Part one of Samuel Junghenn being interviewed by Start Up TV! Samuel discuses the essence of Online Marketing, tips on outsourcing employment and answers the scenarios you need to know for dealing with critical business decisions and those not so easy customers!
Samuel Junghenn: We are Think Big Online – an online marketing agency in Sydney. We currently have about 27 staff and use a hybrid model wherein we have our high level quality control people based in Sydney as well as a number of people overseas so that we can reduce staff cost and provide better value to clients.
Geoff Kwitko: It’s a very efficient model and you mentioned that you have staff from a range of different countries and in some of those countries you have people who are higher skilled for a third of the cost and you can pass that sort of savings on to your clients.
Samuel: That’s exactly right and you can employ people overseas with PhD’s for much less than the standard cost right here and it really makes sense…
Geoff: Now I’m curious because when I hire overseas staff I actually have a feeling of giving back or a feeling of helping. You could donate to World Vision or give to those communities through the traditional channels but I honestly feel that when I hire a Filipino or someone from Kenya or whatever, I actually feel that I am giving back to those local communities and helping to foster positive economies in those areas. Do you feel that as well or is that just me?
Samuel: No and absolutely it’s very fulfilling and they tend to be a lot more grateful for their job and very appreciative of anything that you give. We have instances when we started off and we had this one girl who had her own business which was like one of those carts that you have on the side of the road in the Philippines.
She wasn’t earning very much money and was always doing a little bit of work on the side. She is a very good worker and got good work ethics that I think she works more than I do! She just loves to work and earn money!
Geoff: It’s about providing for the family and giving back. I find with Filipinos in particular that their morality, honesty and dedication – I love Australian culture and I love the country that we are from but we just don’t find that here in Australia. You don’t find people saying “When would you like me to work? I’ll work 3am on a Sunday morning if that’s what it takes to provide the service that you need”. That level of dedication is amazing which is why bringing on overseas people to support you is certainly a great model isn’t it?
Samuel: Yes it’s fantastic! Part of this particular girl’s motivation is to provide more for her parents because her parents can’t work and since she started she has been amazing that we ended up employing her brother as well so now we kind of support the whole family.
Geoff: I often found that as well because I hire a lot of transcriptionist, video editors and I find that there are a certain tasks which are really well suited for the Philippines for example but anything that is high level and strategic has to be handled by someone from Australia. Would you agree with that?
Samuel: Yes absolutely. You can create systems and set procedures in place that can help them become better. There’s so much to learn about internet marketing. If everything stopped today you would never be able to learn everything in a lifetime. It’s pretty hard to expect that from the people that you are working with.
Geoff: One of the things that I’ve learned about outsourcing is to not expect more out of people that what is reasonable. Personally, I’m the kind of person who believes in himself. I believe in myself and my ability to learn, adapt and take on challenges but not everyone is like that and some people like to stick with whatever role that they are trained in. I learned some hard lessons trying to squeeze strategy and strategic thinking, planning and creativity out of people that aren’t necessarily like that.
How do you interview your people? I know a lot of startup club members are probably thinking about how they like the idea of saving money but are worried that their Filipino staff or someone from Belarus, or Africa – how would I know that these people are really good people with the right skills? What do you say to people that are concerned about that?
Samuel: The first thing is what are you presupposing when you are thinking that they may not be good people? It doesn’t matter if it’s someone from Australia, Philippines, India, and Belarus or wherever – just because they are on the other side of the world doesn’t mean that you can trust them any less. It doesn’t mean that you can trust them more and flip through the hiring process. It’s the first road block that I see people come up against a lot.
When it comes to trusting, there are plenty of fantastic tools that you can use like oDesk. You can hire and monitor what your people are doing from there and that sort of stuff if you want to.
Geoff: I would actually argue that I have a much tighter control and a better understanding as to what my staff are really doing and the quality of the work because I am able to look at what they are doing with screenshots every 15mins. I’m in constant communication through Skype so I’ve hired lots of face to face staff literally in the same office over there.
Samuel: You can see them opening Facebook
Geoff: Exactly right and you’ll see whether they are billing for time that is not necessarily productive and that kind of thing while on oDesk. You’ll have evidence or proof and you can actually request refunds for time billed. I certainly agree that just because they are on the other side of the world and managed remotely, it doesn’t mean that they are any different and it’s just like they are in the same office!
Samuel: So I guess it’s the question around the hiring process. I’ve coached a lot of people on hiring before and something that comes up a lot is that they try to find exactly the right person through the interview process and they’ll spend countless hours on it.
Now it may kind of go against the grade and against what everyone else teaches out there but we have a very streamlined and fast hiring process. We will put up a job posting whether it’s for web design or coding and put specific things in there such as little tasks for them to do for us to know that they’ve actually read the job post.
Geoff: Yeah you tend to get so many standard responses. I always do an interview question, challenge, find the answer to this question or answer the question because if they are not going to read the job posts then they right from the beginning showing the dedication and respect that you are looking for.
Samuel: Exactly and even if you put your questions in there sometimes you get people to read it but they don’t do what you ask. It might be a simple five minute thing if they are going for a full time job.
Geoff: Yeah and if they are not going to follow those instructions then they are probably not going to follow any instructions.
Samuel: Exactly and sometimes you have people coming back saying if they actually have to do that five minute job and you’ll know straight away that they are probably not the right suit for you.
Geoff: I actually think that you can interview precisely and interview with more practical challenges through outsourcing and oDesk. It can almost be considered rude if you are hiring a local Australian and this applies to most other first world countries as well. It is kind of rude to have someone come to your office saying here’s my resume and you say “Okay, please sit down and do a 15 minute test” or “I want to see how fast you can transcribe this and I want to see what you can do in video editing”.
