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The Role of Digital Marketing in Small Business

Kevin Wilhelm, CEO and Co-founder of Pod Marketing, uncovers what digital marketing can achieve for a small business and the role it plays in a business model. He explains the fundamentals of digital marketing strategies and tactics and how to get the most out of your time and budget. This episode delivers practical insights and strategies that can be implemented right away.

Transcript

Jaimee Turner: Welcome to The Small Business Mastermind Podcast presented by Olympia Benefits, Incorporated. I am your host Jaimee Turner and this month's episode is called The Role of Digital Marketing in Small Business. Marketing is sometimes a blanket term that is often misunderstood. People may see one aspect of marketing like advertising or social media and think this is the full scope of the business function. Many roles and tactics are used to deliver the marketing function of the business. Here with me today to talk about digital marketing is Kevin Wilhelm, who is the co-founder and president of POD Marketing Incorporated.

Jaimee: Thank you for being here today, Kevin.

Kevin Wilhelm: Thanks so much.

Jaimee: Kevin, what is the purpose of marketing.

Kevin: Great question. The purpose of marketing as I see it is to help well-run businesses illuminate themselves and showcase why somebody should choose them over the competition whether it's choosing their product, choosing their service, choosing something they've created. It's about highlighting the key benefits of how that product or service can improve the lives of their customers.

Jaimee: So it's really connecting a product or a service with the desired audience.

Kevin: Yeah. If you're going to be in business and create a product, hopefully, that product does solve a problem and it's identifying what problem that solves and what pain points exist for your customers and marketing is connecting and helping those customers realize that you have a product that can help make their life better.

Jaimee: Right, okay. When you deploy a marketing project for a client, what kind of team do you use and what are their functions?

Kevin: In marketing is a lot of different options the business owners have. They can do it themselves which is not ideal. Most business owners are not marketers. They're typically salespeople or they're great with numbers. So, when you're looking at hiring out, you can hire that one marketing coordinator or marketing manager that kind of can do a little bit of everything. You can hire a contractor that is a little bit of everything, or you can work with an agency. In our world, what we've seen work really well is the agency model which is what we've built. The reason why is that we allow different experts that are really good at one part of the business work on that part. For instance, when we're building a website, there are options like Wix or Squarespace where the business owner can actually buy it themselves. They can have the site built and launched within a weekend but it's very limited and you are basically stuck in the template of what you bought. If you hire a contractor to do the same thing, you're hoping that that one person is good at graphic design, good at copywriting, good at building the site. They may be a marketer but they may not be the best at search engine optimization. That lack of expertise across the board at the end kind of gives you a, perhaps a subpar product. In the agency world and why you got hire a team, the copywriter does nothing but write copy. So, their expertise lies in researching and writing really well-written words that either help sell, educate, convince and then it gets handed over to a graphic designer. And their job is they spend all day long just designing and understanding the technology and what's modern and what's working and what's not working. They spend their day designing a website that should illuminate your brand, make you favorable and help convince somebody that your brand is positive more than someone else. The website builder-- and you think about the website technology that exists today, we used to just build a site for a desktop screen. And now with so many different screen sizes, they're really building fifteen websites in one. When we look at how our web developers build a site, they'll build it for either mobile first, it's how we do it. But if you think about a desktop, when you go to a smaller screen, the website has to be re-sized. So they have to rebuild the site for that. Then they make it smaller for a tablet, it has to be resized. In a phone and resize. So really, web developers are building multiple sites within one. And then, you have the next person that comes in is in charge of search engine optimization or SEO and their job is to make sure when this site launches it actually is launching well-ranked in search engine result pages. And that takes certain expertise as well. Having four, five, six different people work on a website alone actually gives you the best chance of success versus having one person that knows a little about all of it.

Jaimee: Right, yeah. And that's still valuable when you're putting your hard-earned money behind that because I know a lot of times people are scared to go to an agency because they think it's going to cost them a lot of money but in the long run, if they have their infrastructure set up correctly, it's going to save them in the long haul.

