Web.Search.Social Marketing Podcast
WSS #0129: BLOG > How To Stop Saying Um (And Other, Like, You Know, Filler Words)

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/129

Direct download: 0129-how-to-stop-saying-um-and-other-like-you-know-filler-words.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0128: You Are What You Think: Pride, Business And The Danger Of Negativity

Today's Episode Is Handsome And Delicious

It's our first official podcast roadshow! This weekend we were in Nowhereville… er, Connecticut… visiting Mike Brooks (the Handsome and Delicious) for some mojitos and business. In between we recorded a couple of podcasts – the Nuclear Chowder podcast coming out in a few weeks, so stay tuned – and this one.

It was great fun for us and we hope you'll enjoy this, too.

We Love Connecticut, Really

There are just so many tall things… roads and trees and stuff. Coming from our condo in New Jersey, it's a whole lot of suburban.

But more than Connecticut, we love Mike Brooks because he cooked us some amazing carnita dinner plus guacamole and a shrimp and chorizo appetizer that I may have eaten most of.

SuperFreds Of The Week

Ralph starts out calling them Superheroes of the week but I decide that is not prestigious enough. So here they are.

Traci The Kitchen Girl (I hear she has an amazing recipe for Brussels Sprouts on her site and in spite of all his cringing and complaining, Ralph agrees to try them if I use her recipe!)

Tina McAllister, Mila Araujo, the folks at Simplexity and Bob Dunn, the WordPress genius behind the BobWP website.

Thank you for your conversation and sharing! If you'd like to connect with them too, you can find their links below.

Alisa Meredith Mails Us A Brussels Sprout

I'll leave it at that. And that's why I love her.

Ian Anderson Gray Is On Notice

Since we can't help ourselves, we continue to talk about food – or in this case beverage – because Mike is a super tea lover and he made us a lovely pot of fresh tea.

He calls it English-style, which is putting the loose tea leaves into a pot, letting it steep and then straining it into your mug.

So we want to know: Ian, as the official British guy of the Web.Search.Social Podcast, is this true? Or are we just doing another Americanized version of the real thing?


This past week was a big one here in the United States. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality and we're happy to celebrate with our friends and family who have long waited for this moment.

We also name SuperFred Tammie Rampley our Chief Executive Web.Search.Social Pride Officer.

She wants double pay but considering the amazing bags she is constantly sending us, we agree. Also, it makes it easy that zero times two is still zero… ahem.

Tammie's new job entails ensuring that the Web.Search.Social Podcast is FABULOUS!

PS: Are you voting for Tammie to win a commercial in the Super Bowl? SuperFred in the Super Bowl FTW!

And The Confederate Flag

This was another big deal this past week as racial tensions over a recent shooting boiled up. And while we're not here to talk politics, Ralph found a great video with some historical context about the flag that is worth learning from.

Plus all these controversial current events lay the groundwork for our next conversation which is about…

Negativity. Ugh.

I'm not the "I will block you" type when it comes to social media, even if you say things I don't like. But for the first time ever, this week I started blocking, unfollowing and deleting people from my life.

Two things happened to drive me to this point.

First, I read a post that Mike wrote about how a lot of people like to complain about how bad the economy is, how terrible things are in our country and how everything is going to hell in a handbasket. Taxes and business problems and WHHAAAAA!

Mike says: stop your bitchin'.

Or maybe I said that. But what Mike really said is that there are opportunities if you stop focusing on the negative. You have to go out and find opportunities if you want them instead of sitting around complaining about what you lack. If you fill your head with things that are terrible and bad and engage in constantly pessimistic talk then that's what you will focus on.

You've heard people say, "You are what you eat"?

Well, Mike says, "You are what you think."

As he has studied what makes people successful, he's found that they all share an optimism that transcends the petty complaints so many people spew every day.

Fast Forward…

Mike's post was the first catalyst. The second was everything that happened this past week as a result of current events.

And the things that have happened have been emotional and caused a lot of emotional reactions.

And that's ok – but where it's not ok is when it becomes everything. 

It's not ok when opinions become hateful and vitriolic. When conversation and debate break down and become name calling, complaining and negativity.

There's a difference between disagreeing and spewing negativity.

If that's you, if you are in a perpetual state of negativity and complaining – consider yourself blocked!

But more importantly…

You Don't Have To Watch The Train Wreck

The 24 hour news cycle is great at keeping the negativity front and center.

But a constant barrage of that can really take its toll on you.

Ralph reminds us of Lena West – speaker, author and social media consultant – who spoke at an event we attended and said that she is focused on building her business, not on crimes, wars, problems and disasters she can't do anything about.

The point is simple but clear: if you fill your brain with all the bad stuff, there won't be any room for the good.

You don't have to listen to it, read it, participate in it or acknowledge it.

Being part of a culture of negativity is incredibly draining. It will suck out your energy, your creativity, your passion, drive and enthusiasm.

And you can opt out.

Constant Optimism Is Draining, Too

We're human and nobody can be positive all the time. Being real is important and that means the good and the bad.

So we're not being idealistic here – we know people (including us!) have our moments of bad days, bad moods and complaints.

So we're not advocating for perpetual optimism, but we do think that when things start to turn down, you have to find your way back to the light or your life and business could be in danger.

Social Media: All The Stuff You Would Never Say In Real Life

It seems like people have developed a sort of social Tourettes when they post online. They say extreme things in hateful ways that they would not say in a room full of people.

I could go on all day on this topic but if you're really interested in joining the debate then I encourage you to listen to our conversation on this podcast.

We all struggle a little bit with where to draw lines and what's ok and not ok when it comes to business (Should you bring your controversial stance into your business? Should you talk politics or religion or [insert delicate topic here] and be willing to alienate people or should you leave it for you personal life?) but it's something worth exploring so you can understand where you stand and take ownership of your position.

Whatever you choose, do it purposefully and without hate.

We Can Disagree Rationally

We disagree with our families. We disagree with our friends. We disagree with clients. Sometimes they are small things but sometimes they're big issues. And yet we don't kick those people out of our lives and we don't expect to change their minds.

We're not saying you have to agree with everything everyone says in order to maintain a relationship but you can disagree with integrity.

Conversation, debate and a willingness to listen contribute to a civil world where we can disagree, we can have passionate beliefs on any side of the equation, and we can still get along.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Mike: Put positive stuff into your head. "Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude." That's a quote by Zig Ziglar, so go listen to him. Go listen to someone who has a positive influence on your life and let them inspire you. Read something positive, talk with someone encouraging and fill your head with things that give you good energy to be creative and successfully run your business.

From Carol Lynn: Clean up your social streams, especially your Facebook page where it's too easy to read all the mean, complaining, negative things people say. You don't have to make a big deal out of it, just remove those people from your sphere of attention. You don't need to kick them out of your life but you don't need to read or listen to their nonstop downer conversation all the time. Make room for the people who will bring you up instead of dragging you down.

