Q&A with Brand Strategist Phil Pallen

Hey everyone, it is Phil. I am a brand strategist based in Los Angeles. If you’re reading this you probably recently caught the webinar that I did with Izabela Russell...

Brand Strategist, Phil Pallen

Hey everyone, it is Phil. I am a brand strategist based in Los Angeles. If you’re reading this you probably recently caught the webinar that I did with Izabela Russell from New Media Europe. What an amazing webinar that was, some incredible engagement, lots of props. Izabela and I were competing and of course some amazing questions that we did not have time to answer all of them. As a reward for you for being so awesome and participating, I thought I would take a few minutes to record my answers in case we didn’t answer your question live on the air. Here we go, let’s dive right in.

Organic SEO vs. AdWords

Matthew Butler asks, what are your thoughts on organic SEO compared to AdWords? Obviously the latter an expensive investment, yes. AdWords is definitely an expensive investment, something you have to spend money on to actually see some results and something that not a lot of individual brands likely have a budget for. If you can budget for it within your marketing dollars, fantastic. If not, I would invest your time in making sure you’ve taken proactive steps to improve your SEO on your website. Depending on your platform, WordPress, Square Space, RainMaker, Weebly, Wicks. These are all platforms that I hear about often that people are on, there are resources available for you online to go and find how you can best optimise your site for SEO.

There are lots of best practices and experts on SEO with lots of free information on the web, all you need to do is spend time to actually find those resources and put them into action. The upside of everything, in the social media space is that Google since changing it’s algorithm in the last few years has given more weight to social media activity. That works in your favour because you can be active on social media without spending money. I’m all about ways to promote your brand without actually having to spend advertising dollars. I don’t have clients that come to me and say, I wand to spend lots of money Phil, what do I do? I have clients that come to me and say, I don’t want to spend any money or very little money, what’s the way to get the biggest bangs for your bucks.

I’d focus on the organic SEO and I’d focus on being a rock start on three social media platforms that are best for your brand. Doing something memorable, giving each platform purpose and cultivating an audience on each one of them.

Aligning Social Media with your Brand Name

Heather Bates asks, I want to align all of my social media with my name as my brand and it is, with the exception of my website. Huge domain is parked on HeatherBates.com and she doesn’t plan on buying it for over $2,000.00. Do you suggest I use an initial or something else? My advice is always going to be different in this case depending on your name and obviously depending on what’s available. But here’s what’s great, there are some incredible top level domains that were released fairly recently that are awesome, that you can consider using for your business. I’m not going to name any Heather in case anyone goes and buys them but, well I’ll name one, HeatherBates.design is probably available so go and scoop it up before someone else does.

There are a lot of really creative ones that you can use not only to have a website home, but to also reinforce your brand. I branded myself under .com for years, prior to that I was .CA when I was working in Canada. More recently I changed it to .co, I still own the .com but .co is newer and fresher and it reinforces my company name which is PhilPallen.co. It’s just one little step that I take to reinforce my brand, remind people who I am through my online collateral. I would dissuade you from using an initial unless there’s literally no other option, I’d focus on something more memorable. It’s not likely that people are going to remember your initial if it doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Instead use a more creative top level domain, something like .design, .co, .biz, that’s your better bet. Make sure it’s memorable so people know exactly where to find you.

How to Reach a Larger Podcast Audience

Apple Watch Cast asks, what recommendation do you have for reaching a larger audience and bringing in new listeners to a podcast? Well, think about it this way, there’s no easy formula that I can just give you because if I had that formula I’d be retired on an island somewhere at the ripe old age of 27. Instead, think about it in a way of giving value, people will listen to you if you give them a reason to spend time on you. Content, not to freak you out, is an unlimited resource online, content exists, it is unlimited because everyone’s creating it. The limited resource that we’re all chasing is peoples attention span, so why should people give you a few minutes of their day to tune into your podcast. Really listen to what it is people need, create content that solves a problem.

Izabela so beautifully addressed this in the top 10 branding hacks in this webinar and I think this is truer than ever. Focus on value and use your social media platforms to spread the word, if people enjoy what you’re creating they’re going to talk about it. They’re going to share it, so that should be your focus, there’s not quick fix to throwing it up online and hoping that people find you magically. It doesn’t work that way, it takes time and it takes hard work, but I know you can do it.

Custom Graphics or Photos for Engagement?

Sean asks, what about custom graphics instead of photos, of they convert to increase clicks and engagement?

Well, it’s just going to depend, I don’t think I can give you a blanket statement and say, yes, graphics convert instead of photos. If anything I would think the opposite, I think that graphics are great if you can’t use photos, if there are no photos that are on brand or appropriate. I think 9 times out of 10 you’re going to have better luck with photos because it’s more of a visual opportunity to further distinguish yourself from everyone else. There are a lot of graphics out there, if it feels on brand fantastic. I may even consider using both, use a mix of photos and graphics and do some AB testing to figure out works best with your ads. Rather than just deciding arbitrarily which is better, why don’t you test it.

