It’s Not Who You Know

Chris Brogan, business and marketing advisor.

You’ve been told that it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. That’s almost true. It’s who you know that you maintain good relationships with that matters most. Warm contacts, not just contacts. Years ago, my friend and boss at the time Jeff Pulver told me, “You live or die by your database.” I’ve guided my business by that principle ever since, and it continues to pay off.

Warm Connections Beat “Contacts”

I’m typing this from the dining room table of two friends who are now also clients. I’ve known them for years now. Gary is a chef and author and Sylvia is a photographer and creative. They own a boutique inn located in the fabled Hamptons in New York, and through that, I’ve seen them nurture guests and deliver amazing customer experiences. They treat their friends as if there’s no one else in the world besides them and it’s a treasure to bask in their presence.

When they asked me to come work with them on a few projects (some marketing and some business work), I said yes without a moment’s hesitation. And while I’ve worked with the two of them in limited ways over the past several years, this is our first big business undertaking.

My point is this: these are the types of engagements you want in business. You want to work with people you like. You want to work with people who matter. And that takes time and effort.

The Opposite of Serendipity

Some parts of life happen by chance. They’re beautiful. Sometimes, we meet someone simply because they’ve wandered into our world. That’s great.

But for business purposes, and for life plans, and for mapping out a way to thrive, I have to caution you: your business success will increase if you learn how to nurture warm connections with people who you want to work with in business and in life. This particular success comes from effort, not serendipity.

How to Keep Contacts Warm

I could tell you the simplest method possible:

  • Make a simple spreadsheet with names and contact columns, an area for notes, and an area for an ongoing log of dates.
  • Ensure it has a “last contact” column where you can add a date.
  • SCHEDULE TIME to reach out and connect with people on your list daily (or almost daily).
  • Do this a lot.
  • Visit people when you can.

I know it’s insane. I know you wanted there to be more to this. But this is how it works. You connect. You observe. You leave messages. You recognize the good work of others. You find ways to help however you can, even in small ways.

And here’s the most important one:

You make warm introductions where it makes sense between people you know, and using the following model.

  1. Ask party one if an introduction to party two might be helpful. Wait for a yes.
  2. Ask party two if they’re willing to connect with party one. Wait for a yes.
  3. Introduce both parties and get out of the way.
  4. Follow up with party one and party two separately after the fact.

(I can’t tell you how many times someone sends an email to me and someone else without following this model and how rarely this is beneficial to either me or the other party.)

Trust in Relationships

I never connect with people solely for business. I have to like the person. I have to want to eat meals with them, drink beverages with them, and laugh outside of work with them.

And I just lied. I said “never.” Every time I end up doing business with someone I don’t really like much, it fails. Either I don’t give it enough love, or the other party treats the business relationship as transactional, and nothing good comes of it.

I don’t know. Maybe other people can do this. I can’t. I need to actually like the people I work with.

I just gave you a super easy recipe to work this way. Trying it might benefit your business. What do you think? Willing to try?

(And drop me an email – [email protected])

6 Cannes Revelations About B2B Marketing in 2020

City of Cannes Aerial view Image

City of Cannes Aerial view Image

In June the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brought together some of the world’s savviest B2B marketers, brands, and other creative professionals.

From Nike, IKEA, and Visa to Tommy Hilfiger, Microsoft and Target, strong brands and the marketers behind them were involved at Cannes, and the trends they gathered to explore will play a part in shaping how B2B marketers focus their efforts in the months and years ahead.

Here’s a run-down of some of the top B2B marketing and other revelations from this year’s Cannes, and what they’ll mean for your business in 2020 and beyond.

1 — Cannes B2B Marketing Brand Engagement Take-Aways

Brand Engagement Gear Cogs Image

One running theme at Cannes this year was centered around being mindful of your brand’s purpose, and how it will be especially important when it comes time to meet your audience’s needs and make the greatest impact.

