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7 posts from May 2018

Why SEO isn't about building traffic, it's about understanding customers

SEO is often seen as a matter of gaming the search engines, but it's actually a powerful fundamental marketing tool on the internet. This article arms us to use it for the long-term benefit of our business. 

The Wiglaf Journal: Why Every Business Should Invest in SEO, 2018-May by Brooklin Nash 

The bedrock of building up your SEO is good research – which will benefit your entire business in the long run. SEO requires learning more about your target audience through keyword research. You start with something small—using one word or phrase that you think people will use to find your service or product.

From there, you can create lists of relevant keywords that you can use in creating new SEO content, branching out into new areas, and informing other marketing efforts. On the tail end, SEO analysis will help you research your customers, who’s visiting your site, where they are coming from, and how they act.


Grant McCracken: Value comes from meaning

As entrepreneurs, if we want to survive... we have to know what our customers want. That changes... it sucks but it happens. 

CultureBy: American culture and the story of OJ, 2018-May-2 by Grant McCracken

We are accustomed to thinking about value as something that comes from utility, from functional benefits, from what Christensen calls “purpose.”

This is merely part of value. Value also comes from meaning.

But functional value is the thing we measure when we price. Meaning is largely invisible to our calculations. This is why culture is the “dark matter” of American capitalism.

And this brings us to the story of OJ.

Not very long ago, a new idea stole into the American consciousness.

The glass of OJ, once the picture of health, was now being called “a glass of sugar.”

The effect was spectacular. Between 2002 and 2017, the Nielsen-measured retail U.S. orange juice market declined by 50 percent. The WSJ heralded the death of this “breakfast table star.” Everyone suffered, farmers, an agricultural industry, and brands like Tropicana, Florida’s Natural, and Minute Maid.

It was a beautiful, if painful, experiment. OJ still had all its functional benefits. It was still charged with Vitamin C, minerals and all that non-specific “goodness.” The only thing that had changed was the cultural meaning. What was once “the very image of refreshment” had become an object of suspicion.

So what changed, precisely? American culture changed. What culture gave, it took away. What it valued, it devalued. What it charged with one meaning, it charged with another.

Specifying what OJ meant in its heyday is the work historians, semioticians, anthropologists, sociologists, strategists, planners, and other “trained professionals” who can comb through American culture and tease out the what, when, who and how of OJ’s rise to its place as “the very image of refreshment.”

Specifying how OJ fell, this falls to the manager, the C-Suite, the leaders of the organization. They may take these truths to be incontrovertible:

1) the meaning of OJ is arbitrary. It’s a little like the price of OJ on commodity markets. It responds to forces outside itself....


Making rewards portable, but not too portable

The MobileBridge Momentum Platform is the most developed blockchain loyalty solution I've seen, although it doesn't have a track record yet. Consumers certainly want rewards they can use outside the company that provides them, and we have that now with multi-retailer platforms like Nectar, as well as offerings from American Express Membership Rewards

What struck me about Momentum is that a company using the platform is expected to set up the rules for its own rewards, having the ability to customize their own reward program but still use the underlying platform, and allowing them to evolve their program. It made me wonder... 

Suppose I have a reward program and a segment of my customers are loyal but not using their points. Could I let the points sit for a few months then invite just that group to transfer the points? If I had that much flexibility, it sounds very inviting. 

Chipin: Meet the Boss – Exclusive Interview with Momentum CEO Kees de Vos, 2018-May-21 by Daniel

We use blockchain to make the storage and usage of consumer data more transparent and hand the user control over their own data and how it’s used. At the same time blockchain inherently offers great ledger capability to distribute value in the form of loyalty points, globally and accurately. And in both cases, the security of blockchain offers tremendous benefits. 

Having arrived at this point, it allowed us to expand our proposition to address some real-world frustration around loyalty systems that exist these days, for both end-consumers and the companies that are running them.... 

Consumers have the overriding feeling that they can’t [earn] enough loyalty points in the loyalty programs they have joined over the years. And even if they get to the point where they do have enough points, they find it simply too hard to find the rewards that they really value. Globally around $250Bn worth of loyalty points expire every year and are simply wasted! This is not only frustrating for the consumer; the companies that run these loyalty programs simply don’t get the return on investment that they are looking for.

Using these unused points to actively build more engagement with consumers and make it easier to redeem them across not one, but multiple loyalty systems address a huge issue in the market. The hugely positive response we have received so far seems to suggest we have hit a nerve!... 

