Elements Of A Well-Built Business Website 

If you want to draw the attention of web users to your business, then you have to work to develop a well-rounded digital approach.  No one online marketing tool will help better than a well designed business website. 

Your business website serves as a foundation for the whole of your digital presence.  People will go to your website for information, for connection, and for purchases.  It’s up to your business to present a finished product that is proficient at serving your consumer base online.  

Here is a brief overview of some of the most important elements of a well-built business website.  Consider how these tips can help your business better serve your digital community.  

Develop a clear path for movement

When web users land on the homepage of your business website, making their next move should be second nature.  If you design your site to be easily explored, people will explore.  

Adding simple navigation options is the best way to give users a clear path to exploration.  Check out the navigation bar design for this salesforce consulting service online.  

There’s no confusion on where to click to check things out.  Stationary navigation bars are so common in design that web users will click on your tabs out of sheer muscle memory and habit.  

Offer quality content to explore 

A business website that offers something interesting for users to dig into upon arrival offers added engagement.  If your business sells a product, you need a product page that lays out all the options for consumers.  

You could also consider adding a blog section to your pages tab.  Fill your blog with useful information that’s relevant to your business model, and give users a reason to really spend some time on your pages.  

Make communication simple 

A great business website gives users plenty of chances to ask their questions or solve their issues with just a simple click of a button.  Your contacts page should be a standard part of your design, but make certain there are several different routes for people to travel when they wish to contact your operation.  

Phone numbers, email addresses, a simple contact form, and even an email signup form make it easy for users to leave their mark before they go.  Develop communication effort on your website, and you’ll develop a stronger customer relations strategy.  

Focus on good SEO 

You should make certain that search engine optimization is a regular part of your designing vocabulary.  None of your efforts to connect with users will matter if you can’t get them to your pages in the first place.  SEO will help you craft a design that is more visible when users search relevant topics online.  

cartoon man fishing for leads

5 Secrets for B2B Lead Generation in 2020

Do you want to get more business-to-business leads so that you can grow your new business pipeline and increase sales? Interested in hearing the latest greatest tips and secrets in B2B lead generation? Then this post is for you!

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 2/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

This is part two of two. Go here for part one.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

2018 Marketing Director Survey Part 1/2

If you aren’t aware of it, some amazing people have been putting out a great survey for a number of years. It’s called The CMO Survey, and it asks marketing directors, VP’s of marketing and others key questions to figure out what’s going on with marketing and where we’re headed. We wanted to bring more awareness not just to the great work done by Christine Moorman, her team and those at Deloitte, Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the American Marketing Association, but also to the trends uncovered by the latest survey.

We, of course, had some of our own opinions and insights to add on the topics in the survey based on our work in digital marketing and social media over the last 19 years… and it took us 2 hours to get through it all! We put the discussion into two videos. We hope to piece them into smaller topic videos soon.

For now, here is part one of two. Go here for part two.

Discussion by the Brian Carter Group. This podcast is not directly affiliated with CMO Survey. All registered copyrights and trademarks remain the property of original owners.

10 Marketing Trends That Will Change The Way You Brand

Have you ever run into conflicts between what a company’s “brand book” dictates and digital marketing success?

Are you worried your brand is stuck in the past and you can’t improve customer satisfaction or ROI?

Are you concerned you may be vulnerable to disruption?

Then you’ll love this article… because we’re going to talk about trends that answer how to solve those problems.


Branding IS critical to the success of your company, your products and your services.

If you have no identity, and you can’t project that identity to position yourself in the marketplace, your company may fail.

It’s also matter of degree.

How well you do this branding can limit how much you succeed.

But branding is not all there is in the modern world of digital marketing. There’s also:

  • Research
  • Customer Segmentation
  • Digital Marketing
  • Social Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Pricing
  • And more…

Digital and social marketing and advertising have become more and more important over the last two decades. More and more money and attention and people have moved from traditional marketing and advertising to Internet marketing.

