You started a business.
Congratulations for that.
I have a great respect for entrepreneurs and all of my writing elsewhere (apart from this blog) dwells on that respect for the sacrifices they make, the time their put in, the energy they come with, and the incredible value they add to the world and the community they are a part of.
In a rather surprisingly popular post I wrote on LinkedIn once, I had mentioned what it takes to be a real entrepreneur but how often the community also attracts complete idiots who are dreamers, the “know-it-all types”, the pretenders, and the misers.
Running my agency is just like running any other business. There are some good days and a few other days you’d like to just give up. You have idiots as potential clients and some clients are sent down as a perfect match from the heaven.
I deal with many clients already and more than half of my day goes into talking to potential clients. It’s almost always a smooth ride, until it isn’t.
Regardless, I saw a pattern.
I realised that there are common patterns in thinking and believing that are specific to digital marketing and it worries me.
I started to think that digital marketing feels like “cricket” or “soccer” — almost everyone seems to be an expert on it. But they are not, and there’s more to it.
Certainly, what most potential clients, business owners, and even other “digital marketers” think and do has nothing to do with what digital marketing really is:
Digital Marketing Is, Well, Just Marketing
Unfortunately, there’s that thing called “buzz”.
Somehow, once a phrase or a word gets off the ground, it’s impossible not to use it. There was marketing and now there is content marketing, Search engine marketing, Social media marketing, Paid marketing, retargeting, and more.
Every channel became a marketing engine by itself and some people stick to one channel more than they’d do with the rest.
Once they decide, it’s only that channel that they’ll dwell on. It’s like sticking to the middle right section of 3rd page of the newspaper — and nothing else. How ridiculous is that?
Digital marketing is the entire process of working to build up trust in the eyes of the customer. It’s everything you do to:
- Let your potential customers know how awesome your business/product/service is.
- Let your existing customers know how right they were when they bought into your idea and parted with their cash.
- Allow the world to know that you exist, and that you are cool.
- Arm your potential customers with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.
That’s what digital marketing is. So, it’s not SEO and it’s not Social Media. Those are channels. Like Newspaper is one and a magazine is another.
Digital Marketing is Easy
I’ve had nightmares trying to educate customers why they shouldn’t ever be deluded into thinking that digital marketing is easy.
Writing 1000 – 4000 word blog posts, 3 times a week, again and again, week after week, month after month, year after year — that’s certainly not easy (even for fast prolific writers).
Social media takes time and real smarts. That time, you see, has a value attached to it.
Then, there’s email marketing, auto responders, and paid marketing along with landing pages. Because you have to make sense of what you are doing, you’d need analytics and tracking.
Since decision-making should be based on data and not emotions, you’d need A/B testing. As marketing certainly isn’t a “set it and forget it” affair, it’s not a one-time thing.
To manage all this together, you’d often have to work with a bunch of tools to get some of that work done.
Tie this together and you truly have a monstrosity that’s really digital marketing.
This and That
“I am looking for SEO experts”
“Any bloggers that can help?”
“We need PPC experts to manage our campaigns”
“Need someone to help with social media”
What’s the common thread with all those statements? They are all looking for one kind of help, with a specific channel.
Nothing wrong with it “only” if the rest of “everything” else that digital marketing demands is covered.
More often than not, nothing else is covered.
PPC needs money and shows your ads up quickly. Behind the ads, however, there’s no brand. There’s no context. If a customer wants to check you out, you have nothing else going for you.
If you just do blogging, social media, and email marketing, you’ll take a long time to cut through the crap that your competition already polluted the Internet with.
If you are looking for “SEO help” like tons of people are, you aren’t doing justice to the power of digital marketing really.
If you have a budget, split it up. Try to fire up all the cylinders.
Digital Marketing is Cheap
Facebook Ads and Google Adwords allow you to start advertising with any budget. If you can write, you’ll be able to blog.
A few hours on social media with the right strategy can help you cover your social presence. Automate and setup a few emails and you’ve covered most of your tracks.
If you can do it right, you can very well do it yourself.
Chances are that you won’t be able to.
But, you are busy running a business. There are just way too many moving parts in digital marketing and you are likely to overlook critical elements of the chain.
First, paid advertising requires “pay”. You have to have a budget. Google and Facebook aren’t going to give you anything for free.
Moreover, “Good” digital marketers can write, design, go social, send out emails, develop strategies to execute them, and they have a thing for numbers. Good marketers don’t let emotions kick in while making decisions.
Plus, they have years of experience you can never match.
Also, since time is money, they have a monetary value attached to every hour they spend marketing your business.
In one word: digital marketing not cheap.
Anyone can do digital marketing
Because “digital marketing” is “digital” and not like picking up bricks in the hot sun, it just “appears easy”.
Only a few people can really put their hands on their hearts and say that they do digital marketing well.
How do you define “well”?
- Do more than what the client signs up for.
- Digital Marketing Freelancers and agencies go out of their way to do what’s right for clients.
- The solution is always complete. For instance, doing Google Adwords without landing pages is a crime. Yet, that’s what you’d get if you go shopping right now.
- Good digital marketing is never “done” and “done”. There’s always something new, there are new tools that sprout up, and there’s a ton to learn each day.
Not everyone can do digital marketing well. Period.
What do you think digital marketing is? Do you respect it or are you going about wasting your time, ad spend, and all the opportunity you have at your disposal?