Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Interview with Steve Estrellado

Please explain the history behind the creation of your business and how you became involved in it. 
Estro Communications was founded in 2010. We, Steve and Christian Estrellado, had the intuition that social media and digital advertising was about to explode. Prior to Estro Communications, we created Estro Entertainment (a marketing promotional agency).  We were often asked to use social media to help amplify our marketing campaigns.  With this experience, we realized that social media will be the wave of the future.

What product or service do you sell and how do you do the selling?
Estro Communications focuses on digital management consulting and marketing communications. Our ideology revolves around building business relationships, not hard-selling.  We use the “new digital norm” of social media to brand our company online. Social media allows us to network with people, as well as advertise our company’s name on digital ads, e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google.

Who was the most influential in helping you as you developed your business? How?
We had many mentors in our past work experience.  They all advised us to read about the businesses we planned on getting involved in--don't assume that we know everything about the subject.  Reading is a tactic that we use to develop our business. Books such as “Good to Great” and “Built to Last” by Jim Collins influenced us.

Why did you decide to start this particular type of business? Where and how did you develop the expertise or the idea for this business?
The digital marketing industry is constantly evolving.  Change creates opportunity—you need to trust your gut instinct and adapt to change.  We taught ourselves the subject; it was autodidactic.  

What is your educational background?  Are there any classes that you did take or wish you had taken that could help you run your business? Why?
I have a BS in Marketing from Rutgers Business School.  I started college majoring in Computer Science and I switched to business.   I recommend finishing with both a degree in business and in computer science.

To what do you attribute your success?  Be very specific. What would you consider doing differently if you had a chance to start over again?  Why?
I credit my discipline and routine as strengths in our business—I abide by a daily schedule. Managing the business cash flow is very important, meaning you shouldn’t spend more than you make.  Running your business on mismanaged credit can put your company severely in debt.

Did you have any business failures as you were trying to get established? If so, what did you learn from them? 
Cash flow is the most important pillar in business; it is the reason why our prior business went awry.  I advise getting a deposit from your clients and receiving the difference once the job is completed—protect yourself if the client defaults.  It is best practice to save at least a year’s worth of expenses in your company’s saving account.  In case your cash flow runs short, you have a buffer to keep business as usual.

What personal characteristics that you possess contribute the most to your success?  Why?
I credit perseverance, faith, belief, charisma, positive thinking and energy as characteristics that make a thriving businessman. These characteristics are the foundation that help push you through those difficult times.

Describe a typical day in your business. Be very specific.
I suggest having a to-do list of what has to be done before you go to work. My work can get pretty hectic even with a to-do list, considering I’m constantly receiving phone calls and emails.  I suggest prioritizing what needs to be done as tasks come in.  Try to get 3 to 5 of the most important projects finished per day.

What are the advantages to owning your own business? Disadvantages?
Advantages include freedom, but freedom with responsibility. I own my own time, and I am able to be spontaneous with my schedule.  I am my own boss and I make my own decisions. Disadvantages include: having to take full responsibility if something goes wrong, having your business come first and putting personal relationships second.

Do the advantages of owning your own business outweigh the disadvantages? Please explain.
Advantages in business always outweighs the disadvantages if there’s an end goal in mind.  If someone owns a business and creates it for the sake of longevity, cash flow and carry on value, it has legacy and it will live on.  But, if you start a business to just go to work, the dream stops there.

What advice would you give to these young entrepreneurs as they venture out to create their own businesses?  
One, come in with capital. Two, come in with a team.  Three, have an advisory board, but take their advice wisely.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned over the years?
Our biggest problem was that the first business was getting too big too fast.  Take the time to stop and enjoy your success.  Don’t over-extend yourself and enjoy the moment.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Google Hummingbird will Affect 90% of all SEO

By +Steve Estrellado | @steveestro | Download PDF

Google Hummingbird will now comprehend your search query.  Everyone thinks differently (Google gets that)—people search for the same thing, but use different words to search it.  Most people are creating long-tail intent based searches, i.e. users' searches are becoming longer and more specific.



