Alright, my small business friends, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and dive deep into the digital marketing jungle. Prepare your machete! The promised land of incoming leads may be on the other side.
I know your plate is full with running your business. And now you have a growing challenge, digital marketing. That is definitely NOT your specialty.
You’re out there trying to find your way through the digital bushland, and you might think you’ve found a trusty guide in your ‘digital marketing consultant.’ But beware! Not all guides are created equal, and some might be leading you around in big-ass circles .
HERE ARE 10 WAYS TO KNOW IF YOU’RE BEING WEASELED BY YOUR DIGITAL MARKETERS:
1. They don’t let you access your Google Ads account
They have the treasure map but refuse to share it, which means they can hide poor performance or mismanagement of funds. If you can’t verify your investment, you can’t tell if they’re squandering it or using it wisely. Always demand full control of your Google Ads account. It’s your property.
2. They claim their top-secret technology is proprietary
This is a convenient way to dodge accountability. Without transparency into the tools they use, you can’t assess their effectiveness or determine if you’re getting value for your money.
3. They deny you website admin access
If they guard your website like the crown jewels and won’t grant you access, you depend entirely on them for updates and changes. This lack of control can cause delays, incur added costs, and make timely updates to your site challenging. You should be trusted with the keys to your own kingdom. And if you part ways, you need to be able to take your website with you.
4. They use a proprietary website platform
If they build your website in their secret lair instead of on a widely used platform like WordPress, it will be tough – if not impossible – to switch consultants without overhauling your entire site. This locks you into a long-term relationship, whether it benefits your business or not. If you are on an open-source platform (such as WordPress), you will have more flexibility if you decide to move to another vendor for your website.
5. They charge a percentage of your ad spend
This model incentivizes them to spend more of your money on ads, regardless of the ROI. The more you spend, the more they earn, which doesn’t lead to cost-effective strategies for your business.
6. They direct traffic away from your website
If they send your hard-won leads back into the wilderness instead of to your cozy inn, you lose potential sales. Directing traffic away from your site means that you don’t control that visitor, they do. This can lead to lower conversion rates and lost revenue. This includes using a third-party hosted funnel to capture leads, rather than building a funnel on your website.
7. They provide vague reports and communicate poorly
If they hand you a crayon-scribbled map instead of a detailed chart, you can’t accurately assess your campaigns’ performance. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, and misalignment between your goals and their marketing actions.
8. They control your tracking phone numbers
This can be particularly perilous. I had a client whose spurned digital marketer took the tracking numbers that he controlled and forwarded them to one of her competitors. Controlling the tracking numbers means they control a crucial part of your customer interaction and data. If things go south, they can misuse it to your detriment.
9. Ignoring your business needs
If your digital marketer is marching to the beat of their own drum, your business goals and needs are not being considered. This misalignment leads to ineffective campaigns, wasted spend, and ultimately, failure to achieve your business objectives.
10. They have no strategic plan for making you money
Without a plan of attack for the journey ahead, your campaigns will lack direction and purpose. A lack of proactive recommendations for improvement shows a lack of investment in your success and can lead to stagnation and suboptimal performance.
AND A COUPLE OF BONUS RED FLAGS:
11. Ignoring Revenue Metrics
Focusing on vanity metrics that don’t directly impact your business objectives is a classic smoke and mirrors trick. Telling you about “Search Rankings” and “Cost Per Click”, while neglecting to mention “Sales” and “Return on Ad Spend” is a sure sign that you are getting fleeced. High rankings might make you feel good, but if they don’t translate into sales, they don’t matter.
12. They don’t let you control your Analytics
Google Analytics holds all of the key information that really matters to seeing what’s going on under the hood of your website. If your web people don’t give you direct access to your Google Analytics data, or they want to control it, there’s a good chance they have something to hide. You should control your Google Analytics account, and selectively share access to it with your digital marketing vendors. You should never let them kick you out of your own data. Your data should ALWAYS belong to you.
THERE YOU HAVE IT, INTREPID EXPLORERS.
