Online Marketing by an Undergraduate


making sense of marketing one post at a time

Finding Something to Love in a Job

Stephen King recounts in “On Writing” how he knew his son was not meant to play the saxophone because his son played only during the times the instructor assigned. His son didn’t love the sax.

The old adage is do what you love and you’ll find success (in some way). That stance scares me. What if people think what I like is worthless? How will I make a living? Or will I have the fortitude to see my interest get recognized.

With qualification, the message becomes more relevant. Having taken a job that pays the bill – or provides some spending money on the side — I can find something within any job that I love and I can do it. It doesn’t have to be part of my job description, but by doing it I will find contentment and joy.

How about you? Have you found something you love within the framework of something you don’t?


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Relevance vs. Remembrance: Why Bloggers Stay Relevant Now But Won’t Be Remembered Later

The key to becoming a famous and respected blog author is to have frequently updated content relevant to a target audience. But that will only make you relevant to your audience. To be remembered for a long time, for much longer than a lifetime – a publisher of knowledge must go beyond the concerns of the day, and find truths that unite humanity. 

The best example of this difference in approach is in mathematics. In his lifetime, Leonard Euler produced 24,000 pages of original work. He published a third of all mathematics in the eighteenth century. The word prolific comes to mind. Heard of him? Unless you have read any history of mathematics, probably not.

Let’s take another example, Isaac Newton. You know him. His fame came from a two year period between 1665 and 1666 when, away from school, he invented calculus – a revolution in thought. Nothing I can say will do justice to the influence of calculus. And he did have that thing about gravity. Moving on.

Why does the world celebrate Newton while only a handful do the same for Euler? The difference was their work.

To be remembered takes penetrating levels of human experience that go beyond a specific time period. Frequent, relevant content – the hallmark of good blogging, is predestined to disappear when the relevant time period passes. Additionally, frequent content demands production for the moment – the opportunity to think deeply is limited and the rewards for that thinking are even more limited. The ideas within blogs are perishable.

Blogging then, is perfect for commerce. At its highest level, business exists to satisfy the wants of the people. The best blogs give people what they want in a timely fashion. It’s no surprise Euler loved teaching, he loved people.

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I Screwed Up

Yesterday, I had my first big Tippingpoint Labs internship screw up. I had to put together a chart for a presentation, and I messed up my data. Not a big deal – but I didn’t know I screwed up until my boss called me in to say, “WTF is that?”

I treated the project like I was back in school, doing it to get a grade to move onto the next job. But this is real life, and I love it for its consequences. The stakes weren’t high but the experience reminded me why I double check my work before I email it in. Because when winning the client is on the line, when I hit the send button I better deliver.

How have you screwed up? More importantly, what did you learn from it?

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3 Ingredients to Social Media Channel Success

At Tippingpoint Labs, we ask the big questions. What drives a social media channel’s success? What gets it from the beginning of its evolution to sustainability? How does one social media channel fit into the social media universe, and what does that mean for business? I am proud to help see this research project through.

This is a simple view of where success originates.

  1. The value of the medium – What’s the volume of the blog readership? The podcast listening? This ingredient constrains the number of visitors to the channel based on the medium of communication.
  2. Presence of Relevant and Quality Content – How successful is the channel at not only publishing quality content, but featuring the quality content in a way that brings a person back again and again.
  3. Community Infrastructure – How well does the channel’s structure support sharing and engaging? Channels can really build and solidify their user base here by making the community experience as important as the content. On the flip side, a weak community infrastructure makes a channel an easy target from poaching by the competition.

This is where my thinking is at the beginning. It will probably change. What’s yours?

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Writing Process: As Personal As Finished Product

When I write my first draft, I have only an idea of my goal.  Only when my thoughts are out do I begin to see the connections. I look for the main theme and supporting themes. I try to cut supporting themes.

While I explore with my first draft, I focus, prune, and organize with later drafts. Through this process, I understand how my thoughts tie together.

By communicating with you, I better understand me. This is my discovery process.  What is your process? How does writing help you?

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Commence the Tippingpoint Group Blog

Hey Guys,
Here’s the first post on the group blog. I started it really just to try this feature out. I think it’s a simple way to build a small community within Posterous. On the other hand, if every contributor gets every group post, I wonder if the group will start feeling spammy. Here’s to experimenting!

Posted via email from All things at the Tippingpoint

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Second Shot: Posting on WordPress with Posterous

The Basics: I opened my email editor, put my blog post title in the subject line, and started typing

The Mistake: Addressing my first email

The Correction:

Have you tried Posterous? It seems like it has potential has a photostreaming lifestream (whatever that is).

