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Designing Effective Marketing Strategies

In Conversation with Patrice Valentine

For this episode of E-coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Patrice Valentine, Owner of ProFusion Web Solutions, a full-service digital marketing agency located in Washington.
Patrice offers valuable insights on UX design, Buyer’s Journey, and leveraging technology for business success.
Watch the episode now for some profound insights!

Simplicity is key in marketing. It’s about telling customers what they need to know and guiding them on the next steps.

Patrice Valentine
Owner of ProFusion Web Solutions

Hi Everyone. This is Ranmay here on your show, E-Coffee with Experts. Today, we have Patrice Valentine, who is the owner of Profusion Web Solutions, a web design, and Digital Marketing Agency headquartered out of Washington. Welcome, Patrice, to our show.

Thanks, Ranmay. It’s nice to be here.

Thank you for taking out time, Patrice. Before we move on and talk about SEO or digital marketing at large, I’d request you introduce yourself and what you do at Profusion Web Solutions for our audiences tonight.

My name is, as I said, Patrice Valentine. I am the owner of Profusion Web Solutions. We are a full-service digital marketing agency. So whether you’re coming to us and you need a new website or you have a website and you just need some marketing services, we can help with posting, design, social media, email marketing, SEO, and pay-per-click, really anything you need to promote your business online, we can handle. We do copywriting, design, and the whole suite of services because we know that most small business owners are far too busy to try and figure all this stuff out on their own. So we try and step in and be the marketing department that they can’t afford or want to create a valid that’s not so involved in their day-to-day basis and we take on that role for the business owner.

Well, so please share with us your leadership philosophy and how it has contributed to the success of ProFusion.

Yeah. So for us, we hire great people. The folks that we have working with us at ProFusion, I try not to be the smartest person in the room ever. So we hire people who know more about design, who know more about development, who can talk about marketing. And, I think that our success has come down to, we try and look at how can we get to your customer. So if you sold baked goods, I would want to know who’s buying the baked goods, and why are they buying them. Is there a special occasion for them? We get into the head of the consumer, and then we use that to fuel all of our marketing. We make sure that everyone that we work with, all of our employees and our customers is running that same philosophy. So we look at things from a client and their consumer’s point of view. And then we just make sure that everybody on our team has that same philosophy so that we’re always doing what’s right by the customer.

Very well said. When you mentioned understanding the buyer philosophy because we see a lot of digital marketing which focuses on bringing that lead to the website and making that the purchase or the revenue conversion happens. But why it happens is something that helps you make those repeat purchases. So it’s very important to focus on that as well.

And a lot of times business owners have an idea in their head of what they want to say. We have to sometimes be their gut check, but maybe our customer is not, they don’t care about that. That’s not what their pain point is. That’s not what they’re feeling when they’re coming to your website to find a solution or when they’re coming to your Facebook page or reading your reviews. So there are a lot of uncomfortable conversations at times, and we have to be that voice of reason to say, Okay, but what is your consumer looking for? What are their real pain points? What solutions do you have? What problems do you solve? So that’s the things we’re looking at. And as you said, when we drive someone to the website, we want them to take action and let that action, purchase or a phone call or a completing the form or signing up for a newsletter, whatever that little transaction is, that’s our goal at the end of the day is to get more people to contact the business. Some hard conversations at times, but certainly our end goal is to make the business more successful.

Yeah, business owners are a emotional lot. So they will want to look at it the way that they are looking at their business. But it’s not the case always.

And marketing is a hard thing to outsource, right? Because especially we work with businesses from… One of our clients makes beads, handmade beads and sells them at the farmer’s market. So what she’s thinking about her business at a small level is very different from the Fortune 500 executive that I’m talking to on my very next phone calls. Marketing can be hard in that it is a little bit like sharing your new baby with the world and hoping someone doesn’t come across and be like, Oh, your baby is ugly. What did you do? You have to make sure that we’re speaking to these folks in a way that helps them, that encourages them, that helps them understand that we understand that we do that by… There is a lot of question asking. When we go into conversations with clients, I think people think that I’m going to ask them, What technology do you want us to code your website in and what plugins do you want to use? We don’t have those conversations at all. Our conversations are all like, What are the goals of your website? What do you want people to do when they get to your website?

