Maxys Personalising the Web

Maxys - Personalising the Web, looking at digital media communication and internet video for business sales and marketing.
Tag » internet marketing

This is a Digital Media Strategy Beginners Article.

Local Search Results

One of the biggest failures of the web to date has been the generally poor results you get from a local search - particularly here in Australia where only around 30% of small businesses have a website.  The poor performance is understandable when it's only logical that if your business doesn't have a website, then it's hard for Google to know you exist and for people to link to your site.  

Coffee Shop Dolls PointThere have been many attempts over the years to address this gap, from the old, once dominant, Yellow Pages type paper advertising directories (which have finally migrated to online directories); Government and commercial initiatives like Google and MYOB (leading Australian Small Business accounting software); consumer comparison and ranking website portals; through to customer generated content - forums, bloggers; Facebook Places; Fourquare; Twitter; new Google+ and my new favourite service (founded last year by the ex CTO of Facebook).

From a business owners perspective it's a Catch 22 situation - if your immediate sales are not generated from the web then why as business do you need to invest the time, energy and money to develop new skills; keep information up to date; maintain the website; and also communicate through these online channels - "I sell coffee I'm not some computer nerd!" they cry.   

The answer to that question is very simple - depending on what report you're reading then 50-90% of new customers will search online before purchasing - Online Retailing's SOBO "Search Online Buy Offline". 

If you're not actively marketing and communicating online then there's a very high probability your competitors are or will be.

Opportunity and Competition Drives Innovation  

Ten months ago, I wrote about a new coffee shop which opened in the local neighbourhood "Foodies Deli Cafe" which brought a refreshing new competitor to the local coffee drinking marketplace - back then as a test I asked how long would it be before they commented on my blog post.

Today, that moment arrived, Matt - one of the owners told me they'd launched a website a couple of months ago; that it wasn't ranking in Google and if I could take a quick look (contra coffee).

Sensing a potential mutual win relationship (and also content for my blog) once back in the office the first thing I did was a test search in Google

Foodies Deli Cafe: burgers worth scrapping over
2 Apr 2011 – Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 0.5 a star Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 1 star Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 1.5 stars Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with ...

Foodies Deli Cafe
2 Apr 2011 – Rate Foodies Deli Cafe with 0.5 a star Rate Foodies Deli Cafe ...

Foodies Deli, Cafe, Dolls Point Part I « Eat My Shots! - Cached
4 Nov 2010 – Foodies Deli, Cafe, Dolls Point 


As Matt said the website doesn't rank at all, so we take a look at source code.  If you right-click on your website from your browser there is usually a "source code" option - it's gobbly gook stuff Google sees.  Without going into finer details the website is not search engine optimised (SEO) and in its current form I doubt it will never rank in the top three search results.  Yes, the web developers didn't mention that!

As mentioned there are many elements which influence search engine ranking but the most important is the "Search Engine Term" your potential customers will use.

The Future of SearchSearch Engine Term and Inbound Links

The key point to note is that most people will NOT search for the name of the coffee shop, they will search for "coffee shop Dolls Point" or "coffee shop Sans Souci" or maybe "best coffee shop in St George area".  The most important element to SEO is the title of any external websites inbound link to your site.  

The higher the Pagerank of the external website "referring" the more influence that will have on your page ranking and your subsequent search results listing. For example, A Sydney Morning Herald food guide review will have a greater link importance than my website blog (except when it is published in my Istrategy blog post).

Example - The top three results "Best Coffee Shop Sydney City" includes one of my favourites Vivo Cafe - Vivo has a SEO website plus Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare accounts - all roads lead to a destination. 

Social Media is the New Search 

We are increasingly using social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Youtube etc and applications like Trip Advisor to ask friends or other web users for their feedback.  On top of the social media layer, services like Google+; Linkedin Q&A (think corporate Facebook) and the previously mentioned are facilitating question and answer and developing expert status.

Google is already indexing this high quality content (except where it has very recently been precluded - ie Twitter real time results and public Facebook Status) and you are beginning to see this data influence rankings. 

