This is the second part of a recap of what I spoke on in a session entitled “So You Want To be a Search Marketer” at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. In part 1, I provided some statistics on how much money is pouring into this industry, explained how I happened to “stumble” into search marketing after experiencing success marketing one of my own sites, and talked about how to gain hands-on experience by applying search marketing techniques to a working web site before engaging paying clients. In part 2, we are going to look at how budding search marketers can network with businesses as well as peers, how they can effectively brand themselves, how to stay on the cutting edge of this fast paced industry and some things not to do.
Networking With Businesses and Other Search Marketers
Whether you decide to work for an agency or establish your own SEM firm, I feel it is important to network not only with business partners but other search marketers.
Networking with other businesses for example can help to establish a new firm. I know if did wonders for ours. Two partnerships we developed in the beginning, one with a traditional Yellow Page advertising firm and another with a web development firm, really helped us to get a running start. There are still plenty of opportunities these days to provide search marketing services to companies who do not offer those services themselves, but whose clients are certainly inquiring about them. Traditional ad agencies, PR firms, web developers, graphic artists and the list goes on. Developing a working partnership with these types of companies will provide you access to an existing client base where there is little to no selling involved. It is a wonderful way to engage new business, especially if you are just starting out.
There is also an advantage in networking with other search marketers first in the online space such as forums, blogs and social media but then in the “real” world as well such as conferences, seminars and the like. By networking with other search marketers, you become part of a community that can learn from one another as well as help one another out. If you have the mentality that every other search marketer is a competitor, you may find yourself isolated. True they are competitors but there are plenty of fish to go around. We have not only been on the receiving end of acquiring leads and clients from other search marketers but have also provided leads as well when our workload was too heavy or if the potential client needed a service that we might not specialize in.
Branding Yourself as an Expert
There are many search marketers, there are few that really stand out. Another quote I have heard used is that “you are not an expert because you think you are, but rather because others think you are.”
Branding yourself as an expert search marketer is not as easy today as it was back in the late nineties. There are so many of us now. However that should not keep you from trying. Here are some things you can do in branding yourself –
- Write Informative Articles
- Participate in Forums
- Participate in Social Media
- Start an Informative Blog
However a word of caution – in doing all these things, make sure you have something unique and of value to offer.
There are some things you should NOT do in branding yourself.
- Don’t spam forums and/or blog comments
- Don’t steal other’s content or sales copy
- Don’t come off as a know-it-all
- Don’t promise what you can’t deliver
- No matter what color hat you wear, don’t be unethical in your business practices
Most of these are self explanatory. I would like to touch on a couple such as spamming forums and/or blog comments. How does one accomplish this? Essentially when you are there only to promote yourself. Rather one should try to contribute value to a forum or when commenting on blog posts. When you contribute value, you promote yourself naturally and much more effectively.
Regarding stealing other’s content and sales copy – I subscribe to Copysentry, a service that scans search engines for duplicates of pages you subscribe to the service. There is not a week that goes by that I do not come across someone who steals article content, blog content and in a worse case scenario, sales copy to compete against us. This is a sure fire way to get sued or blogged about. Don’t do it. It is not a good way to effectively brand yourself and you could end up having to face legal woes or even worse in my opinion, an online reputation management problem.
Staying On The Cutting Edge
The world of search engine marketing is fast-paced and always changing. So, how does one keep on top of this ever-changing, exciting industry?
- Stay Active in Forums
- Subscribe to Quality Blogs (Bloglines, Google Reader, etc)
- Never Be Afraid To Experiment
- Buy Savvy Search Marketers Drinks at SES (or other conferences)!
The last tip got some laughs in the live presentation but it is true. Sometimes you can learn more about this industry sitting around the bars late night during conferences like SES, PubCon and the like than you will ever learn in a forum, blog or elsewhere.
The bottom line to staying on the cutting edge is that one has to live and breath search marketing to really stay effective and current.
- Take advantage of the vast amount of resources available today to learn about search marketing.
- Apply techniques you learn to your own sites before paying clients’ sites.
- Network with others (marketers and businesses) and brand yourself effectively.
- Keep yourself abreast of all the latest that is happening in the world of search marketing. Live and breath search marketing.
If you want to download the original PowerPoint presentation and did not get it in part 1 of this post, here it is.