RDS Digital Media – Marketing, Sales and Small Business Coaching
Ron Douglas Davidson is the founder, branding coach and marketing strategist for RDS Digital Media that provides small businesses with digital design and online marketing. They provide premium website design and affordable and online marketing for small businesses.
It feels like a broken record some days. For those familiar with old school turntables and records, what I’m referring to is a record needle that keeps skipping back into the same track. As much as I have been saying that your online business presence is more than a website, many small business owners think that once you build your website you’re done. I’d say you’re just getting started.
Old School Marketing – It’s a broken record
Think about the old school days of marketing. You would rent your office or store, then you’d renovate the premisiss and add a sign for your branding. Then you would add your utilities and maintain your location. Finally, you would proceed with some kind of advertising to let people know where you were and what you offered. You might advertise in the yellows pages and your local newspaper. So here’s my question: ‘What makes us think that the process would be any different today, with the exception of the tools being different’?
What’s required Today – New Groove
Online you need a good-looking, mobile-friendly website to begin with. As I mentioned, you’re just getting started. It’s like having your store but not having any advertising if you just stop there. Just like your business, this requires maintenance to make sure everything is technically up-to-date. You must have marketing and advertising to get found by customers and regular changes to make sure you stay relevant, current and looking fresh. Even when your business is established, it’s like creating a new album cover. Staying in the groove is vital to maintaining and growing your business or service.
Show me what you mean!
Here’s a top 10 checklist of what your business needs for a good online presence today. This will vary depending on your business type, whether business to business services or direct to customer products or services.
Branding – logo with your preferred colours and catchy tagline
Business email – use a hosting domain email with Google G Suite or MS Office 365
Website – mobile responsive that’s engaging with photos and videos that tell your story
SEO – onsite and offsite settings made so your website gets found by your customers
Social Media Marketing – Facebook and Instagram pages and engaging postings
Marketing Automation – customer emails scheduled and auto communications
Blogging – social media integrated blog for online posting, news and updates
Video marketing – explainer videos, customer testimonials or informational videos
Paid Ads – Google Adwords, Facebook or Instagram Ads to boost online awareness
Review – always review available analytics (Google, Facebook) and tweak your efforts
Like a broken record, don’t keep doing the same things over and over and expecting different results. It’s time to turn the tables so to speak.It’s better to stay in the groove and do what works for your business by applying new tools to make sure your business presence looks good online, that you get found easily and that you keep you information current.
What the heck is smarketing and why should you care? Over the last decade I have been coaching both sales and marketing. During these years I created blended sales and marketing courses based on a merging selling process. As well, during this time, I’ve spoken about the paradigm shift of the selling process. Prior to this time, for decades, sales and marketing departments seldom spoke to each other let alone consulting with each other about their work. Over time then, the shift in the selling process that we’ve seen has gone from an 80% sales and 20% marketing ratio to an 80% marketing and 20% change.
With that shift in mind, then, today’s B2B selling process should be focused on a combined sales and marketing approach. A new term called “smarketing”has been the response to that percentage shift between sales and marketing. It is defined as “the process of integrating the sales and marketing processes of a business. The objective is for the sales and marketing functions to have a common integrated approach.
Why should we blended smarketing process?
I have listed a few reasons from my sales and marketing experiences and several from recent research for you to consider.
promotes product or services to potential buyers integrating the sales and marketing process and activities.
most current CRMs such as Hubspot, Infusionsoft and Salesforce integrate the selling process from lead gen, to opportunity, to close.
allows sales and marketing departments to agree on a common terminology for sales and marketing collateral.
permits data sharing throughout the entire selling process first, identify prospects, second, how to comommiciate and third, when to followed up.
Works best to provide closed loop reporting by tracking successes the marketing stage through the sales efforts.
What should be the expected results of this blended duo?
