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Mack Web is now Genuinely

By | Business Stuff, Events, Mack's Musings, MISSION: Authentic | No Comments

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If I were to ask my dad who the greatest influences in his life have been, I’m confident he would put Oprah Winfrey at the top of his list. It’s not that he’s ever wanted to meet her, or that he would even admit this out loud, but when going through one of the darkest times in his life, she became his therapist. Every day at 3 pm he’d watch her show. Over the course of a year, 60 minutes at a time, he became a better man.

Oprah had kind of a rough go of it when she was a kid. In an interview she was once asked if she could go back, would she change anything about her life? With conviction, she told the journalist that she wouldn’t trade any of it. All of those experiences — the bad and the good — have made her who she is today. It was all part of her journey.

13 years ago when I started this company, I had no vision for what I was building. I had quit a junior high teaching job, completed graduate school, and endured many, many failed attempts at achieving employment. I needed a job, so I started building websites in a home office just down the hall from my bedroom.

Over the years, my vision for this company has materialized from a great deal of contrast. So many questions asked. So many words read. So many conversations had. So many projects released. So many ways of working adapted. So many sharp stones beneath my feet. And so much clarity gained. Read More

How Our Culture Shaped Our New Office Space

By | Events, Mack's Musings, Miscellany, MISSION: Authentic | 3 Comments

Mack Web is now Genuinely. Learn more.

– –

Summer is by far my favorite time of year.

otterpops Mmmmm. Otter Pops.

The urban trails are full of people running or biking. The weekends are spent by the pool, hiking, or visiting friends. There’s always an opportunity for good food and free concerts in the park. The daylight lingers to afford us all some much needed play time. Rigid routines fade and it’s finally time for a change of pace. And Otter Pops are always on standby.

It’s mid-July and Mack Web finds itself more than half way through our 12th year of business. Lucky for us, this summer started with a bit more excitement than the usual change of seasons: a move to a brand new office space that we were fortunate enough to customize to match our collaborative culture.

I’ve got all the photos (and even a super awesome video) to share with you. But first, indulge me with a little history. Read More

Putting the ‘Integrated’ into Integrated Marketing Strategy

By | Building Community, Events, Web Marketing | No Comments

Mack was recently asked to speak at C3 2014, a marketing conference hosted by Conductor.

It’s not a surprise to us that they requested that she speak on the topic of community. Our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities made quite a splash when we launched it a year ago and Mack (and, consequently, the whole Mack Web Team) is well-known for being passionate on this topic.

Never one to disappoint, Mack did talk about community. In fact, her talk was called “Growing Your Business Through Community and Integrated Marketing.” (See, community is in the title and everything.) But, in true Mack Web fashion, she didn’t focus on fuzzy or fluffy talk of singing Kumbaya and/or bribing people to be your friends. She came out with a practical, actionable approach and process for building the necessary groundwork to grow an authentic community.

In other words: building a better business, one soul-searching, thought-provoking, hard-working step at a time.

Build a better business, attract a community.

Here, in its entirety, is her beautiful deck from that talk, lovingly crafted by Mack and our genius designer Natalie and then cruelly nitpicked to death by the rest of the team.

 

But if you’re in a hurry, keep reading for the highlights.


Key Takeaways

Building a community is how you perform well online. Building a better business is how you attract a community.

Community is what you need to make your marketing sing: actual human people sharing and disseminating your content, promoting your brand, buying and recommending your stuff, both online and in person.

Marketing is building a better business.

You attract people by building a better business from the inside out. You find something authentic and meaningful at the core of your company and build your business around that. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to be real. That special something is what will draw your audience near and give them something to tell their friends about you.


Sustainable marketing results demand an integrated marketing strategy.

An integrated approach means you build a cross-channel marketing experience which will attract both the right people and revenue. It means that no matter where a consumer comes in contact with your brand (on- or offline), you’re living up to (or exceeding) their expectations.

An integrated marketing strategy uses all channels.

An integrated process is an agile way to create and maintain momentum in your marketing efforts. It puts the focus on accomplishing real-world goals so that you’re doing the right things (not just the shiny things) to move your business forward.

Integrated results look at the what all of your channels have achieved together, not just individually, over the long-haul. These results are an indication that you’re doing the right things in the short term to accomplish the big things in the long-term.


Your integrated marketing strategy starts with who you are and what you want to achieve.