For example if you own a local restaurant, your best bet would be to write content (on your blog) that describes the meal, experience, price and relevancy to your local area.  Google’s crawlers will be able to comprehend your content and display it accurately to the user.

Google aims to filter out keyword based websites—putting higher relevance to conversation based websites.  From my professional opinion, that means a fully integrated digital presence.  Your web integration should include your company’s: website, social media, review sites and blog (with conversation based comments).

On your part, think of search as if you were talking to your neighbor.  Speak colloquially; use terms that your neighbor would understand—Google will too.

If you are an experienced web programmer, concentrate on structured data, i.e. rich snippets of data relevant to the users’ query.  Structured data will help rank your web properties even more so on search.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

How To Optimize an Online Press Release

Estro Communications
By +Steve Estrellado | @steveestro | Download PDF



An online press release is another vital component to your SEO strategy.  Use an online press release to increase online visibility, gain rankings in search engines and appear on highly ranked (Google PageRank) news sites.

Most companies use online press releases to:
> Generate buzz about a new product or service
> Announce a new client or business relationship
> Showcase any other significant company news

In order to get noticed you need to write for the news sites searching for your industries products or services and the search engines that index your content.

In order to get a better understanding of SEO, I first recommend reading my blog on SEO (Small Business: 10 Point SEO Checklist).

It is important to determine the exact keyword phrase that you would like your online press release to be indexed under. Keyword phrases are a set of search terms that people use to find your content.

3 attributes for keyword phrase optimization:
  1. Location:   Relevant keywords should be concentrated within the title, url and headline.
  2. Density:  Refers to the weight of keyword usage. Top 3-5 keyword phrases should incorporate up to 10% of your content.
  3. Frequency: Search engines are programmed to provide more prominence to fresh content.

Tips:
Keyword Rich Content: Use keyword rich content that is brief and easy for readers to scan for relevancy.
Anchor Text: Anchor text is text used to describe your content to search engines.
Hyperlinks: Hyperlinks should direct readers back to your website.  Limit in text links to one link per 100 words.

Write relevant content that would engage your targeted readers.  Attach logos, head shots, product shots, audio / video files, PDF’s or any other supplemental materials.  In closing, a strong online press release should garnish incremental website traffic and higher search engine ranking.

All original content copyright Steve Estrellado, 2013.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Market Your Business Online


Estro Communications
By +Steve Estrellado | @steveestro | Download PDF



Digital marketing is the most cost effective way to market your business.  But, most people do not know where to start.  The internet is a complex machine with simultaneously moving parts.  Do not be short-sighted and think that your website is, “just a static Yellow Pages advertisement (far from it).”  You need to connect the digital dots.  

This blog will share a top-level overview of 11 key components to implement a fully integrated digital marketing strategy.

1. SEO  Analysis
Your keywords are the cornerstone to your digital marketing strategy.  You need to clearly identify the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where and why) of your business.   On the internet, you will need to specifically explain your service or product offering in 1 key phrase.

Tip:  Your URL, website title and metadata are vital to your success online.  For more information, read:
10 Point SEO Checklist

2. Competitor Analysis  & SWOT Analysis  
a.     Once you develop your key phrase, you will need to assess the market online.  Google your key phrase.  Who are your top 3 competitors?  Analyze their sites and their digital footprint.

b.     Second, dust off those business textbooks and complete a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis for your business.  This is your business; you need to know what you do.  Be clear, concise and to the point.  No one has time to decipher your message.  Most importantly, determine your unique selling proposition.

3. Website Design
This is your website; treat it like your home.  You need to be happy with how it looks, but you should also be able to easily touch it up.  My best suggestion would be to create a website on http://www.blogger.com or http://www.tumblr.com.  The interface on Blogger and Tumblr are much easier to work with than http://wordpress.org/.

Tip:  Remember to configure your domain to point to that IP Address.

3b.   Online Store
i. An online store is not for beginners.  I would not recommend building a store from scratch.  You should build a store and pay rent to an ecommerce platform, i.e. http://www.volusion.com/.
ii. Amazon:  I would also recommend selling your products on Amazon http://services.amazon.com/.

