What Does Easter Have To Do With It?

Once upon a time, according to Christianity, Jesus was reincarnated. And what does that mean for us now?

Eggs
Rabbits
Chocolate

More specifically: chocolate eggs handed out by grown-ass men in rabbit costumes. Or at least it used to be that way, until the Mass Commercialization of Easter (MCoE) happened. Now we must buy almost as many presents for kids as we do during Christmas, and there must be a chocolate version of everything. Case in point:

Rabbits love carrots, so we must feed them chocolate carrots?
chocolate-carrotsRabbits also apparently don’t hop fast enough, so they must ride vehicles?

bunnies_riding_cars

Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head are now a part of the Witness Protection Program as Mr. & Mrs. Egg Head. Just in time for Easter!

mr-mrs-potato-headThere’s also a hedgehog involved in Easter? This is news to me.

spike the hedgehog

In a galaxy far, far away, there are also Storm Trooper Easter bunnies

star wars easterOne could argue that “everything is awesome” when you have Lego in your Easter basket:

legoeasterAnd the pièce de resistance: for all the terrible vegans in your life

easter-avocadoSo what’s the weirdest Easter chocolate you’ve seen? Send us pics!

SEO Traffic: A Reminder

Credit: Paul Couture

Credit: Paul Couture

Full Disclosure: I’m a professional SEO who has a heavily vested interest in companies investing in, well, SEO so that I can carve out my own little slice of the American Dream.

Okay, now that I got that out of the way, let me get to the point as quickly as possible: SEO represents the most targeted source of traffic online.

Why? Well, because search engines send you users who are (1) already interested in your products or services, and (2) they’re already looking to buy. In other words, they are already one step down the conversion funnel. You don’t have to convince them to buy. You just have to convince them to buy from you, and if you’ve done your job, they’re already on your website.

Social traffic is great for brand visibility, but not so much for driving sales. I mean, sure, you can target people by interests and social graph and all other kinds of creepy data sets. But when people log on to Facebook or Twitter, they’re there to hangout and talk sh*t. They’re not there go shopping.

8aba44a5c409216494aa24bd24de07202808621f83099ce5cd4753fcb95a5dfa

Even if you use a killer piece of content to drive them back to your site, there’s no guarantee that they’re in the mood to make a purchasing decision, or even in the market for whatever it is you’re trying to sell them. In fact, they’re probably not even going to look at your products or service pages. They’re just gonna consume your content, share it (which is great), and then move on.

With search engines, though, you can get in front of users who are actively shopping around, and when you do, its your products or service pages that they’re looking at.

Of course, there are some inconvenient truths about SEO, like how it’s not a quick fix. In fact, it’s something you have to actually invest in over time. You’re going to need to do things like create killer content and build an ongoing keyword narrative.

But the investment is going to be worth it. That is, of course, as long as you’re selling something that actually offers value and you’re not a complete jerk to your customers.

But, seriously, think about it. If you don’t believe me, just dive in to your Google Analytics and compare the average conversion rate of your organic search traffic with your other traffic sources. The numbers don’t lie

The “Grumpy” Poet – Blog Frequently or Don’t Blog at All!

the_grumpy_poet

The “Grumpy” poet has once again moved to a new spot from Monday to Wednesday to make room for our new weekly feature the “Silicon Valley – Weekly TV Show Commentary“.

This column started on Wednesday, so it only makes sense to move it back, and besides hump day is the best day to be grumpy!

This move gives me the opportunity to discuss another subject that really makes my blood curdle – inconsistent blogging!

Here on Keep Marketing Fun we manage to post daily, well 5 times a week Mon-Fri. It is very important for us to develop a frequent and consistent blogging schedule. Since we began this blog just over a year ago, we have reaped the benefits of staying on schedule. Our search ranking and traffic has steadily increased, our followers continue to grow, shares, comments, and likes are up and most importantly we have reached prospects and converted them into clients.

