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For this episode Ecoffee with Experts, Matt Fraser hosted Scott Kindred, founder and president of SafeHouse Web. Scott provides some effective tips for businesses who wish to begin implementing a holistic marketing strategy and evolve into the hub and marketing model. Along with some ways for conducting market research to understand the audience. Watch now to build a winning marketing strategy.
At a corporate level where brand awareness and messaging is more important, there’s just something to take a softer approach to the problem’s solution.
Matt. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the invitation.
Really sort of adventurous following my parent’s lead. Yeah. You know, it’s just that’s how I came up. That’s how I learned most of the things about how to be a good person, and how to interact with people outside of relationships. So that’s really at the core of everything.
They did. My father was a schoolteacher. And so I feel like I have a little bit of that discipline or that bookwormish or focused on studies that are part of who I am, still today. And my mother is much more social and outgoing. So I got a little bit of that, too. So it’s a nice combination.
Good question, to me people know me, my colleagues and our clients know me as a person who is easy to get along with, and pretty easy-going. And I like to keep things professional and productive. I think the most common comment that we get, not just about me, but about the business, is because, you know, birds of a feather attract one another. We have a team full of people who have a lot of integrity that’s going to want to do good things for the community or social good sort of things. And so that really helps my relationships with the executives and other people that we do business with.
That was a great experience. Kinetic Search at the time was a boutique recruiting firm in Silicon Valley. And they had some very smart people. It was a women-owned business. And the woman who owned it hired a lot of like-minded people, very smart people. Their entire executive staff was women who brought experience from big tech, from human resources, from health care, and a little bit from marketing like PR agencies and stuff. So it was a really great team to be a part of. We were able to grow their followings on LinkedIn and I think the other one was Facebook at the time was a number of years ago, substantially by simply putting a strategy in place about what are we posting, what are we doing to social media channels more than just posting jobs every day, which is what their core business was? Or are we trying to tell the story of who we are as a woman-owned business? Who are we as the type of people that we’re trying to recruit for talent and to supply it to the big tech companies in Silicon Valley?
What we did, we kind of had a two-pronged approach at the time, two prongs that were public facing. One was on the website and the other on social media. So with the website, we did a complete redesign of their corporate website. It transitioned basically from a very plain-looking job listing sort of website to something that showed actual faces, people, stories of what was going on with executives in the company, and success stories about people that they were hiring and placing with their clients. So that was a major push for the website and the other part was social media sort of touched on a minute ago. Where we were able to do a lot. We planned out and strategized. I call them snackable bite-sized pieces of content for social media, particularly LinkedIn, because that’s the native nature of it for job searching, especially for young professionals. And so we created an entire strategy that had bite-sized content imagery that was about people rather than job descriptions. A lot of that has really turned it around.
I recall off the top of my head as we doubled the following on LinkedIn. So it was something around 1500 or 2000 people when we first came in and when we left as it was all around 4400-4500, and that’s the start that I can remember in my head. I just in general, about the website with every project we do, of course, we use Google Analytics, reinstall that and use that to track visitor activity. And I know that when we first started, they were coming in with like a couple of hundred visitors per day for the website, and when we left, it was a couple of thousand per day. Those are kind of good impacts.
I took that as a really good experience working with an executive team that was really well seasoned and so well. That was a newer and very motivating experience for me. And to take away from that and what it impacts our business today is that we’re more I wouldn’t say we are more aware of the mindset that comes along with doing business in Silicon Valley. We’re not just in there, of course, Silicon Valley. We’ve got a new office in Las Vegas, too, and we’ve got clients across the country remotely, thanks to the technology of today. But that particular experience really honed my ability to work more closely and more effectively with Silicon Valley stakeholders.
It did, that’s a good point. It did a little bit. It just validated that for me in my particular role, not what our team was doing, but for me personally, in that it’s all about the relationship. You know, a person like me can have all kinds of book knowledge and education, formal education, but if a person like me is not good at relationships, then most of that other stuff is not going to work too well. So that was a big takeaway.
