The Ultimate Guide to Social & PR Branding [Free Toolkit]


Every brand has a story, but great brands that know how to tell that story well. Whether you’re selling coffee, bookcases, or enterprise software, the reality is that the competition is higher than ever before.

Having a compelling brand story is key, but remember: your story is more complicated than just words. Your brand story is communicated through visual identity, tone of voice, PR, and social media channels. Sure is a lot to keep up with, huh?

While churning out endless content hoping something hits the mark may feel like the solution, it’s definitely not. In order to stand out and rise in rank, you have to really connect with your audience. And as much as we wish there was, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ formula for that. Every business is different.

That’s why HubSpot and MOO teamed up to bring you this Social & PR Branding Kit. From setting goals to vamping up your social media game, we’ve got you covered.

We’ll walk you through the process of communicating your brand story online, offline, in social media, and in the press to help you win new customers, retain existing ones, grow your brand recognition, and gain that competitive edge.

More specifically, this kit includes:

  • How to craft a valuable ‘About Us’ page that people will read and remember.
  • How to identify clear objectives focused on your brand vision and goals.
  • What to post on social media, as well as why, and when to do so.
  • A breakdown of different social networks.
  • How to tell if your social media strategy is working.
  • How to build media relationships and write killer press releases.

free guide to social and PR branding

from HubSpot Marketing Blog


Why You Should Never Email a Proposal


Your team has spent hours researching, writing, and refining a proposal your prospect was eager to receive.

Now, you are staring at your email account in frustration as you write your third follow-up email in as many weeks.

What could have caused this disappearing act? Was it the content of the proposal? Did the client get cold feet?

When this happens, some people even begin to imagine outlandish reasons why the prospect has failed to respond, such as a month-long vacation (she forgot to tell you about) to a location with no internet access. Maybe the prospect unexpectedly left the company but forgot to update her LinkedIn account (not that you were checking on a daily basis)? Maybe her email account was hacked, and she’s been forced to revert to paper communication and homing pigeons?

It’s possible … right?

The Real Problem Isn’t About Email

The issues illustrated above don’t occur because of the method of proposal delivery — though email is probably not the best way to communicate something of such importance to your business. Rather, the problem begins during the sales process.

For starters, if you are simply responding to the client’s comment — even if they seemed earnest in their request — that they would love to see a proposal, you’re wasting time. From the beginning, you’re putting your agency in a position of lower authority, which will destroy any negotiating power you initially had. In addition, you most likely have little insight into what the client’s challenges, needs, and goals are — or should be — resulting in a proposal that has little chance at converting the prospect due to its irrelevance to their pain points. 

The rush to write a proposal and the resulting frustration due to a lack of feedback or even a simple “no” is the result of a non-existent sales process or one that is driven by the client’s wants, rather than the agency’s attempt to qualify and drive the right type of new business.

How to Define the Sales Process

You can’t automate the sales process, but you can make sure that you create fewer proposals that are ignored.

1) Understand Your Ideal Client

The first step is determining the attributes of the types of clients you want to work with. By creating an ideal client profile that aligns with your best types of clients, you’ll be able to screen for prospects who are simply shopping, who would be unhappy, or even worse, who would make your team members unhappy.

By focusing on the right type of client, you’ll better understand your target prospects, and you’ll increase sales and retention.

2) Create Qualifying Questions

If you understand your ideal client, you’ll be able to create questions that help you to discover who you should spend time with and who you shouldn’t. These questions can be used in lead generation forms, an intake questionnaire, or during a more formal meeting to discuss a future relationship. (Here’s a list of 26 qualifying questions to get your started, or you can review these sales qualification frameworks prior to building your own.)

These questions should move your conversation to the point where your team feels confident it can help the client overcome her challenges, providing value to the client in ways beyond simply producing work.

In addition, you should see the client’s interest and trust in your abilities increase during the process. Her tone and line of questioning should change from “Can you do this?” or “Do you have experience in this?” to “How would you overcome this challenge?” or “What has successes have you seen with other brands?”.

