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Expert Marketing Strategies to Help You Destroy Your Competition & Win Big

In Conversation with Martin Kier

In this episode of Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser hosted Martin Kier, Founder of Brand Buddy. Martin discusses several useful marketing and branding strategies and tips to help your business stand out. Watch now to get hold of some effective strategies.

Sometimes you just need to trust the algorithm and go broader with your target audience. Social media ads can be sometimes smarter than what you assume.

Martin Kier
Founder of Brand Buddy
Hello everyone, and welcome to this episode of E Coffee with Experts. I'm your host, Matt Fraser. In today's episode, I have with me, Martin Kier. Martin is the founder and president of Brand Buddy, a boutique branding and digital marketing agency located in Nevada, Colorado. He has a bachelor's degree in digital marketing from the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado and is a digital marketer certified customer value optimization specialist. Martin has over eight years of experience helping small and medium-sized businesses to succeed online by creating innovative marketing campaigns to drive traffic using social media as well as social media advertising, email marketing, Google ads, SEO, and content marketing, and increases sales and revenue as a result of building high converting websites that focus on the customer journey. When not working on marketing campaigns for clients, Martin enjoys fishing in the outdoors no matter what the weather, Dining at car shows, as well as cooking his favorite dish, chicken parmesan. Martin, thank you so much for being here. A pleasure to have you on the show.

Thanks, Matt. Happy to be here.

Yeah. So, Martin, tell me a little bit about your story. Who was Martin as a high school student?

As a high school student, I was very much into antiques and Clinton antiques. And I actually got to a point where I got into jewelry and I started a jewelry business, and I was going to different events, different crown fairs, different conventions, and just setting up my table. A little bit of a baby business owner. And people would be like, what’s your social media? What’s your website? And that’s kind of what got me wrapped in the whole digital marketing field from an earlier age but that was what I did as a high school student, just worked at that business. As far as school, I enjoyed it. I was grateful for the education and had some good professors and various teachers and yeah, I’m just really thankful for that time.

That's awesome. So, what motivated you to focus on digital marketing when you went to college?

Yeah, so between high school and college, I had a variety of different business experiments that were just short-term things. I think I added them all up a couple of months ago and it was like 18 different experiments. Three of those did well and were profitable, the jewelry business was included in that. But yeah, when I got into college, I originally was going to be pre-med because I was good at science things. I can do well in those classes and yeah, I did well, but about halfway through I was like that entrepreneurship spirit, that’s a thing, I can’t really seem to ignore it so I was like, you know, I just had to really analyze myself and started understanding what it was that I liked about owning a business and it wasn’t a marketing piece. So, that’s what made me shift my focus entirely and just dive into that and it was a great decision. I know not everybody has fantastic experiences in college, but I definitely did. I had some extremely passionate professors and it was just easy to link how one class relates to another. So, I’m extremely grateful for that.

Right on. So, what was your motivation for starting a Brand Buddy?

Yeah. So, with those previous 18 business experiments that I mentioned, I did bring on different digital marketing agencies to help out with some of those efforts. And a large part of the time I was disappointed in how they were interacting, whether it was a lack of communication or lack of expertise and so forth. And so I was like, I think I can do this a little better.

Yeah, absolutely. It's unfortunate that our industry kind of is tainted by bad actors if you will. Seems every industry is tainted. People think it's just the car sales industry that has bad actors but there are dentists that are bad dentists and optometrists and even doctors. But I can see how easily it can be to not provide enough value and enough of a world-class experience for clients in our industry because of how easy it is to get online. You can buy a theme from theme forest and a logo and slap up a website in a couple of hours and call yourself a digital marketing specialist. That's for sure anyway. That being said, can you describe your first experience working on your first digital marketing campaign?

Let me think, we have to go into the archives of my mind for that one. So, the first project that I took on as a digital marketing campaign, was when I had the jewelry business and social media ads were still very much Wild West.

So do you mean Facebook ads? specifically?

Yes, exactly. So, you know, I would hop on there and start up a campaign for $10. Barely even knew what I was doing and didn’t know what conversion tracking was. And, you know, you’d start to generate clicks and some website traffic and that was exciting to see. But what I didn’t realize at the time was when somebody sees an ad on social media, they start to research you elsewhere. And so, the ad story that I had at the time was getting an uptick in sales and I was like, Etsy is working great, but Facebook isn’t so much. Little did I know they were connected but it was kind of my first experience with a digital marketing campaign, I suppose.

What was the first digital marketing campaign that you were successful at?