From research, the Increased revenue growth expectation should be at least 21% or more. This growth is created by efficiencies, shared resources and streamlined processes. My one concern however, is that the “new salesperson” will require new skills and an attention to detail which marketing individuals must have in order to be good at what they do.Having said that, I trust the new hires will be more adept in this new role having had proper training for both sales and marketing.
Another trend on the heels of a blended selling model
The other trend that follows this blended sales and marketing process, is marketing automation with ecommerce purchasing. I was fortunate enough to be a product of this model several years ago when the company I worked for moved to full ecommerce model and releasing salespeople. They filled the sales gap with a heavy marketing frontend for promotion and communication, dealer portals for purchasing and internal specialist to answer questions. Those that couldn’t transition to ‘smarketing’ were left by the wayside.
Needless to say, we can’t live in the past and should embrace and welcome the change so that we can do better at meeting the needs of our client, dealer or customer experience. It’s really a win win both ways because there is a more efficient selling process for companies’ bottom line and frankly, labour savings as well. So, next time you hear the term ‘smarketing’ you’ll know what it stands for.
It’s that time of year when we anticipate renewal and growth after the long winter months. It’s the time we are all in the mood to refresh our yards, give our homes a new coat of paint and give the car a thorough cleaning inside and out. Perhaps then, it’s also time to apply the same philosophy to our business and our marketing because it’s never too late to count the cost of doing business.
Spring time business
For our businesses, it’s a perfect time to purge our accounts and clean up old files on our server our terminals, our laptops and our phones; a good time to renew or update our software and security systems. In sales, it’s a fitting time to clean up our accounts and visit those that have been neglected due to other priorities. It’s time to grow your business by trimming back the old growth from last year. For marketing, it a beneficial time to refresh websites, campaigns, marketing lists and social media.
With focus on small business marketing and design, perhaps your branding needs some new coats of paint or you may want to take a closer look at your taglines. If your brand has an old logo, maybe it’s time to rebrand in order to grab some market attention.
Is your website a little dated? Actually in the marketing world, If your website is 2-3 years old, it‘s really showing its’ age. If you haven’t revised your content recently, then to keep it fresh and current, you may want to take some time to consider updates.
From our experience, the hidden backend of your website likely needs the attention. SEO requires constant updates with current key words and phrases as well as Google algorithms changes on a regular bases. Therefore, re-applications and settings should get some attention. Not doing anything can having negative effects such as losing you ranking against your competitors and lowering search results.
Where are your marketing tools? Are you tools up-to-date? If you think websites and SEO change quickly, marketing tools are the winds of change like trends. You need to be on the leading edge to be competitive. Are you still sending out flyers with expensive mailing, little results and no success report analysis? If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. Are you paying good money for online ads that aren’t working or have poor ROI because you’re not up to date with best practices? Are you relying on email marketing for products when you should be using Google remarketing tools?
Yes, Spring is finally here. To coin a phrase, it’s time to spring into action. Commence cleaning up your business by applying current marketing tools so that your business can flourish.
I was thinking about the marketing and client issues I see every day. It kept me awake for hours. But why, I asked myself? Is it that fact that what I learn is outdated so quickly? Is it that the marketing tools we use are constantly changing? Is it that clients think they can do it themselves or are told they can? Or can it be that what I share is in fact current and appropriate but doesn’t seem reasonable to them? Perhaps I didn’t explain it well enough or avoided jargon so it seemed too simple.
Experts make the complex look simple. Keeping current along with a compilation of years of knowledge and practical experience is what a professional brings to the table. We also fight against the myriads of scammers who offer ‘a shiny penny’ then bill their customers an exorbitant price for little scope of work done. Even so, many small business owners still put a marketing plan in place based on what used to be done and what used to work. Still others, up to 80%, don’t have a marketing plan at all nor do they budget for one. Now do you see why I’m losing sleep?
Experts versus novelists
If the expert can barely keep up and stay current with the ever changing digital online marketing, how can a novelist? With the rise of DIYers and marketing platforms promoting self service to bump their profits, consumers think they can do it themselves. But when the actual results of their marketing efforts come in, that is even if they’ve put something in place to gage their results, and their efforts are not realized, client frustration sets in and budget money is often wasted.