Being a change-maker brand comes from honing in on consumer desires, so listen to the signals coming from the online platforms where your customers and potential clients spend the majority of their time.

Don’t entirely eschew machine learning when it comes to your data, but build brand trust by ensuring that appropriate and responsible humans have data oversight.

Look to feed off competitive momentum and focus conversations and cultural discussions using creativity, and keep it sincere when it comes to brand activism, while avoiding all hints of opportunism, many at Cannes urged.

Brand engagement, especially through influencer marketing, has been the focus of several recent articles we’ve published, including these:

2 — Cannes B2B Marketing Consumer Journey Take-Aways

Happy people and dog jumping together on the sunset beach Image

Dig in and embrace the sometimes-messy digital world where your potential customers interact, by communicating with them and taking the time to learn about their lives through what they’re posting online, because cold and impersonal data can only get you so far in the customer journey.

These raw and real connections can unite and forge new relationships in ways that polished marketing campaigns sometimes just can’t, and some of the winners at Cannes showed examples of building these types of connections.

Build strong brand value while also allowing customers to take the wheel, nurture the connections your brand makes, and don’t be afraid to build strong creative partnerships in your efforts.

Valuing the participation of consumers while also standing by your brand’s values were among the trends explored during Cannes this year.

Search taking place from smart speakers and other connected voice-assisted is poised to boom in the coming years, and podcasting is expanding to offer new ways to integrate brand messaging.

Strive to build a seamless voice search approach that meshes with the values and messaging of your brand or that of your client, as sound is the newest frontier for B2B marketers.

We’re written about smart search recently, including in these helpful articles:

[bctt tweet=”“We’re very good at doing marketing on screens. We’re not as good at audio only.” — Bessie Lee, Founder and CEO, Withinlink” username=”toprank”]

3 — Cannes B2B Marketing Diversity Take-Aways

Colorful diverse finger prints image.

Cannes made efforts to find and highlight the areas in marketing where diversity continues to be lacking, led by people over 50 and those who are differently-abled, and spent considerable time exploring how setting aside fear and risk can lead to huge economic and strategic opportunities.

Going beyond hiring, diversity should move towards being more of a core piece of a brand’s values, some of those gathered at Cannes noted.

Adding diversity key performance indicators (KPIs) to existing performance metrics would go a long way towards making inclusiveness an important part of opportunity pipelines, and ultimately bottom lines, it was noted during Cannes.

4 — Cannes B2B Marketing Long-Term Planning Take-Aways

Mountain hiker with map at guideposts.

Connections coming from unexpected places and new experiences are poised to change how B2B marketers expand beyond traditional sources, and an emphasis on the power of creativity to strengthen organizations was made at Cannes.

Brands and how they reflect culture at large will become more of a joint initiative at successful firms and in strong marketing efforts, especially in creative campaigns.

Cannes showed that creativity will likely thrive in the coming year, even more-so when it’s increasingly expressed as a team effort, done in what some gathered for the week called real-time branding, with all involved having a creative stake in new marketing initiatives.

Having a relevant and flexible B2B marketing strategy, and building innovative creative methods whether working solo or with an agency, were also take-aways from Cannes this year.

We’ve explored both long-term planning and the question of when is the right time to partner with an agency, in recent articles such as these:

[bctt tweet=”“The value of agency creative is $10 Billion.” — Jay Pattisall, Forrester @jaypattisall” username=”toprank”]

5 — Cannes B2B Marketing Storytelling Take-Aways

Share Your Story image.

At Cannes a more transformational flavor of storytelling was seen as coming down the pike, one that will help evolve the narrative with more levels of both client and customer experience, all combining to bring better communication to consumers.

Rapidly-expanding digital technologies and more data than ever present challenges, but also massive opportunities, especially when the two combine to help creative storytelling efforts that help drive B2B marketing efforts.

Creating compelling narratives and delivering them in new and relevant ways will play a factor in marketing in 2020 and beyond, and firms utilizing solely technology to overcome marketing barriers may be left behind.