From Ralph: Find a podcast in your niche and then talk to the host about being a guest. You don't have to host your own podcast to take advantage of the audience a podcast can afford you. If you share your ideas and the things that make you unique on other podcasts then you can tap into a lot of potential.

Links & Resources


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WSS #0127: Pit Bulls, Pie And Storytelling For Business

A Princess And A Pit Bull Enjoy Some Pie…

And thus begins the story of today's podcast!

That's a whole lot of Ps and I wouldn’t mind a gold star for getting them all out during the intro.

So What Does That Mean?

Today we welcome storyteller perfectissimo Katherine Kotaw of Kotaw Content Marketing. Storytelling isn't just something she does – it's something she is. A storyteller, that is.

Katherine and I bonded over pie (virtually) and somehow every conversation we have begins and ends with one.

And as for the pit bulls, well, Katherine realized that pit bulls are actually quite adorable and charming and snuggly. So she decided to rebrand them as such and figured if she could do that… she could do anything.

Pit Bulls For The Win!

I recommend following Katherine somewhere online (links to find her are below) because you may just fall in love with pit bulls, too. Especially when they are adorned with flowers and tiaras.

If you listen closely you can hear Ivy, Katherine's pit bull princess, snuffling and jingling in the background.

What Makes A Storyteller?

Katherine defines a storyteller as someone who can hear all sorts of random stuff and turn it into something compelling with a beginning, middle and end. A brand storyteller takes all that stuff and makes the person (or company) it's about stand out from everyone else.

Can Everyone Do It?

Actually… no.

Let's throw a little tough love into the fire. Everyone has a story but not everyone is good at telling it.

Take a story and have three different people tell it. We bet it will sound different each time. And this isn't exactly The Three Little Pigs we're talking about… though now that you mention it, I bet you've heard fun versions of that story and not so fun versions.

It really does depend on the telling.

How Do You Know If It's Time For Some Storytelling 911?

Katherine puts it bluntly: some companies need to come to grips with the fact that they stink as storytellers and get someone to help. We agree.

Ralph calls this someone "a muse".

Katherine calls this someone "an extraction specialist".

If you feel stuck – or worse – think you don’t even have a story to tell then that's a good sign you need to get some help.

It may be that you need someone to listen better or to ask the right questions. Or that you need a change of setting or a glass of wine… or pie.

Everyone has different storytelling abilities so rather than trying to go it alone, work with someone who can make you shine.

What If You Don't Have A Story?

Hold on a sec… you read what I said about how Katherine thinks everyone has a story?

That sounds great but… I've met a few people who seem to truly, well, not.

I ask them questions about their business and they all seem to fall flat. These people don't have an origin story or a "big why" or a passion. Maybe they're doing it just for the money. Or they saw an ad for a business for sale and decided to try it because they needed to do something with their lives.

Katherine thinks that if you don't believe you have a story your business will ultimately fail. It's story that helps you withstand the tough times because you'll understand your motivation and fight for your passion.

But I still want to know… what about the guy who is in it for the money? Who doesn't seem to have anything to say about why he started his business except, "Because…"

Katherine says that all good businesses have a story even if they can't articulate it.

Sometimes people think their story is too personal. Or they're afraid people won't like them because of it. Sometimes they just haven't dug down deep enough.

She shares an example of working with a client who didn't think he had a story, was in it "for the money", but found out his story rooted back to his grandfather wanting to start a business. Like Katherine says, you need someone to extract that!

Sharing Vs. Oversharing: Where's The Line?

Some people think our Kim Anami episode about business, sex and relationships was oversharing. Other people loved it.

So where are the lines?

Katherine is not to be stumped on this one, either! She says… wait for it… use your judgment.


Amazing how common sense wins, isn't it?

She says that most people err on the side of under sharing because they're too afraid to get personal. But others seem to spew out any old thought onto social media, which can get them into hot water at some point.

Ask yourself: how much of your story are you willing to own?

Then own it!

Ben Affleck Makes An Appearance

Well, not literally, but it did sound cool to say that. Maybe he should sponsor the show.

We talk about a recent documentary in which it was discovered that one of his ancestors had owned salves. Ben tried to cover it up and you can imagine how well that went.

When it all came out he finally said that he was embarrassed by the whole thing and didn't want to admit it.

Ralph wonders whether this mistake now defines his story or if we can be more forgiving because we are already immersed in his story and we understand that this was just one blip on the radar.

Katherine agrees that for people who are already part of the story, they are likely to be forgiving and understand that one moment does not define a person.

What To Do When The Bad Stuff Gets Out Into The World

Sometimes things get out. Things we didn't plan to share. Sometimes we look bad.

Then what? Do you cover up? Play dead? Tell everyone to go fly a kite?

Actually, Katherine says, take charge. You can't control the story but you can control how you handle it.

You can admit your mistakes, share your thoughts and move on.

Eventually the bad stuff dies down and you can pick up your story again where you want to tell it.

The Responsibility Of The Listener

Ralph wants to know whether people have a responsibility for how they interpret the stories they hear.

Katherine thinks they do have an obligation – to understand the context and to judge it as part of a bigger whole.

I think they're both crazy because… have you met people? I don't think that "take responsibility for how I interpret someone's story" is high on anyone's agenda.

I do think, however, that if we're diligently building our fan base and we're true to ourselves and our audience, people will forgive our transgressions.

What do you think?

Your Story Is Not Linear

Yes, stories have beginnings, middles and ends. But when it comes to business and marketing, people may jump in at any time. So the beginning for one person may be the middle for another. How does this affect messaging when businesses aren't really in control of where someone will start in their story?

Katherine says business owners too often think they have one story, tell it once and are done. But our stories have to keep evolving and we have to keep telling them – everywhere, all the time. It doesn’t really matter where someone jumps in. They'll catch up!

There Will Be Blood…

Or misunderstandings. But blood sounds more dramatic.

Anyway, Ralph tells a story of someone who jumped into the middle of our story and without the proper context, took all sorts of offense.


Actually, Katherine says… oh well. It happens. You just have to keep going, keep telling your story, keep marching.

Don't apologize.

You are going to offend some people. And that's a good thing.

It's More Than Your Origin Story

Lots of times we think of our story as "how I started my business". But there is a whole lot more to it than that.

Katherine says you've got to think about how you want to be known. What will make you memorable?

You can be the person who always has a thoughtful opinion… or the one who is supportive of others, even competitors. You have to decide how you want to be recognized and work to build and grow that every day.

Three Types Of Story

When it comes to baking the perfect marketing pie, there's the written story, there are visuals and then there is social media.

Mix all three together to make some delicious marketing magic.

Writing is not good enough. Your story has to appeal visually, too. And once you've got those two pieces, you need to share, share, share on social.

If you don’t share your story, says Katherine, often and repeatedly – it won't go anywhere.

Does Your Audience Play A Role?

I want to know: does your audience factor into your story? (I'm looking at you, Fred!)