They would be like – I thought this was an interview? But on oDesk and other sites like Elance and Guru, the culture is that you need to prove to the employer that you can actually do it which actually means showing them what you can do. That’s what an interview should be – it should be practical!
Samuel: Exactly! It’s a good process and it’s not as scary as what most people think. A lot of people are worried about hiring someone and entrusting them with login details for your website or whatever it might be. You got to have a little bit of faith and what you put out there is kind of what comes back to you.
Geoff: And the rating system – I wish there was a “rating system” for traditional face to face office work in Australia. On ODesk, you can see the past 50 employers and what they said about the staff as well as their rating and skills. You don’t have that on a resume and on a resume you’ll find only the stuff that they want you to know about.
On oDesk, they have to preserve their reputation because that is their lifeblood. If they get a bad rating, it will probably make it more difficult for them to get more work.
Samuel: That’s the thing as well and you see a lot of people with new profiles. If you are listening to this and if you are thinking of hiring someone, you have to be a little bit more cautious about people that don’t have any ratings at all because sometimes what they do is if they had a bad profile in the past or bad feedback from the work they’ve done, they ditch that account and build a new one.
Geoff: Yes to try to start fresh. Sometimes it’s a bit of an excuse and you can generally find the ones that aren’t new because they know how it all works. They know all about the technology, software and how the payment works when they are meant to be new.
Now would you say that Think Big is unique in the sense that you are able to give that lower price? Is that one of your main focuses, being able to give that lower price because of outsourcing? How would you define Think Big and what is the unique aspect of Think Big?
Samuel: Our whole intention from the start was to create a fully integrated agency that actually works.
Geoff: As opposed to what? What are you trying to stay away from? What are some bad things or examples that you’ve seen out there with your competitors?
Samuel: Well we’ve seen a lot of companies that offer SEO, social media, PPC, conversions and that sort of stuff but the way they run them is that they run them totally independent of each other and don’t tire them all together. We look at it more like an ecosystem.
Geoff: So it’s an integrated marketing mix? So your SEO supports and correlates with your pay-per-click and then your social media takes effect from that and you have video marketing to achieve certain goals. It’s all about tying it all together right?
Samuel: Exactly and cross-pollinating it as well. You should be touching people and so you’ve got to touch them everywhere and you got to touch them in multiple places.
Geoff: Yeah and at multiple times and at multiple different ways! I think of Facebook as the Sunday night barbecue. I think of LinkedIn as having orange juice and handing out business cards at the local networking club or whatever. Google Search is the library. People browse and use the internet and different ways and if you have your brand in every single different part of their life, it becomes part of their life!
Samuel: Yeah exactly and we get a lot of compliments or comments for our business with people saying we’ve seen you everywhere. We’ve seen you on Youtube.
Geoff: Is that because of remarketing? I get a lot of comments saying I see your ads absolutely everywhere I go and I was like – that’s the impression I want to give!
Remarketing for the viewers basically means that when someone visits your website, you can essentially follow them with adwords so wherever they go, there could be Adwords following them through the Google display network. You can actually create some fancy rules for example people who visit the checkout page but don’t actually buy so the people you lose through checkout anxiety or maybe they got too busy, you can actually follow them and say hey you didn’t finish your order come back!
Samuel: We are watching
Geoff: Yeah we are watching you. It can be a little scary so you don’t want to take it too far. There’s a lot of amazing features of online marketing like tracking and so on. It’s only possible with online marketing.
Let’s get started with the scenarios? A great way for startup club members to decide whether you are the real deal and whether you should win the deal is to take you to a bit of scenarios. Obviously we vetted for you and we think that you are a high quality company. We will be happy to show you off to our members but our members are probably wondering if this guy suits me.
What I want to do is to tell you a little bit of a story about a hypothetical customer and this customer has been running for two to three years with a face to face sports store. It could be a little bit like Rebel Sports or Powerhouse sports and they sell crickets, tennis balls, tennis rackets, sports shoes and all the traditional stuff.
In the last two to three years, it became very clear that they just can’t compete with direct china imports and all the online shopping stores these days. So they realized that they have to bite the bullet and we have to go online. They come to you and say that we are thinking of actually shutting down our face to face store or at least minimizing it or complimenting it online. Is this the right choice and are we making the wrong decision? Is online really as powerful as we hear and is retail really as bad as everyone is saying? What advice do you have and what would you say to that person?
Samuel: The first thing is I would politely let them know that it absolutely works! I can’t remember the exact study but around 50 percent of our sales are coming from overseas at the moment with online shopping because the Australian ecommerce is just not providing it. People are spending their money elsewhere and importing from all over the world.
Geoff: eBay, Alibaba and Amazon. People want to buy Aussie – they generally do but it’s just not price competitive and there’s just not enough options.
Samuel: Yeah and even if you look at something like the Iconic. I think they do around a million dollars a day in sales just from Australia. All their products are here in Australia but people don’t offer them even if the business is importing them through an Australian based online store. There is still massive opportunity there but it’s just not utilized by Australian companies.
I don’t know but I think it’s because we are a little bit behind the US and the UK. People generally haven’t caught on to the fact that online is a real business
Geoff: I think businesses are just starting to really take it seriously because they are seeing it in their bottom line. They are having customers come in to their store and say hey I’ve done a price comparison using an XYZ tool and I can see that I can buy this for 40 percent cheaper than what you are selling it at. The thing is that the local retail store can’t afford to lower their prices and compete with prices online because they have the additional cost of staff, rent, insurance, lighting and a bunch of other things. It’s just not possible. They are seeing it in their bottom line and are starting to catch on I think.
