Larry Jeffus’ textbook, Welding Principles and Applications, 4th (fourth) Edition
Through the Power of Story
What Does Google’s Hummingbird Release Mean To You?
Search engines are now the top resource used by B2B and B2C customers when researching a purchase. There is power on the top position on the search results page, and it’s smart to optimize your site for search. Google’s latest Hummingbird release has changed the search game, making now the perfect time for small companies to shine on the web. Let’s look at the specifics.
Hummingbird can be summed up in one keyword: relevance. Hummingbird is one more crucial step in refining the search process so that it matches the intent of the searcher. In other words, Hummingbird is designed to use long-tailed keywords to decipher the context of the question rather than flagging the keywords within the question.
This good news, right? Sites stuffed with keywords will no longer appear in your search results. Google is now looking for meaningful content. To achieve the power position on the search results page, your content needs to be deep and rich, filled with answers. Google wants to see sites that are stuffed with answers, instead of keywords.
Keywords are vital: They are the still the natural, conversational building blocks you use to explain how your products and services work, help and solve problems. Beyond keywords, Hummingbird also increased other factors, including word count (1000 words + has more weight than 250) and Flesch readability, indicating that Google is shifting its focus toward understanding the user’s intention as a whole so that they can lead the searcher logically to the best structured pages. Google wants to see that you are using keywords to show a searcher that you understand their problems, and can help lead them to a solution.
It’s Not About You: It’s About The Customer
Writing content for search should be the same as writing content to educate your customer. Think less about what you do, and more about what is leading your prospect to search for a solution. Your job is to anticipate what the customer needs from you and tailor your content to match. For example, a prospect looking to entertain, educate, and inspire the audience may not realize he might be looking for training in podcasting. Do you see how words about the Blue Yeti USB mic, screenflow, and BlipTV are great keywords for a podcasting company, but are not the keywords a prospective customer would type?
If you want to win newbies to podcasting, think about where the customer is, what the needs are, and what might inspire them to try podcasting. What about words like, charismatic, entertain, spark, educate?
Please understand that technical jargon definitely does have its place on your webpages. With Hummingbird asking sites to go long with words, and deep with content, search engine optimization today demands that you to fill your pages with content that runs the full gamut, educating beginners to experts with a variety of meaningful content. Companies that don’t take the time to write about and publish their expertise on the web will suffer in search marketing.
CREATE RESONANCE WITH A BRAND THESAURUS
Many companies create a brand standard — a set of design guidelines that identify the color, placement and trademark infringements of the company’s logo and identifying symbols. The handbook simplifies decisions for designers, website developers and vendors when they create promotional materials, brochures and collateral. The goal is to create a unifying look that is instantly recognizable. Brand standards are you what make the apple, the eye, and the domino recognized as Apple, CBS and Pizza.
To gain traction in search engine marketing, your content should have the same identifiable footprint. More than ever, you need a brand standard for content. The brand standard equivalent for content is the Brand Thesaurus.
The Brand Thesaurus is a list of power words, the shortlist of keywords, for anyone in your company to use every single time you write a social media update, a blog post, brochure, your next ebook, and even an email reply to your customer. These words, used consistently, signals to the search engines, your prospects and your customers that you are serious about solving this particular problem, for this specific target market. These power words should resonate with your employees, your target customer, your business goals, and your mission. These words give your mission statement legs, and lets prospects see your work in action.
Let’s take a look at two very different Brand Thesaurus keywords for two very similar companies. Both companies want to reach people in hospitals who work in organ transplant, but each list targets very different specific people within the hospital.
Each list speaks to a different target audience. Company A is targeting the transplant facilitation staff who works with the patient, while Company B is targeting the clinicians and administrative staff who track the financial, insurance and regulatory aspects of the transplant procedure.
GOOD SEO IS GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE
Building your Brand Thesaurus involves putting on the mind of your customer. This is one place where social media research can show you the way. As you scroll through user groups, focused on the problem you solve, you will begin to see recurrent words and phrases your target audience uses. These are the words that will give you the most leverage.
Put Your Brand Thesaurus in Writing. Make copies of the list, and hang it right along side of your mission statement. This list can help everyone in your organization begin to think like your customer, anticipate needs and of course, generate better content.
Search engine optimization is no mystery, it simply thrives on good, solid writing. Good writing starts with research and insight into the needs of your customer. Put your content to work to help you attract those customers who energize and inspire you to do your best work
Behind the walls of the hospitals are patients on healing journeys, supported by a staff of physicians, nurses and technicians. They all stand behind the dreams to find the cures, to end the suffering and do whatever it takes to save lives. Pinterest, through its use of poignant images, gives hospitals a place and platform to reveal the power of their people on a mission to heal.
