Mon, 4 February 2019
Meeting With An Unhappy Client
Just recently a client requested a meeting with us because he wasn’t happy with the results of his Google AdWords. We’ve been managing his ads for a while and things have been going well, but during December of last year, everything took a nosedive.
It turned out to be a seasonal issue, and something we see often. But he didn’t know that, so he was worried. The good news is that we have a line of communication open with him, as we do with all our clients, and we’ve kept him apprised of his results all along. So instead of a difficult, confrontational meeting, we reviewed the December results, discussed the issue and made an action plan to go forward.
And everyone went home happy. The point of telling this story is that we received a question from a listener who is currently worried that she doesn’t know what she’s paying her marketing company to do.
And it got us thinking about how even though we go through difficult periods with our clients, even though not all of our efforts succeed, our clients are always in the loop and always know exactly what we’re doing on their behalf. And if you’ve hired a marketing company, then you should, too!
We once pitched a prospect who was working with another marketing company, paying $19.99 a month. For that price they got a Google analytics report sent to them each month.
That doesn’t do much for a person’s marketing but it was apparently enough for our prospect, who had no interest in paying our fees. In their case, they knew exactly what they were paying for, and thought it was fine.
But if you’re paying someone like us, who charges a minimum $1500 per month investment to act as your marketing department, then you sure as heck want to know what you’re getting - and you want to sure as heck know that it’s making you money.
Don’t be fooled by low monthly costs. Price is not always the best indicator of results. If you’re paying a lot for a little, it’s no better than paying a little for even less! Even if your budget only allows for a few basic services, know what those services are. Know what you can expect and know where your marketing dollars are going.
Where Is Your Money Going?
One of the things we know for certain is that our clients always know what they’re paying for. We send them monthly reports, not entirely different than the ones that the other company sent to our prospect for twenty bucks. But the report is not as important as the context.
We provide the context, which means we let our clients know what the reports mean, and why. We give them the good and the bad, and an action plan for going forward. Sometimes parsing through all of the data is challenging for our clients, so by giving them a summary report, we highlight the key points - and will get into as much depth as they want.
Beyond the monthly summaries, we also send our clients weekly updates. Those are 100% personalized, detailed emails that let our clients know what we worked on the prior week, what went well, what didn’t, and what’s coming next. Sometimes we ask for approvals. Sometimes we ask questions.
So our clients always know what we’re doing. Sometimes they don’t want to know! People who have been working with us long enough sometimes tell us to skip the reports because they probably won’t read them anyway. And our answer is always the same: never!
They can read our reports or not read them if they choose, but the reports are there. For good reason. We never want someone to feel that they aren’t in the loop.
In fact, we need them to be in the loop because we need their input. You can’t hire someone to market your company and then expect them to go away and do it. You’ve got the braintrust that your marketing agency needs. YOU know best about your business, about your clients, about your products and services. Marketing is a collaboration, and your involvement is essential.
If you’re not having regular meetings with your marketing company so you can tell them what you know, it’s time to start!
What If You DON’T Know What You’re Paying For?
If you either don’t know what someone is doing for your money, or if you sort of know but aren’t clear, then simply ask. Sit down and ask questions, as many as you want, as many times as you need.
A company that cares about your business and is truly working on your behalf will be willing to do that. If you do ask, and still don’t understand, then either something is amiss, or you’re just not clicking with that team and it may be time to find a new one.
Know The Players
Sometimes when you hire a company, you may actually be working with more than one company. That’s not unusual but it should be transparent.
For example, our company, Rahvalor Interactive, works with Asano Designs, our business partner’s design company. We handle content, and he handles branding, so we may work with the same client in two different capacities.
The important thing is that you understand that. You don’t want to be surprised one day to find out that you’re not really working with who you thought you were.
Depending on your preferences, you may want to work with one company as your main point of contact and have a second or third company working behind the scenes. That’s ok too, as long as you understand the people involved and their relationships to you.
Some clients want us to play point. That means we do the project management, we send the bills, we handle the communications, and other companies we may collaborate with, from design to IT to sales, all work under our umbrella.
Other clients prefer to work individually with each company.
Either way can work, but they key is first, know who is involved, and second, be sure they’re all collaborating to the benefit of your business.
Check Your Expenses
One of our clients got a renewal notice from his registrar for some other services, and asked us if he should keep them. There were about $1,000 of services that he was literally not using. Either they were services that we were providing so paying for them again was redundant, or they were things that he simply didn’t need.
Of course we told him not to renew, but not everyone bothers to ask. I’ve known plenty of people who have paid for multiple hosting accounts at the same time because they simply never thought to wonder if they needed those services.
Almost all registrars will try to upsell you on something, and sometimes those things seem so obviously necessary (even when they aren’t) that before you know it you’ve added lots of extra fees to your bill for things you didn’t need in the first place.