What’s your personality? What do you want people to feel when they’re coming to your site, when they leave your site, or when they finish a transaction with your business? What do you want them to feel? Those are the questions we ask because ultimately that storytelling and app dealing is way more important than what technology we’re using, obviously we want to connect to any systems you have. But ours is a marketing-first, conversion-focused approach, not a technology approach.

Has this happened to you when you sit down with the founders, or business owners? Because this happens to me a lot. When you go ahead and ask those tough questions or questions which take them out of their comfort zone, it happens that they do not have answers to that.

They might not have thought up to that level about their own business. When you ask those questions, they actually go back to the drawing board and take time off and then think it through. Does that happen with you as well?

It does, for sure. And a lot of times it has to be someone else from within the business. So if it’s not the business owner, and even if it’s a small one-person shop that we’re dealing with, a lot of the times, like if we’re sitting with a husband-wife situation, the wife is the business owner. She’ll oftentimes have her husband sitting in. And there are times when she’ll answer and he’ll give a completely different answer. And it’s all just based on their perspectives because we all see the world differently. So the way I interpret something and the way I see something is going to be very different than the way you see it. So it is really interesting when we talk to business owners and maybe their employees or managers are with them to see the different answers that we get. And again, it’s our job to read between the lines and pull out information that maybe they don’t know. But maybe they’re having a conversation with us and we’re talking about their business and we’re talking about how they even got to be the business owner because I don’t know about you, but my path to business ownership was not linear.

It went like a zigzag and all over the place. And now here we are. But I have a degree in psychology. I don’t have a degree in design or marketing. It just turned out that this was because I love talking to business owners. I love hearing about how you opened your business. We love knowing what your customer loves about you and why you’re better and different than your competitors’ the stuff that we take and then put on their website. A lot of it is, if I ask a website owner, Hey, what’s the goal? Or a business owner, What’s the goal of your website, they’re like, Gosh, I don’t know. I just want the phone to ring the next question is going to be, What’s going to make the phone ring? What do people need to know to have them say, Okay, this is the right business for me. Let’s get their phone to ring. A lot of it is just conversational. It’s not just a checklist that we have, it is just getting to know the business and the business owner.

Absolutely. Customer experience also plays a very important role. What do you think are a few critical factors in creating a positive customer experience? How do you ensure that this factor is consistently met across customers’ points?

That’s a good question. I’ll give you the technology answer and then the buyer’s answers as well. User experience, right now, we have to look at it. When I first started this business 20 years ago, we never thought about designing for a cell phone. That’s not something we ever even looked at. But now we have to look at if we’re creating a website and you can purchase something on this website, or even if someone’s just going to fill out a form, what is it going to look like on a tiny, tiny, little 300-pixel wide straight? And that is something we never had to think about. We were thinking about what it’s going to look like on a 6,000-pixel this one, we have to look at it. What’s it going to be like and what’s the user experience on a small screen? Technologically speaking, we have to make sure that when we’re creating something, user friendly, no matter who’s using it and no matter what they’re using to view the site. That and we include a lot of ADA considerations. So make sure that the website is accessible, bless you. Make sure the website is accessible so that it can be easily used and navigated by someone who might be using screen reader software.