We are. I think you just flipped the switch to the Wayback Machine. So way back I had started on my own dabbling in HTML, self-taught HTML, and CSS and it was just kind of interesting. It’s a building process, it’s a learning process, and the longer the shorter version of that long story is that eventually, a friend of a friend of mine who owns a local bar and grill said that they needed a new website for their bar grill. And I thought, well, I’ve learned enough, I can do that. And it was my first time doing something commercial, and when she saw it, she loved it and she said, How much is this going to cost me? And really I had never thought of that. I was just doing this as a learning exercise. Like, Wow, somebody actually asked that I build their website for them. Yeah. And, and so that’s when the light bulb went off about an entrepreneurial opportunity. It’s like people want to pay me for this. So that kind of led quickly into other, a bunch of other small jobs from their mom-and-pop shops and small, small things. But it really built up my character, built up my skills, and eventually came to the point where I was making enough per month or as much per month as I was in a regular go-to the time clock and punch in punch out job, and a 9 to 5, we had a discussion with their family. It’s like, what do I do? I keep doing the 9 to 5 or do I do my own business? And so here we are today.
The answer is yes to that, it was truly a leap of faith. I talked about it with my family. I prayed about it. I let it sit for a little bit. And it really was there were no savings. There was not anything. There was no safety net. It was simply like, let’s do this. You’re feeling prompted to do this, do it and it’s worked out really.
Sure. The holistic approach came to me when I had enough clients saying that they needed a website and we would build the website and turn it over to them most of the time, or we’d continue helping manage it. But they became disillusioned and disappointed after about six months because they had in their mind that this new website was the silver bullet that was going to make them rich. It was going to build their business to skyrocket. And so it only took a couple of those for me to realize that I needed to do, a better job of setting expectations. Building a new website is not the answer. It’s not a solo single-channel thing.
Exactly, and today, I like to call it the hub. It is the foundation, the holistic approach that we talk about is that if your website is the hub of everything you’re doing digital marketing-wise, everything else from that is like I spoke at spins off of that. It could be social media, it could be a newsletter, it could be white papers, it could be Google ads, it could be any other thing that you’re doing as a digital marketing effort. But it should all be based on where at home that website is. So the website in itself is not a holistic approach. It’s all those folks that we talk about. How businesses need to have their eyes open to the whole thing to get better results.
These days, we try to do a little bit of education because first of all, it’s the right thing to do. My own opinion is that if somebody has the opinion that they don’t need a website or that Facebook is enough or that the Google business profile is enough, then I want to try and help them. I want to try and give them some information, additional information to consider, because for the most part, that’s not going to get them where they want to be. And we also don’t immediately decline those kinds of opportunities to work with people, because there are some people that will sort of listen if they’re eager to listen to what more is there. And so we get into the whole thing about, well, if you have your own website, you can do A, B, and C. Actually, you can do A through Z depending on your business needs.
Sure. So storytelling is at the core of my ancillary, just because you cannot on Google business profile just know for example tell an adequate story about your business knowledge or its successes. You can use it as a wall to post up your success stories or your five-star reviews. And those are important, but they don’t tell the whole story about you. And I would say the same thing to a lesser degree with Facebook. You can do a lot with Facebook these days, about kind of as a container for your business. And again, we want I don’t discount those as places to start as long as the person or the business realizes that there’s a place to start.
I think you’re right on. And the Google business profile, while we say that’s not a good standalone option. We do say that is central to your holistic marketing plan. So there are some corporates that really don’t care too much about Google business profile because they’re not trying to get the local person or even the regional person. So it’s not as important to them for lead generation, for example it’s more important to them for brand awareness.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So when you Google the name of this big corporate, they may not care that they’re on Google Maps or not, but they need to have the entire first page of Google occupied by nothing but their brand. So that’s one of the things.
It always starts with a strategy for me, and that’s where we start all of our conversations. So if somebody comes to us and says, Hey, can you give us some tips on what to do or can you help us with what we need to do for our website or our online presence in general, strategy is always square one, and if they’ve already got that in place, then we can start talking about, how do you want to execute that strategy? If they’re an e-commerce business or if they’re a service provider or anything that needs lead generation, that’s one path, another path is they don’t need any of that stuff. They just want brand awareness or they don’t want any of that stuff either and they just want to get donations. You know, we work with a lot of nonprofits also. So there are different paths. And we listen to that strategy and try to come up with tactics in the case that they don’t have a strategy, we kind of just say, okay, let’s stop. We need to camp out here for a little bit and we need to help you get that strategy in place.