Before you do anything else, figure out your company’s meaning: why, beyond making money, does your company exist? What is your authentic passion? This is how you will form a meaningful connection with your audience.

An integrated marketing strategy builds an experience and relationships.

Then figure out your goals; they will drive everything else you do. (These are goals for your whole business, not just your marketing, by the way.) There are three levels: visionary, business & brand, and campaign goals. Your campaign goals help you achieve your business & brand goals which, in turn, feed into your big, overarching visionary goal.


Once you know what you want to accomplish, it’s time for action.

Start your 90-day integrated marketing strategy cycle by figuring out what is most important. What needs to be done first to set out towards your business & brand and visionary goals? Look at your audience, the current state of your brand, your strengths and weaknesses, and how you match up to the competition.

When you know what your priorities are, start planning tactical campaigns to reach them. And this is where that word “integrated” really comes into play. Make sure you’re looking at all channels (content, search, social media, email, outreach), at efforts both on- and offline.

Then, y’know, do the stuff.


Build agility into the process and factor momentum into your planning.

Be prepared to assess every 30 days and change direction as needed. Measurement is not enough. You must be prepared to respond with action.

At 60 days, start looking forward: what is your next 90-day strategy going to hold? What are your priorities? How is your progress toward those goals of yours? By the time your first 90 days are up, you’re ready for the next. And you’re not starting from scratch. You’re simply continuing the momentum you’ve got going.

An integrated marketing strategy means you always have momentum and a plan.


Sorry, kids. We’re in it for the long haul.

An integrated marketing strategy can deliver amazing results, but it takes time, it takes one-on-one effort, it takes passion, and it takes authenticity.


More to Come

As part of mastering this process, you’ll need to understand how to effectively communicate the value of an integrated approach. Mack continues the conversation with her presentation from SearchLove London: The Measurement Behind Your Integrated Marketing Strategy.

Hungry for more? Never fear: the idea of an integrated marketing strategy for building a better business as a true, sustainable method for growing an online community is something Mack Web will be talking about more and more in the coming days.

Curious? Want more? You should definitely sign up for our e-news so that any updates will come directly to you. (It’s super easy.)

You could also download the infamous guide itself and find out more that way.

What do you think?

A New Team Member As the Old Year Goes

By | Business Stuff, Events, Miscellany | 2 Comments

And you thought it was the Year of the Snake

2013 was a year of growth and change for Mack Web Solutions. (Uh, as was 2012. And, y’know, 2011).

Okay, so the past few years have pretty much been all about the growth and the change. But this year the growth and change took a particular shape. And it was a person-shaped shape. (Bet you thought it was gonna be a llama, hunh?).

Hipster-llama-l

2013 was the year of personnel. We started the year with a four-person team. By the end of the year, we had employed (at various times) nine. We’re starting 2014 with six and a solid six it is.

But that’s still a lot of change.

Fluctuating and unashamed

The thing is, we don’t take all these changes as a sign of weakness or failure on our part. Instead, they’re proof that our company is evolving. We’re constantly assessing and reassessing the best ways to serve our clients and as we gain greater understanding, we reshape the team to suit.

And you never quite know how someone is going to fit until you try them out. We agree with the philosophy of looking for the “future perfect people”– choosing people based on who they have the potential to become and how they could allow your team to grow — but we’re web marketers, not prognosticators. We don’t have a crystal ball to gaze into or tea leaves to consult.

Prognosticator Extraordinaire

So we give people a try and when their future diverges from ours we give them a hearty send-off and count it a stage of evolution rather than a mistake.

Small but mighty

The thing about a small company in a fast-moving industry is that you need your team to work together seamlessly and you can’t afford to wallow when something goes wrong. No fences between departments and no divas of any kind.

You need to be lean and agile and T-shaped and all those other lovely concepts that boil down to this: stockpile as much knowledge as you can without sacrificing your ability to adapt and respond.

t-shape-employee

Image Credit: Distilled

Which means that every time we are ready to bring someone new onto the team we stop and do one of those reassessments to tell us what we need.

If the new hire is the result of someone else leaving, we stop and think: do we need to replace them or is there some other skill set we should be looking for?

If we’re simply ready to grow, we stop and think: where is our team strong? Where do we have good overlap? Are we serving our clients to the degree we promise and aspire? Where are the gaps? What weak points do we need to shore up?

Sometimes when we ask these questions, the answers surprise us.