How The Internet Has Changed Branding

Your brand is not just what your company intends. It’s also the average consumer perception of your brand. Here are some factors that have changed:

  • The Internet may be a customer’s first experience of your brand: Your new customer’s first experience of your brand may be online: websites, social, ads, videos… yours or someone else’s.
  • Customer opinion is everywhere: Easy-to-launch blogs and Yelp/TripAdvisor review-sites have created more voices and louder voices, making it simple for consumers to discover what their peers think about your brand.
  • Customer service expectations are higher: Customers expect brands to be available, responsive and engaging via social media. Relationships, authenticity and transparency can be very powerful, and not making this shift can put you at a disadvantage.
  • Reputation can go sideways quickly: The Internet, social media and news can change our perception of a brand. It may be out of the company’s control. Mistakes and bad news can spiral out of control and create reputation problems. The Internet never forgets.
  • Competition is greater: There are more options and more competitors. Barriers to entry are lower. You need more of a competitive advantage, a unique identity and you can no longer take loyalty for granted. You don’t own your customers. Just about every company is vulnerable to Uber/AirBnB-style disruption.
  • Personalization is easier and expected: Segmented ads give you the opportunity to present multiple voices and faces to different customers. We can truly personalize our marketing. You need a brand voice but you no longer need be limited to just one. Personalization can be a competitive advantage and may be expected by your customer.
  • Microtesting can increase customer satisfaction and ROI: You can run small tests to find out how evolving your brand may get you bigger and better business results. The most successful online brands like Facebook, Google and Amazon have this built into their websites and cultures. Their customers are highly satisfied and loyal because these companies use data to personalize the experience- making things more relevant and saving people time. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity to evolve in a way that satisfies your customers more, you may get disrupted.

With that in mind, here are 10 trends can help us do better branding in the digital marketing era.

Let’s look at each one in detail…

#1: Make Sure You Have a Brand

If you aren’t intentional about what you are, you won’t understand why people react the way they do.

You may just be a big hot mess. Or not so hot.

You have a brand even if you think you don’t.

It’s saying something to people, even if you don’t intend it to.

Get a brand.

Be intentional about it.

#2: Invest In Your Brand

A lot of small businesses, but even a surprising number of medium sized businesses under-invest in branding or advertising.

Many seem to think that having a logo or a few designated colors is all that’s required. “Yay, we checked the branding box!” Not really.

Here are some of the things involved in brand definition:

  • Brand Name
  • Attributes, Personality, Values
  • Emotional Benefits to the Customer
  • Tagline or Catchphrase
  • Visual Identity, Graphics, Shapes, Colors, Logo
  • Sounds, Scents, Tastes, Movements

Just reading through that list may give you an idea how well you’ve thought through your own brand.

Via advertising, you can segment the projection of your brand to individual personas or customer types and vary the brand voice or customer voices.

Many companies do not meet their business goals because they simply do not reach enough potential customers, and advertising is the quickest way to get in front of your ideal customer.

 #3: Segment Your Brand Voice

There’s all this talk that you have to have “a brand voice.”

I get it. But if you’re going to anthropomorphize the company, let’s take the analogy all the way.

If your brand is supposed to be like a person that talks to people, let me ask you this… you’re a person: do you talk to everyone the same way?

Do you talk to your kids the same way you talk to a taxi drivers or the fast food drive through person?

Do you talk to your significant other the same way you talk to a police officer?

I hope not.

Ok, there might be some scenarios… we’re not talking about that!

You customize your approach. You have to.

It’s the same with marketing. We personalize to different types of customers.

Everyone talks about segmentation, because almost nobody has just one type of customer.

The one brand voice thing comes from the old world of traditional media where we weren’t able to target customers…

The ultimate example of NOT targeting is a superbowl ad: so many different types of Americans are viewing your superbowl ad that it has to appeal to all your customer types at once.

But the opposite of that is a highly segmented Facebook ad, let’s say for example, to one of your 12 personas: professional millennial women… and you can customize the look and the voice to appeal to and stimulate this group exactly.

You’re going to want it to be different than when you advertise or try to engage your retired male baby boomer customers, right? I hope so!

If you don’t, you’re not going to maximize your response, the customer experience, your sales or loyalty.

We can’t talk the same to everyone. The brand can’t look or act the same to everyone. Similar, but not exactly the same.

We need to strike a balance between identity and personalization without being complete chameleons.

Google’s logo shifts with the holiday, but it’s always Google. It’s a great example of a flexible identity. Part of their identity is simplicity, efficiency and personalization.

