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Opinion Editorials

Are You a Bad Boy (or Girl)?

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You may be and not even know it!

A few times a year I will get an email from my dad asking a random question, such as: “Why were you quoted in an article on the latest ocular surgery practices in Alaska?”

What the …. ???

As much as the world has its hands full with one, yes, there is at least one other Brandie Young who apparently is an expert in the ocular surgery field (sorry to disappoint dad, I’m not a doctor).  My dad likes to Google my name every now and again.

Reputation management

Have you Googled yourself lately?  Your clients or potential clients most likely have, and if you don’t know what comes up on the first page when you Google your name, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise.

More than your name alone …

Don’t just Google your name, Google phrases.  For example, When I Google ‘GE Spokesperson Brandie Young’ I get an entirely different set of results than if I Google my name alone.  (ugh, bad memories from the result of that search …)

If potential clients Google you, they are probably entering Your Name, realtor, city name, your company, your previous company, etc.  Try a number of combinations, including misspelling your name, make note of each search and any unfavorable results.

:: Pause :: Search yourself now

Did you do a search with more than just your name?  Or did you add other key words, such as agent, complaints, real estate, etc.

Please share your results in the comment box, particularly any surprises!

Your reputation – guard it with your life!

To quote a book I love called The 48 Laws of Power:

“Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win: once it slips, however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides.  Make your reputation unassailable.”

While it may take some work, it is probably worth it to correct, comment on (or, if possible, have deleted) any instances where you are mentioned in an inaccurately unflattering light. (Emphasis on inaccurately)

Vigilance is vital

Most important is any negative comments from previous clients or peers.  If you find them, the best course of action is to work to resolve the issue in person or over the phone, then see about updating negative online commentary.

Keep in mind, however, this doesn’t include anyone that takes you to task or disagrees with your point of view on your blog, or a comment you left on someone else’s blog.  That makes you a real, substantive person with an opinion.

According to Nielsen’s “Trust in Advertising” Report from October 2007, 78% of people trust the recommendations of other consumers over ads (I’m sure that stat has increased since the study).  And, with more and more trust placed on the opinion of bloggers it’s vital to be vigilant.

Monitor

Once you have all your phrases, set up a Google alert for each of the phrases as well as your name (include variations, i.e. Bob and Rob in addition to Robert).  You will get an email anytime one of those phrases appears online, saving you the time of searching yourself on a regular basis.

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Lisha Fabris

    April 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    Great article Brandie. I was never one to track myself online but now that I’m in the PR game, I find it critical. Thanks for the tips & reminders.

  2. Annie Maloney

    April 30, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Well you had me feeling sort of paranoid for a second. My husband handles all the internet and SEO stuff and I have never really “Googled” myself. Thankfully everything has come back OK. Sorry, no dramatic results to report….

    Nice post.

  3. Missy Caulk

    April 30, 2009 at 1:01 pm

    I love Google Alerts, it is the best for reputation management. I also follow some competitors too. LOL

  4. Tom Vanderwell

    April 30, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Interesting story about google alerts. I discovered that there is another Tom VanderWell who lives in Iowa. He’s in the quality control/call center consulting business. We are now facebook friends and also linkedin and have discovered that his daughter’s fiance just got done volunteering at a mission in Haiti not far from where the orphanage we’re involved in is located. Fortunately, both of us Tom Vanderwells have pretty good reputations.

    I tell you, it was really weird when he called me about mortgages, the phone rang, “Hi, Tom Vanderwell here.” “Tom, this is Tom VanderWell and I had a question……”

    Tom

  5. Danilo Bogdanovic

    April 30, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Google Alerts is your best friend in reputation management! And as Missy said, you can even use it to follow your competitors 🙂

  6. Brandie Young

    May 1, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Lisha – yep, now that you hve PR responsibilities under your belt, Alerts are critical. You may want to add your Exec. names to the alerts as well as competitors (per Missy).

    Annie – glad there were no surprises! Hope it stays that way.

    Missy – awesome (as usual!)

    Tom – that’s crazy! Vanderwell’s are clearly great people!

    Danilo – thanks for chiming in!

  7. Bill Lublin

    May 2, 2009 at 5:18 am

    Brandie;
    I think everyone should Google themselves, and I do (though not so frequently as to cause damage to my eyesight) – I love the idea of googling a phrase though – that was a new one for me – Thanks for the idea!

  8. Paula Henry

    May 3, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Brandie – I have Google Alerts for my name. There are a few Paula Henry’s who show up for my name, so phrases actually give me a better return for the termsI want to be known for.

  9. Brandie Young

    May 3, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    Hi Bill – Glad you picked up something!

    Paula – Great – let me know if anything suprising appears!

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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women-owned business

Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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Opinion Editorials

How to increase website engagement

(EDITORIAL) A website is vital to any business, but customer engagement guarantees success. Check out these powerful tips to boost engagement.

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Having a website for your business isn’t enough. If you want to grow your company, you need to maximize this digital asset by increasing user engagement. The question is, where do you begin?

What does healthy website engagement look like?

Launching a website is one of the quintessential first steps in building a business. It’s a new company’s way of saying, “We’ve arrived! See, we’re legit!” But the problem is that very few entrepreneurs and business owners know anything about building websites. So they use a drag-and-drop web builder to throw a few elements together and develop a site in a few hours.

