In this interview with Tracy Sheen from The Digital Guide, we’ll discover how businesses can utilize the power of marketing technologies and overcome technophobia to grow their business.
Here’s the outline of the interview:
- Q: Can you introduce yourself and also walk us through your inspiration? How did you get into content marketing and digital marketing?
- Q: How do you advise startups and businesses about content marketing? What is your process to bring the most value to your clients?
- Q: From your experience, what are some of the most important objectives a business owner should care about or pay attention to when working with an agency?
- Q: What sort of homework does the business owner need to do to have an effective conversation with an agency to produce good results?
- Q: What would you advise businesses on how to devise their budgets and investment? What channel should they invest in?
- Q: What do you see that some digital and marketing agencies miss in the process that would make working with their clients more effective?
- Q: What is some of the advice you have for businesses that don’t have a good budget but need the help of agencies?
Q: Can you introduce yourself and also walk us through your inspiration? How did you get into content marketing and digital marketing?
My name is Tracy Sheen; I’m known as the digital guide. I have been involved in digital marketing and content marketing since 1990. Since then, I have been involved with small business marketing technology, so I’ve had a lot of jobs before I started my own business.
The two that stuck out to me are that I worked in advertising for TV and radio and learned how to write copy that sells.
So that was taken through the whole copywriting and interviewing skill set. I had my radio show for a while, and then what changed things for me was I started a podcast probably about eight years ago now, which went a little bit global.
It was a little bit viral, and it was called not another business show, and it was the first-panel style podcast aimed at small business owners.
I would bring a group of experts together on a topic and go deep. I would talk about well, what else do you need? What does that look like from a branding point of view? What do you need from a graphics point of view? What do you need from the content? What do you need to understand from the marketing technology?
So they’d get an objective, holistic view of what they wanted to understand, and from there, I had a lot of people contact me and say can you help me get a podcast going? Can you write the content? Can you do that? So then I started an agency helping business owners create podcasts and create content that would convert.
Q: How do you advise startups and businesses about content marketing? What is your process to bring the most value to your clients?
I would start by saying that’s a lot that you’ve got going on, and that’s what we all do. People say, ” Oh my god, I need ads, and I’ve got to do some organic content, and someone’s told me that Facebook’s the way to go, but someone else has said I need to do Google ads, and we just end up in this tailspin.
We get completely overwhelmed. What business are you in, and what do you enjoy doing? So typically, I start to help me understand the business.
So usually, when I’m chatting to someone in the business, they like creating one form of content over another. Someone might be comfortable writing blogs, but they hate doing videos. Someone might be relaxing on video, but they hate writing.
So we’ll kind of pull apart. What do they enjoy doing, and what defines success for them? What do they want to achieve with their business? Are they looking for growth in sales? Are they looking to build a community? What’s their intention with marketing strategy?
Because they’re very different things that we could be going after, I’ll look for the quick wins? How can we get some quick wins for the business to get some absolute confidence in what they’re doing?
They keep going, so as all of your listeners would know and you would know, organic content is excellent. It takes a lot longer to build attraction to build a community to do all of that.
When you rely purely on organic content, we’ll step back and look at what the next 12 months look like? What do they need to achieve, and then we’ll look at how we can break that down with what they can do versus what they want help with.
Q: From your experience, what are some of the most important objectives a business owner should care about or pay attention to when working with an agency?
In my opinion, business owners need to keep their community at the forefront of their minds. Many business owners spend a lot of time, money, and effort to bring in new clients. When you have existing clients, spend your energy with them and get to know who they are.
If they’ve spent money with you once, they’re 80% more likely to spend money with you again if they’ve already spent money with you. So if we could focus half of our attention and half of our money that we’re going to spend on generating new leads on getting people that are already buying from us, it’s a lot easier.
Those people already have them known and trusted. They’ve already been working with you. They already have a relationship with the brand, and they understand your value. They’re effortless to incentivize you to bring in someone else who’s a perfect client for you.
So I would say to look at how you can build your community? How can you add value to the people you’re already working with, and when that’s working well, look at what you can do to bring new members into the community?
But I always think that it’s just about building a community. That’s what future proves your business if you have people that would go in to bat for you. If you were getting ready to close down or something was happening, that’s the definition of a good business.