I had a landscaping business during the first two years of college and a lot of hard work. But yeah, we had a digital marketing campaign running on Facebook and LinkedIn. We were just doing some experimentation there in the local area, and that’s just when I started to realize how easy it was to track conversions and how to set up the process actually work. So, the first year we had three staff members, including me and by the end of that year, it was so busy and then the following year, we went up to about nine employees with a general manager. So, it definitely made a big impact on how we did business there.

All right. You mentioned people having terrible experiences or you also did not have the greatest experience. I know that client onboarding sets the tone for client-agency relations, big time. So, what's your process for that?

Yeah. So, right now going from prospect to fully implemented scope of work, like as a client, we start with a discovery call just to understand their business, who they target, their services, their budget, and what areas of digital marketing they have an interest in. So, we definitely take a lot of time on that call just to make sure we set expectations and get to know the business owner or the marketing director that we’re working with. After that, we generate their proposal, sign it, cancel any time contract, provide us access to necessary platforms, whether that’s Facebook or MailChimp or the website, and so forth. But once we get those, we begin to serve what is needed. Let’s say maybe they have a Facebook account, but they don’t have an Instagram account. We set that up for them and once that’s all established, we start to send out draft posts, and add modifications to their site, depending on what service they bring us on for. But we always think that it’s important to send them those drafts, posts, or draft modifications just because we do think there’s value in keeping the business owners’ voice in what they offer. Because, you know, a lot of times we’re going into industries that we aren’t super familiar with and the business owner knows everything about that industry. So, we think it’s important to give their feedback on that type of stuff to make sure we’re using correct vocabulary, representing their business appropriately, and so on. Once all those are implemented, once all of those draft ads or posts are sent to them, we implement them and it’s very high touch at first from the communications standpoint, but then clients will typically settle into a regular touchpoint, whether that’s weekly or monthly, and we’ll have a report for them. But yeah, typically from contract signing to full scope implementation, that’s about two weeks. We try to get it all done in that amount of time.

What do you use for software for onboarding clients?

Oh, we are actually pretty dang primitive when it comes to that, so we actually don’t really use the software at the moment. We’re looking at bringing on a CRM soon to help with that, to make sure everybody’s on the same page. But yeah, right now we just kind of keep it old school, send the emails back and forth, collaborate on Google Docs, and so on.

Fair enough. Do you think there should be SOPs in place for every process that you take your customers through?

So given our current agency size and just how quickly we like to move and generate results for our clients, we don’t like to use SOPs for every process, but that may change in the future as we grow and bring on new positions just to keep that quality in control.

Absolutely. Have you ever turned away a client?

Yeah, definitely. So, of course, every agency is different and what they’re looking for from a client. So, I’m not going to make a blanket statement and say, if you’re an agency, avoid client Y. That being said, when we started out, we took anything that was good at whatever price point we could get. But now we’re pickier. So, on our discovery calls, a major thing that we look out for is just unrealistic expectations where a client’s like, I want 10x returned overnight and we’ll turn those down. Definitely don’t do any more like three months in most cases. Like I’m on board with us for three months and see how it goes. That’s a no go for us anymore. But there are also a couple of industries that we don’t like working with just because it’s difficult to get ads approved for and that’s seen pretty commonly with marijuana and supplements.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, the cannabis industry definitely still has a stigma attached to it. Definitely positive medical benefits of some of those things. That being said, besides unrealistic expectations in regards to results, are there any other red flags that you've seen over your time that the agency should avoid?

Those are the primary ones they will typically look out for. At the moment, there are not really any others.

Fair enough. So, what do you think is the most important aspect of creating a website user experience? A positive one.

I would say that conversion optimization is super important. You know, to the public when they hear conversion optimization, it probably doesn’t mean anything. So, by that I mean you need to make it insanely easy and pleasing to complete the action that you want your audience to take. Whether that’s completing a contact form, booking a time with you, or completing a purchase, just really cutting down those steps or clicks it takes for that conversion to happen. And you know, it sounds like common sense, but sometimes if you have, you know, either an early digital marketing agency that doesn’t quite know what they’re doing yet or a business owner that tries to DIY it. Just try to really cut down on those steps for that action to happen.

Fantastic. You know, I noticed you called your agency Brand Buddy. How important is building a solid brand for small businesses?

Yeah. So, I think it’s very important. But I think they need to approach it realistically. If it’s a small business that’s just starting out, you might not be able to afford thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars put towards your small business. But, over the long term of that business growing, it’s just important to always keep in mind that customers will see you or prospects will see you online, whether that’s on Facebook or Google Ads or maybe you come across your website first. That experience and that brand need to be consistent across channels just because of the amount of research that people do now before making an important decision on whether or not to purchase from your business or schedule with your business, that’s just paramount that we’ll just give you way more chances of success.

