Wednesday, September 21, 2011

SEO = Search Engine Obstruction

SEO SEO SEO! Really? That's it?
Contrary to what you may have been told these days - SEO is not the be all, end all for good information networking. In fact more often than not these days it is being used to jam keywords and phrases into repetitive, plagiarized or gobbledygook content.

Recently I was advised to change the name of one of my blogs because it wasn't Search Engine Optimized. Really? Does it need to be? Isn't that what meta tags and contextualized keywords are supposed to do? She said "creative names don't work any more". They don't? Someone better go tell these guys: amazon, hulu, yudu, etsy to name a couple I logged into yesterday.

If it were up to this self ascribed marketing 'guru' we wouldn't have any creativity at all in our postings. She advises to keep it all "search engine friendly".  But that's just the trouble with the web these days. How many times have you done a search and clicked through to what you thought were going to be perfect answers to your query only to land on some awful pre-digested, cannibalized flotsam assembled by some kind of SEO bots? Happens to me all the time to the point it's actually very annoying. Particularly when it's got freezy frames and pop ups that somehow seem to buck my browser. In other words it becomes obvious that the site I landed on was actually designed to be misleading to get my eyes to have to look at their ads.

I'm not suggesting I was being told to go to this horrid extreme - but I was being told to massage my own creative output to conform to terms people were already using to find the topics about which I write at the root level. I'm saying I don't believe you must nor should go to that extreme. I think the happy medium is accomplished by installing and using widgets that help you insert properly researched keyword metatags, tags and categories into your semi behind-the-scenes search engine structure of your pages and posts.

Content is king. Creative Content is the key to authentic connecting! Contrary to the advice from some (mostly those without a depth of knowledge but happy to employ buzz words and lightly absorbed foundational concepts) a stream of original, entertaining and legitimately illuminating online material is the  route to assembling your tribe of interested and engaged followers; whether we're talking about your website, Facebook page, blog or Twitter feed.

Use Keywords - Just Don't Misuse Them
So, yes, use researched keywords and phrases - just don't misuse them. Do apply your brain to your output. Give it your unique stamp! And, hey, who said you can't quote popular items and add your two cents into a wildly popular topic? 

Be Original!
Just remember if you want to be thought of as original (where originality leads to choosing you, your content, your products, opinions, services, etc) you're going to have to actually be original!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is really nothing more than a detailed list of characteristics for an example buyer that represents the real audience – this individual becomes representative of a target buyer demographic or group of people. What is a buyer? Anyone we want to have connect with our message, whether it be to buy a product we make, or give a donation to our cause or otherwise proactively respond to our signals whether they're an advertisement, twitter feed, website or other messaging medium.

Organizations can use buyer personas to clarify the goals, concerns, preferences and decision process that are most relevant to their customers. Imagine how effective marketers could be if we would all stop making stuff up and start aligning our messages and programs with the way real people think! Creating a useful buyer persona is nothing more than creating a sample person to "talk" to. When we do an excellent job of targeting our buyer demographic groups (women over fifty, urban teens, non-profit executives, horse lovers, etc) and assign each an image and set of characteristics when it comes time to create messages for these people - it is suddenly a whole lot easier to do. We're talking to an actual person rather than a undifferentiated group.

With each buyer persona profile, we want to know as much as we can about this group of people.
  • What are their goals and aspirations?
  • What are their problems?
  • What media do they rely on for answers to problems?
  • How can we reach them?
  • What words and phrases do the buyers use?
  • What sorts of images and multimedia appeal to each?
  • Where do they shop?
  • What do they drive?
  • What did they eat for dinner last night?
  • What music do they listen to?
Armed with this information we can start directing our content right towards these individual representatives!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Great Website Navigation

One of the key elements to consider when designing a high functioning website is the navigation. Getting that right will optimize your user's experience allowing her to know as much as you care to share with her regarding your organization, services or whatever other information you're offering.

