Unleash a Killer Brand on Google Plus

Google Plus Branding
Google Plus Branding

It's all in the brand!








Google Plus, with over 20 million users in its first few weeks is a new hunting ground where you can cut through noise fast and become rockstar much easier due to less competition.

For a guide how to have a great Google + profile read this post. OK so you may not be able to have a business page YET but you certainly can amplify your personal brand.

To do this you need to know how to use core branding principles to unleash your Killer Brand onto Google +

Branding principles:

Having a killer brand can be a very lucrative thing– hence the surge in the past 50 years of corporate branding and, more recently, in the personal branding industry. We understand this.

While I would definitely not recommend a brand advertising strategy for a startup unless you have serious money to burn – e.g. ‘feel good’ and touchy feely branding ads that the big corporates use (This is expensive and there are much more effective ways to spend your cash) you do have to understand, and use, core branding principles.

Branding and Google Plus

Google Plus is still a bit like the Wild West – there’s no sheriff in town. If you use the branding principles I’m about to tell you, not only will you cut through the mass of people that are not using them, but you’ll greatly increase your chances connecting with people just like you.

The key Principles of branding  you need to remember are: Focus, Alignment and Linkage

Before we begin discussing how to apply branding to Google Plus, understand that every choice a consumer makes is because of expectation – this is the way the world works. If you can deliver the right expectation, you will get chosen.

Think Appsumo. Expectation: Bargain offers from great web companies

Think 37 Signals. Expectation: Simple to use, effective, quality.

Think Hersey Chocolate. Think Uurrrggh!

How can we unleash this to work for us on Google Plus? Creating a preconceived expectation of YOU through Focus, alignment and Linkage

Principle 1: Focus

Focus is that singular, differentiating, quality that makes us that little bit unique in this world of clutter.

It’s about positioning yourself in a clear, defined place that people can quickly understand. Make this your differentiator. Your job here is to make sure nothing detracts from this differentiator.

How can I apply this to Google Plus?

Think: When someone visits my profile, what is the one takeaway I’d like them to have? Who do I want them to think I am?

Are you a musician? A dancer? The world’s only FUN accountant?

Let us know it!

Whatever that answer is for you – amplify it on your profile. People won’t remember 4 things about you – but they probably will remember 1 – if it’s unavoidable. Especially is the person who visits is interested in the same things as you.

Remember the saying: He who chases both rabbits, catches none. It applies here.

Focus on one thing you want to be remembered for. Amplify it till the speakers are about to pop.

Principle 2 – Alignment

Everything you do should be in line with your differentiator. You’ve heard about authenticity – this is it.

Be very clear about Principle 1: what is your focus and ensure everything about your profile is aligned to this. If you want to be known as the world’s no 1 cross dressing Irish Dancer – then everything about your profile should point to this.

DO NOT do what a close friend of mine is doing – owns a successful business, and his Google plus profile (which includes his company name) he shares lots of anti-capitalistic content ‘down with the system’ and the like.

If you saw, say your lawyer [insert any profession here] downing the corporate machine constantly on their social media profiles – would it affect the way you feel about them professionally?

Branding principles say you do (and this stretches to profiles off Google Plus by the way)

How can I apply this to Google Plus?

Check there is nothing out of line with your focus on your profile. Check the hobbies/Interests/Bragging rights section – you may have put in some personal info that is not aligned with your core focus e.g. ‘record beer bong drinker’ or ‘Bare Knuckle Fighting champ’ – keep that for somewhere else – e.g. a Face book page with high privacy settings.

Principle 3: Linkage

Linkage is how you bring it all together. Your messages should and can link to the core expectation of your brand.

This is where you get your differentiator and constantly, proactively, reinforce it in the minds of your followers/customers.

How can I apply this to Google Plus?

Google Plus sharing allows you to push out all sorts of content, relevant to your differentiator. Think

Remember you turned up the speakers on your differentiator a little earlier? This is where you bring people into the party where the music’s playing.

And you’re the DJ.

And just like in the DJ world – you can either mix other people’s music (blog posts, content, books, webinars etc) with your own unique spin or, like you can create your own and play that.

Just remember – there are lots and lots of DJ’s in the world – many of them are great but nobody knows about them. But if you produce just one hit record, everyone wants to come hear you play.

You can make a living DJing – but the REAL dosh comes from releasing your own proginal tracks. Just ask Tiesto!

I’ll end the DJing alanogies now, but I’m sure you get my point – ultimately ensure you’re linking all your Focus and Alignment together with great relevent content that will draw people to you and re-enforce that expectation

As you can see these are universal truths of branding and not just primarily for Google Plus – but when stepping into fresh, new territory such as Google Plus it is the perfect time to re-evaluate your branding strategy and amplify it.

Would love to hear what you think?


17 Sizzling Social Media Infographics

The Conversation Prism

Infographics are one of the hot trends in business blogging – and it’s easy to see why, they’re informative and viral, as people like sharing them. Here’s my favourite 17 Social Media Infographics
Click on the link above each picture to see the full infographic

Loading Time

Science of Social Timing 1

Why Your Business Should Be Using Social Media?

Infographics Social Media In Big Business Digital Buzz Blog

How Fortune 100 Companies Leverage Social Media?

How People Tweet

The Twitterverse

What if Facebook were a City?

All The Best to Twitter and Small Business

Why You Can’t Ignore Twitter

Why do we follow companies on Twitter?

11 Mind Blowing Mobile Marketing Infographics

Social Media Demographics

Social Media Dashboard: Usage Trends

The Linkdin Numbers

Nicholas de Wolff Social Media

The Conversation Prism

10 Steps to Becoming a Google Plus Ninja!

google plus
google plus

It's all about Google Plus







So Google + is only a few weeks old and it’s already reach 10 million users, been banned in a few countries and has most businesses wondering what’s going on.