Yes, companies will have the tooling to create their own tokens and set their own specifications, such as the token value, the number of tokens created and the ability to exchange with none, some or all other loyalty programs on the platform, for example. The Momentum team or one of our partners will be able to assist in this process, based on our experience.

Once that has been set up, the company branded tokens can be used to earn and redeem rewards within that companies loyalty scheme, transferred to another companies loyalty scheme or exchanged for Momentum Tokens, which can be traded on the open market for Bitcoin, Ether or any other crypto-currency.


Sponsors vs. mentors

Early in my career, I had mentors who steered me wrong. They encouraged me to follow the business mainstream in a way that was just wrong for me. I don't blame them: I was hard to understand. It took me years to understand myself.

Since then I have avoided having a mentor, but reading these articles has convinced me that even at my age, I could use a sponsor. I hope I can find someone who appreciates what I can contribute and will help me find a good place to use it.

Fortune: Why I'm Over Women's 'Empowerment', 2017-Jan-17 by Sallie Krawcheck

In the workplace, women are recognizing that they need to move from having mentors (a mentor being “an experienced and trusted advisor,” according to the other words, sort of passive) to more “sponsors” (someone who actually advocates on your behalf at work). Today, women have three times as many mentors as men do—but half as many sponsors. Women are recognizing that this needs to shift, and smart companies are moving from mentorship to sponsorship programs.

Penelope Trunk Careers: How to manage your career if you're black, 2018-May-7, Recommendations based on an interview of anonymous black professional by Penelope Trunk

Black kids need credentials and a network of high performers who will support them in their adult life. Because people in the US have so much guilt about racism, people love helping high performing black kids. It’s so much easier than helping poor, low performing, probably destitute black kids.

Know what you want. As a high performing black kid, singled out by a college for high-performers, you make it easy for white people to help you. They will talk with you about your major, ask you what you want to do, and help you get that job. But you have to know what you want. You need help as early as possible and people can’t help you early if you don’t specialize early. Saying you want to try a lot of things means no one can help you....

Say yes when someone influential asks if you need help. Say yes first and then figure out how they can help you. They want to feel good about helping a black kid. They are looking for a way to help. You have to find the way, though, because they don’t know what you’re up against. So be sure to start by asking for help that’s easy for them to give. Then they’ll come back to help again. Keep in touch. Show them they’re making a difference. You’re their project.


Why finding a job is a process and not a goal

My father used to say... "I was looking for a job when I found this one." Always be looking.

Harvard Business Review: Stay Confident During Your Job Search by Focusing on the Process, Not the Outcome, 2018-Apr-27 by Art Markman

In a job interview, the person sitting across from you is trying to project what it will be like to work with you. Your confidence in answering questions is a big part of these judgments. The more worried you are that your job search is dragging on, the less likely you are to project the sense that you will handle whatever the job requires....

Process goals are particularly valuable during an arduous job search. No matter how long it has been since you started looking for a job, the activities you need to engage in to be successful are the same. Check for job openings and apply for positions that suit your experience. Attend networking events to get to know potential employers. Talk to friends and colleagues to find out about upcoming openings. Take classes to improve your skills. Keep reading to stay current in your field. Practice your interview skills.


Sharing my passions

What are my passions? 

  • building strong relationships where I can be loyal
  • learning, practicing and sharing what I've learned
  • exploring cities and capturing their beauty
  • supporting artists and helping others enjoy art
  • designing innovative systems to improve the world

I've never been employed to pursue my passions, so I've ended up self-employed several times. But I've never been able to figure out how to make money working for myself. 

If you know of a place where I can work in pursuit of any of these passions, please let me know.


The European Union is giving marketers the world's best excuse to reconnect with customers

The pain of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the European Union's new privacy law which becomes effective in May, is truly present in the necessity of expiring some customer data and archiving the customer's consent to receive messages. Welcome new fields into the customer database and schedule regular data purges. 

The good news is that we can no longer delay confirming our customers' interest. We should all be using this opportunity to upgrade our customer relationships. 

Really Good Emails: Examples of GDPR Consent Emails from MacDonalds, AutoTrader, ReturnPath, udemy, and Archant.

Seth's Blog: GDPR and the marketer's dilemma, 2018-May-1 by Seth Godin

Realize that the GDPR is a net positive for people with something to say, something to sell or something to change. Because the noise will go down and trust will go up. Embrace this insight and you can avoid the hit and run low-yield spam that marketers have backed themselves into.

  • Talk to people who want to be talked to.
  • Market to people who want to be marketed to.
  • Because anticipated, personal and relevant messages will always outperform spam.

And spam is in the eye of the recipient.

In two simple words: Ask First.