WebmasterWorld Pubcon 2007 Las Vegas Brand Management
Moderator: Joe Laratro Speakers: Lauren Vaccarello, Director of Publishing, Forex Capital Markets LLC Matt Tuens, VP, Sales and Business Development, CKMG, Inc. Tony Wright, VP of Client Services, Kineticresults Jessica L. Bowman, Sr. Marketing Manager, Yahoo! Inc.
Brand Management is a complex conversation on the web. Traditional media, social media, blogs, forums, groups, and even chat can leave your brand vulnerable if you are not a participant. This panel will look at traditional brand management issues in this complex and sometimes hostile web environment.
Lauren Vaccarello – Building, Maintaining and Defending Your Brand
What is branding? Branding is what your company is associated with, it’s who you are. In today’s presentation, I’ll be talking about building, maintaining and defending your brand.
Building: What is your story and why should I care? Consumers don’t buy products, they buy stories. For the purpose of this presentation, we’re focusing on a fictitious business: Veg-O-Mania.
Competitive Research: Build your keyword lists. Find out who your top competitors are, why people buy their brand, what their strengths and weakness are. Good tools for this are Keyword Research Tool on SEO Book and social media sites (Digg, etc) -- see what stories are ranking well.
Content: Build your quality content keeping in mind what you learned during your competitive research phase.
Maintaining a brand:
Monitor: What blogs, forums, etc. to see what’s being said about your brand. Google Alerts are great for keeping tabs on things. Set alerts for your company name, your products, and your competitors (and their products).
Defending your brand:
Respond to negative publicity in a timely fashion.
If complaints surface, empower your affiliates. Find your best ranking affiliates and then assist them in ranking better. Create subsites, create yahoo groups, participate in forums and blogs… do everything you can to occupy as much of the SERP real estate possible.
Designate someone to personally respond to/address negative comments on forums, blogs, etc. Talk to the people on their level and don’t lie. Also, don’t participate in debates, especially with trolls. You won’t win.
Empower your brand loyalists. Talk to them and let them know you’re aware of the bad publicity and tell them how you’re dealing with it. This will give them information they need to go out on their online communities and defend you. Their word will carry more weight than yours.
Matt Tuens, Brand Management = Content Management
A lot of what Laura was talking about was the content behind the brand. Information is power. The importance of content is discussed far and wide and especially here at PubCon, but very few people actually take full advantage of the power of content.
Content: -- Extends brand exposure -- Drives customers to you. -- Delivers your message.
Brand Management = communicating and maintaining the brand message. Brand Management = strategic development of the brand to maximize its market value Content = crucial to brand management
Negative postings on blogs and forums are HUGE opportunities to not just save your brand, but to promote it and make it stronger. It gives you a chance to give your brand a certain je nais c’est quoi. You can increase the perceived value of your brand in the minds of certain demographics and that results in customer loyalty and market value.
Brand management is necessary in all aspects of the brand. -- Developing the Brand -- Maintaining and Extending the Brand -- Protecting the Brand
Content has a four pronged value: -- Generate high quality organic traffic -- Establish trust with your visitors -- Maximize the monetization of each page -- Simultaneously, each page of content is another opportunity to spread and reinforce your brand message and value.
How much content do you need? That’s not really the right question to ask, the more correct question is “what can I do to make my site as usable and informative to my customers and potential customers as possible?”
Create the ultimate informational resource in your vertical. This lays the foundation to be the dominant brand it its vertical for years and maximizes revenue today. It also develops the brand’s online real estate to maximize its market value. In summary, responding to negative postings shows the company in question is: -- on the ball -- willing to listen -- accountable -- cares about their customers -- welcomes interaction with their demographic -- willing to help, educate and find a solution for their demographic -- will respond to concerns -- will set any records straight that need to be -- puts a human face to the brand.
Tony Wright, Brand Management and the Art of War
Brand Management as War -- It might be cliché, but it works. -- Brand Management doesn’t have the horrors of war, but it has its own horrors. It costs jobs, businesses their livelihood, etc. -- As in war, winning goes to the prepared. -- As in war, the goal is minimal damage.
Preparing for the Battle -- Know the battlefields; monitor your brand o Google Alerts o Yahoo Alerts o SERPs o Social Media Outlets o If you don’t have the time, hire someone to do it.
-- Avoid the war if at all possible o keep your customers happy o don’t screw ex-employees o don’t screw partners o practice good business o practice good customer service o admit your wrongs – through the proper channels
-- Train your soldiers o Make sure your employees know when and how to respond to a crisis o Don’t keep your employees in the dark – transparency is key o Provide drills for battle during peacetime o Prepare for every situation, but be prepared that you might not be prepared.
-- Keep your mercenaries happy (affiliates == hired guns) o Affiliates are hired guns, treat them as such o Again, transparency is key o Treat affiliates with respect and equality o Have policies for dealing with rogue affiliates o Get the button pusher involved BEFORE there are problems
-- Know your enemies and your friends o Monitor ex-employees – especially the disgruntled ones o Keep tabs on disgruntled customers o Know who your friends are and when you can call in favors o Avoid confrontation if at all possible
-- Keep the button pusher informed – but not in charge. o Lawyers are important, but will damage your brand while trying to save it. o Use the lawyer as a last result o Listen to counsel, but make your own decisions o If counsel doesn’t like it – get new counsel
Jessica L. Bowman, “The Role of Search in Branding”
How brand management is typically viewed as either a way to increase traffic by having a thorough brand-focused PPC/SEO campaign or it’s what is needed to protect your brand again bad publicity or problems in the SERPs.
Maximize traffic and revenue from brand search terms -- Leverage all of your properties to rank for your brand. -- Dominate the SERPs as much as possible -- Display multiple marketing messages within the SERPs -- Coordinate the SEO/SEM campaigns -- Coordinate with other marketing efforts – commercials, print ads, mailers, email campaigns, etc. -- Coordinate with brand management and product management – product/service naming and descriptions based on internet audience terminology.
Hedge against negative content and competitors ranking and getting traffic for your brand terms -- Recognize threats: competitors and unfavorables -- Develop proactive and reactive strategies -- Stay on top of tactics used by threatening sites.
Anything negative is a risk. -- Any form of negative content on the internet has potential to rank high for your brand. -- Any web-savvy customer can easily post something negative on a site that makes their way to the top of the SERPS
It’s not just the SERPs, make sure you check the following types of sites… -- Flickr -- Picasa -- Technorati -- Forums -- ConsumerAffairs.com -- Amazon.com (also for websites)
You might be the only person in your company that can fully comprehend the risk your company faces. -- Bring it up when you see it. -- Identify the threat that it presents. -- Get the legal department involved – they can be your champion.
In summary: -- Look at brand management in the SERPs holistically -- Make an effort to influence the SERPs, similar to how the PR department does things. -- Respond as issues arrive, but don’t get sucked into the online debates. -- Be proactive do you don’t have to be reactive. -- Be a voice of reason. -- Empower your brand loyalists.