We all know “Content is King” but I’d rather not debate that, personally I think the phrase is exhausted and oversimplifies the issue at hand. Do you want to build a community? Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field? Do you want to attract leads? Etc. Then producing quality content is key and doing it once a quarter just doesn’t cut it!

If you’re running a business and you have a blog you need to actually use it. Don’t blog once a day for 4 weeks then pause for 6 weeks. That kind of inconsistency kills traffic and deters repeat readers. You need to sit down with your team, put together a schedule, and stick to it.

If I come across a post I like, I’ll revisit that site. If after a few times I realize there is no new content, I get bored! I won’t sign up to your newsletter and I’ll forget that your blog exists. You’ve lost me as a reader and any potential that I might share it with my network. Why should I or anyone waste time checking a stagnant blog?

Frequency vs Consistency

I’ve been throwing the words consistency and frequency around a lot. Let’s quickly discuss the differences between them and how they add up to good blogging.

Frequency is the rate at which you publish new content. Get a schedule together and have your team stick to it. 1 post a week, bi-weekly downloads, monthly case study, etc. Whatever the frequency you can manage.

Consistency is about sticking to the strategy you have mapped out. Again, don’t publish once a day for 4 weeks and pause for 6 weeks. Stick to your schedule. Both visitors and search engines will notice the inconsistency.

Still not drinking my Kool-Aid?

Here are a few more reasons why I’ll-blog-when-I have-time won’t work:

  • Google looks for fresh content. If you’re publishing frequently your blog will be crawled and indexed frequently.
  • The better your content and the more frequently you publish it, the more important Google considers your blog, hence better rankings and traffic – see last point.
  • Frequent content leads to repeat traffic/readers. You’re creating anticipation. Readers will come back more often and share your content with their networks.
  • The more content you produce the more inbound links you get. With frequent content you’re giving other blogs and websites a reason to link back to you – Google likes this.
  • More traffic means more opportunity to capture leads: get newsletter subscriptions, blog subscriptions, Facebook page likes, Twitter followers, etc.
  • You can nurture leads and qualify them. With a dedicated following you or your sales team can reach out to prospects. Respond to comments on your blog or comments on inbound links.

Put yourself in the readers’ shoes. Think about the blogs you regularly follow and why you follow them and why you signed up for their newsletter? Chances are they publish often.

Case in point

Last summer we started aggressively blogging. We began receiving both emails and phone calls from potential clients. When asked “how did you find us?” we were surprised at the answer “I just finished reading your blog post on…”.  Traffic was up on Keep Marketing Fun (in fact it was higher, and continues to remain higher than our corporate portal), we were getting more social juice and linkbacks. All was good in the world of words.

With this sudden influx of work, we started getting lazy with the blog. Well, to be honest we didn’t have the bandwidth, but that should not have been an excuse, especially when the blog proved to be a major sales channel. Blogging became less frequent and both traffic and leads dropped.

From that point on we made the decision to blog 5 days a week no matter what. We created a basic content calendar to start and strategized on content verticals. Since then we have not seen a drop, only a lift.

Video of the Week – Foot Locker’s Week of Greatness Ad from 2013

Yes, I realize it is 2014, but recently I was reminded by a friend about this classic Foot Locker Ad from 2013 – so perfectly executed!

Last November Foot Locker ran a campaign entitled “Week of Greatness”, there was nothing really great about the the promo itself, new gear at discounted prices, but their TV spot was brilliant. Playing on greatness they looked at professional failures - the opposite of greatness :) -  in this spoof TV commercial with cameos from Mike Tyson, Dennis Rodman, and Craig Sager to name a few.

The concept behind the ad

Kyrie Irving (NBA Allstar) is fantasizing how all the world’s wrongs can be written right with the release of premium shoes from Foot Locker. The commercial itself makes no sense, but its simple humour earned mass hype mostly due to Mike Tyson giving Evander Holyfield his ear back after 16 years and hugging it out. 