So, who are your customers? Personas? And how does your brand voice sound different for each one?

#4: Speak in Customer Voices

Sometimes when we advertise, we use testimonials, or we speak in the first person as the customer.

So it’s not just about the brand voice… it’s also about the customer voice.

But as we’ve already said, there are multiple customers or personas.

What are your customers’s voices?

Read customer testimonials and social media comments. What do they sound like? Can you separate them into personas?

Try writing some messages and ads in their voices.

#5: Let Your Brand Evolve Through Testing And Data

Branding is only one piece of the marketing puzzle.

Identity and looks aren’t the only goal. There are other business and direct response conversion goals.

Branding can either help or hinder the business or conversion goals. If branding is hurting other goals, then branding may have to evolve. You can use advertising microtests to do this.

If the brand voice is so restrictive that we can’t test new ideas to see how customers react…

Especially if customers are not buying or becoming leads in response to the current “brand voice” type messaging.

If the brand voice is suppressing digital marketing results, you need to chillax and loosen the brand voice parameters.

#6: Take Your SEO Keywords with a Grain of Salt




Keyword domain names are so 2010! Google is pretty smart now. It knows when you’re trying to fool it vs. when you’re actually relevant to the keyword.

Keyword domains are not worth it, and don’t make a good brand statement.

It’s a great example of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Missing the big picture because of a fear of no traffic. Missing out on an opportunity to signal value and quality.

I made this mistake with my cowbell book. I let my emphasis on Amazon keywords research hold too much sway over the subtitle, and it confused potential readers and ironically limited the number of people who thought it was relevant to them. Never again!

SEO can and should help determine what content marketing or infographics you create- it still has a place, but be careful how it affects your brand.

#7: Combine Art and Science

In the dark ages of marketing and branding, all we had was faith, opinion and confidence.

We now have the opportunity to research the data, add that to panels and surveys, do micro advertising tests to our ideal customers. We can discover what customers will love with a high degree of certainty. We no longer have to guess.

We don’t have to fall under the sway of creative con-men. We don’t need magical Don Drapers to make us feel safe.

Yes, we need creative people more than ever, but we can’t stop there. We need to be scientific and make sure that our branding drives business.

Don’t be a stubborn holdouts of the old paradigm of not testing, not evolving, not looking at metrics (they tell you what customers want!), not split-testing.

Tomorrow’s brand managers want to run tests… because the CMO is asking about trends, best practices and data… because the CFO and CEO and are wondering about disruption risk and how to push forward profitability.

#8: Evolve Your Brand Forward

The 90’s version of your brand should not be the 21st century version of your brand.

The 2015 version of your brand may not be good enough in 2017.

Yes, Coca-Cola’s logo and taste will remain the same post-Internet, but that doesn’t mean their social or digital strategy should.

In a world where Old Spice can suddenly refresh and dominate its category and Uber can disrupt an entire industry, no brand can afford to stand pat.

#9: Get Your Brand Team and Your Digital Team on the Same Page

As we’ve identified, branding touches on creativity, identity and customer segmentation- but all of these need to go into a feedback loop with the customer to see how customers respond, and what they respond to.

For too long, branding has been an ivory tower activity that happens in isolation from the customer.

We now can evolve the brand forward via customer feedback (without the customer even realizing it), but to do that, brand managers need to team up with content marketers and social advertisers to run micro tests.

Branding folks can also get demographic and psychographic persona info from the Twitter and Facebook audience insights and ad interfaces… IF they team up with the digital marketers.

Just as the disconnect between marketing and sales can hurt your company, a disconnect between your brand manager and your advertising or digital marketing teams can stunt your company’s growth and prevent maximum customer response.

If you aren’t getting this kind of data about your brand, you should talk to us!

#10: Let Each Channel Empower the Brand Voice Differently

Many branding people want a consistent brand voice everywhere, and that makes sense, but it shouldn’t be robotic.

Every channel and medium is different.

How do you execute consistency against each channel’s limits without missing out on the advantages of each channel as well? It can be harder than you might think.