Kevin: Yeah. 82% of consumers right now are consulting online websites before they make an offline purchase. So if you have a business that sells a physical item in a brick and mortar store, 82% of the transactions actually started somewhere online. That could have been somebody looking at driving directions, hours of operations, reviews or actually learning about you or the product itself. So when I look at it as a website or marketing, it should not be the roadblock or the speed bump in the purchase path. It actually needs to be the accelerant. You can always look to see how can I save some money in marketing but what ends up happening is a lot of times it throttles your ability to reach more people. When business owners look back at 2018, 2017, they see a bad economy but what they may not have seen is Google's algorithm's changed but their website and their technology hasn't adapted. So, where they used to rank number three or four online they no longer do or their sites used to attract a lot of people and now they no longer do. One key stat from Google is, if your site takes longer than five seconds to load, you actually lose a lot of people that come to your site. And over 60%, about 60% of all web traffic is happening on phones right now, so, as more and more people adapt to mobile technology and the use of that to find your business, if your site loads in 8 seconds, 9 seconds, 10 seconds, you're actually losing a lot of people that otherwise would have chosen you. They're now just hitting back, they're not waiting for the site to load and they're going to someone else that can help service them better if their website loads faster.

Jaimee: How can you tell if your site is not loading fast enough.

Kevin: All right. There's a tool. If you write this down, it is testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com. It's a tool that Google has created, you put your URL in, it takes about a minute for it to analyze. It's going to analyze how fast your site loads on a standard 3G network. Not the fastest network but it is-- what they want to show you count with the majority of people. And it is a North America-wide tool. Is doing and then it will come back with how long it takes your site to load and a free report on what is holding your site back from getting better.

Jaimee: Oh amazing.

Kevin: Yeah it is. It's great.

Jaimee: So that's something anyone can do really.

Kevin: Yeah, and it should also index you against or compare you against industry benchmarks within your own industry so it will identify what industry you're in and then it'll show you where your main industry benchmarks lie.

Jaimee: Okay. Let's talk a little bit about SEO.

Kevin: Sure.

Jaimee: Can you give just a high-level definition of what search engine optimization is, why it's important, how do we use it?

Kevin: Sure. The act of search engine optimization is having your site ranked high when somebody is searching for your product services or brands on a search engine like Google, Bing. Most business owners have been pitched SEO, very few actually know what it is. I have an analogy that I can use if that helps.

Jaimee: Sure, yes.

Kevin: Everyone has bought a book, chapters if you go into chapters or in to go when you buy a book. I want everybody in this podcast to think that right now they're a author and they are writing a non-fiction, it's a business book. You've written it, you handed it chapters and you say, "Here's my book." And the store manager, the person in-charge of putting it in the shelves looks at it and it has your name and face on it but nothing else about what the book's about. They don't know where to put that book. So what they do is end up putting it in the biography section. Now think about just in your circle, how many people know who you are and are actively out looking to buy your book because of the name on the cover. Not a lot. But a lot of people are looking for the type of content that you know and the experiences you have and the things you want to share. The first thing we think about is how do we get that book to be shelved in the right part of the bookstore? Google's the same way. They're looking at your website which is in this analogy, the book. They're saying this book is all about who you are. Not about what you do, where you do it. So the first part of SEO is adapting your site, we call it onsite changes, onsite factors, and we write it for what your industry is in the city or region that you provide it. So if you're a dentist in Calgary or an auto-mechanic in Windsor, Ontario, you have to tell Google what you do or where you do it. And there's different factors online. So there's things like page titles, meta descriptions, even indexing your images properly. A lot of different things that happen on the site. That's the first part. So now, chapters, or Google, in this case, they have your book and they've put it on the right side of it. So for me, It'd be marketing knowledge, marketing expertise in that section of the business. Now, why are some books spine out and why are some books face out? If you think to a bookstore, why would they turn some books facing out and leaves some spine in? It always goes back to if chapters thinks that you're there to buy that book, they want to make the user experience very easy. They want to make the customer experience easy so they're going to turn that book, phase it out, so when you go to that section you'd go, "Oh, that's what I'm looking for". You can buy it easily. When it's spine out, it's a lot harder to find it. So that's the same thing as being shown in the second, third, fourth page on Google. If Google thinks that your website is providing the best experience for their customers, which is the general public, they're going to show you higher up on the page. So the way to do that is to get people to talk about you. So in the book world, why would somebody buy your book? It's because you're on Oprah's book club, they made a movie about you, there's podcasts being done, there are interviews being done. It's the same in the online world. Why would somebody choose your website? It's because people are talking about it. I'm sure you've heard for years, "Why do you create content? Why do you blog? Why did you do social media?" A lot of it is creating great content that people share. And when Google sees all these great content and people are talking about it and linking to it and referencing it, they say that website knows what they're talking about. They're an online authority. The more people talk about you, the more relevant you are, the higher they're going to put you up in the rankings. So that's really how SEO works. From an agency perspective, what are you paying for? The first thing should always be a roadmap of what needs to change on your site. What's the site speed? What's the navigability of this site? What's the technology you're using it? Is that adapted for search engines best practices right now and their algorithms? That's the first section. This next thing is about content creation and getting it actually put out, so, online relationships, writing good content, getting it shared on social media, getting people to link to it, talking about it. So, good SEO companies have a plan in creating that content and actually getting it out there and sharing it with the world.