 It’s like the Wild West – there’s no sheriff, and everyone’s trying to be the new hotshot in town.

That’s good because that means in this initial chaos, the normal rules don’t apply – with a lot less effort than on other platforms (e.g. Twitter, Facebook etc)  effort you can cut through the noise and get noticed by others using it.

Chaos = opportunity for you

That’s why I’ll share the first 10 steps to take to put you ahead of 98% of the people out there…..and into the top 2pc. That’s where you want to be right?

1.  Get your profile URL shortened

Remember your Facebook profile address used to look like a bunch of random numbers before you got to choose your name to make it look much prettier like: http://www.facebook.com/howard.kingston1

Well Google+ has started off the same.

Use this cool free tool to change your Google Plus profile from:

This: https://plus.google.com/110883879304480814474/posts?hl=en (ugly!)

To This: gplus.to/howardvk (lovely!)

Add me to your Google Circles while your at it

 2.    Set up a kick-ass profile

Google Plus is different to other social media platforms in a lot of ways, but similar in one very important one: putting a little bit of effort into your profile pays off.

I won’t bore you with the details as I’m sure you know how to set up good profiles by now (hint: good pic, more about you the better, list your work interests, no nazi flags etc) but instead I’ll just share this very interesting research done by a dating site about what profile photo types are most effective. Ignore it at your peril!

 3.    Set up your funnels fool!

Think of everything you do as a series of big funnels, filtering people towards your online real estate (blog/social media profiles) at every point of contact.

Remember: You never know where that email/tweet/blog post/comment will go – or who will see it. So make sure you make it easy for people to martch down your funnel if you’ve enticed them.

How to do this for Google Plus ?

  • Add your Google Plus profile to your email signature (use the link shortener above of course)
  • Add your circle link to your blog with the WordPress plugin
  • Put it on your business cards

The more points of contact you touch people, the more you can influence

4.    Add all your friends

One of the biggest pains of going to a new venue is that all your friends are still at the old party. So how to get them to your new hangout, fast.

For most of us Facebook has been the our main hangout for the past few years – unfortunately Facebook have put up a few barriers making imprting all Facebook friends to Google+ a little tricky.

But we have a neat trick to get round this (cue evel laugh: Wha hahahahaha)

Watch this video to see it:

5.    Get Automated!

Having to do thigs once = good

Having to do things twice/three times = sucks

Get your G+ updates to automatically post to your Twitter stream by installing this great free app


6.    Optimize every little thing

Google finds you relevant in searches based on keywords you use. So make sure to put in as many keywords, relevant to your industry/business as possible. So help people find you by optimising your content (it’s really very easy). -

Optimise part 1: Google Sparks – Google have intrpduced a new featurwe called Google Sparks where you can add interests. Make sure you add rlevent industry interests here.

My hunch is that, although this area is still in development, that Google will use this area to affect searches in some way. So getting it right now is worth it.

Optimise part 2: Profile keywords – remember me mentioning about relevent keyword into your kick ass profile? If you haven’t done it yet – do it now

Optimise part 3: Ninja trick: Google LOVES what’s called ‘anchor text’ when descriptive words link to relevant material (an example of this is startup marketing tips for this blog)

Change the anchor text to relevant keywords on the right of the ‘About’ section of your Google+ profile keyword relevent links

google plus profile

See my anchor text on the left

7.    Open everything, f&ck privacy!

The single biggest reasons why Google+ is so powerful?

Google owns the 80% of the world’s search.

So having your newly updated and keyword optimised profile open to searches is a must.

If you’re a privacy freak – get over it. Just keep the drunken pics for Facebook and keep the privacy settings at the max.

8.    Search for yummy stuff

Some people still don’t get Twitter. I think the reason Twitter has become so huge is because of its powerful search engine that allows you to search anything in real time. So for the first time in history you can search what people are saying about topics relevenmt to you, do you can follow and engage with them.

Luckily – you can do the same on Google, well kinda.

Google Plus doesn’t have its own search capability yet, but you CAN search through Google

This is how you can do it:
To search by topic, add this to a Google search – your topic site:plus.google.com

ie: “mudwrestling” site:plus.google.com

Share what you find in the comments below

 9.    Add +1 to your sites & blogs

Hmmm I feel people are coming to a treshhold of how many buttons we can tolerate – before that happens, we got to add another!

Use this tool to add a Google +1 button to your site/blog – just like a Facebook Likes button. Allows people to spread your great content to their networks easily.

Here’s how you do it:

10.    Circle Up…..and circle down!

The most interesting part of Google plus is the ability to add people in different ‘Circles’ – it’s a feature that is already on Facebook (Friends lists) but so cluncky that’s its mainly unusalble.

You can add prospects, customers, clients, people you want to learn from in different circles of influcne and share different material accordingly.

Think about this for a moment – now you can share different material with completely different circles.

Tip: People can’t see what you name each circle so name them anything you like: here are some interesting suggestions

Ninja trick: Want to see who’s unfriended you? Check out this app called ‘Google Minus‘ – it tells you have removed you from their circles.

See me kick Chuck Norris’s Ass!

Chuck-Norris twitter

Just confirming what I already knew of course :)

Inforgrapahics are fast becoming one of the most shareable types of content on the web – they’re fun and makes it easy to digest stats. Check out Mint.com and kissmetrics.com for examples how to use infographics to great effect. Both these two companies have grown huge blogs using infographics as one of their primary strategies.

I created this infographic from http://visual.ly/ – you can too, have fun!

Ever created an infographic? post a link to it in the comments below

If you don’t listen to these 4 podcasts now, you’ll hate yourself later

Marketing podcasts
Marketing podcasts

Goooood morning! (photo: cogdogblog)








Podcasts are a fantastic way learn great new information while on the go. Since getting my iPhone I’ve been hooked and I now listen to about 10 hours of podcasts a week. In this post I’ll tell you about 4 podcasts you’d be crazy to miss.