So we’re really into creating a kind internet that is accessible by all. So that’s from the technology side of things, we make sure that it’s usable. There are no problems tapping buttons or no problems reading the font sizes or colors or anything on a handheld device. But then from a more design point of view, we want to make sure that when someone hits the website, we’ll just use the website for example, in this one, when someone hits your website, I want them to feel like, oh, finally, this business understands my needs. This is what I’ve been looking for. Then we just bring them on a journey. If they feel like they land on the page and they’re like, yes, finally, Patrice’s company can help me, then boom, I don’t want them to wonder, I wonder what I should do next. It should be very clear. Okay, this is where I should be. Now I want to learn more or I want to request a quote or I want to schedule a phone call. We want to make all those options available to anyone that’s coming to the site so that they feel seen and they feel heard and then they know what to do next.

Yeah. Planning that customer journey on your website is so critical. We all talk about backlinks from third-party websites to get you that traffic. It’s so important to focus on your internal linking as well because it enhances the overall customer journey and their overall experience in terms of, like you mentioned, feeling heard. I’m there and this is what I was looking for across five different websites, maybe. What are some of the ways that you feel marketers can enhance the overall buying journey of consumers?

I think just answering questions. As a marketer, that’s our number one job. It’s just making sure that if a consumer has a question, they have a way to find their answer. And if it’s in the FAQ section of the site, it’s in their informational video, if it’s in a cool infographic, however, the information needs to be presented, it’s our job to answer the question and then get the user to make a phone call. So it’s educate and then act is what we help them do. And as marketers, I feel like sometimes we overcomplicate things. I see people overcomplicating it to where they try and get too cute, they try and get too flashy. And for some brands that have really big budgets, it works well. But we’re typically dealing with small businesses that don’t have huge extra marketing budgets that are just looking to make an impact on their existing customers. So either increase their average order value, increase loyalty from customers, or bring on new customers. And really, we have to be great stewards of their budgets and make sure that we’re not wasting a dollar of their marketing budget. So for us, we attempt to not overcomplicate.

We look at, okay, how can we answer questions? How can we gather data? So if someone’s coming to the website, how can I get you to give me your first name, last name, and email address? How can I get you to take that next step? And again, I think people sometimes overcomplicate it by trying to be too cute or too clever. And really, it should just be a straightforward process. Tell the customer what they need to know and how to then take that next step. It should be pretty straightforward.

Yeah. Rather than it looking or sounding jazzy, or flashy, we all get into that thing. When we search, we just want it to be right in front of our eyes and in best of ways possible. But as marketers, like you very aptly mentioned, try and make it look complicated just so that it looks flashy in front of our eyes, look catchy. And we feel that it’s a job. We are getting paid for it. We are not supposed to make it look simple.

But sometimes simple is so hard. Sometimes we’ll have clients where I’m like, There’s a couple of clients that honestly, I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you how they agreed what they agreed. I just know what their customer needs to know to make a decision. And so we try and dumb it down as much as we can so that any person that my fifth grader, would be able to come in here and read the website, be like, oh, okay, I have an idea of what that industrial manufacturer does, and I could tell who they’re a client. We try and break it down to make it simple.

I was speaking with a client of ours. He’s a higher-end university client, and it says about a big post, a big landing page, it talks about finding a purpose. There’s nothing after that.

That’s stressful.

You have to engage the consumer or the customer through that journey. For that, you need to fill it with content that is engaging, not confusing, because you’re supposed to find me a purpose. It has to be simple. We all, as you mentioned, try and compete to that. It looks more jazzy, more something that is out of this world. It does not need to be that way at all times. Talking about social media and the generation of leads that we get from social media, it’s difficult not to work on your social media platforms or engagement and avoid the volume that we get from there. As per you, what role does content play in social media engagement? How do you ensure that the content that you present on social media resonates with your target audiences?

