Yahoo! movin’ and shakin’

Yahoo! has been making a lot of big acquisitions under recently appointed CEO, Marissa Mayer.   I recently had a discussion with colleagues about the idea of aligning with people or things who you would always bet on (or never bet against).  My sports gambling friend always says to never bet against the Lakers in the long run.  There may be losses but in the big picture they tend to win more than lose (LeBron 2014!!!).  Elon Musk of Paypal, space travel, and now most well-known for Tesla is someone who seems to have the Midas touch (BTW, look up his solution to a 30 minute commute from LA to SF and 1 hour from LA to NY).  Warren Buffet, enough said.  I’ve spoken to a couple angel investors and know a few Tesla leaders who would bet on Elon’s projects in a minute.  Someone who is close to making that list is Marissa Mayer.  She’s been making a lot of controversial moves that I think are the right moves.  She identified that Yahoo!’s strength spans beyond Search Engine Marketing and makes decisions to strengthen the company’s position beyond search.  She brings a solid track record from Stanford, Google, and is now making waves at Yahoo.

Part of their change is to give the logo a makeover.  (As a marketing agency in Orange County, we know a thing or two about makeovers.)  Yahoo! plans to release a new logo every day during the month of August.  You can follow the daily updates here:  In September, the winning logo will be announced.

While most businesses overlook the impact of a new logo, there have been quite a few epic fails in recent memory.  Until they announce in September, here are some examples of logo redesigns that cause backlash and negativity.

University of California:



Seattle’s Best Coffee (I personally liked this one):


London Olympics:


And, of course, GAP:

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What is Your Story?

Everyone has a story. Whether it’s about logging equipment or chemicals, there’s a story. Think about what your company stands for. What is your business passionate about? How does your story fit within all the content you’re planning and publishing for your company?

For example, a close friend of mine is a youth pastor at a local southern California church who along with a group of friends started a very small clothing line in 2009, LETGOdwork. They got involved in youth conventions, Christian music festivals, local gatherings, etc. After attempts at different types of marketing, they hit their sweet spot…. social media. They figured out after a few trial and error experiences with marketing, that their initial buyers loved the simplicity of their products so much; they did the marketing for them. Posted photos, shared posts, tagged friends/photos, contests, giveaways, and the occasional music celebrity would receive a few items to wear at concerts to help boost natural interest. They figured out who their demographic was very quickly and capitalized on their approach. Needless to say, after different strategies, successes and failures, this small company now has well over 18k twitter followers, 10k friends via Facebook, have produced over 50 designs, expanded apparel types beyond just t-shirts and can now be found in retail stores across the country.

For some business owners, marketing themselves and their work is as painful an experience as a math major having to write an English term paper. But the reality is if you own a company and want it to succeed you have to tell people about it and that was something that my friends at LETGOdwork loved to do, they truly had the desire and passion to tell everyone about their clothing line.

I implore anyone who loves what they do or what their company stands for to start the process of marketing, even if you hate or have never tried marketing. First, get over the misconceptions. People have many different ideas about how to go about marketing a business. Whatever path you choose, not understanding which channels to use, how much money to spend, or what type of results to expect can make you uncomfortable. Starting with the facts allows you to put together a plan based on tangible data rather than on some vague notion of what you should do.

Next, figure out what you are trying to accomplish. There are many forms of marketing, and most businesses will be an initial great fit for at least one of them. You can write a blog, engage in social media, create search engine campaigns, develop content for your site, revamp your website for better conversion rates, network in person at events, make phone calls to existing customers, or participate in speaking engagements like webinars or podcasts. Do the marketing that you’re most comfortable with first and when you see the results, you’ll likely be motivated to try other types.

Learn more from the experts. Now that you’ve decided where to start, you need the knowledge and tools to do the job right and get the results you seek. Once you feel confident in your abilities, then you can start making some larger decisions with ease.  The confidence to make those decisions can only come from basic measurable, data, conversions, sales, etc. But we cannot look to a crystal ball from “anticipated results”, we have to actually go out there and try some things.