It’s a simple switch, but it shows that the client has gotten past the mindset of “prove to me that you can do what you say you can do” to wanting — and valuing — your advice and expertise.

3) Create a Proposal Template

Finally, you should create a simple proposal template you can use to reduce the time it takes to create the document.

Many agencies spend countless hours writing up details on the client’s challenges, the prescribed strategy, and why their agency is the right partner. While there are many differing opinions on how long and in-depth a proposal should be, the basis is that the proposal should be a written confirmation of what you have discussed. And that the client should understand this isn’t a document that will outline how exactly you will solve their problem because 1) you don’t know enough about the brand, its competitors, its problems, etc., and 2) you don’t give away your agency’s strategy prior to even winning the account.

The prospect should already know how great your team is, its track record for success from case studies, its processes, etc., so the proposal could be as simple as a one-page document with a contract attached for signing.

You should only send proposals to prospects you are certain will sign a contract. (And you should make sure you are sending it to the people who actually have the authority to sign on the dotted line.) If you’re not confident, then you need to do more work to nurture the prospect to the point where they are actually ready to review and sign a contract.

(Check out these proposal tools to make it easy to customize, track, and manage the process.)

How to Present a Proposal

Finally, when you are ready to hand over your proposal (or even better, a contract), don’t email it — at least not until you’re ready to review it with the client.

Before you even begin writing the proposal, schedule an hour meeting with the prospect to review the proposal in-person or over the phone. Make it clear that the proposal document is not the first step in the sales process, rather the last. The proposal should confirm and clarify the client’s understanding of the relationship, provide timelines and legal terms, and serve to inspire any final questions before beginning the first step in a new partnership.

If the prospect can’t commit to a one-hour meeting, that’s a sign this isn’t the right fit, and you shouldn’t waste time creating a proposal. And if the client only wants a proposal so she can price shop, then you haven’t done your job during the sales process. The price of your services should never be a surprise.

Fewer Proposals, More Contracts

Defining your own sales process, rather than letting prospects control it, is the first step to improving your proposal win rates and the types of clients your agency works with. According to research from Vantage Point Performance and the Sales Management Association, companies with a defined sales process see 18% higher revenue growth than companies without a formal process.  

Bring your team together, and begin to document what your sales process should and could look like. And hopefully, this includes fewer proposals and more (signed) contracts.

from HubSpot Marketing Blog

Stefan Hamann, CEO

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Our summer holiday 2016 guide

Pack your bags and jet off to one of these exquisite hotspots. Whether you’re looking for sun-drenched beaches, amazing local cuisine or a range of sporting activities, rest assured these gorgeous retreats will cater to families, couples or groups of friends for a much needed dose of sunshine. MIAMI Sleep: 1 Hotel South Beach True [more…]

from TheMarketingblog

Sony Mobile – #MissNothing, Live Everything

It’s called #missnothing, live everything – it’s an influencer-led activation spanning the next 4 weeks across both Sony and influencer social media channels. Throughout the next month we’re working with 16 global influencers who are aligned to Sony passion points:  we’ve got runners and cyclists, musicians and gig goers, artists and creators, and finally travellers [more…]

from TheMarketingblog

Predicting Intent: What Unnatural Outbound Link Penalties Could Mean for the Future of SEO

Posted by Angular

[Estimated read time: 8 minutes]

As SEOs, we often find ourselves facing new changes implemented by search engines that impact how our clients’ websites perform in the SERPs. With each change, it’s important that we look beyond its immediate impact and think about its future implications so that we can try to answer this question: “If I were Google, why would I do that?”

Recently, Google implemented a series of manual penalties that affected sites deemed to have unnatural outbound links. Webmasters of affected sites received messages like this in Google Search Console:

Google Outbound Links Penalty

Webmasters were notified in an email that Google had detected a pattern of “unnatural artificial, deceptive, or manipulative outbound links.” The manual action itself described the link as being either “unnatural or irrelevant.”