Katherine says yes! (I knew we were kindred spirits in pie.) She is often inspired by what people say and then will tell a story to and about one person, speaking to that one person. It's always better to think of others before your own self interests.

I tell her that our audience has been part of our story all along, helping us tell it and being part of it with us.

When Does Your Story End?


Drops mic.

What Makes A Good Story?

A good story makes you feel like you're there.

A good story makes you want to be a part of it.

A good story makes you feel like you never want to get to the end.

A good story makes an emotional connection with people.

And remember, it's not always about mechanics – it's in the telling.

Ralph Forgets To Mispronounce Katherine's Last Name

In an ongoing bid to annoy Alisa Meredith, friend of the show and host of the Superheroes of Marketing podcast, Ralph set out to mispronounce Katherine's last name (which is pronounced like the "kota" in North DaKOTA).

This apparently bugs Alisa but Ralph forgets and ruins the joke.

Sorry, Alisa.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Katherine: if you want to succeed in business and be happy succeeding, find your story, tell your story and then keep on telling it. And if you've got one, Katherine wants to hear it! Share with her anywhere online. I'm sure she wouldn't mind hearing about your favorite type of pie, too.

Links & Resources


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Direct download: 0127-pit-bulls-pie-and-storytelling-for-business.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0126: BLOG > Should You Run Your Venture As A Business?

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/126

Direct download: 0126-blog-should-you-run-your-venture-as-a-business.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0125: BLOG > How Much Should A Website Cost? The Older And Wiser Edition.

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/125

Direct download: 0125-blog-how-much-should-a-website-cost-the-older-and-wiser-edition.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0124: Dirt + Leaves + Sharks = Lawyers (Or How To Start A Business)

Bags For Women… AND Men!

If you're a regular listener you know we talk about Tammie Rampley and Tramp Lee Designs often. Carol Lynn has bags made by Tammie, we've ordered gifts for our mothers… but it wasn't until this week that we realized Tammie not only makes bags for women but she makes them for men, too!

A messenger bag showed up at my door last week with my name on it, a Tardis on the outside and bigger on the inside.

So connect with Tammie and find out how she can custom design a bag for exactly what you need.

Three Star Dude Is Not Going To Be Happy

Last week we talked about someone who left us a three star review of our podcast and who complained that we do too much talking and don't get to the point quickly enough.

After today that review is probably going down to two stars.

Let's Talk Business

Setting up a business, that is.

If you're selling a product or service, are you in business for yourself or are you actually running a business?

The difference starts with the paperwork.

It's a good idea to legally file business incorporation documents, whether that's as an S Corp or an LLC or something else.

By making it "official" you have legal protections you wouldn't have otherwise. For example, you have less liability as a business than you would as an individual. If something goes wrong and you're not incorporated you could lose your home, car or other assets. But if you're incorporated the business takes that burden.

Profit Sharing Vs. Equity Ownership

Thinking of going into business with a partner? Then you have to figure out how you're going to split up the equity.

When you give someone a share of profit, that's nice, but it's easy to dilute profits with expenses. If you pay yourself a gigantic salary you're cutting into the profit that your partner expects a cut of.

If you take a lavish trip to Hawaii (for business purposes, of course) you're cutting into the profit that your partner expects a cut of.

On the other hand, giving someone an actual equity stake in the business means they own a percentage of the business – profits AND losses – and they also get a percentage of the sale of the business.

Put It In Writing

If you plan to "partner up" with someone, don’t expect to do it over a handshake. If it's not on paper then it doesn't count.

What if you or your partner gets hit by a bus? What if you or your partner decides you don't want to be involved in the business anymore?

A legal agreement will protect everyone involved.

Dirt And Leaves And Sharks = Lawyers

If this sounds complicated, don't worry about it. That's what God made lawyers for. With a little bit of dirt and leaves and sharks… voila, you've got someone on your side who knows all the stuff you don't. If you know any lawyers who want to sponsor this show, we're all ears.

Don't Download Free Legal Forms

You have probably seen ads for cheap legal templates and given the cost of real attorneys it can be tempting to drop a couple of bucks on a template. But a template doesn't know you or your partners. A template can't advise you.

Sometimes you don't know what you don't know.

Even If You Don't Have Partners – Incorporate

If you're a solopreneur and don't have any partners you still need to be incorporated. As we mentioned earlier, being incorporated affords you certain legal protections.

It can also help you save on taxes, allow you to put money away effectively for retirement and more.

Partners Can Be More Diverse Than You Think

When you think of a partner you may be thinking of someone who can help you produce the product or provide the service you want to offer.

But partners can have completely different skills that contribute to the overall success of your business.

For example, you may want to partner with someone who is an influencer in your niche and who can help you bring your product or service to market a whole lot faster (and more profitably) than you could do on your own.

You may want to partner with an adviser or a financial person who can take on some of the necessary responsibilities where your skills fall short.

The key is to find people who can strengthen your team – without whom your total success would not be possible.

Vesting. It's Stupid.

It's not a very common practice but it happens. The premise is that you promise someone equity in the business after they've worked in the business for some length of time – usually for free.

It may seem like a good idea to test someone's commitment but it also devalues their participation. Plus a lot can change during their vesting period. What if you sell the business? They get nothing. What if you take the profits and leave? They get nothing.

Just don't do it. Value your team members out of the gate.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Carol Lynn: Do you have an idea for a business, product or service but don't have the skills to execute it? Don't dismiss your idea! Write it down and then write down the short list of people who have the skills you need who may be able to partner with you. Want to build some great bit of software but don’t have an ounce of programming knowledge? Partnering with the right programmer is all you may need to bring your idea to fruition.

From Ralph: Start with the end in mind. Before you start a business or create a product, think about how you're going to sell it, who you're going to sell it to and how much money you think it can make. Put together a spreadsheet of your expenses and the potential revenue based on your target market. Be sure you know who your target market is. You can't sell to "everyone." You need to understand the potential reach of your niche and that will help you decide whether it's worth investing your time, energy and even money in your new venture.

Links & Resources


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Direct download: 0124-dirt-leaves-sharks-lawyers-or-how-to-start-a-business.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0123: Buffoons Need Friends Too And Other Content Marketing Realities

It's The Ryan Hanley Hat Trick Show!

Third time's a charm and this is Ryan Hanley's third appearance on our show. He was on a while ago to talk content marketing, then recently we had him back to talk about his book and ended up spending an hour in an impromptu therapy session talking about the challenges of balancing your personal life with your work. This time he's back to talk about his book for real, which dives deep into content marketing: the hows, whys and what fors.

Is it fate or just a good lottery number that this is also episode 123? If you don't hear from us for a while, don't panic – it just means we're spending our winnings from a villa in Barcelona.

Why Did Ryan Write This Book?

We're curious – not just why he wrote this book from a content standpoint but why he went to such lengths to put out a great looking hardcover and not a much simpler and cheaper eBook.

We learn that Ryan feels a profound responsibility to his audience. Not only to produce the best work but to produce something they can be proud of owning and using.

