point you can send your traffic so they can learn more about you and so that you can build your brand in front of your internet audience. A business without a website is like peanut butter without the butter. It just doesn’t work.

“SEO doesn’t really work”

It actually does work it just depends on what your idea of SEO is. For many the definition simply revolves around rankings but the reality is that the definition is multi-pronged. SEO when done correctly will build your brand for company branded search queries and also bring a steady stream of inbound traffic over time while increasing rankings and conversions on your website. To simply dismiss the process of SEO because you are not number 1 is just silly.

“Do you guarantee rankings?”

If you ask this question you should take a moment and read this official Google SEO page discussing this very topic.

Here is the link:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=35291

“I got SEM services before for $49 per/month?”

Those weren’t SEM services; you were just paying for a pretty report every month. It is not all about money but like everything on this great planet we live on you get what you pay for. Do you really think you can have a successful online marketing campaign for that dollar amount? You just can’t. It takes time and quality knowledge to execute a healthy search engine marketing campaign, something that typically has a realistic price tag attached to it.

“How come they rank and I don’t?”

Well search engine rankings are a lot like DNA, it can be complicated. With over 1,000 search signals and a fast evolving industry there could be many different reasons why a competitor web page out ranks yours. Everything from hosting, to URL age to social media influence play a pivotal role in why pages rank the way that they do. Don’t assume it is all about links although links are an important part of the equation.

“I need 100,000 Facebook Fans”

Great! Build a great brand and it will happen naturally. You cannot force people to become fans of your fan page if they do not have some sort of connection with your brand. Companies that promise you X amount of Facebook fans are just taking your money because the majority of those “likes” will most likely be manufactured.

“I need an article re-written 25 times”

And why do you think that will work? Because it won’t. Article spinning is an old method of article “marketing” (and I use that term loosely) in order to inundate the search space with an article and get the most use of one piece of written garbage. Write unique content with catch industry topics if you want your content marketing to work how it should.

Facebook vs Google Social Fight

Have you ever noticed this crazy online war that occurs right in front of our eyes every single day? I am referring to these corporate giants like Google, Bing, Facebook, Twitter and Apple (although Apple isn’t all online) they all have their boxing gloves on. There is no doubt about it, one of the bigger races is probably Google & Facebook and they are racing to become the giants in all things social media and online interaction.

The problem is that Facebook is already there and Google is really just trying to catch up right now. Facebook has reached a point where they simply don’t have to try anymore and Google + has to kick and scream to get their new Google + tool as mainstream as the Facebook wall. I will give it to Google though they have done pretty well with Google + up until this point. They have been trying for quite a while to showcase a social tool that can almost tie in all their products and provide a platform for social interaction and communication. Most have crashed and burned but I think this one will stick around and mature.

In this video on the Charlie Rose show Mark Zuckerberg is interviewed and they discuss their approach to building the user base in conjunction to how Google and others try to build there’s.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

We thought we would refrain from a business related post today and show you our appreciation for the wonderful world of ghouls and goblins. Happy Halloween from all of us at Brandignity and have a safe and wonderful holiday.