I think, again, you hit the nail on the head that there are especially at that corporate level. We get this a lot that they want to focus on brand awareness. They want to focus on a little bit of outbound communication, they want to be authorities in their space, they want to see thought leadership, and they want to back up what they’re doing at tradeshows, for example, or conferences. Maybe they’re maybe their CEO speaking at a big conference and they need everything with their online presence to back up what that CEO was doing that particular week or that month. So those things are very focused. They have nothing generally to do with lead generation or any of the other spokes unless that’s part of their strategy again. So we talked a few minutes ago about strategies. Everything sort of goes back to that for us.
Sure. Big picture. I like to start there because we can say big picture to the plumber who’s got $300 or we can send the big picture to the bank that’s got, $3,000, 3 million, whatever it might be. And that big picture for us boils down to a combination of two things: what is your budget and who is your audience? It’s not so much what you want to get done. Some people will say, well, it depends on how you want to convert them. For the plumber, he wants his phone to ring so he can go, you know, provide plumbing service at somebody’s home or business. For a corporate they may not want the phone to ring. So for us, it’s about the budget and about their audience, who they’re trying to reach. And for I want to say, for small, medium businesses, getting into a percentage allocation, like you just mentioned, is something that we will help with. But really, it’s a case by case because we do that whether or not they have the internal infrastructure to do that. They may be established enough or they have an accounting department, and they have a budget. You know, they already have the line items for the website, SEO, and social, email marketing. They may have all that in place. And so then we’ll all kind of switch gears and say,” All right, since you have those in place, let’s talk about your audience. Who do you want to reach? What’s the most effective channel?” And usually, those discussions reveal where the percentages should be allocated. Now, in the case where a business doesn’t have that infrastructure, we usually don’t get into that discussion of percentages. We keep it a little more eye level again about who you want to reach. And then we talk about the how, because if they’ve got a limited budget, we’re going to talk about who they want to reach and how, because that will determine how much money is available. For example, we have an oxygen therapy clinic as a client. Well, hyperbaric oxygen, that’s neat. And they want to reach people with sports injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and non-healing wounds from diseases like diabetes. They have a wide range of people within hyperbaric oxygen and oxygen therapy. But from a marketing standpoint, we can pick some of those. We can pick. “Oh, so you want to get to the athletes, right?” They happen to be located in a professional sports-rich environment geographically. And so they have a lot of football players, they have a lot of baseball players, hockey players get injuries. That’s a question as part of the discussion about how, you plan the budget, do you want to target the professional sports suites, or do you want to target instead those with traumatic brain injuries? You know, they were helping the veterans coming back from the Gulf War from Afghanistan. So you want to target that because that means we’re going to be talking to a different group of people. We talked to veterans and health care service providers. So all those things really, depending on what the business wants and who their audiences define. How do we talk about the budget?
Your lifetime value for us has been very difficult to manage or to even get from a business. Everything that you just said mad about it may not be a reluctance to see things in that bigger picture, lifetime value versus the immediate margin. We’ve found that the ability to do, I want to say the research or the accounting to actually come up with a higher number for the value. That’s the challenge for most businesses because for us if we’re going to leverage that with and for our client, they would need to have done the work, the footwork to identify what that lifetime value is. It’s not something that we’re going to go in and necessarily help them with because it gets too deep into accounting and so forth.
Sure. But every single time that we’ve done business, whether it’s a similar business or it’s corporate, it all starts out with the anecdotal. Okay, so who’s your market? Who are you selling to or who do you want to reach again? The goal-oriented, audience oriented. But it’s always based on anecdotal information from our client. And the next drill down on that is who’s giving us that anecdotal information? Because it makes a huge difference if we’re getting anecdotal information from the CEO or vice president or an operations manager or a salesperson. And the data, the anecdotal from all those people that we find valuable. But we know from experience that without fail, they differ widely. There’s a wide range between who the CEO says they’re selling to versus now they’re down at the end of the chain. The salesperson says, no, this is who we’re selling to and why. So we take a lot of time talking. We take a lot of talking to everybody. But it’s generally that salesperson or one level above that gets us the most relevant information.
