I wish I had resources to develop ALL my ideas. Almost six years ago I jot down a few diagrams and notes for a service that would put the likes of foursquare, Gowalla, loopt, yelp, urban spoon, and others to shame. (Sidenote: I wrote about Dodgeball 5 1/5 years ago. They died as predicted, but not exactly how I thought it would.) MY concept would help increase foot traffic to local businesses, increase the loyalty of local patrons, and could be used in urban and remote towns the same. I just uncovered my notebook recently while I was moving around a few boxes and rediscovered a lot of ideas I scribbled down. This idea is just as solid today as it was six years ago. And it will still be viable 4 years in the future. So another multi-million dollar idea put back on the shelf until the timing is right for me. That’s okay, these ideas are “a-dime-a-dozen”.
Sometimes, you have to jump at opportunities even if it means you personally won’t reap the benefits. If you don’t you may never see your vision come to light. This year I lucked into such an opportunity. I had hired a very talented team of SEO’s and developers to build a network of websites for my employer. While we did pretty good at building the traditional sites that my company was familiar with, we were missing our killer app. We had nothing that set us apart from the many, many competitive sites in our industry. The main challenge we faced was that we didn’t have a core community website that we could use to leverage trust and authority from the search engines. This authority site had to be unique, and it couldn’t just be another blog, forum, or directory. Those are all done and dated already. We needed a different type of site. As I’ve faced this exact challenge in the past with many different clients, it’s no surprise I already had an idea for the type of site we’d need that would bring the power and authority to get the rankings we were after. Now was the time to build it, even if it means that I’d be giving my prized idea to my company as intellectual property. But, that’s part of why they hired me, to bring all my ideas that can benefit us directly and put them on the table.
I did some research and discovered it would cost us almost six figures to purchase the licensing and custom development for the type of site that I wanted to build. So I talked it over with my developers and did a quick feasibility analysis. This could be done! I told my team that this was a second priority to any other projects they were assigned. I have some brilliant developers. They were able to conquer all my projects ahead of schedule, beating my most unrealistic expectations for deadlines. They built facebook app after facebook app, all the top priority sites in queue, and a lot of single one-off projects from me and from corporate. I have worked with a lot of great developers in the past, but these two have truly shown me they are two of the best. So with a lot of projects cleared off the board, and an initiative to focus only on projects that would benefit us in SEO, I gave the guys a greenlight to work full-time on the project.
This week we are ready to launch the main project, and it’s supporting sister sites, to the public as beta. I’ll be posting about it soon as an official announcement. Stay tuned!
BTW – As much as I honor my development team in this post, I can’t say enough about the fantastic marketers that I have that make up the rest of my team! They too are brilliant, motivated, and bring a very unique set of skills and talents that contributes to the unique nature of the team. Some of our projects haven’t panned out exactly like planned, but it isn’t because of a lack of trying or lack of talent. The industry we are in is truly a bitch and very competitive. But, with the launch of our new project, I expect some great things from the result of an entire-team marketing effort in a very short amount of time. So, as before, stay tuned!
There was a game show on TV when I was a kid that I really wanted to try-out for and become a contestant. I don’t remember the show as much as I remember the Grand Prize offered each week: a 5 minute shopping spree at Toys-R-Us. I didn’t really care about being on TV or anything, I just wanted to be on the show for a shot at the prize! Was I a toy freak? No, not really. I just discovered a way that I could take advantage of the prize!
You see, I’d watch in agony each week as the kids who won would run through Toys-R-Us and make the same mistakes over and over. They’d all do the same thing: with huge eyes, they’d frantic their shopping cart through the store filling it with things like bikes, skateboards, basketballs, huge stuffed animals, radio control cars, and other huge items. I swear one time a kid tried to stick a trampoline in his shopping cart. Watching these kids would frustrate me because they were doing it wrong! They get to keep everything they could squeeze into one cart. If only they had my strategy, they could have gotten all those toys and more. My plan was pretty simple to. If I were on the show, I’d run straight to the baseball cards and fill the cart until it was overflowing. I could then maximize the space in my shopping cart with some of the smallest, yet highest valued items in the store. I wouldn’t need to run all the many aisles, I could maximize my full 5 minutes in a single spot. After I took home my loot, I’d open all the packs, sort them out, create a few sets, and resell those sets plus the highest valued singles back to my local baseball card dealers (there were many in the 80′s and early 90′s). With the money, I’d return back to Toys-R-Us and get the toys I wanted and still have a lot of money left over.
As my friends know, I’ve always been a entrepreneur geek. Sure I enjoyed making money, but what I enjoyed most was optimizing a little-known process (which could also be thought of as exploiting a loophole or exploiting the system). My career choices are pretty much par for the course from my humble beginnings. As a Search Engine Optimizer and Social Marketer, I look for ways to “optimize” the experience for my clients. I make their website more suitable for success within search engines and social networks. Back 3 to 5 years ago, I was simply exploiting holes in Google’s algorithm. These days I play their game, but still have many opportunities to leverage social networks like Twitter, reddit, StumbleUpon, and Facebook in the process.
I enjoy it. It’s fun to be able to make changes and see how it affects the traffic coming into the site. I’ve been on the tipping point for a few months with one of my sites, and I think we are about to release a product (another website) that will soon push it over the edge and give me the results I’ve been looking for for so long. One downside to this business is that it can be entirely frustrating to not get the results you were hoping for as soon as you want. But when you do achieve success, it is very rewarding. So I’m hoping this little extra “oomph” that my team has been working on for the past 2 months will really jump start something good. We’ll see what happens. But our shopping cart is full and we are more than ready!
May 30, 2009 Search and SEO
Next week I’ll be taking the cross-country trip from Florida to Seattle to attend SMX Advanced. I’ve attended before and it is easily one event I’d consider a “must attend”. The format is slightly different from other shows in that the content caters only to advanced SEO and PPC marketers. You are not going to learn about title tags and navigation links at this conference. Instead you can expect to learn about advanced strategies that are currently working for experienced marketers.
Now I always enjoy a good tradeshow, but I really enjoy them when I’m about to launch a new product. It seems that when I learn things with an idea of how I’m going to apply them to a current project, they seem to make a stronger impact. After all, what is knowledge without application and execution? My company will be launching this ambitious project later this summer, and I hope that the timing of SMX and the opportunities I know it will present, will help benefit our product launch.
Oh, and another thing, I friggin LOVE the city of Seattle. It is easily my favorite city in the states. I especially love the emerald city during this time of year, check out this weather! I’m also a huge Mariners fan. They happen to be playing a series while I’m there, but as much of a fan I am, I opted not to go to a game because that’s not the purpose of this trip. I’d hate to miss out on networking opportunities while I was doing the seventh inning stretch.