Jaimee: There are a couple of different tactics on how you can get the word out. What are your thoughts on inbound marketing?

Kevin: Inbound's really good. It's interesting because I guess there's a little bit of confusion as to what exactly inbound is. For me, inbound is thinking of a problem that you can solve, having somebody search for that problem, putting great content that solves that issue and then having some sort of lead capture. And that's the important thing. There's content marketing, which is similar, like what we're doing right now, creating a blog or a podcast, having it open-sourced, anyone can listen to it. Inbound is, there's a gateway in between. And in order for you to listen to it, you have to give up an email address or you have to download something. You have to give up some sort of personal information in exchange for that information. Inbound can work really well as long as the content is on point, it's solving a problem, it's desirable, people are out looking for it, they're searching for what you have the solution for and then you have a really good system in to actually get the information like you're trying to get somebody's name or email address and then you have a good lead processing system as well. What am I sending that person after they read my ebook? What am I sending them a week later? What am I sending three weeks later? How am I going to follow up and nurture this lead into a prospect into a customer? Inbounds are a lot more than just writing good content, it's also about what do you do after someone's read it.

Jaimee: It's very much about the customer-buyer journey.

Kevin: It is, yeah.

Jaimee: Let's talk about that because a lot of people are probably listening and saying what is the customer's buying journey?

Kevin: Yeah. As technology changes and as human behavior changes, our path to purchase has changed drastically. I kind of mentioned 82% of people are going online and are doing some sort of research first.

Jaimee: Absolutely.

Kevin: We just like Christmas, a lot of shopping and a lot of gifts are bought on Amazon, but that doesn't mean that's where the journey started. So for me, a lot of things that I bought for people this holiday season started on Instagram. And I'm just on Instagram and somebody had really good targeting options. And they thought they had a product that could solve something in my life. So as I'm on Instagram, I'll see a product, I'll learn about it. And I'll either favorite it, share it, I'll do something with it. Now I'm going to go back and do more research whether it's going to their website, going to Amazon, looking at online reviews and seeing what's other people's opinions of this product before I buy it. I'm also going to look at local retailers. Does somebody sell this here, so that I can actually go and touch and feel it and ask questions about it? So the way that we are shopping is completely different and I believe that there are a lot of different touch points along the way. And real marketing in today's world accounts for all the possible interactions that your brand or product can have on a consumer, from the first second they hear about you to months after they've purchased the product, are you still fulfilling a need? Did they have friends that this product could also help? So marketing really isn't just about the sale anymore. It's about creating a relationship with that consumer from really the foundation before they've even heard of you to years after they've used you. True marketing is thinking about that from a long-term perspective.

Jaimee: That makes me think of article I recently read about Amazon and how they actually are going to start sending people samples of things that they want to buy before they know that they want to buy it. What are your thoughts on that?

Kevin: Yeah. It's kind of a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning which is a big trending topic that's happening right now and it's about predictive, like the whole Steve Jobs, we have to show them what they want. And Henry Ford, if you ask somebody what they wanted, they would have told you faster horses. So, where companies are creating that relationship is identifying the need, and you may not know this product even exists, but we know as humans that the problem exist. So what they're basically saying is, if you liked this product, all these algorithms they're showing you, probably going to like this one and if we can send it to you that's above and beyond. And you've exceeded costumer expectations and if we can exceed costumer expectation at any turn, that's where we win activist and true loyalty which is so hard to come by right now. So if you can exceed that, just that basic expectation of what people have, that's where we can win long term.

