Are you relevant?
If you’re reading this because you’re here to enhance your SEO skillset, then the context of the question is: “are you relevant as a marketer,” and “is your personal brand relevant”? Are you marketable and desirable to employers and clients?
If you’re reading this from the perspective of representing an organization, the context behind the question is, “is your brand relevant?” Are you worthy of consistently attracting new business, and maintaining and growing alongside the customers you already have?
What does it mean to be relevant?
According to the almighty Google, the definition of relevant is “closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered,” and “appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances; of contemporary interest.”
The word “relevant” embodies change, iteration, and pivoting.
Behind all of the technical jargon, the spirit of SEO as a discipline is all about relevance. SEO, like PR, is not a one and done. It’s a commitment to relevance.
How to Keep Your Brand Relevant
As I’m reflecting on enhancing my personal and professional brand presence in 2021, I picked up a book that was recommended to me by an author I had never heard of: “How the World Sees You: Discover Your Highest Value Through the Science of Fascination” by Sally Hogshead.
The book is not necessarily cheap, nor is it new. But I consumed it eagerly and quickly. Not many books can hold my attention through to the end these days.
If you’re like me and love personal and professional development, then nothing is more fun than self-discovery. And that’s what I got out of this book, which is true to its promise of making you more YOU.
3 Important Messages in “How the World Sees You”
First and foremost, everyone will read this book differently through the lens of their personal Fascination Advantage. I certainly did, and here is what I took away:
- The goal of the book is to help each reader discover their own Fascination Advantage. My Fascination Advantage, for example, is THE CONNOISSEUR: PRESTIGE + PASSION. The Prestige advantage is all about achieving success with higher standards and speaking the language of excellence. I got a lot of relief from this insight, as it helps explain why I’m so fastidious (read anal retentive) about my work, and why I have such high expectations of others. I have always been inspired and motivated by those striving for excellence, and I’m annoyed by those who aren’t. This insight helps me reinforce what I’m even doing here and what I need to do more of. For me, I’m on a mission to bring like-minded people together who are also on the fun, always-evolving journey of striving for excellence and relevance. I accomplish this through my SEO work and sharing about SEO.
- Be pistachio ice cream, not vanilla. I tell people this all the time about their content: you can’t be blah or boring. You’re never going to get SEO results that way. You have to have a personality to stand out and be a great brand deserving of ranking ahead of all other results. SEO is just too competitive to be vanilla and generic. As Hogshead says, “if others perceive you as a commodity, you’re replaceable and vulnerable.” This book aims to teach us to avoid commoditization by focusing on how our personality is suited to solve certain types of problems and create new kinds of opportunities. One of the book’s parts that most resonated with me is about how “Maintenance is for tires…Your client base deserves – no, demands – that you continue to fascinate them on an ongoing basis.” Otherwise, they’re going elsewhere. And if this wasn’t enough to convince you to do what it will take to stand out, remember that an audience will pay a premium for a product or brand they have an emotional connection to.
- Being fascinating is NOT about being fascinating to all people. We’re not Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid, Love. Upping your fascination quotient is about tapping into who you really are. It’s not about being overly confident or extroverted. Years ago, Hogshead led a study that found 93% of people consider themselves better drivers than others, but only 39% consider themselves more fascinating than others. We are sadly reluctant to find ourselves fascinating. To fascinate, we must set off a trigger in the brain. These triggers of fascination are Power, Lust, Mystique, Prestige, Alarm, Vice, and Trust. We all fascinate differently. We just have to first “unlearn boring.”
Although this is a book about brand and self-discovery, the #1 marketing principle is ever-present in this book: it’s not about you. Discovering how your brand fascinates is about the bridge to your audience. Adding value that only we can add so that we can be of the highest and best use for our audience. Once we know our value, we can communicate clearly and purposefully.
Wait – How Does This Tie in With SEO Again?
Before you can be relevant, you have to be seen and heard.
And you’re only going to break through the clutter, noise, and distraction if you have a brand that people will sit up and pay attention to. As Hogshead reminds us, “Unrecognized greatness achieves nothing. Greatness can win only by being noticed and remembered.”
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