Virtual Chief Marketing Officer Insights With Elizabeth Quintanilla

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Elizabeth Quintanilla, a marketing consultant and owner of EQ Consultant Group in Austin, Texas. She shared some valuable insights on her path to becoming a marketing consultant and ideas for using LinkedIn to help your career.

What led you to choose marketing as your profession?

What you are great at intellectually doesn’t necessarily match with what you are great at based on your personality. The feedback I always got as an engineer was that I was always around the coffee pot but I got my work done. I am an extrovert and that lends itself to being a marketer.

How has your MBA degree helped you in your marketing career?

One way it helps is by bringing you credibility. Often a technology company doesn’t want to hire an engineer to do marketing unless you have experience as a product manager. Also an MBA helps you learn about finance and operations since as a consultant you get pulled into issues that are not necessarily marketing issues.

What tactics have been most effective for acquiring clients for your marketing consultancy?

It’s different now that I’ve been in business for nearly five years. In the beginning it was a lot of networking and getting in touch with people to let them know what I’m doing now and convincing them to take a chance on me on various projects. Today it actually comes down to referrals from previous clients. I also teach a series of classes guest lecturer. I don’t blog as much anymore because I don’t make the time but at the same time I’m always using social media like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to share ideas and best practices.

I learned that you have recently worked as a virtual Chief Marketing Officer. Can you explain how it works when a company hires a virtual Chief Marketing Officer?

I had to distinguish myself from the graphic designers because people often associate marketing with graphic design. Also, companies may already have a marketing team in place but they’re just not being led appropriately so it’s easier for me to say I will project manage the team and streamline the operations. With one technology client we have set up an agile board of tasks to bring clarity and visibility because people didn’t know what the marketing team did.

You gave an excellent talk on utilizing LinkedIn at Austin’s Career Connects Conference (video here) and there were a lot of great tips on using LinkedIn to grow your online presence. Can you share a couple things that marketers can do to improve their presence on LinkedIn?

Make sure your profile is 100% complete. Please don’t use a glamor shot for your photo because when you’re meeting people, the quickest and easiest way for them to find you is by looking at your photo on LinkedIn. Be active in groups; you’re able to join up to 50 groups. Find the areas that are interesting to you and participate. Read or respond and like or comment. Find the areas that are interesting to you as a marketing manager and at the same time try to stay top of mind with your network. I update LinkedIn every Monday through Friday with useful information.

What books have helped you the most in your career?

Leadership books are great because you’re always going to be part of a team. In terms of marketing books, I’ve enjoyed Brains on Fire. Also, Brand Tattoos which is about creating a unique brand that sticks in your customer’s minds. It’s noisy out there so it’s important to create a valuable positioning statement for yourself. Sometimes you don’t have enough coffee and you just need one of those Dummy books. I also need to understand sales so I’ve read books on negotiations and Getting to Yes so I can understand a sales mentality.

What productivity hacks have you found to help you maximize the efficiency of your limited time?

Hootsuite is how I manage all my social media and I use Nimble for contact management. ContactMonkey provides insights on email campaigns such as what platform people are using. I have a critical to do list and if I accomplish the things on that list it is a successful day.

What advice would you give to someone who would like to start their own marketing consulting business?

I would never discourage someone to start their own business but do it because you want to, not because you don’t like your previous boss. You need to have a drive of service because when you’re a consultant you’re working to improve other people’s businesses. Be prepared to spend as much time learning and staying on top of best practices as you do working because you have to be the leader. You are effectively the CEO and will be running your entire company from taxes to finance.

You can learn more about Elizabeth at the EQ Consultants Group website and follow her on twitter at equintanilla.

Note: This article was transcribed from a phone interview.

Starting an Online Marketing Consultancy: Interview with Alex Avery

I recently had the chance to chat with Alex Avery, an online marketer who started his own SEO and web design consultancy, Webology Marketing in Seattle, Washington. In this interview he shares insights from his experience of starting an independent SEO business and things that have helped it grow.

