I mostly ignored the marketing and sales lectures in college. Our Dean and marketing guru, Dr. Steve Greene, was a bit much for me. However, I should have paid more attention. I loved his frameworks for consulting. I was also amazed by how he could seemingly walk into any business and, within about 30 second or so, be able to accurately project their bottom-line. I mean the guy is the real deal…
This was the problem: I just thought marketing was overrated. Perhaps because it seemed like every dummy who registered a social media account or owned the rights to photoshop called themselves a designer/marketer/branding expert. I had no interest in being associated as such. So I often waived my finance banner.
I subsequently continued on to a masters in finance, after which I landed my first job at Treeveo – a startup company in Barcelona – mostly because I was a native English speaker. Then the unexpected happened. I was thrust into the world of internet marketing….left out in the cold with no blanket, wishing I had chosen my elective more carefully.
Hard Knocks of a startup marketer
Over the last 6 months I have learned a lot of valuable lessons about marketing. Mostly through the school of hard knocks (aka. google). Getting traction is pretty tough in a startup where the marketing budget is barely north of $0. And even though our target market is large organizations and consulting firm (who don’t necessarily buy online), we are laying the foundation for a scalable online presence. Here is the first part of a very brief – and introductory – recap of my experience so far. I’m sure I’ll expound further on individual topics as I progress.
I believe the following is true for any website. So if you have a personal website or a small business, this synopsis should be particularly helpful for you.
On the move
Marketing can no longer be chalked up to blasting emails and paid advertising. Organic growth is a must. Growth requires awareness, and awareness requires a presence.
Not everyone sits behind their desks for hours. This means marketing is mobile. And all relevant mobile is local. You have to know who is interested in you – their demographics, what devices they use, what they are interested in – and where they are.
Social media is interactive and fast moving. Don’t fall behind the conversation. You have to offer something before people will be interested in who you are.
I am pretty new to writing. And to my surprise, I really enjoy it. I never paid too much attention to words on websites, but oh boy does it make a powerful appeal to the subconscious of a viewer. Here’s the most important note about writing product information and call to actions: the shorter the better, but it has to pack a punch. It is not easy to find the right words. Write and rewrite, and when it works, find something that works better. The more content you have, the better. Buyers want meat. Whether you have any or not, your competitors do.
Blogging. This is important for multiple reasons. Providing frequent, relevant, and high-quality content aimed at your target will build your perception as a “thought expert” in that area. You become a source of information, not just a salesman. Providing “free” content and information to your top-of-the-funnel viewers – those who are not currently interested in what you offer – is important for lead generation. (I say “free” because you better be getting their contact information for your database when they download your stuff. Five to seven fields of info has proved to work best).
E-marketing. Some say it’s gone the way of the dinosaur, but in reality it still generates MQL’s that turn into customers. These people have given you access to their most personal and direct avenue – their inbox. They are no machines or equations filtering your message, and these people have already shown interest in what you offer. There are great ways to use this to your advantage.
Content is king here. If you constantly blast your mailing list with promo’s and 500 words about how great your company is, expected clicks…but on the unsubscribe link. You have to offer something that is relevant to what they do. HubSpot is a great example of a company that provides AMAZING and relevant content, tools, and resources to prospective clients. The more content you provide, the more opt-in you will have. The more opt-in, the better quality leads you have. Pass these hot leads on to your sales to team. It’s your job to continually stir the waters of the cold and lukewarm.
Don’t take too much of what you hear as the gospel. No one knows Google’s formulas and algorithms (or other search engines for that matter), so most of the info you find out there is as result of trial and error. A lot of optimization involves diving into the code. But if you don’t want to get your hands dirty, there are many helpful tools that not only help you understand how SEO works, but will actually do most of the heavy lifting for you. So far, I have had decent success by relying on the basics: good page content, relevant page names, catchy meta descriptions and other tags, and target keywords (There is much more detailed stuff out there, namely Schema. But this is introductory).
Things are fast-paced. Sometimes every small task seems like a mountain because you have to figure out how to do it before you can…well, do it. But it’s a small price to pay for the know-how that gets you a seat at the front of the plane for technology’s next destination, wherever that may be.
Ps. To those who actually did study marketing, I somewhat have your degree now. Except I did it in 6 months, and saved myself $120,000. Don’t make it weird, we can still be friends.