Brand as Story

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http://moz.com/blog/giving-a-voice-to-your-brand

This article discusses the value of looking at brand marketing from the standpoint of storytelling.  It first looks at psychology and the way that the human brain is wired to respond to stories.  The argument is made that emotions more than facts influence decisions, especially purchasing decisions.  The story, life style and memories that are built around a certain brand or product are far more effective than a list of facts about the product.

Every brand has a story though they are often buried out of sight of the average viewer.  Examining the company mission can give a great starting point for the overall story about the brand.  This can be used as the overarching plot or concept behind marketing efforts.

Story based marketing can also be broken down into the elements that make up any story:

Plot

In a story the plot is the path of events leading through the story.  It starts with the introduction of a circumstance and a problem then builds to a solution and resolution.  There may be other aspects to the plot but this is the simplest form.  The plot of a brand is the things it does to address its mission statement.  It is the connection between the values of the brand and the needs of the customers and how it comes up with solutions that meet match the two together.

Character

In the framework of brand as story the characters are the users of the products, or the customers, and the things the brand creates, or the products.  The users should always be the main characters in the story.  This helps to build the emotional and personal connection that will convert new customers and keep the old ones.  This is also why things like audience research and personas are so important.

Thought (Theme)

Here the theme is presented as the universe the story is built within.  It is the tenants and values that shape and define the story and the products of the brand.  This theme or universe should be appealing and welcoming, inviting customers to join in the brand story.

Diction

Diction in a brand story is both the words and tones that are used throughout the story and the specific words that are created for a brand and the culture they represent.  These are a combination of jargon and branded words (such as brand names) that helps create a sense of community within the story.

Song (Rhythm)

In traditional stories rhythm is about the pace and flow of the story.  When related to brand stories it addresses usability and accessibility for the user.

Spectacle

Spectacle is all of the little pieces that fill in the gaps, pull at the heart strings and create an exciting experience.  It can be little more than fluff at times but it completes the experience and gives it a flashy front.  In the article the graphic design element of webdesign is given as an example of spectacle.

 

The article concludes with some examples of exceptional brand storytelling and the evidence of how effective it was.  Creating a story is about engaging an audience and making them part of the story, especially in the digital space, and has far more ability to grab attention, keep it and convert users than more more traditional marketing models.

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Moz’s 25 Steps to SEO

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http://moz.com/blog/how-to-rank

This article presents 25 steps to execute great SEO.  The article is too long and to well written to properly summarize.  Instead I’m going to pick a few steps that presented information or techniques that were new to me.

Step 2: Keyword Theme

While keywords and keyword research are nothing new to SEO this article presents it in a different way.  Rather than focusing on a single keyword or keyword phrase the purpose here is to build keyword themes.  This is a central concept and a set of keyword phrases that support it.  This allows for several things.  First, it targets many long tail keywords rather than a single, likely competitive keyword.  Second, it gives more room to create natural sounding content.  And third, it can be used as the ground work for a keyword strategy that spans a single page, a group of pages or an entire website.

Step 8: Post Titles

The importance of post titles is nothing new.  How we think about them is important though.  Creating titles for people that utilize keywords when appropriate is the best bet for pleasing a search engine.  It doesn’t matter where you rank though if no one wants to click on the title.  Coming up with intriguing and inviting titles is just as important, or more important than the article itself.  A simple description of the article may be adequate but creating something that is relevant and sensational will take things a lot farther.

Step 9: Length and Depth of Articles

There are really three things here to consider.  The length of the article, how detailed it is, and the quality of its content.  Length can be important but only as a vehicle for producing better quality.  Having a good depth of information, or even adding new information is far more important than the total number of words on the page.  Even short news clips can be made much more valuable by drawing a new conclusion, adding a new opinion or bringing in information from another source.  Every article should add value to a topic.

Step 22: Structured Data

Structured data is seeing more and more applications and influence.  While there are no big signs that it affects the actual rankings it does affect the way the SERPs look and this can have a direct influence on click through rate.

How Search Has Evolved

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http://moz.com/blog/the-evolution-of-search

While this Whiteboard Friday video is mainly a history lessons there is a lot of very good information here.  Being able to see how search has changed offers great insight into how things run now and an idea of where things might be going.  The biggest directly useful information is about how social and entity search is progressing.  While links may still hold the most power at this point these are important indicators that are likely to get more and more weight.

Entity search I think is the most interesting part of this video.  It discusses how search engines are learning to identify things as entities, such as Obama in the example, rather than just combinations of letters.  This allows them to make better connections in information between search queries, intent and results.  Many of these results for basic information is displayed directly in the SERPS.  The most important take away here is that it is increasingly important to create content and focus on information that Google can’t provide.

The shout out to PRISM at the end is also a very nice touch of humor.

Processing Fluency and Marketing

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http://moz.com/blog/processing-fluency-impacts-web-marketing-whiteboard-friday

This White Board Friday addresses marketing from the standpoint of psychological biases.  It looks at how the idea that people make rational decisions when purchasing is flawed.  Cited are examples such as the “rhyme as reason”  cognitive bias as well as SEO and marketing examples such as the URL having as much influence or more influence on what people click on as rel=author images.

Content Strategy for Marketing

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http://moz.com/ugc/content-strategy-youre-doing-it-wrong

This article presents a simplified flow for marketing content that focuses on finding people that are actually interested in purchasing your product or service.  This is the basic structure the author presents:

  1. Create a valuable piece of industry specific but general information (such as a white paper document or a webinar)
  2. Use the contact information gathered from this content to offer more specific information without being an advertisement such as addressing a problem in the industry your product solves
  3. For those that engage offer more product specific information and engage through sales and marketing.

The most important aspect of this model is to provide valuable content and not attempt to sell anything until the user engages with content that shows they are open to buying your product or sales.

Flywheel Mindset

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http://moz.com/blog/building-a-marketing-flywheel-whiteboard-friday

This is a White Board Friday video that discusses the concept of flywheel marketing.  While it does not have any direct SEO information I think it presents a useful mindset that is important when building strategies.  With this mindset, SEO and other marketing tactics are hard to get started and take effort but have a bigger return on investment.  The concept is reflected in things like social marketing where getting likes brings in more likes or organic search where natural links mean more exposure and more natural links.