A health crisis heralds a quest for information. With its instant 24×7 availability, patients and their families turn to the internet to find the latest research, treatment options, and facts. Pinterest is now the third largest social network, as visitors increasingly find themselves pinning medical-related pins filled with facts, data and support.
Why Pinterest? Health information can be complex and confusing. Pinterest uses images to break through barriers of literacy, intelligence, and culture to provide quick, accessible information. A PCD diagnosis is confusing and frightening, but light comes from the knowledge shared on these pins. Or to take the mystery out of how your family health history impacts your health today, how to pack for your hospital stay, or cancer survivor stories. The power of story, images and facts can be seen on this emotionally-charged board by Brigham and Women’s Hospital Board, Do No Harm.
The power of Pinterest lies in the images. Research from 3M indicates that people process visuals 60,000 times quicker than text, while other studies showed that the human brain takes longer to interpret language than images.
From a marketing tactical standpoint, it only makes sense to share information where the audience already exist and is positioned to share. The question isn’t whether hospitals should do Pinterest, but how to use Pinterest strategically to encourage re-pins and followers.
Based upon the current levels of medical-related Pinterest boards, Pinterest is being used to fill the needs of patients at every stage of their healthcare journeys. Patients are already actively searching for relevant healthcare information, starting with the pre-diagnosis phase, throughout the treatment and even after completion of care. Hospitals can help improve the current availability of patient education, while providing them with accurate information they want to solve the problems they face.
A health crisis takes an emotional toll on the patient and their families. Patients can feel alone, distraught, hopeless and depressed. Pinterest bridges those issues with emotionally uplifting images, quotes, and poignant stories that provide
the camaraderie and comfort needed.
How can you optimize your pins to help reach and support your patients?
Customer stories are a powerful way to reassure someone looking to buy from you. They’re an extended testimonial from a third party, much more powerful than, say, advertising, where you’re beating your own chest. They’re very factual. They’re very driven by actual events.Stories connect people, build trust, transcend generations, engage our emotions, and they inspire us. And yes, they are contagious. But telling a compelling story that moves us to buy, or click “share” requires a bit of skill, based on ancient archetypes about how the brain uses emotions to make decisions.
The Apple Iphone Commercial does this perfectly. And yes, it went viral:
The Apple commerical follows the traditional hero’s journey that’s been used in myths for centuries. We have a hero with a goal, an obstacle that he overcomes.
Here’s where so many success stories go wrong. They incorrectly identify the hero. You can follow this archetype to build some great customer stories, but unless you’ve correctly identified the “hero”, your story will fall flat.
You are not the hero. Your product is not the hero. Your customer is the hero.
Your product is the “wise mentor” that helps the hero achieve his goal.
In our IPhone example, the hero, the misunderstood teen, uses the IPhone to create a gift for the family.
If you want me to talk about you, tell me a story that makes my conversations more interesting — show me how you can help me become a hero.This form will take your directly to the download page for the fill-in-the-blank Build A Story Worksheet. Writing customer stories that transform your sales cycle is essentially an art form. Just remember: Always make your customer the hero. If you need help, contact me.
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The little voice at 3 AM, the heart that beats too fast, and the atrophied, calcified systems? Join me at Innovate New Albany for the Sundown Rundown event on April 10 from noon to 1 PM as I help you uncover that little voice that keeps your customer up at night. The key that can transform your customer’s worst nightmare into an emotionally-charged customer story; the double-edge sword that helps you retain current customers, while sealing the deal with new ones. In this one-hour workshop, you’ll leave with a worksheet, and examples, to help you get started building your own customer success story. Get tickets here.
Why build emotional stories instead of rational ones? Analysis of data from the IPA (the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising) compared the profitability boost of 1400 campaigns and found that campaigns with only emotional content performed nearly two times better (31% vs. 16%) than those with only rational content.
Your road will be much easier if you create content that builds an emotional connection with your customer. Stories are far more powerful than data. So, why not create content that’s actually going to solve your sales problems. A good customer story will provide all the data they need to make a logical decision, while giving them the emotional pull they need to move forward.
When you view your personal brand as a trademark, you’ll begin to see it an an asset that you continuously mold and shape, as your career evolves. Your personal brand is an asset that must be managed with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you.
When you publish online, it’s important to take into consideration how you were changed by the act of writing the piece, as well as the number of people you influenced.
The most important question to ask, is “Are you growing?”
Social media presents the very real opportunity of 24×7 total access. Without a set plan, the pace of social media can be exhausting. I will help you tailor, focus and edit your social activity so that you are sharing what’s important at just the right pace for you.
You may only need one social media outlet — or you made be served better by a blog that you a disclinpled about updating. Regardless, I will identify the platforms that will give you the highest return on your time. In addition, I will provide you with the content message points you can use to build your content over time. If needed, I can also provide the content for you.
My goal is to ensure your content attracts new readers by offering something of value that will hopefully engage them enough to continue reading.