Saturday, January 18, 2014

A small business owner shares her digital marketing story

small business and digital marketingOver the past ten years, the digital world has completely transformed the way in which businesses go about marketing their products and services.

And Jo Macdermott has been at the forefront of guiding businesses through many of these changes. She is the Chief Marketing Consultant at Next Marketing, a marketing agency for SME's based in Melbourne, Australia.  She describes herself simply as someone who works closely with business owners “who are looking for a better ROI for their marketing spend”. I asked Jo to share some of her own small business story with us …..

1. What motivated you to initially start your own small business Jo?
I had a couple of marketing roles which just hadn't worked out the way I had thought or intended - so I decided to go it alone.  It was quite a brave move - now that I look back upon those early days in a more detached way, quite a few years later!......  I hadn't ever worked out-of-house. My career until that point  had always involved working as an in-house marketing manager. Never-the-less, I made the move despite having no database, no clients and never having sold anything …  A bit of an understatement to say that it was a big learning curve!

2. What have you found most rewarding about running your own business?

The ability to make things happen - which I'm sure other small business owners who might have worked in the corporate world can relate to.  No need to seek approval for an idea from several levels of management bureaucracy, I can just make it happen and  be 100% responsible either way.  That is also why I love working with Business Owners directly as well.  No layers of decision making; you can generate ideas and then get moving with them much more quickly.
3. What about some of the challenges or frustrations you’ve had to deal with?

Lots!  I actually don't focus on them so they aren't really that top of mind. However having said that, let me add that I don't like making the same mistake twice.  One of the over-arching philosophies I have in my business is to have two of everything - skills - file copies - you name it. I suppose it’s a bit of contingency planning. ……. It is really crucial and I work hard at maintaining this back-up discipline at all times.
4. You’ve specialised in marketing for more than ten years – how should a small business approach developing a digital marketing strategy?

Pick a channel (one or two) and stick to it.  No point trying to be all things to all social media channels. Otherwise in the end, your content and main message can become completely lost. 

My preferred channel for my business is LinkedIn, I really like that it isn't full of what people are having for lunch or pictures of coffee.  Over the past several years I have found LinkedIn to be highly effective, given the demographic that I want to connect with. Especially when this strategy is further combined with face to face networking.  Ironically, just today I received a website enquiry from a contact that I met at a networking function six months ago, who has been following my content on LinkedIn.  Bingo …..

Patience is typically needed here – don’t expect a new contact to immediately start generating business for you. Work on building a relationship first. 

A small business owner simply can't afford to ignore social media and digital marketing, so really try to understand what platform is best suited for your business and then go for it!! Invest in some professional advice if you're not sure .... But there's a lot of educational resources freely available on the internet for those who prefer to handle their digital marketing themselves.

5. A good quality website forms an important component of a digital marketing strategy – what makes for a good website?
A design that is appropriate for your brand and industry.  It is actually a bit hard to put in words, as websites are highly visual – and need to be designed with your target group in mind.  Ensuring that you regularly include up to date content and touch bases as well - such as a newsletter sign up form or a RSS for a blog etc…  I actually don't believe websites really need to be more than a few pages - for standard B2B types ones that is.  Larger websites with more pages are known to be more favoured by Google, however I recommend using a blog to boost pages and content.  In the Next Marketing site for example, I have only about 12 standard website pages, but about 400 blogs - with three to four new blogs being published every week. These offer the advantage of controlled opportunities to engage and interact with your followers – thereby adding fresh content with each interaction occurring on your blog - so Google loves it.

6. You’ve been able to help many small businesses improve their lead generation and also their rates of conversion to sales – any tips you can share?
No single one element of your marketing mix is going to be the holy grail.  Marketing is very much about having many balls in the air and managing them in a consistent manner, to leverage each as much as possible.  For example, my blog gives me content - which then feeds social media and helps with my Google position as well.  It's also important to have a mix of strategies in place - LinkedIn works well for me, when combined with face to face networking. 

Google generates many leads for me because of my high search result ranking – but this must be combined with a great website.  And all of these things combine to provide a boost to my email marketing efforts. … A digital marketing strategy comprises many actions that must be inter-connected and therefore require considerable forward planning and co-ordination.

7. Any final words of advice for small business owners who might be wanting to grow their business?
Get found in Google!  Having a number one ranking for my targeted search terms changed the Next Marketing business forever in an incredibly powerful way - so that is my final word of advice

Thanks to Jo, for sharing your story. And if you want to learn more about getting a higher search engine result for your small business, then take a look at Getting Your Website Found By Google

About the author Brian Carroll is the founder of a management training company Performance Development, based in Melbourne, Australia.  He is a qualified psychologist, experienced leadership coach and an engaging presenter, with a passion for helping people develop their full capabilities. He regularly delivers management courses in Sydney