Mike Salvaggio is the CEO of SEO Brand. He joins the show to discuss how important social media is to a campaign.
Salvaggio has been a leader in the internet marketing and development industry since 2000. In 2002, he organized and wrote a FICO credit score repair eBook that quickly sold over 50,000 copies and transitioned into his next endeavor, Net Direct, a global fulfillment consulting firm. While operating Net Direct out of his home and a nearby office, Salvaggio was recruited to turnaround Caiman and DVD Legacy, two of the biggest marketplace traders on Amazon.com and many different domestic and international online marketplaces. After doubling the gross profit in less than 1 year, the company was sold to a private equity firm primarily based upon the huge success of the search marketing and search engine optimization efforts he designed and employed.
Salvaggio started SEO Brand, a full service software development and online services company specializing in application development, pay per click advertising, and search engine optimization in 2002 with his partner Michael Abitbol. With his extensive experience, Salvaggio continues to bring new concepts and creative strategies to the industry. Throughout his career, Salvaggio has held positions with leading corporations including Sunoco, Staples and Mail Services Incorporated. Salvaggio holds a degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s prestigious Wharton School of Business and is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Organization Dynamics at The University of Pennsylvania. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two children, as well as playing basketball and video games, and watching movies.
Visit SEO Brand at www.seobrand.com.
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Start of Interview with Mike Salvaggio
Jason Hartman: It’s my pleasure to welcome Mike Salvaggio to the show. He is the CEO of SEO Brand, in other words, Search Engine Optimization Brand. And it’s great to have him today to talk about a variety of technology and marketing topics, and he’s coming to us from the Philadelphia area I believe. Mike, welcome. How are you?
Mike Salvaggio: I’m doing well, Jason. Thanks for having me.
Jason Hartman: Well, it’s great to have you on the show. So, since it’s so topical, you mentioned before we started that you could talk a little bit about the NSA scandal and what it means to us in the technology space, and I guess everyone’s in that space nowadays, we’re all using technology unless we live in a cave. But what are your thoughts on that? And then we gotta cover a variety of topics. Let’s start there, though.
Mike Salvaggio: Sure. I mean, one of the biggest things to really take away from this whole NSA thing and the privacy issues that have come up is although we’ve made pretty good gains in technology specifically, I mean really over the last 5 years technology has really gone through the roof. But the gains that we’ve made, we’ve given up our privacy. So you can really see with the younger generation today, I mean this demographic, these guys are uploading everything onto Facebook, Twitter, and with all of this information. I mean, I guess it kind of struck me is it really that surprising that the government is really watching all of this free information that’s going through all these servers?
I mean, when it was announced that the NSA had access to all this data and was using it to monitor citizens outside The United States or even inside The United States, both, I was very surprised that people were actually surprised that this was going on. So I think it’s a really big issue.
Jason Hartman: Did you say you were surprised that people were surprised?
Mike Salvaggio: Correct. Yeah, I was. I don’t know, I mean it seems pretty logical to me, Jason, that anything you’re going to do on a digital device could easily be monitored by someone that has the authority to monitor it. So, whether or not they were doing it, I think everyone knew subconsciously they were doing it, but once it came out into the open it sure started a pretty passionate firestorm about who’s right and who’s wrong. But I think the implications for something like this, going further with technology being released every day, they’re gonna start giving it a second chance to say, hey, should I really put this out there? Who’s really watching me?
Jason Hartman: Right, right. Well, talk to us a little bit about some of the extremely cool gadgets that are on the way to the marketplace or the broader market. We’ve got Google Glass that looks like it’s pretty much here – it’s almost arrived. The developers have the glasses now. And the iWatch, Apple hired a whole bunch of new people to develop that product. What do we have to look forward to?
