Aug 17

Digital Agencies and Business Owners – Overcoming the Communication Disconnect

I recently put together an Instagram Story, sharing my thoughts around why you as a business owner may be contributing to unsatisfactory results received from your digital marketing agency. I’m not pinging you with all the blame for an unsatisfactory engagement, as you, the digital agency bring challenges to the table too, all of which can be overcome. I put the story into the video as I think the content is very useful. BUT – its only useful if you, the business owner and digital marketing agency want to share long term, profitable marketing outcomes. If you have a short term get rich quick mentality, don’t watch the video as you won’t like the advice. If you are looking for a slave (Mr Business Owner) or a blind, compliant paycheck (Mr Digital Agency) this video probably isn’t for you.

Transcription: Long Term Profitable Marketing Engagements For Business Owners and Digital Agencies

So, I’m riding to work today and I thought I’d stop off for a quick coffee… because I just wanted a quick coffee. And so while I’m here I thought I would make a quick video about digital marketing in a general sense. So the reason I thought that I’d put this video together is and with my experience in the digital marketing industry, I’ve noticed that quite often there’s a real disconnect between a business owner and a digital marketing agency when it comes down to the service.

And if you’re a business owner, I kind of get it right, because the services you’re paying for AREN’T physical products; you probably won’t even see the consultant for most of the time he’s doing the service. You’re going need to trust at some stage and that can be a challenge because quite often it’s months and months of paying before you actually see a return on investment. And let’s face it the digital industry is quite shrouded in mystery I guess. It’s shrouded in, there’s a fair bit of secrecy and it’s technical.

And the flip side of the coin is obviously the digital agency. I mean if you’re an agency, you understand your products and you recognise how valuable and how much benefit they can produce for a client. And you just need the owner to give you a chance.

And in the middle we have these services. And these services just aren’t simply… they’re not simple to run and they’re not simple to understand. You know small elements of any service could bring the whole service down. So there really needs to be real partnership and delivery.

So as I make my way to work and during work today here’s some ideas that I’ve just been thinking about for a while, on how to bridge that disconnect between a digital marketing agency and an end client – a business owner – if you are either of those it might help.

Now I think to start with let’s just get to some concepts. Because if you’re the business owner, you have to understand there are a lot of elements to a digital marketing campaign, any of which don’t work the whole thing falls down. And sometimes it’s your fault and not the agency’s fault.

So random example, let’s say you’re doing Facebook advertising, you know, so the digital agency is really good at putting a Facebook advertising package together. But, if you’ve got a crap offer or you don’t let the agency copyright the ads it might not work. So that’s right hey, even though you’re paying the agency to do the work for you, if you don’t give them the right resources and you don’t give your clients the right offer, you know, it might be your fault that someone you’re paying isn’t generating a return on investment for you.

And on the flip side of the point if you’re a digital agency, let’s face it our industry hasn’t been great over the last 10-15 years right? There’s been a lot of dodgy stuff going on, a lot of people have been let down and ripped off so we have a mistrust that we have to overcome. And that’s our responsibility right? It’s not the business owner’s responsibility to over overcome an industry problem.

So we have to start by being a lot more transparent and you know a lot more focused on return on investment for businesses rather than more of the vanity stuff. So I think maybe the best place we can start is to as both the business owner and digital marketing agency, if we can understand where the other person is starting in the dialog maybe then we can create a dialogue that makes more harmonious partnership in the delivery and success of the campaign.

So I made it safely to work. It’s business casual Friday today, so a bit dressed down, but I’m continuing the discussion about bridging the communication gap between digital agencies and business owners. I think the next point is about your timeframe. So I think we need to understand that marketing isn’t immediate, you need a long term timeframe. So you’re looking at minimum of 12 months. So when you start the dialogue, if you’re a business owner with an agency or agency to business owner, look to 12 months plus.

And that’s because what you want to achieve is a long term improvement of the leads and sales generated from marketing. You don’t want to look for a three months or less because that instant glory story, it just doesn’t work. So, in context, as a business owner myself, even with my own team doing our own marketing, I never look less than 12 months to properly test and understand how flows work, and how offers work and that kind of stuff. No matter what the process or marketing strategy is we’re using. And to be honest, if I was a digital marketing agency still, I would not engage with a client who was looking at less than 12 months partnership with me. And the simple reason is, it’s really not enough time to actually understand an industry and understand how a service works in that industry.