Samuel: Yeah they are indeed starting to and I guess to answer your question, absolutely there is massive opportunity there and it is a real business. So many people spend $500 on a store filler art but they are saying that their budget for a website is around…
Geoff: It’s $2000 for my website! My entire online business spends more on electricity in a few months than their entire online business platform. Yeah very good point!
Samuel: We are still on the gold rush days. The wave is here and before we hit the back of the wave now is the time to be jumping on it but the barrier for entry is too low. There’s a lot people out there putting up websites for under $2000 dollars and expect to earn half a million within the next 3 to 6 months. It’s just all a little bit unrealistic.
Geoff: With the barrier entry being so low – you can achieve a lot with just $2000. Would you agree that you can put up an effective website out there particularly if you are using self make tools life Shopify and set up entire eCommerce platforms for just $50 a month if you have the skills to do it?
Samuel: Yeah absolutely
Geoff: But the fact that you can get it cheap doesn’t mean that is where you should stop.
Samuel: No that is exactly right and I guess when it comes to people wanting to talk to people like yourself or me they often don’t see the value behind in “what they don’t know don’t know” because there is just so much more out there that can be done to improve your business and create this exponential… - I don’t really know what to call it.
Geoff: It’s about getting a quick break-even or return of investment in the initial capital outlay of building your initial site but it’s more about building sustainable revenue streams. It’s not just about doing something that is only good during the gold rush days but as soon as more competitors pop up will no longer be effective. It’s about building a business and a business needs to be sustainable.
Samuel: Absolutely and the world of online businesses is moving very quickly and if you want to stay you have to keep your finger on the pulse and keep adapting. We have an example of a big shoe company that came to us 3 years ago. They were looking to get their business online and already had a shopping cart set up but it was kind of clunky and required a lot of work. They weren’t prepared to invest the time and money required for the resources three years ago which was quite minimal to get them up to speed.
Geoff: You know what I bet they are regretting it now right?
Samuel: You can look at Style Tread for example in the last 2 years started from zero into a million dollar company in 2 years. This is the opportunity cost – it’s a well known brand and shoe company. This is the opportunity missed and it potentially cost them tens of millions of dollars because they didn’t really understand how much opportunity was there.
Geoff: I also feel that it is our responsibility as internet marketers to educate and help people become aware of the risks and the opportunity cost, the opportunities , the risk of not only making the decision but the risk of also making the decision. I get very frustrated when I see internet marketing consultants saying that we guarantee you the number 1 position and you’ll be rolling in money. It’s not that simple and I’ve been through a lot of people to realize that we have to execute effectively, we must have the right strategy and yes there is the opportunity.
Samuel: Yeah and that ties in with what I’ve said before that you have to treat it like a real business. In a real business and when I say real I mean an actual brick and mortar business, you’ll have to set up a retail store front. You don’t setup a retail store front then put these signs and be guaranteed to hit the money straight away. It’s this gradual and progressive thing that you’ve got to have reasonable expectations about.
Geoff: Yeah absolutely. Okay so let’s say that sports Company is convinced and would like to take the next step. They obviously would like to do eCommerce by setting up an online store and put their products on there. That’s a bit of a given but can I ask you what platform would you recommend? Would you do a software service platform like Shopify or would you install custom software like Magento or something like that? What advice would you give them?
Samuel: Our preference is self-hosted things so it would either be Magento or WordPress. We’ve used Magento for quite awhile but WordPress has caught up in the eCommerce side of things.
Geoff: I completely agree and to be able to integrate like what you mentioned before about integrated marketing. To be able to integrate your website and the content of your site in with your community, eCommerce, video marketing, email marketing, etc. – having that one WordPress platform helps with that integration doesn’t it?
Samuel: Absolutely and WordPress is the most powerful and cost-effective thing out there
Geoff: Most of the plugins are free and WordPress itself is free not to mention that hosting is very cheap yeah?
Samuel: Yeah and we are moving away from Magento and moving more towards WordPress.
Geoff: Yeah me too actually.
Samuel: It’s a very good platform to get started on.
Geoff: Great answer and I agree! So let’s say you’ve chosen one of leading eCommerce plugins and there are a few choices that I’m sure clients would like to speak about according to their needs. Where would you go next? I mean once you’ve built their basic website and got all their basic information in there such as the Company and all the things you would expect in their eCommerce system, what’s next? How would you further create a strong and sustainable marketing platform for them? Where do they get traffic and how else can they take their business to the next level?
Samuel: Yeah well kind of the way we work is that we get into our client’s mind even before we build the website. If they were in this scenario running an offline business and they say that they would like to go online and create a sustainable business out of it, we would look at their end goals and how much money they would like to make in 1, 2 or 5 years. We then work our way back to that and look at the different strategies that we could drive for that particular market and where we would be able to grab that traffic. We then build a massive mind map indicating where to potentially go and where we think would provide the best ROI in the shortest amount of time so that the marketing can become self-funding.
Geoff: Absolutely and that is the eventual goal for clients. The point where in any profit made from the website gets reinvested into marketing and becomes its own self-fulfilling organism I guess.
Samuel: Yeah exactly and we’ve broken it down into two main areas. One is we may want to go aggressively for growth and the other is we want to go for profit. A lot of people say they want both which we try to understand and appreciate but…
Geoff: If you aim for both you’ll get neither?