Q: What sort of homework does the business owner need to do to have an effective conversation with an agency to produce good results?
You have to get really clear on what you want to achieve first. So choose one thing, don’t try to do everything simultaneously. Identify what your success is in terms of marketing your business.
If I start to work with you, Sophie, how will I know that our marketing campaign was successful? So before you even work with an agency, I want you to know as a business owner that I’m going to call this a success if I get ten new clients. I will call this a marketing success if I get a hundred new emails signed up to my databases.
So you need to have a measurable point to say you can agree with that marketing agency. If we go ahead with social media marketing and do this Facebook campaign, you’re saying to me, Sophie, that you can get me 100 emails in my database in the next 14 days, is that right? Yes or no? So now we have both communicated to each other that yes, that’s achievable or no, that’s not.
Then you want to know what the agency wants from you? Do they want images? Do they want a copy? What do they wish for them?
When I was an agency, I can tell you the most significant thing that used to annoy me was that clients would say, “oh, all right, I can write the copy'” and you’d be waiting for months like everything else would be ready to go. However, someone still hadn’t written the web page content or something?
So be honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do. Don’t commit to writing the copy if you don’t like writing. Find an agency with a copywriter; find an agency that can write the content. If you can’t take good quality images, make sure you’ve got a photographer who can do that for you or find an agency that can tell you; here are some images that we would use to make sure that they’re on the brand.
Q: What would you advise businesses on how to devise their budgets and investment? What channel should they invest in?
If you’re starting, I would say you want to allocate at least 20% of your budget to learning. Not even to an agency or pay-per-click or organic or any of that, put money, time, put effort towards education.
Because if you don’t understand what you’re trying to do, you’re not going to get a good result. So seek out some people writing about content marketing, some writing for social media or YouTubing or vlogging or doing podcasts about Facebook ads.
Jump on Facebook blueprints and start to do some courses. Jump on Google garage and do some courses. Start to educate yourself in the different available areas, and then really put your lens on your CL.
Always think about what this will look like for my customer, and don’t do it if it doesn’t feel right. But if you know your clients well, go back to them and say what you like me doing.
Do you want me to write articles? Do you like me doing videos? Would you like a podcast because that will give you an idea of what content will attract new people to your business? That will be a good fit for you as well.
Q: What do you see that some digital and marketing agencies miss in the process that would make working with their clients more effective?
There are a lot of assumptions. An assumption is that the business owner understands how Facebook ads work or Google ads work. Don’t make those assumptions because the chances are they don’t.
So take the time to walk them through, take the time to show them what the insights look like, and take the time to talk to them about why you create a pixel and what that does because it makes them a stickier client.
Because now Sophie’s taken the time to help me understand, that makes me stickier and more likely that I’m building trust with Sophie and spending money with Sophie. So just don’t do that, and there’s still a lot of technical jargon.
We all have our own insider talk of how we explain things to our contractors and our team members. When we’re working with an SEO person or whatever that, we can go into shorthand because that’s the job we do all the time.
But a business owner doesn’t know what that means. So think about it from the point of view of when you first became a Facebook ads person. You knew nothing about marketing technology or marketing apps.
Put yourself back in those shoes, take them back to kindergarten, and be prepared to spend some time developing that relationship.
Q: What is some of the advice you have for businesses that don’t have a good budget but need the help of agencies?
The moment you outsource your success to someone, that’s a big red flag for me. There are a lot of great free resources out on the internet. So for me, it always comes back to starting by educating yourself.
So if you’re starting and you have zero budget, you’ve probably got time on your side. So take some time to Google and do some good research about the best writers, who are the best content producers on my topic of interest.
Go and look at the Facebook blueprint; they have a whole training academy that will teach you everything you want to know about Facebook and Instagram and all of that kind of stuff for free.
If it’s Google, go and have a look at Google Garage. They have their training academy to teach you everything for free. Again, it’s not about you; you are doing everything yourself. But it’s going to help you identify or work with a contractor that you then find on Upwork or Fiverr or an agency.
Whatever someone has to say, you know x so that you can say hang on a minute; I know that’s not right because I’ve at least done this study beforehand. So you can quickly move on to the next person without blowing a whole lot of cash.