He also says that content marketing has been "sold wrong" because usually people lead with the tactics and tips. But he says that you need to build your audience first and the tactics will follow.

Success Is More Possible

Here's something telling: Ryan says that if you approach content marketing the right way, success is more possible.

Notice what he didn't say.

Success is yours.


Success is guaranteed.

No, it's just "more possible."

The lack of hype and absence empty promises is one of the many things we love about Ryan.

Carol Lynn Unleashed

Carol Lynn has two copies of Ryan's book and is on her second reading so I let her loose to bombard Ryan with questions.

Of course, the first thing she wants to know if why Ryan mentioned that readers can "rabbit ear" the pages of the book instead of "dog ear."

Ryan is pretty sure he just made that up. But it sounds cool, so we go with it.

Millennials Schlimennials

We challenge Ryan with a topic we recently discussed on our podcast – because of exactly what he says in his book – which is that the only "generations" that matter for content marketing is the connected generation and the unconnected generation.

The unconnected generation doesn't have Internet access (or doesn't use the Internet) and doesn't have smart phones. The only way they know that a product or service exists is by being interrupted – by an ad or a billboard or a commercial.

On the other hand, the connected generation seeks out information. The use the Internet to find what they want, on their own time, in their own way.

This is what makes content marketing so powerful.

Mark Schaefer Wants A Hamburger

In a recent article, marketer and author Mark Schaefer says that sometimes you don't want a relationship with a company. Sometimes you don't want a community. Sometimes you just want a coupon so you can get a cheaper burger.

We agree.

But we challenge Ryan to reconcile that with the idea of using content marketing to create that connection vs. just handing out a coupon.

Ryan wouldn't be Ryan if he didn't dodge that bullet. He quickly lets us know that while that may be true, even a weak connection to a company can mean the difference between a sale and no sale.

We are influenced in some way by the messaging we see over time so even though we don't quite think about it, somewhere along the way something nudged us in one direction or another.

But more importantly, Ryan says that the idea of building community can be overrated. Community building is a tactic – and it's not right for every business. It will work for some, but others just need to send out coupons.

War Is Averted, So We Try Again

Just for fun we decide to see if we can ignite that flame of dissent and throw Mark under the bus a second time.

We want to know: is content marketing really sustainable given Mark's assessment that while content consumption is finite – we only have a certain amount of hours in a day to consume it – the amount of content continues to increase exponentially.

Flat demand, infinite product.

But Ryan is too slick to fall for it. He says the truth – which is that crappy content is doomed. If you want to get noticed you have to produce something great. Every time.

True Fans Are Better Than More Fans

Numbers in and of themselves are not important. It's how many people are your true fans.

And in a twist, Ryan says that true fans don't even have to be customers. They just have to be people who will share your every word and who will advocate for you and refer you when they can.

Case in point about numbers: Ryan has 5,000 people on his email list but 137 people who funded the Kickstarter for his book.

Do the math.

It's not about the size of your list, it's about the true fans.

Be Likable

In all our talk about not worrying about people who don't like you, we want to know why Ryan thinks you need to be likeable.

Of course he dodges that one too because he means that you need to be likeable to your audience.

But never try to get everyone to like you.

Yup. We're on board.

Can A Small Company Compete With Big, Well Known Brands?

Don't lament your Google position, kids. Turns out that as a small, local business you have a big advantage over big brands that offer the same product or service that you do.

You – not them – know your local community. You speak the language, you understand the vernacular, you get their geographical references.

You can easily jump past the big players by being the authority in your small town where you can dominate over a big brand any day.

Also, Mike Brooks may make an appearance in a pink dress and tights. And something about a baton, but we won't give it all away.

Sharing Vs. Over Sharing

We're fascinated by the topic of authenticity so we ask Ryan, what's ok to share and when is it too much?

Ryan says the most reasonable thing (Damn him! We want war! And Internet fights!) which is that it's different for everyone.

You just have to know what you're comfortable being public about.

But – in another classic Ryan Hanley twist – he tells us that authenticity and transparency are NOT the same thing.

You can be transparent but do it in an inauthentic way.

Or you can hold back but be absolutely authentic in whatever you do say.

The key is to be as transparent (share) as much as you're personally comfortable with and be authentic (real) about everything.

People need to believe what you say. And you can fake it, but eventually you will be found out.

What Ryan Learned From A Bartender Named Christopher

In the grand finale Ryan tells us about a bartender in a hotel where he (Ryan) was speaking at a conference.

First we learn that Ryan's favorite drink is a Kentucky Mule. Then we learn that there is such a thing as a copper cup, into which this drink is poured. We also learn that the bartender named Christopher had only one copper cup but that there were three people in Ryan's party.

Not to be deterred, the bartender named Christopher went out and bought two new cups so Ryan and his colleagues could enjoy their drinks the following night.

He went to extensive lengths to please his customers, including things like "making ice by hand" and other such things.

The conclusion? If every business took their job as seriously as Christopher did, they would have some amazing superfans.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Ryan: Find a way to capture ideas wherever you are. Your best ideas won't come when you're sitting in front of your keyboard so make sure wherever you go, wherever you are, you have a way to capture your ideas. The method doesn't matter as long as you do it. Use paper, use an app, use voice recording. Just be sure to do it every time you have an idea no matter what. If you have an idea, snag it and keep it. In other words, take your phone to the toilet.

Links & Resources


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Direct download: 0123-buffoons-need-friends-too-and-other-content-marketing-realities.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0122: BLOG > Don't Believe The Hype! Your Success Depends On It

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/122

Direct download: 0122-blog-dont-believe-the-hype-your-success-depends-on-it.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0121: BLOG > Are You Unwittingly Telling People You're Boring? Answer This Question To Find Out.

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/121

WSS #0120: Critique Vs. Criticism And Other Musings

We're Tired!

We recorded this on Sunday after a few weeks of super intensive work, and man, we're bushed. So this is a shorter episode than usual, just the right length for you to get on the treadmill for a good workout.

Why We So Desperately Need A Nap

First of all, since we recorded this on Sunday, we were eager to rest up for the season finale of Game of Thrones.

But mostly we're exhausted because we're starting not one… not two… but THREE new business ventures.

They are all product-based – namely, we're building three products (in this case software).

One is the new Triberr – and thanks to the feedback of some superfans, we've got plenty of plans to include the features YOU asked for.

One is still a super secret so we can't quite talk about it yet.

And one is designed specifically to make the lives of our SuperFreds easier.

It's Still Sort Of A Secret But…

You may know that we produce four podcasts each week. Two are based on blogs we've written and two are full length episodes with rather extensive show notes like this one.

Then we promote that stuff, which includes creating graphics, ads and scheduling.

Oh and we also do client work!

Which leads to the point…

People constantly ask us, "How the heck do you DO all that?"

And the answer isn't that we have figured out cloning (though I wouldn't mind one…)

The answer isn't that we have superpowers (though I might like to move at the speed of light…)

The answer is: efficiency.