What are some of the aspects, the key components or foundations for developing a successful brand for a local business?

Yeah. So, for a local business, I would say, of course, getting your basics down where it’s like you have a logo that you use consistently across platforms, you’ve got colors that you use across platforms, and then you establish your communication tone and how you write about your business. I think those basics will never really go away, but it’s just good to stick with that because I mean, that’s how customers are going to remember you. So, that’s ultimately going to lead to more success.

Absolutely. What are some ways you stay up to date on the latest social media trends and best practices?

Yeah, it’s actually really tough to avoid, like not staying up to date, in my company now. I mean, we talk pretty often with other agency owners, which makes it easy to stay up to date but Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube algorithms that I have picked up. I have a digital marketing business, so I’m always getting hit with news or updates regarding the different platforms that we use. But otherwise, we get a lot of updates and major changes just because of the reps that we’re connected with on social media, Google, or the other software that we use. Typically reach out and let us know if there is a big change coming. Be ready for it. So, that’s always very helpful.

Absolutely. How can businesses make the most of their social media marketing budget?

The big thing is just making sure that you have conversion tracking set up properly. It’s just this small piece of code that you put on your website and once that is installed properly, make sure that your ads are optimizing towards the action you want. So, you don’t want to set up ads that are focused on clicks, when what you actually want the customers to do is a purchase. So, that’s just an example there. But I’d say another thing is just you should have a solid budget for creating ads, but you should also have a budget set aside for creating content or making the photos or videos yourself like your digital marketing effort can be flawless, but if your content or branding is off, you’re much more likely to fail. And see, content is like, I might be giving you too much credit, but it’s at least 50% of the reason why your digital marketing efforts succeed.

Succeed or fail. What are some tips for creating great content? Like do you mean great content in the sense of ad copy or images or both?

Yeah, both. Kind of like my favorite content, that I like to see brands use is short, call out the benefits of the service or product that you’re supplying and it is memorable. So, usually, when I say shorter, it’s like 15 seconds or less and you know, is optimized for multiple different platforms and placements.

Absolutely. Besides content, what do you think are some of the other key factors to running a successful paid ad campaign on social media?

I mean, it’s of course important to know who your target market is. I know a lot of small businesses will immediately come up with their ideal avatar or who their target market is. A good piece of advice would be not to get too hyper-focused and try other areas. We’ve seen it before where a client thought that their main demographic to serve was males 25 to 44. But when the holidays rolled around, that completely shifted to women, 45 plus. So, it’s good to keep those demographics broad and just try not to assume too much about your target market. That’s really the main thing.

What changes have you seen as a result of iOS 14 and its impact on Facebook ad campaigns?

Yeah, so the unfortunate thing when I was 14 and everybody talks about this now is that your ability to track decreased dramatically. So, instead of being able to track people up to 28 days, that got limited down to seven. So, you know, it negatively impacted a lot of digital marketing agencies, especially if they were using only the standard ads managers just because they weren’t able to prove their value as much. Because if somebody sees an ad and 28 days later, they convert, but they can’t show attributions.

So, how have you solved that?

Honestly, there’s not really a way to solve it. From what we’ve seen, we’ve tried a variety of different super expensive software, but sometimes Google Analytics will be better at tracking revenue. But it is just kind of a matter of setting expectations with clients and being like, hey, the reporting in this is probably a little under-reporting and attribution windows. Yeah, I think it’s just a matter of communicating with clients. So, that way they understand what that means.

Have you tried implementing detailed UTM tracking, has that had any impact on being able to, at least from the Google Analytics point of view, to be able to show some attribution?

Yeah, yeah. Definitely can help clarify that and give you some more tracking capabilities.

Yeah. So, in other words, is it still possible? Because I mean, if you're using UTM tracking. With Google Analytics. I'm just wondering if it's still possible because I haven't done it for a while. It's still possible to see because even though the platform isn't showing their conversions, I'd be interested to know if Google Analytics because if they can click and you can set up some kind of user ID tracking for the conversions on the website if that's a way to. Show that value and show those conversions and maybe even set up some displays in Google Data Studio. I'm just thinking outside the box here and trying to figure out if those things would work or not.