Samuel: Yeah it’s kind of like that and it’s very hard to balance all the time. You’re not going to hit breakeven every month. You can be either up or down a bit but if you got that bigger picture or bigger plan in mind for actually building a real business in 1 to 5 years then you are going to win in the long run.
Probably half the reason why that’s true is nobody else does it. Most people think they simply have to go out and setup a website, then what?
Geoff: Yeah that is exactly right. I really find what you said about the cultural difference between face to face brick and mortar companies and online companies – the fact that they are willing to spend $500 on a filler art, building an online office, hiring staff and so on but only willing to spend only a couple thousand dollars on a website. The expectation that it’s okay for brick and mortar companies to take 2 to 3 years to break even but no online advertising must break-even in one month. There are different expectations…
Samuel: Yeah and the industry strategy cleaned up a little bit – even 3 or 5 years ago there are still a lot of people out there pushing ideas like “push a button and you’ll be a millionaire”.
Geoff: Yeah and that stuff just drives me crazy. I call them internet marketing cowboys. They are the ones that generally have long copy websites with big headlines like “We guarantee you this” and “Just push a button and it is a money-making machine”. It’s basically a giant scam and the best rebuttal that I can give for those kinds of claims is that I personally know some of the smartest internet marketing people in the world from Silicon Valley and people who are running some of the world’s best companies. These people are struggling and finding it difficult to gain a competitive edge. If these PHDs who are absolute geniuses with every skill in the book are finding it difficult and challenging enough to oftentimes fail 9 out of 10 in Silicon Valley – How is it possible for you who have no computer experience whatsoever, let along internet marketing experience can just push a button and make money. It just doesn’t make sense in terms of economics. If it was that easy then everyone would be pushing that button until that button is dead and no longer worked.
Samuel: I think that button died…
Geoff: Yeah it died in 1997 when all we had to do back then was sell pixels. Have you ever heard of that million dollar webpage that sold pixels?
Samuel: No I haven’t.
Geoff: Do you want me to tell you? Well it was basically a website called themilliondollarwebsite.com or something like that. All they did was sell pixels on their website. A pixel is a small dot with a particular color. He would sell 20 x 20 pixels which is a little square that can have your name, logo or whatever in them. He sold each pixel for a dollar and it was a thousand pixels wide by a thousand pixels long.
This was way back in 1997 when everything was like a wow on the internet. He made a million dollars just by selling pixels and it was just a single page picture basically.
Geoff: Yeah and there were a lot of copy cats that tried to it again to no avail because it was a novelty. To have the first mover advantage on the Internet you will have to do something revolutionary to be able to get that fad or novelty.
Samuel: Yeah and bringing up the first mover advantage is a good point as well because we are still in the gold rush days. There are people who might have a sports store online but it doesn’t mean that you can’t do things differently or think creatively and take up a massive amount of market share. We’re moving away from direct selling towards the indirect or peripheral selling.
Geoff: Can you tell the audience more about that? What do you mean by that?
Samuel: Let’s see how to best explain it – the market has a life cycle or start of a new market. Let’s say for example that you decided to put up a sports store online and there are no other sports stores online, you can basically say…
Geoff: We sell sports stuff online and that’s enough to convince them.
Samuel: That is exactly it and then you move through the phases. The next phase is to say something like we sell things that will allow you to go have fun and keep fit.
Geoff: Stating the benefits and getting them more emotionally connected with what you are selling as opposed to just saying we sell shoes and XYZ competitor is just not doing the effective copywriting and selling the indirect benefits.
Samuel: Exactly then as it progresses it becomes important to realize that you are taking to educated people whereas at the start you were talking to less educated people. When it was a brand new thing it was enough to say “we sell sports goods” but when you are talking to more educated people you have to talk to them about…
Geoff: Why they should choose us?
Samuel: Exactly and particularly our market is a good example – everyone out there is saying we sell SEO and put you on the first page of Google blah blah blah. Today you have to go well past that to stand out and be different. Have different conversations with people. Conversations today are not just one on one and you can have conversations online through social media, blogs or a copy on your website. You need to have abstract and high level conversations about why you are different and how you are going to provide them better benefits.
Geoff: I think this is great because it shouldn’t be that easy. You shouldn’t be able to simply say that we sell sports stuff online and people just come to you. I think the fact that competition is forcing people to be more creative and think about things like – Where is the value? What do our customers really want? Asking them questions and actually delivering what they want. What’s your pain and how can I help you? What makes you tick?
I think that’s really good because that’s innovation and what’s out there is going to better serve the business environment, the economy and the community. It’s a good thing.
Samuel: Exactly and we are now moving into what I call the Review Revolution wherein you got 3rd part endorsements coming in more.
Geoff: Coming from your customers and not just newspapers or radios. It’s directly coming from the community of buyers.
Samuel: Exactly and before in the early stages of the market it depends on what market you are in and if you are in a brand new market this is probably not as applicable as opposed to something like a sports store that has been around for awhile or internet marketing that are already well established.
There are some stats released last year wherein something like only 30 percent of people actually believe advertisements seen online.
Geoff: Yeah and there are a lot of interesting analysis on banner blindness and essentially how little people see – not because they block it or they install plugins but because psychologically they’ve been trained. If there’s something that looks like a service type and its blinking at you, don’t look at it. That’s why I really like what you said before about indirect marketing.
My attitude about that is selling online these days isn’t just about saying that we have the best cheapest products and we deliver it faster or whatever. It’s about the experience and relationship that you have with someone. It’s about customers willing to pay 30 percent more if they know that their product comes from a company that they like and respect. Just because you are on the internet doesn’t mean it’s not relationship selling.