Learning to better recognize the people behind the data and the numbers was also seen as a key trend at Cannes, along with greater incorporation of empathy and intuition in marketing processes.

Neuroaesthetics and an evolving method of storytelling that is always-on will expand on traditional forms of narratives that have been largely limited to a beginning, middle, and end.

Micro-storytelling efforts will also help brands shows that they are listening, and encourage consumers to create and share their own stories.

A few of our helpful looks at storytelling in marketing are these:

6 — Cannes Trust in B2B Marketing Take-Aways

Hand turning trust dial image.

We’ve focused more than ever on trust in marketing over the past year at TopRank Marketing, with pieces such as these:

At Cannes the power of trust played a major role this year, and how to regain it using transparency, authenticity, and empathy, after being compromised over the past several years in the eyes of many.

A theme that resonated throughout the week was that nothing secures a relationship as powerfully as trust, which is the cornerstone of any long-term partnership.

Trust in platforms and technology were also at the forefront on Cannes this year, and admonitions to shift to marketing strategies that are more real, open, transparent, and true were common themes for rebuilding broken trust.

[bctt tweet=”As the old adage goes: Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. #B2BMarketing #trust” username=”toprank”]

Building on Marketing Lessons From Cannes

via GIPHY

These six major theme take-aways in the areas of brand engagement, customer journeys, diversity, long-term planning, storytelling and trust from this year’s Cannes can play a part in your own B2B marketing strategy as we head ever-closer to 2020.

You can also learn more by joining us at upcoming speaking events and conferences. Our CEO Lee Odden will be speaking at Content Marketing World this fall, where on September 3 he’ll be presenting “How to Develop a B2B Influencer Marketing Program That Actually Works” with Amisha Gandhi of SAP, and a solo session on September 4 exploring “Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body.”

Our Senior Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman will also be speaking at Content Marketing World, in “Guardians of Content Vol 1: How to Scale B2B Influencer Content to Save the Galaxy.”

The post 6 Cannes Revelations About B2B Marketing in 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Source: SEO blog

6 Cannes Revelations About B2B Marketing in 2020

City of Cannes Aerial view Image

In June the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brought together some of the world’s savviest B2B marketers, brands, and other creative professionals.

From Nike, IKEA, and Visa to Tommy Hilfiger, Microsoft and Target, strong brands and the marketers behind them were involved at Cannes, and the trends they gathered to explore will play a part in shaping how B2B marketers focus their efforts in the months and years ahead.

Here’s a run-down of some of the top B2B marketing and other revelations from this year’s Cannes, and what they’ll mean for your business in 2020 and beyond.

1 — Cannes B2B Marketing Brand Engagement Take-Aways

Brand Engagement Gear Cogs Image

One running theme at Cannes this year was centered around being mindful of your brand’s purpose, and how it will be especially important when it comes time to meet your audience’s needs and make the greatest impact.

Being a change-maker brand comes from honing in on consumer desires, so listen to the signals coming from the online platforms where your customers and potential clients spend the majority of their time.

Don’t entirely eschew machine learning when it comes to your data, but build brand trust by ensuring that appropriate and responsible humans have data oversight.

Look to feed off competitive momentum and focus conversations and cultural discussions using creativity, and keep it sincere when it comes to brand activism, while avoiding all hints of opportunism, many at Cannes urged.

Brand engagement, especially through influencer marketing, has been the focus of several recent articles we’ve published, including these:

2 — Cannes B2B Marketing Consumer Journey Take-Aways

Happy people and dog jumping together on the sunset beach Image

Dig in and embrace the sometimes-messy digital world where your potential customers interact, by communicating with them and taking the time to learn about their lives through what they’re posting online, because cold and impersonal data can only get you so far in the customer journey.

These raw and real connections can unite and forge new relationships in ways that polished marketing campaigns sometimes just can’t, and some of the winners at Cannes showed examples of building these types of connections.

