05/22/2012 06:15 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2012

Building Brand, Community and Customer Loyalty: An Interview With Gillian Muessig (Part Two)

We're back with Gillian Muessig, who is the founding president of and SEOmoz! If you missed Part One, you can check it out here.

In Part 1, you made the points of building community and transparency. Your points are insightful and absolutely true. I think that when companies focus on their core values and who they are inside, they build something strong; like you have done at SEOmoz. Small business entrepreneurs just starting out; what would you tell them? Where do they focus first? Do they focus on the fan-base? Do they focus on their internal core?

Gillian: Brilliant content. Literally begin by building brilliant content. Figure out what you really need to know and what you already do know. Share that, give a hand up, give a leg up, help those who are behind you. That establishes your authority in the industry; It establishes your knowledge. You are not throwing smoke and mirrors at anybody. You are not talking about secret sauce. That is nonsense and people see right through it. People who begin in business are often worried that if they share the knowledge of what it is they are doing; others will say "now I can do it myself because you taught me how." I counsel to know the difference between the client and the client-want-to-be. A client-want-to-be wants to be a client but does not want to pay. There are several reasons that client does not want to pay.
  1. They cannot. That is OK; give them all the knowledge they need to begin. When they are ready, they will see that this is what they do for a living, and that is what you do for a living. They know that you know your stuff because you gave them information and it really worked. They will become a client; grow them.
  2. The second kind say they can do it themselves and go ahead and do it themselves. They will never be a client. They didn't want to be and they didn't want to pay you. They will only bring you grief.

Don't fear sharing fully, openly and completely. It establishes your authority, brilliance and expertise in the field. Do that and then market it. There really isn't build it and they will come, it is build it and then market it and then they will come. Build this corpus of information. Infographics are brilliant, short videos are wonderful. Nice that you do a short video, but do it every week and offer something new; that creates consistency and people will come and see it consistently. That is an important part. From there I would say to now go out into the social field. Go into places like Google plus, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter. Tell people what you have written. Comment deeply on other people's discussions and topics. Other people have blogs, go in there and don't just say thumbs up or thumbs down. Never cross the line between it and you, always discuss the subject and never the author. The authors are not stupid and dumb, and the idea isn't dumb. You get in there and tell them why you disagree and you come up with a better answer. That is commenting deeply, that is being appropriately intelligent about your disagreement with the other guy. Or you can agree more fully on something you do agree with. You can honestly say "and I have written a blog myself and you can get more information over here." Make sure your blog post doesn't just rehash what is already out there, it really gives people additional comments. Again, write brilliantly, share everything and then go out and market it by saying "I am part of this conversation," you commented on other places, and bring people over to your own. You tweet out. The first person to follow will likely be your Mom, the second might by your Dad. Begin somewhere and slowly the word will get out.

Gillian, that is phenomenal. Phenomenal advice, I love what you talked about. About the people who just want free stuff as opposed to the people who really want to spend time and money with you.

Gillian: Sometimes it isn't that they cannot afford it; they just don't want to spend the money. And when they cannot, it is up to you to go out and build them and support them. That is the concept of generosity, the giving and taking, understanding that you live in an eco-system of the same world. You cannot do this on your own. If your customers are not ready to buy, help them to be profitable enough so that they can buy. When it is time to buy, they will want to buy from you, because you were the one who helped them get there.

I am sure that of the billion people who read your blog, not all of them are your customers currently or you would be very busy and would not have the time to talk to me right now. But, at some point the cycle keeps going. When they have the money and the budget they come to you and talk.

Gillian: There are a number of folks out there who will never be customers of SEOmoz. That is OK, too. We are still giving them that information generously and freely. There are folks in the world who will never afford it. That is OK. You build a robust, global economic society by supporting everybody in every way they can receive it. We know that not everything we do will bring a dollar back to SEOmoz. As an industry and corporate evangelist , when I go out to events I look and question whether it will bring back money to SEOmoz in the next couple of years. If the answer is no, then is it an emerging market? Do they need us? Is it a place where the civility of a new economic platform will make this a better place to live? Wherever I can make this a better place to be on this planet, it will be better for me as well. I may never see a dollar from it, but the civility comes from people who have opportunity and hope. Terrorists do not thrive in places where people have hope.

That is absolutely true. Gillian I want to thank you so much for taking the time out of what I know is a very busy day. This completes my interview with Gillian Muessig from If you are not a subscriber to their amazing amount of information, I highly encourage you to do so. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information with us!