Thanks for checking out this blurb.

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The Builder, the Toolmaker, and the House

After seeing business from both the marketing firm and the corporate perspective this past week, I’ve made a simple analogy to describe their relationship:

My analogy recounts a builder using the right tools to build the right house for its future occupants. The builder is the corporation using tools the toolmaker marketing firm provides him to serve his customers. Whether they know it or not, the objective of both the builder and toolmaker is to construct a fine house. Each achieve this end objective differently. 

The successful builder chooses the tools he can use most effectively to build the house the future occupants want. With so much riding on his execution, the builder places emphasis on what he knows will work. Taking the long view in choosing his tools–and not succumbing to the latest fads–makes him a successful builder. 

The obvious job of the toolmaker is to make tools that the builder will use.  In this respect, a toolmaker can earn a good living understanding the desires of his builder clients and providing him with the tools he wants. Not content to cater to his client builders though, the elite toolmaker understands the source – the occupants. Because a toolmaker earns a living selling to builders, this approach presents difficulties when the understanding of the toolmaker and the builder about the occupants differ. But ultimately, understanding the needs of the occupants will ensure the long term success of the toolmaker. 

While only a rough beginning, I am trying to tell a story through my analogy. The best corporate teams use what they know works to serve their customers and improve their lives. Although marketers have to meet their clients at this level of what works, their best shot at long term success is understanding the customer first, and pushing their limits in terms of tools for serving them. While this boundary pushing makes their clients uncomfortable, bridging the corporate team’s and the marketer’s understanding of their customer to deliver the right tool for the job, is the most enduring way to serve a customer base. And serving these customers and improving their lives is ultimately what business is about. 

What do you think? If you like it, take it further, or, think of another. Thanks for stopping by.

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Thoughts and Observations on Custom Media Event: “Growing Your Custom Media Business in a Social Media Age”

In no particular order:

  • The two Andrews were amazing speakers. Andrew Hazen on SEO and Andrew Davis on Social Media. If you ever have the chance meet, listen, or watch these two present.
  • When people don’t follow social conventions they stick out like sore thumbs: During a Q&A session after a panel discussion, everyone asks questions from their seats and listens to the panels responses. Very low key. Then this elderly lady stands up, says her name, her position, her industry, and proceeds to ask a question in the form of an advertisement for her business! The nerve of her, she got dirty looks. Think about this when developing social media engagement strategy.
  • Do adults know how to put their cell phones on vibrate? I know the majority do, but geez, I’m in a conference room listening to elite thinkers in this field present, and  cell phones were going off like crazy. Walk into an event, put your phone on vibrate, put it in your pocket, sit down and listen. Not much too it.
  • The difference between a great present and a not good presenter are HUGE. The Andrews, great, two other guys-who-I’m-not-yet-mean-enough-to-name, not so good. Everyone was engaging with the Andrews and a real exchange of knowledge was taking place, with the other guys, I just wanted it to end. The best part was the one flop presenter described himself in the booklet as a highly sought after speaker and influential blogger. I guess when you’re not very good you have to shout it out.
  • Networking at these events, as the great Chaz Reinholt would say, is like fishing with dynamite. 25 new business contacts! 25! Although my shouting of my success must mean I’m still mediocre (see previous bullet point), I want to try to pull out a lesson. Go to these events! Whatever your field, just go. The second piece of this lesson is to just stick yourself out there. Don’t be nervous. And if you are, try this: during networking breaks, whenever you cross paths with someone, take a quick look at the person’s nametag, say their name confidently, look them in the eye, walk up and shake their hand, and ask how their doing. The key is in saying their name; just watch their eyes light up.
  • I want to speak at events like these. I want to be good enough at something that people will want me to share my knowledge. And I want to engage my audience as a presenter, so they leave not only having learned something, but having enjoyed it.

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How To: Strategy for Search Engine Optimization That Works

To follow up on my last post on the operations of search engines, I will outline a three pronged strategy for search engine optimization that will drive traffic to your website. Lee Odden’s Monday Inbound Marketing Univeristy lecture, “SEO Crash Course to Get Found” plays a strong influence here. Prong 1, perform keyword optimization, 2, make your site search friendly, 3, build quality links. Analytics complete the strategy. 

1. Keyword Optimization

The first step in any SEO strategy, keyword optimization, breaks down into three steps –  research, quantify, and implementation.