Yeah, again, great question. I feel like this all could have had a similar thread of what I’m saying to these questions, but our key social media items are going to be I think people try so hard to go viral, and that’s not like going viral and getting… If I told you, hey, your video had a million views. Congratulations, you hit a million. And not one of those million people was a new target audience, and not one of those million people purchase from you, then who cares? If it didn’t move the needle for your business, then who cares how many views you got? Who cares how many followers you have? So for us, when we look at social media, we throw out vanity. We consider vanity metrics. So I don’t care about the number of followers. I don’t care about the number of views. What I care about is, did I make a difference to one person today? To one of my customers or to one of the people that are in my audience, did I make a difference to them? Did I answer questions? Did I get them thinking differently about a situation on their end? Did I help them reach a goal?

Did I give them a tip that might have saved them 10 minutes in their day? When we’re doing social media for ourselves or clients, that’s how we take the approach. We provide them with a little bit of entertainment. I honestly don’t most of us go to social media to be somewhat entertained and check out of our regular life. It’s our distraction. So if I have a busy day full of meetings, then maybe I’ll spend 10 minutes on Instagram just mindlessly scrolling through to do a little bit of downtime. I want to see something that’s going to be relevant to me, that’s going to maybe be something about my kids or a business problem that I’m having. If there’s something about Google ads that you were talking about offline, if there’s a tip on Google ads, it might be like, Oh, great. Someone’s explaining this little bit of nugget to me that I have no idea how to figure out on my own. So for us, social media to keep the content relevant, again, always look at it through your customer’s point of view. Is what you’re posting relevant and meaningful to the customer, or is it serving your ego? Because if it’s ego-driven, it’s not going to be helpful.

Yeah, absolutely. And finding that we have got recently is a lot of footfall happening through multiple social forums, but a lot of clients are worried about the revenue side of it. A lot of footfall comes to your website through, let’s say, Google ads, Facebook ads, there are the mediums. But what is happening after that? What is the CTA after that? Is the phone call actually, is your phone ringing? Is your mailbox getting bombarded with purchase messages? Are you getting that final product purchase or service purchase? Whatever your final call to action is happening. Maybe the answer is no. You might have got people visiting your website, but the action that you want them to make is not happening.

Then who cares? Then great. You have a thousand big people that have seen it, but they didn’t do anything. Seriously. It doesn’t matter.

I go to your business, but I don’t pick your service. What’s the point? It’s not in the plan. And then you’re paying for it, mind it. At the end of the day, you’re paying for it. You’re running ads.

I think that’s got to be one of the fears of business owners, right? To them, social media, especially paid social media or paid Google ads is like a little black box that they don’t have any idea what goes on in there. It’s just some secret sauce that’s being mixed up. Again, as a marketer, I feel like it’s our job to have some level of transparency to say, Okay, here are the words that we’re bidding on. Here are the search phrases that brought people to your website. Some of them are completely irrelevant, so let’s take those completely out of the mix. But I don’t think marketing needs to be this mysterious, like, we have the secret sauce and we’re the only ones who know the ingredients and how to do it. Marketing is, it is some trial and error. It’s testing. It is putting content up there that sometimes might not work for your client. And then sometimes you might get some great content, but it is something that it has to be actively managed. There are some evergreen marketing techniques online webinars that people can sign up for. If there’s a PDF download or some level of a lead funnel type thing that will help and be beneficial for your clients.

But for the most part, marketing is acting. It does need to be babysat. It needs to be monitored. It needs to be freshened up occasionally. So it’s not so that you can get a set it and forget it and hope that it keeps working for the rest of your life.

Yeah, absolutely. And as marketers, that is where our role also lies in terms of educating the customer. At times customers walk in with a certain budget and they feel that if they pour in that money, the results are going to come without even understanding where the competition is. And for them to be reaching there, you need a certain amount of time, and a consistent amount of marketing investment, not in terms of money, but in terms of going through the grind. And it’s going to take some time. It’s not going to happen overnight, irrespective of the money that you wish to put in. And sometimes these are small businesses who feel that if you invest in this, this is the result. They don’t look at the chart. That is where we as marketers, and specialists should educate them that this is probably not the right time to either do it or this is not the right strategy. Just because ABC is doing that does not mean it is for you. You may be out from a different niche and all of that.

