As a brand, Jack Daniels does a magnificent job of marketing online. And while much has been said about their content-driven digital marketing strategy and their adept and calculated approach to social media , I was reminded just yesterday that their true marketing genius extends far beyond our computers and smart phones.
I have been a proud, card-carrying member of the Tennessee Squire Association since 1998 and since that time I’ve come to realize what a brilliant marketer this brand really is. You see, being a Squire is really just a novelty. A little talked about “club” whose members receive a 2″x 2″ plot of land at the distillery (complete with a deed), a membership card, quirky update letters every few months & even small gifts from time to time. (I do love the annual calendar I receive every year!)
Yesterday’s mail brought me one of said letters that I’d like to share. It’s from Randy “Goose” Baxter and while I won’t transcribe it here, you can click on the image to read it if you like. It’s not the actual content of the letter that impresses me. (I mean, I’d never heard of musk thistle before and was even more oblivious to the fact that it has a natural predator in the musk thistle weevil.) It’s the consistency with which they come that impresses me. It’s the diversity and creativity of each message that impresses me. It’s the mirage of exclusivity that impresses me.
Jack Daniels created the Squire Association back in the 1950′s as a way to appease antsy patrons who couldn’t get their hands on enough of their whiskey. The brand exploded when it was popularized by stars like Frank Sinatra and the distillery simply couldn’t keep up with demand. So, the Squire idea was born as a way to pacify their anxious community and build incredible loyalty while the company was working to increase production. Talk about social media! Well. Done.
It comes as no surprise to me that they are doing so well online. The storytelling that began around the stills in Lynchburg back in 1866 continues today through the interactive timeline on their website, their social channels and those quirky letters. Their 4.6 million likes on Facebook is overshadowed only by the high-level of active engagement you’ll find on their page. Jack Daniels has taught a master class on brand-building and customer loyalty. Jasper Newton himself would be very proud, I’m sure.
Oh, and their whiskey is awesome, too.
If you have been around since search engines started popping up, you will remember when Google blasted into the scene and their PageRank algorithm took the world by storm. Everyone started scrambling to figure it out because the better PageRank you had, the better your site ranked on your search terms. It all came down to how many links pointed to your site and how good the PageRank was from the sites linking to you. This form of link building was what everyone sought because it wouldn’t just help your rankings, it also improved your own PageRank. Think of it like an illustration of how popular your site was.
After many updates with many names, focusing on what the PageRank of a page is really taking a shot in the dark. So the question asked, “Does PageRank Matter?” … the answer is “Yes”, however, not to anyone outside of Google. We’ve known for a while that toolbar PageRank is usually an indicator of a pages rank many updates before what you are seeing. In other words, a PageRank on January 1, 2012 we can see is probably what it was many months prior. As of this post, it is going on 9 months since the last update has happened and Google has admitted their pipeline to send updates to the toolbar is broken and there is nothing planned to fix it.
In summary, PageRank should not matter to you anymore. There are many other things to focus on and while PageRank might be broken, link building is just as important today as it was 10 years ago.
The internet is a crowded place. With about 250 million active domains on the web, it is has become increasingly difficult for commerce-related websites to get the visibility they need to turn a profit. Sure, you can pay to promote your site through standard channels like pay-per-click and display networks, but these can be prohibitively expensive depending on your budget and the vertical market in which you compete. So, what do you do?
SEO has been around for so long that I almost feel silly discussing it on such an elementary level. But the fact of the matter is, I talk to business owners almost every day who still know nothing about it or how it can help their business thrive online. Even successful businesses that rank inherently well for many, or even most, of the competitive keywords related to their industry can always do more to push their organic traffic skyward.
This article is by no means intended to serve as an “SEO 101″ tutorial. No, I’d rather just answer the question in title:
“How can SEO help your business?“
The short answer, and the one everyone wants to hear, is “make more money.” Better SEO generally means better search engine rankings and, therefore, more traffic to your site which ultimately (one would assume) leads to more sales. And, sure, that is probably accurate. But there’s more to it.
If you’re really “optimizing,” the implications will be much farther reaching than just improving your online presence. Your entire company will benefit from a mentality of “constant innovation.” I mean, think about it. Just because your site ranks well does not necessarily mean it converts visitors into customers, so getting them there is only half the battle. But if you are constantly innovating and optimizing, you are creating new and useful content for your visitors and that is what will increase those conversions along with improving your rankings. That’s where the “make more money” part comes in.