Observations and suggestions
Watching from the sidelines and listening to many client experiences, I believe what really needs to be done is for clients to set aside a little each year to create a marketing plan, set a budget and seek expert advice (not a sales pitch). Keep in mind that a business needs to spend about 10% of annual revenue on marketing to stay where they are and 15% to grow their business. It’s worth paying an experienced, in-the-know marketing expert who will advise their clients with no obligation to use their services or services of affiliates. They will teach you what current marketing methods will be suitable for your business in an ever changing marketplace and demographics.
So by listening to the experts, setting a budget so that together you can create a marketing plan you can sleep at night….and so can I.
Strategic marketing may be marketing jargon to many, but perhaps this blog will explain it more clearly. In a recent chat over a hot cup of coffee on a cold, snowy winter day in a local coffee shop, a good friend of mine introduced me to a colleague of his. She had some great questions about starting up her new business. During this discussion, I found myself sharing the same message I have repeated numerous times with other clients. I really didn’t mind, but after having many of these similar conversations; sharing about what is required for small business marketing, I thought it might be a good idea to pass on these words of ‘strategic marketing’ wisdom with you.
Strategic marketing today
Marketing your small business today is really not much different than it was over the past several decades. Much has stayed the same, but much has changed too. The current tools have changed, perhaps the market is more competition and marketing is focused on in-bound rather than push marketing. Similar aspects in marketing over the years are that we need to watch out for the scammers and charlatans trying to take our money, not providing the results we asked for and simply making a beeline to and laughing all the way to the bank.
Small business marketing
The intent in this post is not to provide a list of best of brands and my own marketing services, but help you understand that marketing is about a process not products. Today’s small businesses and owners need to have a clear path, follow a planned process and make time for honest reflection so that going forward, your moves are strategic not random.
Therefore, begin your marketing with a strategic marketing plan based on your objections and work backwards figuring out what processes and tools need to be in place to make your plan successful. Once this has been thought out and written (typed) down, It’s important to note that setting up your process is all about how to attract your online traffic (inbound marketing). You want to provide the leads required to close your business and increase revenues/profits. How you do that depends on your business model, your company mission and organization philosophy. Having said that, I recommend multiple channels of attraction, monitoring results and allocating funds on the most desirable channel that has the best results per $ spent.
I recommend your process should include a current mobile friendly website that tells your story well and including organic SEO setup to make sure your website gets found. Social media pages can improve your branding, but paid ads and search advertising will improve your lead generation. Email marketing and automation will save your time and will proactively increase sales revenues reaching out to existing customers and educating potential new ones. After all is said and done, regularly reviewing of your results, analyzing the successes and failures and tweaking ongoing efforts is a step not to be missed or your efforts will just simply be in vane. It’s all about strategy.
So what’s next?
If you have not done so, the new year is a good time to look at your marketing planning process and review. Keep it simple and execute it well. Perhaps hire a marketing coach to have a third party objectively look to find areas that have been overlooked or seek troubled areas that need improvement.
As a small business owner, marketing can be tough enough. Yet understanding common marketing terms and acronyms can be down right confusing. Here’s some questions you might be asking: So why do I need to know these marketing terms anyway? Can someone at least explain the common terms? When do I use them? What ones should I use for my small business?
The reason you need to know marketing terms as small business, is that as you work with a marketing expert or whether you do it yourself, you need to understand what they are talking about. This way, you don’t get caught in the myriad of marketing scams.
A Few Common Acronyms
SEO (search engine optimization) this is referring to the organic or unpaid search results on the web once settings are made on websites and typically submitted to Google Webmaster and Google My Business for ranking.