No, absolutely. I mean, we’ve done a lot of side-by-side tests where we show, you know, how much revenue was generated from social media ads based on their standard ads manager versus Google Analytics. In most cases, it ends up being about the same, which is good. But yes, as far as the UTM tracking and tracking further past 28 days, I think that still depends if they accept all cookies when they land on the site.

Interesting. I don't want to tell you exactly who, but can you still upload sole customer data for Facebook to tell you whether or not how many of those people purchased after a certain amount? Like I used to do that every month and it would show how many we sold as a result. Of course, it matches up the email address and the name and address and all that stuff. They had all that data. And is it still possible in order to overcome that attribution challenge?

You can still upload customer lists. I’m not sure about the sold data being able to match up or not, but you can still upload things like first name, last name, email address for audience purposes, lookalikes, and so forth.

Okay. Yeah. I used to upload the data because I had to prove what I was doing was true, especially at the car dealership.

Yeah.

Customer audiences haven't changed. I'm pretty sure you probably uploaded the sold data lists in order for Facebook to tell you how effective your campaign was or how many people bought the course. The first question they asked me instead of saying a good job, is, well, who are they?

So yeah.

Instead of saying, hey, good job, Matt. You're doing is working great. They will go, who are they?

Do you really want to get to know them that much?

What are some other tips you can give small businesses looking to attract high quality leads through social media?

Yeah, I already said the conversion tracking market.

Different campaigns.

I know. That’s a great point.

So, are there some examples you have?

Yeah. So, if you have the budget, doing a full-funnel campaign is really helpful. So that’s where, you know, you have one campaign that’s, you know, not spending a ton, but it’s focused on video views So a lot of times the tick-tock style content works great for those high funnel campaigns. And then a little bit further down the funnel, you’ve got prospecting campaigns that’s just kind of like cold traffic, that you are trying to get them to convert and make a purchase. Those, you know, you can get a little bit more specific with your content type, you know, maybe focus on some of your best sellers initially and a really fun thing with those campaigns is that, you can target the people that watched the videos in your higher funnel campaigns.

Yeah, and retarget them.

Yes, that’s a really effective way to do it.

It is a good strategy to drive people to a content piece and do the same thing. Like, such as driving them to watch videos, but also driving them to a content piece, and then retargeting those people and building up that audience. For instance, people who may be interested in the kitchen renovation work and Seven Mistakes to avoid renovating your kitchen and drive them to a content piece like that. And then retarget them with some kind of freebie or maybe a free consultation or something like that. Is that also a good strategy?

Yeah, it definitely is. It just helps keep that signal intact and helps Facebook get to know its audience even better. But like I said, if you have a big enough budget, it’s great. Otherwise, if you’re only starting out with like say 500 a month. You know, you might want to focus only on an online campaign.

Otherwise, you're going to lose your reach. What's the minimum budget you think people should start with when running Facebook campaigns?

I mean, we’ve gotten away with 300 a month on some clients.

Oh, yeah.

I wouldn’t go much lower than that.

Yeah, that's pretty low. The hundred bucks a month. Have you seen some returns on that for them?

Yeah, I mean for local businesses, they’re able to still bring in leads depending on what their business type is. Obviously, a pet groomer is probably going to get more leads than say, a kitchen renovation. But yeah, we’ve still been able to pull in some tracked leads for them.

Right on. How have you seen the cost per click? Does the cost of advertising go up on Facebook? Considerably.

Yeah, it has gone up and they’re always going to be increasing. In 2020, obviously, there was a dip there, just while people, especially bigger businesses pulled away from marketing spending. There was some opportunity there, but it’s still increasing for sure.

Yeah. So, do you think remarketing is still a valid strategy?

Yeah, I would say so. Again, it’s not quite as powerful as it used to be given iOS14, but it’s still helpful. And usually, when people think of remarketing, they think, oh, okay, I’m motivating them with some kind of freebie or discounts. And sometimes depending on your audience, they don’t want their email reacts negatively to it, which is funny. Sometimes they just want more social proof or maybe they want to check out some of the other designs, maybe some collaborations that you’ve done in the past. Yeah. I think it’s still worth experimenting with and seeing if it works with small businesses.

So, I was remarketing to people who didn't convert, like they'd be looking at a 2022 Mazda 3, on the website and if they didn't convert based on the four conversions that I had indicated what they were if they didn't convert, I retargeted them with dynamic inventory Ads. So, I would show them similar Mazda threes, even the ones that they were looking at like shopping e-commerce websites have shopping feeds. And we had an inventory feed for the car dealership. We would just retarget them and then we would use lookalike audiences based on the audience of traffic that was coming to that. So, is that still something that is valid today?