Build strong brand value while also allowing customers to take the wheel, nurture the connections your brand makes, and don’t be afraid to build strong creative partnerships in your efforts.

Valuing the participation of consumers while also standing by your brand’s values were among the trends explored during Cannes this year.

Search taking place from smart speakers and other connected voice-assisted is poised to boom in the coming years, and podcasting is expanding to offer new ways to integrate brand messaging.

Strive to build a seamless voice search approach that meshes with the values and messaging of your brand or that of your client, as sound is the newest frontier for B2B marketers.

We’re written about smart search recently, including in these helpful articles:

“We’re very good at doing marketing on screens. We’re not as good at audio only.” — Bessie Lee, Founder and CEO, Withinlink Click To Tweet

3 — Cannes B2B Marketing Diversity Take-Aways

Colorful diverse finger prints image.

Cannes made efforts to find and highlight the areas in marketing where diversity continues to be lacking, led by people over 50 and those who are differently-abled, and spent considerable time exploring how setting aside fear and risk can lead to huge economic and strategic opportunities.

Going beyond hiring, diversity should move towards being more of a core piece of a brand’s values, some of those gathered at Cannes noted.

Adding diversity key performance indicators (KPIs) to existing performance metrics would go a long way towards making inclusiveness an important part of opportunity pipelines, and ultimately bottom lines, it was noted during Cannes.

4 — Cannes B2B Marketing Long-Term Planning Take-Aways

Mountain hiker with map at guideposts.

Connections coming from unexpected places and new experiences are poised to change how B2B marketers expand beyond traditional sources, and an emphasis on the power of creativity to strengthen organizations was made at Cannes.

Brands and how they reflect culture at large will become more of a joint initiative at successful firms and in strong marketing efforts, especially in creative campaigns.

Cannes showed that creativity will likely thrive in the coming year, even more-so when it’s increasingly expressed as a team effort, done in what some gathered for the week called real-time branding, with all involved having a creative stake in new marketing initiatives.

Having a relevant and flexible B2B marketing strategy, and building innovative creative methods whether working solo or with an agency, were also take-aways from Cannes this year.

We’ve explored both long-term planning and the question of when is the right time to partner with an agency, in recent articles such as these:

“The value of agency creative is $10 Billion.” — Jay Pattisall, Forrester @jaypattisall Click To Tweet

5 — Cannes B2B Marketing Storytelling Take-Aways

Share Your Story image.

At Cannes a more transformational flavor of storytelling was seen as coming down the pike, one that will help evolve the narrative with more levels of both client and customer experience, all combining to bring better communication to consumers.

Rapidly-expanding digital technologies and more data than ever present challenges, but also massive opportunities, especially when the two combine to help creative storytelling efforts that help drive B2B marketing efforts.

Creating compelling narratives and delivering them in new and relevant ways will play a factor in marketing in 2020 and beyond, and firms utilizing solely technology to overcome marketing barriers may be left behind.

Learning to better recognize the people behind the data and the numbers was also seen as a key trend at Cannes, along with greater incorporation of empathy and intuition in marketing processes.

Neuroaesthetics and an evolving method of storytelling that is always-on will expand on traditional forms of narratives that have been largely limited to a beginning, middle, and end.

Micro-storytelling efforts will also help brands shows that they are listening, and encourage consumers to create and share their own stories.

A few of our helpful looks at storytelling in marketing are these:

6 — Cannes Trust in B2B Marketing Take-Aways

Hand turning trust dial image.

We’ve focused more than ever on trust in marketing over the past year at TopRank Marketing, with pieces such as these:

At Cannes the power of trust played a major role this year, and how to regain it using transparency, authenticity, and empathy, after being compromised over the past several years in the eyes of many.

A theme that resonated throughout the week was that nothing secures a relationship as powerfully as trust, which is the cornerstone of any long-term partnership.