Getting the navigation right is a matter of organizing your information in a way that's both intuitive and obvious to your audience. Because of the way pages and information can interconnect on the web, you can build access to material from multiple vantage points. Unlike print pieces that usually unfold or open through in a 2-dimensional linear way the pages of a website can be thought of as a more 3-dimensional container that can also be linked to selected information from the vast stores of the internet world-at-large -- hugely useful stuff!

As users have gained experience interacting with websites through the years some standard practices have been established that significantly reduce potential confusion in clicking through these multi-dimensional information powerhouses.

The outline below demonstrates a typical arrangement - usually configured in an "F" shape, where the top bar holds the logo and organizational navigation (about, contact, home, media) and the left sidebar holds sub-navigation (products, services, resources, etc). The larger, middle space is where the photos, text and other information usually goes. Mind you, this is a rough sketch of standard navigation - but serves as a foundation for building the particulars of many content rich, informational websites.

Information to compile for a high-functioning website:
  • email
  • street address
  • link to map (google map or other)
  • telephone, fax, etc

  • the organization
  • history
  • mission
  • philosophy
  • key personnel

  • photos
  • bios
  • name
  • position held
  • personal statement

Media (Room):
  • new releases (who, what, where, when, why - contact for additional info)
  • news blurbs
  • photos
  • videos
  • publishable photos (© info, photographer's credit, subjects clearly identified)
  • internal blogs
  • what
  • where
  • when
  • who for
  • how much

  • what
  • where
  • when
  • why
  • who for
  • how much

  • industry links (annotated - why is your organization suggesting this!)
  • further reading (magazines, books, external blogs, etc - again, annotated)
  • instructional info (white papers, pdfs, videos, etc)

FAQs (useful, if they actually ARE frequently asked questions - OR can address topics that are fun and informational that don't quite fit anywhere else or need special highlighting here)

Next Post:
WHO is all this for? Identifying your key target audiences!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What do a Shoe Addiction, a Mutant, a 200 Year Old Log Home and an Insatiable Curiosity for Quantum Physics Have to do With the Internet?

Here's what Pat B., from Illinois had to say about my last posting:
"Please don’t take this question wrong... I mean it kindly and inquisitively. Who communicates with public via web presence? I have (clients) lined up out the door/gate here at the farm, as do many of my friends in the business...what would be the advantage of web pages beyond a kind of show and tell photo gallery?"

I love this question! For one thing it's a perfect reality check. I get so wrapped up in my own reality - I forget to consider other people's point of view. Pat's inquiry made me think it through. How do people use the internet these days anyway? And what does all that stuff in the title have to do with it?

For me, Just about Everything!

I love shoes. Always have. I'm no Imelda Marcos - but I haven't seen the floor to my closet since moving in. I like wearing cool shoes. Doc Martens, John Fluevogs, Mountain Horse, hand-painted Danskos, Irregular Choice and more. But I live in the sticks, just above a holler in the rolling bluegrass hills of central Kentucky. I'm inconveniently located from just about every resource for style that isn't Carhart focused. But I have DSL, which means I have Zappos, which means I am still hip in the shoe department. (

I went to a conference where I learned people load miniature horses up and take them around to public schools and other facilities to inspire the occupants. Well I love horses, I love inspiration, I love helping people smile and the idea of walking a miniature horse (whom my husband lovingly refers to as 'mutants') into a classroom gives me great joy. But I'm a busy gal. I run my own Marketing + Design business. When do I have time to shop for a cute-mutant; a cutant? In between emails, layouts, spreadsheets and teleconferences, as it turns out. I googled minis in my area and found the little cutie-pie pictured here.

My neighbor and I took a drive, loaded him up in her mini (ha!) van and brought him home. He's in process of growing up to become an inspiration as we speak.