So before you pay another service fee, ask why. Ask what for. And make sure its doing something for your business!
If you’ve got questions about how we can help you with your marketing, or just want to share your thoughts and stories, get in touch and let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.
Direct download: 0183-do-you-know-what-youre-paying-your-marketing-company-for.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EDT
Mon, 21 January 2019
Podcasting From A Pool Table
If you’re podcasters or know a podcaster, you probably have also heard stories about how podcasts actually happen. Or more importantly, where they happen. Rumor has it that podcasters are a determined bunch, and when a fully equipped studio does not present itself, will podcast from bedrooms, bathrooms, closets or even cross legged on the floor under a blanket.
Today we’re picking up the mantle and doing our share to keep podcasting real by doing it from the surface of a pool table. It’s a little awkward, propped on pillows so we can get a chair to the right height, and leaning in because the mics are sitting down behind the ledge and a pocket, but we promised you two podcasts a month and darnit, we’re going to give you two podcasts a month.
WordPress 5.0: Should They, Shouldn’t They?
Last episode we promised to discuss WordPress 5.0 and how we (and our clients) felt about the new Gutenberg editor.
Turns out there are at least some people who don’t love the update. And they are pretty vocal. They’ve taken to forums to let their displeasure be known. Some of them have valid points, some just seem to want to complain. Notably, Matt Meullenweg, the manager of WordPress, has responded to the complaints with a pretty stellar diplomacy that does not actually involve apologizing.
In a world where it seems like every negative tweet gets a company to issue a giant mea culpa, we think Matt took a good approach to dealing with concerns without back pedaling.
Ralph and I have a different opinion on one of the complaints we heard a lot: should WordPress have issued this release during the Christmas holidays? I say no, because it’s a supremely busy and stressful time for a lot of people. Ralph says that for him, business slows down in December and if something has to change, that’s the ideal time for him.
The short story, is that business decisions will please some people and make others cranky. So you’ve got to do what’s right for your business, the best you can.
Whether or not it was “the right” time for a big WordPress release is open for debate. But we did have some practical experiences that weren’t exactly fun.
If you’re not entirely familiar with the change, WordPress’s “classic” editor was an empty box on the page. You plunked in your text, your images, your links, your short codes, whatever you needed. It had formatting options for headings and lists and all sorts of things, not so different than you might find in a Word document.
The new editor is based on the premise of “blocks”. Each thing you want to put on the page is now its own block. A text block, a photo block, a short code block. Now, instead of one “editor” where you did everything you needed to do, there are an indefinite stack of unique “blocks”. That adds a level of complexity and a bunch of extra steps that I simply did not need.
As someone who has experience using the visual editors of premium themes, Gutenberg is just redundant. If I want to build a page layout, I can do it with the theme widgets, rather well.
If I want a blog post, all I have to do is paste in my content, drop in the images and go.
But now… theoretically… I need a block for the text then a new block for the photo and yet another for a video or a podcast player.
When I first converted my posts to blocks, each paragraph was in its own block. That was ponderous and unnecessary and I didn’t see how that improved either my content creation or my workflow.
Here’s an example of a “why would you do this?” moment. One of the things I’ve heard people exclaim is so exciting is that now you can change the background color of EACH paragraph. But I wonder, how many people need one pink paragraph and one blue one and one yellow one? This doesn’t seem like a selling point to me.
On top of that, some of the conveniences are now gone. For example, keyboard shortcuts don’t seem to work at this point. So we lost productivity for the sake of some oddball layout tools that we could have gotten from about a thousand layout plugins if we wanted to.
How About The Clients?
Turns out they’re not too fond of it either. Now, I realize that change is hard, even if it’s good change. There is some resistance to new things so I’d expect some pushback even under the best of circumstances.
But this time, the complaints poured in. Nobody understood it. Nobody knew why it worked certain ways. Nobody could figure out how to do things they’d been doing for years. Suddenly common things stopped behaving the way they were expected to. And other things stopped working altogether.
So we dealt with the problem by installing the classic editor plugin, which you can do for another two years or so until it gets completely deprecated. Until then, we will continue doing what we know, the easy way. And in two years we’ll figure out what to do then.
If you’ve tried Gutenberg, we’d love to know what you think. Love it or hate it? Has it made your life easier or given you cool new tools? Or did you go right for the classic editor plugin?
Why We Get Up In The Morning
We got an email from Cyndi, our friend and one of the family owners of Simpson & Vail tea, asking us why we get up in the morning. She asked how we keep ourselves motivated doing the same thing day after day.
For me, there are two things that I really enjoy. One is writing, and the other is small business. I enjoy writing in general, which is a big chunk of my job. And I have a soft spot for small businesses and want to help them succeed. So I enjoy being able to do something I enjoy in the service of helping people that I like.