Research customer driven keywords with an eye to your sales funnel. Remember, the higher a consumer is in your sales funnel–however you define it–the broader the keyword. As a consumer gets closer to buying, optimize your landing pages around specific keywords to improve conversion. Below are a few research tools to help you extract common phrases and keywords:

  1. Customer surveys and interviews.
  2. Feedback from your sales and customer service teams
  3. Thorough review of competitor content.

From your inventory of keywords and phrases, whittle down your list  by quantifying their popularity, their competitiveness, their and potential using free tools such as Google’s Keyword tools or paid tools for additional functionality like‘s paid service. 

Now, bring organization to your keywords. Using excel, or an online monitoring program,  sort your keywords into categories, and monitor their competitiveness, popularity, and relevance to your content. Use this insight to continually optimize around your best performing keywords and as insight into content generation. 

Finally, keyword placement. Place your keywords in title tags, headings, paragraph titles, body copy, the url, meta description tags, links and navigation…basically, anywhere  you can put text, optimize your keywords. A word of caution while you optimize, your first duty is to entice your web site visitors to come back. Make your content readable and engaging. Don’t go too crazy with optimization.

2. Search Engine Friendly

Make your site friendly in three ways – make it easy to find and revisit, easy to crawl your links, and make the site architecture logical and consistent.

First, A word of caution from Lee Odden, “Changing your web design, content management system or web site software can destroy[emphasis his] your search visibility.” In these situations, you MUST HAVE a migration plan. Elements to include:

  1. Map old urls to new
  2. Employ permanent redirects
  3. Ask your top trafficked inbound links to adjust their link to ensure continuity
  4. Monitor site analytics for 404 not found errors and make necessary adjustments.

Although I am jumping ahead, pursue inbound links! Inbound links from indexed websites make search engines more likely to crawl your site. Additionally, producing content regularly gives search engines incentive to come back for more. 

When a search engine bot finds you, let it crawl all your web pages. USE TEXT LINKS (optimize for keywords). If you must use ajax, flash, or javascript links between pages, make sure to include text links. 

Develop a logical site structure. If your site is about online marketing, the top level should be online marketing, then the next level should be social media marketing, inbound marketing, nurture marketing, etc.. The next level should be more specific after that. A logical site structure makes understanding what your site is about easier for search engines.

Furthermore, including an HTML site map on every page and submitting an XML site map is a phenomenal way to allow bots to crawl and index all your relevant pages.

    Lastly, a quick overview of worst practices:

    1. Using temporary redirects, using these don’t give credit as a link to your website. If you have to use a redirect, use a permanent one. 
    2. Make URLs as friendly as possible, really long urls and overly complicated ones are no good for search engines or people.
    3. Relying on ajax, flash, and javascript links. Always have alternative text links as an option

    3. Link Building

    “The electricity for site search” – Lee Odden. Link building adds credibility to your site. Get creative here. Some guidelines to get started.

    At the core of inbound link building is generating great content and promoting it through your social channels. Additionally, make sharing your content as easy as possible. Include options to tweet, share, digg, and bookmark right at the point of content (you will notice I have some work to do in this area).

    Furthermore, manage your link building the same way you manage your customer relationships. Use either a monitoring program or some method to manage your links and relationships. Link building is an activity you will do as long as you remain competitive online, so it is imperative to keep your links organized.

    Lastly, some performance indicators to keep in mind while tracking your link performance:

    1. Pages indexed – Are you continually adding content worth linking to?
    2. Crawling errors – Use webmaster tools (Google and Bing) to monitor broken links
    3. Rankings relative to own site over time .
    4. Inbound links – Quantity, quality, longevity, keyword referrals from search – what phrases are most effective for your objectives? what search engines are they coming from? 
    5. Social media traffic – Reach out to influentials linking to you much like you cultivate media people in PR. Become a resource to these influentials and reciprocation will follow. 
    6. Goal pages and conversions – Track your business outcomes.

    Note: everything about in site links from the previous section applies here.


    A complete SEO strategy requires analytics. Select a set of outcomes to measure, benchmark these at the beginning, then monitor these metrics at regular intervals – weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly. Real time monitoring is a plus. Lastly, make sure you have the right analytics tools to measure your goals. Free and helpful analytic tools:

    1.  Webmaster tools (Google or Bing) – they let you know what keywords are driving your traffic. Using these webmaster tools also allows you to alert seach engines of any planned moves.
    2. Google Analytics – Chris Donaldson of highly recommends fluency with this suite. Don’t know him? Check out his blog. Always thought provoking. 

    Summary: 3 Pronged Strategy – keyword optimization, search friendly site, link building. Tie the prongs together with analytics.

    If you liked this how to, leave me feedback or subscribe by RSS and I’ll write more of these in the future. Thanks for reading.

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