Tag Archive | "Effect"

Why All Great Marketing Contains the Power of the Placebo Effect

Back in the 1950s, a bedridden man faced certain death from cancer of the lymph nodes. Tumors the size of…

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Google Chrome’s New Adblocker is Now in Effect

One of the perks of living in the internet age is that virtually everyone has access to an unimaginable amount of information with just a few taps on a keyboard. However, such perk also comes with a particular type of vexation that every netizen has to endure—the barrage of annoying ads. They have been practically inescapable and have the tendency to pop up unexpectedly, interfering with your browsing experience.

But finally, Google Chrome is giving its users a cool new way of dealing with these annoying ads. The world’s most popular browser got a new update on Thursday that blocks unwanted ads.

Of course, selling digital advertising is how Google earns most of its revenue so don’t expect all the ads to disappear anytime soon. However, the new feature should be enough to weed out the most annoying ones.

For instance, CNN reported that on a desktop PC, the new Chrome feature will prevent pop-up ads, those that auto-play videos with sound, those large sticky ads that take over the bottom portion of a screen but refuses to budge, and those ads that shamelessly take over the browser. Meanwhile, the upgraded mobile version of the browser is now calibrated to block full-screen scroll over ads, those with flashing animation and those ads that are displayed even before the content is loaded.

The Transformative Effect of a Well-Built Brand Statement

How to define your brand

I spent this past weekend among a group of smart writers at Jeff Goins’s first Tribe Conference in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jeff asked me to speak about content marketing (one of my favorite topics).

But I was an attendee as well. Jeff populated the conference with lots of excellent speakers, some of whom I’d never heard speak before.

So I took advantage of the invitation to learn as well as speak. On the morning of the first day, I sat down at a table full of experienced and aspiring authors to absorb as much as I could.

That day, Jeff asked us to do a simple branding exercise. He shared it off the cuff — almost as an aside — and gave us a few minutes to fill in the following blanks he provided for the exercise:

  • I help _____
  • (do) _____
  • so they can _____.

A short exercise that leads to powerful results

I recognized the power of this short exercise as soon as Jeff shared it. And I also knew I could help the people seated at my table. Branding is kind of my thing.

So during the next break we had, I asked the person next to me what she’d written down for her branding statement.

When she shared it, I made a suggestion that resulted in a shorter and more direct statement.

Once she finished editing it, I could see the relief in her eyes. And the excitement, too.

So I continued around the table, talking about and honing brand statements. Each time we finished polishing a brand statement, I saw a light bulb go off.

Here’s the thing: an effective brand statement isn’t just for your prospects and customers.

An effective brand statement is for you.

What a brand statement impacts

When you can boil down what your business is about and crystallize what it offers, that helps you:

  • Create content that’s on-target and effective.
  • Build products and services that meet the needs of the people you want to serve.
  • Filter new ideas and check them against your business’s true purpose as reflected by your brand statement.
  • Feel emboldened to meet the audacious statement you create: it’s like a mini manifesto for your business.

So let’s dive in to this brand statement process. I want to see a light bulb go off over your head, too!

Warning: don’t be deceived by the simplicity of this exercise.

Going through the steps will yield a short statement you can put the full force of your business behind.

Step 1: “We/I help ____”

In this first section, you’re going to identify the people you help.

And please, don’t fill this blank with the word “people.” It’s important to specify exactly who you help.

Your ideal customer will recognize himself when you describe him in this section, and that’s the point.

When we talked about this at my table, I reminded the group of a few things to keep in mind:

  • You can’t serve everyone. If your brand statement makes it sound like you do, the resulting sentence will be bland and uninspiring.
  • Even though you target a specific customer, you’ll attract others. Specifying who you help doesn’t limit your options as much as you may think. By describing your ideal customer, you’ll attract that customer and anyone who aspires to be that ideal customer.
  • Remember your true client. One person at our table gave inspirational speeches to high school students. At first glance, you might think his ideal customer is a high school student. But it’s the adults in those students’ lives — the high school administrators — who hire the speakers. When he edited his brand statement to target that group, everything fell into place. Your true client is the one who makes the decision to buy your products or services: be sure that’s who you’re describing.

