A Digital and Social Media Solutions Company


11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art 2

Posted on January 27, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Web visits from search engines

If your brand has a website, more people are likely to come to it from search engines than anyplace else according to Forrester.

That means Search Engine Optimization (SEO), a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to secure a high-ranking placement in the search results pages, is as essential means of marketing for anybody doing business on the internet.

Is SEO a science? Or an art? Science is facts or truths systematically arranged showing the operation of general laws. Art is the conscious use of skill and creative imagination.

Here are 11 reasons SEO is a science; 15 reasons it’s an art.

SEO is a science because it operates according to mathematical laws that are statistically reliable and predictive of human behavior.

  1. #1 reason people come to a website is: It showed up on a search engine page when they were looking for something (source: Forrester)
  2. 80% of people click on a website that is on the natural or organic side of the search engine page (source: Search Engine Watch)
  3. 35% click through to the website that is in the #1 position (source: SEO Book)
  4. 90% click through on a website that is on the 1st page (source: Search Engine Watch)
  5. Algorithms that comprise hundreds of criteria determine how websites rise or fall in rank for specific keywords
  6. Volume of search for any keyword and key phrase can be easily known with tools the the Google Keyword Planner and Wordtracker.
  7. Demand for those keywords, if is increasing or decreasing over time, is measurable through Google Trends. So, you can even predict the value both now and in the future.
  8. Search rank of your domain or your competitors’  can be tracked for any keyword or key phrase to help understand the rise or fall in rank by Ispionage or Rank Checker.
  9. Number of  links that increase or decrease your authority in a particular area and also influences search rank can be found through Majestic SEO or Alexa.
  10. Value of the links, whether they are high or low value authority, can be determined by SEO Majestic and Marketing Grader.
  11. Machines, or  search bots, that do the searches on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines are programmed to even identify the underlying meanings behind by keywords to returns the most meaningful results. The is called Semantic Search; it is predicted to play a more important role with the Google “Hummingbird” algorithm.

SEO is an art because mathematical models don’t establish business goals, know why your audience buys your product or how to convince them. You do.

  1. Search bot don’t buy your product; people do.
  2. It is impossible to model an algorithm on the needs of human being.
  3. Machines can’t study your niche, know your audience’s Internet surfing habit or their shopping behavior.
  4. Keyword research takes creativity to know what is best for your audience and where there is an opportunity.
  5. People read good content before the read good keywords.
  6. A top rank doesn’t mean people take the action you want unless you’re clear with them on your website.
  7. Good, relevant, quality content is what readers (and algorithms) want. If you focus on this, search visibility follows.
  8. SEO is thinking about how marketing can encompass social, graphic design, link building, content generation, and PR to drive toward a common goal.
  9. SEO and marketing is creating social buzz (especially with Google+).
  10. High value links have to be placed where they are going to be most relevant and cause the most desirable actions
  11. Keywords that flow them seamlessly into your copy are more convincing.
  12. Machines are incapable of storytelling
  13. Titles that convince people have clarity, creativity and imagination. The right keywords and key phrases just happen to be in them.
  14. If you view SEO as a byproduct of good content, high search rank generally follows.
  15. SEO can’t make your business a success, only you can.

This post comes out of a dialogue from Hollis Thomases, Augustine Fou, Mike Moran and Mark Schaefer which was inspiring and worth building upon.

What do you think SEO is more of: science or art?


37 stats that show the size of Digital Talent Gap (with infographics) 2

Posted on January 12, 2014 by Rob Petersen



Ad spending trendsThe only media channel predicted to grow in the next 3 years in the internet (desktop and mobile) according to Zenith Optimedia. It is now #2 behind TV. By the end of the decade, many expect is to be ahead of TV. A decade ago, it was just beginning to make an appearance.

Because it has grown so quickly at the expense of “traditional” channels, many believe companies, agencies and marketing service firms have not kept up creating a Digital Talent Gap.

Do you believe there is a digital talent gap? Do companies need to fill it? Or do we have a Digital Talent Gap but companies are not willing to pay for it?

Decide for yourself. Here are 37 stats that show the size of the Digital Talent Gap.