Mike Salvaggio: I think Google Glass is a very good example of what’s possible. I don’t know how much you know about it, but you can, no pun intended, Google Google Glass and read some of the information that’s out there. But, really, it’s just a wearable monitor. And you could just give it commands to record, take pictures, basically give you display on weather. I mean, if you’re looking down the street and you wanted to map it out, it’ll tell you how many miles your destination is, how many steps that you need to take. It’s pretty fantastic in the way that it can just put technology really at the command of your voice. But, at the same time, the flipside to that argument, and I’ve had this conversation many times and I’ll certainly take this position, and this can go either way, but it’s another privacy issue is to where all you really need to do is say “Glass take picture” or “Glass upload video” and in a matter of seconds you can record someone and have it spread all over social media. Depending on how many followers and fans you have on Twitter and Facebook, you could hit millions of people within a matter of seconds. So you could see that could raise some privacy concerns.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, sure could. I bet they’ll outlaw them at the gym and in public bathrooms as well. They should, they need to. I remember they used to say no cellphones and they had to give in because there’s no way people would listen to that. But it’s really interesting. I’ve had big debates with people about the new wearable computers that are coming down the road, and people say “I wouldn’t wear those stupid glasses” and then I say to them, well, would you rather have your cellphone and your smartphone mini-computer on your wrist as a watch like Apple’s working on? And they say “No, I wouldn’t.” They all say that and I said, look, the next iteration is wearable and it’s going to come. I’m just asking you what do you think will be the permutation of it? What do you think will catch on? What are your thoughts about that?
Mike Salvaggio: It’s definitely exciting from a marketing perspective. I mean, being an internet marketer and knowing there are going to be 100 wearable technology devices in just a few years, that’s really what they’re estimating, that’s a tremendous opportunity for marketers. I mean, from the consumer perspective, there’s all these different things happening right now. So the devices that we’re using on a daily basis are smartphone, which, you basically said, it’s practically impossible to ban a smartphone from anywhere anymore because everybody has them – they’re such an integral part of our life. That technology that we’re used to using every day, if you can make that more convenient by you wearing that technology such as the iWatch, such as the Google Glass, then I would agree with you – I think it’s going to be embraced. And based by these predictions, you’re gonna see them all over the place pretty soon.
Jason Hartman: It seems to me, though, that the glass is just a much more sensible method of doing wearable computing because it’s already on your eyes. You’re already looking at it. A watch, I mean I keep trying to envision, what is an iPhone watch gonna be like? Apple just rarely makes a mistake. They’ve had a few flops throughout history, but not lately for sure. And do you take it off your wrist? How are you gonna take a picture with it? You know what I mean? Like, how are you going to use it to listen and is there going to be a little Bluetooth earpiece that comes off? I don’t know. The glasses, it’s already there where it needs to be. It’s near your ear, it’s near your eyes, it’s near your mouth. It just seems like a far more successful ergonomic design.
Mike Salvaggio: I would agree. From what I’ve read about it, at least the speculation about iWatch, because we’ve been talking about iWatch now for a while. I mean, all the Apple watchers and even Apple themselves who have announced, like you said an ROIer, have brought on some different people to work on the program, one, you’re right, they rarely do make a mistake, but, two, they really haven’t done much in terms of new product development and innovation under the current CEO Tim Cook. So I am really excited to see whether or not they can come out and make a Steve Jobs like splash with this iWatch. It certainly has a lot of buzz behind, but you’re right – wearable glass – how does it interact with the ear? How could it take a picture? I mean, earlier things that I’ve heard, it may project a hologram onto a table where you can use it as a keyboard, but this is all speculation right now. I mean, you know Apple keeps things pretty tight to the chest. We won’t find out until they release the keynote, but exciting stuff for sure.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, definitely is. I mean, I’m a big Apple fan. I’ve had every iPhone iteration so far. I’ve never had an Android, but I gotta tell you, it’s hard for me to imagine how Apple’s gonna pull this off. I think the glasses versus the watch, I just kind of think it’s gonna go to the glasses, but I can’t wait to be proven wrong.
Mike Salvaggio: I mean, I would agree with you. Listen, they’re fashion items, too. Glasses and watches are fashion items.
Jason Hartman: Glasses, though, are function item, too, reading glasses, sunglasses, etcetera. But, yeah, they’re fashion items, no question. And they’re status items.