Jaimee: I'm sure that will freak many people out.

Kevin: Yeah.

Jaimee: [laughs]

Kevin: It probably does. For me, it's what I appreciate the most. I love targeted advertising. For me, I like being involved in the ads that I get to see. So for me, it's more convenient for me to see that than any kind of freak out.

Jaimee: Well, it's better to see ads that are relevant to what you will use and what will actually add value to your life as opposed to ads that are irrelevant.

Kevin: Absolutely.

Jaimee: So on that topic, what are some digital marketing trends that you are seeing that you foresee will be highly utilized in 2019?

Kevin: Yeah, and I want to frame this for the audience which is the small business owners like what is actually available to them? What's going to make the biggest impact? So what I'd really say is and what I eluded to earlier, let's go back to basics in terms of website. And one of the biggest trends right now is the shift from desktop to mobile and it hasn't gone anywhere, it's exponentially increasing. And so being able to really capture your mobile audience is going to be crucial. And think about your customer when they're on a phone versus when they are on a desktop, it's a different person. And what I mean by that is they're at a different stage on the buying cycle. And so the content they're looking to see, the problems you're looking to solve, all that is different. So, the first thing I would say is really to look at the experience that you are giving on a website basis. What does your website say about you? Are you staying on top of the chatter that's happening online about your company? Are you actively involved in those conversations? Are you replying to reviews? Are you thanking people that leave positive ones and responding to ones that are negative? That's kind of basic stuff that's been around awhile, but it's so important right now. And then in the advertising side of it, Instagram continually gains traction. There's huge opportunities with Instagram. It is owned by Facebook so you get all the great targeting options that Facebook allows but it's on a platform that's very aspirational. It's a great way to showcase products. It's a great way to showcase your people which are two things that people care about on social media. Google search ads are always, they've been around a long time. They continually are one of the biggest must haves in marketing today. And social media absolutely, if you're committed and have the right team and the right philosophy and the strategy, social media can be an absolute great benefit for your business. If you aren't committed, it's somewhere that I would say you either need to be or you just step right out and focus your energy on something else.

Jaimee: Right. I've heard other experts say that too that if you're not doing social media or if you're not doing it well, to not have that platform. So, don't just have the Twitter account just to have a Twitter account. Use it and utilize it well and make sure that you're getting engagement. Otherwise, don't do it. Otherwise that hurts your reputation right?

Kevin: Yeah because it's kind of like having a second store but nobody works there. We'd have a sign on the door but there's no inventory. There's nothing going on. The recommendation is, if you only have time for one, do one really really well. I think the other big thing happening right now is video content. YouTube is the second most popular search engine. It is what Canadians spend a ton of time on. And the advertising options on Youtube, nobody actually knows about it, but it works so well. And the reason being is, you think about TV like TV ads historically cost the most. And one of the reasons isn't just reach. It costs more per impression like per thousand people you reach because you actually get to assimilate two senses, you get audio and visual. Technically, it's worth two to get to make two brand impressions. However, as YouTube becomes more prevalent and popular, one of the reasons being is that a TV is about fifteen feet away from you. And as soon as it goes on commercial, a lot of people say "We skip ads" maybe two years ago. Now, we actually go on our phones and as a social media check-in. We're all suffering from the second screen syndrome. And when you're on YouTube, the screen is six to eight inches away from your face. And you're holding your most prized possession in the world and there's an intimacy factor there that advertisers would just kill to be able to get. And because it's a five-second ad that you can't skip yet, they don't really have an option. And a thirty-second ad, I can probably get to the kitchen and grab some chips or snack and get back. With five seconds, most people are going to give you those five seconds. What advertisers don't know and business owners don't know is that the YouTube ads don't cost anything unless somebody watches longer than ten seconds. So the five seconds, if someone skips that ad, it actually costs you as an advertiser nothing. YouTube has said, "It hasn't made a big enough impression on you that we can't justify charging you." It has to be at least ten seconds but the targeting options are still there so you can target ten kilometers around your business. You can target 45-year-old plus or 18-25-year-old males and you get to determine how much of you is worth. So, when someone does watch it, what does that actually worth to your business which TV never let you do. Really, no advertising medium can so that would be the other big form of marketing that I would look at in 2019 as video content because when you get videos made, typically, the life span, you'll get ROI on that video for years. And the advertising is so effective and so pinpoint that you will see the return almost immediately.

