The Self-Branding Of Search Marketers

by Todd Mintz March 2nd, 2009 

2010 SEMMY Nominee

They say you been out wandering,
they say you travelled far.
Sit down young stranger
and tell us who you are.Gordon Lightfoot

Hit The Road by Andy in NYC
Hit The Road by Andy in NYC

Recently I read a blog post by Patrick Sexton stating that he (along with Rhea Drysdale, Lisa Barone, and (later) Christina Gleason) were leaving WeBuildPages. Now, its none of my business what caused this major exodus at that company nor did I find anything particularly interesting or insightful in this particular post. However, reading his announcement crystallized an idea in my head that Ive know for some time but have yet to put into words

Search marketing branding is almost exclusively personal branding. Corporate / agency branding means very little in our industry. The corporate / agency brand of a search marketer is like a suit of clothesthey get worn for a while but at some point, theyll get changed for something more appropriate and fitting.

Im not suggesting that all search marketers are a bunch of carpetbaggers. On the contrary, I see very intense, strong loyalties in our industry. However, these loyalties are to other search marketers and they supersede any and all corporate relationships.

Think about it for a minute:

When you get Linked-In with someone, your connection is another person.
When you Facebook Friend someone, your friend is another person.
When you follow somebody on Twitter, you follow another person (even if theyre representing a brand).

The large volume of interactions we all make via social media on a daily basis are almost exclusively interpersonal. I dont know the employer / employment status of well over half the people Im communicating with and that information is usually of little or no consequence to me.

I first became aware of Patrick when he won a free pass to SMX Advanced from Aaron Wall. I liked Patrick when I met him at that show even though it was hard for me to reconcile the life of the party Patrick with the person capable of writing quite moving and meaningful blog posts. However, when I had a chance to talk with him at a later conference, I quickly realized that Patrick had a very sharp, savvy business sense, as was borne out in his GetListed venture with David Mihm. Patrick has smartly found himself a search marketing specialty (gadgets/widgets) and he has established himself as the top authority in that area. I have no idea if Patrick and I will ever work together on anything but Im sure well stay connected, touch base from time to time, help each other out via social media, and perhaps use each other as resources if the need requires.

When people are asked about the benefits of social media participation, they talk about the ability to broadly disseminate information or reach out to people that they wouldnt ordinarily have access to. Many overlook that a well-developed social network is a wonderful self-preservation tool. More often than not, your corporate brands commitment to you and your family will last only as long as its in the brands best interest to stay loyal. When you are cast to the wolves and left to your own devices and machinations, ultimately you have only your friends and connections to rely upon.

How have you treated those in your network? Have you Sphunn / Retweeted / Linked to content on behalf those that have asked? Have you offered encouragement to your contacts? Have you created useful content for others to consume and learn from? Within the search marketing community, those who have given much are almost always taken care ofthats the ethos of our industry. Thats why brands matter so little in search marketingthey play such a small part in our relationships.

Todd Mintz

Todd Mintz knows PPC...knows Social Media...knows SEO...knows Blogging...knows Domaining...and knows them all real well. He also is on the Board of Directors at SEMpdx, runs his own side gigs and tweets quite a bit.


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13 Responses to “The Self-Branding Of Search Marketers”

  1. Thanks so much Todd, I really appreciate the kind words :)

  2. matt lambert says:

    Agree with that Todd, and I think this holds true in most other industries too.

    I'm not against corporate twitter accounts for notifications for example – but not for having conversations, I'd always rather talk with a real person!


  3. The Mules says:

    Another great post Todd, and the only item we'd add to the conversation is that a personal brand doesn't have to be your given name – just so long as you can take it with you!

    Patrick aka Yummyman being an example.

  4. Dustin says:

    Great post Todd. I agree that search industry is much more about the person than the company they work for. It's important for us people to work on our personal brands, but not at the expense of our core skill sets.

    Your post also inspired Lisa to write a great post on this topic as well:

  5. Utah SEO says:

    I agree the it's more personal than corporate.

  6. It's always important to have contacts, if not friends to get help from if need be. The personal factor of your online business is the most important part if you are going to survive.

    Great post.

  7. I think you make some good and interesting points. It's ironic that so much focus should turn out to be on the individuals, after all the talk in the past about how the internet is so faceless and impersonal…

  8. Hi Todd,

    Great post, you've touched on something very relevant in today's online industry. I think a well known industry figure carries far more weight than a well established company. Companies are effectively just "renting" big players who have built up solid online reputations, as is the case with Patrick who will not doubt be snapped up very shortly.

  9. Marty says:

    Anyone who overtly claims to be an expert probably isn't. Anyone worth their salt wakes up every morning, makes a list of what the don't (but really should be better at) and then shares discovered resources with their friends.

    Great post pal.

  10. The person who admits that he (or she) actually knows little, no matter how experienced or learned that individual actually is, is usually the one that knows the most about their area of expertise, with the added ability to evolve, and not remain stubbornly set in their ways. Inevitably they are keen to impart their knowledge to others, whilst learning from them at the same time. That is the kind of expert I like to listen to….

  11. Diane Vigil says:

    Thanks for the well thought out and well articulated article. I have to agree with you.

  12. Zaslony says:

    Very insightful article. People who can admit to their own mistakes or shortcomings can often be the most helpful – they'll use their knowledge not the unwaranted self-importance and feeling of superiority (I know a guy who acts like that – you can't ever listen to him because even though he knows a lot he'll never admit to making a mistake so you never know what part of his advice is actualy correct).