Tag Archive | "Giving"

How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up

Like most people, some mornings I wake up and feel less than enthusiastic about working. Sometimes, this feeling doesn’t stem from laziness or apathy, it’s a stronger power, a sense of futility and helplessness. I know a lot of people look to my story of success as a source of…

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Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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PayPal Here Launches Two New Card Readers, Giving Small Businesses More Ways to Accept Payments

Every customer wants a swift and smooth payment transaction, with little fuss. This holds true regardless of whether they’re buying from a major enterprise or a small business. That goal is certainly possible with PayPal Here’s two new payment card readers.

PayPal recently launched a Chip and Swipe reader and a Chip and Tap reader, both of which will help users and small companies easily conduct credit card transactions anywhere.

The Chip and Swipe reader is an improved version of the company’s previous swipe-style reader. It now comes with support for debit and credit cards with EMV chip technology. Meanwhile, the Chip and Tap reader can process contactless payment options from NFC-supported devices and also accepts EMV-supported cards. The device also comes with a portable charging stand.

Image result for paypal chip and swipe card reader

Both payment readers can easily process transaction choices like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and Google Pay.

PayPal’s new readers have been designed with portability in mind. The two devices are about the size of a deck of cards, making it possible for small retailers and entrepreneurs to do business in any location—a country fair, the neighborhood cafe—without worrying about wires or having to carry bulky hardware. They can easily connect to any mobile device using Bluetooth technology. The readers also have a user-friendly interface and can now be used for extended periods, thanks to their rechargeable lithium-ion battery.

PayPal is offering the Chip and Swipe reader for $ 24.99 and the Chip and Tap reader for $ 59.99. Both devices will work seamlessly with the PayPal Here. The app is available via the Apple App Store and Google Play.

In a statement, PayPal In-Store’s Chief Chris Gardner stated that the company understands the “challenges small businesses face—including protection from fraudulent transactions and the costs of equipment to run their business—and constantly work to develop products and services that allow them to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.” Their new and affordable card payment readers are their newest endeavor to help small business.

Gardner also pointed out that small and medium businesses also look for a “one-stop shop” for all their commerce and payment services. After all, these companies don’t have the time to deal with various vendors to manage all these financial activities. PayPal is determined to be the company to handle these demands. Merchants can use PayPal for their online transactions, PayPal Here for their physical processes, and PayPal Working Capital to help finance their expansion.

[Featured image via PayPal]

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How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up

Like most people, some mornings I wake up and feel less than enthusiastic about working. Sometimes, this feeling doesn’t stem from laziness or apathy, it’s a stronger power, a sense of futility and helplessness. I know a lot of people look to my story of success as a source of…

The post How To Remain Productive When You Feel Like Giving Up appeared first on Entrepreneurs-Journey.com.

Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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Giving Away the Farm: Proposal Development for New SEO Agencies

Posted by BrianChilds

There’s a huge difference between making money from selling SEO and actually making a living — or making a difference, for that matter. A new marketing agency will quickly discover that surviving on $ 1,000 contracts is challenging. It takes time to learn the client and their customers, and poorly written contracts can lead to scope creep and dissatisfied clients.

It’s common for agencies to look for ways to streamline operations to assist with scaling their business, but one area you don’t want to streamline is the proposal research process. I actually suggest going in the opposite direction: create proposals that give away the farm.

Details matter, both to you and your prospective client

I know what you’re thinking: Wait a minute! I don’t want to do a bunch of work for free!

I too am really sensitive to the idea that a prospective client may attempt to be exploitative. I think it’s a risk worth taking. Outlining the exact scope of services forces you to do in-depth research on your prospect’s website and business, to describe in detail what you’re going to deliver. Finding tools and processes to scale the research process is great, but don’t skip it. Detailing your findings builds trust, establishes your team as a high-quality service provider, and will likely make you stand out amongst a landscape of standard-language proposals.

Be exceptional. Here’s why I think this is particularly important for the proposal development process.

Avoid scope creep & unrealistic expectations

Just like the entrepreneur that doesn’t want to tell anyone their amazing idea without first obtaining an NDA, new SEO agencies may be inclined to obscure their deliverables in standard proposal language out of fear that their prospect will take their analysis and run. Generic proposal language is sometimes also used to reduce the time and effort involved in getting the contract out the door.

This may result in two unintended outcomes:

  1. Lack of specific deliverables can lead to contract scope creep.
  2. It can make you lazy and you end up walking into a minefield.

Companies that are willing to invest larger sums of money in SEO tend to have higher expectations, and this cuts both ways. Putting in the work to craft a detailed proposal not only shows that you actually care about their business, but it also helps manage the contract’s inevitable growth when you’re successful.

Misalignment of goals or timelines can sour a relationship quickly. Churn in your contracts is inevitable, but it’s much easier to increase your annual revenue by retaining a client for a few more months than trying to go out and find a replacement. Monetizing your work effectively and setting expectations is an excellent way to make sure the relationship is built on firm ground.

Trust is key

Trust is foundational to SEO: building trustworthy sites, creating valuable and trustworthy content, becoming a trusted resource for your community that’s worth linking to. Google rewards this kind of intent.

Trust is an ethos; as an SEO, you’re a trust champion. You can build trust with a prospect by being transparent and providing overwhelming value in your proposal. Tell your clients exactly what they need to do based on what you discover in your research.

This approach also greases the skids a little when approaching the prospect for the first time. Imagine the difference between a first touch with your prospect when you request a chance to discuss research you’ve compiled, versus a call to simply talk about general SEO value. By developing an approach that feels less like a sales process, you can navigate around the psychological tripwires that make people put up barriers or question your trustworthiness.