How to Make Any Brand Sexy

Jerome asks, how can you make mortgage lending to millennials sexy? Well, not that they’re my favourite brand but brands like Go Daddy have made domains sexy. Website platforms like Square Space have made creating your website sexy, brands out there have made far worse things than mortgage lending sexy. An idea is great, an idea paired with research is so much more powerful. Think in conversation what do you say to others that makes them spend money on mortgage lending. What are the specific language and terms that you use in conversation, take inventory of those, recreate them on the web. Create content around that so that people can connect with what it is you offer. I imagine you’re solving a need and so creating content around what people need will help you get found.

People go to the internet looking for answers, if you answer their questions there’s a good chance it will lead to a conversation offline about how to collaborate.

Are Live Streams or Podcasts Better for Engagement?

Pasqual says, what type of stream is better for engagement, live streams like this one or podcasts? Again, I don’t think one or the other is necessarily better it’s going to depend on your brand and it’s going to depend on your personality. For me, I can sit and stare at a computer screen for forty minutes and types three words if I have to write something. It’s not my best platform, I’m really naturally a writer but if you give me an opportunity to talk, I love to do it and I’m much more efficient when I do it. For me, that platform works much better but every single person is different.

I don’t think the platform is indicative from the engagement necessarily, I think more importantly it’s the person who’s delivering the content which is the personality and it’s the content itself. Those two things are more important, focus on a means to get your message out there that feels appropriate for you.

Connecting Your Personal Brand to a Business

Kevin says, Radio Skills for Podcasters is my brand, why should I connect me and then his own handle to the brand. Perhaps instead of having radio skills on Twitter maybe it’s his name, what are your thoughts in connecting you to your brand? Ask yourself Kevin, this very simple question, why do people hire you, why do they come to you, what about your business is unique? Typically the answer to that is me, they hire me for me and I am no exception to this rule. I have staff, I have a whole team of people who help deliver brand identity, website, consulting. Everything we do as part of my agency but at the end of the day people usually come to us for me because that’s how I position my brand.

I’ve injected everything I do with personality so that’s how it is and that’s why I built a personal brand from that because that is clearly communicating to people what they’re getting and my services are structured on how much access you get to me. A lot of times people, I find now a days are changing their branding, not necessarily their company name that’s registered, that doesn’t really matter. But your branding does matter and if people are coming to you for you, if you’re a one man show or you’re a strategist or a consultant or a presenter and the brand is you. Then you may think about changing the branding to reflect that, so that it’s more clearly communicated. No one can make that decision but you, but at least that gives you some things to think about.

How to Boost Free Communities on Google

Picard says, I’m trying to build the radio community for people who are suffering from disabilities and I’m trying to boost it more on Google or whatever. What is the best option for me to do it for free as it’s a free community? A Facebook group is definitely something you should consider forming, sending that out to people you know, that you know would be interested in that and then having that spread the work. The more engagement in a Facebook group the better, people will find you based on keywords and it’s completely free. Unlike Facebook pages where Facebook edge rank limits what your audience sees unless you pay to boost post. Everyone sees everything in Facebook groups, so that’s going to be a better option for you on Facebook.

Of course I also think you should consider Twitter because Twitter is my favourite social media platform for accessing a targeted audience for free. It’s the best, I teach you in my book, Shut Up and Tweet, I wrote because people have built businesses using Twitter, me included. It’s a great tool, a free tool to access a targeted audience. Those are two great places for you to start. Obviously social media’s what I’m going to recommend to you, I’m a little bit biased because that’s what I do but I think it’s very powerful when people don’t want to spend money and promote their brand.

The Power of Testimonials

We talked a little bit about testimonials on the webinar and I wanted to give a shout out to David Vaughn who contributed to this. He says, for testimonials I ask people who I helped in some way if they return the gesture and provide a quick testimonial. I got great return on that and it was a win-win.

I would add to that, do it quickly after a project wraps, while your client is still thinking about you and they’re happy and they’re excited to share it. That’s a great idea for gathering testimonials.

Thank You!

A special shout out to some of my new Media Europe friends who I met last year at the conference who were watching live on the webinar. Don’t you worry, I noticed you there, Katrina, Józefa, David, Kevin, Mark, Heather to name a few. Thank you so much to Izabela, a special shout out to our host Izabela and Mike for producing this amazing webinar. I was so happy to be a part of it and I look forward to connecting with you online at Phil Pallen. Thanks for watching and thanks for listening.

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Mike is co-founder of New Media Europe - obsessed with everything new in media and technology. He's also a founder of audio production company Music Radio Creative.