Customer Service / Online Marketing – One Rock at a Time

How to move mountains – eCommerce & eMarketing strategy for success!

I have rarely been disappointed when I have looked for certain qualities in new hires.

  1. Passionate – Without passion no job gets done right, or well, or with enthusiasm, or right every time.

  2. Intellectual curiosity - Anyone can follow directions, but only those who are truly curious will find a better way to do almost anything.

  3. Appreciation of other cultures through travel – I seriously believe that every student should be given $1,000 and an airline ticket out of the US and told to “go wander” for 6 months after they graduate high school, and then come back and write about it as part of their job interview.
    It doesn’t surprise me that candidates who have experienced more than their backyard and state, have a greater awareness of the infinite possibilities life (and work) throws at them.
    Having job applicants that actually understand how the world works would probably cut down on almost every workplace concern, because these young employees would actually get it – that the world is far bigger than them and to survive you’ve got to seize and appreciate every day and opportunity.

I can dream.

Until then… if you ‘re looking for some employment at a great company, contact me... but only if you meet the 3 criteria above.


The math is simple. There is always going to be 1% on top and 99% on the bottom.

The goal shouldn’t be to vilify the 1%, it should be to inspire the 99% so they aspire to be the 50% at the top.

Simple math.

My 2008 Prius needed new tires. At least that’s what somebody with a little knowledge and a penny told me.

SoCal weather doesn’t really give you too many clues into slips, skids or tire wear and tear, it kind of keeps throwing sunshine and dry roads at you in the hope you buckle and eventually cave in to the Sears ads in the Sunday newspaper.

Not knowing too much about tires I did what I do best and fired up Google and did a few searches for either “Prius tires” or my favorite “best tires for Prius.”

There were some consistently ranking sites, like Tire Rack and Discount Tire, but I was looking for a local installer and Discount Tire wasn’t close, and Tire Rack appears to have no local presence (or at least no one I would want to leave my kids with.)

I did find one unbiased site, that didn’t have any affiliations or any way of purchasing, but it did have some solid information on my little hybrid and a recommendation to use “low rolling resistance” tires. The good news is that my Prius has no problems with rolling, in fact it often rolls silently in car parks under electric power. The silent predator of parking spaces (and shoppers too slow to get out of the way!)

So armed with this knowledge I used the Google Places listing to find a local installer, Woodley Tires in Santa Monica… a place that was more appealing due to it’s “60 years in business” than any pricing (I couldn’t find too much information on their tire pricing) – plus the nice folks on Yelp said how wonderful, quick and friendly these guys were. 10 people can’t be wrong!!

Fast forward to a less busy morning where I ended up visiting Woodley Tire, a small rough and tumble installer that spends more on  toilet paper than the decor, outside paint job, or customer waiting area. (Not knocking soft TP - in fact I’m starting a website to address that very – soft – spot).

End result?

4 new tires, installed quickly and, although I did have to wait unceremoniously outside on a bench that felt like it came from the original olympic stadium, a competitive price – done right!

The guy behind the desk was as nice of a mechanic as I’ve met (which is a low bar he easily vaulted).

So thank you to my new found tire resources, and thanks to the nice folks at Woodleywho really do provide a less tired customer service experience!


A link to Amazon list o’ great marketing books probably my top 10, updated annually.



Please don’t rip your clothes off… but please do consider the irony of a new years resolutions and the celebrations thereof.

Most companies (who follow calendar financial years) start afresh on January 1st, rather like a baby (with a bit of baggage in the nappy).

While those companies focus on the next 12 months, may I suggest they spend a little time learning from the last 12?

Many companies have weathered the bad economy, some have withered (which is like weathering, only worst), and some have survived and dare I say thrived?

The challenge is, at what cost?

If the last 12 months have taught us anything, it’s that at the end of the day “it’s the people stupid“, not the stupid people (present government excepted).

Companies that are still around owe a tremendous thanks to their employees, the people who have done more with less and (mostly) come out of it unscathed. Because… some management haven’t felt the same tightening of belts and fear of unemployment.

Case in point… at the movie theater today the customer service manager was downright rude to a couple of patrons who felt they hadn’t been forewarned that their membership card had expired.

Rather than thank his lucky stars that he has a position of power, he began to wield his power is a decidedly unservice-like manner.

Management everywhere need to look back and thank those that have allowed them to survive, the employees and customers who have come to work everyday, or bought whatever product or service they’re offering.

At the end of the day, a “nude” year should be a time to rip away all the facades of protection and face the next 12 months with humility, gratitude and bare skin to the night breeze, because we are lucky to still have food on the table, a paycheck, and the ability to spend time with those we love.

A nude new year is more than celebration of a new (nude) beginning, it’s a chance to be reborn with a better attitude and mindset of gracious thanks.

Thank you for reading this. It’s appreciated. Seriously.

Just as old food deserves the garbage can, old content loses some of its appeal (at least in Google’s search results).

I took a light-hearted (but serious) look at the various factors and best practices in keeping your website content fresh, and posted an article over at The Search Agents blog to explain the basics of good content strategy.

Bottom line on content development and deployment, it doesn’t have to be a multiple times a day endeavor, but it should focus on content that engages and encourages sharing.

Neither of these are new concepts, I’ve wrote many times that unique and relevant content has a great chance of ranking as it should naturally attract visits, engagement and sharing.

There’s a few caveats to this, such as a test project I built out a few years ago with scraped content and lots of onsite issues. The Music Genres List site is an example of horrible (non existent) design and development, yet ranks because of exact match domain and a true connection of “Intent to Content” – it’s exactly what people expect, a list of music genres.