How did you get started in online marketing and what led you to start your own business?

I started with a small advertising firm in 2009. I worked as a production assistant and began learning the ropes of SEO from day one. At that time, most of the organized education materials were focused on keyword density. It was painfully obvious that there was more to SEO/online marketing than keyword density. That’s when I found SEOmoz, which was instrumental in helping me understand the comprehensive approach to organic web marketing.

Once I had a better understanding of the industry, I built out an internal model at the agency to follow these best practices. And while the concepts were well-received, the approach was a little daunting for this small ad agency. After a couple of years, I moved to an even smaller, more focused SEO firm in Seattle. Sadly, these same comprehensive strategies were not the ideal approach for this firm, either.

I decided to start my own firm in 2011. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of success for our clients. My hope is to continue to grow and offer more comprehensive marketing services to small/medium size businesses.

What activities do you spend most of your time on and what things make the biggest impact for your business?

Most of my time is spent writing. New and updated content is vital to the success of any website.

Another significant part of my time is spent on website design/development. I find that efforts spent writing content, link building and other off-page tactics are not as effective unless I have a strong on-page, development plan in place. Having a professional design and clean site architecture makes a significant impact in both rankings and conversions (sign-ups, emails, etc.).

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started your business?

Getting started with Webology, I underestimated the need for a strong sales force. As many entrepreneurs have learned, new client acquisition is very time-consuming. It’s not that it’s impossible to do on your own, but once business starts booming, you need some support to keep things moving/growing.

How did you determine where to set your prices for your services?

Our pricing model has changed/evolved quite a bit this last year. When we first started, we ran our campaigns based on an hourly model. This approach was problematic for several reasons. One reason was that it gave the impression that we only spent X hours on a campaign because that’s what we billed for. What this didn’t reflect was the countless hours of research, outreach, client meetings, and other time spent that we didn’t feel comfortable billing to the client.

Another reason why the hourly model was troublesome was that clients would want to decrease or increase their work on a month to month basis—this lead to some surprises, come invoicing time.

The retainer model, if done transparently, eliminates these issues. The client is billed a consistent amount each month and time spent on a campaign is still tracked and accounted for. Again, transparency is essential here. Be sure the client knows exactly what you’re working on at all times. Start by providing frequent, transparent reports that detail ongoing and completed projects. And, of course, show competency and effectiveness by tracking traffic, rankings, and conversions.

What things have worked for you to acquire customers for your business?

For our company, the single most important channel for growing our client base has been our relationships. Forming relationships, and even partnerships, with the right people led us to those initial clients that have built the foundation of our business.

The second half of this plan is to practice what you preach. Develop and implement a social networking strategy, invest in design and development tactics to help improve your own site, and even consider buying ad space (AdWords, display, remarketing, etc.). Here at Webology, we are definitely guilty of the age-old “the cobbler’s kids have no shoes” scenario but it’s something we are excited to work on.

How do you ensure that your clients are happy and feel like that their expectations have been met or exceeded?

Two things: set reasonable expectations and be transparent. Setting reasonable expectations will only help you in the long run. There’s no need to hype up your tactics/strategies. The results will speak for themselves.

Transparency will eliminate surprises when it comes time to evaluate your services. Whether you’re an in-house SEO or an agency, you’re typically working with a marketing manager (or similar) within a company. Quite often, these marketing managers are pulled aside by their bosses and asked to explain what it is you’re working on and what results they’re seeing. This is when your transparency model is put to the test. They (the marketing manager) should be able to explain your services, current projects, and results-to-date with a high level of confidence. If they can’t, you could be subject to budget cuts or worse, without notice.

Can you describe a mistake that you have made in your business and what you learned from it?