This is also referred to as “consultative sales.” Some best practices that business owners typically respond well to are:

  • Competitive research. A common question businesses will ask about SEO relates to keywords: What are my competitors ranking for? What keywords have they optimized their homepage for? One thing I like to do is plug the industry leader’s website into Open Site Explorer and show what content is generating the most links. Exporting the Top Pages report from OSE makes for a great leave-behind.
  • Top questions people are asking. Research forum questions that relate to the industry or products your prospect sells. When people ask questions on Yahoo Answers or Quora, they’re often doing so because they can’t find a good answer using search. A couple of screenshots can spark a discussion around how your prospective client’s site can add value to those online discussions.

Yes, by creating a more detailed proposal you do run the risk that your target company will walk away with the analysis. But if you suspect that the company is untrustworthy, then I’d advise walking away before even building the analysis in the first place; just try getting paid on time from an untrustworthy company.

Insights can be worth more

By creating a very transparent, “give away the farm”-type document, SEOs empower themselves to have important discussions prior to signing a contract. Things like:

  • What are the business goals this company wants to focus on?
  • Who are the people they want to attract?
  • What products or pages are they focused on?

You’ll have to understand at least this much to set up appropriate targeting, so all the better to document this stuff beforehand. And remember, having these conversations is also an investment in your prospect’s time — and there’s some psychology around getting your target company to invest in you. It’s called “advancement” of the sale. By getting your prospect to agree to a small, clearly defined commitment, it pulls them further down the sales funnel.

In the case of research, you may choose to ask the client for permission to conduct further research and report on it at a specified time in the future. You can use this as an opportunity to anchor a price for what that research would cost, which frames the scope of service prices later on.

By giving away the farm, you’ll start off the relationship as a trusted advisor. And even if you don’t get the job to do the SEO work itself, it’s possible you can develop a retainer where you help your prospect manage digital marketing generally.

Prepping the farm for sale

It goes without saying, but making money from SEO requires having the right tools for the job. If you’re brand-new to the craft, I suggest practicing by auditing a small site. (Try using the site audit template we provide in the site audit bootcamp.) Get comfortable with the tools, imagine what you would prioritize, and maybe even do some free work for a site to test out how long it takes to complete relatively small tasks.

Imagine you were going to approach that website and suggest changes. Ask yourself:

  • Who are they selling to?
  • What keywords and resources does this target user value?
  • What changes would you make that would improve search rank position for those terms?
  • What would you do first?
  • How long would it take? (In real human time, not starving-artist-who-never-sleeps time.)

Some of the tools that I find most helpful are:

  • Moz Pro Campaigns > Custom Reports. This is an easy one. Create a Moz Pro campaign (campaigns are projects that analyze the SEO performance of a website over time) and then select “Custom Reports” in the top-right of the Campaign interface. Select the modules you want to include — site crawl and keyword rankings against potential competitors are good ones — and then offer to send this report to your prospect for free. It’s a lot harder for a customer to turn something off than it is to turn something on. Give away a custom report and then set up time to talk through the results on a weekly basis.
  • Builtwith.com. This free service allows you to investigate a number of attributes related to a website, including the marketing software installed. Similar to a WHOIS search, I use this to understand whether the prospect is overloaded with software or if they completely lack any marketing automation. This can be helpful for suggesting tools that will improve their insights immediately. Who better to help them implement those tools or provide a discount than you?
  • Keyword Explorer > Lists. Create a list in Keyword Explorer and look for the prevalence of SERP features. This can tell you a lot about what kinds of content are valuable to their potential visitor. Do images show up a lot? What about videos? These could be opportunities for your customer.
  • MozBar. Use the Page Analysis tab in MozBar to assess some of the website’s most important pages. Check page load speed in the General Attributes section. Also see if they have enticing titles and descriptions.
  • Site crawl. If you don’t have Moz Pro, I recommend downloading Screaming Frog. It can crawl up to 500 pages on a site for free and then allow you to export the results into a .csv file. Look for anything that could be blocking traffic to the site or reducing the chance that pages are getting indexed, such as 4XX series errors or an overly complex robots.txt file. Remedying these can be quick wins that provide a lot of value. If you start a Moz Pro campaign, you can see how these issues are reduced over time.

Want to learn how to add SEO to your existing portfolio of marketing services?

Starting on April 4th, 2017, Moz is offering a 3-day training seminar on How to Add SEO to Your Agency. This class will be every Tuesday for 3 weeks and will cover some of the essentials for successfully bringing SEO into your portfolio.

Sign up for the seminar!

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Giving Searchers a Reason to Prefer Your Brand – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

It’s the season of giving, and that notion extends to search! Brand preferences have an almost tangible impact on several levels, from consumer affinity to a rankings boost on Google. In this holiday edition of our now-traditional Whitebeard Friday, Rand explains why it’s important to keep brand recognition at the forefront of your strategy, and offers up a framework on how to get started on giving searchers a reason to prefer your brand.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to the special Christmas edition of Whiteboard Friday. Now, whether you celebrate Christmas or not, my family is Jewish, at least ethnically, but we still love Christmas. We used to get a tree and presents and all that kind of stuff. But Merry Christmas to all those of you who celebrate religiously or non-religiously, and to all the rest of you, hopefully you’re having a lovely and wonderful December holiday break time, middle of wintertime. The sun’s going to start getting a little higher in the sky. The days get a little longer. I’m really looking forward to that, especially being here in Seattle.

I want to talk today about giving searchers something, a reason to prefer your brand. This is why it is so critical going forward into the next year, into 2016. We have seen that the last few years have been years where Google, where social media sites, where consumers and customers, web users of all kinds and platforms of all kinds have given brands — especially brands that have recognition, that people have an affinity for — they give them a lot of preference. I’ll show you what I mean.