  • Your brand on TV is video, with a super-high budget, big reach and big credibility, but it’s usually only possible to create a small number of creative pieces.
  • Your brand on Instagram is a mix of photo and video, authentic, personal, behind the scenes, need a constant flow of new creative, at least 250 pieces a year and hashtags are very important.
  • Your brand on AdWords is often text-only since text ads work best, and often less than 90 characters or only about 15 words sometimes with only 25 character headlines, categorized by major keyword themes, which at least 10 variations for each.
  • Your brand at the mall  is about retail store presentation, banners, traditional and digital signage.
  • Your brand through a celebrity influencer may be a mix of their natural voice, product placement and FTC-compliance.

And those are just a few examples of all the channels.

Many companies’s brand guides are vague and open to interpretation. The more vague it is, the more open you are to internal arguments (and confusion with your marketing vendors), or tyranny from one person.

That’s why it’s important to spend time making sure there is enough specificity about brand voice for every channel, and enough room for testing.

Imagine the Supreme Court trying to rule in a life or death case without the Constitution being as specific as it is… trying to judge based on a brand guide only 4-5 sentences long. It’s an impossible task.

Specificity is your friend- take the time to create it.

Some of the channels you may be on- each has a different mood, character and limits- they have different vocabularies and palettes in addition to the personas you go after on them:

  • Facebook: very social and casual, mainstream, everyone is there including young people (91% of millennials use it even though Snapchat and Instagram are more popular with teens- and you can use Facebook ads to reach people on Instagram).
  • Instagram: skews female (68%).
  • Snapchat: skews young (71% under 34 years old), very video-oriented.
  • Google AdWords: very limited text for text ads- 90 or less characters.
  • Twitter: limited amount of text, more intellectual.
  • LinkedIn: more business-oriented and skews male (57%).
  • Pinterest: extremely visual, more image than video, skews female (81%).
  • YouTube: depends on your targeting, 62% male.
  • TV: depends on the TV channel and time slot.
  • Magazines: depends on the magazine and its readership.

If different people read different magazines or watch different TV shows or use different websites or different social networks, then we can’t communicate or appear exactly the same in every place.

You need a brand essence clear enough to be consistent on all of them, and a chillax-factor loose enough to let your brand manifest differently on all of them, or you won’t be able to maximize all platforms.

The Old Spice YouTube responses are a great example of a brand remaining consistent and customizing at the same time. You probably saw the TV ads, and may have seen them online as well, but they also took to Twitter and used YouTube to respond to tweets with customized videos in the style of the commercials. They created an unbelievable 185 customized responses to everyone from the super famous (Ellen) to the Internet business famous (Kevin Rose) to the regular consumer… and these videos received from 80,000 to 1.8 million views apiece. It’s important to note that their overall campaign, including all channels, doubled their sales when they started the campaign in 2010.

But ultimately they became the #1 body wash for men, and their CEO claimed it was through engaging customers online.

That kind of engagement and sales success can’t happen when your view of brand consistency is narrow.

It’s tempting to throw up the exact same picture, font and slogan everywhere in the name of consistency, but this is a missed opportunity. There are more ways to be consistent, and much bigger opportunities on each platform.

It’s a shame to have to go back to a campaign from 2010-2011 to find such a stellar example. It just demonstrates how few brands are willing to evolve older practices. Is it possible that since Old Spice had lost so much ground that they really had nothing to lose? And that more successful brands are just too risk averse to reproduce edgier outlier case studies? Probably :-)

If you need help defining all of this for your brand, contact us about a Brand Extension project. We’d be happy to help!

Is Your Brand Killing Your Online Sales?

Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit for emphasis. Again. :-)

But there is a situation where trying to stay on brand and portray one perfect image to the world can keep you out of step with the top performers and behind the curve on modern marketing.

You see, I don’t know if you realize this or not… but there has been a huge paradigm shift in marketing that started back in 2002…

(Really earlier than that, with Claude C. Hopkins back in the 1930’s, but it wasn’t really possible for everyone to adopt it until the Internet and Google and conversion code and split-testing…)

Over the last 15 years, we’ve really and truly entered The Era of Scientific Marketing.