One mistake I’ve made (and continue to make) is losing sight of the big picture, when it comes to the growth of Webology. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day and forget to step back and evaluate the overall strategy. This has led to short-sighted decisions and relationships that end up causing problems down the road. An example was bringing on an employee that didn’t know online marketing very well. Hiring and training new team members is not necessarily a bad tactic. However, when you’re just starting out, you need all the time you can get. It’s best not to spend time training and find someone who can help ease the workload.

Learn more about Alex’s company at Webology Marketing. You can follow him on Twitter at @alexanderavery

Confessions of a Content Marketer: Interview with Lauren Hall-Stigerts

I recently had the opportunity to interview Lauren Hall-Stigerts, a marketing consultant and founder of Marketing Gal, a marketing consultancy in Seattle, Washington. She shared her insights into what it is like to run a small business, tips for time management, and how she uses social media to develop relationships.

Can you tell us about your company?

Marketing Gal is an online marketing consultancy that provides content strategy and implementation for companies in a variety of industries. This could involve a number of methods, including but not limited to formulating on-site content strategy, executing social media outreach, email campaign planning, and authoring blog posts.

How do you manage your time with your business?

I use a combination of Steven Covey’s “7 Habits” and David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodologies. First, it’s important to assign bigger-picture context to daily tasks so the most important things get done. I do this by sorting tasks into a matrix with “urgent” and “not urgent” along the rows, and “important” and “not important” along the columns (Secret: doing this the night before really helps you focus early the next morning – which is the start to a kick-ass day). There is also a really great application called Things that helps me prioritize my tasks. I also schedule breaks to recharge throughout the day (and I snack on healthy foods throughout the day, too).

How do you use Twitter?

I try to engage in conversations on a regular basis while also curating useful links and resources. I have found that discussing shared interests has helped me connect with people. It has led to many great relationships including a mentor who has been invaluable in sharing advice for solving issues that come up with running a consultancy.

How do you balance the demands of running your own business with your personal life?

There are times when there is an important deadline and you may have to work late to finish a project, but I feel like you need to take time off to recharge your batteries. Spending time on my hobbies (which I have many… so much world to explore, so little time!) and with my family is critical to my overall success. Diversity outside the office helps bring diverse ideas to the office: often you will come up with solutions or ideas when you are engaging other parts of your brain.

How do you acquire clients for your business?

I feel so fortunate to say new clients have come from word of mouth, referrals from past clients, and relationships I’ve established throughout my career. I also give talks at local events and that has led to additional opportunities. Feeling intimidated? Present on something you know so well that you could talk about in your sleep or something you have a deep passion for. I guarantee that if you find the right audience, it will be a hit. Joining a local Toastmasters group is great if you want to improve your public speaking skills. I have also found that posting your presentations on Slideshare can result in more visibility (see the presentation Confessions of a Marketing Consultant).

What activities to you invest in for professional development?

I attend local meetups with marketing professionals and also meetups for a field I’m not as familiar with. I read a lot of books (I’m currently reading “Getting to Yes”, which is totally awesome and strongly recommended) and industry blogs. I’m also a moderator for the Inbound.org community which helps me stay connected with influential people in the marketing field. Joining my local Toastmasters group helped me prepare to do more public speaking.

We thank Lauren for taking the time to share her experiences and ideas. Learn more about Lauren at her website Marketing Gal, and on Twitter @lstigerts

Tony Hsieh Interviews Seth Godin

This is an excellent video of two of my favorite marketing book authors Tony Hsieh, who wrote Delivering Happiness and Seth Godin who has written several marketing classics like Purple Cow. They are also successful entrepreneurs who built Zappos and Squidoo into admired companies.

Here are some of the takeaways from the interview:
-Writing books to make money is a fool’s errand.
-Books spread ideas with authority and are souvenirs of ideas.
-Zappos is a service company that happens to sell shoes.
-You are not born with passion or not.
-We evolved as human beings to fit in.
-Happiness’ best friend is kindness. Passion’s best friend is generosity.
-We are living in a world where going out on a limb is not that dangerous.