OK, what about the grand old log home? Usually this is a long after-dinner story (and a self-published ezine). You're busy, so I'll keep it short. My husband and I began looking to move to Kentucky while still in metro-Chicago. I am nothing if not perseverant when it comes to achieving a dream. After
many many hours searching I found a 200 year old log home (American Chestnut - already restored) on five acres with a creek (on a hill, over a dale, above a holler) on the - let's say it together - internet!

PayPal was just getting started back then, so we bought it the traditional way.

OK, so here I am, busy, into horses, far away from civilization that isn't about farming - what am I gonna do about my addiction to laymen's quantum physics?
Well, it's a no-brainer, first off there's for books. In fact, while still in Chicago, with book stores next to every coffee shop, meaning, many, I started shopping for books online. Couldn't take the caffeine temptation I guess. So this wasn't any big stretch. Then as the years have flown by, more and more information is becoming available online. Research. Papers. Studies. It's all there for people like me. I can now be as confused as I can ever hope to be on this and many other topics - every other topic, all because I can surf and discover new thoughts, new crack-pots, new blogs, vlogs, forums and wikis every single day.

So, what am I - some kind of screen-crazed hermit? Do I ever go meet actual analog people? All the time. My neighbor and I arrange cutant training sessions in my front yard (she got one too) via email. I do stuff for local horse rescue organizations, online - but get to meet them and see their horses whenever I want. I have one in my barn right now, matter of fact. Made the illustration for a new inductee by the name of Lava Man into the Old Friend's stable of retired thoroughbred stallions just last month! Never the left the studio - plan to when he finally shows up! I'm no shut in - Gotta meet with our hay guy, the ferrier, our vet, the UPS driver (hello box from zappos!) So while it's easy to keep it real - I get to work and play even more - and more efficiently - because of the good ol' internet.

I still have clients in Chicago - we do it all online. I art direct a magazine for an international organization ( completely from the 3rd story of my log home! From data collection, ad creation, proofs, corrections - all without ever leaving my view of the barn, except to go visit the barn to dole out more fodder. I have clients in Utah, Tennessee, Pennslyvania, Ohio, California, New York, and even overseas!

So, Pat, I know that for some lucky people everything they want or need shows up for them right where they are and it is more than satiating. But for people like me, we find a need or a use to not just connect locally but engage globally, too.

Next time I'll explain in some solid research-based way just how beneficial the internet can be for a business - large or small, non-profits or any other group of people wishing to connect with their communities!

ps - as for eBay: I sold an ill fitting saddle, HappyArt paintings and I've gotten a halter for my cutant, Fabulous shoes (big surprise), vintage western wear and english riding breeches for a song, my rating is A+ and I hardly ever have to succumb to driving to a mall for anything!

Visit StudioMudio - home of FUN Marketing!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Amazing NEW Paradigm in Online Gaming!

Beginning today the world of online gaming just got a whole lot more interesting for people who are interested in:
  • connecting
  • interacting
  • starting fresh and, oh yeah...
  • effecting healthy, global change!
Launching today for the next 6 weeks is a brand new concept in multi-player games. A concept groundbreaking in its scope. An invention that allows players to wrap their heads around finding ways to solve actual energy crisis while allowing them to interact substantively and from their very best core values. Who are these players? People like you and me. Grown-ups, women, men, college kids, kid kids. People interested in effecting change through setting new goals for themselves - real out here in the Real World goals, while at the same time interacting with people just like them from all over the globe interested in the same things - making the same adjustments, and having fun creating new paradigms in human interaction!

If you've ever heard of or even know people who play the hugely successful World of Warcraft ( then this cool new massively multiplayer forecasting game dials that popular concept up a notch. Three notches, actually. How come? Because SuperStruct's game creators are the dynamically inventive team at the Institute For The Future ( They understand what motivates players to spend hours and hours every week interacting with each other through online games like World of Warcraft - but have a social conscious, and are motivated to find ways for us to not just envision the future - but to Invent The Future!

Check it out.

It launches today.