(And not just become some anonymous joker on the team who shall remain anonymous and absolutely is not me feels the need to answer every question with a cryptic, “42”).

Building the team

‘Cuz here’s the thing about our team: we’ve got some crazy mad skills already. You want to talk about your cross-discipline competence and deep discipline expertise? We’ve got that.

A genius designer with basic tech chops and a social media expert with a nice line in content and a creative strategist with analytics know-how. An entrepreneurial leader who dabbles in everything and writer who can hold her own with basic SEO and strategy. (And a partridge in a pear tree).

We are all kinds of T-shaped.

Not to mention…we all actually like each other. What are the odds?

All of which sets us on track to our company vision of a team of collaborative specialists without sacrificing our small team necessity of hybrid generalists who can roll up their sleeves and get stuff done, y’know?

But did you notice what was missing from that impressive list of skills?

Because when it came time to hire someone new and we compiled that list of skills, we saw something missing and it was a big something.

We’ve got creatives and number people and business minds and networkers. You know what we haven’t got?

They Got Every Damn Thing

Organizers.

Oh, at first glance you wouldn’t notice the chaos. We were holding our own thanks to our process-obsessed boss (and we mean that in the most complimentary of ways).

But, well…we said 2013 was the year of change and growth, right? Well, we’ve covered the change. But without some glue to hold us together, we weren’t going to be able to handle much more growth.

Because our processes were working for now but they weren’t particularly scalable.

So we realized it wasn’t another strategist we needed.

It was a coordinator.

Introducing Rebecca

Fortunately, we knew just the person. Rebecca Gilmore’s impressive experience and disposition pretty much custom-tailored her to our needs.

rebecca_crop1

She’s organized and disciplined and marketing-savvy and friendly and smart and pretty. (Plus she has impeccable taste in television, she isn’t afraid of the Master Calendar, and she has a twin sister we can set up as a body double alibi in case we ever need her to do anything illegal).

And if she might harbor some thoughts on world domination and hostile takeovers from within, well…we still outnumber her five to one.

Here comes trouble

Long story short (too late, I know)

All of which is to say…we’re delighted to introduce you to Rebecca Gilmore, our new Account Coordinator. Her job is to keep us all on track, to make sure our beloved clients are never lost in the shuffle, and to contribute her knowledge and expertise to the running of the team.

We’re pretty happy to have her and we’re excited for all of you people, too.

Because you’re going to get to know her too.

And, take it from us, that makes you pretty fortunate people.

Our Guide to Building Online Communities is Finally Here

By | Building Community, Creativity, Events, Online Community Building Videos | No Comments

The Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities is Here

We are proud and excited and overjoyed (and just a little bit exhausted) to finally reveal our Truly Monumental Guide to Building Online Communities to the world.

We worked really, really, really hard and firmly believe that this product of our blood, sweat, tears, and countless visits to the petting zoo is an enduring addition to the universe’s knowledge on effective and sustainable integrated web marketing. (Which is why we went ahead and called it the Truly Monumental Guide and not just Metaphorically or Figuratively Monumental).

Button Text

 

Make Friends Not Followers: Targeting the Right People on Social Media Hangout

By | Building Community, Events, Social Media, Web Marketing | No Comments

Thanks for joining Mack Web for our first live hangout! And a huge thank you to all of our panelists who contributed their experience and knowledge. We are truly honored for your community building wisdom.

In case you missed it, below is a recording of the entire hangout. There are tools and questions answered from the hangout listed below.

Special Thanks to our Panelists

We’re honored to have featured these panelists today:

Sheena Medina – @sheenamedina (also @CMmeetup)

Cheri Percy – @thedivinehammer (also @distilled)

Sara Lingafelter – @Saralingafelter (also @portent)

Jen Lopez – @jennita (also @moz)

Elise Ramsay – @eliseramsay (also @wistia)

And of course our own Mackenzie Fogelson – @mackfogelson (feel free also to reach out to @mackwebteam)

Key Tools Mentioned in the Hangout

Followerwonk

Klout

TrueSocialMetrics

Really Targeted Outreach

Measuring Community: KPIs and Social Media Metrics for Community

Free Online Community Building Guide

Questions From the Hangout

Here are some of the questions that were asked during the hangout. We’d love to hear more in the comments below:

  1. How does content fit into the community building portion of online marketing?
    For us (at Mack Web) content is community building. In other words, you will use all kinds of tools to build community (like SEO, social media, email marketing, PR, offline, etc) but you can’t do any of it without valuable content. Content is what starts the conversation and it’s also what is necessary for meaningful engagement.I’d also add that in order to be effective in your content and community building efforts that you have a strategy. Starting from your goals, not tools, will help get your efforts off on the right foot.
  2. How do you start a community for a client that’s in a very boring industry (let’s say heat pumps)?
    It has been our experience that you can build community really for anyone (even boring niche companies). We’d recommend starting from goals and developing a strategy that will help you to reach them. I’d also make sure that you have a common understanding of expectations. Things like: what everyone’s role is, how the process works,  how success will be measured. Community building is hard work and it takes a long time to gain traction (especially in boring niches). You just need to be consistent and do whatever it takes to reach the goals you’ve set. For more in-depth resources on the “how-to” of actually building a community, you can read More than you Ever Wanted to Know About Community Building and you can also sign up to receive our free community building guide which will be available on October 15th.
  3. Which platform should I use to get more people to know about my business Facebook page. I do not want to use ads.
    You can certainly use a variety of channels to drive traffic to Facebook that you don’t have to pay for. It just might take a little longer to get the traffic you’re anticipating. Certainly though you’ll have to to the work to build it.First, I’d recommend determining what people will get if they “like” your Facebook page presently as it is. Is there any value there? Is your page all full of self-promotion, or is there meaningful content that would attract the right customers and initiate engagement? That’s a great place to start. You’ll want to use valuable content (not just your own but other people’s quality content as well) to not only drive people to your page, but to keep them coming back. The type of content you feature on your page has everything to do with what you want to accomplish and who you’re wanting to attract to your community and your business. Again, I’d recommend instead of starting with the tools (Facebook), work from goals. What is it that you want to accomplish in your business (not just on Facebook)? This will help you determine a strategy that would include many other platforms and tools that you could use to build exposure and traffic to your Facebook page. And certainly, that strategy will include content. See #2 above for more on building community and how to get that started.
  4. What is the best way to handle a crisis on social media?
    It really depends on the crisis that is taking place as there are different approaches to handling things that arise on social media. I’d say that transparency and communication are key to any crisis that may arise. We actually have a blog post coming out in the next week about this exact topic (addressing many of the different crises that can happen on social media), so I will be sure to update this post as soon as it is out.
  5. What is the single most effective thing you’ve said to a stubborn organization who thinks talking about themselves is the answer?
    Show them some data. We track our client’s content and we have data that shows their self-promotional stuff doesn’t do as well as their more value/resource driven content that is meant to indirectly prove their expertise. I’d ask for 60-90 days to conduct an experiment. Test just your tweets. Do all self-promotional tweets all day long for several weeks and measure engagement indicators like shares, RT, conversations, etc. Then switch to a mix of both. We’ve had luck with the 80/20 ratio. The mix of self-promotion vs. more indirect value-driven is going to be different for every company so you really have to test what works best for you. What we’ve experienced is that it’s got to be a mix of both. And it’s not all about you.

 

Holding Steady at Six: Say Hello to Ayelet

By | Building Community, Events, Miscellany | 2 Comments

Contradictory emotions

Though we are sad to be bidding our beloved Julie Sutter a final (well…semi-final, partial, not-at-all definitive) farewell, we are beyond excited to introduce you to the newest member of the team.

Ayelet Golz comes to us from, well, the world. We consider her the planet’s gift to Mack Web Solutions, really.

Ayelet Golz - Social and Community Manager Extraordinaire

She’s done extensive marketing and community building work all over the globe and yet somehow we managed to lure her into our little Fort Collins net.

We assume that it was our passion for our work, our positively absurd amounts of charm, and the promise of unlimited gummy bears that did the trick.

Although, by happy chance, Ayelet also has managed to stumble into a work environment where her extensive collection of llama stories and ability to discuss the psychological and sociological effects of the coming zombie apocalypse would be properly appreciated.

Looking to the future

As you’ll learn in the coming weeks and months and years, Ayelet is a huge boon to the work of Mack Web Solutions. Her presence on the team means that we can dedicate all of her considerable brain power and experience and not-inconsiderable charm to just the building and tending of online communities.

(Which, if you hadn’t figured it out already, is pretty much our primary aim).