Video Interview with Rohit Bhargava

David Site Garland from Rise to the Top recently interviewed Rohit Bhargava, author of the new book Likeonomics and the popular blog Influential Marketing Blog.

Key takeaways from the interview:
-Rohit got started in marketing because he was passionate about writing.
-Learning what you don’t want to do when you are young is extremely valuable.
-Once went door to door to sell websites to restaurants but couldn’t convince anyone that they needed a website.
-Never walk into a meeting with someone without knowing what you can do to help them.
-Got his first job in Australia after college because of the personal website he built.
-Cold called Ogilvy and asked for the digital team leader and then emailed him requesting an interview.
-If you can hit someone before they are about to write a job description, it can help you get hired.
-Got his first book deal by meeting with Tim Ferriss at South by Southwest.
-Having a great editor really helps because they will tell you when you have holes in your arguments or gaps in your story line rather than telling you which words to change.
-It turns out you can’t recycle much content from your blog in your book.
-Don’t underestimate the importance of the first week of the book launch.
-Rohit had to tell people not to buy the book because it was released earlier than expected and he wanted the sales to hit during one week so he could get on a best-selling list to gain momentum.
-His agency once lost a bid and the decision maker later told him it was because the other team had better chemistry.
-Beliefs don’t always lead to action. Personal relationships are a stronger motivation.

Check out Rise to the Top for over 300 more great interviews with entrepreneurs and authors.

Creative commons photo by Shashi Bellamkonda

You can find Rohit’s book Likeonomics at Amazon.

Interview with Palak Bavishi, Marketing Manager at Contactually

We had the great opportunity to interview Palak Bavishi, a recent grad from the University of California, Irvine and marketing manager at Contactually, online software that helps manage relationships. You can learn more about Contactually at their website or follow them on Twitter: @contactually.

Can you tell us about how you got started in the marketing field and what your career path has been like to this point?

I’ve just begun my professional marketing career with Contactually, but have interned and worked with many companies including AT&T, with their marketing efforts to create a strong outreach to users and customers. I have developed a strong interest particularly in internet marketing, and seen how technology has changed traditional marketing methods to advanced Internet techniques. Internships have helped me learn about different marketing strategies that can be used for particular industries.

What is the best marketing career advice you have ever received?

The best marketing career advice I have ever received would be “It’s not about who you know, but who knows you.” Marketing requires building relationships with people who would benefit from what you’re trying to offer them. Networking plays a huge role for marketers, especially for startups and small companies trying to grow. It’s important as a marketer to expand your network, and create a lasting impression with your connections.

What skills do you think are most valuable for marketers in today’s work environment?

As technology advances each and everyday, the most important skill for marketers would be networking. Networking should be a well, established skill for any marketer to be successful in developing a user base. In addition to networking, marketers should also be in sync with new technologies on the rise with social media, email marketing, as well as search engine marketing. These are all marketing strategies that should be mastered to reach a positive ROI.

What are your favorite books on marketing and how have they helped your thinking or effectiveness in marketing?

One of my favorite books on marketing is “The Referral Engine: Teaching your Business to Market Itself” by John Jantsch. Word-of-mouth referrals are greatly recommended in this book over any other marketing tactics. Jantsch creates a powerful argument about how trust and credibility relies in recommendations of a product from a friend, colleague, or even a stranger. In order to gain referrals, it’s important to keep customers and users happy and provide a quality experience. By keeping in with these ideals, referrals will flow instantly, and allow the business to grow steadily.

Do you read any marketing blogs or listen to any podcasts on a regular basis?

A few of the many marketing sites that I follow are Quicksprout, Small Biz Trends, and Social Media Examiner. These sites provide great insight about marketing, and new ways to use different mediums to attract new users. They provide great learning material about what the marketing industry is looking like, and offer great tips and advice for new marketers.

How does Contactually help marketers?