And the way we gain efficiency is through a handful of home grown tools that we've developed for ourselves to help us manage our workflows and processes.

And Now We Want To Share That With You

We're in the process of combining all our best tools into one super tool for content creators to help them manage their own content, whether that's a blog, podcast or social shares.

That's about all I can tell you right now but we'll share more as we get closer to unveiling it. In the meantime, let us know if there are any special challenges YOU face when creating, managing or sharing content – whether for yourself or for clients – and we'll see what we can do about making that easier for you.

This Whole Process Is Not Fast Or Simple

We've talked plenty of times about how you can't create a product of real value in two or twenty four or even a hundred hours.

Last week we talked with Cynthia Sanchez about her product – Web Images Made Easy – and how it took her and her partner a year to produce it.

Granted, what we're doing is different in the sense that we're not creating an ecourse or video series – we're actually forming an entirely new business – but there is a lot that goes into it, either way.

We've definitely lost a lot of sleep as we plan and ponder and decide and figure out. So the fact that people STILL cough up $49 or $197 or ANY dollars to watch whatever webinar or read whatever ebook promises to show you how to create a product fast and sell it for a ton of money – well, that just drives me nuts.

They're Only Seeing Dollar Signs

People who sell you the quick fix are just trying to figure out how to put dollars in their pockets.

But let's face it – we ALL think about dollars. We all want to make money. Nobody is doing this to be altruistic. Everyone has to run a business and make enough money to live.

But if you really want to generate revenue then it's about the value you can provide to your customer. That's what will keep them coming back for the long term.

Calling Tammie Rampley!

Ralph needs to talk to you. Email him. Apparently, saying it out loud on the show was the only way he'd remember to say that. So much for GTD, huh? I call shenanigans.

Moving on…

We Got A "Bad" Review Of Our Podcast

Ok, not exactly "bad". It was a 3-star review (out of 5) but still, ouch.

The problem is that the complaint went something like this: Too much chatter, just get to the point and tell me what I came to hear.

For us, the chatter is kind of the point. That, and the marketing stuff. But it all goes together. If we cut that part out we'd lose ourselves in the process.

The other problem is that "the chatter" is one of the things that people most often tell us they enjoy. So… we'll keep the chatter.

We're open to critique but ultimately we decide that this guy probably shouldn't be listening to our show.

You Can Please Some Of The People…

Friend of the show Alisa Meredith was recently on Wade Harman's podcast (an upcoming guest on ours, stay tuned!) and she shared the podcast online. And while plenty of people liked the show, one guy decided that he didn't get the information he wanted out of the show. And he was very loud and very public about that.

Alisa and Wade did the smart thing – they explained that they provided exactly the information they set out to provide and then they ignored his continued, and loud, protestations.

If I had to guess, I'd say this guy is not a good fit as their audience. So it just goes to show that you really can't be everything to everyone at all times.

Please Your Audience. Nobody Else Matters.

We talk a lot about storytelling. You have to tell your story in a way that's meaningful to you and your audience but you also have to accept that not everyone is your audience

Your content has to resonate with people you want to convert, whether you want them to buy from you or read or listen to you or sign up for your email list. The others? They simply don't matter.

An Example Of A Useful Critique

A few weeks ago we learned that we could save a bunch on podcast hosting by reducing our audio file size. And the way to do that is to reduce the quality of the output.

So we reduced the quality, listened back on our laptop and decided we couldn't tell the difference between the high quality (big file) and lower quality (small file).


We saved $40 a month on hosting and that's a big deal.


Sheng Slogar, official Web.Search.Social Watchdog, sent me a message that went something like this: Dude, WTF audio quality?

Turns out he was listening on headphones, where the sound was more obvious, and it sounded pretty crummy.

And I said, DRAT!

So I upped the quality a notch but not quite to the best quality.

Then Sheng messaged me and said something like… Dude, WTF audio quality STILL?

And I said, CRUMBUN!

And ratcheted the quality back up to 100%.

Then Sheng messaged me said something like, Dude, YES!

So that's a critique we took to heart because it mattered to the quality of our show.

The challenge is understanding the difference.

You need to differentiate between a legitimate critique and an unproductive criticism made by someone who just doesn’t like you (or feels like being a troll – of which there are an endless supply!)

Remember You Can Still Get A Discount On Téa Silvestre's Storytelling Soiree

It will be held August 8-9 in Portland Oregon and you can get all the details by visiting the Story Bistro website. If you sign up by July 1 you get a 25% discount on the ticket price by entering the code RIVERAPAL25.

Vote Tramplee Designs!

And don't forget to vote for Tammie Rampley of Tramplee Designs to win a commercial in the Super Bowl! No need to register or enter any info, just click the button. You can do it once every 24 hours.

We're doing it every day so if you can do it once, great! If you can do it a couple times, even better!

Your Marketing Action Item

Actually we copped out today since we really need a nap.

So how about you take one too?

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Direct download: 0120-critique-vs-criticism-and-other-musings.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0119: You Don't Need A Golden Toilet. Or, How To Create And Sell A Valuable Digital Product.

What IS The Right Way To Eat A Cupcake?

Right before we started recording, Cynthia Sanchez, our guest on today's episode, told us about a video she watched about how to eat a cupcake.

We didn't think it was that hard, but apparently someone has now posted the official instructions. And apparently we're supposed to take the bottom off and plunk it on the top so the frosting is in the middle.

Thus follows a debate over crumbs, more vs. less frosting and the right texture for cake. We don't quite resolve everything but do decide that it would probably be a good idea to eat and test a lot of cupcakes.

What do you think?

And Now... Web Images Made Easy

We asked Cynthia to join us today because she has just released a new product. It's an online video course that teaches you the fundamentals of how to create great images for your website, blog and social sharing – even if you're not a designer.

She put this together over a year with her partner Jason Lange and it's 27 video tutorials plus a bunch of templates and bonuses. It teaches you how to improve your images and then shows you how to use some popular image editing tools to rock your visuals.

Since Pinterest is Cynthia's specialty, it makes sense that she created a product to help with images, but that's not why we wanted to talk to her.

What we really wanted to talk about was how to create a product and what goes into it – not just what we've been sold by slick marketers who want to sell their products that purport to "teach you to be rich" or "create your own six figure product in two hours."

This is the real deal and Cynthia shares the experience so if you're thinking of creating a course, book or some other digital product this is insight you can use.

Even if you're not thinking of creating one, maybe this will inspire you to try your hand at some recurring passive income.

It Starts With Your Audience

Unlike much of the advice you have probably heard about how to create a product (ie: sit down, think of an idea, create something then sell the heck out of it with lots of psychology and upsells and affiliate links), Cynthia started by listening to her audience.

And what she heard was that people were frustrated with images. They struggled to create images, didn't know how to make them look good and felt defeated by their lack of designer skills.

And so Web Images Made Easy was born.

It Takes Time

Yes, it took Cynthia and Jason a year but they also both moved across the country during that time, ran their respective businesses, spent time with their families, did speaking gigs and probably even ate and slept.