Why do I love them so much?

  • Many have amazing free content
  • Many of the better podcasters (see below) give away their best tips during their podcasts – tips that you can put in practice straight away to get closer to your goals
  • Great way to learn while in the gym/cycling/walking/on the train etc
  • Did I mention they’re free?

Here are my favourites I highly recommend you check out:


1.    Mixergy

Learning from the people who have ‘done it’ is one of the best ways to get insights into how to achieve success.

On his Mixergy podcasts, Andrew Warner interviews pretty much every successful Web 2.0 entrepreneur going Time Ferris, Gary Veynerchuck, Jimmy Wales – if they’ve launched a successful company – chances are they’ve been interviewed here.

Listen to it for: To learn how to be successful. Find it here

I love marketing

 2.    I Love Marketing

Joe Polish and Dean Jackson give real marketing advice – on direct response marketing (the type that really works). They start from the basics and introduce step by step how to create a hugely successful marketing plan.

Joe Polish is the marketing advisor to Richard Branson, among others. This Podcast is a way to get advice from one of the world’s leading experts, who might be a little outside your budget otherwise.

Listen to it for: Step by step guide to amazing marketing Find it here

IBM3    Internet Business Mastery

The very first podcast I listened to, I’ve listened to every episode at least once. Each one is packed full of useful tips. Sterling and Jay are really down to earth guys who it’s impossible not to like.

Listen to it for: If you’re a newbie to internet business or blogging – start here

Find it here

smart passive income podcast

4    Smart Passive Income

Want an example of how to be authentic on the web? Check out Pat’s site and podcast – packed full of useful information on everything from blogging to how to create an iphone app to affiliate marketing. Great example of a nice guy crushing it with his internet business.

Listen to it for: Inspiration and information Find it here

Any podcasts you listen to I should check out? Post them in the comments below

One million in 999 days

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by an awesome dude called Dan, who has a similarly kick-ass ambitious goal like I do. His is to buy the L.A. Clippers. Nice! Check out the interview here:

Dan’s blog is:  dansfera.com and he’s a great example of how easily you can build your audience by ‘reaching out’ to people and helping them get what they want. Awesome. Dan contacted me through Twitter – yet another example of how Twitter is a must have weapon in your startup arsenal.

One Million in 999 days

Dan: Hey everyone, it’s Dan Sfera from dansfera.com. It’s just like my name you should see it at the bottom of the screen here. I’m very fortunate today to interview Howard Kingston. Howard has a remarkable story in a remarkable blog right now. It’s called startupremarkable.com and his got 999 days to make 1 million dollars and the countdown is 992 days left. So Howard tells us a little bit about yourself and about startup remarkable.

Howard: Yeah. Cheers, Dan. I’m Howard I’m an Irish guy. I’m living here over at London and this was because a year ago I was doing a PhD that was really [really] boring. I wasn’t really particularly getting excited about it and I decided to quit. So the day I handed in my resignation letter I jumped on a plane and flew to the other side of the world, Australia. And when I was over there I just started [really kinda] jumping in to startups stuff. Started learning lots about web marketing and started blogging and stuff like that and I recently just moved back to London where I am now. I’m working on with different startups and yeah I just wanted to set myself in a somewhat like crazy goal that can just completely take over the world and that is to make a million dollars in 999 days so I just started last week.

Dan: Right! Yeah. So your blog is new right? You just put it up there.

Howard: Pretty much. Yeah.

Dan: And now when you say you work with startups [are you] do you have a piece of their equity? Are you investing in them? Or are you consulting for them.

Howard: At the moment [the main one] my main client is just consultancy. I’m working for them 4 days a week.

Dan: Oh, okay.

Howard: So I go in and I pretty much I do all the marketing for them.

Dan: And so you do look the social media marketing or the traditional offline marketing? How does it work? What type of marketing do you do?

Howard: Well, I, typically work with web based startups that’s kind of the typical one and these guys they’re a web platform so it’s nearly all web based and local events, event management events, but mainly I do email marketing, social media, that kind of just SEO that sort of stuffs.

Dan: So in a way this blog is [I mean] it’s so unique and I would use the word outrageous because no one would ever predict a million bucks in a given amount of time. Is that genuine or is it a little bit of marketing, a little bit of self promotion is it a combination of the two?

Howard: Well I believe I can do it [yeah] 999 days and its two and a half years. I’m gonna be _____ 33 then. And yeah it’s genuine and I believe I can do it. But I suppose from a marketing point of view I know how important it is to have a story and I kinda locked it myself and said what is mine as well as you see a lot of stuff I’m bringing in my blog is marketing related and it has a lot to do with how we can start help people who are starting up their businesses. Stuff that I know just helps them get implemented in their own businesses. But as well as it just being another marketing blog I wanted to have some unique kind of story about it and I’m like uber ambitious and [yeah] so I have this goal and I thought [yeah] that’s perfect for it. It’s a perfect story.

Dan: So take us back to your last startup. I know you mentioned on your blog you were very bored with it. You’re obviously a very smart guy you’re working on your PhD and startup at the same time.

Howard: That’s right.

Dan: What made you quit that and focused on marketing, not only yourself, but helping other companies promote themselves. What kinda made you _____ it?

Howard: I’m _____ now just like what I’m doing in Ireland.

Dan: [Yeah], what made you shift here and kinda move on to what you’re doing now?

Howard: So the startup and PhD that I was doing it was kinda travel life so it was travel based I won’t go in to the details but you know I supposed the PhD and the travel are kinda more of a traditional business based [and after a certain] I was working on it for maybe about 9 months and at a certain point I kinsa saw that my business is quite traditional traditionally focused and my PhD are kinda their not necessarily forward thinking and you have to look a lot of theory that has been proven time and time again _____ risk taking.

Dan: Yeah, they’re very academic and not always… Right, I totally understand. I worked with a lot of doctors and they’re like the opposite of marketers.

