Marty will be speaking on the “Marketing 2.0 Issues: Online Reputation Management, the dark side of SMM” panel at Searchfest which will take place on March 10th, 2008 at the Portland Zoo. Purchase your Searchfest 08 tickets now.

1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living?

I am president  of aimClear, a search engine optimization (SEO) Internet marketing firm in Duluth and Minneapolis, Minnesota. We offer website promotion, organic optimization, social media marketing, blog coaching, application development, advertising, PR, and paid placement (PPC) agency services to local and national clients.

Prior to founding aimClear, I  held positions including A&R PolyGram International Publishing, CBS affiliate Creative Director, Interactive Director for a venerable regional advertising agency, and 9 years of solo SEM practice. Our blog is aimClearBlog . I also write for collective-thoughts and SearchEngineWatchBlog .

I was very fortunate in the 90’s to enjoy international prominence as a recording artist, having written and produced a total of 13 solo albums. Over the last 2 decades, TerraAura, Northsound and NatureQuest releases, which include, “Dolphin Dreams, WolfQuest, Theater of Seasons, Loon Dance, Dolphin Serenade, and Autumn in New England”, have sold millions of aggregate units.  Industrial video and music clients included Northwest Airlines, CBS, Pizza Hut, General Mills, Dayton Hudson, Planters Peanuts, Sony Publishing, and many others.

2) How can a marketer best leverage an online community without appearing to be overly commercial?

Holistic participation, designed to truly benefit the community, is always the best bet. Gaming communities can ruin them. The best way to avoid “appearing” overly commercial is to actually NOT BE overly or overtly  commercial. A social media marketer can gain plenty of traction by truly serving the demographic they’re marketing to with authentic, compelling, and appropriate content. Design your content to serve, demystify, and remove barriers for potential customers. You’ll make friends and sell things. Ask not what a community can do for you until you have first given to the community.

3) What’s the most effective way to build professional relationships online?

Be real. Be respectful. Tell the truth. Bring value to the table. Support what’s important to others prior to seeking benefits for yourself. Use social networking tools appropriately. Focus on building the RIGHT friends instead of huge friend lists. Go to conferences and participate in Q&A. You would be surprised at how many like-minded folks will approach you afterwards to chat.

Link out from your blog to authority-writers (and cool unknowns) who will be pinged. They’ll come and read your posts. Comment on other blogs, where you participate rather than self-promote. Identify niche’ social media communities like Sphinn and bring perspectives which offer value through your membership. Contact users privately to thank them for what they give you- without asking for anything in return.  Don’t be afraid to stir the pot and say what others dare not say. You’ll miss some sacred cows off but the people you WANT to be your friends will respect the candor.

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