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AZ Tech Beat | August 21, 2014

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Key Takeaways From Pressnomics 2012 Day 1 - AZ Tech Beat

Key Takeaways From Pressnomics 2012 Day 1
zachary.burruel

Page.ly’s conference, Pressnomics, quickly sold out of the 150 available tickets, so if you weren’t able to attend, here are a few things that I took away from each of the speakers on day 1.

Fun fact: It would have cost $10,000 to remove that giant chandelier that is right above the projection screen (you can sort of see it in image above).

 

joshua-zieringJoshua Ziering, @JoshuaZiering

Topic: SEO
George Ortiz (Via Skype) — WordPress Themes & Plugins: A Data Story

Would you do X if it didn’t have a perceived SEO value? If yes, do it. If not, don’t do it.

The first speaker was supposed to be George Ortiz remotely, via Skype, but because of the shoddy hotel wifi connection, his presentation had to be canceled. George was replaced by Joshua Ziering (from Vuurr), who delivered a content-rich presentation about SEO (search engine optimization).

For example, Joshua recommends that we write meta titles and descriptions that make a deliverable “promise” to potential visitors. Description tags and titles must be written to entice Google searchers to click on your web site. Don’t give in to the temptation of listing keywords in your title tag, because that just makes your site look spammy. If your listing looks spammy in Google’s SERP (search engine result position), then no one will click it, which will eventually result in a negative impact on your rankings.

There were four things that anyone listening to the presentation should have taken away:

  1. SEO tricks don’t work in the LONG TERM, so, don’t use them.
  2. Ask yourself this question: Would you do X if it didn’t have a perceived SEO value? If yes, then do it. If not, well don’t do it.
  3. Content strategy: Add value to the Internet — People will share, tweet, link to, etc. things that bring value.
  4. Google authorship is huge, so get your G+ profile rolling.

It is awesome to talk about about bringing “value” to the Internet when executing your content strategy, but there are challenges that you might run into that weren’t brought up or discussed during the presentation or Q&A:

  1. Everyone thinks that the content they are creating is awesome, when in reality, it isn’t. Being honest with yourself and your content is crucial. Creating that awesome piece of content that solves a hard problem is not only time consuming, but it also requires someone with expert knowledge (which will increase the overall cost).
  2. If you build it, they will come? — Um, no. What really sucks is if you spend hours of your time (or lots of money) developing X and nothing happens after releasing it into the wild. It takes hard work and a lot of time to build up a community large enough to help your content spread and actually bring you a return on investment. If you aren’t already a thought leader in your space, you really have to think LONG TERM when creating content. Also, you will have campaigns that are duds, so launch, measure, and iterate often.
  3. If you are at a medium- to large-sized business, getting buy-in from upper management (with a budget) can be like pulling teeth. Start with a couple of your best ideas and prove that they will have an ROI. If you are at a small company or a one man shop, then do the content creation yourself and become a leader in the community that you are trying to serve (remember to be patient).

It is challenging to do “real company shit” that brings value to other people, but as a business owner, you can’t ignore SEO or try to game the system with BS tricks because both of those strategies could lead to your company’s demise.

 

Cory Miller, @corymiller303

How to build something bigger and better than you [SLIDES]

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.”
- African Proverb

Throughout his presentation, the room could easily see Cory’s passion for his company, employees, and family. It was motivating and inspiring to get inside of his mind and see what kind of thinking has helped his company (iThemes) become successful.

Cory’s biggest motivator was not the fear of failing, but the fear of REGRET. He didn’t want to look back at his life and wish that he would have done something else. He started out by freelancing WordPress designs and finally realized that he could do more if he built a team around him. He cited an old African Proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.” Ithemes montra is actually “We go far together”.

A few questions that he asks himself:

  1. Where do we want to go?
  2. How far do we want to reach?
  3. What stories do we want to tell?

Once he answered those questions, he created a way to move forward.

Cory talked about how he considers his employees family. A family that sometimes fight, but still stick together. There are no rock stars or divas at iThemes. He stated that “bitterness leads to poison” and “anger comes from unmet expectations.” He did mention that break ups are really tough to deal with and that they had to depart with people that weren’t cutting it or who didn’t share their goals.

According to Cory, nothing builds a team like adversity. He told a story about how during the early days of iThemes, their server went down and they were scrambling to get it back up. Everything got wiped out and they actually had to copy and paste Google’s cache to get their pages back up. He said that they learned their lesson the hard way, but now have redundancy in place with multiple backups. That particular crisis lead to two co-workers forming a strong relationship because they shared the experience together.

For a while, he was paying attention to his competitors and what they were doing, but soon realized that he needed to focus on his own unique journey and story. He really emphasized creating your own journey and story and not to worry about what company X is doing. He then went on to say that the only things that matter are you, your loved ones, your team, and your customers: keep a laser focus on what really matters.

 

Alex King, @alexkingorg

Great Expectations [SLIDES]

Knowing what is expected of you is better than having to react to unclear expectations.

Alex’s presentation was about managing and meeting expectations with clients.  He used his firm’s (Crowd Favorite) past experiences of not clearly setting expectations to help enlighten the audience. He shared what went wrong, what they learned, and how they continue to try to set expectations for clients in the future.