Samuel: Exactly and just like what you said it’s a really good point. We definitely don’t recommend that our clients get into bidding wars because you can’t…
Geoff: You can’t win online. There will always be someone who is willing to take less money and cut some corners. We can’t compete with online startups in Asia who are willing to offer their products 30 percent cheaper because they are only paying their staff $2 an hour.
Samuel: Yeah that’s right and as internet marketers we have to be a little bit smarter in how we position ourselves and how we have those conversations as they say – putting in little mechanisms. For example in the case of eCommerce clients, one very simple thing that we can do for them as we rake them in is that part of the buying process. Once someone has actually bought the product they’ll get an email confirming that they’ve bought the product and that sort of stuff but then you send a follow up email saying something like “Hey John, I was just wondering if you got your product and if you’re happy with it? Are the shoes what you’ve expected?”
Geoff: Absolutely or you might say “Hey I noticed that you chose the latest model of Nike, if you want you can get some socks that go with it to complete the package”. Giving that level of personalization that a storekeeper would give and actually being human. It doesn’t take long to send an email and customize a sentence or two but that level of appreciation and relationship that you can build with your customers saying “wow there’s a real person and someone actually cares about my order”. That really stands out in this highly automated world and it doesn’t take much.
Samuel: Exactly and once you open up that conversation they might tell you things like “You told me its 5 days shipping but it actually came at 7” It’s good feedback for your business and tells you that you need to fix this - simple. That person was happy with everything else but disappointed that we weren’t able to deliver on time
Geoff: That’s a really good point.
Samuel: Take that feedback and then use it to improve your business instantly. Going forward you’ll get even more happy people so everything else was good before…
Geoff: That’s right and snow ball of word of mouth and positive relationships just continues to roll down the hill. I think that one of things you mentioned about collecting feedback and asking customers to be a responsive, agile and caring business who actually listens to their customer’s needs. I think the Internet has actually made that a lot easier despite people saying that the Internet is so cold, emotionless and no relationships so I don’t know what my customers are thinking. It’s actually the opposite!
If you look at Google Analytics report and look at the path that users take as they go through your website – Where are they exiting? What search terms are they using? How are they browsing? There are tools like Heat map Analysis where you can see where is the mouse moving and where are they clicking. You can actually watch videos of people interacting with your website and so on. You can’t get any of that in stores.
Samuel: No not at all and that brings up a whole new point if people are not tracking all this sort of stuff because the world of internet marketing is very complex and there is so much to know but it becomes easy if you got the proper metrics tracking in place for you to know exactly what is going on with your business.
Geoff: The challenge is analyzing it though and in my experience I’ve never met a client who could effectively analyze Google Analytics and find actionable conclusions from that.
Samuel: So it needs smart people like you though to translate it into normal world speak. The main point is that all that data is there – age, sex, buying habits, what websites they like, how long they spend on your website, why they left your website. It’s all there for the taking.
Geoff: I think some people might find that a little bit scary but the way I look at it is if you can understand your customers, you can actually give them what they want. Isn’t that what they want? They want to be given what they want. If you understand that if you run a targeted advertising campaign on Facebook for example and you’re specifically targeting female athletes in New Zealand, you know that you can provide them with the landing page and experience that they are looking for which is going to save them time and give them what they want. That is a good business and being a good member of the community by creating more solutions instead of problems.
Samuel: That is exactly right and if someone comes to you with a problem that needs solving, you are doing them a disservice by not solving that problem faster. There was this woman athlete who was having a problem with her legs which affected her running. She might need the exact shoe that you have to help deal with her leg injury or whatever it might be and run at a faster rate and do things better or just spread the love to the world from there. However if you are not advertising specifically to them you are not going to make a sale and her problem is not going to be solved. It’s a lose-lose situation.
Privacy this and privacy that – Google knows all about you anyway…
Geoff: Absolutely. It can be a little scary and yes there is a reason to be concerned and keep those things in balance but the reality is that the end result, you are going to get a personalized service on the Internet. The advertisements that you see are going to be relevant to you and solve your problems.
I don’t want to see advertisements about buying a wedding dress. I want to see advertisements about things that matter to me. I’m glad that you agree and as long as there are people out there who keep that level of awareness but in the end you need to embrace the personalization and embrace the relationships that you are going to have with individual customers on an individual basis. That is where CRM systems come in particularly the rise social CRMs where you can actually understand the psychographic and demographics, learning style, the motivations, rejections and fears of your customers. Amazon and Netflix have been great case studies of that.
Samuel: Yeah cool!
Geoff: So I want to ask you one last question before we wrap up. What would you say to this sports store if they say “Hey, I got a 500 grand budget, it’s all yours” – can you quickly list some of the things that you can quickly offer right off the bat? I guess I’m asking what you can offer or what are the services that you offer at Think Big?
Samuel: Well first as I’ve mentioned before is the whole strategy which understands who the target market is and how you are going to reach them as well as what problems you are going to solve for them. If you don’t do that initially then you are cutting your potential profits dramatically. I can’t stress that enough and there are many people who are in a hurry to get their websites up but that’s not what’s going to make you money. Websites don’t make money.
Geoff: They haven’t even spoken to their customer and asked what they are looking for in a website. What makes a good website? What would our website have to look like to make it a website that you would buy from us? They don’t ask those questions so they are not going to get the right answers and not get the right results.