Mike Salvaggio: That’s right, they are status items. So I think you’re gonna get some fluctuation in terms of who would wear a Google Glass. Now, who knows? Maybe the Google Glass now is just a precursor to different designing companies that jump in onto this. Okay, so now maybe you’re gonna have your Dolce & Gabbana frames with the Google Glass attachment, right? So, that would be the smart trajectory for some of these bigger glass designers to jump on top of this and ride this wave in and it wouldn’t surprise me if you were to see that.
Jason Hartman: And their operating system is open source, so hopefully they’ll keep the hardware philosophy open source, too. They probably would be very smart to do that if it can somehow be engineered, so it makes a lot of sense.
Let’s talk about marketing on the internet. There are so many forms of internet marketing. We all know this, but what is up and coming and excited today in particular?
Mike Salvaggio: Well, your traditional type of internet marketing is really organic search optimization. I mean, that’s really what’s been dominating. It’s a big part of what we do, also buying media through Google AdWords, basically pay per click, you’ve probably heard of this model. These two models right now are pretty much the dominant and they have been for a while. Now, the new stuff that’s coming down the line is more of position based advertising, right? So, let’s say, for instance, if you have a global positioner, you have a GPS, you have a Garmin. And based off your buying history, the Garmin maybe drives by a Dunkin Donuts and all of a sudden you’re getting directions to pull into the Dunkin Donuts because now you get 20% off your next order of coffee or a dozen donuts.
Jason Hartman: I’m kind of surprised you’re even bringing up Garmin, I mean isn’t that all just in your smartphone?
Mike Salvaggio: I mean, you do have to wonder how companies like Garmin are really being able to compete because Apple pretty much has just integrated with Google Maps and it’s a free program and it’s very good. In terms of a GPS, they keep it updated, you have real-time traffic updates. So I think that’s a whole other argument on how Garmin is gonna be able to compete with smartphones that are basically just kind of giving their product away. But even just using Google Maps for an example, a position based coupon system is something that’s pretty easy to implement. Being Google, which, if you know, based off of your browser history, every time you do a search on google, they record it. Although, they say they don’t use that data to market to you, we all know that once you open up Gmail, and based upon your search history, you see ads there that are really driven upon what you’ve been searching for. So it’s really nothing for them to ping that ad directly into a Google Map and try and get you to pull into a store because they know you like whatever they’re selling. It’s just logical.
Jason Hartman: Sure. That is a phenomenal form of advertising and I think it’s already being used. You know what surprises me, though? It’s that Facebook and Foursquare are so rarely using…And I guess it’s not really the companies, but they’re not marketing it enough to various merchants to get people to check in at businesses. They should get a coupon. I mean, if I had a storefront type of business or restaurant or something like that, I would want everybody that comes into my place to check in and I’d be happy to give them a free cup of coffee or something or other.
Mike Salvaggio: I don’t see it much, and I agree.
Jason Hartman: It’s surprising. That seems like such a big missed opportunity, doesn’t it?
Mike Salvaggio: It’s huge. My family and I went to this frozen yogurt shop right by our house. One just opened up in our town. And they are utilizing it actually, so they say check in and get 2 free ounces of frozen yogurt which I thought was pretty ingenious. And, as simple as it may sound, you’re right, no one is really following something like this. But I’ve been paying pretty close attention to their Facebook fan base and it’s grown over 500% since they opened and that’s really all based off this location based check-in. And look, the system is already there. It’s not like a business has to come in and buy some expensive software program. It’s already ready to go.
Jason Hartman: It’s kind of like the old web 2.0 concept. You just overlay on a technology that’s already there. It’s really easy, just really easy. Another thing that surprised me is a few years ago I remember that Facebook was going into the Groupon business and they test marketed it in like 11 cities and then they just decided they didn’t like that business. That just seems like such a natural for them.
Mike Salvaggio: It does, and I think that the lesson really was learned from Groupon as the business model doesn’t work. So, Facebook tested it, they looked at it, but they also took a pretty big look at Groupon and where their IPO was and their current financials and just the model in itself, and the deal model is very flawed. Although it’ll grab a big base of acquisition of customers, normally what it winds up doing is getting customers that are buy 1 time and that’s it.