If your ‘digital marketing consultant’ is waving any of these red flags, plot a new course and find yourself a guide who can actually lead you to the treasure. The digital jungle is fraught with danger, but with the right map and a trustworthy digital marketing guide, you can find your way to success.
If you’re interested in learning more about the best means for marketing your specific business, you can book a discovery call here.
Rethinking Your Business’s Primary Goal
What would you say your primary goal as a business owner is?
While your first thought may be to effectively manage things like product development, customer service, operations, etc. (all very important!), I am going to propose to you that it should not be any of these things… First and foremost, your primary goal should be to effectively market what you have.
Let’s start by debunking a myth that costs companies millions of dollars every year… marketing is NOT just a department.
“Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
~David Packard (Co-founder of Hewlett-Packard)
When we think of marketing as simply another department, we forget that when a company cannot market itself effectively, it eventually ceases to exist.
So at the end of the day, your job as a business owner is to bring your product/service to market successfully. If you don’t market effectively, you go out of business and the culture, operations, services, etc. that you worked so hard to build, dissolve into nothing.
What’s more, if you can market effectively, you can sell anything!
If you have built a strong brand presence for your company and done marketing right, it becomes easy to pivot in other aspects of business down the road.
- Want to own your upstream processes (manufacturing, supplying)? If you’re effectively taking the products to market already, why not?!
- Want to launch a sister brand? With strong marketing, you can cross-promote to all with success!
- Want to open up shop in a new metro? A well-established brand and messaging will allow you to grow quickly.
- Want durability in case a manufacturer or supplier cuts your top-selling products? Strong marketing builds customer loyalty to your brand, not just your products.
On the flip side, a weak brand presence or lackluster marketing puts you at enormous risk and causes each of these forementioned situations to become stressful. Think about it, if you’re already struggling to impact your current market:
- Why would expanding into a new metro or adding a sister brand be any more effective?
- Why would adding new products be any easier to market?
Without the revenue and brand recognition that comes from strong marketing, any one of these situations/opportunities can easily spread your finances too thin and sink your company.
To become impenetrable, you must stop seeing yourself as a furniture store, a jewelry store, a software company etc. and you MUST start seeing your company as a Marketing Company that sells __________.
Knowing How to Market Well
“But I wasn’t trained in Marketing!!!”, you may object.
That’s okay! But you’ll want to find someone to come alongside you who:
- Understands that marketing strategy needs to encompass all aspects of your company and its direction.
- Accepts financial responsibility for the growth (or lack thereof) of your company.
This is what we as wizards do, which is frankly a terrible business model if we cannot successfully grow our client’s companies. That’s why we only take on about 40% of the businesses that reach out to us.
We’ve found some of the biggest indicators of a business’s potential are determined by the owner’s character. We look for these three things:
- Integrity. Without it, any “success” is short-lived and followed by a quick downward trajectory. No thanks.
- Long-term mindset. Does your business have the capacity to scale operations to support growth? We love helping David take on Goliath… but if David has two broken arms, a peg leg, and an ego the size of California, we’ll wish him the best and keep our distance.
- Courage. To stand out in the market, you have to be willing to stand out. That means some people will love your marketing, and some will hate it. We know who your target audience is, and we are not concerned with the rest.
Interested in working together to turn your business into a marketing behemoth? Put time on my calendar and we’ll begin plotting your world domination!
Gruntled. Gloriously gruntled. Gloriously gruntled with gumption. Gumption for greatness.
Gobsmacked is okay – I mean, who doesn’t want their clients to be pleasantly surprised with the results of a campaign designed to grow their business? Growth, after all, is a minimum expectation. No matter how reasonable or how much they understand “the economy is rough out there” clients pay money to brand and advertise because they want to make more money. Maybe to advertise more. Maybe not.
But back to the “G” words. Gruntled is my new favorite.
It is the opposite of what can often happen. Disgruntled. That one conjures feelings of regret and angst in anyone working to bring more success to a business that trusts you. A person who trusts you. Because we all have bills to pay, right? I don’t want disgruntled clients. They are not destined to be clients for long.