  1. 91% of marketing leaders believe successful brands use customer data to drive business decisions (source: BRITE/NYAMA)
  2. 90% of all jobs will require information and communication technology (ICT) skills by 2015 (Capgemini Consulting)
  3. 90% of the world’s total data has been created just within the past two years (source: IBM)
  4. 87% agree capturing and sharing the right data is important to effectively measuring ROI in their own company (BRITE/NYAMA)
  5. 86% of people are willing to pay more for a great customer experience with a brand (souce: Lunch Pail)
  6. Over 80% of companies face significant challenges in consistently locating, hiring and retaining top talent (Online Marketing Institute)
  7. Over 80% would value an on-demand library of digital marketing classes (Online Marketing Institute)
  8. 77% of companies consider “missing digital skills” as the key hurdle to their digital transformation (Capgemini Consulting)
  9. 76% believe analytics is a very important/important skill to have (Online Marketing Institute)
  10. 75 per cent of CEOs fret about the talent gap, studies estimate that there are currently 110,000 unfulfilled tech jobs in the UK alone (Real Business)
  11. 75% of companies say they will increase investments in Big Data within the next year (source: Avanade)
  12. 74% say mobile is a very important or important skill to have (Online Marketing Institute)
  13. 70% of data is created by individuals – but enterprises are responsible for storing and managing 80% of it (source: CSC)
  14. 70% of enterprises say their marketing efforts are under greater scrutiny (BRITE/NYAMA)
  15. 70% being interested in customized eLearning of digital marketing skills or in-person workshops or training (Capgemini Consulting)
  16. More than 63% of companies use traditional method to source digital talent (Online Marketing Institute)
  17. 40%-60% annual growth increase is occurring in the volume of data available every year; in media intensive sectors and financial services, the increase is 120% (source: Fathom)
  18. 40% of executives say they have more projects and positions open than they can fill with qualified talent (Online Marketing Institute)
  19. Only 39% believe their analytic talent is stronger or much stronger than that of the competition (Online Marketing Institute)
  20. Only 31% believe their talent is stronger or much stronger than that of the competition (Online Marketing Institute)
  21. 30% of large companies  are unable to adequately distinguish between individuals with the right skills, and those without
  22. Only 29% believe their talent in mobile is stronger/much stronger than other teams
  23. 24% of agencies are unable to adequately distinguish between individuals with the right skills, and those without
  24. Only 20% of companies benefit from training on digital
  25. Less than 20% of company training budgets are spent on digital
  26. Only 13% of companies use innovative methods
  27. Only 8% of agency and marketing executives surveyed believe their employees are strong in all areas of digital marketing (Ad Age)
  28. Only 4% of companies align their training efforts with their overall digital strategy
  29. 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook each month (source: McKinsey)
  30. 16 million people in the UK lack the basic skill to fully benefit from the internet
  31. 4.4 million jobs will be created about Big Data; only 33% will be filled       (Gartner)
  32. $300 billion could be saved if big data was used effectively the US healthcare sector; thereby reducing expenditure by 8% (source: McKinsey)
  33. $3.2 billion was spent by companies on big data in 2010; it is predicted companies will spend $16.9 billion on big data by 2015 (source: CIO)
  34. $500,000,000 in venture capital funds have gone into big data technologies, startups, and vendors in recent years (CIO)
  35. $200,000,000 has been invested in Big Data projects by the Obama administration (source: Wiki Group 7)
  36. 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytic skills as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts will be needed by 2018 to fill jobs in Big Data (source: McKinsey)
  37. In 15 of the US economy’s 17 sectors, companies with upward of 1,000 employees store, on average, more information than the Library of Congress (source: McKinsey)

To display some of these stats visually, below are two infographics.

Do you think we have a Digital Talent Gap?

Digital Talent Gap

Digital Marketing Talent Gap

The best way to predict the future is to create it. 12 reasons why 0

Posted on December 22, 2013 by Rob Petersen



Blank Canvas

“The best way to predict the future is to to create it.” This quote is credited to both Abraham Lincoln and Peter Drucker, two people known for their word of wisdom and lessons to live by.

Will 2014 be the year you predict your future by creating it?

Here are 12 reasons why this is such timeless wisdom. 12 perspectives on the meaning and benefits behind advice that has been given to us for over 200 years.

