What Do Gumbo and a Great Digital Marketing Strategy Have in Common?
I grew up in Louisiana and moved to Idaho when I was 18. I’ve been in Idaho for longer than I lived in Louisiana and consider myself an Idahoan, but one thing I do miss about the south and Louisiana in particular is the food.
My mom, grandmothers, and neighbors would always be in the kitchen cooking up batches of gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, and other homemade deliciousness. I remember watching cooking shows on PBS, a particular favorite being Justin Wilson’s Louisiana Cookin’ program. I would watch every Saturday morning before everyone else woke up and dreamt about being a chef on a cooking show. Eh, maybe in another life.
Anyway, I would watch my relatives make these dishes and I noticed that they always started with three ingredients: onion, bell pepper, and celery. These they would chop up to serve as the base for whatever dish they were making at the moment.
I asked my great-grandmother once why they always started with those ingredients and she told me that all great southern cooking started with what she called the “holy trinity”. Of course, being around 10 at the time, I had no notion of what she was talking about, but accepted it for what it was.
She went on to explain that each dish was unique and that you could add different ingredients depending on the recipe - chicken, sausage, tomatoes, rice, etc. - but that they all had those base 3 ingredients as a starting point.
This got me thinking about how we craft digital marketing plans for ourselves and also for our clients and how we also use three core ingredients: Paid Advertising, Search Marketing, and Social Media.
These are the Holy Trinity of marketing strategies. You have to have paid media, you need to be found in search, and you need to be producing regular content for social. There are other ingredients you can add like offline marketing, sales reps, or whatever, but to craft a winning digital strategy you have to have paid, search, and social.
About two years ago I started looking at the way we were selling our marketing services and what we were actually doing for clients. We were struggling to get them leads in a lot of cases and were often implementing bits and pieces of those three core components, but not all of them.
We, however, as an agency, generated plenty of leads and were growing each year. So, I stepped back and asked myself, what are we doing here at V-Squared Creative to get new clients?
You see, I knew we were much like our own clients in the sense that we were selling to a local area with robust competition. We may be in different industries, but the way we acquire leads online are very similar.
Generally speaking, the flow looks something like this…
Customer starts with research online ——> Finds our company ——> calls us or fills out a form on our website ——> speaks with a representative ——> gets additional info and pricing ——> buys
That’s it. It’s relatively straightforward. So, when I analyzed what we were doing to engineer that process for ourselves I realized that there were 3 things we were doing…
This mainly consists of Google Adwords, but we have paid advertising in other areas such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as Display Advertising and Retargeting.
We’ve had lots of clients come to us and say that they tried Adwords before and it didn’t work or Facebook ads cost too much, etc. But in most cases, when we took a look at their account we saw that they didn’t have retargeting in place, their keyword selection was bad, and their ad copy was terrible. To add to these woes, they would send their clicks to their homepage instead of a dedicated landing page.
I could go on, but the bottom line is, they set themselves up for failure right out of the gate and then tried blaming the platform. With a few simple tweaks we were able to turn losing campaigns into winners.
We don’t focus on SEO as a company and it’s not something that we offer as a service to clients, except to make sure we are doing four things. See, the myth behind SEO is that it is some magic bullet that will make or break your company. Not really. From what I can see there are only 4 things you really need to do if you are serving a local geographical region:
1 - Make sure your on-page optimization is squared away
2 - Focus on getting as many high-quality customer reviews as possible
3 - Build out citations listings
4 - Claim and optimize your Google My Business listing
Those are really it. Of course you can go much deeper than this with link building, schema markup, and more, but for most local area businesses it is an unnecessary expense. (SEO guys will argue with me until the end of time about this, but as the saying goes, never ask a barber if you need a haircut)
Social Media Content
Most social media content these days falls into one of two categories:
- It is a thinly-veiled ad
- It’s boring, uninteresting, and uninspiring
Again, most business owners who have tried using social media have failed at it because they don’t understand the psychology behind it. If you have a business that isn’t the most exciting thing around (like you own a plumbing company or HVAC company for example) then you have to try much harder to create content that will resonate with people. And don’t get me wrong, I have nothing but love for plumbers and HVAC owners. They are generally salt-of-the-earth folks who provide a valuable and necessary service, but let’s face it, for most of us, those are pretty boring topics. So, you have to think outside the box a little bit.
Be helpful. Be funny. Be entertaining. Above all, add some personality to your content. People want to know, like, and trust their service providers. Build your personal brand on the back of your company.
The second point I would like to make about this is make sure your content has a purpose. It’s ok to create content that you throw out there every once in a while that is funny or entertaining, but you also want to help your customers find solutions to common problems they are having. By being useful you build a loyal fanbase that will patronize your business because you were helpful.
Every piece of content that you create should be structured in a way that naturally leads the visitor/reader to the next step in your process. (We generally call this process a funnel and getting this part right is crucial to your success.)
It’s not enough to just create content for the sake of creating content. Each piece has to be appropriate for the phase of the Buyer’s Journey the visitor is in or it will fall flat.
It is here where most businesses fail. They either don't understand the process or they don’t respect the process. This can be seen by companies that are producing ads that they think is “content” and putting them in front of cold audiences who have no idea who they are yet.
This is akin to you walking up to some random person on the street and offering to sell them your product or service. It just doesn’t work because it doesn’t respect the process.
When you take this process and add the base ingredients to it (Paid, Search, and Social) you can quickly and easily craft winning marketing campaigns that generate the results you have always hoped for when marketing online.
On November 20, 2018 at 8pm MST, I will be hosting a private, online masterclass where I will be teaching these concepts in a presentation that I have titled, “How to Completely Dominate Your Competition & Ethically Steal ALL of Their Customers Without Spending a Fortune on Advertising!”
This masterclass is FREE to attend and is great for businesses that serve local market areas such as dentists, attorneys, HVAC, plumbing, chiropractors, real estate agents, massage therapists, restaurants, insurance agents, financial advisors, retail brick and mortar stores, and on and on.
We will be doing a deep dive on these 3 core concepts so that you can understand how to apply them to your business immediately. If you can’t attend, sign some one up from your team that can. I will be providing all of the slides and worksheets from the class so that you can hit the ground running when it is over.
If you serve a local market area then this masterclass is for you. I am reserving just 40 seats for this class so sign up early to reserve your spot. To register, click on the image below...