4. Website Landing Page
In order to attract new customers, you will need to create a landing page.  Your landing page should be able to explain your unique selling proposition in 2 seconds.  Most importantly, you will need a call to action (a form or buy now function).

5. Create Relevant Content
 The content you create must resonate with your core audience and target market. For more information, read:
Content as a Marketing Strategy

Tip:  Your blog, podcast and YouTube channel are the epicenter of your content. It should entertain, educate and engage your followers.

6. Social Media
Once you create your own original content, do not hesitate to share it on your social networks.  Each network is a unique ecosystem.  I do not recommend using a CMS (content management system).  Post on each network separately, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, G+, Instagram, etc.

7. Local Search
No matter what size your business is, search is now local.  To own search, you need to own your local market.  Start by claiming your Google Places page: http://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/

8. Online Reviews
The most important aspect you need to consider are your online reviews, i.e. Yelp, Yellow Pages, Angie’s List, etc.   These review sites usually rank high on your Google search.  If you do not monitor these sites, your customers will see poor ratings (lost opportunity) for your business.

9. Pay Per Click
a. Facebook: Facebook ads are a great way to build your brand online.

Tip:  Facebook is a great way to expose your potential customers to your brand’s personality.

b. Google AdWords: Google AdWords are perfect for generating new leads to your website.  Your AdWords strategy directly affects your landing page (quality score).  Read more:
http://support.google.com/adwords/answer/2454010?hl=en

c. Remarketing: Remarketing by Google, “lets you show ads to users who've previously visited your website as they browse the web.” Read more: http://www.google.com/ads/innovations/remarketing.html

10. Email Marketing
Don’t forget about email.  Email (as long as they opt-in) is your direct connection to your customer.  Keep your email clear and concise.  I recommend using: http://mailchimp.com/

Tip:  Never send an email blast from your own email account as a cc or bcc.  Your email account will be blacklisted and every email you send thereafter will be marked as SPAM.

11. Analytics
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. Embed Google Analytics into your website.  The data here is more than suffice for any company.

Tip:  You will need to integrate Google Webmaster and AdWords into your Analytics.

In conclusion, digital marketing has multiple components that must work in synergy.  Most people will neither have the time nor the experience to implement such a complicated digital marketing framework.  At the very least, you can be prepared to hold a conversation with your potential digital marketing agency.

If you are looking to hire a digital marketing agency or consultant in your area, please read:
How to Hire a Social Media Manager


All original content copyright Steve Estrellado, 2013.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Content as a Marketing Strategy


Estro Communications
By +Steve Estrellado | @steveestro | Download PDF


Smart digital marketing has provoked and deprecated traditional advertising.  As a modern day marketer, it is necessary to focus on creating blogs, images, videos, and audio podcasts.  The content you create must resonate with your core audience and target market.  For example, restaurants should share mouth-watering food images.  Services (business consultants, contractors, lawyers, and doctors) should share basic how to and do-it-yourself tips.  In essence, think of your business as a publisher of entertaining and educational content.  It is your content that will drive sales from your target market.

Build trust with your prospects with the right content; nurture them to become an educated consumer.  Your business will grow because you have become the authority and thought leader in your business.  Investment advisors have been doing this for years.  You buy their white papers and even their services based on their assessments of the market.

To create an effective content marketing strategy you need to focus on the needs of your customers.  Remember, this is your marketing material.  People are naturally inquisitive.  If you consistently share fresh and relevant content, your customers will seek your products and services.

Overall, if your content specifically answers your customer’s needs it will successfully garnish new inquiries (long-tail leads).  These inquiries are a low-cost and highly-effective alternative when compared to the price of traditional advertising (TV, radio, and print).

Bonus: Technical SEO Tip

Better known as the Panda algorithm update, Google has made it a priority to curate fresh and relevant content from your website.  You’re out-dated website will fall off search if you treat your site as a “yellow pages advertisement.”  Also note, the Penguin algorithm update has made it impossible to use black hat SEO techniques, i.e. keyword stuffing, unorthodox link-building, and spam blogging.


All original content copyright Steve Estrellado, 2013.