  1. “Life is a largely uncharted waters.  The best way to know what is coming is to be an active participant.” – Philosoblog
  2. “The important thing is to make it meaningful: a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.” - Dalai Lama
  3. “We are still the masters of our fate. Rational thinking, even assisted by any conceivable electronic computers, cannot predict the future.” – Dennis Gabor, Inventing the Future
  4. “In the face of the unknown, entrepreneurs act. Specifically they: 1) Figure out what they want, 2) take a small step toward making it reality, 3) think about what they learned from taking that step, 3) build that learning into their next step, In other words: Act. Learn. Build. Repeat.” – Forbes
  5. “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.” – William Shakespeare
  6. “Don’t worry about what anybody else is going to do.” – Alan Kay, Apple
  7. “Today’s leaders create the future, versus simply trying to predict it. They: 1)  Unlock potential through empowerment, 2)  Move away from linear thinking, 3) Experiment, Experiment, Experiment and 4) Find your authentic voice.” – Miroslay Tibernaus, Vice-president of Barroso Comission and European Commissioner for Enterprise
  8. “When faced with a challenge, make one. The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.” – Peter Diamandus, Chairman and Co-Founder, Singularity University
  9.  ”In order to build a future you must know the past”, Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father
  10. “Change is inevitable and one can either effect a desired change yourself, or be subject to the results of someone else’s change. In other words, be a leader, rather than a follower; proactive rather than reactive.” – Active Rain
  11.   ”What is the use of running when we are not on the right road?” – German Proverb
  12. “The only real way to have any kind of insight into what will happen is to create your future.” - Jennine Jacobs

Did these perspective teach you something new? Will 2014 be the year you predict your future by creating it?

20 mission statements. 10 succeed and 10 suck for guiding decisions 0

Posted on November 30, 2013 by Rob Petersen




Mission Statement

A mission statement is the reason for being for a company, organization or person.

Mission statement are meant to be big, inspirational but also specific blazing a trail for an actionable plan. That’s because the purpose of a mission statement is to:

  • Spell out goals
  • Identify customers
  • Define the industry
  • Establish competitive differentiation
  • State values

Why create a mission statement? To guide better decision making and action.

Do they?

Here are 20 mission statements. Do they succeed or suck for making better decisions?

10 MISSION STATEMENTS THAT SUCK: These examples are generic and vague. In a number, the industry isn’t even mentioned so they could apply to any number of companies. They are interchangeable. Can you even match the mission statements with the companies?

  1. To maximize long-term stockholder value, while adhering to the laws of the jurisdictions in which it operates and at all times observing the highest ethical standards.
  2. Serving Others For Customers A Better Life For Shareholders A Superior Return For Employees Respect and Opportunity
  3. To be the leader in every market we serve, to the benefit of our customers and our shareholders.
  4. To help all people live healthy lives
  5. We are committed to attracting, developing, and keeping a diverse work force that reflects the nature of our global business.
  6. We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit, and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders, and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.
  7. Undisputed Marketing Leadership
  8. We will continue to build a corporate culture that respects and values the unique strengths and cultural differences of our associates, customers and community.
  9. To supply outstanding service and solutions through dedication and excellence.
  10. The Corporate Governance & Nominating Committee exercises general oversight with respect to the governance of the Board of Directors.


  • Becton, Dickinson
  • Dean Food Corporation
  • Dollar General Corporation
  • Dover Corporation
  • Eaton Corporation
  • Gillette
  • Hershey
  • Hughes Supply, Inc.
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Mutual of Omaha

10 MISSION STATEMENTS THAT SUCCEED: These examples have clarity about goals, industries and competitive advantages. The values here inspire and guide actions that establish higher standards of conduct. Is it easier to match the mission statements with the companies behind them here?

  1. We fulfill dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.
  2. We will be the easiest pharmacy retailer for customers to use.
  3. To make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.
  4. To provide better care of the sick, investigation into their problems, and further education of those who serve.
  5. We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for people of all ages, everywhere.
  6. We are a proud family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.
  7. To provide our policyholders with as near perfect protection, as near perfect service as is humanly possible and to do so at the lowest possible cost.
  8. To build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
  9. To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.
  10. People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world.


  • Amazon
  • Harley-Davidson
  • Cleveland Clinic
  • CVS
  • Disney
  • Ford
  • Erie Insurance Group
  • Google
  • Levi-Strauss
  • Nike

Do you agree with the mission statements that succeed and suck? Does this help you to evaluate or create a mission statement for your organization or personal brand that succeeds?

If you’re interested in knowing the mission statements for the companies, here are the answers.