Keep your answers here as short as possible. Ideally, the entire brand statement will fit into one sentence, so use the least number of words possible.

Examples:

A firm that offers security systems for the residential market:

“We help homeowners …”

A company that provides virtual assistance for digital marketers:

“We help busy digital business owners …”

An individual who coaches authors who want to have speaking careers:

“I help authors …”

Step 2: “(Do) ____”

What product or service do you offer, and what does it do? Be specific.

Remember that:

Examples:

A firm that offers security systems for the residential market:

“… protect their valuable residences and personal property …”

A company that provides virtual assistance for digital marketers:

“… make the most of their limited time …”

An individual who coaches authors who want to have speaking careers:

“… become powerful public speakers …”

Step 3: “So they can ____”

In this part of the brand statement, you’re going to describe the transformation your ideal customers will experience once they engage with your product or service.

This is the part of the brand statement that will play the biggest part in getting your prospects excited about working with you, so spend plenty of time on this one.

Examples:

A firm that offers security systems for the residential market:

“… so they can sleep peacefully, travel confidently, and feel secure.”

A company that provides virtual assistance for digital marketers:

“… so they can make more money doing the things they love.”

An individual who coaches authors who want to have speaking careers:

“… so they can expand their reach, grow their audiences, and boost their profits.”

What does that give us?

Let’s see how our three example businesses fared with their brand statements:

A firm that offers security systems for the residential market:

We help homeowners protect their valuable residences and personal property so they can sleep peacefully, travel confidently, and feel secure.

A company that provides virtual assistance for digital marketers:

We help busy digital business owners make the most of their limited time so they can make more money doing the things they love.

An individual who coaches authors who want to have speaking careers:

I help authors become powerful public speakers so they can expand their reach, grow their audiences, and boost their profits.

Not bad, right? These short statements pack a lot of punch and demonstrate the high value each business offers — and who each one serves.

It’s your turn

Now that you know how to put one together, it’s time for you to write your own powerful brand statement.

This simple exercise will help set the direction for everything you do. You can use it on your About page, in your social media profiles, and even when you’re doing in-person networking.

Once you’re finished — and that light bulb goes off — share your brand statement with us on LinkedIn!

About the author

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is Executive Vice President of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital. Follow her on Twitter, see her Copyblogger images on Instagram, and find more from her at BigBrandSystem.com.

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Fun mosaic effect with Go

A few months ago I saw a cool mosaic effect in a Wired ad for CA Technologies. Here’s what part of the ad looked like:

Photomosaic of people in an office

I liked the ad, so I wondered how they did it. Can you see out how to create a similar effect? Take a minute to figure it out as an exercise.

Here’s what I came up with: divide the image into tiles. For each tile, compute an average overall color for that tile. Then go back and blend every pixel in that tile with the average color. So if a tile is partly dark and partly blue, the average color is a dark blue, so the blue in that tile becomes even darker. I like that the effect is pretty simple once you figure out how to do it.

Of course, once I had an idea of how to do it, I wanted to write some code and see whether I could recreate the effect. Go has good libraries for handling images and I’ve been meaning to try Go. I ended up with about 70 lines of moderately-ghastly Go code that did the job.

For this Creative Commons image (thanks Fuelrefuel/Wikimedia Commons!)

Photo of people in an office

I ended up with a photomosaic like this:

Photomosaic of people in an office

As far as I can tell, that’s pretty much the same filter that ran in the ad. Here’s another example. First, a picture of me:

Matt Cutts

and here’s the resulting mosaic’ed image:

Matt Cutts in mosaic form

That’s all the interesting stuff. You can stop reading now.

