Source: SEOSignalsLab

Pick His Brain!

I’d like to introduce one of our members, Marty Marion, for our next ‘Pick His Brain’ session and I want to thank him for the participation.

Marty is an experienced SEO with a specialty in large e-commerce sites.

But his secret sauce is a unique approach to how branding and positioning impacts all marketing channels, especially SEO.

He’s the founder of the new FB group, Master Positioning Insiders.

He was also one of the principals of a large ad agency serving many well-known brands.

Marty has developed a math-based model called The Positioning Matrix that he teaches to brands and agencies to help them gain an advantage over competitors in their niche.

This is an opportunity to learn something out-of-the-box you might find valuable and interesting. So, please pick his brain.

When you get a chance, you can download his PDF.

This is a high-level marketing concept which isn’t taught by your average internet marketer.…/POSITIONING-DE…

Here is Marty’s group which I highly recommend.

Note: Because of his hectic schedule, he may take his time to answer your questions.

Here are the rules.

1) I’ll let the thread go on until he asks me to stop.

Theoretically, this thread can continue until the FaceBook stock value goes to zero.

2) Please, no snarky remarks. I will not tolerate any intentional negativity.

We are here to learn from each other’s success and strategies.

3) Please do not PM him and bother him.

If you have a private question, ask for his permission on this thread when appropriate.


Table of Contents

What was your first job?

My first job was in scientific research, which didn’t pay a lot.

I think I was making about $15k a year, when all my friends were working on Wall Street making $15k an hour.

So I decided to use my training in research to go into business.

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My first serious job in this industry was as a principal for one of the world’s largest ad agencies in NYC.

I ran strategic planning for all their A-tier clients in about 30 countries.

What was the single most influential career advancing job you had and career influencing moment you had?

Interesting question… OK, two parts to the answer.

1. The most influential career advancing job was to work for Grey Advertising.

I got to learn from the serious pros (think the days of Mad Men), and met a ton of real power players.

2. The most career influencing moment… (OK, I am telling tales out of school here, but it’s been long enough that I can tell this one).

IBM was a client of the agency in the early days of PCs.

Unfortunately, the IBM PC at the time did not have the graphics capabilities that the Apple computers had.

So we were doing all of IMB’s ad creatives on Apple machines.

The CEO of IBM came for an agency review meeting and saw what we were doing and freaked out.

They made us lock down the floor the creative suite was on.

Make everyone sign this monstrous confidentiality form, and told us they’d fire us if it ever got out that IBMs ads were done on Apple computers.

I think THAT was the moment I realized the importance of protecting a brand.

From a positioning perspective, which well-known company is making a mistake?

OMG, where would I start?

So many big brands think they’ve established themselves so significantly they fail to solidify themselves against a competitor creating and staking claim to a “Category Class” (a sub-category, if you will).

One example that pertains to SEO is Victoria’s Secret.

Probably the most widely known lingerie brand. Big TV runway shows. Tons of physical stores in malls. Big dollar ad spend.

Along comes a much older and then-dusty brand Fredericks of Hollywood.

They had been in BK, they didn’t have any stores left.

They were in shambles and were bought by a fashion holding company.

They used positioning to create and stake a claim to “sexy lingerie” as opposed to just “lingerie”.

If you Google some of the most competitive core terms like “sexy bras”, or “sexy panties”, they now outrank Victoria’s Secret in the SERP.

This is the power of creating a really strong Category Class to gain competitive advantage over a very well-entrenched competitor.

What do you think is the best approach to leverage online positioning for already established websites? Paid search? SEO? Or as many experts as Melanie Mitchell says “a combination of both”?

Great question, thank you!

Positioning should cut across ALL channels of messaging. So for SEO and PPC as well as for on-site content.

It would mean using the right keywords and content to present the 4 “Essential Elements” of brand positioning for competitive advantage.

In Steven Kang’s into to this Pick His Brain, there’s a link to a PDF of a White Paper I wrote on this.

I think it’s worth reading, it might answer your question in more detail.

But the short answer is to leverage positioning through the messages (content) you put on your site, and use for your KW strategy for both SEO and PPC.

For established websites would you recommend to use ads?

That depends on a few things: niche, who’s your target, what’s the competition, what’s your unique positioning…

Short answer is SEO is a must, and ads are great if you get them set up right and target them.

As well as a great remarketing program.

How do you position yourself as an unknown company in a market filled with used car salesmen types? I’m trying to help someone out in the credit card processing niche but I just don’t know of a way to really position him when his product offering doesn’t stand out in any way.

You find ONE thing that is both a meaningful benefit AND a differentiating factor and play that card hard and strong.

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Remember that the positioning platform does NOT have to be based on a directly FUNCTIONAL aspect.

For example (and this is in the White Paper), Scope’s positioning that let them crush Listerine was that it tasted good when Listerine tasted like medicine.

Tasting good is NOT a core requirement for a mouthwash to work.

But is was at the time a major differentiating factor that turned Listerine’s strength (“Kills the germs that cause bad breath”) against them, with Scope’s positioning “Fights medicine breath”.

What is the process of creating a roadmap for positioning of a brand?

Cool question, right to the point… nice.