“Only Google Knows” how it’s ranking algorithm works, but freshness of content, together with relevance to users are two factors that will contribute to good, consistent rankings and your site’s success.

Over at The Search Agents’ blog, I discuss the setting of expectations (or lack of) and the steps online retailers should take to mitigate.

Although I don’t promise a new Mercedes, I wouldn’t mind one of my readers sending one over… so if you’d like… read about eTailing mistakes.

I can’t imagine the Royal Wedding didn’t have it’s naysayers, and although I was happy with the blessed event, I was a little miffed that “nothing is left to chance” was the quote of the day on ABC 7 News.

As Search Agents, “nothing is left to chance (or the search engines)” is a mantra you’ll hear a few times a day at The Search Agency.

Anticipating the unknown not only offers opportunity, it saves royalty (or the client) from ever having to worry about the “what if”

My article covering the Royal Wedding possible gaffs and Search Marketing superiority gained little interaction but maybe pissed off a few Royals.

I took some time out to comment on Google’s Panda update at The Search AGent’s blog, in the hope of dispelling some of the “Chicken Little” sentiment around the web.

The takeaways:

Rule #1: Create unique, valuable content. Period.
Rule #2: In case you haven’t in the past… Follow rule #1.

Simple and hopefully calming news to the SEO crowd currently standing underway doorways or wiping their bottoms.

The more things in SEO change… the more they remain the same.

Happy plucking!

Over at The Search Agents’ blog, I comment (rather sarcastically I might add) on Bing’s foray into various verticals in an attempt (and a bad one at that) of differentiating itself from Google’s simplicity (which it does very well by confusing the hell out of the user)

Check it out and please add your comments if you agree or disagree.

Excuse the play on title words, that have a very (very) loose tie in to ice cream in any shape or form. Though Ben & Jerry’s features on the periphery of this blog post, I am discussing rainy day wins and fails, specific to my day at Universal Studios Hollywood.

To quote another song badly, to say “It never rains in California” is an obvious misnomer… because rain it did during a recent day out in Hollywood. But it wasn’t a complete failure because Universal got it right!

In my continuing search for “living” customer service (not just talking about it) – I found the epitome at Universal where they have a ‘rainy day’ policy whereby there’s a hot chocolate table set up in the park giving free hot chocolate to errant tourists like myself who decide to brave the LA drizzle.

I never complain about free… it was a really nice (and unexpected) touch—customer service wins are all about the unexpected.

Small fail and big win... Although it was raining, rain ponchos were only available as a paid item. I’m not complaining given many of the other considerations, but what about giving a poncho “free” at the park entrance?

BIG WIN (capitalized because Universal definitely gets it) – as I’m leaving, the gate keeper hands me a rainy day pass. Free one day admission to the park within the next 30 days! Wow.

Now thinking about the economics… my family and I’s day out – aside from park admission – probably $120.

For Universal – Incremental revenue, good will, and happy customers, priceless!

Nice to have a great customer services story. Well done Universal Studios Hollywood!

Explaining social networks to seniors should never been taken lightly.

Managed to have a senior moment myself, when referencing Facebook to one of the seniors in my life.

Read about the epiphany on Social Media mainstreaming over at The Search Agents

Yahoo updated it’s algorithm, as noted in their recent announcement.

I caught the news and immediately did what any search geek would do… authored a post over at my company blog, The Search Agents.

Read why I think Yahoo is a missed opportunity for many, and will continue to play an important role in search as BingHoo becomes a reality.

Google’s image search has always been a good place to scavenge for images, graphics and the occasional old girl friend… however it now appears to be the newest revenue channel for the search giant!

Notice and posted on the appearance of sponsored images in search.. nice idea, nice execution.

How quickly time flies and blogging become an afterthought. Wow.

This weekend I was reviewing a work sheet I’ve been noodling over for a client, specific to SEO / online PR scheduling and the importance of consistent communication, updates and site ‘tweaks,’ when I realized it had been 5 months since my last post…

“Hi, I’m Grant, and I’m a work-a-holic. It’s been 5 months since my last post”  —  APPLAUSE


Post to follow.

Does this one count as a post, if you post to say you’re going to post?

Reminds me of my blog post over at The Search Agents

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Backdated a few posts to my Search Agents prose. Fact… I will never be prolific, I may be persistent.


Geo-targeting tweets inspired me to pen a post over at The Search Agents.. check out my thoughts on what this means for local businesses and local search.

Blog post over at The Search Agents where I call out Google’s Matt Cutts on the search landscape 2010.

Although Matt didn’t seem to read the post (or if he did he didn’t respond), a lot of what I anticipated has in fact come true, a lot of what he predicted… Matt?

Hey Google! Need a new spokesperson?


To read or not to read, that is the question.

A recent blog at The Search Agents has me quoting (or misquoting) old Will to illustrate the point that brands are winning the search game due to Google relevancy assignment and the average Internet users’ simplistic behavior.

Read less about William S. and more on why brands are even more important online.

I know I do… in fact, I push for every client presentation to have a relevant quote from folks smarter than myself 🙂

“If you travel the earth, you will find it is largely divided into two classes of people-people who say “I wonder why such and such is not done” and people who say “Now who is going to prevent me from doing that thing?”” – Winston Churchill

Are you the preventor or the prevented? (Or the guy that won’t let either label stop him?)

Over at The Search Agents blog, and following the thread at iMedia Connection, there’s an article I published as a 101 of SEO success measurement.

Doesn’t go into extreme detail, but does give some insight into metrics I look at when ‘telling a story’ to clients.

Get some SEO bench pressing in your schedule!