Even small brand preferences can yield these sort of remarkable and amazing results because of the amplification that they receive all the way down the line in your marketing effort. Let’s say, for example, that you are able to get a slight lift in brand recognition, in brand affinity, in recall, and in positive associations. It’s going to do a few things for you.

Raise CTR in search results

First off, it’ll raise your average click-through rate in search results. As a searcher is performing whatever queries they are, the hopefully many thousands of queries that lead to your site, if you appear in position four, five, or six, you might see a slightly higher click-through rate than what you would normally see for an average website ranking in that position because of the brand preference. What this does, actually, is over time it results in higher rankings because Google is set up to reward a long-term click-through rate bump and all the other signals that come with that into higher ranking

So even if you are someone who says, “Ah, I’m not really sure whether Google’s using click-through rate models in my stuff,” they are in a lot of stuff now. Even if you don’t believe that, what’s happening is you’re getting a slightly higher share of visits, which means a slightly higher share of people who can amplify your brand, link to your brand, all those kinds of things. All of those signals over time slowly, positively increase your potential ranking.

Increase return visits to site

Next up, if you have that slight brand preference, you’re going to increase the rate at which visitors return to your site, come back to you through bookmark, through type-in, through branded search, all of those kinds of things. Those forms of returning visits, whether it is branded search or direct visit or a bookmark, that will lead to browser and search biasing. You can see this in all of your browsers.

If I’m on my iPhone or my Android device, if I’m in Google Chrome on a laptop or desktop, and I start typing something, all of those browsers and all of those systems will look for previous patterns that start to match what I’m typing in or voice searching, and they will be more likely to bias to show me those kinds of things. If I’ve been to Moz in the past and I type just “M” into my Chrome browser, I’m likely to see Moz in that dropdown list of things that it suggests to me, particularly if I visit with some real frequency. So you get that preferential treatment.

But this also goes back to helping your rankings up here because brand-based search queries, as Google has shown, can have an impact on non-branded, unbranded query ranking. If lots of people are searching for let’s say “Virgin America flights to San Francisco,” when Google sees the query of flights to San Francisco, they might say, “Hey, you know what, Virgin America should rank a little bit higher because we’ve seen lots of branded search volume for them.”

Improve conversion likelihood & likelihood for social, press, and WoM Aamplification

Obviously, brand lift can help conversion likelihood which leads to more sales. That’s one of the most direct and obvious ones. That’s one of the reasons that big brand marketers invest so much in it. But it’s also the case they will increase the likelihood, so let’s say that you are reaching out through social media or amplifying messages through social media, through press, obviously through word of mouth which may be somewhat under your control and a lot not in your control, all of that amplification will be slightly enhanced each time with additional brand preference, and that means that in the future you have a larger audience for future marketing, future targeting. It’s hugely helpful there.

Perception of value and quality improves

Also, you can see that perception of value and quality actually improves as brand affinity and recall and recognition goes up. You’ve seen this in lots of consumer tests. One of my favorite examples is the Bing study, where Bing looked at replacing Google’s results with Bing’s results, but they had the Google logo and the Google layout, and then they showed Google’s results in Bing. No matter whose results they showed, if they showed the Google logo next to it, people said those were the better results. So essentially, the brand is part of how we judge the quality of something. It is part of that.

This goes to some consumer-based tests around wine, the flavor that you get from wine or the enjoyment you get from wine. If you set something down and it is a recognized bottle known to be very high in price, known to be hard to get, you will actually see areas of the brain light up and perceive that wine to be better tasting and to provide more enjoyment, even if it’s actually filled with cheap $ 5.00 wine. This psychological preference is actually improving our perception of quality from the brand perspective, and because of that we get higher retention, more recidivism.

So brand can help you in a huge number of ways, both technical through algorithmic and social means, and also psychological means. Worth investing in absolutely, for the years to come, and certainly as the last few years have pushed more and more stuff in web marketing, it becomes essential for all of us.

But how do we do this? I’m not going to be able to get into all the tactical details today. I mean, we could spend a whole Whiteboard Friday on any one tactic in these groups, but I wanted to provide some framework around these groups for you to think about and add potentially to your strategy going into the new year.

Brand values

Things like brand values matching customer values or overlapping with them, or working against them, can impact how a brand is perceived. Most obviously, many consumers are very frustrated with brands like Volkswagen or Enron before that, who we feel like they’ve pulled the wool over our eyes and they’ve been dishonest. Cigarette marketing in the tobacco industry turned off many, many consumers in the western world to a lot of those brands. Then brands that have values that we recognize and respond to, we can see those getting brand lift.

Voice, tone, and visuals

Voice, tone and visuals, this is essentially the style of how you present yourself and whether that matches and has resonance with your audience’s preferences, with their own styles, and with existing cultural cues. So you can see that it’s like speaking the language of your customer, but we’re not talking about a verbal language like English versus Hindi versus Spanish versus German. We’re talking about the resonance on the cultural language level. Are we in the same cultural zeitgeist? Do we have the same cues and recognition? Do we have the same things around nostalgia and associations between concepts, all those kinds of things?


Content, this is one that we talk about a lot, matching your content to your audience’s potential needs, their desires, things they enjoy, their influencers and what their influencers are going to amplify. This is really where content strategy comes into play, because if you take content down to the tactical level only, you are not thinking about the overlap. Well, many times when you’re doing tactical content creation and content amplification, you’re not thinking about the strategic overlap with what’s my audience’s needs, what do they desire, what do they have associations with, what do they enjoy, what do their influencers enjoy, all of that kind of stuff. When you do this, you get closer and closer to making that Venn diagram match, and your content is much more likely to have a strategic, positive impact on brand association.