Start with an idea, a mission, a reason, a purpose…. For the guys at LETGOdwork, it was simple:

Orange County based brand founded in 2009 by some friends that wanted to make simple, clean, high-quality clothing that they could be proud of. LETGOdwork is about positivity. We believe the world needs change and that true change begins when we LET GO.

— Joe M.

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Facebook Graph Searches

Whenever one of the major players in our industry comes out with a new concept or launches an innovative widget, online marketing agencies always get calls asking for our thoughts and opinions.  Facebook recently launched Facebook Graph Searches and the questions poured in.  Ironically, it seems people were less interested in ways to leverage this technology to grow the business (which is the goal of any marketing agency) and instead wanted to voice their opinions on things like user privacy and the detrimental affect this would have on a user experience.

We’ve always taken a careful and conservative approach to all of our marketing campaigns, whether it’s for paid search marketing, content marketing (otherwise known as SEO) or social media.  Due to our strategy, we haven’t taken a firm stance regarding FB Graph.  We do however like to find humor in all that we do.  That being said, you just knew it was a matter of time until someone would start a tumblr about this issue.  We hope you can chuckle about this as much as we did.


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Holiday Search Marketing Campaign

Can you believe it?  It’s already that time of year… the most wonderful time of the year.  The Holidays are here.  To SEM’s, it’s the time of year when normal search traffic goes bezerk.  The usual purchase and conversion patterns go out the window.  One key metric that changes during the Holiday season is your revenue per click (RPC).  RPC tends to drastically improve heading into Thanksgiving and through the middle of December.    For obvious reasons, there is a higher urgency for people to buy/convert during the holiday season.   The chart below shows a 30% increase in RPC on Thanksgiving, and a more drastic jump on Cyber Monday.  Numbers continued to stay high throughout December for the expected holiday shopping season.   It’s not too late.  Call us now so we can get your campaign going.  The numbers play in your favor and we’d love to help you out.  949-330-7060

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I don’t use Apple products.  More notably I’m known in my office as the guy who is extremely annoyed by “Mac people.”  I have an Android Phone.  My newest toy is the Samsung Series 9 which is a PC knockoff of the Macbook Air.  I admit, I did receive an iPad as a gift but it sits idly on my nightstand collecting dust.  For our company’s outside sales team I purchased the Motorola Xoom tablet.

So why did I decide to come out of blogging hibernation today to discuss the man who spearheaded the culture that irked me so?  Because as a businessman I loved Steve Jobs.  I spent the last few years back in school earning my MBA.  I wrote countless pages on the topic of the recession, growth, people, and innovation.  Let me rephrase that… I spent endless hours confirming the theory that people need to innovate in order to spur the growth necessary to climb out of this recession.   It all starts with people.  People like Steve Jobs.  People like you and me who can carry on his spirit of innovation.

Never, in my lifetime, has someone been able to blend art & science with such vigor.  Mr. Jobs was able to make geeks cool.  He made the cool want the geeky.  Never has anyone been able to merge form and function so beautifully.  His products were truly superior.  And this is an admission coming from someone who is turned off by “Mac people.”  In order for our nation to grow we need to innovate.

I know what you’re thinking… “I don’t make electronics!”  You don’t have to.  I don’t.  I’m in the business of online advertising.  A culture of innovation is the state of mind.  It’s about seeing things differently.  It’s about questioning the status quo.  Instead of just thinking outside the box, tear down the box and throw it in the recycling bin.  It’s about taking the argumentative “yeah but…” out of your vocabulary and replacing that with questions of what “could be.”  It’s about doing good… correction… it’s about being at your best instead of simply trying to hit numbers.  It’s about selling differently no matter what you sell.  It’s about working with passion and bringing fun back into whatever you do.  It’s about saying “I can” when people say you can’t.  It’s a belief.  It’s contagious.  It’s about people.  Not products or job roles.  It’s about making geeky cool and cool geeky.