Yeah, you’re talking about the Dynamic Catalog ads that are specifically for retargeting. Yeah, those are definitely still being used. More of a thing for e-Commerce businesses, for local businesses. I mean, a car dealership would make sense.

Well, let's just pair that then, car dealerships do have their inventory Ads, but shopping is using catalogs to work. So, e-commerce type businesses can retarget based on people who are maybe on a single product page and then retarget them either with the category or that or if you've made a similar type product segment in your catalog and then created ad sets and showed them those ads.

Yeah. Yeah, you can basically.

The number one thing is the ability to reach people and retarget people because of iOS 14, which just caused a headache for a lot of people, including Mark Zuckerberg because his revenue is down. He's got this problem to solve. How he's going to solve it, I have no idea.

Yeah. Same.

Yeah. What do you think are some effective ways for small businesses to leverage artificial intelligence in their social media marketing campaigns?

It’s kind of difficult to avoid some form of AI now. Like with Facebook and Instagram, they kind of already have it to a degree, as you spend more of their platform and if your conversion tracking is set up properly, Facebook and Instagram started to get a better understanding of who your audience is and those who are more likely to convert. So, that information kind of just gets pulled automatically into your ad strategy. I also know there’s a variety of different tools out there that use AI to help you determine the best time to post, etc. But yeah, I think it’s kind of difficult to avoid AI now.

Yeah, what about using AI to write ad copy? What are your thoughts on that?

Like Jarvis, I think is one of the top ones.

Since it's Jasper now because they got sued. But yeah, there are several of them out there. There's Jasper and there is copy.AI, there are tons of them. Any thoughts on that?

Yeah. I’ve talked with other agency owners about that and they’ve tried to use them for posts, ads, and for blog articles. And, you know, it definitely still takes a second or third run-through by a human to make sure it’s probably working. But yeah, I mean it’s helpful in the sense that if you’re suffering from a little bit of creative fatigue, it can help bring up some ideas.

Yeah, right on. And what's your most memorable client story?

Yeah. So, we had a client join us back in 2019, and these were actually the people that I mentioned earlier that thought their audience was males 25 to 44. And, you know, for most of the year they’re correct. But anyways, they were making a couple of thousand dollars a month from their Shopify store. It was respectable, in my opinion. You know, any time that somebody has revenue generating from an online store is impressive. But eventually, they started to expand. They were releasing some new products, launching new stuff, creating a lot of buzz, and they were selling nicely. Of course, we were running campaigns for them. They started getting closer to 30K months, 50K months, really building a memorable brand, and eventually, they came up with a pretty brilliant product that was very easy to understand the benefits. And it was kind of gimmicky, but it caught people, you know, scroll stopping, and then, of course, they hired a photographer and videographer, but this allowed them to scale even further to about 100K a month, which was awesome. So, we would usually leave the demographics open for this client just because it’s, sometimes quicker and easier to create campaigns. And then we also knew that we weren’t missing any opportunities by doing that. And we knew that Facebook would optimize towards the lowest cost per result. But like I was saying earlier, once those holidays rolled around, we were creating many different campaigns, doing our jobs and suddenly that idea that men to 25, 25 to 44, who are our core demographic just went poof. And, we started seeing a ton of female orders from ages 45 plus and we were like, Why? And then we realized we were getting more reviews coming through that said, this was perfect for my husband.

Oh, interesting.

So, you know, it’s like you think back and this is kind of what caused that brand to scale to multimillion or a few short years. And we were grateful to be part of that because it was truly a rag-to-riches story. Some of the ads reached over 10 million views on Instagram or Facebook. But like, could you imagine if we got stuck in that mindset where we were like, no, our core demographic is men 25 to 44. We would have missed out big time, big trends. Yeah. That’s sometimes why you just need to trust the algorithm and go broader with your target audience. Social media ads can sometimes be smarter than what you assume.

What's one big takeaway you want listeners to get from this episode?

I would say. I think it was kind of the last part of what I just said.

I would agree with you. Absolutely. How can our audience get in touch with you online if they want to do so?

Yeah, you can go to BrandBuddyLLC.com. Fill out a contact form there and we’ll be able to reach out super-fast.

And are you on LinkedIn?

Yeah. You can find us there under Brand Buddy LLC, also on Instagram and Facebook.

Are you personally on LinkedIn?

It’s Martin Kier

Fantastic. We'll make sure to put those links in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming to the show today. It's been a pleasure having you.

Thank you. Likewise. Thanks for having me on.

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