So, why do we know the meaning of the word disgruntled, but not as readily as its root word gruntled? Was I concentrating on the negative? Not reading enough? Falling into cliches and worse – overused adjectives?
Adjectives are more than just the words on a menu that justify a higher number on the left-hand side. A cheeseburger is, well- it’s a burger with cheese. But a handmade cheese-stuffed succulent patty waiting to dance with your taste buds to the tune of an American cheese slice melody is, well…..more interesting, eye-stopping, and expensive.
It makes you feel gruntled to know you can order that AND get, not just fries, but home-cut, sea-salt-tossed moments of garden-raised spuds on the side.
Thawed or unthawed? I know what my dad says, even as I question his correctness, aka point out his wrongness. He knows what he means when he says unthawed. Most people do. My smart mouth correction is ignored…. as is my question of whether I should turn the AC up or down to make it colder in the house.
He is gruntled to use the word he wants. And to bug me a little. Beyond that, it’s all irregardless. Damn autocorrect wants me to say regardless. Not a chance.
We have a fear of speaking grandiloquently. Using big, fancy words few people know. I recently had this discussion with my well-read, well-spoken, most definitely quotable son. He shared with a group of long-time friends that he often struggled to use simpler words for concepts, philosophies, and ideas so as not to sound like a donkey. Donkey spelled with an ‘A”. He was gratified to be summarily chastised. “So, you are trying to sound dumb instead of precise? Most people want to sound smart. Why talk down? Don’t you want them to know you?”
He stopped doing that. And felt better. And more himself. Clarity can be achieved both by using simple language or spectacular language. Both is best. It’s knowing when each option makes you either an ass or an asset to any conversation, advertisement, or email that reflects on your motive.
One of my 4 brothers is an advanced care paramedic. He is supposed to use words I have no expectation of understanding in the hopes that his precise diagnostic information will save a life. He might say an acute ocular potential aura inducing primary cerebral discomfort. All I need to know is that yes, it’s a migraine.
If you grok what I’m saying, I know we’ve read the same book. And if we agree that 42 is absolutely the answer to all things I’m going to assume you somewhere packed a towel.
Language and our specific word choices make sure we are talking the same… well, the same language. I trust you and I’m interested in you and what you have to say and I love understanding exactly what you mean OR I want to understand what you mean and be part of the same group. The same tribe.
That’s why when my girlfriend told our Gal Group of Golfers that she was gruntled to be invited we all stopped and laughed and embraced being gruntled along with her. What a great word! I realized I wanted to use that word in an ad for a client who would also pause and laugh and realize it was indeed a superior bit of language.
It’s the kind of word when a listener hears it, a reader reads it, or a blogger blogs it, the business will know they heard it. They will be gruntled to know their ad was heard, read, and seen.
Which doesn’t mean the business has a new client or has sold something. Yet.
But this I know to be true. My gruntled client will be remembered and thought of. Hopefully first. When the listener, reader, or watcher finally, eventually, needs their product or service. Or when someone they know does and asks for their recommendation.
And that is something to be gruntled about
I wonder whose poised-for-growth business brand out there is ready to be beyond gruntled by an ad I write?
If you need an advertising expert to make your ads for you, book a call.
This may seem like a simple question, but things can get complicated with a family business.
However, your ownership is structured someone has to be CEO, or potentially Co-CEO’s.
I cannot stress this enough: RULING BY COMMITTEE DOES NOT WORK. Not only will it cause problems, but it’s also incredibly inefficient. Having said that, there are some important things to keep in mind to help things run smoothly.
Keep people informed
Whoever is in charge needs to keep the rest of the family informed and bring them in on big decisions. Being CEO of a family business doesn’t mean you should act unilaterally even if you’re the majority owner. This will undoubtedly cause resentment. People just want to be included, especially if they have an ownership stake, and simply bringing them in on what you want to do will make them happy. You’ll still get to do what you want, but everyone feels like you’re in this together.