Yeah. And it’s not that they don’t know. I don’t mean to imply that they don’t know. It’s that their vision is different. I’ll use an example, one of our clients is in the defense industry, and so they supply equipment to the Department of Defense and some commercial and some research and development uses. But at the top of that organization, the anecdotal information that we get, which is eventually backed up by data, is we’re selling X million X number, X million dollars to the United States government, and X million to such and such research labs. So that’s our audience and that’s kind of where it stops. And then you go down one level and the next level, the VPs will say what the CEO said. and we’re also selling, we’re providing our equipment and our research and development, and our expertise to law enforcement agencies. Okay, well, that makes sense. If you’ve got military-grade equipment, then you probably have a customer base in law enforcement as well. Yeah. Then you get down a couple of levels more to the salesperson who’s actually going to trade shows, who’s actually following up on sales calls, who is probably the brain behind the brochures or the marketing and you get to that person and you learn what the CEO said is true, what he’s said is true. And what I’m doing today is I’m talking to the Tactical Officers Association at the such and such police department. That’s really granular. Right. So we went from the CEO saying that we’re selling X million dollars to the government, to the salesperson saying, yes, yes, yes. But we’re also selling to the SWAT team. Yeah. And so and so the police department. So that kind of research, if you will, is critical to what we do. And we’re developing a plan for the client’s content and SEO.
Sure. We always value what the CEO says, higher than what the salesperson says. So if we’re talking strategy, messaging, branding, that’s always going to come from the top. And that’s the guiding principle for whatever messaging we might be doing, could be on social, the website, newsletters, whatever it might be. But we need to have a very clear message from the CEO in the form of a mission or a vision or a set of principles, guiding principles, whatever they may have to call it. But what that CEO says is at the core of the strategy for developing messaging.
Absolutely. I would say at the corporate level where brand awareness and messaging are more important, there’s just going to take a softer approach to the problem solution. In that kind of situation, we usually focus on authority and storytelling. There’s a problem solution. However, what you brought up about problem solution and that formula that I can remember the acronym either, but so is very effective for copywriting and our copywriters do follow that formula or a similar one for I want to say not necessarily smaller businesses, but businesses that have a more lead generation, a more sales focused goal for their messaging.
Yeah. Wonderful thinking and question. And the answer is yes. And I can only use our experience as an example. I don’t want to say this is the blanket for, but the head of purchasing for example, The head of purchasing in a government agency is not the persona and it’s really not the person we’re trying to tell the story to. We’re really trying to tell the story, too, and develop a persona around the influencers on the decision-making. So the person that is purchasing is probably more of a cog in the wheel like they see the paperwork come across because there’s somebody higher up who’s already made the decision. So the higher-ups, that’s who we want to get to. We have found that in this particular situation, talking about who the equipment helps is very effective. And you boil that down or to boil it down real quick. Who does that equipment help? It helps the soldier. Is that not the most important thing?
Yes. So if we take that approach, that message, what’s being said, the stories being told are all about helping that soldier. Then the decision maker is usually in line with that. And of course, they got a whole bunch of other factors floating around about budget politics and all that stuff. But the nuts and bolts of it, if we stick with telling the story of who the end user is, how does this help the end user? Even if it’s a Defense Department thing or not, that’s good that if we tell that story in any industry, it’s the way to go.
Sure.I think it’s critical for all of the businesses we serve. It’s a critical component of the plan of the strategy is what your funnel looks like. And at the end of it, and again, going right to the end of it, the end user at the end of the funnel, what do we want to happen in fans, what we do on all the wider parts of that? So the very end in for how we develop the top.
Exactly. So far and I keep using these examples that are not hard lead generation examples.
Sure. And, you know, I think everybody that we are is in our spheres now in marketing, digital marketing. They know what a funnel is. They know how to use it. They know how to implement it. And so do we but this thing of having like a, I want to say a more vague funnel, if you will, like for these corporates that are not lead generation based. What’s at the end of the funnel? Is it, that you got them to go to an event? Is it that they downloaded a white paper but you didn’t collect their information because you really don’t care about their information because you don’t have.