Jaimee: Okay. Talking about results, what kind of results are you looking for? Like when you take on projects for clients, what results do you drive to? How do you measure your success?

Kevin: I think we're a little different only because there's no straight answer on that one. What I do is, I like to sit with a client and figure out what is their ROI they're looking for. Every business is different and within the same industries, there's a lot of differences. If we think at-- let's take a furnace company as an example. Just thinking about a furnace company, they have different margins on selling a new furnace versus fixing an existing furnace versus going and cleaning a furnace. Those are totally different product segments. When we're blanketing ROI, it doesn't make sense we actually have to understand their business and their different avenues and say, "How much am I willing to acquire a new customer when I sell a furnace when the margins are much higher, that the average invoice and ticket's much higher versus a duct cleaning. Is it just a lost leader for us or do I still have to make the same return on investment?" So, we look at all of that. We look at competition. We look at how long you've been in business in a life cycle. As a new business, a lot of people are just looking to survive. They're looking to get through the next 12 months or the next 18 months or two years and then you have existing businesses that are in kind of in the growth phase and they want to double their business in the next 12 months or they want to grow by 25%. And then you have kind of mature businesses that in some Industries are again looking to survive are looking to grow 5% or 10%. So, the first thing we do is we sit down and get to understand their business and objectives. We will go "What does the next three years look like? Where do you want to be in three years? And now let's backtrack that and what's the one your picture? So, in one year what have we accomplished? What does success look like?" And then we build a marketing plan around that one year and then we break it into quarterly segments. And we say, "Okay, what do we have to do in the next three months in order to hit that goal?" And in the quarterly segment, and now we bring it down into weekly deliverables. "So, what do we have to do between now and Friday? And then next Monday to Friday? And three weeks from now? And four weeks from now?" That all contributes and leads to overall success that leads to three years from now. So, it's great to kind of talk impressions or conversions and clicks. And those are all digital marketing jargon but marketing is a facet of a business that helps drive growth and sustainability. So, we have to know what growth success and sustainability looks like and then work all the way back to, "What's the ad need to actually say? How many people need to see it? How many people have click on it? How many people are from that are going to take the next step and call you or walk in and actually buy something? And then let's build a plan around all of that." So, that's why this on a blanket statement. It really comes down to if you're selling pizza, you need to sell a lot of pizzas. If you’re selling engineering contracts, you don't need that many to make a big impact on your business. So, the approach is similar, but the actual plan is totally different for everybody.

Jaimee: I haven't heard many people actually articulate the value of a marketing strategy like that. And that's unfortunate.

[laughter]

Jaimee: I think that that's so powerful because when you think of the marketing function you're not putting all of this effort in to drive to ambiguous results or just to engagement. It really should always narrow down to a deliverable and that's really-- when I first heard you speak at the Small Business Expo here in Calgary that was my primary take away. You were always talking about driving to results. And so, whatever that is for a business, if it's growth, if it's exposure, if it's building a reputation or repairing a reputation, or if it's building a client base, really those objectives need to be very clear before you start your entire marketing plan, right?

Kevin: Yeah, and they change quarter to quarter. I mean, like when I started out as a business myself, our goal was to get one client. That was it. How do I put one client in our portfolio? And now we're looking at what city should we be in? What new industries and vertical should we be in? What's the next in product development and are there any acquisitions and should we be looking at technology and software to help? So it's totally different strategies five years in than it was day one. And really understanding where you are in the business and understanding where marketing fits in as one of those kind of core five or six facets of the business is important and it all has to work together because marketing and sales really provides the gas in the vehicle, right? So, knowing where you want to go is really important.

Jaimee: So, that actually takes me to my next question which is, what are the fundamental marketing practices and principles that you have used to build your business?

Kevin: Okay, so and you want this just for me?

Jaimee: Yeah.