I’ll end this rant with this final thought.  Last night my wife walked in the house and the first words out of my mouth were “I’m sad.  Steve Jobs just died.”  I continued on to say, “there are only a few people our country really needs right now.  There are only a handful of people I want my kids to grow up and meet someday.  Steve Jobs was one of them.”  Well, all that’s left for us to do is to be that person.  Strive to be a businessman, parent, or friend that people will want their kids to meet someday.


Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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Yellow & White make… green?

A commercial and residential phone book were walking past a haunted house when they hear a terrifying scream.

Commercial phone book: “Did you hear that?  It came from the haunted house!”

Residential phone book:  “We need to go in and investigate.”

Commercial phone book: “No way man.”

Residential phone book:  “What’s the matter?  You yellow?”

Ok, sorry for the silly joke.  What’s even sillier is the huge stacks of phone books delivered to my condo building every year.  I live in a rather large development so there are enough phone books in the mail room to easily fill 2 pallets.  These phone books sit idle, wrapped in plastic, hoping for someone take them home.  Week after week these things sit there untouched.  The only time I was tempted to pick one up was when I needed paper to ignite my charcoal chimney (that’s right folks, real men bbq with coals, not gas).

Well it looks like this nuisance is coming to an end.  At the end of 2010, Verizon Communications received permission from New York, Pennsylvania and Florida (with Virginia pending) to stop distributing phone books.  This is a milestone that is far overdue.  I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone say “check the phone book” when they needed a phone number.  Nowadays, all you hear is “Google it” or “check Bing.”  When you need to find someone or something, you can find it much faster online and get more information than you would in a phone book.  (Don’t believe me?  Go to and search for your own name.)  On top of that, phone books only record information in your local area while the internet provides access to people around the world.    The bottom line is very few people depend on the yellow or white pages so I fully expect to see this trend continue.   My only question is:  What took so long?

We’re seeing a similar shift in newsprint.  Advertising in phone books and newspapers are down as these companies try to figure out how to monetize their online assets.  Advertisers are shifting their budgets online.  Newsprint and phone books need ad revenue to survive so we’ll see how they continue to evolve.

My favorite benefit of eliminating the yellow and white?  We’re going more green.

– Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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“I’ll be back”

I used to spend every other week traveling throughout 13 states in the Midwest for business.  I have seen the Corn Palace in South Dakota (  I’ve driven an SUV on frozen Lake Minnetonka.   I’ve had a chance to compare Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Texas BBQ in a one month span.  I’ve visited family and friends all along the east coast.  I have taken a number of road trips through Oregon, Washington and Nevada.  I like to think I’m a well traveled man. 

The one lesson I’ve learned is there is no place like home.  California, the Golden State.  Home of USC, UCLA, Berkeley, Stanford, Pepperdine, CSUF, among the many other fine institutions.  We have Silicon Valley and the Housewives of the OC, Snoop Dogg and Mickey Mouse.  We have THIS!!! I like frigid 60 degree winter days.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy snowboarding.  It’s just that I prefer to go to the snow instead of having it come to me.  I enjoy driving to the white, snow-capped Sierra’s in an hour… wearing shorts and flip flops.  More than that, I like the fact that I can enjoy a day snowboarding and still make it to a sunset dinner on the beach in the same day.  Sure traffic is horrific, botox and silicone abounds, and it costs $800k to buy a 1600sq foot condo but I’ll take it.  I have the sun, snow, Hollywood, and beaches all at my finger tips.

Sounds great doesn’t it?  Not so much.  As I open my morning e-newspaper, I’m slapped with a brutal reminder of our reality.  California is hurting.  Recent headlines read “84 companies added to the ‘leaving California’ list.”  “California dominates small-business bankruptcies.”  “Is California A Sinking Ship?”  Ouch.  Sure our regulations and taxes need to be more business-friendly but for a State that has so much to offer, it seems we should be able to figure out how to boost our economy.  Well, the California Tourism Board came out with a number of TV Ads that I’ve seen repeatedly on major networks. 

Tourism makes up a huge chunk of our tax revenues so I like the idea.  My only question is why I, a SoCal resident, keep seeing these ads on major TV networks here in the state?  I know it takes a hefty sum of money to purchase ad space and produce ads.  Why are they targeting Californians with an ad that has our Governator telling us “you’ll be back.”  We’ll be back???  We’re already here!