Howard: Ok.

Dan: That what makes your story a little bit unique.

Howard: Yeah.

Dan: So how are you able to not only have that kind of mind set but also have this creative marketing type of mindset? That’s very unusual for people who have PhDs or were working on PhDs.

Howard: Well yeah I suppose following on that point [you know] I was doing the PhD during the day but in the evening time I just couldn’t get enough of fast company magazine or wired magazine, Seth Godin, all these kind of guys that are just doing rocking the world and changing the world in a really [really] cool way. And [yeah] during the day I kinda need to read this boring theory about stuff that is like [you know] years old and not really innovative. So [yeah], I just said listened I wanna be able to do anything I want to just throw all my eggs in one basket and just go out there someday. So that’s where really this change came from and even now I must say It is interesting to say about it being interesting mix because I do have kinda creative side but I constantly have to fight that going into too much detail and element of _____ that I learned from my PhD which is like very [very] detailed and for me to get a lot done fast you know this whole like Prieto, 80/20 Principle.

Dan: Right.

Howard: Like 80% of the results and 20% of your work. That’s something I have to fight constantly because I love just kinda going into [getting] doing things in a lot of details as well. So yeah that’s just a challenge I had to worked on but it’s still fun.

Dan: Yeah that’s something all of us entrepreneurs have to worked on and skills, ability and not being involved in everything but building a system to kind of help you achieve your goal. Without, like you said, putting a hundred percent of your time. It’s unique that you have this interesting skills because most startup they have a technical guy and they have like a creative marketing guy and usually become co-founder and you startup by yourself in order to reach the goal I would think that’s about 3 years. A little bit less than 3 years right? 999 days.

Howard: Yeah.

Dan: Do you plan on starting another startup or do you plan on growing your marketing company or all of the above or anything else you’ve got going?

Howard: Totally, yeah. For me to get to that goal it’s gonna have to be a seriously kick-ass startup and that’s where I want to be. As well as where I’m going at the moment, leaving my PhD was positioning myself in the right direction for that and now I’m just working on some great startups here in London waiting until I see the opportunity for the right startup that will bring me to the million dollars if that make sense. So I don’t have a million dollar idea yet but I’m constantly looking and I believe I’m going in the right direction and working with the right people. [So when] I have a couple of ideas but I don’t have one that I know that is ready yet if that make sense.

Dan: Yeah it makes sense. Look I’ll tell you from my experiences. My goal is to buy [the] an NBA franchise for 30 years so I should do a countdown like you have but for 30 years.

Howard: I saw that. What’s that club again?

Dan: It’s LA clippers but I’ll move them to San Diego that’s my goal.

Howard: Nice.

Dan: They just don’t know that yet.

Howard: That’s an awesome goal.

Dan: But I got 30 years so it’s a little longer time for them. I gotta think big picture.

Howard: Okay.

Dan: So yours is unique in that sense and it’s 3 years so it’s very typically a short term goal. And we have a lot of unique interest. I plan a great deal of that from investing, venture, _____ investing, investing in startups. I tried initially consulting with this type of companies and then especially the ones in my meeting in history and they’re branching out. Any similar goals for you or do you just want to create the companies yourself?

Howard: Well yeah I am consulting with the companies at the moment. I definitely want to create my own company that [you know] an idea I don’t have that kind of that urge that like create something that’s what I’m all about. Even though as much as I love working and helping other startups grow, ultimately I just want to take something that’s just like a seed of idea and get kick ass people around me [and]. I’d really get into an incubation like something like [you know] one of these tech stars or something like that and you know just meet the coolest the greatest people, the greatest mind in that area and yeah so definitely my own business growing.

Dan: That’s definitely a plan. startupremarkable.com Howard Kingston. Howard, as we wrap up your specialty is marketing obviously. Any free advice you can give our viewers? How can they better themselves, how can they better promote their companies especially the startup let’s say it’s a startup in online based what’s the best way for them to promote themselves?

Howard: That’s kind of a bit of a broad question but as long as they make sure that they have a compelling story. Now their customer really [really] well where they are where they live. Treat them really you know kinda pretty fundamental stuff. After that you’ll need tactics and stuff but without that fundamental core of knowing who your customers are inside out and what they want then yeah that’s it and everything else on top of that [you know] you can add to.

Dan: And finally because I’m a big reader any books.

Howard: Okay.

Dan: Any books that you’ve read that you recommend for let’s say young entrepreneur or an entrepreneur who’s just getting started out on a company.

Howard: Yeah, I’ll tell you one of the most kinda inspiration ones that you can read and just go “yeah, I can do this” is probably “Crush It” – Gary Veynerchuck [you know].

Dan: Ah yes, very good.

Howard: It probably didn’t have too much depth in it but just like for a whole momentum and inspiration. It’s an awesome book.

Dan: I like Crush It a lot better than Thank You Economy although I like that one too but it’s like after you’ve read Crush It you probably read up on all that kinda stuff that he talked about in Thank You Economy so it wasn’t really as impactful as Crush It was.

Howard: I totally agree, Dan. I kinda read it and [I was like] but I suppose [he’s probably] it’s more tailored for the more corporate market I thought.

Dan: Yeah, that’s what he’ll say if he’s on right now.

Howard: Yeah [yeah]. But I have to check out that one you’re recommending to me before the interview started. What was it called again?

Dan: Oh! MJ DeMarco he wrote the Millionaire Fast Lane.

Howard: Yeah yeah yeah.

Dan: And don’t be turned off by the cover it’s got a Lamborghini on it so it looks like this get rich quick book but it’s really not.

Howard: Sure.

Dan: It’s a fantastic book. I think he did that on purpose to kinda attract the people with that type of mind set and he just kinda flips them over and goes in great detail and full of excellent information on all things related to business. So check it out.

Howard: Awesome I’ll definitely check it out absolutely. Can’t wait.