The very very first step to create a roadmap for positioning a brand to win (and by win I mean gain competitive advantage) is to fill in what I call The Positioning Matrix (it’s in the White Paper).

If you’re going on a road trip you need a map. This is the mapping process.

How can i sell my self as a video marketer and how much should i be making per video? i think this makes me unique to get my foot in the door to offer SEO or PPC services.

I can’t advise you on pricing, but on selling yourself against many other competitors, find your unique positioning platform.

It’s a statement you create (you don’t actually use it verbatim, but it informs your marketing messaging) along the following format:

For clients who need custom video editing.

John Smeth creates the most compelling videos because he uses proprietary templates that have been extensively tested.

Or something along those lines.

The positioning platform has this format:

For (specific target audience and their need), Brand (state the meaningful benefit), Because (state the point of proof).

For women who have young children, Volvo makes the safest minivans available.

Because they use more side airbags and steel struts than any other minivan.

What are the best techniques for local seo ranking improvements?

There are so many tactics that are great for local ranking.

There are experts in here that specialize in local SEO at a much higher level than I do.

I will offer this however: Local SEO is typically highly competitive.

So nailing a positioning that differentiates you from the competition will make a huge difference in converting leads once you are ranking and getting the clicks.

Post in this group asking for any help on local SEO you might need.

I’m sure you’ll get great answers from the top local SEO pros in here.

What should a new ecommerce store do to get traffic?

Driving traffic can be done many ways.

The fastest is using paid ads if you have the budget.

Also social media works great.

It takes longer to do organic search, but it’s the most profitable and long-lasting way.

For ecommerce, it’s absolutely essential to build your email list!

The big money comes from repeat buyers and using email is a great way.

A lot depends on your niche, and what makes whatever you are selling truly unique.

When did you realize you wanted to specialize in positioning? And what got you there?

I posted this a little earlier, but here, you will get it in an instant.

IBM was a client of a huge ad agency I was a principal of in the early days of PCs.

Unfortunately, the IBM PC at the time did not have the graphics capabilities that the Apple computers had.

So we were doing all of IMB’s ad creatives on Apple machines.

The CEO of IBM came for an agency review meeting and saw what we were doing and freaked out.

They made us lock down the floor the creative suite was on, make everyone sign this monstrous confidentiality form.

And told us they’d fire us if it ever got out that IBMs ads were done on Apple computers.

I think THAT was the moment I realized the importance of protecting a brand.

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You should have seen the look on IBM’s CEO’s face when he saw 20 creative directors using Apple computers to do his ads.

I actually think it was a pivotal moment for him to work with Microsoft to get better graphics capabilities for the PC platform.

Is content blogging a suitable way to rank e-commerce sites?

I would say it’s an IMPORTANT component.

But by itself is not likely to rank for an ecom site (by the way, just to be technically accurate, websites do NOT rank, only web PAGES rank).

A well-structured blog can have dramatic positive impact on ranking, but by itself probably isn’t enough for ecom.

Content really is critically important, but there are so many other important ranking factors especially for ecom.

How would you recommend rearchitecting an Ecommerce site structure ( over 1000 products ) – that has many product pages targeting the same product name. The fear is that in changing the category and product page structure (with doing 301) is going to negatively affect the current rankings (and sales)..

ANY major structural change on a large site, especially ecom, is definitely going to have a ranking impact.

But if it’s done right, the effect should be temporary.

This is a matter of HOW you map out the re-structure before you start making changes.

There are a number of ways to do this effectively.

Do you have any links to your content that may somewhat describe some of the pitfalls to avoid?

Every case is slightly different, and a LOT depends on the niche and competition in order to rank.

Also, you mentioned over 1,000 products with the same product name.

So if, for example, the product name is either the page title or the H1 tag, you have a serious issue.

This is a longer discussion, but I’d be happy to take a look if you like.

Ecom website has over 10,000 products. Niche – fashion. Slim content is an issue because how much can you describe a black t-shirt.Could you please suggest a good approach to this issue?

I’ve done a lot of ecom, would be happy to offer some help on this.

It’s an issue that almost all ecom apparel sites face, and there are absolutely ways around it.

Could you recommend any book or YouTube/FB channel/group on CRO for e-commerce websites?

While I recognize the immense value of CRO, it’s not my main expertise.

I usually do CRO as part of a larger ecommerce project since it’s important to have a congruence between the message that got them there, and what they see when they get there.

I’d focus first on asking if the ecom website you’re concerned about has the right brand positioning, and then you can max out the compelling reasons to buy.

CRO has a lot of other aspects, such as how many steps from beginning to completion of the order and payment, how easy is it to use, etc etc.

But my focus is on the front end of getting more customers to the site.

Remember this: If your conversion rate is say 5% (as an example), and you just double your inbound traffic without improving the CRO at all, you will double your sales.

What’s your best strategy for generating an informational content for an e-commerce beside spying on the competitors?

Spying, which I call competitive research, is an integral part of the program.

If you don’t know what your competitors’ positions are, how could you craft one that gives you an advantage?

The win for ecommerce is to emphasize what makes your brand or products unique and better suited for your target clients than your competitors.

Figure this part out, then blast the daylights out in content with the keywords that support the positioning.