“Let’s Tweet and Put Up a Facebook Page – It’s Branding!”
Tweet and play with Facebook and LinkedIn all you want, but your business won’t survive. If you’re in business-to-business sales, nobody with real money is sitting around playing with Twitter and inviting random people to be their friends on LinkedIn.
I have never seen a brand killer like LinkedIn. The entire site is full of people trying to sell one another their services. It’s an economy of its own that lacks the fundamental variable that is the ability to cut a $10,000 check.
If you’re a start-up, save your time and money on playing around with social media sites. They’re unproductive and in time they’ll suck you dry. Social media has no place in the business-to-business sales arena and LinkedIn is for job seekers, not entrepreneurs.
“Let’s Look at Our Competitors’ Websites and Do What They Do”
This is a big red light. If you want to go into business for yourself, do it with the intention of changing the industry. Status quo gets you nowhere except the unemployment office.
Get in the game to change something. Boring is boring. The best industries to break into are the ones that seem stagnant. They are the industries that are not as sexy as the ones that are competing against Goldman Sachs or Thomson-Reuters.
I’ll be the first to admit that there is nothing sexy about recruiting and executive staffing, but it sure is fun when you make a breakthrough that results in the exposure of a deep-seated complacency in the competition.
Don’t copy them, beat ’em.
“We’re Above Search Engine Optimization”
It is my opinion that Matt Cutts, the head of the Google police (a.k.a. the guy who can kick your first ranking to the 15th page), is one of the most powerful economic decision makers in the developed world. JCPenny got some first-hand experience with this truth in February of 2011 when he punted them off the first page for a handful of keyword phrases for building what are referred to as “black hat” links.
Essentially, JCPenny was caught purchasing links from, among others, nuclear engineering sites hosted in countries far, far away. The purpose of purchasing the links was to trick Google into displaying JCPenny ads more often and higher than they actually deserved to be.
If you’re not ranking on Google, then you are a slave to whatever clients you currently have. The entire point of marketing is to attract new customers while maintaining old ones.
However, a good business never relies on past revenue sources. Doing so is how a good business becomes a bankrupt business.
It’s the search engine optimization first, then the branding. It does not work the other way around.
In the year 2011, you simply can’t brand a company until people see your company and until they see it consistently. The only way to brand is via repetition online. The only way to get that repetition is to drive visitors back to your website over and over again. People forget very quickly, so you have to constantly remind your potential customers that you’re there.
Hate it or love it, learning SEO is an absolute must. It took me studying 18 hours a day for nine months to begin to figure out how powerful it was, and to learn the acceptable (i.e. non-“black hat”) tactics.
Come to terms with the fact that over 90% of commerce is done via the web, or at least starts that way. You can be as creative and cutting edge as you want, but does a tree make a sound if it falls and no one’s there to hear it?