Social Media Pureplay

Another local coffee shop I must mention is social media marketing pure play Montgomery St Cafe, headed up by the highly talented Internet Chef and Electrolux brand ambassador Bridget Davis and Twitterati Iconic88.  They did an exceptional job at building awareness prior to opening through Facebook status updates, #mostreet and regular Youtube videos.  

Increasing Competition

Last week another new local coffee shop opened - "Kiss the Barista" at Georges River 16ft Sailing Club; and another around the corner couple of weeks. 

There are now three new coffee shops that have opened within a short (less than 500m) distance within the last 10 months making a total six.

As you can see even at the local coffee shop level it's a highly competitive online marketing but you know the most important thing?  The customer experience they then share.

How do you rank on Google and what are your customers saying about you on social media?

This blog is the ongoing chronicle of our own application to our business of the theories; ideas and lessons we are sharing and recommending with our clients.  

Taking Risks

If you're not taking risks then you're playing it safe.  It's one or the other.

Yes, it's hard for some people/ companies/ brands to take risks - there's the natural fear of failure, but today, the paradox is it is more risky to maintain the status quo - you risk become commoditised and irrelevant - easily replaced.

"If you or your brand does not have relevance and create passion from your customers and fans then long term you're in trouble - you're no different than washing powder."  Franklyn Un

Much of the current marketing talk today is about online social media, building and connecting with fans but social media is more than just about setting up a Facebook fan page or Twitter account.  It's about creating social objects says Gaping Void's Hugh MacLeod.

Facing Problems

I faced a problem with the CLIVE stuff we were creating - namely potential customers where comparing us with inferior produced competitors.  Our key messages were not being heard.

The reason - our website - (which is where most of our customers find out more about us)  did not clearly communicate our unique selling points - we looked like our competitors - ie just selling the technical video production ability instead of where we wanted to play - our creativity, our online marketing understanding, our script writing, our production quality, presenter coaching, technology platform and analytics. 

We had to change the way we sold and move from a volume production view of the world towards a very customer centric, creative, niche approach.  Less how many video jobs but more about developing the whole of customer experience - right through to their customers experience.

Seeds take a while to germinate

It took a very long time (in web years) for my team to actually understand what I was saying (and I suppose my deeper understanding of the space and ability to communicate).

Lonely Girl 15 (2006)

We'd all seen the Lonely Girl thing way back in 2006 but what was the end result today? Did it eventually ever sell anything beyond building the Directors profile? Was/ where's the long tail benefit to fans?  What's the point if those no end in sight?

Beached As

Beached AsI'd seen the clips years ago but the guys appeared on one of the national morning TV shows - I sent the interview to my guys - it's when they saw the commercial return from the books "they got it".  In many ways many businesses are like this - they need to see someone else successful before they have a go - it reduces their perceived risk - they need to be sold and convinced.

For every huge success there will tens of thousands of failures - today there's 37 hours of video uploaded to Youtube every minute.

"It ain't viral till it's viral" but there are some common elements to viral video success - low budget; humour; topicality; provocation; surprises and strategies - piggybacking on trends or celebrities; kids and cute animals.

If you focus purely on the $$$ then customers will soon see through your work.

2010 - Doing Incredibly Boring Work and the Creative Stuff that inspired.

My video guys were stuck on a very boring government job - we done a hundred simple presenter to camera CLIVE clips, it was the creative ones like Wendell's Dancing Reebok that got the most Click Thrus and results - social media was focused on how many fans or Twitter followers - the next metric is engagement. 

2011 - Focus on Creative Inspiration 

Less now on volume and more focused on customer experience.  The development of characters to deliver key communications messages to targeted audiences; a platform for companies and brands to engage online; a framework for new talent to be involved.

Introducing The Characters

Each character went through a behavioural profiling approach (60 questions) used by Human Resource consultants around the world - developed to hopefully resonate with each customer segment.

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Franklyn Un Curruthers CEO CLIVEvideo.comErnie Cash Sales Manager CLIVEvideo.comAva Goar Online Presenter CoachChisholm Van Schwizer Creative Director CLIVEvideo.comProfessor James Goodfellow Video Analytics Advisor
The Hard Arsed CEOThe Punchy Salesman 
Online Presenting DivaViral Video ExpertThe Nerd

Each character a Facebook fan page; Twitter account created and behind the scenes video element created. 

