“So Mike, you’re a digital marketing consultant? What does that actually mean?”

Great (and tricky) question, and one I hear often. When I’m asked it, I try to explain by using an example of one area of my work, and that’s what I’m going to do here.

“We need more sign-ups Mike, can you help?”

A recently completed project involved a SAAS (software as a service) product and their drive for more users. A young business, but with huge ambitions, they were already engaged in social media, content marketing and paid digital activity. While it was aiding the completion of product sign-ups (their life-blood), they were struggling to hit their overall targets. After two initial consultations, we decided that I’d carry out a full audit of their digital activity and make recommendations for the improvement and scaling of that.

Piece by piece

Before I even started the assessment of their current activity, I wanted to dig deeply into who their customers and prospects are, what makes them tick, what issues do they have and how does their product fix them? How do they research new tools? Are they a group of people that are open with their peers? Only once you understand that, can you really assess if the marketing activity is likely to be hitting the right notes.

From there, I spent a lot of time on social media (particularly Twitter and Reddit) observing conversations between people within their target range. This is a great practice to undertake, as it offers real insight into the minds of your prospect and customer base. I didn’t engage with them, just observed.

What’s happening now?

Step by step I went through each area of their current activity. I started with their website, where is content held on their site? Is it easy to navigate, is there a funnel in place? Does it work across all devices? Is it simple for people to communicate with the client? People often overlook this, however, and especially for a SAAS product, the site is where the final piece of business will take place. If it doesn’t come up to the mark, all of the marketing work could come tumbling down.

From there I went onto their actual content – are they creating content that their audience will really appreciate? There’s a Chris Brogan quote that I like to pull out when trying to explain the right content approach…

“Often, B2B content is written to represent the company. Swell. Except your audience is most likely your customer base and prospects.

To that end, write your posts with your customer’s usage in mind. Think about what they will want to know, and how you can be useful”

That second paragraph pretty much nails it for me. Show knowledge, experience and be willing to educate and you’ll go a long way to creating valuable customer relationships. Is the content mix right? Blogs/articles, video, webinars, graphics – is it all working together?

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How is that content being distributed? Is social media being used in a smart fashion? Are they building a meaningful audience, one that is relevant and engaged, not just a huge one! Are the social platforms that are in use the right ones? Is paid social in play? If so, is it efficient and being used in the right part of the sales funnel?What are their competitors up to? The good, the bad and the ugly. You get the idea.

The outcome

After all of the consultation, research and analysis, I pull everything together into a detailed document and present it face-to-face. In this case, my overall recommendation was that they had to completely flip their marketing approach. A tall order, but all the evidence pointed towards it being the best option. This piece of work is the blueprint for making that happen. I can then help them to put it into place and be available for questions, analysis and sense-checking – working with the internal team as a partner (if required).

Not just about the marketing

When I carry out this piece of work, it often uncovers things about the business that sit out with those areas that you may regard as pure marketing. An example of this is branding – often a business will think their brand is being represented to public in a way that is true to its values, but when you assess their comms, it doesn’t match up. Another area is pricing – is it very simple for someone to understand what they need to pay you and what they get for it? If that isn’t clear, then the whole thing can again, fall apart. A holistic view of so many elements is key. Things are moving in the right direction for this business and it feels amazing to have been able to help.

So what do I do?

I like to think of myself as an enabler. My work helps businesses take stock of where they are now, and how they can get to where they want to be. I can be the spark that brings about the change that’s needed. It’s marketing-led, but reaches further.

Wow, that sounds rather grandiose and perhaps a little bit self-gratifying, but it works. I think.

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