Brand representatives

Brand representatives, the human beings that we associate with a brand are critically important. In fact, I would say, and many, many marketers have been talking about this for the last couple of years, but more important to a brand’s presence than ever before. We are getting to build brand associations through human associations. Oftentimes that’s founders and CEOs, but many times it is also brand representatives, which can include a large number of people. It can include people who are amplifiers of that brand, not necessarily people who work at the brand, but amplifiers. It can include the testimonials that are present in the marketing messages. It can include brand contributors, whether those are guest contributors or full-time, and of course team members. The big one is often founders and CEOs and sort of the leaders of an organization, but many of these others have influence as well. If those match well to who your customers’ influencers are or the zeitgeist of your customers’ world, that can create additional brand resonance as well.

Pricing and positioning

Pricing and positioning, this is sort of the classic, old-school four P’s of marketing, but the value perceived and the value that is quantifiable against the pricing and the cost associated with the service. Costs, I don’t just mean financial cost, but also setup cost and work-wise and process cost and customers’ own self-perception, meaning that if a customer believes that they are a medium-sized business but you’re selling them a package that’s called enterprise, they may perceive that they’re paying too much. They don’t think of themselves as an enterprise. Even though the enterprise package is right for them and it’s providing the right kind of value, you’re now sort of disconnecting the language of the positioning from what the customer actually thinks of themselves as. That can potentially harm brand affinity.

Psychological nudges

Then, of course, lots and lots of psychological nudges that build associations around a brand. So these are things like familiarity, liking, processing fluency, which we’ve had a whole Whiteboard Friday on processing fluency, I think last year in 2014. Those kinds of things, when I say “processing fluency,” what I’m talking about is the ease with which I recognize something and can make an association. For example, one of my favorite studies around this was the correlation between stock prices of companies that have easily pronounceable names versus hard-to-pronounce names, and you can see that the easier processing fluency of an easier-to-pronounce name over time tends to correlate with higher stock value. Weird. Seems like markets would be more sophisticated than that, but human beings are subject to this stuff. User experience flow, that also fits into the psychological nudges.

As we’re thinking about influencing all this stuff, a lot of times when people talk about brand and building brand, they talk exclusively about brand advertising. But as you can see from all of these categories there’s a lot of organic work that we can do in SEO, in social, in content, in email, in community, in all the channels that we talk about here at Moz that can have a big influence on your brand, and that can have a big influence over time on all of these things positively as well.

All right, everyone. Merry Christmas. If you are celebrating another holiday, may you have a great holiday, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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FTC Giving Native Advertising a Closer Look

The FTC has announced they will hold a workshop on the subject of native advertising in December. While the fact that holding a workshop isn’t necessarily that big of news, the fact of the FTC is looking into native advertising at all is big news.
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Giving a Voice to Your Brand

Posted by gfiorelli1

Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. More human than human is our motto.
Blade Runner

Those who had not heard of storytelling cast the first stone.

And those who are not thinking of it, or maybe have already begun to speak in-house or with their customers that it is necessary to give a voice to their brands, cast the second.

The question is, do we really know what “brand storytelling” means?

Do we really know why it is important for increasing brand recognition, optimizing customer retention, and (hopefully) attain that status of thought leaders in our niche that we all aspire to achieve?

Do we really understand why it is also important from an SEO point of view?

Finally, do we really know the rhetoric of storytelling — the laws behind a good narrative?

The truth is that everyone can tell a story, but only a few know how to tell it well and naturally. Fortunately, it is an art that can be learned.


Stories and irrational impulses are what change behavior. Not facts or bullet points.
Seth Godin

One of the things that surprises me most when it comes to us, the internet marketers, is that we still often tend to think analogically:

Having A, doing B, performing C, I will obtain D.

I have a product, I write some “great content,” I promote it, and people will come like bees attracted to a field of flowers.

Unfortunately, things are not so anymore. To tell the truth, they were never so.

Our mistake, paraphrasing Seth Godin, is that we tend to create nothing but bullet points and present nothing but facts. We forget that our audience reacts to everything specifically because of its emotions, so we don’t really work on those emotions, which are rationalized in just a moment.

The secret of storytelling is not in its final expressions (so many in a digital era) but in the act itself of telling a story.

Telling stories is what helps human beings rationalize and understand emotions, and thus accept or refuse a statement.

For this reason, humankind has told stories since it was living in the caves of Altamira or Lascaux. Culture was transmitted though stories, legends, and myths; religions and states have been founded on stories.

The 300 Spartans fought against the immense Persian army at Thermopylae not just because Leonidas guided them or because they were the bravest warriors of ancient Greece, but especially because a mythology composed by hundreds of stories assured them they were the descendants of Heracles.

Citing the Big Fish character of Wil Bloom, “a man tells so many stories that he becomes the stories. They live on after him, and in that way he becomes immortal.”

For this reason we love family stories, and for this reason we relate to brands with stories we lived while using and enjoying them.

Think for a moment about your youth, and you will notice how you can write down a never-ending list of brands you remember because of the emotions they helped you feel. Personally, if I think to when I was a teenager in the ’80s, I cannot help but remember brands like Commodore, Atari, Saba (the first color television my family bought) and many others.

Neuroscience explains quite well how evolution has wired us for storytelling, as Leo Widrich of Buffer explained so well on LifeHacker.

But the most interesting conclusion neuroscience offers to us is that the brain of the storyteller and the brain of their listeners start acting in synchronization when a story is told, as the same areas of their brain start being used.

There are other interesting theories, including Jung’s conclusions about archetypes and myths, and if you want to dig into how to use literary modes for internet marketing you can read this post I wrote a few months ago.

Brand storytelling

Storytelling, then, is possibly the best way to convince a person of something, whether it be voting for a candidate for president, choosing one religion over another, adhering to certain moral conduct, or buying one product rather than another.

I can already hear the distant murmur of a thousand voices saying, “But the product that I have to sell is a bolt!”