Trust in platforms and technology were also at the forefront on Cannes this year, and admonitions to shift to marketing strategies that are more real, open, transparent, and true were common themes for rebuilding broken trust.

As the old adage goes: Trust is gained in drops and lost in buckets. #B2BMarketing #trust Click To Tweet

Building on Marketing Lessons From Cannes

via GIPHY

These six major theme take-aways in the areas of brand engagement, customer journeys, diversity, long-term planning, storytelling and trust from this year’s Cannes can play a part in your own B2B marketing strategy as we head ever-closer to 2020.

You can also learn more by joining us at upcoming speaking events and conferences. Our CEO Lee Odden will be speaking at Content Marketing World this fall, where on September 3 he’ll be presenting “How to Develop a B2B Influencer Marketing Program That Actually Works” with Amisha Gandhi of SAP, and a solo session on September 4 exploring “Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body.”

Our Senior Director of Digital Strategy Ashley Zeckman will also be speaking at Content Marketing World, in “Guardians of Content Vol 1: How to Scale B2B Influencer Content to Save the Galaxy.”

The Ultimate Guide to SEO Meta Tags

Editor’s note: This post first appeared in April of 2017, but because SEO (and Google) changes so quickly, we figured it was time for a refresh!


Meta tags represent the beginning of most SEO training, for better or for worse. I contemplated exactly how to introduce this topic because we always hear about the bad side of meta tags — namely, the keywords meta tag. One of the first things dissected in any site review is the misuse of meta tags, mainly because they’re at the top of every page in the header and are therefore the first thing seen. But we don’t want to get too negative; meta tags are some of the best tools in a search marketer’s repertoire.

There are meta tags beyond just description and keywords, though those two are picked on the most. I’ve broken down the most-used (in my experience) by the good, the bad, and the indifferent. You’ll notice that the list gets longer as we get to the bad ones. I didn’t get to cover all of the meta tags possible to add, but there’s a comprehensive meta tag resource you should check out if you’re interested in everything that’s out there.

It’s important to note that in 2019, you meta tags still matter, but not all of them can help you. It’s my experience, and I think anyone in SEO would agree, that if you want to rank high in search, your meta tags need to accompany high-quality content that focuses on user satisfaction.

My main piece of advice: stick to the core minimum. Don’t add meta tags you don’t need — they just take up code space. The less code you have, the better. Think of your page code as a set of step-by-step directions to get somewhere, but for a browser. Extraneous meta tags are the annoying “Go straight for 200 feet” line items in driving directions that simply tell you to stay on the same road you’re already on!

The good meta tags

These are the meta tags that should be on every page, no matter what. Notice that this is a small list; these are the only ones that are required, so if you can work with just these, please do.

  • Meta content type – This tag is necessary to declare your character set for the page and should be present on every page. Leaving this out could impact how your page renders in the browser. A few options are listed below, but your web designer should know what’s best for your site.
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=utf-8" />
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=ISO-8859-1">
  • Title – While the title tag doesn’t start with “meta,” it is in the header and contains information that’s very important to SEO. You should always have a unique title tag on every page that describes the page. Check out this post for more information on title tags.
  • Meta description – The infamous meta description tag is used for one major purpose: to describe the page to searchers as they read through the SERPs. This tag doesn’t influence ranking, but it’s very important regardless. It’s the ad copy that will determine if users click on your result. Keep it within 160 characters, and write it to catch the user’s attention. Sell the page — get them to click on the result. Here’s a great article on meta descriptions that goes into more detail.
  • Viewport – In this mobile world, you should be specifying the viewport. If you don’t, you run the risk of having a poor mobile experience — the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool will tell you more about it. The standard tag is:
<meta name=viewport content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1">

The indifferent meta tags

Different sites will need to use these in specific circumstances, but if you can go without, please do.