This part is boring. Really. No need to keep reading. The code I came up with is really ugly, but the pseudo-code is pretty simple:


- Read the picture into a go image
- Number of horizontal tiles = image_width / desired_tile_width
- Number of vertical tiles = image_height / desired_tile_height
- Loop through tiles with nested vertical and horizontal for loops
- For each tile, loop over the tile's pixels to compute average RGB values
- Loop over the tile's pixels again & set new_color = (avg_color+curr_color)/2
- Write the image out as a new picture

That’s it! I wanted a quick and dirty test, so I didn’t worry about things like the leftover pixels if the tiles didn’t evenly divide the image.

Let’s see, what else. Things I liked about Go:
– It’s super-easy to read and write images, so I could concentrate on the fun stuff.
– I like that documentation like this gives a clear, easy way to set up your environment. The golang tour is great too. And installing Go on Ubuntu is easy: “sudo apt-get install golang” and you’re done.
– The language makes a lot of sense to me, in a C kind of way.

Some things didn’t make as much sense to me, or at least I need to do more reading:
– My initial program just read a JPEG and wrote it back out, and the output image was considerably dimmer. I was just using default encoding values, so maybe some gamma values got left out, but it was a little weird. I was expecting read->decode->encode->write to be a no-op.
– When I read the JPEG into an image and tried to write directly to that image, Go gave me an error. That was a little strange. I ended up copying the JPEG to a new image and then I could write.
– In the spirit of just doing stuff without reading the documentation, it seemed like Go images stored their At() component colors with 16 bits of range (from 0..65536). But when I wanted to write colors with Set() it seemed like Go wanted 8 bits in the example I found. So for a while I was casting stuff with (uint8) and getting totally random bits written into the image. That also generated a fun image:

Random mosaic from converting a 16 bit-range color to uint8

but it took me a few minutes to figure out what was going on. I’m sure some reading would clear things up, but.. who cares? I was also doing some weird float arithmetic to compute color averages. This was just quick/dirty code, and I can read more about the nitty gritty later. As soon as I got the effect I wanted, I rapidly lost interest. I even hard-coded image filenames because I couldn’t be bothered to search for go command-line flag info. All in good fun.
– Arrays and slices are cool, but allocating 2D arrays and slices seems a little verbose.
– I like that Go’s designers have opinions and enforce them, at least 99% of the time. When you’re hacking ugly code, it was annoying to get the “you didn’t use this variable” errors. But I understand the rationale and it’s probably a good idea for writing Real Code that’s not intended to be thrown away.
– I was all set to grouse about go fmt’s enforced indentations/spacing, but it actually looks pretty reasonable. Basically, each indent is a tab. Then if you’re a 3 or 4 space indent kind of guy, you can configure your editor like vim or emacs to change how the tab width is displayed.

Historically, Python is my language of choice to knock out a quick script thing–I love Python dictionaries. But with Go’s speed, support for dictionaries/maps, and capability to do HTTP servers very easily, I might end up switching to Go. I think I’ll use Go for my next little fun project.

Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

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German “Ancillary Copyright” Law To Go Into Effect, Imposes Limits On Search Results

According to a report from IDG News, a “toned down” version of an earlier, more restrictive “ancillary copyright” law has been published in Germany and will go into effect in August. The ”ancillary copyright” rule was proposed in August of 2012. In its initial form it would…



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What Is The Halo Effect And Why You Need To Understand How It Influences You

The Halo Effect, as per the Wikipedia definition is…

The halo effect or halo error is a cognitive bias in which one’s judgments of a person’s character can be influenced by one’s overall impression of him or her.

We judge a person’s character based on their physical appearance and the things around them. It’s a quick judgement that … Read the rest of this entry »

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The Surprising Effect of Freshness and Authority on Search Results

Image of Google Query

I want to let you in on a little secret about Copyblogger.

We are very competitive. Not in a “we win, you lose” sense, more of the simple “we want to be the best.”

And one area we tend to be a little obsessive about is search rankings — especially when it comes to our cornerstone content.

So, it may come as no surprise that one of those terms we obsess about is “content marketing.” In fact our content marketing landing page ranks very well on Google.

But recently, it didn’t.

Oh sure, that landing page has more than 21,000 links and many social media shares. But on December 22, 2012 all of that SEO goodness no longer mattered.