Contactually is a personal assistant for building professional relationships. For marketers, it’s important to follow up, and keep in contact with leads and prospects. Contactually will prompt you to take action with your email contacts, and make sure you are reaching out to those who have slipped off your radar recently. It’s a great tool to reconnect with people you may have contacted a few months ago, and forgotten about. In addition to storing all your contacts, Contactually also provides a platform for marketers to be able to connect on all levels (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) with their contacts.

Can you tell us the story of how Contactually was started and what your goals are?

Contactually was started in July 2011 as a side project to help better update our CRM (Highrise, at the time) via email. We built the first version over the weekend and had a few dozen users within a week. We got a lot of feedback and realize that integration with a CRM was really a secondary solution; the primary problem most people had was a difficult time remembering to follow up with important contacts. We refocused Contactually to meet this need, went full-time in October, moved to San Francisco for 3 months as part of 500 Startups (a tech incubator), and just moved back to DC in early Feb to continue scaling the product.

In the future, we plan to continue improving the product, eventually including greater integration beyond email (import contact histories from the major social networks and your phone), as well as building out email plugins and a phone app. We’re hiring both developers and marketing folks and plan to grow the team significantly over the next several months. We launched paid plans last month and are actively seeking ways to incentive users to upgrade their plans to our premium feature set.

What is your marketing strategy for growing the company?

Our marketing strategy to expand Contactually is to outreach to small business owners, realtors, marketers, and entrepreneurs who will find this tool beneficial for their business. We plan on engaging with our users to make sure we are providing them with a product they can use daily, and with ease. As we are rolling out with new features and improvements, we plan on spending our marketing efforts towards updating our blog, and engaging with potential users via social media, and email marketing.

How would you describe the Contactually brand?

Contactually is a personal assistant for professional relationships. Our brand resonates most strongly with other business professionals who have a lot of important contacts, specifically SMB owners, marketers, realtors, and biz dev people. We want business folks to associate Contactually with intelligent automation and increased productivity.

Where can people learn more about Contactually?

More information about Contactually can be found on our site Contactually, where you can learn about the specific features we have to offer. We are currently in private beta, and are still in the process of rolling out new features. We have setup a special invite for Cool Marketing Stuff readers. Enter special invite code during signup: coolmarketingstuff, or visit contactually.com/invite/coolmarketingstuff

Maria Ross Interview: Insights Into Running A Brand Consultancy

We have the great privilege of talking to Maria Ross, founder of the marketing consultancy Red Slice and author of the book Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget. We discussed how she got started in marketing, her advice for succeeding in the corporate marketing environment, and her favorite books.

Maria-Ross-interviewWhy did you decide to go into marketing and how did you get your start in the marketing field?

As a kid, I was exposed to marketing at a young age: I acted in TV and radio commercials! As the talent, I got to see how ad agencies worked, how marketing messages were formed and how brand image helps sell products and services. I majored in Marketing in college to be in control of the message and I was fascinated by the psychology of marketing – and how it could be used for good to incent people to give, act, or get involved. My original goal was to combine my business and arts backgrounds and do marketing for a city ballet and theatre company. But I got offered a management consulting job with Accenture and I saw that “marketing” was actually a part of that job: communication and training for systems implementations or organizational change. I quickly saw how marketing skills could be applied to any job where you need to communicate and persuade. I then moved back to pure marketing at Discovery Networks and proceeded to get more and more exposure to all aspects of the marketing function as a Director of Marketing for various companies: from working in advertising on the agency side to becoming a client and having responsibility for not just branding and advertising, but PR, lead generation, operations, and sales enablement. Each job taught me about a marketing aspects that I built on for the next job, like the pieces of a long puzzle were slowly being revealed to me. This taught me the full spectrum of marketing’s role and that broad perspective is my greatest asset as an independent consultant.

Having achieved a great deal of success in your marketing career, what advice would you give to marketers who would someday like to reach a leadership position in a corporate marketing department.