Granted, I haven’t seen metrics on the ad campaign but at face value it looks like they’re targeting the wrong people with the wrong ad.  This happens so often with businesses today.  One recent example we spoke to is a airport Town Car service who serves business travelers.  This company’s ad campaign was targeted to his local area so they were missing all the business travelers flying into town from other states.  While this is a blatant example, the principle holds true… it is always important to evaluate your ad campaigns to ensure your money is being maximized.  Our consultants have been a tremendous resource for many businesses and enjoy working with clients to maximize their ad spend in these tough times.  Give us a call…  I assure you, “You’ll be back.”

– Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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Michael Scott & the Human Element of Google

As a child I remember begging my parents for a new pair of batting gloves.  I thought they would help me hit better.  Later I asked for a new bike so it would help me ride better.  In Jr. High I asked my mom for a pair of Nike Flight ‘88’s because I wanted to shoot jumpers better.  A few years back I bought a nice surfboard hoping it would help me surf better.  I recently purchased a triathlon wetsuit so I can race faster.  All these things may be true but batting gloves, bikes, shoes, surfboards, and wetsuits are only going to be as good as the human being using them.  Many people think Google itself holds the keys to success.  I believe Google is only as great as the users who take advantage of the tool.

Recently, a Los Angeles resident wanted walking directions during her visit to Utah.  She used Google Maps and it led her onto a major highway.  She get’s hit by a car and files suit (sounds like she’s recovered from her fractures so I use this example in jest).  Here is her claim:

Defendant Google, through its “Google Maps” service provided Plaintiff Lauren Rosenberg with walking directions that led her out onto Deer valley Drive, a.k.a. State Route 224, a rural highway wit no sidewalks, and a roadway that exhibits motor vehicles traveling at high speeds, that is not reasonably safe for pedestrians.

The Defendant Google expects uses of the walking map site to rely on the accuracy of the walking directions given….

As a direct and proximate cause of Defendant Google’s careless, reckless, and negligent providing of unsafe directions, Plaintiff Laren Rosenberg was led onto a dangerous highway, and was thereby stricken by a motor vehicle…

Now, I can go on and on about the whole “if Google told me to walk off a cliff” analogy and poke fun at Ms. Rosenbergs lack of common sense.   Believe me, I really REALLY want to.  C’mon, she walked onto a highway and blames a map?!?  But I’ll segue into a more important topic… the human element of Google.  I feel a growing concern as I have conversations with business owners.  I am happy to see so many organizations take advantage of online marketing tools yet I realize they are removing the human aspect from their Google & Yahoo! efforts.  Google is a good tool just like my cool new surfboard.  However businesses must realize it is up to humans to make it great.  Advertising on search engines will get you in front of customers but I don’t see enough companies taking the baton and running with it.

Here are some examples that may help illustrate my point.  Retailer X rejoices after getting an e-commerce sale from the search engine campaign.  However this same retailer neglects the fact that a follow up phone call or email from a HUMAN can turn that one purchase into multiple repeat purchases.  Local service provider Y begins online ads and gets her phone to ring.  This business never requests how the customer found them nor do they ask for referrals.  Worse yet, they’re rarely around to pick up the phone when a customer calls.  Company Z spends $1000 for a search campaign this month.  Based on a ‘gut feeling’ he decides to cancel the campaign or add to it without taking time to look at the metrics.  This leads to missed opportunity or wasteful spending.

Businesses are still built and operated by human beings.  Search engines are a wonderful tool to help us succeed.  We just need to make sure we, as people, stay engaged in the process to maximize the benefits and avoid walking across any “dangerous highways” along the way.  Sprinkle some humanity into your online marketing, add a dash of effort, and a pinch of emotion to turn a good Google/Yahoo tool into a great benefit.