Not sure if Foot Locker has anything planned for this year, but last year will be tough to top.

Silicon Valley – Weekly TV Show Commentary

 

The cast of Silicon Valley

“Due? This is not college. I’m not going to be giving you a course syllabus” – Peter Gregory

Last week, the new HBO show Silicon Valley stirred up some interesting discussion in the office about life in tech startups. Aside from providing a colourful cast of characters that many people will surely recognize in their own workplaces, it was also a great opportunity to discuss the common pitfalls of running a startup. So, we decided to share it with you all on our blog! This is the first of a weekly commentary of our thoughts on each episode and what some local startups think.

Brief episode 1 recap

In the first episode, Richard, gets the deal of a lifetime, something most startup developers can only dream of. He turns down a $10M buy out and opts for a $200,000 investment for 5% shares and the opportunity to grow his own company. It is this starry-eyed idealism that leads to an inevitable confrontation with the realities of running a business.

Season 1 Episode 2 : The Cap Table

Richard arrives at his first meeting with Peter Gregory with no pitch, hands open and vacuously expecting a check. When he’s asked about cap tables, investment decks, and business plans, his wide-eyed response is that he didn’t realize “that stuff was due yet”.

“Due? This is not college. I’m not going to be giving you a course syllabus. [...] What is this company? What did I buy?” –Peter Gregory

Richard is upbraided by Peter and told he has 48 hours to produce a cogent pitch. Leaving the office, Richard comments on how Peter was being “kind of an asshole”, but Elrich corrects him: his reaction made total business sense. The business world is no place for training wheels, you need to know what you’re doing and fight for a place at the table.

“You’re being a complete tool right now, I need you to be a complete asshole right now. If you’re not an asshole, this company dies.” –Erlich

Being an asshole, seems to be the shows succinct way of describing the qualities needed to be a good businessperson: an enigmatic mixture of ability, assertiveness, and personableness. You can’t make business decisions based on being friendly and nice.

Soon we discover that Richard may well be the only one who hasn’t yet grasped this concept. As Jordan Dunn leaves Gavin Belson to join their team to help Richard build his business plan, they sit down for individual meetings with the members of Pied Piper. Dinesh and Gilfoyle both confidently enumerate the ways in which they contribute to the company and state outright that they think they deserve more shares than the other. Big Head, Richard’s best friend, reveals himself to be a totally nonessential player.

After mulling it over for a long time, Richard eventually decides to go out on a limb for his friend and keep him in the company, giving him the same amount of shares as everyone else, despite his lack of value, only to realize that while he was trying to defend his integrity, Gavin Belson’s ability to be an “asshole” had already thrown a wrench in his plans by stealing his friend away with a promotion.

“So you’re like the VP of spite?” –Dinesh

This episode plays on many themes, the key theme being in order to survive in business you need to be and asshole – of course that is up for debate in the real world. But in Richard’s act of standing up for his friend, we see a glimmer of hope for camaraderie in the startup world of business. It’s important to be aware of the dangers of being too nice, but that does not absolutely refute the value of having integrity – can an asshole have integrity?

At the end of the episode, we are reminded that, in business, you can’t rest on your laurels, the next challenge is always right ahead. Check in hand at the bank, Richard realizes that he cant even deposit the sum without a corporate account, while Gavin Belson is already in the process of reverse engineering the valuable algorithm he developed.

Our thoughts

Vivien - It’s interesting that Big Head ranted about the sexism inherent in his app “Nip Alert”. The show, at the moment, has only one main female cast member with a grand total of three lines in this episode and the first woman of colour to appear on the show is a stripper. I look forward to seeing how Silicon Valley will tackle the issue of the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the tech industry. Here’s a great article which develops this thought further.

