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Business & marketing advice, news and features, design inspiration, and the art of gifting.

Stanford Business: How to Spot Liars at Work - #MarketingMonday


A famous and respected business coach lectures enthusiastic Stanford students on how to spot liars at work. If you spend any time in any office, you should find this quite useful and utterly fascinating. 


By Fausto Mendez

    Watch business coach Carol Kinsey Goman break down ten different ways to identify liars in the workplace. She also offers tips on how to look honest when you are actually telling the truth. Both sets of tips are extremely useful in the marketing industry, but her advice can be applied across the board in all industries. 

    One sign of lying is the use of overly formal language, but you should be careful because “overly formal” is in the eye of the beholder. Do not add meaning where there isn’t, or you might easily become the office’s next disseminator of false truths.

    Keep in mind that these are just signs of lying and not proof of lying. People may give off signs of lying even when they aren’t lying, but having a keen eye for the presence of multiple signs could point you in the right direction when you’re not sure if you can trust someone.


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What Scams Should You Watch For When Hiring an SEO Firm?

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By Fausto Mendez

    Finding and hiring a great SEO provider is tough. Some businesses can never find one, and worse, other businesses fall for dirty scams that cheat them out of thousands and thousands of dollars. That’s why you should watch out for the following scams when hiring an SEO firm.

    Our experiences with SEO companies has not been so great. Actually, we’ve never worked with an SEO firm that impressed us with measurable results and a reliable work ethic. As a result, we have enough experience to know what to look for in an SEO company that only offers ineffective services that are only designed to eat up as much of your money as possible.

    Search Engine Journal has a great piece on SEO scams. We summarize SEJ’s list below, and we follow up the list with a few scams that we’ve seen ourselves.

+ Don’t fall for “free” services. There is no such thing as a free SEO service that also works. It’s possible that the company selling you “free” services is stealing your data, your customers’ identities, or learning your trade secrets. In the best case scenario, a free SEO service is just a way for the company to get its foot in your door to sell you more expensive services.

+ Watch out for first-page guarantees. Any company that guarantees first-page rankings is (pardon my French) full of shit. Don’t get me wrong. Getting on the first page is certainly possible, but nobody has the power or skill to achieve first-page rankings so consistently that they can actually guarantee it. Real marketers never make guarantees except to guarantee to do their absolute best.

+ Beware meaningless services attached to big numbers, such as “submitting your site to hundreds or thousands of search engines”. The truth is that there are only a handful of relevant search engines, and it’s not hard to “submit” your site to these search engines. Anyone with a minimal level of skill and knowledge can do it.

+ Don’t believe anyone that says they have connections at Google. I’ve heard this line from every SEO company that we’ve talked to. It’s most likely a lie, and even if it’s true, NDA agreements and fat paychecks prevent Google employees from giving out insider knowledge or favors. 

+ Beware anyone that assumes they know Google’s Search algorithm. No one knows Google’s algorithm very well, not even former employees or even current employees. Google Search is developed and maintained by several sets of teams that specialize in smaller aspects of the engine. There probably is someone in the world that manages these teams and has better insight into the algorithm, but I’m sure that guy is paid far too well to risk getting caught handing over secrets to an SEO company.

+ No one has a secret formula for successful SEO. The information that you need to be a great SEO marketer is freely available to anyone that wants it. Even so, SEO is hard work and requires a lot of daily research. Any company that claims to have a secret formula is playing you for a fool. In SEO, the only secret is that there is no secret. Most successful marketers know what it takes to rank well. The problem is most people don’t want to do the hard work that gets them there. 

    SEJ’s list is great, but it feels somewhat incomplete. Here’s a few scams some companies have tried to sell us before.

+ Never (ever) buy backlinks or use a backlink farm. Google killed this strategy a long time ago, and any website that creates unnatural backlinks in mass is only going to encourage Google to drop the hammer of penalty & pain. 

+ Avoid companies that don’t have experienced and well-trained copywriters on staff. SEO firms that outsource copywriters often outsource really, really bad writers that only write English as a second language. That’s because they don’t have a writer on staff, so there isn’t anyone that recognize great copy. Google is getting much better at recognizing well written (user-friendly) content, and if it finds that you are creating a great user experience for your site visitors, your site should rank better over time. However, bad copywriters may actually hurt your rank.

+ Avoid companies that create tons of low-quality content to help your site rank better. Why? See the above details on bad copywriting. Basically, you don’t want to associate your site with low-quality content.


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#MarketingMonday - Pretty Soon, You’ll Be Embedding Facebook Posts into Your Blog or Web Page

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    Facebook is about to unleash a new feature on the masses, which enables a user to embed a facebook post into any blog post or web page. The feature is long overdue, especially for bloggers and social-media fans.

   About 72% of Facebook users block the public from their Facebook posts and profiles, says Consumer Reports, so the company has been searching for and developing ways to increase the exposure of its public posts, profiles and pages. Embeddable posts is certainly one of the easiest and most effective ways of doing that, and since the Web is already accustomed to embedding all types of media, including Tweets and YouTube videos, it only seems natural. 