I’m a bit old school in that I believe you should at least have exposure to the whole range of marketing functions in order to lead a department. Marketing is not just advertising or public relations. There are so many more “flavors” that marketing covers: product positioning, market analysis, branding, media, pricing, competitive analysis, operations, lead generation, etc. – and I’ve seen too many leaders who only have strong skills in one area, like advertising, but were never exposed to the principles and disciplines of lead generation, PR or the like. I’m not saying you need to be an expert in all of those areas – I’m certainly not. But at least I was exposed to them and learned enough to be fluent in those areas and have a good idea of what to look for when hiring staff or agencies who will be specialists in those areas.

What motivated you the most as a marketer and what got you excited in the morning when you woke up?

I think the opportunity to use marketing for good always motivates me. How can we solve a problem, fulfill a need or just make the world a better place with our product or service? I also really like donating pro-bono hours to help non-profits use marketing effectively to rally support for a good cause and raise money for a worthwhile effort.

I also really enjoy the visual and verbal aspect of marketing: how can you communicate the right mood, mission or message with visuals and with words? I love the moment when a client sees a comp of a logo or a draft of a mission statement and says, “Yeah! That’s exactly how we want to look and sound!”

Why did you decide to leave the corporate marketing environment and start your own marketing consultancy?

Bottom line: I wanted to do work I liked with people I liked. I was in technology marketing for about 8 years, and there is this notion in B2B marketing that you need to strip away all personality and forget that you are selling to an actual human being. It tended to be more about features and functions and less about a brand people could be proud to support. Apple is one of the few companies who gets that this is not the case. So I went off on my own to do more of the branding work that I liked for a wider range of industries and that variety keeps me fresh and focused. And having the ability to pick and choose my clients as much as they choose me is a luxury I enjoy, too!

What type of companies does Red Slice serve and how are you different from other marketing consulting companies?

I have served solopreneurs, small businesses and fast-growth mid-sized businesses. I tend to work with service providers or technology companies, but have also worked with retail and eCommerce businesses as well. The marketing fundamentals are the same no matter what type of company you have. It’s more the personality of the client company that drives my decision: are they a believer in the power of brand and its impact on the bottom line? Do they want to change, grow or adapt? Do they want to try new things? Do they want to launch the business correctly right from the start and not waste time and effort later on? I work with people who understand that strategy comes before tactics – but you can expedite strategic work with a nimble partner like me.

I’m different because I’ve had such a broad range of marketing experience.. Even though I focus on branding and messaging, I can offer advice around how that impacts your lead gen strategy or your PR efforts. I can spot red flags with how to implement the brand due to operational constraints. I also decouple strategy from tactics, so the client can implement the tactics that make sense for their business goals. I am not biased (like only focusing on Twitter, or only focusing on online advertising, as an example) So while other branding consultants are excellent designers or experts in one arena, I bring a broad business savvy that ensures we accomplish corporate goals and leads to not just pretty pictures, but more sales and happier customers.

Your book, Branding Basics for Small Business, is one of my favorite books about branding. What was your goal in writing the book?

Thanks! My goal was to educate people (in a light, entertaining way) on what branding really is, what it is not, and what it means to your bottom line. I also wanted to provide those who might not be able to afford my services a way to craft a strong brand strategy on their own with time and effort. It drives me crazy that people waste so much money on logo design or websites before they’ve ever thought through what they are trying to communicate and to whom they need to appeal FIRST. They immediately jump to tactics – what will I Tweet about? What colors should I use for my website? – before they think about what they want to communicate through those tactics. I’ve heard so many horror stories of people wasting money, or worse, working with a high-priced “branding consultant” for 6 months and getting nowhere. They could save themselves so much money, time and cycles and have much more effective marketing if they spend the time on the strategy first.

What aspects of running a marketing consultancy do you enjoy the most and what aspects are the least fun?