Jason Hartman: Which is the opposite of what every merchant wants – they want repeats. But I kind of would argue with you. I don’t think it was necessarily the Groupon business model that was so bad, it’s just that Groupon screwed up so many things. They had a very early huge success and they had some CEO problems and IPO problems. Groupon had some other issues.
Mike Salvaggio: Yeah, I would agree. But just the deal model in itself, what it wound up doing is breaking off into these smaller niche type of deal services that tend to do very, very well if they’re serving certain verticals or whatever their niche is. So these smaller ones that you never really hear of, and we have a few clients that we service in this area, they do extremely well, but they locked into something and they sold against that specific vertical, whereas Groupon was very broad. They were just looking for as many customers as they can acquire and it just seemed like so they can go public and unload their stock, but who knows? I guess maybe if I was in that same position we would have taken similar courses, but a lot of people learn from Groupon. And considering where they are now, it’s making the whole deal space quite negative, I mean at least to appear that way.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, that’s for sure. Well, tell us some of the things that small businesses, independent businesses, speakers, authors, publishers, info marketers, some of the things that they can use that are highly cost effective but offer a lot of return on investment leverage in the marketplace. What do you think is something that these smaller businesses really need to be paying attention to?
Mike Salvaggio: I can tell you this, and this is a question that really comes up a lot, is that businesses really don’t understand what their true cost per acquisition is. They don’t understand the lifetime value of a customer, right? So, maybe a customer that came to them 2 years ago, they have their email address, they have their physical address, they have the revenue that they’ve spent with them. Maybe over a couple of times they’ve spent some money with them. They have the data sitting there most of the time. They have it in a CRM or some old database, but they don’t understand how to mind the data. They don’t know to say, okay, well, customer A spent X amount with me, and based upon that spend we should offer him something else to increase the spend, or how to reconnect with that database to keep a flowing shot of information back and forth to say, hey, our business is still here – there’s things that we can help you with. But by understanding these key metrics, what’s the lifetime value of my client? How do I constantly keep in contact with my client? And you can do that through a variety of different ways, through social and through email marketing. And then also how to call those clients back and upsell them and keep them inside of your ecosystem of business. That’s a very big missed opportunity. So, instead of spending tons of money on marketing, whether it’s internet marketing, traditional print, radio, they could use what they already have in their own wheelhouse considering that they’re collecting the information. I mean, that’s a whole other issue at some point. But just having that data and monetizing that data is really where a lot of businesses miss out today.
Jason Hartman: Are there any particular tools or programs that you want to mention for people to do that? I mean, obviously they’re not going to program some big customer relationship management system that does this all for them. My company uses Infusionsoft, and I’ve had them on the show as well. But there are many platforms out there. Anything in particular, though, that you wanted to mention or something someone should be looking for?
Mike Salvaggio: Infusionsoft is a very good CRM. We do a lot of work with integrating Infusionsoft, setting them up for clients. I mean, I could definitely recommend Infusionsoft if you’re willing to suck up the little bit of a learning curve.
Jason Hartman: A little bit? Are you kidding? It’s a lot.
Mike Salvaggio: A lot a bit, but very, very powerful once you lock it down. I mean, you basically can do anything with Infusionsoft, but businesses can open up even something as simple as an iContact account, which they’ll give you a free trial for the first 30 days. You can go, set up an iContact account, build a couple of email lists and start sending out relative email blasts to your customers. I mean, you can get this started pretty quickly. And it’s a way to put your business back on the radar. So that’s a tool that I always recommend. In terms of building your creative, well there’s so many free programs that you could use right now and just download off the net, even on a trial basis to get some HTML experience, some design experience. Really, what it matters is being in communication with your client base, just something as simple as iContact with a free trial, loading up some email addresses and learning how the whole process works, you can teach yourself and there’s a lot of available resources on YouTube, links, step by step programs where you can watch and just learn how to set it up. You can probably get the whole thing set up in 10 to 15 minutes.
Jason Hartman: Good. Two more topics I want to cover with you, time permitting, Michael, number one is reputation management. And your firm does that, and I just thought maybe you could speak to that a little bit. Obviously, on the internet, it’s great and bad at the same time because you can have these competitors, wacko customers that do hit and run things that are just ridiculous that’ll post something negative about a business and it can really hurt their reputation. What should people know about reputation management?