Ok, so I can’t resist.  Here’s to you, Ms. Rosenberg:

– Michael

Nett Solutions is a SEM agency working with Yahoo! and Google. We are a SoCal based company built of an eclectic cornucopia of: marketers, mothers & fathers, husbands & wives, college grads & MBA’s, surfers, church-goers, athletes, comedians (and those who think they are comedians). Our common bond is that we like to help people succeed.

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Cheap Top Round Steaks

In college I was involved with a campus group.  Every so often we would host our brother or sister chapters from other campuses.  One week my roommates and I were asked to host a group from UC San Diego.  Being a house full of teenage males, we really wanted to impress the group from SD; mainly because girls were coming.  We had a roommate meeting and decided to go all out… BBQ Steak Dinner!  No cheap burgers or hot dogs at this party.  Steak was the plan.  There was just one problem.  I was a 19 year old video store clerk working for minimum wage and a couple of my roommates were barely making rent with their financial aid checks.  Whether it was ego or the allure of impressing the ladies, we still decided to serve steaks.  (I promise I’m going somewhere with this story)

I drove to our local supermarket and started looking at the filet mignon, porterhouse, and beautifully marbled rib-eye steaks.  They were marvelous cuts, but they were expensive.  Not knowing much about cuts of meat, I looked over and saw the packages of top round.  These were cut into very large steaks at a fraction of the price.  As a bachelor on a tight budget, the choice was simple… I loaded up the shopping cart with top round steak.

The night of the BBQ had arrived.  Our house was packed with about 30 guests.  I vividly remember carrying a stacked tray of seasoned steaks on my way to the grill to the “ooohs” and “aaahs” of the crowd.  Yes, I was a rockstar.  I grilled the steaks and dinner was served.  All the hungry guests grabbed a paper plate and plastic utensils to dig in.  Within seconds there was the sound of plastic forks and knives snapping into pieces.  The few souls unlucky enough to actually cut a bite sized morsel of leather steak were left chewing on it like a cow chewing cud.  The lesson of the day:  it’s not about “expensive” or “inexpensive”.  It’s about “cheap”.

“Cheap” is a word that is too often defined as “inexpensive”.  This is a mistake.  The top round steak was both cheap and inexpensive (you get what you pay for).  Some things can be cheap and expensive (Rip Offs).  Other things can be inexpensive but not cheap (Value).  But generally speaking, things that are not cheap are almost always expensive.  A lot of people we speak to feel internet marketing is, or should be, “cheap”.   Let me dissect this by splitting up the word “cheap” into two camps:

First, cheap is defined as low quality.  Search engine marketing (SEM) is highly targeted, easily trackable, and nimbly scalable.  When you understand SEM and fully digest the proper keyword strategies, it becomes the highest quality advertising medium available today.  High quality is NOT “cheap”.  Thus SEM is not cheap.

Second, “cheap” is often interchanged with “inexpensive”.  I’m generally defining expensive as ‘high perceived price tag’ and inexpensive as ‘low perceived price tag.’  My experience working in 2 dot-com’s and 2 traditional companies taught me that good advertising always seems “expensive.”  Sure I can send mailers out to a small handful of zip codes for less money, or set a very low daily budget in my PPC campaign but I’ve realized advertising generally takes a significant investment to do it properly; and reap the full potential benefits.  Print costs alone for a small, local circulation will run well over a thousand per month.  Relative ad costs are the same online.  Expensive or inexpensive, advertising is an investment.  Solid advertising investments always seem nerverackingly “expensive” at first, but once you receive a positive ROI it magically seems “inexpensive” after all.

The truth is Internet Marketing is not cheap (low quality).  When done properly it is an efficient, high quality channel to gain new business.  Much like a first class airline seat, a luxury car, or a Rib Eye steak, quality is rarely cheap or inexpensive.  However, the benefits usually outweigh the cost when done right.  Many SMB’s find it tough to invest hundreds or even thousands of dollars into their advertising.  I empathize with you.  However I encourage you to lower risk by exploring your options and chasing the higher quality ad channels to ensure you get a positive ROI.  Avoid the cheap ad channels… and by cheap I mean low quality. 

“Cheap” just leads to broken plastic forks and a lot of painful chewing. 

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