    Right now, the disadvantage with Facebook posts is that users have to visit Facebook.com in order to comment, like and share posts, which sometimes makes blogs, Twitter and YouTube more attractive platforms for announcements and big, open discussions. But embeddable posts solve that problem by allowing the discussions to occur outside of Facebook, wherever the audience is currently located.

    In 2013, Facebook hasn’t underperformed, but it is losing (or sharing more and more of) its younger audience to other niche social platforms, such as Tumblr. Post embedding can be an effective way to keep Facebook in the loop on these other platforms, but it may not be enough to re-capture the youngest Web users. Some of the Web’s youngest users see Facebook the same way that the rest of us see AOL, a walled-off garden that dumbs down the Web into a boring, predictable and forgettable experience.

    Facebook is slowly rolling out post embedding, so it’s not yet available to everyone. For now, only a few mainstream media companies, including CNN, can use the feature. 

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

#MarketingMonday - Don’t Limit Your Memes to the Web

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By Fausto Mendez

    Just when you thought meme marketing couldn’t get any better, this pizza restaurant is using the popular “Skeptical Fry” and “Philosophical Raptor” memes on a sidewalk chalkboard to sell dollar pizza slices.

    This is definitely one of the more original uses of memes that I’ve ever seen - mostly because these memes don’t appear where memes always appear (hint: they usually appear on the Web). 

    Comedy Central broadcasts Futurama, the animated adult sitcom that stars the character Fry from the world-famous “Skeptical Fry” meme, and the TV studio actually used memes in a similar off-the-Web way to advertise new episodes of Futurama last year. However, CC didn’t post its memes to a chalkboard. The company actually used the memes on live TV. For me, it was certainly eye-opening to see a mainstream corporation employ memes in such a direct way. It was a rather brilliant move.

    Of course, CC’s use of memes occurred long after the “Skeptical Fry” meme became popular on the Web, so CC literally hijacked its own meme to market the show on which that meme is based. It’s mind-bending to think about such an unpredictable series of events, but the example illustrates the power that marketers can wield when they are in tune with Web culture. 

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

#MarketingMonday: Coca-Cola’s “Small World” Machines Aim to End Wars While Boosting Soda Sales

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By Fausto Mendez

    Many brands engage in social welfare as a way to pursue bigger profits, but the reality is the charity ploy often takes a backseat to the profit ploy. In the hopes of reversing that trend, Coca-Cola launched several soda machines that actually have a tangible, instant and witness-able effect on the company’s larger and more charitable goal of world peace. 

    Coca-Cola’s “Small World” machines are soda machines that feature a Skype-like interface, which enables one machine to launch a video call with a second machine as long as the second machine is located in a country that is currently at war with the country of the first machine. To reward users for initiating a Small World session, it offers both recipients a free can of sweet cola.

    The soda company installed the innovative soda machines in some of the busiest parts of India and Pakistan, which are currently locked in a state of brutal war against each other. As a result, a session instantly connects two supposed mortal enemies as they both pursue a good time and a break from the feud.

    The concept is rather cute, and I wouldn’t blame you if you cried during the video. More important to the bottom line, the marketing buzz the campaign continues to generate since the machines launched in late May seems to cover the cost of the free soda and the machines themselves. Furthermore, Coca-Cola has an interest in keeping the peace: warring nations don’t often waste precious resources on the luxury of soda. But the same can be said about most other businesses, so I guess we can all profit from some good-ol’-fashioned peace. 

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

#MarketingMonday - Purposely Misspelling Your Brand Name in Ads Can Be a Smart Marketing Strategy

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By Fausto Mendez

    Sometimes, the best marketing strategies take advantage of the most unlikely tools, glitches or places. For example, Lego famously leverages construction sites to send an inspiring and unforgettable message. In the same spirit, Snickers took over one of Google Search’s most beloved features - spell check.

    Snickers and Google partnered up for the snack brand’s latest marketing campaign, and if you’ve seen some of the more recent Snickers TV ads, such as the one with Joe Pesci at a party, you may already know the slogan, “you’re not you when you’re hungry.” Taking that same concept and plastering it all over Google Search, Snickers bought ads for about 25,000 misspelled search terms.

    When you search for these commonly misspelled terms, such as “snikkers candy”, you’ll notice an ad or two at the top of your search results. The ad varies depending on your specific situation, but our test pulled up an ad for the brand’s YouTube channel and also product ads to buy the candy at online stores. Some users are directed to a page dedicated to the campaign.

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    More importantly, it doesn’t matter if you click on the ads themselves. If you know the slogan from the TV commercials, you should be amused by the same message after you misspell a word.

    The tactic is brilliant SEO marketing. Most professionals and businesses tend to execute safe and easy SEO strategies, which is wise - don’t get me wrong. But if you really want your brand to reach the top of the search lists, more often than not, you’ll need to think way outside the box. 

    Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Linkedin, and stay ahead of the game with an occasional laugh and non-stop marketing & business advice, news and analysis. Brought to you by AnyPromo.com.

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