SUCK: 1. Dean Foods, 2. Dollar General, 3. Dover, 4. Becton, Dickson, 5. Eaton, 6. Gillette, 7. Hershey, 8. Hughes, 9. Mutual of Omaha, 10. JPMorgan Chase

SUCCEED: 1. Harley-Davidson, 2. CVS, 3. Google, 4. Cleveland Clinic, 5. Disney, 6. Ford, 7. Erie, 8. Amazon, 9. Nike, 10. Levi-Strauss


6 lessons to unlearn from big companies if you start a company 0

Posted on November 23, 2013 by Rob Petersen

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LinkedIn sent a “Happy Work Anniversary” last week. It had been 5 years since this company, BarnRaisers, began.

After being surprised by how fast time flew, I thought about the journey; First, the failures and lean times; then, successes (gratefully), good people who build your company (through trial and error) and the achievement of milestones (most unexpected). After a short moment of reflection, I wondered: what happens from here?

Is this familiar to you? If you’ve ever started something and seen it through, it probably is. In my case, after a good number of years working at big ad agencies, I started a digital marketing agency and decided to see it through too.

One lesson learned, when you start a company, unlearn what you learned working at big companies. Much of it won’t apply. Here are 6 lessons I unlearned.

  1. PEOPLE DON’T PAY FOR HOW WELL YOU MANAGE THEIR BUSINESS ANYMORE; THEY PAY FOR ROI: When I worked at big ad agencies, I worked on brands that had advertising and marketing budgets. I once had a boss who said: “Treat your client’s money like it’s your own.” At the time, I thought it was great advice. But what happens when no one gives you money to manage. Instead, you have to convince someone why they should invest in you. This changes the dialogue  to return on investment (ROI). It’s a much healthier conversation.
  2. DON’T SHOW UP WITH A TEAM; SHOW UP WITH A STRATEGY: In many big ad agency new business pitch decks, you’re likely to find a picture of “Your Team” near the end. It is usually about 10 to 30 people. It’s intent is to demonstrate the depth and breath of resources to be applied against your business . Now, I know pictures like this scare people. Who wants a big team they have to learn what they do and wonder why they should pay for them? Your clients want to know the person or two they can rely on to deliver and execute a business strategy – and immediately get on the phone if something is not working.
  3. RELATIONSHIPS DON’T COME WITH BENEFITS; BUT SHARED VALUES: Big companies emphasize why they’re different and better than everyone else. Maybe they have the greatest depth of experience? Or range of services? The best creative. Or the most partnerships with other companies? When you start a company, you don’t have any of those things. All you have is the ability to demonstrate an interest in your client’s business and prove you share their values. I’ve found that’s enough.
  4. NO ONE CAUSES PROBLEMS. THEY HAPPEN: In bigger companies, when there is a problem, there is a tendency to look for someone to blame. When you start a company, you are going to make mistakes. When Seth Godin started his first company, two employees were having a heated argument in the hall about a problem one thought the other had caused. One blamed the other. Everyone heard it and felt uncomfortable. Seth made them stand in front of everyone in the company and apologize. Problems happen.
  5. DON’T KEEP COMPANY KNOWLEDGE A SECRET. SHARE IT AND MORE WILL COME BACK TO YOU: Bigger companies tend to believe there is something proprietary about what they know and the way they work. That’s why they got big. They get secretive believing they have a corner on knowledge. They don’t. Instead, share what you know, more people are likely to find you interesting and want to know more about you.
  6. DON’T GET SO BIG, YOU GET BAD.  “How big can we get before we get bad?” asked legendary ad executive Jay Chiat of his agency, Chiat Day, in the 1980′s. Chiat Day doesn’t exist anymore. It was acquired by Omnicom, who is now merged and called the Publicis Omnicom Group, the biggest ad agency network ever. Jay’s comment is  not only a great statement about the ad agency business, it’s direction of for any company in the early stages of their life cycle to unlearn the lessons for big companies.

We are following this direction. We founded this company on ROI and like to share what we learned along the way. If you interested in digital marketing, download our complimentary eBook, 166 Case Studies prove Social Media Marketing ROIor sign up for our newsletter. Or, be in touch. Maybe we share the same values.

Do you have any lessons from big companies you have to unlearn?

  • About

    BarnRaisers is a full service digital marketing consultancy and agency. We build brands with proven relationship principles and ROI for big results that scale.

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