And we actually have a client where that’s a valid move for them is to have no collection. No, no lead collection at the end of the funnel because that’s not their intent. They want they’ve seen proven success from what I call the billboard fact. You know, you’re driving by the billboard on a freeway. You have no idea what that generated. And so there are some of our clients who have that luxury, of spending money on the billboards and not being able to measure what that does or does not do. So in those cases, the funnel is okay. if you’re using the billboard fact that the funnel is at the top of the billboard and what you’re doing in the middle of it is, you know, people are listening or watching, but you’re just not able to measure it. So you’re still putting out content. You’re still putting out the thought leadership or the white paper or the guide. You’re just not able to measure anything. And to me, that’s a rarity. Everybody else needs to have a funnel that has very specific, intentional, and measurable. I’ll go back to the oxygen clinic or we have another client that’s in oil and gas, and their focus is on incubating smaller ventures that are within their sphere. So they’ll run an incubator and at the end of their funnel is to get new innovative companies into their incubator. So for them, the funnel is at the top. If you’re doing innovative things in oil and gas or solar or wind or ocean. That’s the collection point and when you get into the refinement of the funnel as well, which of those areas are you working in? And the next refinement is what have you done? Do you have any proof of concept? Do you have anything that’s out on the market? Or at what level is your R&D? And then down at the end of the funnel you give us your name and contact information and let’s have a conversation. Yeah. So even in those situations, the more specific an intentional funnel that’s critical.
We use HubSpot.
They’re great. And they say they’re great because it’s easy for entry-level or mid-level and even experienced users. And what we do when we’re talking about a CRM for any of our clients is first thing is to engage savvy within that organization. My Salesforce experience is a little bit limited, but the experience I do have has informed me that it’s a very robust, very complex if you let it be, and it becomes almost useless if you have a part-time user or a part-time administrator doing that for a company because it’s so robust that the person who’s managing it or administering it needs to be using it every day, at least every week.
Otherwise, there’s so much to it that you forget. But it is without question, the most powerful CRM out there. And that’s why most enterprise companies use them. But HubSpot for me is a really good option when you don’t have that kind of need or you don’t have that kind of human resource to dedicate to managing your CRM. So that’s a good one that we use. And below that, if a company is not ready for or doesn’t have a need for a certain platform we’ll go into, we can help recommend a tech stack for them. Oh yeah. Maybe, you know, maybe they just need, maybe all they need is email marketing. Yeah. So maybe all they need is Constantcontact or MailChimp or something like that.
I was going to say there’s at least a score. So yeah, we will go in that direction based on what the clients need.
I think education and storytelling if you do that for yourself if you wrap your own head around education and I say that in the vein of being savvy about what you want to accomplish, what your tools are and what your budget is, if you’re educated about that, you’re already ten steps ahead of a lot of your competitors. The other part is storytelling and this is something that is probably one of the reasons why we’re in business and why we, in a lot of happy folks, is that we hold the storytelling. Not everybody is a storyteller. And you could you know, you could have a CMO, you could have a marketing director, you could have whoever that lead person is is really good at leading the department, but they’re not great at storytelling. So they need to have either they need to realize that and then hire somebody that can help, whether it’s an internal staff or outsource it. But having that mindset and being aware that we deal with this often so I use it as a takeaway. The CMO or the marketing director or marketing manager within the company that’s got a lot of moving pieces going on and the recommendation is they never lose sight of what the company is doing, what the company is producing, what the company is communicating so that they can mold that, what the company is doing into marketing communication. And there’s the storytelling. They may not be able to spice it up or make it sound articulate. But if they know what that is, they can feed it to somebody like our agency or to an in-house person who knows how to articulate it.
Yes. Yeah, absolutely. We get that a lot. You know, we’ll get people to say, well, I don’t know how I don’t know what storytelling means. I’ll say ” just say what’s happening and involve the people with that happening. Have a goal, have an outcome.” So we go through that exercise with them but if they don’t have a copywriter, they’re not at ease with writing themselves. Then there’s the record, the education part coming and they need to recognize higher up for that.
They can go to safehouseweb.com our website. They can also find us on Facebook and LinkedIn. And I’ll be happy to help, happy to talk.
That’s right, You can go on LinkedIn/Scott Kindred.
Likewise. Thank you very much.
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