Turning over the care and feeding of the online communities to Ayelet frees up our strategist team to strategize and our production team to produce, while keeping a steady and confident hand on the community management helm.

So, pretty much a whole lot of winning going on there.

Already the perfect match

Even though Ayelet has only been with us a short time, we already know she’s going to fit right in.

How can we be so sure?

Well, we asked her, out of the blue, to write us a llama haiku (does that sentence sound Dr. Seuss-y to anyone else?).

And, off the top of her head and without asking a single question, she provided us with this little gem:

The llama lived up high
She gave kids rides and schlepped milk
Llama kicked up her feet

See? She’s definitely Mack Web People.

 

 

Beaches and Brains: Dreaming of SearchLove San Diego

By | Events, Miscellany | 2 Comments

Ruminations on Locations

With the imminence of SearchLove San Diego and Mack’s speaking preparations, our team has found ourselves giving in to some grandiose dreams. This year has been a revelation of the value of conferences and we’d be lying if our far-flung future ambitions didn’t include some day hosting an event of our own.

Which, of course, raised the first and most important question: Where would this blessed occasion take place?

(This is a dream, remember? Not a practical issue just yet. Questions of funding and recruiting and otherwise resourcing are for other times).

After all, this year Mack has visited the great cities of Boston and Seattle and will soon be on her way to the coastal paradise of San Diego for SearchLove San Diego, held September 5-6, 2013.

SearchLove San Diego

It all raises the pivotal question of what makes a good venue for a web marketing conference?

Balmy Beaches

Choosing a location with the appropriate weather for the season is, apparently, key. Boston in the Spring, Seattle in the Summer, or say…San Diego in the Fall. What could be better?

This narrowed things down tremendously. No winters in Alaska, no summers in Arizona. Antarctica is right out. Likewise the Australian outback in January or the Sahara…really, anytime.

Actually, it’s pretty hard to beat something like this:

Paradise Point, San Diego

Which, by the way, is Paradise Point, the venue for SearchLove San Diego. Don’t you wish you were going?

And it’s not just weather that matters, either.

Bragging Rights

You want to pick city that people actually want to visit. No offense to the good people of Wisconsin or Minnesota, but when travelers are bragging about their past journeys, rarely do you hear them wax lyrical about their adventures in Milwaukee or Duluth.

They do not talk about Guatemala City or Luanda, Angola or Chisinau, Moldova or Houson (all of which have appeared on lists of the ugliest cities in the world).

Chisinau, Moldova

They probably don’t even bring up Mack Web’s hometown of Fort Collins or our nearest big neighbor, Denver, lovely though they may be to their residents.
No, they’re too busy talking about places like Angkor Wat or Miami or y’know, San Diego.

San Diego Skyline
Which is where they’re holding SearchLove in September.

Did we mention that?

Interesting…But Not Too Interesting

So we’ve ruled out the likely locations closest to home. If we’re not going for proximity, it would make sense for the entirely hypothetical Mack Web conference to pick one of those highly desirable locations that we want to visit.

(If it’s our hypothetical conference, there’s no reason we can’t be a little self-indulgent).

But here’s the problem: If we were to host a conference in say, Paris, would you actually go to listen to the speakers? Or would you be touring the Louvre and eating pastries at a little cafe in Montmartre?

Be honest, now.

So what we need is a place that’s beautiful and desirable without holding irresistible attractions.

Some place like, oh, I don’t know…San Diego?

San Diego pier

Say, I hear they’re holding a SearchLove Conference there next week. Wouldn’t it be cool to go to that?

Preciousness

You know what else would be a definite boon to a conference location?

Something characteristic and adorable that we could tie into our conference swag.

Like, if we held it in New York City, everyone could get Statue of Liberty hats with MackCon printed on them.

Or if we were to hold it in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, we could give everyone SearchMack emblazoned pepper spray. Or maybe a guard dog named MackWeb.

Now, if only we could think of a city that was famous for something interesting that we could tie-in, thematically, to our hypothetical future conference?

San Diego orcasSan Diego Zoo

San Diego Comic Con

Hmmm, we’ll have to give it some thought.

Available Libations

Now, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from Mack’s attendance at other conferences and the hungover Tweets that pass back and forth in their wake, no web marketing conference is complete without access to post-speaker parties.

So, as nice as it might be to host a conference at a gorgeous and secluded retreat in the Alps or somewhere like Westhampton, Massachusetts (one of the few dry counties left in the U.S.), we realize that access to a nightlife is an absolute must.

Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego

Fun (and completely unrelated) Fact: Did you know that Paradise Point – where they’re apparently holding September SearchLove – is just a few minutes from Downtown San Diego?

Well, now you know.

Remind me again why you’re not going to SearchLove San Diego?

No Copycats

So, through our extensive research, it turns out that apparently the perfect location for a conference is…San Diego!

And what a coincidence, they just so happen to be holding SearchLove there next week.

While this is great news for you all (after all, tickets are still available), it’s hard to hear for the dreamers of Mack Web Solutions.

After all the first and principle rule for conference venues is: Nobody likes a copycat.

Which means, we’ll have to think of somewhere else to hold our future conference.

(Hmm…waterfront, desirable, limited distractions, easy gimmick, excellent nightlife…)

Atlantis

But hey, while you’re waiting for your invite to SearchMackCon Atlantis, you should consider checking out SearchLove in September.

Tickets are $1249 for the basic package, $1549 for the fancy one and you get to hang out at a pretty swanky hotel.

I mean, it’s a given that the speakers will be awesome (‘cuz they always are), but hey, did you hear?

They’re holding it in San Diego!

 

 

Farewell Peaks, Hello Skyscrapers – My (Woefully Undramatic) Journey Northeast

By | Building Community, Events, Miscellany | 4 Comments

Different skies

If you’ve been paying any kind of attention to my Twitter feed (@courtneymackweb, but please don’t feel bad if you haven’t. Hardly anyone does), you may have picked up on the fact that I have relocated.

That’s right. The view out my window used to look like this:

Colorado

And now it looks like this:

A Chicago Skyline

(Uh…car window, that is. My office/home windows have never been quite so dramatic).

There is a long and convoluted explanation for my recent move from Mack Web’s homebase of Fort Collins, CO to the Windy City (that’s Chicago, just in case you didn’t know), but it’s actually not that interesting.

I know, I know. It seems like it should be, since it’s fraught with interpersonal dynamics, long-lost friends, miscommunication, and mosquito bites, but…in the end it boils down to this:

Courtney has itchy feet.

Courtney likes her job.

Courtney has trouble reconciling these things.

Until I was presented with a fantastic solution: keep my job and move away.

That Mack is a genius, I tell you.

An incredible journey (but only through space. My dreams of time travel are yet unrealized).

So, Mack offered me the opportunity to open what is, essentially, the first satellite office of Mack Web Solutions. (Or as I like to call it: Mack Web Chicago: An Army of One).

So I packed up all my belongings and drove the 16 hours from Fort Collins to Chicago. I was supposed to document the journey for you, possibly with a small garden gnome as companion, ala Amelie.

But, quite frankly, 16 hours of corn and wheat fields is frightfully dull with or without a garden gnome. (And, honestly, a little eerie).

So I didn’t.

Though I learned something very, very important:

Contrary to popular perception, Nebraska does end.

I never knew that before. I assumed it was like the island in Lost or a vortex in space and time, consuming all who pass through and depositing them at random points throughout history and leaving them to wend their way back home as they can.

But I made it out in the end. And without having lost a significant portion of my personal timeline.

(I know, ‘cuz I called my mom when I made it to Iowa, just to make sure I hadn’t pulled a Rip Van Winkle and lost a hundred years amongst the corn. I could actually hear her roll her eyes over the phone).

So I made it to Illinois safe and sound and prepared to set up shop as Mack Web’s first remote location.

We currently operate out of my best friend’s guest room, but that’s not really the relevant point here.

An imac in a borrowed room.

The current offices (and officers) of Mack Web Chicago.

A surprisingly natural progression

The point is that one of Mack Web Solutions’ central tennets is that you can build and foster communities online.

That it is possible to create and sustain productive and mutually-satisfactory relationships without sharing the same physical space.

That through the wide variety of digitial media now available, you can make friends, find partners and mentors, brainstorm and co-create with peers and colleagues, from whereever you happen to be.

(A message, incidentally, also preached by the suppliers of said digital media, but…we’re less self-interested than they are. And also funnier. And prettier. So you should listen to us, even if you ignore them).

Of course, occasional in-person follow-ups are helpful and we’ll be partaking in those, too.

We’ve preached this and we’ve practiced it with some fantastic folk external to our company.

Now we’re trying it out a little closer to home. (Or, really, farther from home, depending on how you want to look at it).

