If you're marketing in a highly competitive keyword space or are providing products and services that have little or no name recognition, you should consider creating branded keywords and using buzz to drive search demand for them.

Creating branded keywords is no different from creating a need for your product, except you're packing the punch of your business offering into an easy-to-remember phrase. The real benefit lies in developing a new channel of revenue based on a need that only your company can fulfill.

To take advantage of this channel, you have to convert the search marketing pull into search marketing push by devoting some of your SEM strategy to branded keywords.

And, obviously, resources should be devoted to promotion and search demand of these keywords to create buzz.

You should consider this tactic if your company...

  • Has no true competitors. If I don't know to look for you, why would I?

  • Is in an industry saturated with competitors, and SEO planning is starting. Web sites that specialize in travel, mortgages, or consumer electronics should take particular note of this tactic.

  • Reasonably estimates that it's going to be a while before your Web site cracks Google's top 10 for highly competitive terms such as "digital camera" and/or your marketing plan requires a high ROAS on a PPC campaign. A newly branded term would have no competition, but it could quickly have search demand if promoted properly.

  • Sells unique, valuable, beautiful, one-of-a-kind products... that you and five other people have heard of. Prospects will fail convert to your call to action because wither they are unaware that they have a problem that you can solve or they are not bothered enough by this problem to move the mouse.

Drive Traffic on Your Own Terms... Literally

Actually creating new keyword terms can be a daunting task. Stick to the fundamentals, and ask yourself some tough questions about your business. Let's use a mock electronics etailer as an example. We'll call it Digital Confidence.

  • Where can Digital Confidence help its customers better than any other vendor?

    • The site offers video demos of its digital video cameras in action.
    • Technical phone support is available to help customers load the related camera software onto their computers.

  • Is there a competitor that also does this, and Digital Confidenceis  the leader for this tactic, OR is Digital Confidence the only one using this tactic?

    • No other companies show online video demos of their cameras in action.
    • Other companies are willing to briefly talk with customers about their products, but no one is willing to go to the same level to ensure that customers enjoy their purchase long-term.

  • Why does the prospective customer need to know this?

    • The online demos are important because the quality of the customers' video is largely dependent on how comfortable they are operating their camera. A better choice means better videos, and better videos means a more positive feeling about the product and the vendor.
    • The 800 number for technical support is crucial because the software can be confusing to use. Since customers are usually eager to start using the camera, the additional assistance is a great way to keep them excited about their purchase.

  • If the potential customer receives this message and converts on the Digital Confidence Web site, what value will they see?

    • Customers will be able to get the right product that meets their needs because they will have seen it in action. The video camera will feel less foreign to them and they will understand the special features.
    • Customers will get the most out of their video camera because an expert is on the phone ready to help them get started quickly.

Based on the answers to these questions, one primary unique value proposition of this vendor is its ability to ensure satisfaction throughout the sales process (and then after the sale) through ongoing product education. Therefore, we will need a branded keyword that portrays the customer's getting the best digital video camera for their specific needs, as well as the education to get started taking great video.

Now that we have an idea of the context of the keyword term, let's consider keyword mouth-feel and auditory aesthetics:

  • Is the keyword easy to say? Easy to remember? I'd recommend trying to include some amount of rhyme or alliteration into the term for additional keyword sexiness.

  • Does it evoke a positive feeling when spoken? If it rhymes with "gas," "spit" or "pluck," you might want to start again.

  • Does the keyword itself or a subset of the keyword include properties that support the brand or other keywords? For example, a keyword such as "triple-trimmed steaks" would support the keyword term "steaks." This is beneficial for your SEO campaigns.

  • Does a search for this term return anything that could be considered negative toward your brand? Also look for potential homonyms with stiff competition. Competitive intelligence needs to be taken into consideration at this point.

Based on these considerations, some branded keyword choices might include these:

  • Video camera confidence index—The level of comfort the user has with his/her video camera as compared to other models.