Some key points that he made are:

  1. Knowing what is expected of you is better than having to react to unclear expectations
    • Example: The client started adding new features into the product scope, so they sent the new estimated budget to the project manager. When the client got it, they flipped out because it was 30% over their budget. Even though this was just an estimate, the damage was already done by the time Alex called them. The Client’s perception of Alex’s company changed because they didn’t clearly communicate that they knew that it is 30% over their budget, but it is because of all of the new feature requests that were introduced (and that they would be able to prioritize and get into budget).
  2. Building trust over the long term helps create more of a partnership
    • Example: When they had to make a huge change 3 months into a project, and because they have built trust with the customer over time, the client gave the OK. The team was then able to deliver the final product on schedule.
  3. Never surprise your clients.
    • Educate them with macro and micro processes of the project. — When you are going to deliver on X and when they will need to send you X, so the project release date doesn’t get pushed back.
  4. Make a point to over communicate.
  5. Try to determine what the clients are actually saying beyond what they are saying.
    • Example: If they ask for a breakdown of costs, they are most likely in need of more information because you didn’t provide them with enough information to make a decision.
    • Example: If they inform you in the middle of the project that this project needs to be done by X deadline, then they are probably just inserting themselves into the process to try and make sure everything is still on track.

Alex wrapped up with a great strategy for hiring people to replace a role that you are currently doing. He said that it wasn’t the right approach to find someone who would make the same decisions as you, but it is best to find an intelligent person who will make decisions based on the same VALUES as you.

 

Ward Andrews, @wardandrews

Design Thinking = Value  [SLIDES]

Do you want a website or do you want a solution?

Ward Andrews, from Draw Backwards, talked about Design Thinking and how it’s not about style; style is the end result. Failure is a natural process of growth, but you identify the failure early, take a step back and fix it. You can’t always fix failure with more design, and sometimes you just have to start over. Good design is about clarity and discovery.

He briefly talked about 3 companies that are using design thinking in their products:

Nike — shoes are a commodity, but they are great at telling a story
Nest — simplified something that has been broken for years
Apple — they make technology invisible

During the design thinking process, you need to first figure out what your end goal is. What is your purpose and then work backwards from there. Businesses exist to solve a challenge. Do you want a website or do you want a solution? Ask yourself “what if we did this or that?” — this will lead to innovation, which will bring value to the business.

Do: Envision the future above all else.
Do: Make the big decision.
Do: Keep a journal to become more self-aware of what you learned that day.
Do: Connect viewpoints, disciplines, ideas.
Do: Control time and space.

Ask: What is the one thing we do, the one thing that we stand for?

Don’t: Take comfort in your great idea.
Don’t: Begin with features.
Don’t: Start with visual design.
Don’t: Let the perfect solution stop you.

Get people in one location to solve big problems, if possible.  Anlaytical thinking is for the present and past, while intuitive thinking is for the future. Design thinking bridges the gap.

 

Pete Davies @pjadavies

The business of WordPress: the ecosystem behind 17% of the web.

Pete, from Automattic, the juggernaut in the WordPress space broke down some interesting statistics for the WordPress industry.

  • 17.2% of the top million websites are now using WordPress as their CMS
  • Only 2.8% use Joomla and 2.2% use Drupal
  • ~11 of the top 1,000 website use WordPress
  • There are 57,482,609 WordPress sites
  • 60-80 new wordpress sites are being added to the top million sites each month
He talked about how to know your customer by:
  • Doing user testing
  • Talking to them
  • Seeing how they are actually using the product.

 

Dave Bittner, Linkedin - Beanstalk CFO 

Financial Tips for Business Owners [SLIDES]

The best way to get people to meet performance goals is to look them in the eyes and ask them if the company can count on them to deliver.

Dave started his presentation with a good reminder for us all: when starting a new business it is a good idea to know your vision. What do you want to be? Also, think about what your end game is. How and when will your business reward you?

Pay attention to your operational structure so you can work on your business and not in your business. Taking yourself out of things and creating a repeatable, systematized, and automated business model with recurring income will help insure a financially successful business. Don’t create a structure that has a single point of failure. It is OK to have one person do one role, or one person doing many roles, but it isn’t OK to have many people for one role. An example would be if a husband and wife start a business and can’t figure out who is in charge so they give each other the titles of CEO and President.

Planning and budgeting is important when thinking about your financial road map. Pay attention to monthly revenue, expenses and capital budgets and how they translate to your cashflow. Know the metric that is most important to your business being successful. This can be unique to any business. For example, when Dave’s company provided financial services to a local restaurant, they had some trouble figuring out the best metric to which they should pay attention. They settled on focusing on customer wait times.  The closer the wait time was to 15 minutes, the better it was for the restaurant.  Too much less than that, and there wasn’t enough business.  Too much over that, and they were turning too many people away.  So, the restaurant was able to focus on this number as a health indicator.

Dave recommends having a monthly meeting for financial results.

He also had some suggestions that relate to employee productivity and hiring:

  • Tie new hires to performance with clear goals.
  • The best way to get people to meet performance goals is to look them in the eyes and ask them if the company can count on them to deliver.

 

Marcus Nelson, @marcusnelson - Addvocate 

What Happens when Your Entire Company becomes Social? [SLIDES]

Content is king, marketing is queen, and your blog is your castle

Yes, more and more companies are using social media for marketing and spending more money on social advertising . However, the problem is social media is not an ad play, it’s all about content. If your company is on the internet, you are a media company. You have content everywhere else but your own site. Don’t do that. Start everything on your blog. Your blog should be the single voice of authority for your company.

  • 85% of people trust the information from your blog.
  • For B2B sales: 69% of B2B buyers make buying decisions after reviewing a company’s blog.
  • Content is king, marketing is queen, and your blog is your castle
  • Customers want to talk to employees

Determine your social media objectives and share them with your employees. Create guidelines and a collaborative infrastructure. Operationalize content and distribution. Build employee social efficiency before you let them into the wild. Gamify employees participation with contests and leaderboards for people who share the most popular content.

[Info] Note: I had to leave early, so I wasn’t able to catch Gregarious Narain’s presentation.[/Info]