SEM (search engine marketing) is paid website traffic which happens when your business purchases ads through search engines like Google or Bing. It’s also known as paid searching. There are different types within this marketing tool. PPC (pay per click) or PPC ( pay per call) CPC ( cost per click)) and CPI ( cost per impression) All are performance based on a bidding system and you only pay for what is used. The most well know name is Google Adwords.
SSM ( social media marketing) This refers to marketing your products or services through your social media pages such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram etc. Your social media strategy can be done in many ways; from simply making regular postings of words and media to paid advertising through these channels on a PPI (pay per impression) bases. You may see SMO ( social media optimization) that refers to the promotion of your website through social media channels.
EMA This is better known as email marketing or marketing automation. This type of marketing is still the most affordable and highly effective marketing tool. Email marketing starts with sign ups usually with a “carrot” to attract subscribers. This allows you regular sending of email campaigns to educate, inform and promote. Extending EMA to marketing automation allows trigger emails which are a series of emails sent over time, and include but are not limited to, birthday emails, abandoned shopping cart reminders, relevant or personalized customer emails based on website activity and so on.
Which and when do I use these?
When to use these online marketing tools depends on you business type and where you are in your online marketing journey. Having said that, it’s always a good idea to combine all online marketing channels for the best results.
If you are a new business or just built a new website, then you must make sure your business is found online by search engines like Google as a start. Using social media marketing for regular posting is free, but you may need a little push by using paid promotions to get known. Remember that likes and followers don’t bring in business, but they do provide a platform and audience to share your message.
Email marketing and using an attraction of a free offer, is highly affordable and effective marketing. If your business is online with a shopping cart for purchasing, then email marketing automation is a must to communication with your customers and encourage more sales. Start building your list of subscribers early in the game.
If you have the the budget, paying for online ads will give you the boost your website ranking needs rather than gradually getting found through Google searchers. Most small businesses don’t start here, but use these paid tools to boost existing sales.
The most important message is that you need a marketing plan in place to map out your strategy and set your marketing budget for your business type. Using an affordable and experienced marketing expert will provide better results with better return on investment.
It’s a rapidly changing world in marketing. Learning what is a fade or what’s a trend can be tough if you want to be on the leading edge and not the bleeding edge. This last year we have seen lots of changes for websites on the security front. If you have been reading my blogs, then you know the year started off with websites needing better hosting. They required faster loading times to keep viewers engaged. Websites also needed daily backup ups for safety and then malware scanning and removal for security.
So why is SSL security necessary now?
Recently SSL security certificates or https have been highly recommended to be added to your website. Why? Because it may seriously affect your business and your revenue. This change I’m referring to is about messages in the URL (www.yourdomain.com) ) showing up in browsers like Google as non secure which potentially will scare away your viewers and reduce your website traffic.
As of October 17th, 2017, Google recently updated its’ Chrome browser to warn visitors when a site they visit isn’t secure. Research surveys discovered that 82% of visitors abandon websites that aren’t secure or that provided these new warnings. On top of these warnings, Google’s search algorithms now lower your search rankings and results for websites without security certificates.
So what is recommended for your business?
If you have an ecommerce website, then it MUST have SSL security (https) for transactions to take place. Your ecommerce website needs to keep customers purchasing and keep you customers information and credit card numbers safe. However, a majority of websites are non secure (http) so I strongly recommend adding a SSL security certificate (https) to ensure no loss of visitors or lowering of website SEO ranking.
What are the associated costs with SSL security?
The SSL certificate requires an additional annual recurring fee and the time for you or your website designer to secure every page and media file if you have an existing website. If you are starting a new website, make sure you purchase hosting with SSL security. It’s not a matter of adding more expenses to your online marketing or to your small business budget. But one must ask themselves, “What’s the cost for my business of losing viewers, customers or lowering my existing search rankings?
So this coming year, keep your website secure, your customer’s information safe and website traffic increasing with your SEO efforts by adding SSL security.
