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Your website has only two audiences: 1) your key target market; and 2) Google.

In theory we can all agree to that, but in practice every department, every area of specialization wants to be on the homepage. The homepage may be the website’s front door, yet every page can be a doorway if SEO is properly optimized. Yes, homepages are still important, but when people search using keywords, they may never cross your organization’s homepage threshold.

The watchword for 2021 is discoverability. Google displays webpages (notice I didn’t say “homepages”) in its search results that meet specific requirements. Those requirements are relevance of your page and authority. Google determines relevance by analyzing your writing and keywords. Google measures authority by the trustworthy links on that page.

According to SEOmoz, successful SEO is made up of 24% trust/authority, 22% link popularity of page, 20% external links to page, 15% keyword usage and 18%  click-through, registration and social. As you can see, even if you are on the homepage, if you don’t build quality links, you will not be discoverable. Imagine that in a voice-activated world where only one or two choices will be offered.

This is a very complicated topic for a blog that touts answers in 60 seconds, but let’s simplify it a bit:

When you’re writing for people, 8 in 10 will read your headline only (so spend 80% of your time looking at headlines, only 20% of time on the other stuff). When you’re writing for Google, think of how you validate your authority through building high-quality links to outside sources (for example, if you wrote an article for a magazine or were quoted in a blog, reach out and establish reciprocal links).

People = Headlines/Google = Quality Links   

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising. 

I ran across a letter I received years ago from a two-time applicant for a TV station sales manager job. I saved the letter, because when I give talks about marketing, it’s an example of one of my hiring philosophies.

The letter rebuked me for not getting back to the person after a very positive interview.  Little did the person know, that was my test.

Here’s my viewpoint: When you hire someone for any sales position, you hope when they find an interested party (called a lead) they don’t just sit back and wait. I wanted to see what this person would do next. I was a hot lead  at that time with a clear problem that needed solving. Even when you are actively recruiting for a position, you measure interest by the other person’s actions, responses, questions and overall interest. To me that goes to “good fit.”  Yes, I was actively recruiting for the position, but that recruiting needs to be reciprocated.

When I interview anyone for our marketing firm, one of my secret-sauce questions is, “Do you like sales?” If the person says no, the interview (in my mind) is over. We sell ideas, feelings, brands, messages, storyboards, vision boards, logo concepts and scripts to target audiences all day long. If you don’t like sales, you will not like life in a marketing and fundraising agency. 

And now that digital has brought data to the forefront, the sales game is more measurable than ever for marketing and fundraising firms. The lesson from all of this is that you should never be afraid to show someone you are really interested in their business, their contribution or their collaboration. Sometimes no response doesn’t mean no, it means keep showing your interest (in unique and interesting ways).

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

In October, prior to Halloween, I was thinking about the first quarter of the year and the blogs I needed to write. A content calendar is not a sexy marketing technique, but it is one of the most important tools to a successful media effort.

Those nice holiday ads you see in December are usually shot and edited in the summer. That means your product mix, your offer and your theme need to be ready to go in late spring. That kind of work-ahead requires a content calendar, just based on the logistics of accomplishing tasks and following a process.

Here is my content calendar for 2020 blogs. You can see I’ve planned out the blogless weeks and holidays.

Yet even on a small scale, you should be setting a content calendar to make sure you are optimizing all of your content creation, media efforts, messaging and budget. It is estimated that more than 60% of businesses don’t have a documented strategy.

A content calendar provides a 360-degree view of your messaging across all platforms. It also can help you see gaps in your message stream. A content calendar also can help you plan and organize around key events and milestones in your organization. A content calendar leads to high quality because of the strategic planning.

To me the most important part of a content calendar is that it provides a cadence or rhythm to your marketing efforts. As I studied my data for my blog and my past calendar, I found that readership steeply drops the week of a holiday and the week leading up to a holiday. I’ve been able to realign my efforts accordingly — no need to produce fresh content with few readers.

Creating content is a relentless beast. One way to tame it is with a content calendar. So today, as you read this, I should be planning June blogs and thinking about summer.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

The internet promised great personalization and targeting. Even though the media lived up to the promise, marketers have fallen far from hitting the mark.