Mike Salvaggio: It’s a big sector in our industry right now.
Jason Hartman: And a growing one, right?
Mike Salvaggio: And a growing one, that’s correct. It’s just amazing what some of these companies can do. But, really what it is is controlling what people can see online. So it doesn’t take much for somebody to go online to a review site and specifically one that’s very highly optimized which shows up on top ranking such as Yelp or even the Better Business Bureau and could go on there and pretty much voice their opinion about someone or a business. So, in a matter of seconds, if somebody really wanted to destroy your online credibility, they certainly could which explains why reputation management is such an in demand service right now. But really, the core of it is good positive content, writing and releasing good positive content and controlling what’s on the first few pages of Google what people will read about you based upon certain keyword searches. 90% of all the searches never even get past page 2 anyway, so as long as you can control page 1 and the majority of page 2, well, we like to control as many pages a week as we can with good positive information. Then it basically cleans Google. But there’s other reputation management companies that do it in a different way. Sometimes they’ll get attorneys involved – they’ll send cease and desist letters and the nasty letters and things like that, and threaten people to take things down. So there’s a different type of methodology depending on what reputation management company that you use. But it is definitely a growing sector. And, if you think about it, it’s nothing but reverse search engine optimization where with SEO or search engine optimization you’re pushing sites up, and with reputation management you’re pushing and suppressing negative sites and pushing them out.
Jason Hartman: Uh huh. So, how much does it cost, though? What should someone budget for this type of stuff?
Mike Salvaggio: It really depends. I mean, there’s really no secret to reputation management other than writing very good content and having a good outlet. So good reputation management companies, well, they’ll become publishers. So they’ll have accounts with The Associated Press, they’ll be able to publish news directly on news wires. So search engines tend to trust this type of content better than maybe for someone just opening up a blog account on WordPress and writing some content there. So, if something is considered valuable, it could be picked up on CNN, it can be picked up on The Huffington Post, all different types of authoritative sites. And not so much the bigger the reputation management company, but the better the company, the more trusted their content is, they could get links on highly placed sites. And if that’s the case, they can control a lot of the real estate on Google. But the price really depends. If you have something that’s on a very sticky website like a government website – there’s people that if they have court documents that show up online, I mean all this information is public, those sites have more authority on Google and obviously it’ll cost more to suppress those because you have to pump out more content rather than maybe a couple of small little unknown sites that don’t have a lot of authority – then the price would be less. You can figure anywhere from a solid reputation management package could be as low as $3000, could be as high as $15 to $20 thousand dollars. It depends on the damage.
Jason Hartman: Okay, yeah, but you know it’s an ongoing thing – like do you have a campaign, an ongoing campaign that you run for people? I’m sure you do. I mean, it’s not a one-time situation. It’s just sort of something they budget in, right?
Mike Salvaggio: Yeah, it’s budgeted in, but normally in the beginning a pretty big shot and an unleashing of good content. And once we have the rankings where we want, then it’s a small monthly maintenance program just to monitor and to shoot content when we need it here or there. A good reputation management client is someone that has something bad on the search engines that they don’t want people to see. But a bad reputation management client is somebody that’s really engaging in the business that’s causing constant complaints because maybe you could shove out 10 to 15 good articles that could suppress some negative stuff. Well, if there’s constant complaints coming in about you or your business and you’re constantly going on these sites like The Ripoff Report and pretty much talking about your experience that you had with the business, those sites are gonna go back up. So it’s gonna be a never ending battle if you’re in a business that you’re constantly generating complaints about. And, believe it or not, there’s more than you think.
Jason Hartman: Yeah. Let’s kind of wrap up on the subject of social media that’s all the rage now and the past few years. Now that we’re several years into the world of social media, I just keep being a little skeptical. Of course, for my businesses, we do extensive social media. We have pages for all of our different brands and so forth, but it’s really hard to quantify an ROI from social media. Are people and businesses, a lot of them, are they just kind of wasting time with the social media stuff or are they making it work for them and turning it into something that truly generates actual revenue or is it just good feelings?