And if you are constantly optimizing, you are (or should be) sharing that new and useful content through your social media channels; which leads to community-building; which leads to a whole host of oft-forgotten avenues of exploitation. Leveraging social media can help your business in an immeasurable number of ways. By establishing a direct line of communication with your community, you immediately improve things like customer service, brand awareness and loyalty. You open the door for instant feedback which is invaluable for gauging audience response for special promotions, new product ideas or anything else you’re looking to monetize. Again, that’s also where the “make more money” part comes in.
But it all starts with good, solid SEO and strategic planning. It’s not just about putting keywords in title tags, writing keyword-rich content and getting links to your site. It’s about helping your business grow in a meaningful way so that it transcends the online/offline divide.
While social media has been around for many years, the concept of it actually being beneficial to a company’s marketing plan is still a tough one to comprehend. Most people, especially of the older demographic, see social media as a place for friends to hang out and post pictures of their family or themselves doing random things, communicate back and forth between each other or just keep track of old friends from school. While all of these are true of social media, the idea of inserting your business into these webs of people and benefiting from it is very real.
The big difference between social media marketing and traditional marketing is that with traditional marketing you are throwing advertisements out to the world hoping that they find your ad intriguing and follow it. In other words, they come to you. Once they get there, it’s a real standard process of finding what they need and hopefully making the purchase. With social media marketing, you are finding your target and engaging with them. For example, let’s say there are bad storms moving through your city and your business is repairing roofs or repairing automobiles with hail damage. You can use a social network like Twitter to find people talking about specific keywords that would apply to your services. In our example, we might look for people talking about ‘hail’ or ‘hail damage’ and as these appear in your timeline, you can engage with them and strike up a conversation offering a discount or free estimate, as well as personalizing it to what they said. If they engage you in conversation, then you will be the first one on their mind if they decide to seek help versus someone that might drop a flyer on their door a week later.
One of the best ways social media can help your business is by building relationships with your clients. If there is open communication between a company and it’s clients, those clients will more than likely become loyal to that company. Retention is an important part of any business and social media is the perfect tool to make it happen. Having loyal customers is one of the best ways to build any business. If they’re loyal, they’ll also refer their friends or family to you. They might also mention you on their social profiles and if it is passed on by just a few people, your exposure is through the roof. The real key to having a successful social media marketing campaign is to give it the time required, use the social networks that best fit your needs and to not give up.
Last Friday, February 15, 2013, marked the official launch of Thinkit Media’s newest project: uSave.it. Even though this represents the culmination of over 18 months of work, sweat and planning, we somehow managed to keep the familiar “dude, I hope we’re ready in time…” urgency that we’ve grown so accustomed to over the years. And as if simply meeting a launch deadline weren’t enough pressure, we thought it would be a good idea to do a trade show in support of our new endeavor on the very day the site went live!
It’s not total lunacy on our part, though. It just so happened that our projected completion dates were somewhat aligned with TicketStock; an event that our most influential user and primary endorser hosts each year. Sports Radio 1310am KTCK The Ticket out of Dallas dominates the male listening demographic and some of their shows have been using the uSaveit platform in beta and have given us invaluable feedback and high praise along the way. It only made sense that we would “officially” debut uSaveit at their show.
That event went really well and should serve as a nice warm-up to a much larger event we have plans to attend: the upcoming National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas in early April. With almost 100k attendees registered, this will provide the ultimate induction into a new industry and we’re looking forward to it.
What is uSaveit?
uSave.it is a platform that offers users the ability to record and archive streaming broadcasts on the web. Think of it as DVR for streaming radio.
uSaveit For Broadcasters
There are thousands of internet radio broadcasts every day but only a fraction are actually recorded and archived. uSaveit offers a perfect and inexpensive solution for this. Keep your content alive!
uSaveit For Listeners
If you have a favorite radio show that you aren’t able to listen to live because you’re at work, asleep, or just off-the-grid in general, uSaveit enables you to schedule a recording of that show so you can listen to it whenever you want, from wherever you want. It’s pretty cool.
My take on it has always been, why “disavow” any links? Sure, get rid of any bad links that you can…if you can. But even if you had bought a bunch of spammy links, would it really help to disavow them or would it just be an “admission of guilt” to the Google cops?
I can’t imagine that Google would just say, “Oh, thanks for disavowing these links you bought. Since you did, we’ll go ahead and lift the penalty we’ve slapped on you. Thanks…welcome back to #1 positions.”
No way. If you’ve been penalized, you’re going to serve whatever the term of the penalty they impose on you.
Barry Schwartz posted an interesting read about a discussion on WebmasterWorld about a guy who seems to have thought that because he disavowed 100% of his links that his Google jail sentence be cut short for good behavior. I’ll be interested to see how it plays out.
**photo credit MarketingLand.com