It seems creating niche-centered, targeted messaging to different audience clusters is just too difficult. So one ad is made, popped on Facebook and run until it becomes old.

Netflix is finding a way to develop and engage niche markets: It has identified subsets of its audience and began offering dedicated social channels. These channels include sci-fi, Latinx, LGBTQ+ and parents. Con Todo is a channel for Latinx audiences, The Most is LGBTQ+ and Strong Black Lead is a channel for Black films and TV shows.

You can’t find these efforts on the Netflix app, but on Twitter, Instagram and Reddit, these are mini brands with large audiences. Strong Black Lead has more than 500,000 Instagram followers. NX is a channel for “all things geek” and has an audience of 450,000. Netflix Family on Instagram has 900,000 followers.

These mini brands are strongly connected to their respective audiences. Merchandise encourages audiences to become brand ambassadors. Niche marketing like this comes with reduced competition, increased visibility, enhanced audience relationships and increased sharing within the groups.

Netflix is creating social communities so it can deliver messages in an authentic way. These mini brands will build and may become full-fledged brands on their own.

In the end, this is fulfilling the promise of the internet for greater personalization instead of sending one voice to many audiences. It is branding with the point of view of the cow, not the branding iron.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

Facebook is in trouble — or is that just another misleading news report that is circulating on Facebook? “Misinformation is more popular now than in 2016,” the New York Times reported, citing new research from the German Marshall Fund Digital. And for the record, Facebook is not in trouble.

Facebook relies on viral content, but much of the “misinformation” is viral. Social media companies have hired people to monitor and used electronic means to cut down on the misinformation, yet it still pervades the platform.

In spite of all the misinformation, Facebook is the mobile app Americans can’t live without. Facebook-owned Instagram is growing, but so is Google-owned social media giant, YouTube. More than 8 in 10 Americans use YouTube and Facebook.

So despite all the fake news and misleading information, the Facebook app is not in trouble. It will continue to wrestle with eliminating misleading and misinformation campaigns, but it is a powerful source of news for people of all ages — and a powerful advertising tool.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

Have you paid someone to post about you or say something about your products or services? If not, you may be missing a powerful way to get attention and swing public opinion your way.

Most of us probably thought Crocs had seen its day of fame and fortune, but the brand has been teaming up with stars to roll out new celebrity-approved footware. Rapper Bad Bunny’s glow in the dark Crocs sold out in minutes. The Bieber crocs sold out in 90 minutes. KFC crocs sold out in 2.5 hours.

Just the hint of Bieber-Croc collab on Instagram sent Crocs’ stock shares soaring 13% on one day and crashed the Crocs website. The Instagram post was liked more than 670,000 times. Crocs sold for $60 but were nearly double that on eBay as you can see above.

So you don’t have Justin Bieber in your market, but you do have many people who have broad followings on social media. Look to those people for not only endorsements, but also look for general interest from new markets, public relations value, expanded storylines and opportunities beyond media.

Crocs found influencer marketing increases sales. The perfect shoe for a pandemic.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

What do you think should be on a billboard? Logo, product/service, website, phone number, tagline, catchy headline? Maybe you have insisted on all of those on one billboard.

How about just a person in a visually engaging pose? How about without a logo or product/service? Apple breaks marketing ground and not only gets its outdoor advertising noticed, but earned media as well.

Apple wanted to make sure that on one day, the AirPods Pro would be introduced to the world. That can easily be accomplished in a digital format, but not in the tangible world or printed billboards. So Apple designed a two-stage rollout. The first stage was giant, dramatic and highly noticeable people shots that break through clutter; the second stage added Apple AirPods in the people’s ears and a small Apple logo. Yep, a small logo.

AdWeek said that Apple took more than 30,000 photos to find the right look for the billboards. The campaign also used extensions (extensions are artwork placed outside the “live” billboard area). Extensions provide another visual technique that attracts attention.