Dan: And you guys check out startupremarkable.com follow Howard. See if he can reach a million dollars in 992days. Hey I mean I probably have to do the same thing without putting the ticker on there cause I got 30 years so 992 days is three years later and all I have is 27 years left so I better have at least a million bucks myself.

Howard: You said it you gotta have to reinvest that million dollars to get the club you know.

Dan: I might gonna have to follow you and try to copy some of your tactics and we’ll definitely do this again and I need all the help I can get. And if I get any good ideas I’ll send them your way. One good idea is Zinga. Zinga’s going public soon. So if you have extra cash they’re the ones who make Farmville and all that stuff.

Howard: Yeah yeah yeah.

Dan: Invest in Zinga on the 1st day that they start trading and you’ll at least double or triple your money within a month.

Howard: Okay. What you think they’re just gonna rocket?

Dan: Well yeah if you look at LinkedIn during the first hour that they went public they started at forty dollars and now it’s trading at a hundred and it’s a month later so you could’ve have bought in that forty let’s say you woke up a little later you buy it at 50.

Howard: So you think it’s gonna double then? So, if I can just find 500 grand and put it in and then I’ll have my million. And I’ll have 7 days 7 or 8 days gone.

Dan: Yeah you’ll have your million in 30 days so.

Howard: That would be nice.

Dan: Zinga. Just look out for it. It should come out around November. They should start trading.

Howard: Okay.

Dan: The thing is you have to wake up early that day cause if you buy it at the end of the day you’ll might get it at too high of a price. So, get it in like first half an hour that they’re trading if you can.

Howard: Well that’s ok because we’re a few hours ahead here in London.

Dan: There you go. Yeah. That was my problem in LinkedIn I overslept cause I’m here in California. By the time I woke up it was like eighty dollars already.

Howard: Well that’s on Wall Street of course, isn’t it? Eastern Time.

Dan: Right so I still bought some I made like 20% but if I would’ve woken up earlier I would’ve done the same thing and made 50%.

Howard: Yeah, those percentages.

Dan: So, it was an expensive sleeping in day.

Howard: Good stuff.

Dan: Alright, Howard, we’re gonna have you again. We’re gonna check in with you maybe every hundred days or every hundred fifty days.

Howard: Yeah yeah I love to that would be awesome.

Dan: We’ll do several interviews and we’ll hold you to it so in three years we’ll both be a lot older and hopefully richer.

Howard: You said it. Look forward to it.

Dan: Alright, thank you very much, Howard Kingston, from startupremarkable.com. Thank you very much.

Howard: Thanks, Dan.


7 Reasons why MBA’s suck for entrepreneurs

startup mba
startup mba

Typical day in business school...












Two years ago I became an MBA graduate from Durham University. It was without doubt the best year of my life – I learned, grew, worked hard, bonded, made great fiends, fell in love.

Despite all these things – if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and have plans of taking over the world, I recommend you forget about doing an MBA.

Why? put down your GMAT test book and I’ll tell you…

Before I do so I want to thank Jason Freedman and his blog: The Humbled MBA – this post was inspired by one he did recently. I agreed on almost every point and it felt better to think I’m not the only one out there that thinks MBA’s (or most university in general – but I’ll save that rant for another time) are useless for MBA’s.

But I digress – quickly, to the 7 reasons why you MBA’s suck for entrepreneurs

1.    False sense of entitlement

Maybe I’m just hyper sensitive because I feel strongly about this – but I just cringe when people introduce themselves by saying

I’m so and so, my startup is xyz, and I have an MBA from University of crap

Like wow, what do you want – a medal?

Most MBA’s work hard to get into and out of business school. Respect to that – I went through it too. And, although having an MBA proves you’re pretty smart – it doesn’t say shit about how good an entrepreneur you can be. And if you were an experienced entrepreneur, you’d know that.

Unfortunately most MBA’s (especially the recently graduated ones) don’t get that you’re just as likely to fail with your startup after graduating from business school as before you went in. They think that success is just a formality after they can put an MBA on their business card

I know because I was that guy.

2.    Wasting time on theory

Theoretical models. Like really, what is the point?

Before I get burned at the academic stake, I say this purely for startups.

Someone should do a survey of how many times entrepreneurs use theoretical models in their business. Sure, they look good on business plans (more on them later) but other than a few basic ones (4 p’s, Porters etc) who uses them when running a startup?

Isn’t a startup about trying things, iterating and trying it again till it works?

The core methodology I’d like to see in an MBA is the Lean Startup Methodology. How many times do you think this was mentioned during my MBA?

Not once.

This needs to change.

 3.    Professors that suck

I don’t mean to sound harsh. Most professors are great at their jobs (academia), but unless they’ve set up a successful business I don’t see them qualified to teach people about entrepreneurship.

I learned ‘nice’ theories in the entrepreneurship module about ‘the strength of weak ties’ among others. I didn’t learn one thing that would make me more successful setting up a business tomorrow.

Add this to an ostrich like (head in the sand) professor who wouldn’t let students research on Wikipedia because she doesn’t believe in it accurate (despite the Nature study that proves otherwise). Sounds a lot like the record label owner who won’t release mp3’s because they believe them too low quality i.e. out of date and should retire

This needs to change.

 4.    Information (case studies) are out of date

For a new theoretical paper or case study to be accepted, it needs to pass through a rigorous peer to peer process that involves academics reading and giving feedback, sometimes numourous times, before it is accepted. This can take months, commonly years!

This means by the time a theoretical paper or case study is accepted and published, it’s already too late.

This needs to change.

 5.    The business competitions are pointless

Coming from someone who won four startup business competitions in 3 different universities as a student, I see myself reasonably skilled in doing well in student startup competitions.

Problem is, they’re pointless. Well almost*.