Once again, that’s the shortsighted mistake of seeing only the end result and forgetting everything that led to its creation. We stop ourselves at the what and forget the why and the how.

What do you think of when I mention Red Bull? I am sure that you think about adventure, extreme sport, and a crazy guy who skydived from the stratosphere. And what if I mention Lucozade? Maybe if you are into energy drinks you know of it, but I am quite sure that many of you, as was my case, have just now heard its name for the first time.

The products are practically the same: bottles and cans of energy drinks. Red Bull, though, has been able to create stories around its brand while Lucozade has not. And people love stories that respond to their needs, desires, and dreams.

As reported by Ty Montague on Medium, Dietrich Mateschitz, the founder of Red Bull, explained the reasoning behind the tagline Red Bull gives you wings: “[it] means that it provides skills, abilities, power, etc., to achieve whatever you want to. It is an invitation as well as a request to be active, performance-oriented, alert and to take challenges. When you work or study, do your very best. When you do sports, go for your limits. When you have fun or just relax, be aware of it and appreciate it.”

Red Bull, hence, proposes itself as a lifestyle and not just an energy drink. For that reason, its Brand is far more memorable than Lucozade.

Where to start

There is a world of stories hidden in the About Us and Mission pages (it’s a shame that those are usually hidden in the footer menu).

The biggest mistake a marketer can make is not understanding that brands are the final expression of a company, and that a company is just something real people created in order to achieve something (which usually isn’t “making money”).

Let’s check out a few examples:

  • Moz was founded because Rand Fishkin and Gillian Muessig had the vision of helping people doing better marketing.
  • People, who were convinced there are ideas worth spreading, have created TED Talks.
  • Patagonia has as its mission to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
  • Betabrand’s mission is to “design, manufacture, and sell a stylish array of anti-nudity equipment known as “clothing.”
  • REI’s mission is to “inspire, educate, and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.”
  • ZenDesk’s is to “help you deliver exceptional customer service.”
  • Fitbit’s mission is “to empower and inspire you to live a healthier, more active life.”
  • Nike wants “to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.” And, one of its mottos is, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.”

Missions are an expression of the values that guide a company and are the ethical basis of its stories (the how). The protagonists of those stories are not only the company’s products, but also (and especially) the people who use, live with, and make those products their own.

The Blues Brothers had a mission. What about you?

The schema of brand storytelling

Even the simplest story has very sophisticated mechanisms working behind the scenes. The listeners don’t always see them, but they know them and expect them to be present. If they aren’t present, they won’t laugh when they are meant to laugh or cry when they are meant to cry.

In his essay Ars Poetica, the Greek philosopher Aristotle described the six elements of every story:

  1. Plot
  2. Character
  3. Thought
  4. Diction
  5. Song
  6. Spectacle

In more modern terms, we can translate “thought” as “theme,” and “song” as “rhythm.”


It is thanks to Aristotle that we usually say a plot must have a beginning, middle, and an end, and that events of the plot must causally relate to one another as being either necessary or probable. Most importantly, a plot must arouse emotion in the psyche of the audience.

In this simple scheme, the middle is especially important, because after the status quo is introduced in the beginning, during this phase we have:

  • The accident, which is what imperils or upsets the status quo;
  • The anticlimax, which is the lowest point of the story, when everything seems as if it won’t be solved;
  • The climax, when someone or something happens that turns things around, helping the hero find a solution

After those events, the end usually represents the establishment of a new, better status quo.

From a brand storytelling point of view, the plot is the how, as in how the values of the brand (its why) responds to the needs of its audience.

For instance, using Moz as an example, the mission of helping people do better marketing is fulfilled by the creation of tools built under the spirit of the mission tenets (the TAGFEE principles), which respond to the needs of every kind of internet marketer. The community, whose knowledge encompasses every discipline of inbound marketing, responds by using those tools. This is the main plot line of Moz.

Characters and theme

Intrinsically related to the plot are the characters and the theme.

The main characters are the heroes of the stories, whose actions determine the plot of the story. The secondary ones are those who provide the main characters with information, materials, goods, services, or whatever is needed to advance the plot.

Using Moz as an example again, the main character is the user — maybe someone who has just started her adventure in internet marketing — while the secondary characters are the products and (this being the characteristic of every business with a strong, active community) the Mozzers.

Users and brands, therefore, are the characters of every brand story, with the users being the main characters.

With the users as the main characters, it is then easy to understand how important is to know them as well as possible before, during, and after the release of a product. Hence the strategic importance of personas, audience targeting, the continuous feedback from the users, and the post-sale follow-ups and growth hacking.

The theme is the universe where the plot takes place, and the laws governing that universe in brand storytelling are the tenets (for instance, the TAGFEE tenets), which make the rules with which the mission will be achieved explicit.

This universe is usually an ideal world the users would love to live in, because it offers the answers to their needs, and it is a universe that only the brand can offer them.

The brand universe can be totally mythical — a representation of reality as we want it.

Diction, rhythm, and spectacle

Once the plot, the characters, and the theme are set up, we can start thinking about the diction, rhythm, and spectacle.

Diction is the expression of meaning in words, and it is a consequence of the tone and style.

In brand storytelling, and here SEOs may play a great role, diction is not just how the brand talks to the users, but also the creation of brand language where the language spoken by users is enriched by those that Dan Shure brilliantly defined as Propwords.

MozCon, MozBot, Roger, Whiteboard Friday, Mozinar, Mozzers, and many others are the propwords of Moz, which are immediately understood and appropriated by the users.

Diction is what helps create a indissoluble relationship between keywords and the brand, creating the so-called branded keywords.

Rhythm is usability. When we narrate a story we always use an underlying rhythm, which helps the story flow so the listeners won’t notice the rhetorical mechanisms behind the story itself.

