How Mr. Rogers Can Improve Your Marketing (And Maybe Your Life)

I honestly never thought I’d be a father. After we were married, my wife and I had decided that we were both pretty self-centered 20 somethings and wanted to explore the world before re-evaluating that option. Let me tell you, just because you plan something doesn’t mean it’s going to turn out that way. Yeah.


Me and  my little monkey on the Nashville Bridge – Photo by: Michelle Rivera

Having our daughter changed my life in so many ways it’s impossible to count. I packed up my nauseous, pregnant wife, a cat, the dog and drove across the country to live and work in Nashville. Stoked to be working with Raven Tools, and completely unaware that I’d fall in love with this crazy town.

While I’m definitely not one of those “no screen time” parents, we pick and choose what she watches and  I’ve probably seen more children’s television than I ever thought I would. The series that seems to hold my daughter’s attention is called Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. It’s so delightful guys. And, the animated successor to my childhood staple, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Set in the “Land of Make Believe”, once you watch it, you won’t be able to shake the little jingles  that are repeated throughout each episode that deal with issues like frustration, anger, and using the potty. The same values that Mr. Rogers focuses on, Daniel carries forward to a new generation of kids who want to spend time with their kind neighbor. Like I said, delightful.

Fred Rogers Lives On Through Daniel Tiger

The curious learning spirit of Fred Rogers lives on through Daniel Tiger.

Mr. Rogers? Daniel Tiger? WTF?

You might be wondering what the heck this has to do with SEO. Bear with me, there are some awesome core values that are often overlooked in our world of technical jargon & algorithms. Over a hot cup of semi-enjoyable coffee one morning, I found myself connecting with these concepts again. Here are some excellent ways Daniel Tiger, in the spirit of our beloved Mr. Rogers, can improve your marketing (and maybe even your life):

When Something Goes Wrong, Turn It Around and Find Something Good

Authorship has gone PING into the corner. It’s dead. As Matt Cutts once said “Stick a fork in it, it’s done”. Despite all of the the time, effort and energy put into applying proper authorship markup to our blog posts, the powers that be at Google decided it wasn’t worth it. Boo.

You can, however, still benefit from your investment into authorship. First off, not all markup was removed from the results page of the search engine. Secondly, if you’ve been developing a trusted G+ profile it will still be an authoritative source of connection.

It’s simply the nature of our industry that search engines will change the rules. We’ll be left holding the bag and we’re going to make mistakes. Just because things don’t happen the way we expected or planned (every time) doesn’t mean that we can’t make the best of it. I had the pleasure of speaking to Meg Trahan, online marketing maven, about the nature of the industry and she had this to say:

Every effort, whether it’s right or wrong, is a learning experience.

To a certain extent, all SEO work is guesswork. Yes, there are educated guesses based on extensive data and research, but the Google gods aren’t straightforward with their practices. As such, marketers are left making educated guesses. The data can inform us about what sorts of SEO practices are good, but there will always be guesses and gut feelings that come into play for us. And as we all know, with guesswork comes some margin of error. In that error, we learn.

When working with a client who was falling in rankings for key search phrases that, by all accounts, should’ve been working, it caused me to go back to the drawing board; to essentially begin at the ground level and work up, researching each step along the way. What I discovered was a lesser-known Google algorithm update that not many people picked up on because it seemed to be a regional testing of a new algorithm.

From this experience I learned a lot about regional shifts. Despite the feeling of having a global, all-access Internet, there are still strong regional elements and it helped draw my attention to how much local search is being favored.

My general rule of thumb: Look to the industry for help. Anytime I’ve done something that (by all my current knowledge) should work and it doesn’t, I immediately turn to industry news and research. There’s no way you can do that and not learn from it.


When You Do Something New – Talk It Through With Someone

It’s said that people learn more about a subject when they teach it to someone else. There is something about the process of taking the ideas that you’ve absorbed from your own  experience & putting them back out there for someone else. When implementing a Schema Review Markup or writing a blog post on an un-familiar topic it can really help to talk through the concept with a 3rd party.

This is why I think that SEOs like A.J Kohn and Matthew Barby are so widely respected. They take their knowledge and build up extremely thorough descriptions & walk-throughs of their process. Of course, doing so also generates amazing content that can then be found via search & attracts a community that will share said content and extend their influence.

This isn’t just limited to the SEO industry. When you’re doing something new, talking to others can be a great way to develop content & learn even more about the subject. This is the stuff that grows a business.

Comparing Yourself To Others

It’s really easy to look at your keywords & open up someone else’s website that you think is total crap but its ranking. You scratch your head, you dig around for hours trying to figure out why the heck this crap is still out ranking you. I mean, it feels like you’re doing doing everything right and they have to be every thing wrong. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and feel the pang of jealousy when it comes to online marketing.

Putting things into perspective can be majorly helpful. If you feel jealous, talk about it with someone who knows what you’re experiencing and ask for a solid reality check. Seriously, some perspective is all you need. There are some great online resources including the big SEO community on reddit, just get a thread going. Chances are good you’ll get some solid input or  find out that you’re in your head. Whatevs. Ask and learn.

Using Empathy in Your Marketing

If you’re not thinking about how your potential audience’s emotions come into play, than you’re missing an opportunity to reach them effectively. Empathy, unlike sympathy, is an effective way to relate to others’ needs. Which is sorta what we do.

You need to understand not just what the product or service your companie provides but the feelings that someone who might want or need your product. For example if you’re selling coffee makers then you should understand that people don’t just drink their coffee. They love it. They photograph it. They make it more than just a beverage into an artform.

Dragon Foam Latte Art

There’s a lot of fiery passion about what makes a good cup of coffee. This can help shape the way you go about marketing.

The trick is bringing those emotions into consideration when you’re planning out your online marketing. Think about how you can share images that mesh with their love of coffee. Think about what you can create to engage that enthusiasm.

Using Community to Succeed

“If you can’t do it alone, work together! Things are better when you work together.”

Trying to tackle all of the marketing needs of a website is a daunting task, especially for a large brand. It’s important to ask for help from others to make it work. I think a lot of SEO professionals suffer from “jack-of-all-trade-itis” and don’t harness the skills of other related marketing experts. Get those killer graphics, find out how an email marketing campaign could compliment your efforts and please bee sure to talk to whoever is doing customer support/sales to prevent missed opportunities!

One of the really great things about the SEO community is that we really do understand how difficult certain aspects of our industry can be. That’s why, if you go about things the right way, you’ll find that other marketers are really happy to help you even if it doesn’t help them right then and there.