Every student startup competition I’ve ever encountered has been one format:

  • Submit a business plan. It’s good enough you get to
  • Pitch to panel of judges

Problem with this is that business plans are pretty useless for a startup business (unless you’re looking for a loan). You’d be must better off spending that time talking to prospects,  putting together a really rough prototype/web page and asking people if they’d buy it. If not, why not and iterate.

Being able to write a great business plan and being able to start a profitable business are two very separate things.

A student startup competition would be much more effective if they were judged mainly on how many orders they received. Real life orders. Not theoretical financials.

This needs to change

*they do have a little value: you get $$$, something for your CV and your professors & parents will think you’re great. Which all has a bit of merit – just don’t get the illusion that all you need to do is launch it to have it succeed.

 6.     Case studies are pointless

During my MBA we studied Harvard Business School case studies based on the most interesting strategic lessons from the 90’s and early 2000’s.

The 90’s and early 00’s – that’s up to 20 years old!

How many disruptive, innovative startups are based on principles from 20 years ago? Hmmmm – let me think about that one.

This needs to change.

7.     No one tells you what you ACTUALLY need to know

You’ll learn lots about Nash equilibrium, HR theory and Feud’s influence on Marketing. All interesting stuff.

But you won’t leave the classroom more prepared to starting a world conquering startup business.

Stuff they should tell you (but don’t – well, at least not in my experience)

  • What sectors are tipped to grow large over the coming years
  • Different business models, which to use when, and how to deploy them
  • What business types have the largest opportunity for growth
  • How Angel investors and VC’s operate and choose their investments

This needs to change.

Caveat: Not all business schools appear to suck at entrepreneurship, some in fact appear to be amazing (Stanford, Said & co) – the majority unfortunately conform to the above.

Thinking of doing an MBA or do you teach MBAs?

Some suggestions:

  • Make it mandatory that Entrepreneurship lecturers have launched at least 1 very successful business. Preferably multiple.
  • Entrepreneurship is about Just in Time (JIT) learning – not abstract learning, meaning you learn it as you need it. Students should have to participate in real life startup case studies and learn the skills/relevant knowledge as they are putting into practice!
  • If you are going to do an MBA – choose your school wisely. I’d recommend looking for a large portion of the course dedicated to technology/innovation – this is the stuff you’ll use for your world changing startup
  • Startup competitions should only be partly about the business plan – the real test should be about the prototype/web page and how many people are interested in buying it – or better still HAVE bought it!

What are your thoughts of the value of businesses schools for startups? Are you a graduate who since started a business? I’d love to know what you think – post your comments below

Startup SEO – Beginners Guide

Startup SEO
Startup SEO







Following on from last week’s post about Startup Marketing for Twitter, here’s part 2 of my startup marketing fundamentals: Search Engine Optimisation

In this post you’ll learn all the fundamentals of what Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) you should be doing for your startup

Search Engine Optimision (SEO) is really important because it helps people find your website on Search Engines (Google, Yahoo etc). So when they search for something, this happens:

Startup SEO guide


Obviously, if you’re on the top of the first page of Google, more people are going to your site.

With that out of the way, let’s jump right into what you need to do. Don’t fear SEO – it’s really quite straightforward – just follow the step by step guide below to unleash your SEO awesomeness! Want to do some background reading first? Check this out: The Beginner’s Checklist for Learning SEO

SEO is mostly broken into 2 sections: Onpage and Offpage SEO.

1.      Onpage – you set up once and don’t need to check too often

2.      Offpage -  you set up once and add to contantly

Find out more about these here: The Beginner’s Checklist for Learning SEO I’ll explain how to do each now….

OnPage SEO

Step 1: Keyword Research

This is the foundations – to find out what words your customers are using to find products/services like you. Good news is that once you have this set up once, you can leave ti work for the most part. Many people think this is one of the most important parts – I’d tend to agree. Here’s what to do:

  • Set a goal e.g. What do you want visitors to do?? Read stuff? Buy stuff? Signup for an email address??
  • Brainstorm and write down search queries you think your customers will be looking for e.g. Got a pie shop – maybe pie mad people are searching for ‘chicken pies London’ or ‘best pie London’ – get the idea??
  • Input these chosen keywords – Sign up forGoogle Adwords and learn how to use the provided “keyword tool” – it’s really easy to use. Tip: make sure you set searches to ‘exact’, not broad to see how many people are searching for these keywords. Learn how to useWordtracker (paid) and/or theKeyword Difficulty tool (free).
  • Extract the best results (most searches) into a spreadsheet
  • SERPs – sound like scary tech lingo?? It’s really not – it stands for: Search Engine Results Pages i.e. the results that come up after you did a search on Google. So, do the SEPS for your keywords – Who are your competitors, make a list of these
  • Look at your competitors:
  • Look at their keywords
  • UseYahoo Site Explorer to find the sources of your competitor’s links – Record the sources of links your competitors have and save them for later.
  • Search for our site to see how it ranks. Use command e.g.: “site:www.ourwebsite.com.” Record these results.
  • Step 2: Other Lovely Stuff