The rest to unfold - I'll keep you posted.  

S*x Sells - Setting the Scene

11046_CLIVE_PROJECT_CHISHOLM_01The room is very dark that you can only sense it's small size by the steamy confined heat and the short re-verb of the pulsating sounding background beat.

Each beat the sound gets louder.

Through the dark a single light beam shines cutting through the dense smoke. A body lies near naked - a voluptuous and scantily clad woman.

Camera cuts to a man, he's all green, standing over the body.

He pours liquid, much like maple syrup, over her body - she awakens and screams with delight.

The camera zooms onto the jug label - "Create Compelling Content" scrawled across its bright label.

Cut to green man taking a photo with his new Smartphone.

The man laughs loudly and smiles devilishly (even though he doesn't have a mouth) - he looks for a pocket to put his phone but he doesn't have one - fade to black -

title card - "capture the moment".

"Cut", the camera pulls back wide to capture the whole studio. Chisolm explodes!

Note: Reminder to self - need to add something so that potential clients understand this is a marketing vehicle to promote products or services using brand ambassadors. The key to all of this is developing characters and stories that resonate with your audience.


OK - maybe the ad concept above is not going to work for most (any) potential client but that ad is not designed for everyone - that's the key message - as guru Seth says "it's about products for customers not customers for products". We explore characters and ambassador authority.

Developing Characters

We finished shooting the last few CLIVE clips this week - Sales guy Ernie Cash, CEO Franklin Un and Creative Director Chisolm Van Schwizer. We'll have the very short, professional corporate CLIVE clip and then a background behind the scenes video where you learn a bit more about the team. As Ernie says "it's people and stories that sell" and Franklyns swear jar rises quickly - I'm not sure how well this will go?

Filming, Scripting and Creativity

We look at the draft edits - they're amazing - you just couldn't write those sort of dynamics quickly (I don't think). Chisolm tells me the sytle is called "Dogma" - yep - I'm sure there is some academic out there who will tell me what the term is for what we've done - the approach we've taken. My thoughts are that by doing we learn - by sharing we understand. There's a continuous cycle here somewhere.

Roll out

I'm still playing with ideas on how to roll the whole new site - the phased roll out gives us the ability to easily add layers more layers and elements as we go. As you know the web is not the big bang media launch but a long tail customer and fan engagement strategy. Don't get me wrong we still need to develop some promotion element at the front end to get word spreading faster. Ideas take a while to cystalise.

It was February 9th so says the Google Apps shared document but my thoughts and discussions go back many months earlier.

This series of blog posts aims to chronicle the development of how a dissatisfaction of the status quo manifested into challenging our approach to what we do.

We were sick of the "hard sell", we were bored with our own brand approach, we wanted to focus on showcasing what we do best, less production focus and more strategic creative.  

I reminded of a quote  "The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo"  from Bob Iger, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company.

Creative RisksI suppose there are many factors that instigate a need for change - either internal or external motivations - some we force upon the world and others are forced upon us.

Whatever the motivation, the one guarantee is there will be change.

When interviewing Ted Johnson, CMO, Minnesotta Timberwolves last year I was reminded that "attitude" is the one that makes the most difference.  "Attitude is Everything"

My dear dad (RIP) also said that it is not money, size, education, or privilege but the focused team that gets the greatest results. 

So my CEO challenge is to create a highly focused, innovative team with great attitude that resonates with our customers.

From a business perspective I suppose "attitude" is about culture - your people, your products, your customers experience,

It prompts the question what's the attitude and personality of your business?  Is it Friendly? Risky?  Innovative?  Conservative?  Arrogant and so on.

I'm suddenly back to snoozy Marketing and Psychology 101 lectures of Pavlov's dog, Maslow and Jung (Freud was just a sex fiend Cool).

In my current world of online advertising and media there's much discussion around online behavior and contextual advertising.

But I think it's less about sophisticated targeting algorithms and more about connecting with people, of dealing with customers who appreciate, like and advocate your work. 

How does your brand personality resonate with your customers?  Do they like you?  Do they share their experience with the friends?