Finally, spectacle is the organization of appearances that are simultaneously enticing, deceptive, and superficial.

The web expression of spectacle is graphic design.

Examples of brand storytelling

Dumb Ways to Die

The Metro Trains public company of Melbourne (Australia) had one thing clear: people don’t pay attention to signs and recorded messages.

So, in order to ensure its message about how we all must pay attention when in the metro station was heard, and thereby diminish the cases of accidents due to distraction, Metro Trains decided to produce a song — Dumb Ways to Die — and launch it on YouTube.

What happened after is the story of maybe the best case of transmedia brand storytelling ever created until now.

Spread the TEDx, Buenos Aires

We all know about TED Talks, and maybe many of you have attended one of the community-generated events called TEDx.

Well, TED Talks had a problem in Buenos Aires: Not many people there knew what the heck a TEDx was, simply because no one had the ability to explain it to them.

So, consistent with its mission that there are ideas worth spreading, TEDx decided to use what could have been its best brand ambassadors, the taxi drivers:

NIKE — Find Your Greatness

NIKE has done brand storytelling since before the existence of the internet, but its “Find Your Greatness” campaign was the first held entirely without buying classic television ad spaces. Instead, it used all the possible digital channels could to make its story, based on its “if you have a body, you are an athlete” principle, touch its audience.

Oreo Daily Twist

Oreo is the classic brand that we tend to associate with little memorable moments of our daily lives. It reminds us of when we were kids and having breakfast, and the simple emotions attached to those memories is able — because of the way our brain works — to make us remember other unrelated events.

Based on this simple idea, Oreo created the Daily Twist campaign.


When doing brand storytelling, if we follow the principle of narrative described above, we will be able to design an ongoing conversation with our users, who — and this is the great difference between analogical brand storytelling and digital one — will start creating new stories related to the brand.

Here is where inbound marketing, in its core meaning of creating brand stories and presenting them to the right audience in the right place and at the right time, gains a bigger meaning.

And here is where branding and SEO collide, because all the stories we tell will compose our story, and all the stories we tell will help us create our unavoidable existence as an online entity (and you should already know what that means in the eyes of Google, both right now and in the future).

As Tracey Halvorsen put very well: “Today, more than ever before in the history of modern civilization, individuals [and brands — my annotation] are empowered with the tools to be storytellers and the technology to see their stories spread far and wide in the blink of an eye.

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3 Ways to Get What You Want by Giving People What They Want

Image of Manhattan

We all long for something.

  • Love that will last.
  • The ability to influence people.
  • Scenic vacations.
  • Financial, political, or psychological independence.
  • Less anxiety.
  • Stunning creative achievements.
  • Organizational excellence.
  • Relief from the sting of rejection.
  • World-class athletic performance.
  • Retaliation for when we are wronged.
  • Invitations to the most popular parties.
  • A savings account that never runs out.
  • An impossibly broken family finally reunited.
  • Recognition for your hard work.
  • A Cosmopolitan body.

Marketing that actually works hinges on connecting your product to one of these mass desires.

When that is done — when you’ve convinced people that you can satisfy their longings (the deeper, the better) — then people will not only fall in love with and buy your products, they will become unstoppable evangelists as well.

Let me show you how to get there …

1. Choose the most powerful desire

Every mass desire has three components.

  • Degree of urgency, intensity, or demand to be satisfied: Finding a cure for bad breath is not as urgent a matter as not being able to breathe. So an asthmatic’s desire for an inhaler is going to be stronger than a playboy’s desire for a breath mint. Same is true for curing a migraine versus just a minor headache. The greater the degree of urgency, intensity, or demand you can channel into your product … the stronger the desire.
  • Duration: Products with a high degree of staying power, repetition, and inability to be satisfied will perform better than products with lower degrees. Basically anything that plays with your pleasure and pain levels. Cigarettes fit this category (mostly because they are addicting): they are hard to quit, you want one right after another, and you need stronger ones to satisfy that original desire. You also don’t need cigarettes. You do, however, need water. Three days without it and you’d die. But that doesn’t apply to most of us in the western world. Now water-bottling brands must compete on taste, design, or story.
  • Scope: How many people share this desire? For instance, how many men will pay to have premium hygiene products sent to their home? Birchbox for Men is hoping it’s enough. Apple bet big on the iPod — and cleaned house. Dean Kamen bet big on the Segway PT — and lost. Channeling mass desire doesn’t require that the general population love your product … just massive enough to be profitable.

Here’s the bottom line in this step: your product should appeal to all of these components … but only one fulfillment of mass desire can dominate in the end. Only one can sit in your headline. Only one is the key to unlock the full profit potential of your ad.

Which desire you choose is the most important step. Get it wrong, and even the greatest copy won’t matter. Get it right, however, and the world can beat a path to your door.

As Eugene Schwartz said in Breakthrough Advertising,

Tap a single overwhelming desire existing in the hearts of thousands of people who are actively seeking to satisfy it at this very moment.

Here’s what that looks like.

2. Satisfy that desire in your headline

Your headline is the bridge between your customer and your product. And there are basically three ways of channelling that desire in a headline.

One, if your prospect is aware of your product and knows that it can satisfy his desire, then state your product in the headline. The New York Times is a household name with high levels of credibility. Stating the name alone endorses the product. But we also know what the NY Times provides, so, in this case, just get to the offer.

The second way to channel that desire is if your customer doesn’t know about your specific product, but only of the desire itself … so your headline starts with the desire.

Let me get this straight: without the image the headline is confusing. The drinkers out there would be appalled at the thought that it would take 30 days to get drunk. Who wants that?

But with the image we know the meaning of the ad immediately.