Still, it wasn't something they did – or wanted to do – quickly.

Cynthia said that a 4-5 minute video could take two hours to produce.

Ah-ha! You say… but if that video had been her product, she could have created it in two hours!

Well, sort of true, but there are things you don't see – like the amount of time it took to come up with a name, find and secure a URL, build the sales page and website, set up the payment processing…

So yeah. It takes time.

It Has Value – All By Itself

If you listen to "the product people" you'll probably learn more than you want to about the psychology of pricing, offers and upsells.

There's the "it's worth eight billion dollars but it's yours today for only $3.99!" trope.

There's the "hey, you bought my $3.99 thing but what you really need is my $500 thing… buy it today only!" trope.

That stuff must work because people buy, but those kinds of slick offers can erode trust and lead people to believe big promises that are quite often under delivered by their 2-hour products.

We decide that Cynthia's product will sell based on its value. Not based on tricks or tropes. People are going to buy it because it's great.

And because Cynthia takes an open, honest and truly people-centered approach to what she puts out into the world.

There's A Boat Load Of Stuff To Think About

Turns out the "creating a product" thing isn't the whole story.

I mentioned a few additional pieces earlier – the URL, sales page, website and payment processing. But there's more!

Do you want affiliate marketers? You've got to decide what you'll give them and set it up.

How will you price it? You've got to choose a strategy (subscription? one time?) and assign an actual price tag.

Will you maintain it? What happens when things change and your product is outdated? You have to decide what investment you're willing to make in improving, editing, updating, etc.

Oh, and how will you sell it? You can't just build a sales page and let it sit there until the masses pour in. You have to get out there and actually promote the thing.

Cynthia and Jason also spent time getting feedback from people before they released their product into the wild. They asked whether it was helpful, whether the messaging was clear, whether it worked technically. And they incorporated the feedback to make the course even better.

That's how you create a product.

You Don't Have To Be Rich If You Don't Want To Be

Ok, admittedly that sounds like a very weird thing to say. But if you run a business, follow your passion, freelance or consider yourself an entrepreneur in any way, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to make a lot of money.

People seem to be in a mad rush lately to get VC funding or be the next big thing bought out by Facebook.

Everyone wants to sell you a product (oh irony) that will teach you how to turn your hobby into six figures or finally be able to work from the beach.

But… maybe we're actually fine working from a condo in New Jersey.

Maybe we don't want to be billionaires but just be able to buy all the X Box games we want.

There is huge pressure to "think big" and if you're not aiming for major cash then you suddenly feel like a failure.

Don't believe the hype!

Don't let anyone tell you what you should be striving for. Don't let anyone define what happiness and success means for you.

Don't believe anyone who wants to sell you a product that makes those kinds of "live the giant dream" promises. Can it happen? Sure. But so can winning the lottery.

Cynthia Doesn’t Need A Gold Plated Toilet

By the end of the conversation we decide we want to own our businesses and products, produce something of value, be proud of what we do, help people… and be able to buy all the X Box games we want.

And drink wine.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Cynthia: The next time you see someone's product for sale, decide whether it's something that can help move your business forward or if it's just a big promise that will put a few bucks in someone else's product. You don't have to try and buy everything – even the inexpensive stuff. If it seems like there's more in it for the seller than for you as the buyer, move along.

From Ralph: If you're thinking a producing a product, think of something that you're doing that's helping you run your business or save time. And then think about how you may be able to package that and sell it to people who do what you do so it can help them too. Dedicate some time to figuring out what your product will do, how it will work, how your end users will use it, what value it has and how you're going to sell it. But in light of our conversaitons about GTD lately, better make this a project.

From Carol Lynn: Buy Cynthia's course! Just do it.

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WSS #0118: BLOG > My Transgender Entrepreneurial Pornographic Pinterest Pledge

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/118

WSS #0117: BLOG > Stop Asking Me If I Like Your Logo

Read the article at http://www.websearchsocial.com/117

Direct download: 0117-blog-stop-asking-me-if-i-like-your-logo.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0116: Get Out Of The Whirlwind! Learn How To Finally Get Things Done.

This Episode Is Quite Handsome And Delicious

Mondays we typically don't have a guest so even though Mike Brooks (the Handsome and Delicious) makes an appearance, we're not counting him as a guest.

Actually, he's here because today we're talking GTD (Getting Things Done) and since he has been trying to implement it he wanted to hang out and talk with us.

If you need to get stuff done and find yourself thwarted, behind the eight ball, putting out fires, up against a wall, [choose your own harried cliché], then you may find a lot of value in learning more about GTD and hearing what Mike's challenges are, too.

But First!

Before we get into GTD we need your help. The peerless Tammie Rampley, #SuperFred supreme and maker of the most awesome custom purses and bags on the planet, is entered into a contest hosted by Quickbooks to win an ad for her business during the next Super Bowl.

How does she win?

Our votes!

We've bookmarked the page and hope that you will vote for her, too. It's easy as pie – no registration, no need to share your name or email. Just click a button and go.

You can vote once every 24 hours, which is why we've bookmarked the page, and we love her so much that we're going to click that button every day.

If you can vote once, that would be awesome. If you can pop by and vote a few times, that would be SuperFred awesome.

Imagine… a SuperFred at the Super Bowl!

One More Thing…

Our friend Téa Silvestre of the Story Bistro is hosting her 2nd annual Storytelling Soiree this August 8 and 9 in Portland, Oregon. It's two days of fun, food and learning. By all accounts last year's event was a brilliant success so if you need help telling the story of your business, this could be the event for you.

Learn more about it here and if you decide to sign up you can use the Super Secret Super Special SuperFred code RIVERAPAL25 to get 25% off the ticket price. But hurry because you have to sign up by July 1 to get the discount.

Plus a SuperFred Shout Out

We learned recently that our good friend Jason T. Wiser of On Track Tips took a spill from his bike and broke his collarbone. He ended up needing surgery so part of his bone could be replaced with a plate.

In true Murphy's Law fashion, the plate wasn't available and needed to be ordered so he had to wait days before the replacement.

And then – grab a tissue, you'll need it – in a stroke of unrelated fate, an elderly woman fell and broke her collarbone and needed the same plate. So Jason, being the truly amazing person that he is, gave up his plate so the elderly woman could have her surgery immediately.

He ended up having to wait even longer for his.


He's doing ok now and we hope he's up and about quickly, but man. THAT'S a story. And a heck of a guy.

And Now… Getting Things Done

Bet you wouldn't mind voting for Tammie… but you already have a billion things to remember.

Bet you might like a trip to Portland for a little storytelling… but you can't swing two days away from the office.

Bet you'd like to do a lot of things, including spend less time working, less time stressing and more just getting stuff done so you can get on with your life.

Here's the funny thing about that… you can.

If Ralph Can Do It, Anyone Can.