So you have a small business and you want to get a new website design or refresh an old one. But you want to make sure your internal staff or your website designer have all the right features and components. Perhaps you are asking yourself these questions? What are the latest trends? What is required for better SEO? What does my business need? What’s not good to have anymore? What does my target audience want to see? These may be just a few of the questions you may have. However, there may be questions you don’t know to ask. I’ll try to address the key areas to make sure your website is the best it can be.
When considering your content, keep in mind for your website, ‘Content is King’. That being said, you need to know your home page for search engines like Google, are heavily weighted at about 80% so focus on that page the most. Understand your target audience and be able to convey your story clearly by introducing each section. Keep in mind you need a minimum number of words for good search ranking. Additionally, your copywriting needs to free of jargon; So, identify your keywords and phrases and make sure your readability meets industry standards. For those few people that like writing, remember too many words can be a deterrent for most viewers. Remember less is more. Choosing the right words and phrases make good copywriting for readers.
Your colours should be based on your branding and logo. Remember simple things like primary colours, secondary colours and your contrast colours. Colours create thoughts and emotions so choose wisely. Photos still speak a thousand words and like colours, they create emotions more powerful than you really think. Stock photos are a good place to start, but original professional photos are best if you have a budget. Videos are key today whether produced, animated or testimonials. Some may argue uploaded and others social media embedded for better search results, but you must have video to capture attention. Sliders (motion timed photos usually across the top of a website) are hot items right now encouraged viewer engagement combining text, photos and video. Podcasts may be a consideration depending on your business model as well. It’s a best practice to make sure that either video and podcast do not autoplay ads because most viewers consider that annoying.
The latest is animation, text sections or photos. Website design today must not be just static, but need to be highly engaging to keep viewers on your website. Speaking of engaging, your website must be responsive to grab viewers who use various sizes of devices. It’s not just to keep them on your website but to improve your search rankings with Google and Bing. Social media icons are pretty much a given. However, newer features like chat boxes, pop up signup forms and booking widgets should be considered for your type of business.
The following are a few best practices in this area because I certainly do not have the space to write out everything. Here’s the most important: Always start with good hosting with backups and malware scanning. Starting in the new year your website will also need SSL security (https) with your domain to get better Google search results. If you are a DIY person then choose best of brand website builders. Beware, there are less expensive builders to build your website on but they come with a cost. Often they have compromised features and questionable search friendly platforms not to mention your own possible lack of marketing design knowledge. Today’s growing platform for most small business is the WordPress platform with about a third of the world’s websites and blogs resting on it. Why? Because they are a good user content management system and Google’s search engine likes to find a word based platform. That being said, your website pages have must external links to related topics or businesses.
Your website needs to have good onsite, offsite and local SEO to be found by search engines like Google and Bing. “Build it and they will come” is not a good philosophy for websites. It’s a waste of money to build and not get found. Equality along with that, your content must stay current. Just don’t build it and leave. Having new and fresh content should be part of your SEO strategy. Your website should always be a work in progress. Regular blogging is a good way to increase SEO and stay current. Hiring a ghostwriter if you are not a writer is a good investment. Offering promotions or freebies also works.Your viewers and potential clients will thank you.
I know most of us know what is SEO is these days or have at least heard about it. For those not in the know and who haven’t clicked on the link, in layman’s terms it simply refers to settings made so search engines like Google can find your website or blog. Having said that, creating good SEO and getting the results you want is quite another undertaking. In fact the more SEO I do and the more I learn about it, the more I realize all the things I don’t know. Even the best SEO experts have a challenge keeping up with the latest Google algorithms these days.
But having said that, I wanted you to be aware of the latest changes in SEO which I know about since I continue to stay current. And for the benefit of those reading this, I want to focus on the change not what you’ve needed over the last five years to make your SEO work better. So what did Google change with their algorithm and what do you need to do to respond?
What changed for SEO this summer?
This August the Google update focused yet again on quality content. Google is trying to help searchers. not penalize you. However. that means your website needs to have quality content. Google’s aim is to rid the internet of poor quality websites. Google’s refreshed its quality algorithms during the summer month explicitly in August this year. Of course Google didn’t tell us how or what to change, but here are few suggestions I would recommend: Websites, pages or blogs that just had outbound links (tags) or thin content with little text. If these are not changed, your website will be negatively affected.