Proving the Theory!

See, doesn’t it sound better couched in terms of scientific inquiry than wanderlust?

And thus far, it’s working. (Not surprising. It was our theory after all).

It’s a little weird not being there to bug my co-workers in person, but I’ve found ways to retain my status as office nuisance via chat and copious, copious emails and Google Hangouts that get completely out of hand.

Pirate hats and facial hair, the imaginary escalators and carefully-mimed isododecahedrons (no, Nat, I will never, ever believe that was a cube): these are the stuff that great virtual meetings are made of.

A nuisance deferred

And of course, all those co-workers are eager to see me succeed, so that they too, can scatter to all ends of the globe and work digitally from, say, Paris or the Caribbean.

(No pressure, Courtney).

Wait…what was the point of all this again?

Right.

All of this was to say: Stop your weeping. Be not alarmed! I’m still here, though I am gone.

If you should notice that I no longer appear in pictures of Fort Collins, if you should hear references to my absence, if you should feel the slight chill ebbing off the office itself with the loss of my beaming smile and warm heart…

Don’t. Panic.

I’m not going anywhere.

(Uh…except to Chicago. I did go there. But, um…oh, you know what I mean).

So wish me luck and maybe, if you happen to be in town, I’ll see you around.

 

Judging By The Cover: MozCon 2013 Seen Through the Eyes of Mack Web

By | Events, Miscellany | 4 Comments

A Predictable Reaction

As you may have noticed from previous posts, we get pretty excited about the conferences we attend.

We get even more excited about the ones that Mack speaks at.

So when Mack’s speaking and our own Julie is attending for the first time?

Off. The Charts. Elation.

When it was decided (with plenty of good-natured ribbing and thinly-veiled envy) that Mack Web Solutions was sending not one but two representatives to Seattle in July for this year’s MozCon, the whole company got involved in the anticipation.

A Characteristic Response

So…what does it look like when Mack Web Solutions looks forward to something?

Well… a little like this:

More specifically:

Mack starts going nuts about her presentation (and her clothes and hair and fingernails).

Natalie starts looking up food options in the Seattle area (and designing some truly gorgeous slides).

I start nit-picking Mack’s grammar.

Tyler and Ashley look around at the veterans in bemused amusement and seriously discuss which sessions our people should attend (all the while wondering just how they got involved with this group of weirdos).

Julie keeps her head down to hide her smirk at being chosen to go.

Eventually, everybody shapes up and join in Tyler and Ashley’s discussion on which presentations sound the most interesting.

How to Choose?

The problem, of course, is that they all sound interesting. And vital and informative and like things we wish we’d thought of first.

So, despite the mature origins of the topic it devolves into something like this:

Of course when we’re preparing the slips that we’re pulling out of the hat, we usually just write the title without the description. So our anticipation of what each presentation will cover can be, from time-to-time, ever so slightly…off?

Skewed?
Mis-judged?
Childishly extravagent flights-of-fancy-esque?

The end result of this exercise is that, while we’re sure that all 35 speakers are brilliant, there are certain talks we’re particularly looking forward to (however mis-guidedly). (Besides, we had to limit our silliness or we would have been doing this all. day. long).

Here’s our top five, er…six:

Really Targeted Outreach

Richard Baxter

What We Think It Is:
Based solely on the title, we imagine that this particular talk will be an in-depth and informative presentation on the ways to connect your content with its perfect audience.

We speculate that it will run through data collection, content development, and methods of content delivery.

We’re pretty sure that it’s going to be awesome and valuable.

We also picture it conducted entirely by a Band of Merry Men in Lincoln Green. Tights and jerkins and feathered caps. Possibly with some archery targets and a little petty larceny among the audience when you’re not looking.

And we’re going to be really disappointed if there isn’t a rousing rendition of “The Phony King of England” at the end.

What It Really Is (The Authorized Summary):
We’ve all sent guest post pitches and “link building requests” and begged for precious links any way and anywhere we can. But, that simply isn’t marketing. We have all the tools for a better way of finding our audience and determining what they love. Richard will show you a data-driven approach to marketing your brand to your target audience. No more guesswork, you’ll know exactly how to get the right eyeballs on your content.

Wordless Wednesdays: How To Swaggerjack the Power of Visual Memes

Lena West

What We Think It Is:
We’re picturing a slideshow of everyone’s favorite cat and/or celebrity memes set to a rousing soundtrack of cleverly-written sea shanties.

