Reading the marketing and advertising trade journal Advertising Age, I was struck by how the comments made by AdAge‘s Guest Columnist, Beau Fraser, the managing director of ad firm Gate Worldwide, which were directed at big clients and the advertising and marketing mega-firms and boutiques that serve them apply in some ways to small businesses and their online marketing people. The piece is a bit of rant, really . . . and maybe justifiably so, but I know next-to-nothing of the Madison Avenue-world of advertising. What Mr. Fraser says about advertising at its best, however, – “Advertising provokes thought, differentiates commodity products and helps consumers make better-informed decisions.” – rings true for the product and client services produced by the search engine optimization and online marketing specialists I work for.
Mr. Fraser’s guest column suggesta there are four points that will help big clients allow their big-firm advertising shops serve their maketing interests better. (If any of my bosses’ clients happen to read this, these comments are not directed at you – so don’t take offense. Nor do I think Beau Fraser intended offense for anyone, merely hard-won constructive criticism, all in the name of putting out a better product, and creating a more invigorated climate for both client and ad agency.)
Here are Mr. Fraser’s points transposed, I suppose, with a view to how working with small business SEO amd online marketing specialists can boost the profile, revenue and productivity of small, mid-size and growing businesses lthat rely increasingly on the cyber-traffic to their web pages as well asthe foot-traffic past their storefronts:
- Avoid treating online marketing “as a pit stop, not as a profession”. – I’m new to this on-line marketing business, formerly having been a lawyer. Yet, even with the staggering amount of reading that was necessary in that racket (yes, racket!) to keep abreast of not only my area of specialization, but the state of the law in general, I am blown away by the amount of information my bosses have to absorb in order to keep abreast with and tap into the best practices in this ever-evolving field. When undertaking online marketing oneself, or when working with your consultants or contractors, I think its essential to treat a business’ online storefront as every bit as important as a retail storefront. Its gotta be clean, persuasive, inviting and intriguing to attract digital foot-traffic and keep them around long enough so you can make your sales pitch and let the person who found your site decide they want the products or services you are offering, Cleaning up a derelict storefront, opening up a new neighbourhood boutique or creating an online presence takes time and effort. Time in the pits optimizing the appearance and efficiency of your site is not time that is spent off the race track where you are competing for positioning and sales. Nobody is going to lap you while you clean up your digital storefront. Quite the contrary.
- Do Not “Lack Courage” – Change is, or always can be, intimidating – and the pace of change in online marketing is blistering . . . and increasing. (See point 1, above, regarding how much time my bosses have to spend keeping abreast of online technology’s ever-burgeoning possibilities.) Mr. Fraser makes the valid point that clients can have a tendency to “make decisions based on sacred cows, those rules, standards or formulas that are blindly followed because ‘that’s the way its always been done.” Trust in the ‘pros from Dover’ you’ve hired to help you enter the online marketing stream and foster the ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ to wait for organic, growing results, some of which may have what is referred to as a long-tail. While there are plenty of fly-by-night SEO operators who can deliver a quick boost to the top of Google’s rankings through quick-fix, questionable means, ranking consistently on the top pages of the search engines requires both short and longer-term efforts to build the web site configurations, content and connectivity. And some of these efforts may seem counterintuitive to how a ‘bricks-and-mortar’ storefront builds traffic and generates sales revenue. It takes courage to take the leap and perseverance to see past the quick fix to the end of the long-tail results.
- “Get Aligned” with Your SEO Team – To produce optimal results in the search engine optimization game, there has to be a mutuality of interest, where client and provider share the mutual goal of creating a digital footprint that will stand out. Trusting in each other, and having a shared goal and belief in the process, product and progress of results is essential.
- Make Sure ‘Decision Makers’ are In Touch – For the quick response to changing markets and marketing conditions its critical that a small business’ ultimate decision-makers on matters of site performance, optimization and functionality are in touch with the vision and plan of the SEO, online marketing ‘decision maker’ who is handling your work. In fast-changing times, fast action is most often called for. You don’t want to be sidelined, or have your site sidelined, while waiting for site changes and functions to be approved and then revised pages uploaded through your host server. As technologies emerge evermore quickly and evolve evermore rapidly with new online, internet marketing tools being deployed on a daily or near daily basis, and with emerging new paradigms in business-to-business and business-to-client communications, not only a shared vision but also a fast-action client/marketer response is required.
If you are just entering the online stream, so to speak, don’t hesitate to get your feet wet. Take it from a ‘newbie’ – it’s invigorating. But get with experienced, knowledgable and adaptive specialists who will not only be able tooptimize your site, but will be able to keep you abreast of online marketing developments and the latest internet marketing and search engine optimization techniques as they emerge, whatever these may be this week – or . . . more importantly . . . next week.