Here’s what we do now:

  • Test your ads to find the best performer…
  • Test your landing pages to find the highest converter…
  • Test your images and copywriting to see what drives the most action…
  • Test your blog post headlines to see what gets clicked and shared the most…
  • Test your email subject lines to see what gets opened the most…
  • Test your company logo or crowdsource it to get one people like more..
  • Could we even test your COMPANY NAME?

WHOA. How far do we want to take this?


  • How big of a customer response do you want?
  • How big do you want your profits to be?
  • How big do you want your company to grow?

I guess that’s up to you.

Are You Handcuffed By Your Brand?

The bigger company you are, the bigger chance there is you have this big book of Brand Guidelines…

Oh, no… RULES!


  • These are our colors!
  • This is our font!
  • This is our spacing!
  • Don’t do this or that EVER!
  • Always do this!

Ok. Brands are valuable. They’re important.

So, what is all that rigid brand guideline stuff based on?

I mean, look at Google… their visual brand is so flexible that they can change their logo every day, right?

They actually have a thing called Doodles where they change their logo for holidays and sometimes make them interactive.

So if your brand guidelines are super-specific and super-rigid, where did all that come from?


  1. Some designer gave the executive team a bunch of choices…
  2. Probably accompanied by fancy sounding rationales to justify why these were great brand choices (“red symbolizes your corporate value of innovation and grabs attention” or “blue is reassuring” or “this font creates authority” or “this font is elegant”), whether or not those things enter the mind of the consumer AT ALL when they see the brand stuff or not, and…
  3. The executive team chose the ones they liked the best, thereby becoming personally invested in the choice…


Was the customer ever consulted?

Maybe, via focus groups- that or some other flawed process where you may have been led to believe these branding decisions were great ones.

Maybe they were. Maybe they weren’t.

But now the brand guidelines are handcuffs. They’re gospel. Inviolable.


Because you have personally invested yourself in them.

They’re part of your identity, and your creative team’s identity. You think they’re who you are.

BUT they keep you from testing more stuff.

And that, in the Era of Scientific Marketing, is A Very Bad Thing.

“But Brian, why would I want to test other things?”

To let the customer decide.

Let the customer SHOW YOU which one makes them want to BUY the most.

That’s how you get better results.

Bigger profits.

Would you be open to letting your customer guide your branding decisions, even just a little bit, if that increased your profits?

ALSO READ (+VIDEO): The More You Test The More Likely You Win

Ok, let’s put all that aside and let’s say we decide to stick with your current BRAND HANDCUFFS…

We select a whole bunch of ad images and write a bunch of copy that fits your brand…

We have to overcome this problem:

Having Enough Creative Ideas to Test If You Want to Discover the Outlier Performer That Creates Awesome Results

We need to come out of the creative process with enough images to let customers choose, so that we can find:

  • Higher click through rates
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Lower cost per actions

So if we send you 20 images, and you approve 10, out of that maybe 3 will perform great based on customer behavior. The CPA will be lower.

But if you only approve two of those images, because you’re thinking about your BRAND, then chances are the best performers from those two won’t be as good as the best performers from testing 10, and CPA won’t be as low.



The more stuff you test, the bigger chance you find a really amazing one.

NO ONE Knows What Customers Will Choose

There’s an unpredictability to which things customers prefer.


The research says that even great marketers with 15+ years of experience don’t get better at accurately predicting which things customers will choose.

And that’s really crazy. In the real world, there is no Don Draper that always has one genius idea every every week that saves the day. That makes good TV but that’s not how it works. Some of our agency friends wish that’s how it worked, and want to win awards for it working that way, but the only thing that comes close is Superbowl TV commercial world, and that’s not the everyday digital world… that’s not the arena most companies need to win in. Most of the Fortune 500 don’t even advertise at that level, let alone the millions of other businesses.

Even our most genius film-makers have made some bad movies. And those are projects they get to work on for years with teams of hundreds of people. We’re talking about what a few people creating a few ads should do.

All we can do to ensure better results is get better at testing… and to hedge your bets, you have to test more stuff. It’s the best way to avoid mediocre results.

So we have to go out with as much diversity in our creative as possible if we want to find the awesome performer and get low CPA’s.

We can achieve that by sending you a lot more images, or by you approving more :-)

But we need to stay on brand too…

And that’s the tight-rope we walk as scientific, results-focused digital marketers in a brand-oriented world.