What I enjoy most: Flexibility in my daily schedule, having my dog in my office all day, making all my own decisions, being able to pick and choose clients and collaborators, interacting with a strong entrepreneurial network and community of really smart people.

What I enjoy least: Tracking invoices and all the little business taxes, doing EVERYTHING myself, feeling that the to-do list never ends, trying to make time for client work AND social media, PR, etc. And not always having someone to collaborate with or bounce ideas off of (I often rely on a network of partners and friends to help with this one!)

What books have you found to have a great impact on you professionally or are just great resources for marketers?

Made to Stick by the Heath Brothers. If you have not read this gem about compelling messaging, you must run and read it.

The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. He’s a genius and this book is a simple but profound read you can tackle in an airplane ride (he did that by design).

Switch by the Heath Brothers. A book about how to enact change and motivate people no matter what level you are within an organization. Their theories on motivation apply just as much to marketing as they do to creating a movement or making a significant change in a big organization.

Ogilvy on Advertising. A classic.

Drive by Daniel Pink. A fascinating book that challenges our old perceptions of what motivates people, based on studies and experiments. It’s an excellent book for anyone managing a team.

As the founder and chief strategist of Red Slice, a Seattle-based branding and marketing consultancy, Maria Ross revels in helping leading-edge small to mid-sized companies translate captivating stories into irresistible brands. She is the author of Branding Basics for Small Business (Norlights Press, 2010) which teaches small and start-up businesses how to create an irresistible brand on any budget and has received raves from experts and media alike.

Maria’s adoring clients range from small businesses to savvy industry leaders, including Microsoft, the CRAVEcompany, Talent Technology, and Mudbay. Prior to founding Red Slice, she crafted branding and marketing strategies for Silicon Valley start-ups, global software firms, Internet companies, entertainment powerhouses and consumer businesses — including Business Objects (an SAP company), Discovery Networks and Monster.com – and created communication and training strategies for Fortune 1000 clients at Accenture. An actress and wine columnist in her spare time, Maria knows first-hand that creativity and cashflow are not mutually exclusive. Her marketing mantra? “Don’t just engage your customers — inform, delight and inspire them.”

SEO Career Advice: Interview with Danny Dover, Author of Search Engine Optimization Secrets

We had the great opportunity to interview Danny Dover, a thought leader in SEO and author of the new book Search Engine Optimization Secrets.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Your first book, Search Engine Optimization Secrets, just hit shelves. What do you want readers of Search Engine Optimization Secrets to learn or come away with?

search engine optimization secretsDanny Dover: My big goal with this book is to level the knowledge playing field in the SEO consulting industry. I’m sure you’ve heard, the idea that 90% of what you need to know about SEO is freely available online, the problem is finding it all in one place. I think SEOmoz does a good job of that but I think this book does it in an easier to consume way. I really hope to help the industry get on the same page and help create a more level playing field.

Cool Marketing Stuff: SEO has a lot of negative associations due to unethical operators and spammers. What do you say to people who have a negative perception of SEO as a business practice?

Danny Dover: It’s a tricky conversation and I feel like I have it a lot. Generally the message I try to send is yes there is a lot of black hat SEOs and what you have heard is true in some instances but that is not majority of the industry. In fact, if you look at the people who are leading right now in SEO for most terms it is people who use organic SEO. If you want to get to the top of search results you need to use SEO and if you want to stay up there for a long time you need to use white hat SEO.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Can you tell us about your new role doing SEO at AT&T?

Danny Dover: I just recently started a a new job at AT&T as the Senior SEO Manger. I am working with John Cole, who I think is the most underrated SEO in the industry. He is brilliant, very effective, and extremely analytical. I really enjoy working with him. My primary focus at AT&T will be to do organic SEO for Yellowpages.com.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Why do you think that search engine optimization is a good career choice?

Danny Dover: I think that SEO is a good career choice because it is extremely portable. One of the many beautiful things about the Internet is that it allows me to do what I want to do wherever I want to do it.