However, you’ll notice the product isn’t mentioned. Not until you drill down into the copy. Just the desire is mentioned. For example:

  • The desire to be unapologetically attractive and irresistible … where women drop their jaws as you peel off your shirt in the grocery store parking lot (because, you know, it’s really hot outside).
  • The desire to be strong (lifting heavy office furniture or fighting anyone you want).
  • The desire to be athletic (killing it in the Ironman or some spontaneous pull up contest).
  • The desire to be confident (strolling right up to any woman to ask for her phone number, demanding that raise from your boss).
  • And the desire to be healthy (living longer, fewer medical bills).

But the strongest desire is this: I am a wanted man because of my jack’d up chest and ripped torso. Thus, the picture. (In case you were wondering, my mind goes numb thinking about the amount of effort you have to put into getting a body like that.)

Finally, the third way of channelling desire is if your customer doesn’t know about your product or the desire. Rather, your customer is seeking a general solution to a general problem.

If that’s the case, then you start with the problem (use the Problem-Agitate-Solve formula) crystallizing it into a specific need.

Here the product isn’t named and your desire is nothing more than a vague sense that something is wrong.

Could it be all this talk about NSA spying? Or Google knowing everything I search for? Should you be concerned? Is it a problem that your privacy is being threatened? If you happen to think so, then you are likely to be interested in the free reports Stansberry offers.

3. How your product’s performance satisfies that desire

Once you’ve determined the strongest desire, your next step is to figure out which product performance best satisfies that desire. Products have two existences:

  • Physical: Shape, size, weight, color and so on. The object.
  • Functional: What the product actually does. Its performance.

Keep in mind people don’t buy the physical. They buy the function. The value to the customer is in the 3/4 inch hole, not the cordless drill.

What this means is you have to emphasize the benefits in your headlines and copy. And even though this is a long-standing truism, people still ignore it.

Take this screenshot from the home page of the AR.DRone 2.0, for example:

People don’t buy 3 extra sets of colored propellers, two high-density batteries, or a flight recorder using 4 Gb of Flash memory. Those are features to justify the benefits (which I’ll explain later).

People buy the product in action. For example, in this case, you would list performances and match them to the mass desires it satisfies.

  • Novelty: Innovators and early adopters have eaten up the AR.Drone 2.0. They want to maintain the image of the cool kid on the block. … neighbors gathering around as you fly this thing down your street. Or the reaction you might get if you release one of your Drone videos on YouTube. And holy cow, YOU HAVE YOUR OWN DRONE (which might actually turn off women, by the way).
  • Economy: This is a toy that costs three hundred dollars. There is nothing economical about it. At all.
  • Dependability: If you are a novice flying a drone, then the only thing you can depend upon is crashing the daylights out of this machine. Thank goodness the indoor foam protectors are only $ 45 to replace.
  • Value: See “Economy.”

Let’s dissect another product — the more common car — say the 2013 Volvo S60 to see these steps played out in action.

What are the performances that satisfy consumer desires when it comes to cars?

  • Transportation: Cars are perhaps one of the most efficient, affordable, and fastest methods of getting from one place to another. Volvo doesn’t have a lock on this, however. They just promise to do it more safely.
  • Safety: The S60 has one of the highest safety records in a crash test … whether from a front, side, or rollover collision. One of the reasons for this is that there are air bags everywhere in this car. In front of you, above you, beside you. Not to mention the reinforced doors.
  • Performance: The turbocharged five-cylinder engine distributes power to four wheels … making the car go faster while you maintain superior control.  Drive this car and you aren’t just a prude … you are a speedy prude!
  • Reliability: The NHTSA hasn’t recalled any cars or parts on the S60, but J.D. Power gives the car a rating of 3.5 stars out of 5, meaning the car is about as reliable as any other car out there.
  • Novelty: Own an S60 and you own a unique Swedish car that costs — on the low-end — around $ 30,000. Get a souped up version and your pals at the country club will let you play tennis with them (or at least let you fetch their balls).
  • Recognition: Because of its emphasis on safety, Volvos appeal to the safety-minded among us. The conservative, who like to telegraph their conservatism.
  • Value: Kiplinger voted the S60 as having the best resale value for a car in this price range.

But here’s the deal. Only one desire can dominate. If you were assigned to the S60, what desire would you appeal to in you headline?

BONUS: What to do with physical features

Here’s where we are so far: use product performances (function) to appeal to the emotions of your customer — especially in the headline.

Use the features to justify those functions and desires (and never put physical features in a headline).

For example, features …

  • Justify the price: The S60 is expensive. No surprise given that it is loaded with additional safety features like Tunnel Detection, which automatically turns on your headlights when you enter a tunnel. That feature leads to additional safety.
  • Document performance quality : A free content library like MyCopyblogger contains over 100,000 words in 14 ebooks. Those features will never sell. What will sell is an offer to become a smarter content marketer … an expert people seek out. The features prove we can deliver on the promise.
  • Sharpen your customer’s picture : Details add to the image of your product’s performance in the customer’s mind and grow their desire for that product. This is the “paint a picture” part of the four Ps. The more benefit-laden features Google shares for its Nexus tablet, the greater the desire.
  • Demonstrate differentiationFeatures are also a great way to demonstrate how a product is different from competition. Take a home with two kitchens, for instance. The normal approach is to promote this property as a potential rental or mother-in-law suite. But that will get lost in the hundreds of similar homes. Instead, list out all the possible ways this home could be used — two single-parent families with low-incomes, married twins and their spouses , military families combine to aid one another when partners are on deployment — and you make this home seem very different.

Over to you …

Each product promises to satisfy dozens of longings. But only one performance will unlock the door to channeling mass desire onto your particular product.

Your job is to find the dominant performance that will do that.

Tease it out in your research …  and then convince your audience that that dominates performance (and the consequent satisfaction of that desire) comes from your product … and your product alone.

