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2007 Predictions

Mashable has “tagged” me to share my predictions for 2007. Here’s some brief thoughts…

  1. Digg will get acquired or die (maybe even both). I think Digg is very close to jumping the shark and is close to its maximum level of exposure. It will either realize this and sell or wait too long and decline.
  2. Yahoo’s new search interface and algo will be key in the revival of the company’s fortunes. Once they switch to a platform that includes a performance metric, they’ll see better average CPCs.
  3. Social media marketing (SMM) will find its place. There will be some marketing agencies who actually figure out how to show an ROI from SMM.
  4. We’ll see at least one company, offering search marketing services, go public in 2007 and more acquired than in 2006.

The Marketing Pilgrim Comment Clinic

I need your help. Actually, other Marketing Pilgrim readers need your help.

I’ve noticed more visitors leaving questions on posts that have long since retired to the archives. Not wanting to let them live out the rest of their lives in obscurity, I thought I’d test shining a spotlight on them.

So, I’m going to keep my eye on any interesting questions posted in our comments and highlight them in new posts.

Kicking-off this experiment comes a question from Demetrius

9 Cost-Effective PPC Branding Strategies

Pay-per-click advertising can be very effective channel for increasing your brand’s reach but PPC branding campaigns are often cost prohibitive. Bidding to top positions for your industry’s core terms is an excellent way to expose your brand to new audiences but the “short term ROI be-damned” strategy is usually risky business. Below are 9 strategies to help you build your brand without burning through your spend.

  1. Start with the campaign structure and creatives. Separate your branded terms from your other terms so that your ads’ creatives can be more easily controlled. Searches for your branded terms should always trigger ads with strong brand-based titles and messaging instead of your more traditional ads for industry terms.

Five Secret Strategies to Add $1 Million in Revenue to your Interactive Marketing Agency in 2008

Digg!
When I wrote “The Top 10 Business Mistakes Search Marketing Firms Make“, I included a few of the items I commonly discover, when working with marketing firms, especially search marketers. The advice, if followed, would certainly help any marketing firm (not just search marketers), hoping to grow their business by avoiding the mistakes and pitfalls so common in the industry. However, while avoiding the common mistakes will help your business to avoid making expensive missteps, if you want to truly grow your marketing firm, you need to be more aggressive and proactive in your efforts.

One of the most common questions I am asked by marketing agencies seeking my advice–especially those that are newly-started or still relatively small–is “how do I attract new clients and grow my business?” While there are many ways to accomplish this task, depending on your resources and your target market, there are some proven strategies that any marketing firm can implement.

The five secret strategies listed in this guide are tried and trusted. I have used them to help grow one firm to $25+ million in annual revenues and another to an annual run rate of $2+ million in its first year. However, the strategies suggested below are not just confined to the companies I have worked with, they are evident in many successful agencies. Take a look at any successful marketing firm–whether it focuses on search, web design, email, viral or interactive–and you’ll likely see they’ve followed at least half the strategies I’ve listed.

I don’t want to sound like one of those overly-tanned, bright-smiled, “gurus” you see on infomercials late at night but, if you follow the strategies I’ve outlined, I’m convinced you can add at least $1 million in new revenue for your agency, over the next twelve months.

Strategy 1–Stand out from the crowd

Revenue Value = $100,000 in 2008

If you’re hoping to establish your marketing firm as a leader in its field, you’ll likely find lots of companies already established and better positioned to win clients. Simply launching a firm and blending-in with the rest of your peers is not the way to enter a market that is maturing or already saturated. Even the young search engine marketing (SEM) industry is filled with hundreds–if not thousands–of search marketing firms, all promising “top rankings”, “increased conversions” and “great customer service”. Too many SEM firms launch with the very same message and then languish in obscurity. If you want to avoid falling victim to this wasteland of mediocrity, you’ll have to be different.

Being different, doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, but does mean singing a tune that a prospective client has not heard a thousand times before. If you want to serenade a new customer, you need to catch their attention and convince them you are different from the umpteen other marketing firms, they have heard from, or used, in the past. At KeywordRanking.com, we were one of the first SEM firms to offer content creation with all our search engine optimization packages. At the time, very few prospective clients were hearing the message we were telling: “we have a team of search engine optimization (SEO) copywriters who will create enticing, search engine-friendly content for your site.” Likewise, when we launched Fortune Interactive, we explained how we had a proprietary technology, no long-term contracts, and performance-based pricing models. In each instance, we sang a very different tune, than the many other firms that had called on that company in the same week.

Being different, doesn’t mean being radical. What set’s your marketing firm apart could be as simple as offering a weekly webinar for your clients, or offering live online customer support. The key is to find a niche, something that helps your firm stand-out from the crowd.

Free Business Advice for Search Marketing Firms

Back in September, I posted the Top 10 Mistakes Search Marketing Firms Make. Since then, business coaching for SEM firms has become a large part of my consulting services. I’ve had the privilege of working with SEOmoz, We Build Pages and many other marketing agencies, looking for assistance with scaling their business, structuring their services and building a better SEM firm.

I’m going to write a follow-up article that looks at the top-10 ways to grow your search marketing firm. I have some ideas for the list already, but thought I’d get your input on what areas you’d like me to cover.

Here’s some of the ideas I have already:

  • How to price a campaign to win a client account
  • How to grow your business to 200 employees

The Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing

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So, in the late, late nights that I’ve spent making sense of and organizing Social Media Marketing, I’ve been able to find nothing that outlines strategies or fundamentals of Social Media Marketing. Yes, Rohit Bhargava created a post that kicked into gear the “5 Rules of Social Media Optimization (SMO).” After 20 days and much buzz in the blogosphere, it was expanded into 17 rules, with additions from all over the online marketing and business community’s thought leaders. And yet, while it’s an absolute must-read, there’s still no strategy outlining the fundamental strategies or tactics of Social Media Marketing.

That’s what I’ve racked my brain to figure out and this is what I define as the Five Pillars of Social Media Marketing.

Signs You Need to Switch SEO Providers

Now that I’m working as a consultant, I find myself in many situations where I’m helping clients who are frustrated with the SEO firm they are working with. This is especially true of clients that ask me to audit their existing search marketing agency. I wanted to combine what I’ve learned from these interactions, with what I’ve learned in the many years of offering search engine marketing services.

I’ve decided to start a series of articles that are designed to empower and advise companies outsourcing their search engine optimization (and paid search) campaigns. I’ll cover different aspects of working with an SEO firm and provide guidance on how to get the most out of your SEO vendor of choice.