We expect each shanty to provide inspiring (and preferably rhyming) data on leveraging these delightful images for inbound marketing purposes.

Because I won’t be physically present to taint the experience with my much-documented fear of birds, we’re also hoping for pithy and/or obscene interjections from a parrot with a peg-leg.

What It Really Is (The Authorized Summary):
Image-heavy, responsive websites are all the rage, but can be problematic for SEO, load times, and other inbound marketing concerns. But how does this balance out with the popularity of images-based memes like “Wordless Wednesday”? Lena will examine these visual memes and their impact on traffic, and she’ll talk about how you can parlay the power of visual memes into serious search and traffic results.

Strings to Things: Entities and SEO

Matthew Brown

What We Think It Is:
There was a lot of speculation on this one, including, but not limited to:

  • Knitting Your Way to Better Rankings: Common Sense Marketing Inspired By Grandma
  • The Puppet Master: A Look at the Dark Side of Search Engine Optimization
  • Magical Music: Orchestrating Inbound Marketing
  • The Muses: A Panel Discussion with the Internet Pantheon

We’d be happy with pretty much any of these. My personal preference would be an off-the-cuff presentation tracing the sucess of well-favored digital marketing tactics to the relative vibration of tiny strands of energy…in the TARDIS.

(But that’s just me).

What It Really Is (The Authorized Summary):
In the last year, Google and Bing have both indicated a shift to entity-based search results as part of their evolution. Google has unscored this point with rich snippets and Knowledge Graph, and Bing has now upped the ante on personal search results with Bing Snapshots. Find out how you can adopt strategies to stay ahead of the curve in the new world of semantic search results.

Breaking Up With Your Keyword-Based KPIs

Annie Cushing

What We Think It Is:
With this one, we expect a compassionate but no-nonsense walk through the woes of basing all sense of achievement on notably unreliable keyword data.

Then we’ll hear tips on (healthily) purging memories of the relationship from your life.

How to dispose of the adorable photo-booth strips of you and your keyword-based KPIs without crying.

The mature way to handle a post-breakup booty call from your keyword-based KPIs.

What to do when you run into keyword-based KPIs with their new devotees when you’re out at the movies.

What you should be looking for in your next KPI relationship.

(Possibly a few tips on shedding the break-up ice cream weight).

What It Really Is (The Authorized Summary):
Raise your hand if you hate (not provided)? Annie shows you how to raise your battle cry by finding your keyword data elsewhere. By changing your focus from (not provided) to what your landing pages can tell you, you’ll be able to audit your site even better than before.

Living in the Future of User Behavior

Will Critchlow

What We Think It Is:
This one we envision as a cautionary presentation on the perils of time travel: Don’t try to evacuate Pompeii or kill Hitler, don’t step on a butterfly, don’t kill (or become) your own grandfather, don’t accidentally stop your mom from going to the prom with your dad.

Y’know, the basics.

Then we expect it to progress to the industry-specific dangers inherent to transcending time: if you go to the future and see a virally-popular piece of content you will apparently create and then come back and create it…where did the idea come from in the first place?

What It Really Is (The Authorized Summary):
As the technology space constantly changes, users and their behavior adjust with the tide. But what should we do? Will takes a look at where the trends are going and gives you the tactics and tips to keep up and maybe get ahead of the game.

Building a Better Business with Digital Marketing

Our Own Mack Fogelson

What We Think It Is:
Two words: Lego City.

What It Really Is (The Authorized Summary):
Extraordinary businesses and communities are built with a higher purpose than just making money. Mack will walk you through how you can achieve bigger objectives for your clients or for your own business. Using the power of digital marketing tools (along with passion and hard work), you’ll learn how to shape and foster your company and the community around it.

A Great Show

Regardless of our predictions, we think the whole line-up sounds pretty amazing and we’re both honored and delighted to be presenting at and attending MozCon 2013.

But you know the best news?

It’s not too late to get tickets!

So, July 8-10, 2013. The Washington State Convention Center. Be there or you’ll miss out (hopefully) on Robin Hood, pirates, string, ice cream, time travel, and legos.

Which would be a shame.

Hope to see you there!

(Also…we welcome any additional speculation on what will be covered in those three days. Any thoughts on what “Moz Lingo” might be? For what the reasons does the internet hate us? We await your contributions).