Mike Salvaggio: The biggest disconnect with social media is everybody thinks they want it, right, they want social media optimization for their business. So they see people on Facebook, they hear people on Twitter, they hear all the millionaire stories all over the internet and they say in my business I have to be here. So when they come to us and they tell us this, we look at their business and say, okay, well, you don’t really have any social reach right now, you don’t have any Facebook fans, you don’t have a Facebook page. You don’t have a Twitter page, you have no respect of Twitter fans. We want to build that all up for you, but the business owner says that’s great. What’s my ROI? Why should I dump money into this? What is it gonna mean for my business? I think that I want it. And this is really the majority of the cases that we come across. And I always stick to this. It’s really all about building a social ecosystem. So, the more fans that you get inside of this mini ecosystem, right, the more people pay attention to your message, and not pitching them direct offers on how they can save money if they buy this t-shirt and coupon code, but giving them really good sustainable information, right, information they could use to better their business. Those are the social media strategies that work the best because you’re giving out information, they’re paying attention to your posts, and they’re benefiting from whatever they’re reading from. It works the same way as a blog. Once you have that trust, because it’ll grow – your fan base will grow and grow and grow – it’ll brand your site for the first thing. The second thing is it’ll send good social signals to Google and you’ll be rewarded with higher rankings for your website. And 3, it creates a little bit of the feel good that you talked about. So it’s a 3-prong approach, very good for your business, very difficult to quantify, though, in terms of well if I pay a dollar for click and I receive $10 in revenue, it’s not that easy and it takes time to really back out to determine whether or not it’s actually made a positive impact on your business.
Jason Hartman: I guess my somewhat skeptical sounding question comes from some experience that I have in seeing business people spend a lot of time on things like Facebook. And it just seems like they are waiting for this to be the Holy Grail. And just because people like your page and even if they engage with your page, it doesn’t mean they’re customers. It doesn’t mean they’re qualified. It doesn’t mean you’re gonna make a dollar from them. So, I guess is there some kind of middle ground there as to do you agree, first of all, Mike, people can be wasting too many resources on the social media thing and they ought to just worry more about their website and their email marketing and some of the stuff that came before social media?
Mike Salvaggio: It’s a slippery slope, because if you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing with social and you don’t have up to date branding on all your social channels and interaction, then somebody that comes across your company could take that as a negative because they see everybody else doing it and they say, hey, these guys really don’t have it together. They have no social presence at all, and then these guys don’t even know what Instagram is or they don’t do any tweeting whatsoever. So you have to be careful of that, but I would say that business owners should put it in the proper perspective. It’s something that you should do – it’s something that every business needs. But if you’re looking for instant gratification when it comes to how much is this impacting me on the bottom line, I would expect to be negative before you see anything turn into positive for at least 6 months to a year until you really build that up. So don’t dump a ton of resources in it, but pay attention.
And the most important thing that businesses can take away from this is once you start having a conversation with your client base, it’s important to keep it going. Nothing is worse than coming in, starting a conversation, getting everybody active, and then just walking away and not talking to them again because that’s what it’s like.
Jason Hartman: Yeah, good points, definitely good points. So Mike Salvaggio, the company is SEO Brand and the website is SEOBrand.com, and what else would you like to say in closing?
Mike Salvaggio: Well, I’d just like to thank you for the time that you had on the show and anybody can reach out to our website if they would like any additional information on some of the products and services that we provide. We do a lot of website development, mobile programming and applications, as well as all different types of internet marketing for small, medium, and large businesses alike.
Jason Hartman: Fantastic. Mike, thanks for joining us.
Mike Salvaggio: Thank you very much.
Narrator: This show is produced by The Hartman Media Company, all rights reserved. For distribution or publication rights and media interviews, please visit www.HartmanMedia.com or email [email protected] Nothing on this show should be considered specific personal or professional advice. Please consult an appropriate tax, legal, real estate or business professional for individualized advice. Opinions of guests are their own and the host is acting on behalf of Platinum Properties Investor Network, Inc. exclusively. (Image: Flickr | tedeytan)
Transcribed by Ralph
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