The responses from webmasters varied in their usual extreme fashion, with recommendations ranging from “do nothing” to “nofollow every outbound link on your site.”

Google’s John Mueller posted in product forums that you don’t need to nofollow every link on your site, but you should focus on nofollowing links that point to a product, sales, or social media page as the result of an exchange.

Now, on to the fun part of being an SEO: looking at a problem and trying to reverse-engineer Google’s intentions to decipher the implications this could have on our industry, clients, and strategy.

The intent of this post is not to decry those opinions that this was specifically focused on bloggers who placed dofollow links on product/business reviews, but to present a few ideas to incite discussion as to the potential big-picture strategy that could be at play here.

A few concepts that influenced my thought process are as follows:

  • Penguin has repeatedly missed its “launch date,” which indicates that Google engineers don’t feel it’s accurate enough to release into the wild.

Penguin Not Ready

  • The growth of negative SEO makes it even more difficult for Google to identify/penalize sites for tactics that are not implemented on their own websites.
  • Penguin temporarily impacted link-building markets in a way Google would want. The decline reached its plateau in July 2015, as shown in this graph from Google Trends:
    Trend of Link Building

If I were Google, I would expect webmasters impacted by the unnatural outbound links penalty to respond in one of these ways:

  1. Do nothing. The penalty is specifically stated to “discount the trust in links on your site.” As a webmaster, do you really care if Google trusts the outbound links on your site or not? What about if the penalty does not impact your traffic, rankings, visibility, etc.? What incentive do you have to take any action? Even if you sell links, if the information is not publicly displayed, this does nothing to harm your link-selling business.
  2. Innocent site cleanup effort. A legitimate site that has not exchanged goods for links (or wants to pretend they haven’t) would simply go through their site and remove any links that they feel may have triggered the issue and then maybe file a bland reconsideration request stating as much.
  3. Guilty site cleanup effort. A site that has participated in link schemes would know exactly which links are the offenders and remove them. Now, depending on the business owner, some might then file a reconsideration request saying, “I’m sorry, so-and-so paid me to do it, and I’ll never do it again.” Others may simply state, “Yes, we have identified the problem and corrected it.”

In scenario No. 1, Google wins because this helps further the fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) campaigns around link development. It is suddenly impossible to know if a site’s outbound links have value because they may possibly have a penalty preventing them from passing value. So link building not only continues to carry the risk of creating a penalty on your site, but it suddenly becomes more obvious that you could exchange goods/money/services for a link that has no value despite its MozRank or any other external “ranking” metric.

In scenarios No. 2 and No. 3, Google wins because they can monitor the links that have been nofollowed/removed and add potential link scheme violators to training data.

In scenario No. 3, they may be able to procure evidence of sites participating in link schemes through admissions by webmasters who sold the links.

If I were Google, I would really love to have a control group of known sites participating in link schemes to further develop my machine-learned algorithm for detecting link profile manipulation. I would take the unnatural outbound link data from scenario No. 3 above and run those sites as a data set against Penguin to attempt 100% confidence, knowing that all those sites definitely participated in link schemes. Then I would tweak Penguin with this training dataset and issue manual actions against the linked sites.

This wouldn’t be the first time SEOs have predicted a Google subtext of leveraging webmasters and their data to help them further develop their algorithms for link penalties. In 2012, the SEO industry was skeptical regarding the use of the disavow tool and whether or not Google was crowdsourcing webmasters for their spam team.


“Clearly there are link schemes that cannot be caught through the standard algorithm. That’s one of the reasons why there are manual actions. It’s within the realm of possibilities that disavow data can be used to confirm how well they’re catching spam, as well as identifying spam they couldn’t catch automatically. For example, when web publishers disavow sites that were not caught by the algorithm, this can suggest a new area for quality control to look into.” — Roger Montti,

What objectives could the unnatural outbound links penalties accomplish?