Samuel: That is exactly it and as I said earlier websites don’t make money. It’s just a conduit for the client to connect to you and give you money for you to solve a problem for them. You know everything in life where there is money or value exchanged; it is exchanged because there is a problem being solved. It doesn’t matter if you give them by charity but basically that’s what it comes down to.
Moving on from the strategy we can then build a website around fulfilling the way that your target market is going to want it. You want to absolutely run your own website and completely own that space.
Geoff: So you would give that sports store training on how to do blog posts or record their own videos and have control of their message. Is that what you are saying?
Samuel: Yeah exactly and that is something that we strongly believe in so much to the point that we give clients self-host websites which they completely own and they should because they are paying for it whereas a lot of other web design companies out there and this is something that most people don’t know – they build it on their own CMS
Geoff: Yes proprietary systems that they can’t leave and move on to another web designer. The scary thing is that the web designer owns the copyright so you don’t even own your own business. That is scary and I strongly advise proactively stating “I am the client, I pay the bills and I own the copyright. I have complete control of the source code and I can move to other web designers if so choose”. Good point and I couldn’t agree with you more!
Samuel: Yeah and so we have the website and we are looking at where the target marketing market and what to implement
Geoff: So you would do things like search engine optimisation to get people who are searching for Nike boots or whatever and do pay-per-clicks to do more targeted marketing like Facebook. So you do all that advertising stuff including email marketing and reputation management?
Samuel: We absolutely do
Geoff: So I guess Think Big is as you said the integrated kind of solution! So ThinkBigOnline.com is perfect!
Geoff: I really enjoyed our chat today Samuel and I think the audience would agree that you are the real deal. Thank you for your time and I’d love to have you back on the show sometime and further chat!
Samuel: Yeah that would be a pleasure and that would be great. Thank you for your time!
Geoff: Cheers! All the best! Goodbye.
External influence is something very little, if any, marketers talk about, even though it can play a huge factor (we have seen up to 300% increase/decrease) in how effective your campaigns are.
So what do I mean by external factors...
External factors that could affect your online marketing campaigns are other things that are going on in the world, (sometimes not related to your business at all) that influence your campaigns profit or loss.
After working on many campaigns over the years I get to see trends that continually effect how campaigns perform yet on the other hand very little people who react in a sensible calculated way toward them.
Some clear examples:
1) World Events
Like in all economics when something is changed it has a butterfly affect on the rest of the world and internet marketing is not protected by this.
When the elections were going on in the US we saw some B2B markets in Australia slow, because some businesses were waiting to find out the result before they made any large purchasing decisions. So while the election was on, people held back on spending and once Obama was elected all those people that were sitting on the fence went ahead and all made purchases at the same time.
While the election was on many were complaining that their campaigns were not profitable and some even stopped marketing, but as soon as the announcement was made all the sales from the marketing that was done during the election were realised and a positive ROI achieved.
The Olympics is always a big event that shapes the way we buy online and offline for that matter. Think convenience. There are a lot of die hard spectators that want to get as much action as possible without leaving the screen, so think about how you can make it easier for people to find and buy what you have when relevant to the big event.
Each time a scumbag news reporter comes up with a new way of striking fear into the hearts of the general population with the "doom and gloom" of the economy we see sales drop almost across the board.
There is a hidden lesson here that I need to highlight and that is; the press and all forms of news are in the same business as us. The business of selling ideas and at the end of the day the better marketer wins.
2) Local Events
We all know that events like Christmas and Easter have a large impact on our sales and marketing, but many forget about other events like long weekends. Typically we see businesses slow down the week before and the week after a long weekend as people are generally rushing around organising to go away and they are not in the head space to think about purchasing. That is unless you are in the travel market where we see large spikes.
We have worked with some businesses to leverage long weekends as a marketing tool and seen sales sky rocket. Australian's love camping and getting out and about on long weekends, so we tie this in when selling solar camping kits by doing a huge push a few weeks before a long weekend.
What's the best way you can tie in long weekends to your marketing?
School holidays are another commonly overlooked event that affects sales while parents are pre-occupied with organising the rug rats between Grandma’s house and bumper bowling. Depending on what market you are in this one takes a little more creativity to leverage off, but if you think about the problems that need to be solved it will make it easier. E.G kids need looking after, parents have less time, and kids need transport.
In life and business I run my own race. I don't spend hours looking at what other have or do because it breeds laziness in thought. I do however monitor what the competition is doing every now and then to see that what are doing isn't effecting what we are.
The most common things that happen with competition are:
They run a special and your marketing stops converting - In this case try pausing your ads around this particular product or service OR re-position your ads so that price is not the focus. Instead shift the focus to quality and other benefits of doing business with you like; service, added bonuses, speed of delivery, guarantees, customer satisfaction, etc.
The start or stop advertising - If they start advertising in a space you were already, then hopefully you were already split testing and tracking your ads which will give you a competitive advantage of knowledge. If they blatantly rip off your ads then you need to get more creative OR slap an "Original" label on your ad ;)
If they stop adverting in a space - If your ads are working there, then ramp them up and take market share by setting up another site that either reviews your site (sending traffic back) or models off the success of the first one.
If you have an ecommerce store you need to be mindful of what your suppliers are doing. We have seen suppliers offer the same product to the competition for a lower rate, so they then undercut our client. Inexperienced or greedy suppliers will sometimes run specials that can also undercut the online retailer. You combat these with the same methods above and good communication with the supplier.
It's quite common that suppliers will get picked up in the press or run a marketing campaign of their own for awareness. You need to be aware of when these happen to ensure you have enough stock to cater for the flood of orders you can receive if positioned correctly.