About the Author: Demian Farnworth is Chief Copywriter for Copyblogger Media. Follow him on Twitter or Google+. Then visit his blog to read his Education of a Writer series.

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Marketing Management: Incorporating giving into your marketing department or agency

Balancing the benefits of giving back to your community with the realities of business is a challenge that every organization faces. Read further to learn how implementing philanthropy into your company’s workflow can aid your organizations productivity,recruitment and retention goals.
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The 10 Commandments for Giving a Perfect Presentation

presentation best practicesintermediate

Looking out into a sea of faces while standing on a stage can be one of the most intimidating experiences of your career. It doesn’t matter if it’s a group of 12 people in a board room or an auditorium filled with thousands of people — giving the perfect presentation is no easy feat. It’s also pretty critical to your success in delivering the message you want to deliver.

Last week, 2,800 marketers converged on Boston for INBOUND 2012 (It sold out, so you better get your tickets for next year’s event now!), and world-class speakers gathered to share their expertise on inbound marketing. During the conference and its preparation, some guidelines for giving great presentations emerged, and we wanted to share those lessons with all our awesome blog readers. Follow these 10 commandments, and you’ll be well prepared to wow the audience during your next presentation.

The 10 Commandments for Giving the Perfect Presentation

1) Understand Your Audience’s Sacrifice

Think about it: if you’re speaking to 100 people for an hour, you’re consuming 100 hours of time. This is time your audience could be spending at the office, with their families, catching up with friends, or working on other projects. So before you utter your first word on stage, understand what your audience has given up for you, and make sure you’ve invested an equal amount of time in preparation to make their time worthwhile and well spent.

2) Be Infotaining

Teaching isn’t enough. Yes, your audience wants to learn, but in order to soak up all the knowledge you’re giving them, they need to be interested and paying attention. This is why it’s important to incorporate some humor and a compelling story into your presentation. In other words, you need to inform your audience in an entertaining way: be infotaining. Furthermore, be personable. Tell personal stories, mention your pets, and mention your kids; find a way to make a personal connection with the audience to keep them engaged.

3) Work the Room

Don’t stand in one spot on the stage for the whole presentation. On the other hand, don’t walk around so much that it’s distracting. Instead, before you begin your talk, pick 4-6 people who are spread out randomly throughout the audience. Then do your best to speak to each of these people during your presentation. This will help you naturally walk around the stage and address all portions of the audience, making everyone in the room feel like they’re a part of your presentation.

4) Be More Energetic Than Ever

Speaking to large audiences requires you to be a more energetic version of yourself. Project your voice, sound excited, and make sure your passion for the topic comes through. The more energy you have, the more engaged the audience will be, and if you’re excited, your audience will get excited. But if you’re lame and boring, there’s a good chance your audience will also be bored.

5) Give the Audience Time to React

When you’re on a stage, a second or two of silence can seem like forever. But in reality, it’s exactly what your audience needs. If you make a joke, give them a couple seconds to laugh. If you’re showing an interesting statistic, give it a second to sink in. If you’re trying to get across a complex or particularly important idea or concept, say it, pause, and then say it again. Giving your audience a few seconds to react or absorb the information you’re giving them is one of the simplest things you can do to make your presentation instantly better.

6) Plan Audience Interaction

For smaller audiences, planned interaction is critical. It’s a great way to get the audience engaged and demonstrate that you understand what they want to hear. Prepare questions to ask your audience, and time when you will pose the questions. However, be warned: the bigger the audience, the harder it is to ask them questions and expect a response. Plan ahead for all of your interaction based on the size of your audience.

7) Let the Audience Love You

In EVERY case, the audience desperately wants you to succeed on stage. In fact, they’re actually afraid FOR you. If you’ve ever attended a session during which the speaker totally tanked, you know that it’s intensely uncomfortable to watch someone choke on stage. So the more it looks like you’re confident and having fun up there — no matter what is going on in terms of tech glitches, getting stuck on your words, forgetting something, or whatever else it may be — the happier and more satisfied your audience will be with your presentation. Remember: your audience has no idea what you plan to say, so if you mess up, they probably won’t know you messed up. Be confident, and let them love you.

8) Make Sure Your Presentation Has “Ups and Downs”

Presentation design and training export Nancy Duarte writes a lot about this topic in her book, Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences, and it’s a really great read. The basic premise is that, as a presenter, you can’t constantly keep building your audience up and up during your presentation, and the best presentations have a key element: hope. In order to create hope, you need to provide your audience with “ups and downs.” Specifically, you need to flip flop back and forth between the current problem you’re addressing and the new solution you’re offering to solve it.


The “Down”: Buying emails lists and SPAMing them doesn’t work.

The “Up”: Building an opt-in email list will radically transform your email marketing.

9) Plan for Laughs and Applause

Your presentation is nothing short of a performance. As you’re prepping and practicing for your talk, plan to do one session where you focus solely on when you should anticipate and pause to encourage audience reactions such as applause and laughter.

10) Know Your Surroundings

Whether you’ll be presenting in a small boardroom or ginormous auditorium, you should try to know as much as possible about your surroundings ahead of time. How much space will you have to walk around? Will there be a confidence monitor available for you look at your slides without referring to the screen behind you? Where will your audience be sitting? Will you have a remote control to advance your slides? These are all important questions to answer to make you feel confident and amply prepared before you take the stage for real.

These 10 commandments are useless without practice, and winging it will only get you so far. Just like you notice the design difference between an iPad and other tablets, it’s easy to notice the polish of a presentation that has been practiced and refined. Practice in front of a mirror, or in a small group. Have a clear goal for each of your individual practice sessions. For example, in one practice session, you might work on your transitions between key points, whereas in another, you might work on the timing of your jokes.

Got it? Now take the stage and shine!

Photo Credit: comedy_nose




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