10 Dramatic Copywriting Formulas From The Super Bowl

Do you want your company, product or service to be taken more seriously?

TV writers are gifted at drama. We can learn from them to increase the gravitas around our products, services and brands.

FORMULA: “This hasn’t happened in ___ years.”

Is your product or company or event or crisis the first something in 10, 20 or 50 years?


  • We haven’t had a new marketing tool as groundbreaking as Facebook ads in 15 years- since the advent of search ads. You could argue that due to their targeting and flexible formats, they are more revolutionary than search ads, and that we haven’t had anything this new and powerful since the invention of the TV ad in 1941.

FORMULA: “I’m so proud to be an ___.”

Are you proud to be something? Are your customers proud to be something? Or someone? Or part of a group? For bonus points- why are you proud?


  • I’m proud to be a Facebook advertising expert- because we’re creating profit by discovering customer passions.
  • I’m proud to be a digital marketer- because we’re innovating how companies and customers discover one other.

FORMULA: “If you’ve ____ we’ll take care of you.”

What problem are your customers having that you rescue them from? What mishap has befallen them?


  • If you’re having trouble with Facebook marketing, we’ll take care of you.
  • If your conversion rates are low or you can’t achieve profitability, we’ll take care of you.

FORMULA: “The best ___ in ___.”

Do you have the best something in any category? Is your company the best in any category? This is a good formula for your unique selling proposition, something I spend an entire lesson on in my Social Marketing Profit System.


  • The Brian Carter Group is the best Facebook advertising consultancy in the world.

FORMULA: “___ is plotting to kill _______s.”

This was from a political ad that mentioned ISIS. Who is your enemy? Who is your customer’s enemy? If it’s not a person, what is the enemy? What trend or problem or fear or obstacle?


  • Traditional media buyers are plotting to kill your profits!
  • Big ad agencies are plotting to plunder your budgets!

FORMULA: “We are facing a ____ crisis.”

Another political ad. What kind of crisis is your customer facing? What’s their biggest problem? How can you make it seem even bigger? Don’t minimize it. How large does it loom in their nightmares?


  • We are facing a profitability crisis.
  • We are facing a digital marketing learning curve crisis.
  • We are facing a marketing effectiveness crisis.

COOL WORDS: Champions, Magnificent, Elite…

These are just some words we rarely think to apply outside of sports, but they’re powerful.


  • Do you want to be an elite marketer? An elite Facebook advertiser? Those who study my Social Marketing Profit System emerge having become magnificent champions of profitability.

FORMULA: “To ____… It gives you chills just thinking about it.”

What’s the big deal in your arena? What do people aspire to? What’s the dream? This needs to be a singular thing- the biggest possible thing.


  • To change a business and the fates of its owners by creating a profitable ad system for them… it gives me chills just thinking about it.

FORMULA: “If you want to ____ you have to ____.”

What is required? What do you require of your customers? What is required for them to succeed?


  • If you want to profit online, you have to test a lot of ads.

FORMULA: “What separates the ____ from the ____ is…”

What’s the dichotomy in your arena between the successes and the failures? Between the good and bad?


  • What separates the profitable from the unprofitable is open-mindedness, creativity, and diligent testing.

Speakers, Authors & Consultants: Do It Marketing with David Newman [Video Interview]

David Newman is a nationally-recognized marketing expert and author of the Amazon #1 bestseller “Do It! Marketing: 77 Instant-Action Ideas to Boost Sales, Maximize Profits and Crush Your Competition.”

David runs a marketing and training firm dedicated to helping speakers, consultants, and high-fee experts maximize their influence, impact and income.

David’s instant-action marketing advice has been featured and quoted in The New York Times, Investors Business Daily, Sales & Marketing Management, Selling Power, Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur Magazine, and hundreds of media outlets throughout North America. Free marketing resources are online at http://www.doitmarketing.com

How I Beat the Internet Marketing Odds and You Can Too

I want to tell you a short story about how I beat impossible odds and ended up a thought leader with a fair amount of brand fame… and how you and your company can do that too.

Back in 2004, I was like a lot of people: just an untrained guy who wanted to have his own business doing something he was good at that would help other people. I wanted to get enough consulting clients to get paid and do my part bringing home the bacon.