    The other benefit with this type of term is that products could be ranked (numerically, 1-10) on the Digital Confidence Web site as an additional unique value proposition.

  • Digital video vibrancy—high quality videos taken when the user has a strong understanding of a digital video camera's basic and advanced features.

  • DVU—(Digital Video University)

Why stop at the telephone support and product videos? How about weekly podcasts on shooting great video? Obviously a large investment of time and energy, but an incredibly valuable marketing pull for consumers.

Creating Online Buzz for Your Branded Keywords

When beginning a viral marketing campaign, it's important to focus on quality versus quantity. Buzz spreads when industry champions (AKA influencers) sing the praises of a unique selling proposition. Your job is to identify those individuals and help educate them on your niche within your marketplace.

This is similar to strategies surrounding product launch publicity. Newspapers didn't just come up with "iPod" to describe an MP3 player. It was a carefully crafted message designed to play up unique value proposition and brand name. Branded keywords should be a similar tactic.

  • Targeted press releases: Take the time to reach out to writers and editors within your industry. By starting a dialog with them, you can glean valuable feedback on your products and services. Don't hesitate to petition them with your story ideas (2-3 maximum). So for Digital Confidence, a story idea might touch on the negative feelings that some new video camera owners feel when they bring their new purchases home. And, obviously, it can portray how the company has figured out a great fix to increase both the immediate video camera confidence index as well as the long-term goal of higher digital video vibrancy.

    Obviously, the ultimate goal is to have well-written stories about your company (both on and off the Web). For online articles, lobby to have those branded keywords link to the relevant pages on your Web site for added relevance. Keep in mind that a writer's or editor's job is to create content that is both informative and intriguing. Make sure that you really have something that their audience needs to hear.

  • Bloggers: This tactic is similar to courting other media, and it requires some planning and thought. Determine which blogs are linking to your competitors and check the context. You're looking for bloggers who are constructive, but honest. Become frequent readers of their blogs (if you aren't already), and be sure to constructively respond to posts when appropriate. Ask industry-related questions and show a genuine interest in the subject matter. When applicable, use your branded keyword to answer a posted question.

    Once the blogger becomes more familiar with you, it may be appropriate to reach out to him/her via email and ask them a question, and reference your Web site. The goal here is for the blogger to deliver your message to his/her regular audience in a positive light. Again, it's beneficial if they can utilize the anchor text effectively and drive the link to an appropriate page on your Web site.

    Digital Confidence should have no problem providing feedback on specific camera models and styles. After all, everybody knows that the video camera confidence index on Sony Handycams almost always outranks Panasonic's. Well, maybe they do now.

  • Create your own blog: You should certainly have your own voice. Plus, a proper blogging strategy can help drive traffic, press, and most importantly... brand evangelists. After all, what camera guru wouldn't want to be involved with the Digital Video University?

    Digital Confidence can release podcasts showing advanced tips and recommendations to help people make the most of their videography experience. How about online courses to provide their own digital video certifications? And for advanced users, they could have the opportunity to become guest video lecturers, providing their own opinions and comments. YouTube and Google Video are great distribution channels as well.

  • Targeted media buys: An effective media buying campaign is dependent on reaching the right audience, but equally important is easy message absorption. This is where branded keywords really shine, as they are easy to remember and don't require a long attention span. Also, whether you're using interactive media or creating a conventional advertising campaign, you have unlimited options for messaging.

    Banners and contextual ads would work well for Digital Confidence as the branded keywords will pack a quick punch. However, for this type of Web site, the rich text media would be a great way of also messaging its unique value proposition of online demos.

Creating your own demand for keywords is not merely a viable marketing tactic—it's an extension of your brand. By getting your consumers to think about your products and services in a new way and ensuring that your Web site will convert on that new direction, you carve out a strong foundation to support the unique value proposition.

And who knows... you might end up with your own little piece of the dictionary.

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Jeremy Swiller manages the eCommerce Client Services group of MarketSmart Interactive, a leading interactive marketing company.