The Poet – I think there’s a big difference between being arrogant, being a jerk and being an asshole. In my opinion the first 2 have no merit in the business world, but being an asshole can be very beneficial – trust me, I’m an asshole. I’ve worked for many asshole CEO’s who I still admired and who were still able to have meaningful relationships with their employees – I think you can still be likeable as an asshole – sometimes you just need to get your point across and make a decision wether people like it or not.

and a commentary from a local startup founder …

Josh McRae, Co-Founder of MTL Blog - I don’t think you need to be an asshole in order to be successful yet having a stern non-friend approach is certainly a benefit in the end. People need to respect you. If there’s no respect for you or the company, the company image and deadlines are at risk and procrastination reigns.

Got something to say? Let us know in the comments below. If you’re a startup and would like to weigh in on the commentary for a following episode let us know.

Fun Friday Post – Highlights of #QC2014 as The Little Mermaid

Yeah we know – it’s very Buzzfeed-esque. But since our own Brendan Tully Walsh ran for the CAQ (Coalition Avenir Quebec) in the riding of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, and the elections are over, we’d like to pay tribute to the Quebec election 2014.

When the voters found out that there really was another election happening:

giphy

When the election was announced, it was speculated that Pauline Marois had called it so she wouldn’t have to testify in a parliamentary committee:

giphy (1) Don’t be inquiète (be very
inquiète)

How impressive PKP’s fist pump was:

giphy (2)

PKP’s impression of himself after his fist pump:

giphy (3)

Quebec Solidaire fought hard to seduce voters’ hearts & minds:

giphy (4)

When the Director of Elections was denying students the vote:

giphy (5)

Pauline, you may be ready for a PQ majority and a referendum, but the voters clearly are not:

giphy (6)

Voters’ reactions when the PQ ran solely on la charte des valeurs:

giphy (7)

When the CBC called the election for the Liberals early, the PLQ was all like:

giphy (8)

And finally, when Pauline Marois resigned:

Starting a startup is the new writing a novel

Have you got a startup on the side and you think you’re disrupting whole industries? Think that you’re unique? I’m here to say you’re not. Let’s face some hard truths together, I’ll hold your hand through it.

Starting a startup is the new writing a novel.

Writer Once, twenty-somethings, usually men, felt they had enough life experience and good ideas to fill pages, inspire a generation, and write the next great American novel while selling millions of copies. Now, they quit school, learn to code and think they have the ideas that will retain millions of users and sell for billions of dollars.

But how can this be? Anyone can write a novel, right? Well now anyone can also start their own startup. With advances in tech and the democratization of the internet, owning a computer, a smartphone and/or a tablet has become commonplace within the same demographics that yearned to pen the so-called “unique” stories that lived within their souls. The same demographics who would have once been prime candidates for pulling out their hair while staring at a blank page are now pulling out their hair learning to code instead.

bug-featureThink about it: aside from coding (which isn’t always necessary anymore – there are plenty of non-technical founders), writing a novel and starting a startup are almost one and the same. They require tenacity, determination, and a beautiful cross between self-delusion and self-confidence that the founder will be part of the minute percentage that makes it. It also requires a lot of self-motivation, selling to get the novel/startup off the ground, and both types to get involved in these types of projects are usually quite clever and intelligent.

Often, a novel or a startup begins on the side while trying to turn becoming an author or becoming an entrepreneur into a full-time gig. Both types commonly require large cash advances and require large amounts of time, energy and concentration to make it. They also require a huge amount of focus, sophistication and expertise – more than most people posses or expect. Both dream of being able to quit their day jobs to pursue their dreams full-time (oh wait – who doesn’t?).

And the failure rates are quite similar too, most people fail in both cases – most writers never finish writing their first manuscript, and if they do, the majority won’t get book deals, while approximately 90% of startups fail within the first year.

So if young people writing semi-autobiographical novels is considered frivolous navel-gazing, how would you categorize the current slew of cute, cool startups? Because let’s face it, the vast majority of startups aren’t changing the world.