We have seen this happen where GoPro announced a new model of camera, the GoPro 3.
What happened was, there was a huge swell in search engine traffic and so our client started getting an unusual amount of clicks through Adwords for GoPro's. The problem was, all the people clicking on the Ads where looking for the new model when it hadn't been released yet. Instantly Ad Spend/traffic went up but sales went down, because people stopped buying the version 2 and waited for the 3 to be released.
People sometimes laugh when I talk about this one, which is fine because the smart marketer has the last laugh. In summer when we have a spike in temperature (usually the first hot day), it's not uncommon to see air conditioning companies traffic go off the scale. I mean they can get 50-70 more traffic in one day than they usually get and the same goes for the first cold day in winter.
Now that's an obvious example, but you would be surprised at how much the weather effects people's buying habits in more subtle ways. With E-commerce becoming the norm now it's common to see sales increase for online sales on a cold and miserable day when people are stuck inside snuggled up on the couch in front of the TV with their laptop or iPad.
In summer when we have heat waves not only do we see people decide to get that air conditioner installed but also people take longer to make decisions about other things because they are hot and flustered.
6) TV Shows
Now I don't watch TV myself because I believe there are much better things to be doing with my time on the planet than sitting staring at a box, but what I can tell you is that when the big seasons start you can see a shift in online sales. Particularly the younger generations are watching what the stars wear, what car they drive and what animals they have. Think about how you can best tie into the latest trend and make your products or services relevant.
The Worst Part
If you start a campaign in one of these periods you could easily be mislead to thinking that either you are going to be a Billionaire overnight or that internet marketing doesn't work. Both are going to end up in tears...
This is why it's so important to pre-plan your online marketing campaigns and be prepared for some waves.
In summary - As marketers we need to think outside our direct spheres of influence with the broader world and utilise what is going on around us to help catapult our online marketing in the direction we choose.
Have you seen any external factors affect your online marketing campaigns? Please comment below.
Sam's Corner – Newsletter #5
PART #1: BUSINESS UPDATE
2013 has started off with a bang! Here at Think Big Online we’ve been busily helping our clients prepare for the MOBILE BOOM, adjust to the most recent SEO Changes and embrace Social Media like never before.
It seems like business owners have finally “got it” and in 2013 are taking the steps they need to digitize their business. During this month the Think Big team are heading to the US for some specialized training, training which we are sure will help our clients.
Watch out for my March update which will cover all these training hot points with you! In the mean time enjoy this months newsletter!
PART #2: INDUSTRY NEWS
It’s been another month of big changes across the web with Facebook making some major announcements and the Bing VS Google battle continuing to heat up. This year is going to be an extremely interesting year in search; potentially Google is going to lose some market share to Bing with Facebook’s close alliance with Bing.
With that said though, Bing is still a long way behind the 8 ball and is certainly not threatening Google’s position as the search leader. According to recent reports Google is even experiencing a revenue spike with it’s Adwords product in 2013.
Business owners should keep a keen eye on Facebook over the coming weeks as they continue to roll out more ad changes and network changes which are enhancing the ability for businesses to achieve positive ROI. All indications are that Facebook have finally found the right mix between user experience and advertiser experience.
PART #3: ARE YOU A LAZY MARKETER?
In the early parts of 2013 I sat down with my team to assess what we were doing as a business to follow up our leads, engage our customers and generally provide a complete “marketing experience”.
Now I’m not afraid to admit that in the process we picked up a few gaping holes in our system which we needed to immediately fix. It wasn’t that we’d over looked these areas it was just we hadn’t decided to put the focus on them.
When I sat down and calculated what our lack of focus in this area computed to in terms of sales and profits for Think Big I was shocked. We were leaving a lot of sales on the table.
So over the past few weeks we’ve been implementing a complete overhaul to our Marketing Automation system and the first part of that move was to purchase Infusionsoft.
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, we had successfully used Zoho, Aweber and Nanacast within our business, but this “cobbled together suite” was making it harder for us to market successfully.
That’s why we moved and since the move we’ve certainly started to see improvements in our marketing experience. You see, while having the new solution was great, what it really triggered for us was a complete review of what we were doing.
A review at a level that we’d never have conducted if we didn’t change software solutions. It certainly gives credence to the saying “A change is as good as a new start”.
Take some time out this week and have a look at your marketing experience, are you doing everything you can to maximize your business?
It takes a lot of hard work and constant monitoring for your company to establish a good image in the market. With the stiff competition going on these days, you need to be at your best when it comes to giving out quality products and services to your clients. Due to this, it is important that you use the services of a company that can provide a good online reputation management plan.
In any type of business, you have to go with the flow of the modern times in order to survive. This time you have to let your presence be felt online. This is your only gateway to reach out to your target market. Through the World Wide Web, you will also be able check out the different concerns of your clients, making it easier for you to act on it. Pay attention to their every need especially when it concerns your products and services.
Since you will be maintaining a good reputation online, you need to let your clients or supporters know that you can be reached easily. This can be met by maintaining multiple accounts from well-known social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Posting your product breakthroughs and everything concerning great news about your company will be added to these accounts. This way, your clients will know what is going on in your company, and you will just be surprised at how comments and likes from your pages will become numerous overnight. You should be responsible to acknowledge these comments and these tools may help you with it:
Always give your clients the assurance that you can be reached easily at any particular time. This will give them the idea that you are serious in building a good relationship with them. This way, you could build a good company reputation. In the case of prospective clients, do not forget to leave your current contact information like your email address, contact numbers, and even your site address.