The real power was the dramatic imagery. Photography is underrated for its pulling and selling power. It tells a memorable story that doesn’t need all the words, numbers, websites. It breaks the rules and breaks through the clutter.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

We’ve all been “distanced” for nearly a year. The common employee complaint is that the video-screen time and the incessant emails are weighing on us all.

So we’ve talked in this blog and you’ve heard in other marketing arenas that podcasting is a great way to reach audiences, but have you thought of how podcasting could help you reach, educate and inform internal audiences as well?

Employees are facing real Zoom fatigue, and podcasting offers a more personal way to communicate directly with each employee. Regan.com quoted a Mindshare NeuroLab research paper saying, “Scientists discovered that information consumed in a podcast achieves a high emotional resonance and better memory encoding than visual-only mediums.”

So if you have something you want remembered, audio is one of the most effective ways to do it. Podcasting is an easy and effective way to disseminate important information to remote audiences. It also guarantees that the information is transmitted consistently and is available to all at the same time.

Podcasting also ensures that you are speaking directly to each employee, who is many times listening with headphones. It is very personal. Because of the ease of use for employees, it is a great way to impart messages such as success stories, mission statement illumination, orientation, CEO updates, training, encouragement and recognition.

Ease of consumption is the key for employees who are feeling disassociated and disconnected. It’s a way for a familiar voice to offer guidance, reassurance and inspiration any time of day or night.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

There was a time when having a story “above the fold” of a newspaper was considered the best placement. It is reserved for the top story or stories.

Newspapers still exist, but does the term “above the fold” still have relevance in today’s digital orientation? It does and it will forever. To me, “above the fold” means the space where people are actually paying attention. That means above the fold is:

  • The first 10 minutes of an hourlong meeting
  • The first lines of a letter
  • The headline and first paragraph of a brochure
  • The top two “pages” of a home screen
  • The first few minutes of a speech
  • The first 300 words of a long blog (that’s why my blogs are so short)
  • The first page of Google, Amazon or YouTube search
  • The first 5 slides of a PowerPoint
  • The first seconds of a 2-minute video

You must show great respect to anything above the fold. You should put the majority of your attentional development time and effort in above-the-fold work and review. The rest has a rapidly diminishing attention quotient.

Research shows people are lazy and live in a world where even scrolling takes effort and concentration — truly first-world issues, but issues nonetheless. Effort and concentration seem to be in short supply these days.

So don’t waste your “above-the-fold” moment. It’s a precious, fleeting jewel that requires careful attention and a lot of time to develop.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.

Why are you hiding your website, your products or your mission? The race for discoverability goes to those who have studied and mastered SEO. SEO matters, and it is becoming more and more important in this searchable and voice-activated world — even on Amazon.

It is estimated that 80% of products on Amazon are not properly optimized for Amazon SEO. Optimized means that the words have been scrutinized and matched with a searcher’s intent in mind — not what you want to “sell” someone. You must think like buyers, not sellers. If you don’t know what your target audience is searching for, then you will not succeed in being discovered by that target audience.

Take a look at this headline for a product on Amazon. Not a sexy headline, but it is highly effective. It follows Amazon’s rules for optimization, and it shows that the writer was thinking like a buyer.

You can’t just stuff your titles with keywords, but relevant keywords must be “stuffed” in your titles, headlines and meta data.

Start with this: 1) “What does my audience want to know?” 2) Then make a first draft. 3) After Step 2, make sure you’ve included that bit of information, that product or that service people may search to find. 4) Finally, integrate all relevant keywords.

Amazon has additional rules to follow such as capitalize the first letter of each word, spell out all measurements, use numerals for numbers and avoid punctuation. Also, avoid all subjective claims such as amazing, good-quality, best-selling and new. Put words in logical order of what people will search for — Blue Glass Piggy Bank, not Piggy Bank Glass Blue.

Poor SEO writing has larger repercussions than turning away visitors. Optimization (for Google and Amazon) determines if searchers will see your site at all. And don’t forget YouTube optimization.

If you don’t show up in page search, you don’t exist to anyone, and that means you’re hiding when you didn’t mean to hide.

Mark Mathis III is chief creative & strategy officer, partner and cofounder of AMPERAGE Marketing & Fundraising.