Cool Marketing Stuff: Do you think there is a lot of potential for growth in the SEODanny Dover industry, specifically for SEO consultants or service providers?

Danny Dover: Yes I do. This year has been the most exciting year for SEO that I have seen. As more and more people learn about it, I think more and more people are going to be looking for SEO consulting. The demand for even amateur SEO services is increasing and with that the opportunities are increasing.

Cool Marketing Stuff: What is the best career advice you have ever received?

Danny Dover: The best career advice I have ever received is actually very counterintuitive. I talked to people and they said that if you really want to learn something you are passionate about you have to be willing to do it for free. It started as an unpaid intern at SEOmoz. I came in and said I would work for free as long as they would teach me. As you can tell, this worked out great. SEO was something I was passionate about and looked forward to learning it everyday. Over the course of three years my job changed a lot as I took on more responsibilities. The experience was fantastic. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t offer to work for free.

You can learn more about Danny’s work and adventures around the world at DannyDover.com or on Twitter @DannyDover.

Interview with Patrick Byers of The Responsible Marketing Blog

Today we have the great privilege of talking with Patrick Byers, CEO of Outsource Marketing, a marketing firm that provides research, planning, and creative services for organizations of all sizes.

The Responsible Marketing blog is an excellent marketing blog that discusses issues of ethics in marketing. What was the inspiration of starting a blog about marketing responsibly?

It was something that inspired me, but it was also a little self-serving. Even though my job is to help organizations sell more products and services, I constantly found myself asking, “does the world need another widget?” I also realized the clients we liked serving the most were the ones that wanted to do marketing the right way and do the right thing.

So we decided that that’s where we put our energy as a firm–evangelizing and doing responsible marketing with clients, and only with clients that share our philosophy.

Why is responsible marketing important to marketers?

There’s an unholy trinity of things working against marketers today: Marketing as a discipline is broken, there’s too much information for any human to process, and consumers don’t trust marketers (for a number of reasons). Responsible Marketing tackles these three interconnected challenges by focusing marketing energy on building (or restoring) trust. We do this by helping our clients communicate their competence and character.

Isn’t marketing about selling the most products and services possible?

Sure. But Responsible Marketing is about building respectful, long-term relationships with customers, not about making a quick kill and moving on.

Will consumers really put the well-being of the world above their own needs and wants?

Not necessarily. But that assumes this an “or” question. Consumers want it all. They want to have their cake, but they want it to be organic and have a percentage of the $ earned by the company making that cake to be given to a good cause. Consumer research has shown a majority people will pay slightly more, even in a recession, for a “good” product from a socially responsible company product vs. a “cheap” product from one that isn’t.

You have previously taught marketing at the University of Washington. What career advice would you give new marketers who are trying to get their start in marketing during the worst recession in decades?

Get going with social networking and focus on the growth areas of marketing: digital, video, social media, search marketing (SEO and PPC).

And do the little stuff while interviewing: Create a killer resume that stands out. Approach the opportunity through connections on LinkedIn instead of going in cold. Show up on time for the interview. Follow-up with a handwritten note.

What advice would you give to marketers who would like to someday get to your position?

At the risk of sounding cliché, do what you love and do it with passion. If you are just showing up to collect a paycheck, find something else to do that you enjoy or find somewhere else to do it. Life’s too short to hate your job—even in this economy.

A recent intern here at Outsource worked with us all summer even though he has his degree. He’s been looking for a job but given the current job market, he decided to act instead of mope. In his words, he could be “sitting on his ass doing nothing or he could be building his resume and contacts.” If a position opens up here he’s suited for we’d certainly consider him–we know his strengths and know we can trust him. Even if we don’t hire him, he’s built his resume and my letter of recommendation for him will be, well, killer.

For more great content from Patrick Byers check out his killer blog, The Responsible Marketing Blog.