It is very important for your company to establish trust amongst your clients. To add more, it will be a great idea to include customer testimonials in your web pages to give prospective clients a credible notion about your company. You also have the option to include customer reviews in your sites to be more specific about what your company can do. Quality ratings from accredited organizations also boost the credibility of your company.
On Negative Comments
You cannot please everyone, so expect that there will be negative comments that will pop out sometimes. As a part of a good reputation management strategy, you ought to counter those negative comments positively. This means to seek for professional agencies that could skillfully remove negative posts from search engines. Furthermore, this agency should have full knowledge of putting only a stream of positive comments about your company in your web pages.
Maintaining a good company image is a daily task to do. Make sure you are prepared for it and solve whatever issues there are regarding your reputation to get maximum customer loyalty and more business in the years ahead.
Has your site been hit by recent algorithm updates? Are you thinking of submitting reconsideration request to lift your site’s penalties and regain lost search engine presence? We know that it is one of the ways to get your site Google penalty-free, but how long does it really take for Google to respond and resolve site penalty issues?
Google’s web spam team processes all the reconsideration requests sent by webmaster and site owners. You can send a reconsideration request though your Google Webmaster Tool account, but let me remind you that sending a request does not guarantee that your site penalties would be automatically lifted. According to Matt Cutts, it can be a week or several days to get an initial response to a reconsideration request.
In order to have a greater chance of getting your penalties removed, it is essential that you write a complete and in detailed letter, supported by facts and data that you did not really intended to violate Google rules and guidelines. Also, show some proofs that you are working hard to clean your site, you can do this by showing screenshots of link removal requests that you sent out to spam sites which could have triggered your site to being penalised.
After you have sent the request, you will receive a confirmation from Google informing you that they had received your reconsideration request; it normally arrives in your inbox within 1-2 days. If you were not able to receive anything within this period, there might have been problems with the submission process. I suggest that you consider a resubmission to make sure that they would get your request.
Below is an example of a message that you will received once Google successfully received your reconsideration request:
We’ve received a request from a site owner to reconsider how we index the following site: http://www.yourdomain.com
We’ll review the site. If we find that it’s no longer in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines, we’ll reconsider our indexing of the site. Please allow several weeks for the reconsideration request. We do review all requests, but unfortunately we can’t reply individually to each request.
It will take a few days or weeks before you hear a respond from Google with regards to the status of your request. The numerous amounts of requests they are receiving from other site owners also contributes to the delay since they are reviewing your website manually.
There are also 3 types of responses you might receive after sending your reconsideration request. See below:
1) Penalty Lifted – After thorough review on your website and the actions you have taken, Google finally lifted the penalty and your site is visible on their indexes again.
2) Penalty Not Lifted – You gave an effort to clean up your site but it is still not enough in the eyes of Google. There might still be some bad links to remove. You can then send another reconsideration request once you think that you have done your part of making your site sober.
3) Pending – This is when the process takes longer due to multiple issues on your website. Google is extensively scanning all these issues on your website thus acquiring more time before you get the results.
The sweetest part of all of these is when you accomplished your mission and you were able to convince Google to revoke your site’s penalty. A clear indication that you are back on track and the penalty has been lifted is when you receive a message like this on your Google Webmaster Tool account:
Dear site owner or webmaster of http://www.yourdomain.com/,
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider http://www.yourdomain.com/ for compliance with Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
Previously the webspam team had taken manual action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this manual action. It may take some time before our indexing and ranking systems are updated to reflect the new status of your site.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking without a manual action by the webspam team. Google's computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users. If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see this article for help with diagnosing the issue.
Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of our search results.
Google Search Quality Team
It’s essential today for any business to have a web presence, whether purely as an additional source of information or a separate stream of revenue generation. An eye-catching website is now part of every company’s contact details and a lot of them are earning extra revenue from online stores as well!
With the number of websites present on the Internet today, it becomes essential to be able to stand out from the crowd. This is especially necessary for companies that offer products or services for sale, as there are bound to be thousands of similar web pages out there. The advent of Internet sales has made it much easier to find new customers, but also makes it easier for customers to find competitor products.
The use of Internet marketing tools and strategies is very important to achieve success online. While it’s possible to learn how to apply these for effective results, there are daily changes in marketing models and tools. This would make it a full-time job to just keep up with the field and all the new practises, rather than focusing on the business itself.
Turning to an Online Marketing Consultant Takes the Worry Away!
The choice of whether to hire marketing consultant or try and take on the task yourself is entirely up to you. If you can spare the time, a lot of ideas and tutorials are available online and you can learn to apply them. A marketing consultant could even help you with this process, or take over the process if required.
If you are wondering whether turning to an Internet marketing agency Australia is a good idea, these factors could help you make a decision:
One factor to remember - When you hear claims that sound too good to be true, they generally are! A lot of people promise amazing results in a very short time but you should remember that these may be short-term as well. It’s much better to achieve sustained growth over a longer period of time as this is more likely to deliver long-lasting success.
Do you have results or reasons? Find out what type of business person you are and start achieveing those goals and moving forward today!
In this video Think Big Online Marketing discusses the importance of integrated marketing and how these small and easy mistakes could lead your business into the ground! Listen now for essential tips to secure your business online.
In this video I am going to share the insights of Social Bakers CEO, Jan Rezab and how he is mastering social analytic world domination. Additionally you will be told some hard facts about social media that you will want to apply to your social platforms immediately! Grab your pens, paper and laptop as I'm about to share some of the insights shared with me, with you right now!
The 4 guest speakers that will be discussed today are;