So educating them, educating business owners as the specialists in marketing segment is also the responsibility of us as marketers. That’s what I believe in.

I agree. A lot of folks, they’ve heard of Google ads, they’ve heard of… They know they need to be on social media, but they don’t know what they should be doing. So they are looking to us to say, okay, I know I need to be doing all of these things and not doing them. How can I start? So we look at it based on approaches to where are you going to get the biggest bang for your buck to start with. And we look a lot of the time at building that email list. So it is on Facebook, if you have 1,000 people that say they like you, you organically post them between 1.2 % and 2.2 % of us people are going to see your post. It’s not a huge number. Even though they raise their hands and they say, I like profusion, only a few people are organically going to see that. From us, we look at, okay, how do we get those 1,000 people to go to our website to give us their email address so that in the event, let’s say Facebook is just like, you know what?

We’re going to take down the Profusion page. We don’t want to have that up anymore. That’s happened to a couple of our couple of clients that have come to us and have had their Facebook page at 25,000 fans on Facebook or followers on Facebook. Facebook said they violated some policies and shut them down. So they had completely no visibility into those 25,000 people that said they liked that company. And you’ve done with Facebook before, trying to get them to answer a question on, Why did you take my page down? They’re like, We can’t tell you. But I need to know how I could fix it. Good luck fixing it. They don’t give you information on how to get your page back up. They’re very hard to deal with in respective. So for us, it’s how do we get those people out to give us their email address or their contact information? So if we no longer have the social media platform, we can still get our information out to them if they choose to receive it. That’s how we look at things too, and making sure that we own the data for the client so that we have that.

We can continue to market to them in the event that if a social media or Google, or something happens, we still want to have that client data.

Yeah, that’s a very valid point there. That’s a very valid point. Talking about SEO. Any new client comes through, and let’s take a case where you’re pitching to a new client, you do an SEO audit. As per you, what are the important metrics that one should look at while doing SEO audit? Keyword research for that matter, how do you think one should go about doing it?

Yeah, that I get, that’s a good question. For us, we get initial thoughts from keywords from the customer. I’m always interested to hear what a business owner thinks people are looking for when they’re finding their website. Our initial list always comes from the customer and then it’s our job to gut-check it and see what are people looking for and what spins on those keywords. A business owner might use some terminology or some vernacular that just the everyday searcher just isn’t using to find the site. We do a really heavy keyword focus to make sure that we’re optimizing for keywords that are going to be meaningful and that we feel like we can have some success in. So if I have a small mom-and-pop shop and they want to be found for just a keyword that is just so broad, like a bookstore. If we have a small bookstore here locally and they have a super small budget and they want to be found for the words bookstore, Amazon is going to buy up every single one of those keywords and they’re very likely going to have all of the right one position one.

Anything related to that is going to be owned by someone much larger than the company we’re working with. We’re really good about setting expectations and making sure that if we are doing some organic optimization, we’re optimizing for keywords that make sense and that we can feel like we’re going to gain some traction on without having them spend a ton in ads if then you have to go that route.

Absolutely. It’s a long the customers have to be aware of it before you’re setting foot on that route. Before we let you go, Patrice, we would like to understand your opinion on brand campaigns versus conversion campaigns.

One should run both hand in hand. What is your take on it? Is it branding campaign versus conversion campaigns or run your own hand in hand?

Again, I’m going to default to the customer on this one. If we’re running an ad campaign, I’m going to bid on my company name for sure. So for us, when you say brand campaign, I’ll just define it a bit for anyone who might not be familiar to make sure we’re on the same page. But for us, a brand campaign, my company name is ProFusion Web Solutions. Do I bid on my company name, on my competitor’s name, and do all that to make sure that someone is looking by brand for us? For me, you’ll hear people say, You don’t need to bid on your company name because you’re already coming up right when it’s issue one. However, I do know that our competitors are also bidding on my keyword or my company name. So I want to make sure that my ad comes up first. Even if they see my company twice, so be it. They’ll see my ad first and they’ll see us ranked organically and I have no problem with that. Even if I have to pay a dollar or two dollars, if they click on the ad and not in the organic, I don’t care.