  • Social meta tags I’m leaving these out. OpenGraph and Twitter data are important to sharing but are not required per se.
  • Robots One huge misconception is that you have to have a robots meta tag. Let’s make this clear: In terms of indexing and link following, if you don’t specify a meta robots tag, they read that as index,follow. It’s only if you want to change one of those two commands that you need to add meta robots. Therefore, if you want to noindex but follow the links on the page, you would add the following tag with only the noindex, as the follow is implied. Only change what you want to be different from the norm.
<meta name="robots" content="noindex" />
  • Specific bots (Googlebot) – These tags are used to give a specific bot instructions like noodp (forcing them not to use your DMOZ listing information, RIP) and noydir (same, but instead the Yahoo Directory listing information). Generally, the search engines are really good at this kind of thing on their own, but if you think you need it, feel free. There have been some cases I’ve seen where it’s necessary, but if you must, consider using the overall robots tag listed above.
  • Language – The only reason to use this tag is if you’re moving internationally and need to declare the main language used on the page. Check out this meta languages resource for a full list of languages you can declare.
  • Geo – The last I heard, these meta tags are supported by Bing but not Google (you can target to country inside Search Console). There are three kinds: placename, position (latitude and longitude), and region.
<META NAME="geo.position" CONTENT="latitude; longitude">
<META NAME="geo.placename" CONTENT="Place Name">
<META NAME="geo.region" CONTENT="Country Subdivision Code">
  • Keywords – Yes, I put this on the “indifferent” list. While no good SEO is going to recommend spending any time on this tag, there’s some very small possibility it could help you somewhere. Please leave it out if you’re building a site, but if it’s automated, there’s no reason to remove it.
  • Refresh – This is the poor man’s redirect and should not be used, if at all possible. You should always use a server-side 301 redirect. I know that sometimes things need to happen now, but Google is NOT a fan.
  • Site verification – Your site is verified with Google and Bing, right? Who has the verification meta tags on their homepage? These are sometimes necessary because you can’t get the other forms of site verification loaded, but if at all possible try to verify another way. Google allows you to verify by DNS, external file, or by linking your Google Analytics account. Bing still only allows by XML file or meta tag, so go with the file if you can.

The bad meta tags

Nothing bad will happen to your site if you use these — let me just make that clear. They’re a waste of space though; even Google says so (and that was 12 years ago now!). If you’re ready and willing, it might be time for some spring cleaning of your <head> area.

  • Author/web author – This tag is used to name the author of the page. It’s just not necessary on the page.
  • Revisit after – This meta tag is a command to the robots to return to a page after a specific period of time. It’s not followed by any major search engine.
  • Rating – This tag is used to denote the maturity rating of content. I wrote a post about how to tag a page with adult images using a very confusing system that has since been updated (see the post’s comments). It seems as if the best way to note bad images is to place them on a separate directory from other images on your site and alert Google.
  • Expiration/date – “Expiration” is used to note when the page expires, and “date” is the date the page was made. Are any of your pages going to expire? Just remove them if they are (but please don’t keep updating content, even contests — make it an annual contest instead!). And for “date,” make an XML sitemap and keep it up to date. It’s much more useful.
  • Copyright – That Google article debates this with me a bit, but look at the footer of your site. I would guess it says “Copyright 20xx” in some form. Why say it twice?
  • Abstract – This tag is sometimes used to place an abstract of the content and used mainly by educational pursuits.
  • Distribution – The “distribution” value is supposedly used to control who can access the document, typically set to “global.” It’s inherently implied that if the page is open (not password-protected, like on an intranet) that it’s meant for the world. Go with it, and leave the tag off the page.
  • Generator – This is used to note what program created the page. Like “author,” it’s useless.
  • Cache-control – This tag is set in hopes of controlling when and how often a page is cached in the browser. It’s best to do this in the HTTP header.
  • Resource type – This is used to name the type of resource the page is, like “document.” Save yourself time, as the DTD declaration does it for you.

There are so many meta tags out there, I’d love to hear about any you think need to be added or even removed! Shout out in the comments with suggestions or questions.