Ralph adds that he also enjoys what we do because it affords us the opportunity to travel and work from essentially anywhere. He also likes people, and the people we work with. He likes meeting the people who use the products and services of those businesses and hearing their stories.
A Tea Story
One of the stories we enjoyed this holiday season was one we helped create. We bought Ralph’s mother a bunch of Simpson & Vail tea for Christmas because we got her hooked after buying her their Advent calendar. She’s really enjoyed it and has even taken to blending her own from bits of leftover flavors.
We suspect she still doesn’t know the Simpson & Vail name because she calls it “the Fancy tea.” It has turned into quite the conversation starter.
We both agree that it makes for a good story that could be used to help market the product, because we bet people can relate to those stories more than they do to the latest sale or product announcement.
And stories can also give you a good reason to get up in the morning! Hearing them from customers can be motivating and have an impact on how you tempt new customers to join your culture.
A Creative Outlet
Besides the enjoyment of what we do and where we do it, I also think it’s important that our jobs provide us with a creative outlet. Everyone needs some creative fulfillment that stimulates their imagination and brains. Sometimes monotony is born when the creativity dies. It’s important to do something that fulfills that role.
Case in point, one of my clients sells plastic boxes. Plain, nondescript plastic boxes. And they only sell them to distributors and in bulk to big companies, so it’s not like something that goes to a consumer for fun things like crafts or storage.
Turns out this strangely “boring” topic is one of the most rewarding, fun projects because it requires a lot of wracking of brains to come up with creative ways to make a clear plastic box sound interesting.
What’s your creative outlet? And why do YOU get up in the morning?
Shoot us a comment, ping us online, and let us know what you think so we can revel in your stories, too!
Direct download: 0182-from-wordress-to-tea-the-good-the-bad-and-the-fancy.mp3
Category:marketing, business -- posted at: 12:00am EDT
Tue, 1 January 2019
In Which We Return From The Left Turn We Took After Our Last Hiatus
Last time we met, Fred, it was on the Carbon Based Business Units podcast. That was the podcast we started after a hiatus during which we decided to leave Web.Search.Social and marketing behind, and talk business instead. But then we took another hiatus and sort of… disappeared for a long time.
Without too much ado, we want to let you know that we’ve decided to return to Web.Search.Social because we can’t quit you, Fred, and we apparently can’t quit marketing, either. We have lots to say and lots of thoughts on the matter, and we hope to share our experiences with you so that they can help you grow YOUR business.
In Which We Discover That Nothing Really Changes
We figured that at some point between April of 2017 when we left Web.Search.Social behind, and now, there might have been a lot of changes in marketing. Lots of new stuff, lots to talk about.
And while we certainly have things to say, it turns out that… nothing has changed. The same 10 steps are being written, the same 6 tips, the same old same old. Boring!
Our job is, first, not to bore you. Second (or maybe first, part two…) we want to share our thoughts and experiences with you but never by telling you what you “should” do or “have to” do. There are no secrets here, no roadmaps to perfection.
We’ve got 20 years running a marketing business, and that’s 20 years of experiences, mistakes and even successes that we can share with you.
In Which We Are Reminded That We’re Old
When we first started marketing, Facebook didn’t exist. Twitter didn’t exist. Heck, websites barely existed! But marketing did, and marketing is about people.
So however you do it, marketing is about the people who buy your stuff. You can take advice and listen to what others say and do if it seems to work for them. But don’t let anyone scare you off from taking your own chances, from trying new things, or from straying from the “steps to success”.
In Which We Get Excited About Bandersnatch
Have you seen the new episode of Black Mirror that is an interactive “choose your own adventure?” We thought it was fun, but not everyone did. There were plenty of critics who loved to hate it.
We’d love to know what you think, but in the meantime, have you noticed how the minute someone does something different, people come out of the woodwork to share their opinions on why it was such a terrible idea?
Personally, we don’t think this is any way to run a business. If you spend your life worried about what the critics will say (and they are the vocal ones!) then you’ll never take any risks and never learn anything.
If you want to throw your two cents into the conversation, you’ll just have to listen to the rest and let us know!
Our plan is to release an episode every other week so stay tuned for our next episode when we (or at least the “I” of we) complain about the new WordPress. Let’s just say that I was not as entertained by WordPress’s foray into the new and different as I was by Netflix.
In between, we’d love to hear from you! Jump in to introduce yourself, or reintroduce yourself and tell us what marketing challenges YOU face.
Happy New Year!
Direct download: 0181-in-which-we-learn-that-ralph-and-carol-lynn-are-not-dead.mp3
Category:marketing -- posted at: 12:00am EDT