Stay in your lane
Everyone has a role to play, and people need to respect each other’s territory. This is true in any business, but in a family business, it can get ugly. If I’m in charge of a department and another family member makes a decision for me or is checking up on my employees and what we’re working on, then we’re going to have words. It makes no difference if they have equal or even more of an ownership stake than I do, I’m taking that as not trusting me. It also looks bad and creates confusion with the employees. If you have a question, ask me. As Vito Corleone said, “Never let anyone outside the family know what you’re thinking again.”
I’ve mentioned respect, but it’s really what this entire post is about and deserves to be highlighted. Respect is certainly earned not given, but once a family member has proven themselves then trust them to do their job. Don’t hover, don’t micromanage. They may be your son or daughter, niece or nephew, but they aren’t kids anymore and have a vested interest in the business succeeding. Trusting them is showing ultimate respect, and while it may not be intentional, micromanaging says loud and clear that you neither trust nor respect them.
What This Looks Like In The Real World
I was part of the 3rd generation in our business. We had to fight to get respect and trust from our parents and uncles, and there were more than a few heated exchanges. This wasn’t when we were in our twenties and knew we had much to learn. We were well into our 30s or even early 40s. Part of this was the 2nd generation not being willing to let go of certain things and let us handle them, but another big part was we were driving change and they struggled with that. When your kid is telling you that you can’t do some things the way you’ve done them (and very successfully so) for 30 years, that’s tough. These weren’t changes we were making just for the hell of it, they were changes we HAD to make because the world had changed.
I’m referring specifically to children’s product safety regulations. Now we never had a safety issue, but with the new regulations it was a massive undertaking to develop testing protocols, review our sourcing, and last but not least, all of our top customers developed their own protocols we had to go through. This was the fun I was put in charge of. The main result was you could no longer just buy and sell something, and with my Father being in charge of the product that led to some butting of heads. I had to tell a guy who developed a product line over decades that made us the largest arts and crafts wholesaler in the United States that he wasn’t allowed to buy something, or that it needed changes before we could commit. Suddenly his kid was “The Hammer” and the majority of the product had to be cleared by me and my team. I was even nicknamed “Dream Killer” by the purchasing and product development teams. When I would say no he would get mad. Explaining why didn’t help, and he would react as if I had made the laws and it was my fault, and then I would get mad.
This was our battle, but I had cousins and siblings going through their own battles with 2nd generation family members. Some relationships have never been the same.
Time For A Gut Check
So I urge you and the rest of your family, before it gets to that point, to take a step back and figure out what you’re really upset about. Are you afraid of change? Are you scared to let go of even a little bit of control? Do you genuinely not trust this relative? Figure that out before it boils over and you might say something you can never take back.
If you’re like me, you’d prefer that things just run smoothly.
That everything would just work the way it’s supposed to.
Perfectly understandable — at least for me.
But this begs the question: if that’s what we want from life, then why do we hunger for conflict in our entertainment?
Why, in short, do we demand DRAMA?
For instance, take the perfect game.
Whether it’s Football, Baseball, Soccer, Hockey, or whatever weird sport you prefer, we don’t really want a one-sided massacre from a match-up we go to see.
That’s not entertaining.
So no matter how much we imagine the joy of gloating about the 70-to-nothing beatdown our team gave their team, it’s not a game we’d actually watch.
In fact, it would be a game we’d leave at half-time. Or the second period or the 5th inning or whatever.
What we want — what would actually keep us in our seats, cheering, chanting, and praying our little hearts out — would be a game with plenty of reversals, last-minute reprieves, and a nail-biting, nick-of-time victory.
In short, we won’t stand for a walk-over. We need a conflict. A hard-won battle.
And it is the same with novels, movies, short stories, and TV shows. We need — in fact, we demand — conflict, tension, and drama.
So what does this have to do with advertising?
Your ads’ audience simply won’t believe a story without conflict — without some amount of sacrifice, loss, reversals, or lessons learned.
But most advertisers want nothing to do with that in ads they’re paying to put in front of customers.
They want the highlight real. The walkover. The no-brainer, “choose me, ‘cause it’s obvious” storyline.
You say you’ve got the best quality and the lowest prices and you always deliver perfect service? And you’ve been number one in your industry from day one with a perfect 5-star review score? Mirabile dictu!
