I often refer to PR as an ‘Eat Your Greens’ service. It's a business mindset…
There is so much to consider when carrying out marketing activity – so many channels and activity to choose from that sometimes it can be a blur!
Quite often people start their marketing from the wrong point and, particularly with the speed of online marketing, it’s easy to rush ahead and set up you own social media accounts for example spending lots of time and effort without any strategy or basic plan and then wonder why they’re not getting the desired results.
It’s therefore not surprising that online marketing can be daunting for some, particularly those who aren’t fans of technology themselves or those who are lacking in time or resource, so it’s best to ask a consultant or expert to provide guidance as to what is truly best for the business to ensure time and budget isn’t wasted. So what do you need to know when working with such as an expert?
Over to our expert Karen Black…….
By day Karen Black, a trusted KV Communications partner, is a creative online marketing specialist who helps businesses position themselves online and promote themselves to attract their desired audience. By (Monday) night, between 8-9pm, Karen is radio host and producer of #NorwichHour on Future Radio, a community radio station based in Norwich providing an interactive hour of live music, chat, interviews, local business and news. Listen live on 107.8FM, DAB, online at www.futureradio.co.uk or via the TuneIn App
Having set up her business HubFizz two years ago, Karen has worked with companies from small local businesses, tourism boards, food and drink brands to review and implement the best online marketing approach suited for their needs and requirements.
We asked Karen for some guidance which would be beneficial to those looking to improve their online marketing efforts and what they should consider when planning their online marketing activity or seeking professional help.
Why do people need to consider online marketing seriously? Where should they start?
We’re in a digital age where people spend so much time online that you need to be online to attract their attention. Before, to reach a big audience you’d need to perhaps advertise, knock door to door, cold call etc. Now, through online marketing it’s much simpler to reach to a big number of people far more quickly and efficiently. You haven’t got access to just your neighbours or a small community, but the world!
For most businesses, a website is a good starting point not necessarily for sales but as a place for your customers to know more about you and to give your business credibility. As well as looking more professional, it’s a shop window as well as your own real estate – you’re in control of it and you can do what you want in terms of promotion and engagement. Everything else like social media, Twitter or Facebook is rented property – here you create, post and share the content but ultimately these companies can change the goal posts, especially as all of them now are pushing more towards advertising in order to reach your audience.
Other business owners may just focus on social media presence so instead of a website they have a Facebook page. This is sometimes the case for people in trade services – they don’t necessarily need a website as their point of business is focussed on word of mouth and they need to be in the right directories, so the important driver for their business is reviews and referrals.
Either way to reach your audience you need to be active where their attention is and online marketing in today’s world is pivotal in achieving that.
How does online marketing fit in with the rest of the marketing channels/activities out there?
It absolutely does fit in. Nothing works in isolation. If you’ve got a website and don’t do social media how’s everyone going to find out about you? It’s like having a car in a garage but never taking it out. Additionally your audience isn’t just on one social media channel 24/7, you might need to combine your online marketing with other activity such as advertising or PR to capture their attention and drive visitors to your site.
It’s not just about online marketing, it’s offline too. Clients can be on social media, Linkedin or Twitter and connecting with people but without ever meeting their connections in person and therefore not securing any sales. At some point you have to take that offline and meet with the person – especially if you’re serviced based business, it’s about relationships – people buy from people, but nowadays you’re initially found online.
What are the main client issues/challenges that people have when they ask for your services?
Many have tried their online marketing activity and found it’s simply not working to their expectations and are frustrated, or perhaps don’t know where to start.
Some people jump on the social media platforms they know and what they’re comfortable with and not question if it’s right and whether their clients are on the platform! For example many think it is quite clear cut i.e. Facebook for consumer, Twitter for media and B2B for Linkedin. It depends on what area you’re in e.g. Twitter is popular in the UK and US but not so much in other countries. In Norwich Twitter for local businesses is key – it’s where those people are most active so you have to use the right channels to target them.
Others put too much pressure to put on themselves to learn and do everything but instead they’re overwhelmed and just don’t have the knowledge, time or resource. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help – I do, even in my specialist field of online help!
If you really hate it and you don’t want to learn it then there’s no point pushing on sometimes. Just be honest with yourself and your capabilities and bring in others to help. Stick with what you enjoy, what you’re good at and what brings in the money.
What key information do you need from the client before you start working with them/discussing their business?
I ask clients a series of questions before I start working with them; what results do they expect, who are they trying to attract, who’s their competition, who’s their ideal client, what market research do they have, what’s their budget?
