Consumers Define A Brand

Listening-to-Customers-SEO-Who-is-Branding-who-What is SEO?  For the lay person, SEO can be an intimidating term to say the least. Take a deep breath, grab a cup of coffee or tea, and we are going to get comfortable with the idea of change. We will realize that the term “SEO” is a brilliant marketing term. It was designed by techies with the goal of creating a sale:  a sale by techies, for techies. SEO- Search Engine Optimization- is nothing more than a “Website Plan or a Website Strategy.”  How will you, a business owner or marketer, promote your web site in such a way that it will rise in search rankings?  Every business that I have met with has said, ”I want to be #1 in Google search ranks for my product.”  What is your plan?????  As with any plan, there are layers of components that must be addressed individually to insure that all parts of the plan come together in a cohesive manner.  You can view each component as a point on a check list, if you like.  The first two steps in the SEO or Website Plan are:

    Change your paradigm; look at the world from a customer’s point of view.  Pride is a Sin.  Your goal is to sell a product or a service, not to stand on a stage and preach about yourself and/or your product.  Ask yourself, “In business, what feels better:  Sales or Attention?”  Your answer had better be sales; otherwise, you are in the wrong business.
    The customer is who should be getting the attention; after all, it is all about them.  So now the big question that looms in the dark is always, “How do I get a customer to find my product, like it, and buy it on the internet?” The internet is so vast, there are literally billions of choices.

 Answer… Listen to your present customers.  Listen to the words they use in describing your product or service. When I say listen to your customers, I do not mean have them do surveys and fill out forms: those types of research all have their place, but you also will want to get a first-hand experience with them.  Mingle among them, listen to their conversations, be so bold as to introduce yourself, and strike up a conversation with them about their experience. I discovered this by chance several years ago while working as Director of Marketing for WonderWorks Amusement Park for the Mind, located in Pigeon Forge, TN.

WonderWorks Pigeon Forge Tennessee’s #1 Attraction


WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park with a memorable facade of an upside down mansion.  Our web traffic was abysmal, partly due to an outdated site that had poor navigation and was aesthetically unattractive.  I would constantly engage our guest and ask them if they had a good time and what their favorite exhibit was.  To all the typical, top-level questions, they would smile and say they had a ball and tell me about their experience.  Same stuff, over and over.  One evening, I was shopping in the local Walmart when I overheard a visiting tourist on the phone with a friend, telling them about all the cool adventures in Pigeon Forge and that they had gone to the “Upside-down house.”  I thought to myself, “Crap!  We are not branding our product strong enough if this woman can’t even remember our name.”  The more I listened to our customers and read their on line reviews, I realized the majority were calling us “The Upside-down House.”  The customers shared a common thread.  They were all visiting the Smoky mountain area, which is the intercept marketing capital of the world, and the customer’s mind was overloaded with choices and information, much like the Internet experience. Their thought process and communication had adapted or defaulted to this overwhelming amount of information overload by simplifying what they had seen or done. Simply put, I realized our communication techniques have not really evolved far from Cave Man times.

Keywords Are How Consumers Describe Your Product

Cave-Painting1The customers were re-branding our product through their choice of terms. Thinking to myself, “What do I do with this?” I decided to gamble.  I revised our copy and watched our online analytics with great anticipation. BINGO!  It worked!  We started getting found for the KEYWORD Upside Down House. Being fairly new at the Internet game, I studied every aspect that caught my attention.  What is a key word?  In short, it is a word that your typical client uses to search for a product like yours.

I began an extensive journey that has taken me into the thought process of the prospective client.  Never shoot from the hip and say, “XYZ  keyword should be great.”  Again–that would be my thought process–by its nature that plan is flawed because I am too close to the product.  I have to keep myself immersed in the customer’s thought process.  If I plan to be successful in attracting as many customers as possible, I must think as if I am one of them and I know nothing about my product.  I must listen to the customer and lead them where I want them to go.

I am sure that skeptics of this article may say, “You’re basing an entire argument on one unique product and how a specific set of customers described it.” For those who need more proof, I offer this additional personal observation.  Any one who truly knows me knows that I love to fly, so no matter whether I’m flying to a meeting with a client or driving for personal reasons, I wear my Scenic Helicopter Tours pullover. Last fall, I took a road trip to  visit my mother in New York.  I pulled off the road in Bristol, TN for fuel and coffee.  Wearing my favorite Scenic Helicopter Tours pullover, I walked into the gas station for my cup of java juice.  The cashier, a very large burly guy, looked at me and my pullover and asked, “Are you a pilot with the Yellow and Black guys?”

Now that is an awkward way to start a conversation, but I explained the I used to work for them in a marketing capacity. The man went on to tell me that he and his family regularly vacation in the Smoky Mountains and that as a family, they always take a helicopter  tour.  As we chatted, I found out he was very aware that there were several helicopter tour companies in the area.  He had tried them all and knew who he liked.  He liked Scenic Helicopter Tours and they paint all their aircraft a distinctive Yellow and Black.  One goal of business or product branding has always been to create a non-dull-able image of your product in the consumer’s mind.  Again, we find an instance where a consumer narrowed down the branding process to its most common denominator.  His life is busy and he may not remember a company name, but he remembered the great service and experience.  Any good plan has a back up plan, in the landscape of branding you should have a good fallback position.

Yellow & Black, Scenic Helicopter Tours



Pigeon Forge TN, Gatlinburg Tn, Smoky Mountain, Helicopter tours, fleet photo

  1. Strategically Place Keywords.A great place to enter keywords is in the alt text of your photos.  Look at the caption under the picture of the Scenic Helicopter Tours Fleet of aircraft.  This is a copy of how I named the alt text for this photo. As a part of any online content creation, I strongly suggest adding the common keywords that you discover from interviews with your customers to your content, your alt text, and your metadata.  If the same customer searches for you in the future, they may not remember your name.  Use the knowledge you have learned as a back up to you primary branding efforts.  You must apply this strategy if you plan to recapture this customer.  This strategy becomes even more important if that same person is telling a friend about you and suggesting your services. How would you begin to find a product or service that a friend gave you a brief description of?  You would use the keywords of the conversation and most likely search online.

Speak to customers in their terms and use their terms to ensure your success and the continued growth of your product.