The Rule of Brand, SEO, Trust and Marketing

This article will take approx 2 minutes to read.

Almost five years ago, I started this blog without much idea what was going on. In fact, in many ways, it was an opportunity to pass time at work, in a job that I cared little about and that I was doing little more than doing time with. I setup a WordPress blog, went to town writing about whatever the heck I felt like writing about. It’s a common path followed by a great many bloggers.

At some point, however, I came to find my voice on this blog. I wrote in an authoritative way on topics that I was knowledgeable about. I challenged assumptions made in industry, and brought a common sense, no bullshit approach to conversation. I’ve been rewarded with many fans, followers and friends. Literally, my brand, personal or otherwise, is golden. As it should be.

This blog is not a make money quick kind of venture. In fact, I think I made $35 last time I got a check. Not much more than beer money, but that’s fine – I make my money because of my blog, not via my blog. I don’t play the game of SEO, link building and trying to get the most page views. That is a game played by a few power players who have worked the system and built up alliances. I have built my authority and stature, not on making money with my blog or by selling someone elses product in return for a kickback. I have not worried about how many pageviews and selling CPM advertising. I am worried about the quality of the content, the truth in my writing, the community that pays attention and, basically, changing the world one word at a time.

This is my value. This is why when I talk about Government and the web, even though I’m not one of the Goverati, people pay attention. This is why when I write about marketing, I get listed as a top marketer despite not being one. This is why when I examine technology policy, executives from technology companies email me.

This is the real shit. This is not fraud. This is not get rich quick scams.

I’ve said it many times, the most recently being at the excellent Bootstrap Maryland event… You do not control your brand. Your customers do.

I do not control my brand. My readers do. My community does.

My brand is not destroyed by Google bombing my name or brand into search engine rankings. When I get negative press, I let my community protect my brand. It makes no sense for me to engage in a protectionist way since I can’t protect my brand anyway.

This morning, I woke up to this story, where Jeremy Schoemaker attacks my brand and my name. Besides the fact that the post is completely schizophrenic and not very well thought out, much less executed, let’s look at the marketing techniques and think about brand. The title of the post is loaded up with my name and brand. He makes sure to this because that will weigh higher in the Google index. Indeed, his post is the 7th SERP in Google when you search for my name after only a few hours. Whatever.

It doesn’t change my business. It doesn’t change my brand. In fact, it doesn’t change my authority because my trust is with you, my community. On Twitter, I am being defended. Fine, whatever. I appreciate it.

In today’s online world, I am constantly hearing about companies who are afraid to converse because they don’t want disagreement. They lose the conversation. In some cases, they try to erase bad publicity.

Conversation is going to happen. Negative conversation is going to happen. The reality is that bad PR doesn’t kill a company. How the customers or community respond make the brand.

Class is adjourned.

Comments

  1. John Flanagan says

    Sorry, but I have to side with Jeremy Schoemaker on this one. His thoughts about you have been mirrored by several others I’ve talked to, which usually isn’t a good sign.

    You even said it yourself. You _aren’t_ a marketer, but you write as if you wrote the book on Web marketing. Apparently the people who claim you’re an expert are grossly misinformed.

    I wish you would write more about methodologies and practices that have yielded effective results. Instead, you deign to communicate with us heathens who couldn’t possibly hope to know as much as you when it comes to Web marketing.

    From my perspective, this is your brand (based on reading you, and reactions from other readers):
    - You know how to make WordPress themes
    - You claim you’re the biggest blogger in the DC area
    - You claim to have an eye for photography — I have yet to see any evidence of that.

    This is your resume. So what have you _actually_ accomplished? Coming up with original ideas and executing them successfully holds a lot more value than hitching on to someone else’s star in my book. That alone is what should boost a person’s credibility.

    What’s that? You _have_ come up with original ideas and executed them? That’s not what your brand is telling me. I’m sure you have a lot of great ideas. You should be known for that, instead of incessant name dropping and potential partner pandering.

    Just some thoughts from your neighborhood expert Web marketer.

    J

  2. says

    What have I done for you? Nothing. What have I done for my clients? Plenty.

    You’re not my customer or my reader. Therefore, my brand value to you is moot.

    Thanks anyway.

  3. says

    Let the infomercial web guy sell his…whatever it is he sell. Shamwows? The used car salesman and their get rich quick web schemes will bring them nothing but traffic from the same kind of people who watch QVC and ‘how to flip a house’ all day.

    Those of us who know you, know better.

    Let his sheep peddle their Amway and MaryKay while the rest of us do real work.

    I was never very sure about these guys, I sure am now.

  4. John Flanagan says

    Aaron,

    Thanks for your response. That’s right, keep digging that hole a little deeper!

    Every marketer knows it’s not just about reaching out to current readers and current customers, but potential new ones.

    You’ve just eliminated your chances of acquiring my business and readership. What does that say about me as a customer? Nothing. What does it say about your brand? That it can’t always be trusted.

    My knowledge of your brand indicates that you’ll likely respond by saying something along the lines of, “I didn’t need your business anyway. You’re not as important as I am. You’re a small fish.”

    I’m not the one begging for jobs on Twitter — and my career doesn’t revolve around the shelf life of WordPress.

    Keep digging that hole.

    J

  5. says

    All press is good press! You will always have critics but you have to embrace them. If your making enough noise so somebody takes the time to be a critic of you then you are doing something right. Embrace these things and make the effort to point them out. Show everyone all sides of you and your company. Not everyone will like it but the people that do will love it!

  6. Jack says

    Just one question – did you really use the names of Darren Rowse and Brian Clark to front your project when in fact they had nothing to do with it?

    If so, that’s an INCREDIBLY sleazy move………..add me to the list of customers/readers who would never give you a shred of credibility.

  7. Daniel says

    “Class is adjourned” – how pretentious. There’s a major difference between writing with authority and writing with arrogance. This post certainly doesn’t further your brand as authoritative. All told, you strike me as more pretender than contender.

    • Anthony says

      I couldn’t agree more. While I wouldn’t put this guy on the same level as other big name bloggers mentioned here, I have heard of him…with mixed reviews.

      After reading the brand that is Aaron Brazell, he seems to be full of himself and not even a competent blogger. If this is his offering, I’m not buying any.

  8. says

    I want to come out and state my opinion on this one, but unfortunately I am always hesitant to jump in to arguments unless I was there and had an insiders perspective.

    One thing I always stick to when I get in to an argument or have a problem with someone is this. I go directly to them so that I keep the amount of confrontation to a minimal and don’t try to attack others.

    This is an unfortunate circumstance

  9. says

    Shoemoney is very cocky, and I think his feeling were hurt by the fact that you did not join his groupie list. That was a major blow to his ego.

  10. says

    That is too funny. He does seem like his feelings were hurt, you may have lashed out a little – however, when it comes down to it that was on a private level and not on a web-wide level from what I understand.