Business Speaker on Brand Marketing
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a motivational keynote speaker whose topics include brand marketing and personal branding. He’s a leading authority on self-employment and the author of Marketing Shortcuts for the Self-Employed (2011, Wiley). The 46th chapter of this award-winning book (2012 Small Business Book Awards) is entitled Online Branding (in Part 4 of the book: Populate Internet Properties) and is included below for your review. The book has a total of 80 short chapters, each ending with an Implementation Checklist. Also, Patrick’s perspective on the online branding opportunity, particularly for small business owners and self-employed service professionals, is summarized below.
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Keynote Speech about Online Branding
There has never been a better time to position yourself as an expert is your field. Businesses and self-employed professionals can publish information online which will get found when people search for their names on Google. And the more information you publish, the more of an authority you become. Patrick is an example of this himself. His biggest claim to fame is that he has no claim to fame. He built his business from the ground up, by providing valuable information on a consistent basis and sharing those resources in the public domain. Today, he has articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts and PDF reports, positioning him as an expert on self-employment and small business marketing. If your audience is comprised of small business owners or self-employed service professionals, Patrick is the perfect speaker to convey the opportunities available on today’s social internet.
Chapter 46: Online Branding
Want to be on the first page of Google?
Stupid question. Of course you do! The better question would ask how to get on the first page of Google results. Turns out, there are some websites that can quickly put your company right on the first page for searches in your local community, even if you don’t have a website! These include Yelp, Citysearch, Yahoo! Local, MerchantCircle, and Google Places among others. Chapter 38 discussed niche directories that cater to specific verticals such as your industry or even your geographic location. Those directories can do an amazing job getting your name in front of qualified prospects, but they are less likely to show up on the front page of Google search results. Yahoo! Local, Citysearch, and Yelp are different. They don’t necessarily attract hordes of Internet users who are all looking only for your particular service. On the contrary, they offer listings on a wide variety of topics, but they’re such huge platforms that they rank high on the search engines.
Here’s the strategy: First, visit all these websites and sign up for an account. By doing so, you’re simply registering your existence in their databases. Then, once your account is created, get some of your past clients to write reviews of your business on those platforms. A client of mine was frustrated trying to get more clients online. We set up a Yelp account and started accumulating a few reviews. Now, when people search for his service (residential contracting) in his city, those Yelp reviews show up on the first page (his own website is on page four or five). (We’ll discuss Yelp in more detail in Chapter 48.)
In fact, of the ten listings that come on the first page of Google search results, my client is mentioned in four of them! His listing on Yahoo! Local comes up (listing 4) followed by MerchantCircle (listing 5), Citysearch (listing 7), and Yelp (listing 9). Note that his own website is not listed on the first page, but his company nevertheless dominates the top search results.
On each of these platforms, make sure you fill out as much information as possible. Add descriptions and upload photos. If the platform allows you to connect with other users, reach out to other businesses. If the platform allows you to get reviews, promote that to your customers. The more complete your profile is, the better it will rank.
Search engine visibility is the biggest opportunity these websites provide. They’re such large platforms that they almost always come up near the top of search results. Some are free. Others charge a fee but the online visibility is well worth the investment. Most people believe the only way to show up on Google is to have an incredible website that is perfectly optimized for the search engines. That’s not true. There are other ways—strategies that are more effective and less expensive than trying to build a huge website all on your own (or hiring someone else to do it).
The easiest way to find these large localized directory sites is to search for your industry keywords and look at the domain names at the bottom of each search result listing. By looking at the URL as well as the description text, you can usually identify the platforms that host profiles for your competitors. Start by looking for listings with Yelp, Citysearch, or Yahoo! in the URL. Those will give you a good idea of the usual structure, making it easy to find other websites you can target as well. I recommend doing this every month or so, just to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the opportunities available in your industry.
These are simple strategies that only take a few hours to pursue. The best part is that you can easily see what your competition is doing, just by looking at the search results in your field. By consistently targeting all the platforms others are using, you’ll quickly populate the Internet with positive citations of your business. That exposure can bring you the customers you’re looking for. Another advantage is that these websites get indexed by Google regularly. That means you can start seeing results quickly. I recently created a page on MerchantCircle and found the listing on Google within 30 minutes.
Get started! Done properly, this strategy can get you on the first page of Google search results in short order.
Online Branding: Implementation Checklist
Create an account on Yahoo! Local.
Create an account on Google Places.
Create an account on Yelp.
Create an account on MerchantCircle.
Consider an account on Citysearch ($$).
Search for your keywords on Google.
Look for platforms others are using.
Ask past clients to write reviews for you.
Continue checking for new platforms.
End of chapter – click here to buy the book on Amazon.