But I struggled because there were so many blogs and competitors out there. I just couldn’t get enough attention or leads or clients to make it. It was hard. I was frustrated! Have you felt like that?

Now, I’ve always believed in and been grateful for freedom, for the American dream of being in control of my own business, and for the opportunities we have with capitalism and to decide on our own career. I didn’t want to work for somebody else. I wanted to be “the man”, not work for the man!

I just wanted to build something special that helped other people, something they appreciated. Isn’t that what we all want?

And then I saw opportunity: the Internet. This was it. A huge phenomenon that suddenly gave us all the opportunity to easily do business with people all over the country- even the world!

I was excited because it seemed like the Internet would change everything in business- and I wanted to get in on that! Wouldn’t you?

But the odds were stacked against me because I had no schooling in internet marketing, I had no savings to bank on, and there was no reason for people to come to my website or business instead of anyone else’s.

I had done a lot of different types of work in my life, but I wanted to focus and get good at one thing. I was married and my wife had been the bigger breadwinner and I wanted to make more money to help her out and feel better about myself.

The internet was growing and people were making lots of money, but not me. Ever felt left out like that?

I was going up against much bigger companies, like training companies that had dozens of bloggers, and internet marketing teachers with a 3-4 year head start on me. I didn’t know anybody who had succeeded at this. I had no connections at all.

I had to get trained. So I got on the Internet and took some online courses. I went and had coffee with the marketing guy in my local San Diego networking group. I read tons and tons of blogs.

And at first, I made A LOT of mistakes. I was super-excited to make some money with Google AdSense, putting their ads on my alternative medicine site, but then the Google search algorithm changed and I lost most of my traffic. That was depressing. Don’t you wish Google was easier?

I started an AdWords consulting business but I couldn’t get enough clients.

Feeling a bit beaten, I took a job as an eCommerce manager for an outdoor store and spent a year building their online store, only for them to tell me, “Brian, we just don’t want to invest in buying enough inventory for the online store to succeed.”

Back to square one, dang it.

Again I went into solo consulting but I wasn’t getting enough clients, and my wife said, more or less, “Get a job or else maybe we should separate for a while.” Wow, that hurt!

So I took a risk on a job where I would build the internet marketing part of a regional agency in South Carolina. I had to move and be away from my wife for a couple years, which was tough, but I worked super hard.

I was initially not very smooth with clients, but my coworkers taught me a lot about account management and successful business relationships.

I was getting better at the Internet business:

  • I got results for our clients.
  • I started blogging and got attention.
  • I got to speak at a conference, then two more conferences.
  • I got a column writing for a big search engine blog.
  • We built the internet marketing part of the agency from $100k revenue to $650k revenue in less than two years.
  • I brought them in new clients from other parts of the country.

Then, to my surprise, the company laid me off!

It turns out I had TOO good a compensation deal with them. I was making too much money. And they didn’t want to expand beyond their region, so they didn’t much value my national networking and speaking.

But by now, I had become an industry thought-leader. I was known and read as a blogger on search marketing and social media. People enjoyed the talks I gave. By traveling and networking, I had made solid friends in the industry. And I had found a professional speaking mentor.

Wouldn’t you love to have a successful mentor in what you’re pursuing?

Because of all that I was able to write a Facebook marketing book, which quickly turned into two published books, and I started getting paid to keynote speak for companies. I and my small new agency got to work with great companies like Carl’s Jr, Universal Studios and The World Health Organization.

Next thing I knew I was on Bloomberg TV in New York City, and getting to work with companies like Microsoft, NBC, Salesforce, GoToMeeting, Dramamine, PrideStaff and others.

Wouldn’t you love to have more opportunities and clients?

It felt amazing to be an author, to be a respected authority, to be someone companies would pay thousands of dollars to come and speak or give consulting opinions. It’s flattering to repeatedly show up on lists like “The Top 50 Marketing Experts in the World”.

Oh and by the way, now I bring home ALL the bacon and my wife works for me, and she’s a brilliant Facebook advertiser. :-)

During that journey I learned a ton about what does and doesn’t work for building brand fame and awareness.

All the best,
Brian Carter