Simply having a website isn’t enough. If it’s only a placeholder for your brand, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach people and move them from awareness to purchase. You don’t need a website – you need an engaging website.

What is user engagement?

“Put most simply, user engagement is when visitors to your site appreciate your content enough to stick around, absorb, and convert,” web design and UX optimizer Rob Wells writes. “Most importantly, when user engagement is high, you’ll find that your audience becomes more loyal. You’ll notice more return visits and higher conversions, because your website simply works.”

Signs of high user engagement include reading and absorbing content, organic comments on blog posts, social media shares, watching videos, above average time on site, high click-through rates, and low bounce rates. We’ll tell you more about how to achieve these “wins’ in the following section.

5 Tips for Boosting Engagement

Every website developer, marketing guru, and entrepreneur has their own formula for boosting engagement, but there are a few tactics that everyone can agree on. If you want to see immediate results, start by doing the following:

    1. Make it About Your Target Audience: Too many businesses make the mistake of shaping their marketing messages around themselves. They mistakenly assume that customers care about them, when the truth of the matter is that customers only care about themselves.If you want to boost engagement on your website, start by transforming your messaging. Make it about your audience. Make the customer the hero of their own story. You’re just there to guide them along and point to solutions (products and services) that may help them get from where they are now to where they want to be.
    2. Tell Stories: Cut out the sterile corporate lingo and breathe a little life into your copy. Mission statements are lame. Tell stories!The Ward & Barnes, P.A. website is a perfect example of how storytelling can cause engagement to soar. They actually include client stories, testimonials, and quotes on their homepage. This helps visitors connect with the brand and immediately establish a feeling of trust and goodwill.
    3. Eliminate Distractions: “According to research by Google, people judge websites as beautiful or not within 1/50th to 1/20th of a second,” Website Magazine notes. “Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that visually complex websites are consistently rated as less beautiful than simpler sites.”Stop with the complex websites and sophisticated designs. You’re not a web design company – there’s no need for all of these bells and whistles! Eliminate distractions and simplify every page to one specific focal point. Anything more means you’re actually competing against yourself.
    4. Empower Your CTAs: Every page on your website should have a call-to-action (CTA). And when creating these CTAs, always ask yourself one simple question: “Why would anyone click this?”If you’re asking for an email address or sale without providing clear and direct value in return, you’re missing the point. You have to compel people to follow through.One of the best ways to empower your CTAs is to offer something in return – like a free eBook, a discount code, or a product sample. When there’s an enticing reward, people will be much more likely to follow through.
    5. Go Visual: The brain processes visuals much faster than text. Use this to your advantage by integrating visual content into your website. This means video, graphics, and original images. Skip the stock photos! However, don’t overdo it. Remember to keep it simple and avoid unnecessary distractions. Quality over quantity works every time.

Turn your website into a lead generating asset

Transform your website from a branded placeholder into a powerful, lead generating asset that procures leads, and converts them from curious visitors into profitable lifelong customers. This process can take time, but you have to begin somewhere. Start by leveraging the tips in this article and analyzing the data. Based on the numbers, you can optimize, iterate, and improve over time.

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Opinion Editorials

Idea: Color-coded face masks as the new social contract to combat COVID-19

(BUSINESS NEWS) Americans must come together on a new social contract if we have any hope of permanently reopening the economy and saving lives.

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social contract: color coded wristbands covid-19

A church in Texas used a stoplight color-coded wristlet system to help churchgoers navigate the new social awkwardness of closeness. Those with green bands are comfortable with contact including high fives, yellow bands indicate someone who wants to talk but not touch, and red is for someone interested in keeping their distance altogether.

In pre-pandemic America, basic social cues were sufficient to communicate these feelings, and most violations of them were annoying but not harmful. We now live in a world where daily banalities like grocery shopping and shaking hands with a new acquaintance are now potentially dangerous – for you and those you care about.

So what is the way forward?

Humans are social beings, and much of our survival is reliant on our relationships to, and interactions with, other humans. A way forward is critical. But our brains are trained to find and read faces in an instant to assess emotion and whether that emotion indicates a presence of a threat.

Not only has this pandemic challenged our innate notions of community and safety, the scientifically healthy way forward is to cover most of our faces, which is staggeringly counter to our understanding of a threat. It is now impossible to tell whether a sunglassed-masked stranger walking into a restaurant is a robber or just a person who was walking in the sun.

But because we are humans with large brains, we are able to adapt. We are inherently compassionate and able to emotionally understand fear in others and ourselves. We are able to understand both science and social grace. In this case, the science is straightforward but the social grace is not.

Governor Abbott of Texas announced the second closure of bars and reduction of capacity in restaurants last Friday in response to the dramatic increase in coronavirus cases statewide. During the press conference he said: “Every Texan has a responsibility to themselves and their loved ones to wear a mask, wash their hands, stay six feet apart from others in public, and stay home if they can.”

It is this shared responsibility that we must first embrace before any meaningful reopening can proceed.

We must accept that for the indefinite future, we have a new normal. We have to adapt to these new social codes in order to protect ourselves and our neighbors. Color-coded bracelets, masks, hats, choose your accessory – this could be a way forward.

First, we must agree these measures are necessary. And we shouldn’t take them because a politician told us to or told us not to – many people feel that our government has failed to provide us with coherent guidance and leadership considering a broad social contract.

We should adapt them because if you are not free, I am not free. We can do this together.

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