  1. Legit webmasters could become more afraid to sell/place links because they get “penalized.”
  2. Spammy webmasters could continue selling links from their penalized sites, which would add to the confusion and devaluation of link markets.
  3. Webmasters could become afraid to buy/exchange links because they could get scammed by penalized sites and be more likely to be outed by the legitimate sites.
  4. The Penguin algorithm could have increased confidence scoring and become ready for real-time implementation.

Russ Jones

“There was a time when Google would devalue the PR of a site that was caught selling links. With that signal gone, and Google going after outbound links, it is now more difficult than ever to know whether a link acquired is really of value.” -— Russ Jones, Principal Search Scientist at MOZ

Again, if I were Google, the next generation of Penguin would likely heavily weight irrelevantly placed links, and not just commercial keyword-specific anchor text. Testing this first on the sites I think are guilty of providing the links and simply devaluing those links seems much smarter. Of course, at this point, there is no specific evidence to indicate Google’s intention behind the unnatural outbound links penalties were intended as a final testing phase for Penguin and to further devalue the manipulated link market. But if I were Google, that’s exactly what I would be doing.

Tripp Hamilton

“Gone are the days of easily repeatable link building strategies. Acquiring links shouldn’t be easy, and Penguin will continue to change the search marketing landscape whether we like it or not. I, for one, welcome our artificially intelligent overlords. Future iterations of the Penguin algorithm will further solidify the “difficulty level” of link acquisition, making spam less popular and forcing businesses toward legitimate marketing strategies.” — Tripp Hamilton, Product Manager at

Google’s webmaster guidelines show link schemes are interpreted by intent. I wonder what happens if I start nofollowing links from my site for the intent of devaluing a site’s rankings? The intent is manipulation. Am I at risk of being considered a participant in link schemes? If I do link building as part of an SEO campaign, am I inherently conducting a link scheme?

Google Webmaster Guidelines for Link Scheme

So, since I’m an SEO, not Google, I have to ask myself and my colleagues, “What does this do to change or reinforce my SEO efforts?” I immediately think back to a Whiteboard Friday from a few years ago that discusses the Rules of Link Building.

Cyrus Shepard

“At its best, good link building is indistinguishable from good marketing.” — Cyrus Shepard, former Content Astronaut at Moz

When asked what type of impact SEOs should expect from this, Garret French from Citation Labs shared:

Garret French

“Clearly this new effort by Google will start to dry up the dofollow sponsored post, sponsored review marketplace. Watch for prices to drop over the next few months and then go back and test reviews with nofollowed links to see which ones actually drive converting traffic! If you can’t stomach paying for nofollowed links then it’s time to get creative and return to old-fashioned, story-driven blog PR. It doesn’t scale well, but it works well for natural links.”

In conclusion, as SEOs, we are responsible for predicting the future of our industry. We do not simply act in the present. Google does not wish for its results to be gamed and have departments full of data scientists dedicated to building algorithms to identify and devalue manipulative practices. If you are incapable of legitimately building links, then you must mimic legitimate links in all aspects (or consider a new career).


Most importantly, any links that we try to build must provide value. If a URL links to a landing page that is not contextually relevant to its source page, then this irrelevant link is likely to be flagged and devalued. Remember, Google can do topical analysis, too.

In link cleanup mode or Penguin recovery, we’ve typically approached unnatural links as being obvious when they have a commercial keyword (e.g. “insurance quotes”) because links more naturally occur with the URL, brand, or navigational labels as anchor text. It would also be safe to assume that natural links tend to occur in content about the destination the link offers and that link relevance should be considered.

Finally, we should continue to identify and present clients with methods for naturally building authority by providing value in what they offer and working to build real relationships and brand advocates.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree?

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from The Moz Blog

Big Blunder : Labour’s deputy Tom Watson parties into the night at Glastonbury

Labour's deputy Tom Watson parties into the night at Glastonbury — Will Corry (@slievemore) June 26, 2016

from TheMarketingblog