From Cringe to Insight: What’s Your Most Recent Marketing Lesson?

3 comments

Your market is your best teacher.

It can be a harsh teacher sometimes, but bruised egos and sometimes wasted money are the high price of your continuing education :)

Search Marketing Standard and I invite you to blog about your most recent marketing lesson – BIG or small, from social media marketing to paid search.

Describe a recent cringe-worthy moment you had and the insight this little lesson brought you and send us a link, or comment this thread.

Share your hard knocks and how you turned them into wins for you or your clients!
Here’s my Cringe to Insight story to start the discussion:

Forum participation is the cornerstone of content creation for one my marketing projects.

This direct community interaction gives me the lingo, the wisdom, the criticism and even the inspiration to write great content that generates links, organic search traffic and subscribers to our email newsletter.

In forum participation I lean towards asking questions and starting conversations – that and my transparency regarding my intention to write about a given thread in our site’s blog is what keeps people more or less accepting of my presence.

Recently though I PUSHED a link to a resource I’d written that I assumed my community would really like. I phrased it as a question, but it was pretty obvious that I didn’t just want them to answer, but that I wanted them to go and visit the link.

CRINGE: The resulting flames from my fellow forum members got me CRINGING! Especially when they started attacking our website and our very business model in the public forum.

I wrote these five rules for myself as a result:

1) Content must arise from a community need or passion.
2) Content must provide value to the community.
3) Content must incorporate, cite, interview and/or champion key members of the community.
4) Content must incorporate the language of the community (but not too much).
5) Ask for permission AND forgiveness.

Read the whole story here: Lessons in Branded Content Creation Through Community Participation

Now… what’s your most recent marketing Cringe to Insight turn around? Write a post on your blog and send me the url… gfrench@gmail.com

1) From Al Scillitani of Fortune Interactive

I would say one of the most important lessons I have learned is the importance of analytics, especially in paid search.

Let’s go over why it is so important, especially for ecommerce sites.

You sell 2 name brand TV’s. You bid on Panasonic Televisions, Panasonic TV, Sony Televisions, Sony TV.

Out of your $8,000 a month budget, $8,000 of it goes to the 4 terms above. To make things real easy you spend $2000 on each of the 4 terms every month. Without revenue tracking to the keyword level and looking at just conversions, you estimate your paid search revenue is $24,000. You feel things look good, but looks can be deceiving.

Read No Analytics – Good Luck! for more details on what good tracking can mean to your paid search campaign!

2) From Adam Schultz, of Bold Interactive (my partner)

I wrote about recent community marketing cringes… Adam wrote about our first and most significant cringe when we first started participating in forums:

Then one day, on post 4, the trolls showed up.

It started with someone posting about how we were just using them for customer service. After some more back and forth one of the forum members went on to our site and ripped it limb from limb with a series of harsh-but-true criticisms.

Reading it, I felt like I was looking into one of those magnifying mirrors women use to see into their pores. It was not a pretty sight by any stretch of the imagination.

Read the rest in Adam’s post: Lessons from Hard Knocks University – College of On-Line Marketing

3) From Tom Hale, www.ThomasCreekConcepts.com

“I recently did a little dance with a client that ended in me refunding what retainer had been paid to me (at my suggestion) as the easiest way to get out of the relationship. The final fly in the ointment was local geographic targeting via Google AdWords. Anyone that has worked with that knows it is far from an exact science. When I realized my client did not have the background to understand, the temperament to do any research himself, nor the resources to pay me for exhaustive tutoring, I bailed out.”

Read the rest of this story in the comments below – thanks Tom!

4) From Cord Silverstein, Director of Engagement Marketing, Capstrat

Cord, a former esteemed colleague of mine, recently got involved in a message board battle… the kind of fight he probably won’t be drawn into again… Thanks Cord!

“These people see themselves as the gatekeepers and I as a newbie was invading their turf and my intentions were unknown. They immediately began to circle the wagons and accused me of being a member of human resources, the CEO and one person raised the question on whether I was a member of Al Qaeda, don’t ask me where that came from. I initially tried to laugh it off and I think I might of said a thing or two making fun of some of these “trolls.” Big mistake #1. Never make fun of the host when you weren’t even invited to the party.”

Read all of Never Type When Angry

5) From Stephen Ward, SEO and Web Developer

I find that the whole, “Marketing is never a cost when done correctly,” line is a great way to put thrifty clients at ease when it comes time to discuss their marketing budget.

Marketing is Never a Cost… …if done correctly

About the Author

Garrett French educates SEO and PR teams on content and engagement-based link building strategies that drive targeted referral traffic and deliver SERP domination. Learn more about him and his services at CitationLabs.com.

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3 Comments

  1. Thinking on cringe as the road to insight I realized I hadn’t had any major incidences of cringe lately. And immediately started knocking on wood, throwing salt, and generally assuring the God Murphy that I was not mocking him Then I realized I had winced a few times recently and was a little wiser for it. For one I recently did a little dance with a client that ended in me refunding what retainer had been paid to me (at my suggestion) as the easiest way to get out of the relationship. The final fly in the ointment was local geographic targeting via Google AdWords. Anyone that has worked with that knows it is far from an exact science. When I realized my client did not have the background to understand, the temperament to do any research himself, nor the resources to pay me for exhaustive tutoring, I bailed out. Lesson learned (again): In this business you do have to be somewhat selective of the clients you accept. Ability to communicate with the client, their temperament for advertising in general, ppc in particular, and their resources can be critical as to whether or nor your work for them will succeed. Unless of course you are just churning clients. Another area where I have dined on some crow lately concerns AdWords content targeting. I often pontificate to clients about the limitations of content targeting; how it is good for branding and promotion but not very good for conversions in the short term, yada, yada. Twice though fairly recently that has proven not to be the case. In fact content targeting resulted in some nice conversion numbers rather quickly, whereas some of the keyword-search campaigns from which I would have expected better ROI, were out performed by the content campaigns. I don’t have enough data yet for a paper or anything but my hunch is Google has made some nice improvements with their content algorithm. If the rumors of improved transparency and control for content/site targeting are true things are going to get even better very soon. Lesson learned: Each client situation is different, and the market is ever changing. Test BEFORE you pontificate. Unless you like the taste of crow. -T

  2. Laura H

    This a personal branding cringe moment that continues to test and hone my budding search marketing skills - however, triumph is around the corner! Many years ago I was in a romantic relationship that blew up dramatically and I broke it off with the guy in a manner that was abrupt and in retrospect not very sensitive. This was before the days I was web savvy and SEO conscious. One day I get this anonymous email sent to me through a 3rd party site accusing me of use and abuse. At first I was like "Who"? And then it dawned on me who sent it. Given that the whole flareup was recent and upsetting, this immediately made me mad. I typed up a scathing response back and hit send. Never type when you are angry! Unfortunately as my email address had my true first and last name indicated on it, for years, whenever you'd search my name, my scathing, emasculating response would pop up in position 1. Not good. Since I've entered the search world, I've made it my challenge to create enough positive web presence about myself to push this embarrassing search result down. As I'm not a famous person frequently in the public eye, who naturally has references made about me all over the web from sites with oodles of linkjuice, this has been some work. I'm please to see the embarrassing entry drop down to page 2. However, I want to bury it completely. Any recos on how to banish it out of sight more quickly?

  3. Jason

    Laura, I've found that creating profiles on sites, such as LinkedIn.com, Meetup.com, and others and being semi-active by joining a few groups here and there can help you push down that result further. It's amazing how quickly listings from those websites will show up for your name. Jason