Hey, they're his words. And as the wife who loves him so very much, I can [ahem] vouch for the fact that he is a little [ahem] scattered. And crazy. And [ahem] sometimes I can ask him to do something on a Monday and then ask him again on a Tuesday and then ask him again a week later and then just decide to do it myself because… ARGH!

But here's the miraculous thing. Once he adopted GTD he not only managed to get stuff done but even do it on time and not freak out because he had too much to do.

He Also Got To Inbox Zero.

It's not just a mythical creature like the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Santa Claus (hey, Santa Claus is totally real!)

Inbox Zero is a thing that can be achieved and we've got proof: a listener sent us a really nice email after listening to Ralph's recent post about Inbox Zero and told us how it helped her deal with an organizational nightmare of her own.

The result? She got to Inbox Zero.

Does It Require Chanting And Sacrificial Virgins?

Nope. It may actually be something both much simpler and much worse: discipline.

In fact, that's what Mike Brooks says he struggles with the most, and that's just sitting down and doing it.

It's true. You have to be willing to do the work. But if you are, it really is almost magic.

The 5 (Not So Magical) Steps Of GTD

We're not GTD experts or trainers. There are plenty of those. But we are definite GTD converts so we'd like to share the basics with you and hopefully inspire you to check it out for yourself.

Step 1: Capture

Repeat after me: my brain is a not a hard drive.

If you're hanging out trying to remember stuff, like what you have to do, what you have to do next, where you need to go, what you need to buy… stop it!

Your brain is super good at being creative and getting your job done. What it's not good at is remembering stuff.

The first thing you need to do is a "brain dump" so you get everything – and we mean everything – out of your head and into some sort of collection bucket. That can be as simple as a piece of paper or any app of your choosing.

We like Omnifocus.

Don't organize them.

Don't think about them.

Don't schedule them.

Don't plan them.

Just empty your head.

Need cat litter? Write it down. Have to write a report for a client? Write it down. Forgot to buy your mom a birthday card? Write it down. From work to personal, think MacBeth: OUT, damned stuff, OUT! (Points for being a literature geek.)

Step 2: Clarify

During this phase you ask yourself this one question about each item on your list: Is it actionable?

There are only two possible answers: yes or no.

If it's a well… I kind of have to…

Then it's a NO.

If it's a well, one of these days I should…

Then it's a NO.

If it's an I don't know right now but…

Then it's a NO.

If it's not a definitive yes then it's a no.

Now look at your "no" list and decide what to do with those things. You have options!

If they are not important, are not helping you, are not making you money, moving you forward or otherwise contributing to your life then trash them. You don't actually have to do everything your brain thinks of!

If they're ideas you have half baked or that you want to do maybe someday, incubate them. Let them sit but don't put them into your actionable list yet.

If they're reference material, store them. You know those bookmarks and notes and articles and things you might need? Keep them, but get them out of your brain and inbox and off your to do list.

Great! You're only left with the "yes" pile now.

What to do?

You've got options here, too.

First, decide whether you can do it in under 2 minutes (or under 1 or under 5, whatever works for you).

If you can, just do it. Get it out of your life before it becomes a big thing or before all the little things start to add up.

Next, decide if it's something you can delegate. Sometimes you just have to let go and keep your brain focused on things that only you can do.

Then, defer. If there is anything actionable that doesn't need to be done now, defer it to a later date. Call it sanctioned procrastination. The difference is you're putting it off on purpose.

Finally, decide what the desired outcome of each actionable item is. Use verbs. "A website" is not an outcome. "Launch my new website" is an outcome.

At the end of a project you should be able to decide whether you have achieved the outcome.

Step 3: Organize

This is the part where you take all your actionable items and organize them into projects. Remember, a project starts with a verb so you can decide whether or not you have achieved your desired result.

A project can be as small as one item!

Step 4: Reflect

Once a week, look at everything from a big-picture perspective. Look at your inbox. Look at your projects, your action items, things you deferred or delegated.

See if there is anything you can change to be better. Get a handle on where you are in the flow and where you're going.

Step 5: Engage

Believe it or not, this is the part, five steps later, where you actually get stuff done. Yes, this is the part where you work!

It probably sounds like a lot of work just to get to work, but once you set your system up then you'll be able to do more in less time and stop running around putting out fires.

Lots Of Mistakes

I'll be the first to admit, this system took me a while to "get". I tried, I failed, I went back to my to do lists and project management apps and notebooks.

I did it wrong.

At first, I set up my projects as clients. So I had a project called "Acme Corp."

But what was I doing for Acme Corp?

Well, I had to build their website. And we were designing their logo. And we had to set up their social accounts.

So really, that's three projects with three different outcomes.

At first, I tried to figure out the "how" before I got past the "what". Trying to brain dump and figure stuff out at the same time is a recipe for frustration. Dump, then do.

At first, I would ignore those two-minute things because really, they were so small. I could do them whenever. And I had much more important things to do. Except then the one thing that I could have done in 30 seconds sat on my desk for two months. And even though it wasn't really important, it nagged at my brain taking up space there when it should have just been done.

Mike struggles, too. He's stuck in a chicken-and-egg situation where he feels that if only he could get organized he'd have time to reflect. But if only he reflected, he could get organized. I feel his pain. As I continue to learn and implement this system, my "stuff" list is still a bit of a mess. But I suggested we accept the mess and spend a few minutes each day working toward a better system. You can't learn and change everything overnight.

Get An Accountability Buddy

Finally, we decide that all this sounds great but sometimes you need a boot in the behind. That's why we're designating time together (Mike, Ralph and I) to bran dump and reflect. We'd love to have you join us virtually so if you're learning GTD, give us a shout and let's keep each other on track.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Mike: Looks like Mike wants to keep your inbox full because he's got a few!

First, listen to the Nuclear Chowder podcast episode 85 to find out why your marketing isn't working.

Then, queue up the Road to TED podcast, which he co-hosts with Dino Dogan of Triberr to hear about how people who are NOT public speakers prepare themselves for some major public speaking gigs.

Of course, he says, go learn more about GTD. He's on board!

And last, share your ideas for getting him to be more self-disciplined. Do you have any tips, tricks or ideas that keep you on track even when you're doing stuff you kind of don't want to be doing?

From Ralph: More work! This time it's an either/or (or if you're feeling super motivated, both!)

One: Go to gettingthingsdone.com and check out GTD Connect. Sign up for a month and take advantage of all the great resources and trainings they have there.

Two: Sign up for a free trial at Lynda.com. Besides being an amazing learning resource, you can catch David Allen himself, creator of the GTD system, giving a 40-minute session on GTD.

From Carol Lynn: Before you get started doing any GTDing at all, choose your collection method. Try something – notebooks, paper, index cards, apps, whatever. Find something that works for you, that you can use consistently wherever you are. And don't get stuck on any one idea. If you love paper and that works great for a while but then not so much, leave it behind and find an app. Just keep your stuff in one place as much as possible and make sure it's a place you're happy with.