    •   Look at the design of the site – anything that sucks? Got lots of content that will engage customers? If not – you’ll need it so add it now
    • Sign up and verify withGoogle Analytics,Google Webmaster Tools, andBing Webmaster Center – This important – will tell later why
    • Let Google Analytics run for two weeks before doing any SEO
    • These two weeks will give us a baseline with the data collected
    • Recommended we screen capture results and file these to record progress
    • Relook at visual design of site – any glaring issues that will negatively impact on bounce rates etc?
    • Next go to Websitegrader.com input www.yourwebdomain.com
    • Action any suggestions
    • Send report by email and file for future reference
  • Check cross browser compatibility – look to see if site looks same/good on different web browsers e.g. check Internet Explorer 6,7,8,9, Firefox, Safari. Or  try this tool – it should hel
  • Create policy only to use website specific email addresses with signatures from now on – make sure you have an signature with your web address on it that goes as standard on every email (never know who might see that email)
  • Look at exisitng HTML code (right click, view source) – and see what needs to be added/changed. Keywrods from step 1 will come into play here. NB: If you are getting lost here – talk to your webmaster
    • Should be able to acheive the ‘Key objective’ (mentioned above) from the homepage
    • Keyword in title tag (unique for each page, include keywords)
    • Keyword in H1 on each page
    • Keyword in text
    • Optimize URL permalinks to ‘pretty premalinks’ e.g. change indigital.com/htiswheer to indigital.com/suppliers.
    • Use 301 redirects if you rename pages
    • Relook at information architecture – as few clicks as possible
    • On all images, make sure to include keywords in alt tags and in filenames
  •  Change a meta description (If you are getting lost here – talk to your webmaster) – This is the little snippet that Google shows on their search engine – so influences if people click though to view your site.
    • Need to make it interesting
    • Include some keywords but must make grammatical sense
    • Remember that no 1 purpose of this is to get people to click through
  •  Add company address and phone number – this should be done on every page (as search engines read this) – include in the footer. Particularly important for local businesses as you never know which page customers will arrive from
  • Add a robots.txt – Helps crawlers find their away around your site
  • Add sitemap – - again help crawlers find their way around site
  • Offpage SEO

    Here’s where’ll be concentrating on building links on other websites pointing to our site

    • Choose anchor text you’ll be using: select main keywords and use these. An example of anchor text is: Find a developer (see the way I’ve created a hot link of keyword text
    • Add website to the major search engine’s local listings – These are really important for ranking – especially local businesses -but non local too

    Some other, less important but still beneficial: (this can be time consuming so I’d recommend asking a VA to do these)

    • citysearch.com
    • merchantcircle.com
    • yellowpages.lycos.com
    • directorym.com
    • bbb.org
    • switchboard.com
    • iaf.net
    • local.yahoo.com
    • maps.google.com
    • yellowpages.aol.com
    • yelp.com
    • whitepages.com
    • yellowpages.com
    • wikimapia.org
    • superpages.com
    • business.com
    • insiderpages.com
    • hoovers.com
    • yellowbook.com
    • tradekey.com
    • zagat.com
    • local.ingenio.com
    • mobile.yahoo.com
    • local.com
    • manta.com
    • zoominfo.com
    • dexknows.com
    • local.botw.org
    • hotfrog.com
    • ezilon.com
    • yellowbot.com
    • getfave.com
    • find.hamptonroads.com
    • cityvoter.com
    • outside.in
    • genieknows.com
    • ratepoint.com
    • discoverourtown.com
    • infousa.com
    • uscity.net
    • marchex.com
    • mojopages.com
    • matchpoint.com
    • wcities.com
    • openlist.com
    • accoona.com
    • boulevards.com
    • welcomewagon.com
    • corporate.local.com
    • bizjournals.com
    • directory.classifieds1000.com
    • magicyellow.com
    • pr.com
    • kudzu.com
    • justclicklocal.com
    • brownbook.net
    • citysquares.com
    • judysbook.com
    • pennysaverusa.com
    • twibs.com
    • sitejabber.com
    • b2byellowpages.com
    • yellowpagecity.com
    • localmatters.com
    • cityguide.com
    • soprano.com
    • localdatabase.com
    • ecovian.com
    • eztousebigbook.com
    • rateitall.com
    • localadlink.com
    • infignos.com
    • myhuckleberry.com
    • americasbestcompanies.com
    • city.com
    • thinklocal.com
    • smalltown.com
    • locallife.com
    • planetbuzz.com
    • citycliq.com
    • bluestarhighway.com
    • neighborsville.com
    • cityslick.net
    • yellowassistance.com
    • usyellowpages.com
    • listd.com
    • bing.com
    • corporate.localpages.com
    • propeller.adsonar.com
    • showmelocal.com
    • bing.com/local
    • brownbook.com
    • businessdirectory.bizjournals.com
    • Using the comptitor analysis already completed above, analyse your comptitor links to see where they are geting their links from – see if you can replicate these (can be as easy as submitting to a directory)
    • Get more links – look for more sites that can trade links with -
    • Use this tool
    • Consider your local chamber of commerce, local networking groups, and local complimentary businesses. Search engines like to see local links pointing at locally targeted websites
  • Optimize Social Media pages to include keywords and correct links to web pages, blogs etc
  • Create and submit sitemaps – Create a sitemap Then login into Google Webmaster Central and Bing Search Webmaster Tools (remember them) and submit it.
  • Optimize site from google’s side: Do this by logging into Webmaster tools (remember we set that up). Login to Google Webmaster Tools and click on the tools menu.
    • Set corrext Geographic location
    • Enable image search
    • Begin Article marketing – create content based around the site, include back-links to the site, submit to sites below


    • Press Release: Write press release, include backlinks – send to:

    That’s it – keep adding links and you should start to see results.

    Anything I’ve missed or have any thoughts or ideas? Please post them here

    70 Kick-ass Web Marketing Case Studies

    startup ideas
    startup ideas

    If it works for someone else - use it!

    Here are 70 kick ass marketing case studies to get your creative juices flowing.

    There’s case studies for CRM, Social Media, Twitter specific, Facebook specific,  Viral, Personal Branding,  Branding, Sales, Business Plans, Crowdsourcing, SEO, Landing page conversions, Geo-location and Mobile.


    Any you can use for your startup?

    Enjoy – tell me what you think of them.