Yeah… not buying it. No one’s buying it.
What they will “buy” is the idea that you had a painful lesson to learn in your past that put you on the path you’re on today.
They will believe that the person who once mattered most in your life set you on a mission that, despite the difficulties involved, you’ve been on ever since.
They’ll believe that your whole worldview (or professional understanding) got flipped upside down, ass-over-tea-kettle — and now you’re a forever changed business owner.
In short, they’ll believe conflict.
Better yet, they’ll believe you can help them with the conflict they’re experiencing.
Because a story without conflict offers nothing to learn from. Nothing to profit from.
Story is nothing less than a flight simulator for life, after all.
And life is never without conflict.
So what all of us want is a way to navigate that conflict to victory — however hard fought or narrowly won.
That’s what story is supposed to give us.
And if you think about it for half a second, your business exists to help people with a conflict of sorts in their own lives.
The reason customers come to you is precisely because things aren’t going as smoothly as they’d like.
Or because they foresee a future where there are significant bumps ahead.
They either have or anticipate having conflict and want help.
Whether it’s the conflicting need to get an eye-popping engagement ring without breaking the bank, or to fix a must-have central AC unit without getting taken for a ride, or to figure out how to deal with a parent’s failing health, there’s some part of your business that’s inherently dramatic in nature.
And no one wants help winning a gunfight from a guy who’s never been in one — or learned the hard lessons of how to win one.
Make sense? So what’s in your advertising? Are you telling the hard stories where conflict taught you a valuable lesson and shaped who you are today?
Or are you pitching conflict-free propaganda that no one believes and most people tune out of before half-time?
If it’s the latter, and you’d like to get help transforming your branding from an ad guy who’s learned lots of hard-fought victories…
If you’re interested in learning more about the best means for marketing your specific business, you can book a discovery call here.
If you are using faulty data, you’re making flawed decisions. Hopefully, we can agree on that.
We believe in never asking customers how they heard about us, like never and forever. Here are four reasons why you should never ask this question and use the data to decide how to spend your marketing dollars.
It’s a question about you, not them. Your marketing has worked if they’ve called, emailed, or shown up. They are communicating with your business. They’ve entered your sales process and want to know if you can help them, when you can help them, and how much it costs. How quickly are you answering these questions? Because this is what they care about at that moment. They do not care or have even given any thought to how they came in contact with your business and have a problem they want to solve. So don’t make the conversation about you or your marketing.
The second reason is that you put the customer on the spot with this question. The customer doesn’t want to look stupid and say, “I don’t know.” So they will give you an answer, because then maybe they can get their problem solved.
The third reason is that just by how you ask the question, you skew the results. Whether it’s online, on paper, or done verbally doesn’t matter. Just the way the options are presented skews the outcome. Because the quicker the customer can answer the question, the quicker they can solve their problem. For example, starting with the Internet will probably be your highest result because it’s a safe answer.
The fourth reason is something complicated called last-touch attribution, which is a fancy way of saying the last marketing contact before the customer engages with your business. If they heard a radio ad or saw a TV ad that directs them to your website, and you ask whether you heard about us on the Radio, TV, or Internet. What do you think the answer is going to be? Your offline advertising is doing its job of driving people to your website, but your survey data will never reflect that.
There’s an old computer database expression, “Garbage in, Garbage out.” Don’t get caught making decisions about what’s working based on Garbage data. You want to track direct and organic visits to your website. That is a leading indicator of whether your offline advertising is working. To trend this data, you need a Trailing 12 graph. See page 63 of Jim Canfield and Kraig Kramers book “CEO Tools 2.0” for more information on Trailing 12 charts. They remove seasonality and show you if you’re trending in the right direction.
The other leading indicators you should watch are raw inbound phone calls, chats, web forms, and visitors—all of your initial touch points. Trend the touch points at the beginning of the customer conversation. If those are trending up, your business will be growing. To learn more about how we can help you, book a call with Ryan Chute of Wizard of Ads® today.
Questions? We’ve got answers.
Ready to transform your world?