A few things I believe about this industry

by Matt Burgess on March 12, 2010

I don’t want to call this a mission statement. Because it’s not. But I thought I should share a few of my beliefs with you. After all, these beliefs influence my work. And, if you’re interested in working together at some point, you might want to know what those beliefs are.

So, without further ado… here are a few things that I believe about the online marketing industry.

I believe people focus too much on social media.

Nothing has damaged the image of “social media marketing” more than the rise of social media experts. For the life of me, I cannot understand why so many are so eager to attach themselves to this label; in fact, it’s something I actively shy away from.

Here’s the thing: social media is just a single tactic in a larger strategy. For me, social media is just another channel that helps you reach the ultimate goal: communicating with your customers. But people seem to get distracted by the shiny bauble of social media and lose sight of the end goal, instead focussing on the actual medium itself.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Social media is powerful, and can be an important part of your business plan. After all, I wouldn’t offer social media marketing services if I didn’t believe it had its place in a marketing plan. But… I find people are so enamoured with social media that they’re limiting themselves. Think bigger, people. As Amber Naslund puts it, “Social Media mastery is not the goal. The goal is to master better connections”.

That sums up my view on social media marketing in a nutshell. Social media can help drive your business. It can help you communicate with your customers in an immediate manner. But, and this is important: it cannot stand alone. It needs to tie in to every aspect of your business. If your business is not delivering a good customer experience, social media will not hide that. If your business is not offering something of value, social media will not hide that, either. If you’re doing great things though… well then, social media can help spread your awesomeness.

Don’t focus too much on social media. Focus on the goal: communicating with your customers. If social media makes sense for your business and can help you accomplish that goal, that’s great. But don’t lose sight of the real goal. It’s that simple.

I believe SEO is not as difficult as people make it out to be.

Don’t get me wrong… it’s hard to be good at SEO. But that’s not the same as SEO being difficult. Because, at its core, SEO boils down to three simple things: good content, good site architecture, and good links. That, right there, is the (not so) secret to SEO.

Sure, you can complicate SEO past that point, and a good SEO will… they’ll know the little tricks that make up 10% of SEO. But it’s getting to the point where people are losing sight of the fact that SEO will always fall back to the three fundamentals that make up the other 90%… make sure you’re publishing content that engages people (and encourages them to want to spread it naturally, which will lead to more links), and make sure the search engines can spider your website. That will never change, no matter what else does.

And things do change in the search engine optimisation world, make no mistake about that. One example that most SEOs are talking about currently is Google’s move towards the personalisation of their search results; in particular their release of “Social Search”. I won’t go into too much detail on “Social Search” (Danny Sullivan does that far better than I could over at Search Engine Land). Suffice to say many see it as a step towards Google changing the game… a sign that in the future, there will no longer be a single set of search results that you can optimise your site for; rather, every searcher will see a different, personalised search result.

Want to know what isn’t changed by this?

Create good content, and people will like it. They’ll want to share it.
Create good content that the search engines like. Content that they would want to return for a search query.
Create good content, and make sure that the search engines can read that content.

In other words: good content, good links, and good site architecture.

I believe if you help people, you win.

There’s no secret behind this one. And while it’s something that I believe each individual could live by, in this sense I’m talking about your business. If your business helps people, you win. Ipso facto.

This ties in with my two previous points.
The first was that social media is not enough on it’s own; you need to provide your customers with a superior customer experience, better service, and products that deliver what they promise. In other words, help people by fulfilling their needs.
The second was that you should create content that appeals to people and engages them, encouraging them to share it with their friends. In other words, create content that solves their problems. Help them answer any questions they may have.

Help people. Help your customers. And do it from the ground up. Instill that belief in every layer of your organisation. At every touch point, your customer should have a positive brand experience. Do that, and you’ll stand head and shoulders above your competitors. They’ll never be able to compete, because your customer has a personal connection to your brand.

All because you helped them.

I believe we have some of the nicest people around.

You know, it’s strange. Somehow, the online marketing crowd seemed to pick up a bad rap somwhere along the way. I think it’s probably because of what’s known as the “yellow highlighter brigade”… you know, the long sales letters that are always, always selling?
(now, I want to be clear here: I have nothing against the yellow highlighter brigade. If you’re after sales, a yellow highlighter type will sell the pants off of anyone else. I’ve seen it happen. I’m just not sure it’s the most sustainable model if you’re after fostering relationships with your customers).

Regardless of that bad rap, from my past few years in the industry, I can tell you that my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, I can’t think of another profession that fosters the same kind of camaraderie that I’ve experienced in online marketing. Just in Brisbane alone, people like Pete from Sitemost, Andy from Webconsulting and Darryl from iReckon have all offered their help, at one point or another, without expecting anything in return. In Sydney, Glenn from Silverpistol constantly shares good information and is happy to pass on advice. Heck, even though we’ve only shared a few passing conversations, two of the Australian online-heavyweights, Darren from Problogger and Yaro from Entrepreneurs-Journey ended up being two of the most down-to-earth people I’d ever met. And it’s not just Australians that give us a good name… further afield, Kalena in New Zealand, Jane in the UK, and Todd over in Canada (who I’m really looking forward to meeting at SMX Sydney) are all good peoples.

I believe this field is full of good people. And we need to remember that.


So there you go… now you know a bit more about me, and what I believe. What about you?

Image credit: n0nick

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