On that day, another site ranked higher than our page … and they did it with miniscule backlinks and no social media shares.

They accomplished it by being fresh and authoritative.

The content marketing ranking battle begins …

So who was this competitor that set their sites on our prized position in Google for the term content marketing? A group of black hat SEOs? No. In fact, it was much more benign.

You see, Mashable decided to create a category page on their site to aggregate all of their content marketing articles.

From all appearances, this was more of a year-end house keeping job to help properly classify some of their content. In no way did it appear that they where actively targeting the term to rank, since the number of links the category page obtained was less than 30, and it had earned no social media shares.

But when this page was indexed by Google, it suddenly ranked higher than all Copyblogger content marketing posts.

A quick review of Ahrefs.com clearly showed the vast difference in the core SEO metrics for each page.

http://www.copyblogger.com/content-marketing

Image of Copyblogger Ahrefs SEO Metrics

http://mashable.com/category/content-marketing

Image of Mashable Ahrefs SEO Metrics

And yet, while our content marketing landing page clearly had very strong links and shares, the page at Mashable outranked us.

How is this possible in the land of SEO — where links and shares are the very currency of the trade?

The answer lies in two core principles we’ve taught over and over — authority and freshness.

Query Deserves Freshness. Huh?

Unless you’re steeped in SEO terminology, you may not have heard of the acronym “QDF” or Query Deserves Freshness.

QDF, simply stated, is that for every query (“search term”) a search result list should include one (or more) piece of content that’s been recently published.

As we experienced first hand at Copyblogger, the sheer act of Mashable creating a category page on their site completely negated all of the SEO factors we had achieved.

It was as if links, shares, and the age of the page didn’t matter. Because — in this particular case — it didn’t. What mattered more than anything else was the fact that Mashable.com had published the page.

A quick check at SEOMoz shows that the Domain Authority of Mashable is 97 out of 100, with Copyblogger coming in at 92 of 100. Domain Authority is a feature of SEOMoz that “Predicts this domain’s ranking potential in the search engines based on an algorithmic combination of all link metrics.”

In essence, because Mashable had a higher Domain Authority than Copyblogger, Google determined that (for the term Content Marketing) the landing page at Mashable had higher relevance than our page.

This is the true power of QDF. For sites that have a strong Domain Authority, the simple act of publishing content around a particular term could supersede the benefits of in-bound links and social media shares.

But only for a little while …

Losing the battle, but winning the war

Inside Copyblogger, we were a little perturbed by this development.

Not so much that we were going to declare war to gain back ground on the term “content marketing,” but enough to wonder what was going to happen.

You see, while QDF is a powerful benefit to those with authoritative domains, it does not last.

Check for yourself.

Within 30 days of the Mashable page first getting indexed by Google, the listing had fallen off the front page and our content marketing landing page resumed its previous position.

Write with authority, and for the long term

We’ve often shared the principles and value of building authority at Copyblogger.

And, as content marketers, we use tools like our own Scribe content marketing software to research and analyze our content — ensuring that our keyword strategies align with the content and site we are publishing on.

This is one reason why Copyblogger.com ranks so well for a variety of search terms.

But as our experience shows, a quick spike in a search ranking is not enough. Establishing connections with other authoritative online sources is crucial for long term content viability — helping you build the links and social media shares to your content from authoritative sources.

While tools like Scribe can help identify these connections, it takes time and patience to build those quality links and social media shares.

And in the long run, these temporary ranking spikes due to factors like QDF will be replaced by the authoritative content.

Now, if we could just out rank Wikipedia ;-)

About the Author: Sean Jackson is CFO and Partner in Copyblogger Media. Get more from him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

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Google Is Watching You (Or Not): New Privacy Policy Takes Effect Today

With several governments and regulatory bodies around the world saying that Google’s new privacy policy may violate their domestic rules (Europe, Japan), it goes into effect today. Advocacy group EPIC has been trying to block it saying that the consolidated privacy policy violates…



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New SEO Term: Google Vibration Effect

On day two of a new SEO term, we have Google Vibration Effect.

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