We've given you a lot of links and resources here but we wanted you to know that these are not sponsored or affiliate links. Everything we're sharing is because we think it can in some way help you and your business. Of course, if David Allen or anyone else wants to pay us a billion dollars to mention them, we'll take it!

Links & Resources


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Direct download: 0116-get-out-of-the-whirlwind-learn-how-to-finally-get-things-done.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #0115: Rob Beeler Saves Ad Operations From Deadly Nanobots

Ads. It's A Love-Hate-Ignore Thing.

As a consumer you're sick of being bombarded by them. As a business you need them to help you get noticed. For content publishers big and small, they're what keep you in business.

If we want to continue to enjoy free content – and also market ourselves – ads are kind of a necessary evil.

Today we talk with Rob Beeler of AdMonsters about both sides of the marketing coin: the noise ads create but the need they fill for both publishers and businesses.

But I Love Free Stuff!

So do we, but if you're creating content for your business then you understand the amount of work that goes into it. And you understand that you need to make money as a direct or indirect result of that content.

For many small businesses content makes them money by bringing in leads and customers.

For others, advertising itself is a source of revenue.

Without one of those, content creation is just a super time-consuming hobby.

It's Not All Popups And Banners.

The hottest new trend in advertising is "native advertising."

And by hottest new trend I mean something that has always existed but has a fancy new name now.

It used to be called "advertorial."

Now it's called "native advertising" and you'll recognize it in papers, magazines and even on websites and blogs as "sponsored content."

It's caused a bit of a ruckus lately because the internet loves a ruckus, but it's essentially brand-funded content published in someone else's publication.

For example, you may be reading along, learning about the latest earthquake, the recent FIFA scandal and some great news in health that recommends eating whole grains for breakfast. Except that last piece is paid for by Kellogg's.

Sounds Fishy.

Yup, it can be. The problem with sponsored content is that there is a very fine line between creating ad content that blends in without disrupting a reader's experience and creating ad content that's pretending to be news but is really just pushing a product.

Thus, the ruckus… especially about a particular piece placed in The Atlantic that was sponsored by Scientology.

Turns out there were a few problems with that. For one, the advertorial was indistinguishable enough from the regular content that it fooled people into believing it was an article written by the publication.

For another, the comments were moderated so that nothing critical of Scientology was allowed through.

But as Rob points out, perhaps the most egregious error was that The Atlantic has such a superior reputation for excellence that this poorly placed and managed ad has had serious ramifications for the publication's credibility.

John Oliver did a great comedy sketch about the issue that you can enjoy here.

So How Do You Support Content Without Ads?

Good question. So far few people have figured that out. Rob mentions Business Insider as a good example of a company thinking past ads to event planning for revenue generation.

Other publishers have put up pay walls that require a paid online subscription if you want to read their content. Some websites ask kindly that you contribute to their funding if you love the content.

It's a tough nut to crack, but even without the disruption factor, the truth is that on the flip side, businesses need to get their products and services in front of people, and one good way to do that is with ads.

Is The Internet Mummifying Us?

We brought up the question of whether it makes sense to retarget people with ads. You know how an ad seems to follow you across the Internet? You browse a pair of shoes at Zappos and next thing you know those shoes show up on Facebook, Google and everywhere?

That's called retargeting and even the smallest of businesses can set up ad retargeting. But are those really effective, especially since you either don't want the thing or already bought the thing?

Rob says… probably not, but it's so darn cheap to do that it's a pretty good option anyway.

But They're Tracking My Every Move!

No, that's the NSA. Actually, Rob says, ad servers (and businesses) have no idea who you are. You're just a bunch of data.

"Entity who visited Zappos."

Sometimes that data be cross-referenced as you traverse the Internet so you are also "Entity who clicked on ad for Carnival Cruise."

But nobody knows your name or who you are or where you are.

Ads Are Dumb.

Literally. Ad servers and ad technology haven't changed much in 15 years even though the Internet has evolved exponentially.

In spite of the fact that you may feel bombarded with ads on the Internet, TV is still your best bet if you've got a few million lying around. TV ads have a measurably high return, old as the technology is. Yet Internet ads, for all their ubiquity, don't return as well.

In fact, Rob says, mobile ads give you the worst return of all.

Rob thinks the future of mobile advertising will be in great creative, video and even the dreaded sponsored content. The key is to make the experience seamless.

Rob Ponders Starting A Hello Kitty Website

He thinks there isn't any scale there, but we beg to differ. Between Carol Lynn and SuperFred Tammie Rampley, they are bound to keep him in business.

What about Triberr?

One of the components of Triberr is campaigns, where a brand can hire bloggers to write about a product or service and pay them to do it.

We could get paid a couple hundred bucks for writing a post about a product right here on Web.Search.Social.

But what would that do to our credibility?

What does it do to the credibility of the bloggers who get paid to talk about products?

Rob thinks it all boils down to authenticity.

If the content is created in an authentic way, by authentic people who have already earned the trust of their audience then the content can be trusted, even if someone else pays it for.

Sounds true, but still we wonder: if we wrote an article about our favorite contact manager, Insightly, and then we wrote another article that Insightly paid us to write, would they be equally trustworthy in the eyes of our readers?

The good news about Triberr is that content creators have full editorial control so they can write about the good, bad and ugly without needing approval from the brand.

Authenticity plus editorial control can go a long way to resolving a lot of the problems with native advertising.

So What Does The Future Of Advertising Look Like?

Ads are noise, and lots of it. Rob thinks that businesses are just going to have to get more creative and create different experiences.

He mentioned the recent Budweiser "up for whatever" debacle and even though they missed the mark on that one, Rob is glad to see someone trying something different, experimenting and creating new experiences. Next time, though, maybe think it through...

Facebook: Delivering Quality Or Adding To The Noise?

Facebook lets everyone be their own ad operations manager. You can easily create, set up and hyper target ads to people based on geography, interests, gender and plenty more.

Is that better for keeping the noise level down, or is it just making it that much easier to add to the noise?

Good question, but Rob says everything on Facebook is noise, and that's how they generate revenue.

Plus Rob admits to targeting himself with ads, which is kind of weird, but an interesting experiment.

Your Marketing Action Item

From Rob: He's got two for you today!

First, his company is hosting an ad event in New York on June 9, 2015. If it sounds interesting, shoot him an email to rbeeler@admonsters.com and he'll hook you up. No discounts, he says – he'll just get you there.

Second, check your own noise level. Don't believe that everything you do is essential to your consumer. You don't need to bombard people with ads or content and chase them down. More can sometimes be less.

Go for thoughtful, high quality content instead, and that's what will cut through the noise.

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Direct download: 0115-rob-beeler-saves-ad-operations-from-deadly-nanobots.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST

WSS #114: BLOG > 5 Thoughts On Marketing And Productivity: I Am Inbox Zero And You Can Too.


WSS #0113: BLOG > My Crummy Waitress: In Defense Of Poor Customer Service


Direct download: 0113-blog-my-crummy-waitress-in-defense-of-poor-customer-service.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EST