Interview with Brian Cuff – Portlandian and Super Nerd

  • On October 4, 2013
  • Hampton Creative, Brian Cuff, Digital Strategy, social media, Portland

Brian, we’re all extremely excited to have someone with your level of talent, experience and overall awesomeness on our team. As Director of Digital Strategy, what are your core responsibilities?

BC:  My primary role is to creatively develop digital plans to help our clients beat their competitors online. Web standards and search engine algorithms are always changing, so I spend a good amount of time researching and analyzing our clients websites and the competitive environment in order to make strategic recommendations and then execute those tactics. I obsess over statistics and rankings, cringe at bad SEO practices (it’s prolific)…basically, I’m a super nerd.


We have lots of nerds here –you’ll fit in fine.  So, you’ve been at Hampton Creative for a little over 3 weeks.  What’s something that you’ve accomplished in that time with your SEO superpowers?

BC: Well, when I came to Hampton, we were on page 2 of Google for a search on the term “advertising agencies.”  Within a week, we were able to leapfrog all of our local competitors and are currently in the first position of page 1.

Great Googley-Moogly, man!  But are you any good any ping-pong?

BC:  No comment.


That’s OK – we’ll keep you around.  Besides the real and measurable success you’re providing for our clients, what else do you find rewarding about the work you’re doing here at HC?

BC:  I like the analytical side, which helps me (and our clients) see the big picture. All of these digital disciplines – SEO, Search Engine Marketing, social – are all closely intertwined.  For example, social media – and the inbound links social provides to a site – is a huge contributor to SEO.

Search Engine Optimization is a term that’s bandied about in the advertising and marketing industry.  Why all the fuss?

BC: According to one recent study, Americans conducted 20 BILLION searches in 1 month. And they used Google as a search engine for 13 BILLION (65%) of those searches, followed by Yahoo.  The bottom line is that SEO puts your website in a position to most likely be seen by qualified prospects actively looking for your products or services.


Is SEO the right move for every client?

BC: Only if the client has a website they want people to see.  If you’re developing a top-secret website and are OK with having between 0-10 visitors/day on your site, I would stay well clear of SEO.

Ouch. So what are a few of the basic steps to setting up a winning SEO campaign?

BC: SEO is like building a house…you have to have a solid foundation in place before you can start building up.  For SEO to be effective, a solid foundation is an error-free website that allows search engines to crawl the site effectively.  Of course, a well-developed and structured website certainly helps.  From there, we focus on valuable and relevant content. We also look at building links from authoritative sources, such as social media.

Social media is something we’ve all heard the experts explain ad nauseam…by now, most of us know social media is something we should incorporating into our marketing plans, but we still see so many brands missing the mark.  Why is that?

BC: Many people – and brands – still don’t quite grasp the value of social media and/or understand the platforms. Many business owners are from a pre-social media era.  They don’t have the time to devote to developing content, or they haven’t set realistic expectations/goals from their limited social media activities. The reality is that social media is not free – it takes time, resources, creativity and a willingness to really connect with customers. It all comes down to developing a social strategy, and the brands who are willing to adapt and embrace social media are going to win.  Everyone else will be left in the digital dust.  At Hampton, we’re partnering with brands to help develop their social strategies and tell engaging stories.


Oh geez, look at the time – we’ve got to wrap this interview up! But before we jet, we promised people we would explain what PPC means.

BC:  Pay-Per-Click. It’s a term commonly associated with Paid Search or Google Adword campaigns, which is the average cost of a click on an ad.

Sounds spendy.  Do you have to have a massive budget to be effective with PPC advertising?

BC: Not necessarily. It just depends on several factors, including the specific industry and the amount of competition for specific keywords.  If you’re spending $300-$1,000 on Yellow Pages advertising (why would you be doing that?) it would be smart to consider reallocated those marketing dollars to other – more effective and measurable – marketing vehicles. PPC is certainly one that makes sense.

Brian – thanks for your time. Nerds rule!


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