They’re still looking for me and coming to me. That’s what I want. For other campaigns, we’re looking at keywords to get in specifically speaking for Google ads, we tend to talk to our customers about the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel. So top-of-funnel keywords are going to be something like the best web developer near me. So their intent is there. They’re looking for a web developer. But how close today… If we’re looking at the buying cycle and one side is I’m ready to buy right now, this minute here’s my credit card number. There’s a good section of folks that are on the far other side of that, that are simply beginning their research. I don’t want to pay a bunch of money to be the people’s research. I would be willing to pay a bunch of money for the folks that are in the Buy Now category, those people with their intent. So if there is someone who’s looking for 48 hours website development developer near me or something like that to where I know they need something right now, I’m going to bid all day long on those keywords because they intend to purchase right now.

Somewhere in the middle, I’d be willing to bid something if they’re looking for reviews for a web developer near me or something like that, I’d be willing to bid on that as well. Because again, it shows their buying, their frame of mind that they’re in towards their purchase is getting closer to their buying now. So we go through that whole consultative process with our clients and we’re going to look at purchasing keywords. I am of the mindset I typically will purchase and look at their company name and look at that. Depends on their competitors. If their competitors are massive corporations, if I’m dealing with a software company or a soft drink company and they want to bid on Coca-Cola as their keyword, probably going to tell them not to do that unless your budget is massive. But if they’re looking for naturally flavored fizzy water, that might be a keyword to look at because it might be the product they offer. But getting a little too deep into it there. But yeah, so for me, it’s going to be client dependent. But we do look at bidding mostly on the middle of the funnel or bottom of the funnel when purchase intent is getting closer to buying now, rather than in the education phase where we have little control over what they do next.

Thank you, Patrice, for the insights which you shared tonight with our audience. I’m sure they would have benefited a lot. But before we let you go, I would like to play rapid-fire with you. I hope your game is on.

Okay. Done it.

Okay, great. What did you do with your first paycheck?

Oh, gosh. Let’s see. I was 14 years old and I was working at a retirement home. I’m sure I bought some jeans from the Gap, most likely. That’s probably what I did with it.

Okay. favorite sport?

Soccer. Football for you. Football for us? Football, we call it.

Which team do you support, by the way?

So all of my kids play soccer, so I would go with the local teams. I don’t watch any of the professionals. But I do go with the new professional sports. I’m going to be shocking to everyone who knows me. I’m going to say hockey. I very much enjoyed hockey this season. Seattle, they just got a team called the Kraken. Last year was their first year. Very fun team to watch. So I’ll go, hockey professional. But for my kids, I got four of them. I love watching them play soccer.

Nice. Now, where did you go for your last vacation?

We just got back from Mexico. We went to Playa del Carmen in February, so just a couple of months ago, we took my kids down there for 10 days and we did zip lining and we did cave diving and exploring and ate a ton of Mexican food. I drank my way in Margaritas and we had a good old time.

Great. Where do we find you on Friday evenings post work?

Oh, gosh. I would guess. Usually, Fridays are date nights for my husband and me, so we try and reconnect on Fridays. But it’s a tub. Where I live, we have the most amount of breweries per capita. Usually, we’re out having a beer at one of the local breweries or just hanging out at the house with the kids and trying to reconnect to keep everything strong and stable in the family.

That’s super. Great. It was awesome having you on our show. I’m sure our audiences would have benefited a lot as I mentioned. Thank you for the valuable insight. We’ll try and get hold of you for another detailed episode sometime down the line.

Awesome. I’m going to flip the script on you next time and I’ll interview you.

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