So what do I need for better SEO?
To have good content on your pages you will need more than main titles and photos. Yes you still need to tag your photos with attributes for better search results and page ranking. Your home page with which Google weighs about 80% by-the-way, will require relevant content to your keywords with subtitles breaking up your page in a logical manner for flow. On top of all that, the hardest part is qualifying sentence structure and avoiding passive voice and long sentence structure. Your readability should also pass the Flesch–Kincaid readability tests to assure the public can read and understand without a lot of industry jargon. Some of the better SEO software out there will aid in your process, but it really does take some current training, experience and ongoing changes to get good results.
Summary and conclusion
I’m just scratching the surface and the few things I’ve listed is not meant to complete the requirements for good SEO in any manner. It is really to make you more aware that SEO is just not something the average DIYer can do quickly. You might be able to learn how to design a website, but areas like development, page flow and SEO requires ongoing education, experience and skill. Finally, I want to leave you with the thought that SEO is now not a “one time set it and leave it process.” It must be tweaked and maintained to keep up with our ever changing world of SEO if you want to get found on the web.
Online marketing is not child’s play! Are you a small business owner or business partner? Are you starting a new business and your budget is tight? Or, are you trying to reduce your marketing costs? Perhaps you just like to try things for yourself. Those are all good in their own right, but is it the best thing to do for your business? As I learned in my personal life after a divorce many years ago, when entering the dating scene again, ‘just because I can date again didn’t mean I should’. I needed time to heal and I needed to spend time elsewhere.
Priorities and time management
Just because you can figure out how to make a website, how to set up your SEO and how to create online marketing campaigns, ‘doesn’t mean you should,’ for several reasons: For example, I could crawl under my car and change the oil as I used to when I was a poor student in order to save a few dollars. I could also lay on my back under my kitchen sink and learn how to replace my kitchen taps. These both could be a good learning experience, but is it worth the time to achieve meager results and possibly cause more damage? There is a good chance I may have gained small knowledge and left with a good feeling, but is it worth my time? The old adage ‘Time is Money,’ is still accurate. Spending time doing things I’m only okay at, is not likely the best use of my time and I may miss out on other much more important opportunities to grow my business..
DIY design and online marketing
If I have heard this story once, I have heard it a hundred times. I honestly admire small business owners or their staff who want to take on new challenges like designing their own website and doing their own online marketing. I understand how the DIY strategy can potentially save your company some money. However, from experience and knowing how marketing changes daily, I’m suggesting ‘doing it yourself’ or using untrained staff can have a double-edge sword effect. Designing a website is not as simple as the experts make it look. Your need to understand the home page needs a marketing and content writing expert to tell your story. Like an iceberg, ninety percent of the website work is what you don’t see. What you can’t see is how much SEO is required for a Google searcher to find you. That simple process alone requires no coding errors, proper keywords, good copying writing for readability, fast loading times and great responsive mobile results. Marketing requires current training as the tools of yesterday don’t work well and have poor ROI. Additionally, not to mention, marketing today can change daily so it requires current training across all platforms from SEO practices to pay-per-click advertising.
Best practices and recommendations
The rule of thumb for DIY digital design and online marketing is to figure out what your time is worth per hour (annual income $$$ divided by 2112). Don’t waste time on marketing projects that cost you more than you would’ve had it done by an expert. The hard part is knowing what the true cost of your efforts that end up poor or meager results. These efforts could affect your business sales growth or your company reputation with poor quality or bad ROI. Unless you or your staff have the time start marketing training, it’s usually better to hire a good marketing freelancer or marketing expert that is current trained to handle to digital design and online marketing. Perhaps there is truth to “just because you can doesn’t mean you should” Focus your efforts on what you do best and stick to your core competences.