Also when clients come to me with their requests I’ll delve deeper to uncover their rationale. Someone might be insistent they need to be on Facebook but when you question their reason you find out that’s on recommendation of a friend who’s business is in a completely different sector.
If people are confused about what they’re trying to deliver as a company or brand, I’d recommend going to a brand marketing expert to help clarify this as it’s well worth the investment which will ultimately guide all their marketing activity. Being clear about your brand values and direction is important when briefing a specialist so we can understand the business goals you want to achieve together.
How do you differ from other online marketing companies in terms of what you deliver/service?
Firstly I don’t believe one model fits all. I’m very sensitive to client requirements and realistic budgets, therefore I won’t recommend something if it’s not in their best interests. If someone asks for an expensive all singing, all dancing e-commerce site which needs to be built from scratch, I will also recommend alternatives such as whether a secure platform like Shopify can be a better investment especially in the early days.
It’s important also to provide a more consultative role and challenge your clients’ requests as often they might not really understand what they’re asking for.
For example everyone says SEO is priority and they want their business to be ‘seen by Google’. If being #1 on Google converts business then that’s great – yes spend your budget on Google Adwords and SEO. However often when you ask the small local businesses where they get their business they’ll most likely tell you word of mouth referrals. Why spend £500-£2,000 a month just on SEO? Instead that budget could perhaps be better spent growing your online community – expanding relationships, email marketing, Facebook advertising, carrying out social media activity to drive traffic back to your website. It’s about looking at what best suits the company and what is going to be the right investment for them.
I also review the full customer interaction journey from the beginning to ensure that you’re starting your online marketing activity at the right point. Before spending budget, firstly how good is your website and its user journey? Does the website load quickly to keep them online and at your shop window, or do they switch off quite quickly? Is it mobile friendly to meet with the demands of the modern customer? Do you have any email capture capabilities? It’s taking the time and effort to really investigate your client’s online marketing activity and building what works and changing what doesn’t.
Finally, I spend my time researching and keeping up to speed with digital and online marketing trends and also challenges which not only help my business but can also provide a valuable resource to clients. This is particularly relevant with the speed of today’s changing technology – first you had to ensure your website had mobile compatibility, nowadays you have to factor in how voice recognition searches affects search capabilities and SEO.
I look at each case personally and work out what’s best for them. I’ve heard so many horror stories about companies delivering something that’s not necessary or not working through the website’s user journey that the whole thing has to be redesigned at the cost of the client. It’s just not necessary.
You have a particular focus re the clients you work with – please can you outline your client base and why you’ve chosen to focus on this?
My focus is small business owners in particular entrepreneurs or solopreneurs – I like working with them as I’ve been there and done that. I am also particular passionate about working in the food and drink sector.
There’s so much to do! You’ve got to wear different hats running your own business in terms of juggling marketing, sales, business development, accounts. This is of course, on top of working directly with clients, so there is even more limited time, budget and resources!
As a solo business owner I like working for myself but realised I can’t do everything myself – it’s great to be able to help these people struggling with the ever changing digital world and impart what I know to help make their lives easier.
Many of my clients find technology confusing so they either ignore it or they get really frustrated and waste days trying to do something as they’re so overwhelmed by it all. This is where I can really help people from doing the work which would never get done to overlooking their activity, giving them feedback to overcome challenges or help guide them in the right direction with their strategy.
Hiring experts can be pricey – what budget is typical for working with someone like you but also what value do they receive?
Each client will be priced according to their specific requirements however I can provide basic price guidelines for the services I offer so people have got an idea i.e. a small business website can start from £845. I’ve kept the prices reasonable as I appreciate for a solopreneur that’s a lot of money/budget but we offer payment plans to make sure they can see the value.
There are too many people who charge huge amounts for a sub-standard work so I think what I deliver is very good value in terms of cost but the true value is the advice or a more consultative role I deliver to help clients .
In addition I also offer marketing coaching to help with training, mentoring and consulting on areas they struggle with from website edits, e-mail marketing, social media to blogging. They can contact me and get feedback or tips. There are some things I can do for them or that they prefer to do themselves, so I provide flexibility in terms of expertise to suit their requirements.
If you’d like to contact Karen directly please visit www.hubfizz.uk or email email@example.com
Having worked with Karen closely over the past couple of years, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed her approach and style when working with clients together. A natural problem solver to your online marketing requirements, Karen is a valued consultant who provides great advice that saves money and makes the entire marketing roll out process much easier long term.