    Extending the Customer Experience
    Social Media for Customer Service
    Comcast’s Twitter Man

    Social Media

    Social Media Nonprofit Study
    How LIVESTRONG Raised Millions to Fight Cancer Using Social Media
    Cold-FX: A Fun Canadian Healthcare Social Media Campaign
    Case Study: Using Social Media to Deepen Partner Relationships, an Inside Look at the Oracle Partner Network
    B2B Case Study Online Community
    Reconfiguring a B2B Communications Function to Foster WOM
    5 Small Business Social Media Success Stories
    How Social Media Drives New Business: Six Case Studies
    The Old Spice Social Media Campaign Stats

    Twitter specific

    Virgin America Promoted Tweets
    How Moonfruit got Twitter right
    Breakdown: 4 Ways Brands Are Earning –and Buying– Followers on Twitter
    Best Buy
    Reaching Out To a Wide Audience: A Twitter Case Study
    Reaching Millions With Twitter: The Whole Foods Story
    Twitter Drives Traffic, Sales: A Case Study
    Twitter Case Study of a Commercial Brand

    Facebook page specific

    Killer Facebook Fan Pages
    Dunkin Donuts’ Facebook Campaign
    3 Things We Can Learn From IKEA’s Facebook Campaign
    Ikea Facebook Social Media


    Will it Blend? A Viral Marketing Case Study
    Weezer Viral Marketing
    Digital Branding: ‘March Madness’ browser promotion leads to 99.6% conversion rate for The Ohio State University

    Personal Branding

    Twitter: Kim Kardashian
    Lady Gaga Case Study

    Startup Growth

    Case Study: 5 Factors Behind One Startup’s Rapid Growth


    Facebook Brand Marketers
    Coke Expedition 206
    Brand Marketing: Guinness
    Best Practice
    Driving Innovation

    Web Design

    One Page Sites Design

    Content Marketing

    Content Marketing Tips
    Interview with Mark Coatney of Newsweek Magazine’s
    I now pronounce you monetized: a YouTube video case study
    Build Popular Blog
    How I Got 50k Visitors to My Blog in One Month
    Case study: the anatomy of a blog storm

    Selling/business models

    Google Marketing Case Study
    Twitter Drives Traffic, Sales
    Case Studies in Freemium: Pandora, Dropbox, Evernote, Automattic and MailChimp
    Dell case study / Dell.com case study


    Crowdsourcing Case Studies


    A Tweet’s Effect On Rankings – An Unexpected Case Study
    Link Bait Case Study
    A Case Study: Using Contests To Build Links
    Think Traffic Monthly Report #5
    SEO Case Study: PRSA Jobcenter
    Case study shows the SEO benefit of Twitter

    Landing page/Conversion

    Lessons Learned from 21 Case Studies in Conversion Rate Optimization
    SEOmoz Case Study
    Voices Case Study


    Early Proof That Geolocation Marketing Will Succeed
    Crocs rolls out nationwide mobile coupons campaign: case study
    Big City Burrito Builds a Viral Database With Mobile Marketing
    Mobile Marketing Case Study: Gunstock Mountain Resort (JitterGram)
    Mobile Marketing Case Study: Mobile Apps VS Mobile Website
    SMS case study – Sara Lee’s State Fair Corn Dogs
    White PaRel: Redef¡n¡ng Gouelnment
    Gommunioation Witn 0B-Godes

    Chevy Case Study: Using Mobile, Location and QR Codes to Inspire Brand Engagement
    Case Study: Sephora Offers Ratings and Reviews via Mobile
    Best Practices: Bringing Mobile Apps into Retail Stores
    Propelling the Pepsi Spirit with Mobile Apps
    Case Study: Cars.com Mobile Marketing

    Any I’ve missed? Please post them in the comments

    10 Essential Marketing books for your Startup

    Purple cow

    10 Essential Marketing books for your startup

    trust agents

    1       Trust Agents – Chris Brogan/Julien Smith

    A deeper level into why social media is so important, why you build trust with your audience and how to use them both to your advantage


    Read it for: Kick ass social media strategies from one of world leaders










    2.   Permission Marketing – Seth Godin

    First of two Seth Godin books on this list, and could have been so many more. And for right reason (if you haven’t read any Seth Godin yet, you really should)

    Read it for: Every foundation you need to understand how to build a loyal following on the web








    3.       The Referral Engine – John Jantsch

    Name is almost misleading – the core principle behind The Referral Engine is that, by having an awesome marketing strategy and product, you’re more likely to get referred. Makes sense.

    Read it for: heaps of common sense with many examples of great tactics you can implement straight away


    4. Scientific Advertising & My Life in Advertising – Claude Hopkins

    No other book have I heard recommended by top marketers as this one. Written in 1932 and still amazingly enjoyable to read.

    Read it for: A must read for all the core foundation of effective marketing


    5.    Oglivy on Advertising

    Timeless classic #2 that is recommended by everyone in the industry. If you do any advertising you have to read this.

    Read it for: Close to everything you need to know about Advertising in one book

    Dan Kennedy on bull

    6.     How to Get Rich with Your Ideas – Dan Kennedy

    Dan Kennedy = the man of Direct Response Marketing (most effective kind). This is a good intro book to his work – good news is he has LOADS more where that came from.

    Read it for: Proven marketing techniques that work time and time again


    7.     Crush it– Gary Veynerchuck

    Perhaps tinkering more into entrepreneurship than pure marketing per se – but loads includes loads of practical marketing inside so makes the cut.


    Read it for: A turbo charge of motivation and belief

    Shama8.    Zen of Social Media Marketing – Shama Hyder Kabani

    Love Shama and her book – Social Media queen breaks it all down into steps that’s essential reading for a startup of any size


    Read it for: Everything you need to know about setting up and growing a kick ass personal, or business brand with social media.


    9.    Influence – Robert Caldiani

    Social Proof, Reciprocation, Scarcity – all the core psychological ingredients to a successful marketing campaign.

    Read it for: How to use psychology to make your marketing more effective

    Purple cow

    10.  Purple Cow – Seth Godin

    When you look into a field, you see a lot of cows – none of them stand out right? But what is there was a purple cow standing in the field – think you’d notice it?

    Read it for: Find out how to stand out from the crowd


    Any books I’ve missed out that should be on the list? Please add them to the comments below