Now I think the next step is to actually look at services and how they work. Obviously as a business owner you probably don’t understand and don’t need to understand the nitty-gritty of stuff, that’s why you get a consultant in. But you know to be honest, on the flip side of that I’ve seen some real doozy-doozy strategies that would just never work, presented as value-add, over the years. So that’s a real issue and I really acknowledge that issue, that there are dodgy strategies in marketing out there.

Now I think there’s a really clear answer. And it’s pretty simple, because in my years in marketing, which is you know over 15 now, I’ve never seen a value digital marketing strategy that can’t be explained by logic or traditional marketing. So as the digital marketing agency, why don’t you start by trying to explain things to the business owners that you’re pitching to, in terms they can understand using logic and maybe using some traditional marketing concepts.

And if you’re a business owner and you’re not getting that kind of explanation from digital marketing company, you know maybe there is something that’s hidden. I certainly wouldn’t engage with someone who couldn’t explain it in terms that I can understand and I’d certainly steer well clear of you know, secrets, or you know, those proprietary this and that. You know I would not engage if someone does that. The actual campaign should be able to be explained logically.

So to give some examples, you know the service of SEO. It’s basically the common day, or today’s version of the old Yellow Pages. You know, you’re searching for something you go where you know people are listed and you find the people that listed there. That’s SEO.

Social media marketing, you know that should be explained to in terms of networking. You know, going to a networking meeting so your mingling with the right group that you know is going to generate your business. That’s how social media should work. [AND BE EXPLAINED]

You know Google AdWords or pay-per-click advertising, you know that’s kind of like the old day billboard sort of an advertising strategy. You put the right message on the right street so the people that are driving past get the message and take the action. You know it’s explainable.

So there’s just some general concepts with marketing. Hopefully this this video will help engender better communication between digital agencies and business owners for more long term and high value partnerships.

Jan 14

New Years Resolution: Market Your Business Better

At this time of year, we all reflect on the previous twelve months, celebrate the things that went well, try and glean a lesson or two from the things that didn’t go well and reset our minds and intentions for the following twelve months.

At the end of 2013, it certainly seems like the economy has thawed and activity is starting to pick up again. So this new year it is an excellent time to review your marketing and make a resolution to market your business better. As the economy continues to gather speed, any improvements in you marketing will simply add revenue and profitability to your business. It will make you money!

So what does this mean?

I would start with a review of your marketing in 2013. Firstly, which marketing activities did not make you a profit. List these. Looking at this list, appraise which strategies are worth discontinuing. For example, a strategy not making money for you and which has gradually performed worse and worse over years is probably worth discontinuing. Markets change, and advertising is no different. Advertising media which were effective 5 years ago are not necessarily effective today.

Not all non-performing marketing strategies over the last 12 months should necessarily be discontinued though. Review the list and see if there are strategies which can be refined and improved. A bad advert for example may not be profitable, even in a profitable medium in front of a profitable audience. Do you need to make changes to ads to improve effectiveness?

So from your 2013 marketing list, you have discontinued terminal marketing campaigns and made adjustments to campaigns which could perform better to either make them profitable, or make them more profitable, Now review your budget. Do you have money to spend given the discontinued strategies? You should also think about expanding your budget for marketing now, to get a step up on your competitors as customers come back into your market.

With this additional budget, try some different and new marketing strategies. You already have some successful strategies, some improving strategies, you should try some new ones. There are three benefits of testing new marketing strategies. These are:

  1. Additional profitable marketing will increase your profits and build your business
  2. Expanding your marketing platform will reduce your business risk. Ie. If you only have 1 marketing strategy and it stops working, your business fails. If you have 20 marketing strategies working as well as each other, you are not overly exposed if any of them stop working
  3. People will see your brand more often, in different places. This will improve awareness of your brand and help people make the decision to use you. IE the more prospects see you, the more likely they will think of you when they are ready to buy AND the more they will trust your brand as being a robust business able to deliver.

So there you have it – a really great NY resolution for you this year – market your business better.