Kevin: When we started out, I've always been in sales and I wanted to have something different. I always feel like the way to win in sales is to have a different story than everyone else. So, if you're selling the exact same product you've now commoditize yourself and now you're selling a price of convenience and nobody wants to say they bought my products because they paid the least for it. So instead, it's positioning and saying they bought my product because it worked the best for them. So, in order to work the best, it was about product positioning for us. So, when we started the business and the agency, I went and actually interviewed business owners, and I said "Tell me all the pain points you have as a client dealing with agencies, dealing with contractors, and what are those pain points that you have?" I wrote them down and and I still remember them. It was, as a business owner I don't have time to do marketing. I have time to run my business, but I don't have time to think about everything that's happening in marketing. I have to come up with all the ideas. I'm typically working with four to five vendors. So, someone for my social media, someone for websites, someone for my AdWords and then I'm quarterbacking it between four or five people. If it doesn't work, then there's a lot of blame game. "It's not my fault. It's the website was to slow. The ads weren't very good. The SEO didn't work," and nobody had accountability. Another thing was that every time you met with your marketing professional was always a sales pitch about why you should spend more. So, if you need more customers, you need to spend more money, and that was always the thing. Every time I sat down, and I was on the client-side. Beforehand, every time I sat down and said, how do I get busier? The answer is always give me more money, and I'll get you busier. So, when we created our marketing strategy, it really came down to having a really good product. And the way that we approached it was we wanted everything in-house. We wanted to offer every service that you needed as a small business under one roof. I wanted that team to all be in the same room so that when an issue came up everybody that could influence change was there to have a single conversation. Then we bring the business owner in and collaborate with it, and we want to understand your business so that we're solving real problems. We're not just putting an ad out more times every day.

We actually want to know what problem can we solve for you. And then we did flat base pricing. So, we came up with retainer based, and it was similar to the cost of like an employee. So, if you're a business that would hire at like a marketing coordinator, marketing manager, our proposition to you is instead of hiring one person that is still going to have to hire a website developer, you're still going to have to hire this, but they're going to kind of coordinate this all. From our standpoint, we will bring a strategist in and they come with the team. So, they're going to execute in all the ideas that they have and you're going to hold us accountable to financial metrics. So, I want to be told how much impact you need to make in order to keep our contractor, keep the relationship going and then, give us a little bit of autonomy to influence change where we can. So, change the website as we need to and change some of the brand strategy, and change some of the product positioning in the competitive targeting, and by doing that we alleviated a lot of headaches from business owners, we allowed them to-- we were on the same side because our rate never increased. It was always on a retainer base.

So, when we say spend more money on ads or on radio or on TV, we weren't incentivized by that. So they started trusting the recommendations because we weren't benefiting in any way whatsoever. So, kind of our marketing strategy at the beginning was to create a product that was different. It was not being done at all. As far as we can see and then execute better than anyone else really can from that and that's how we built from the first year, two years in business. Now we have a trade show strategy. Now we specialize in certain industry niches, and we go where they go. So, they have big conferences in Las Vegas, or Chicago, or Orlando. We will go there, and we'll be part of that. I do speaking and we do continuing education classes for that industry. We write in their magazines. We offer free blogs, and things like that. So, we're out promoting expertise and we believe education is our best ability to influence our business development, because, like you kind of said earlier, nobody understands marketing. So, we can pull back the curtain and help educate then we believe it in our world that that will give people the confidence to try and actually invest in marketing and see that it works because I know it does work. I see it everyday, but it needs the right strategy. It needs the right financial commitment. It needs the right patience, it needs kind of all that whole mix, but it does absolutely work

Jaimee: It also needs the right team. So, you have talked about the strategy, you've talked about some of the tools and tactics that are fundamental to a marketing project. And earlier, you also alluded to something very important, which was the people who are working on this so when you talked about your inventory of business owner’s pain points when it came to marketing, one of those pain points was indeed that they were working with multiple contractors who didn't necessarily communicate well with each other which produces major inefficiencies. And I think when you're in the communications field, you really understand the impact that miscommunication has on a project or on a business in general. And so, I think it's remarkable that you've created this team and you've really built and cultivated a team to function well, efficiently and collaboratively. So, can you talk about the role that your people play in delivering a quality service to your customers?

Kevin: Well, so I actually have a position in our company and about two and a half years ago, I knew I had to, in order for us to grow I had to delegate, delegate and elevate and delegate. So, I hired a Vice President of Product and People. And, the reason we have that title is that I truly believe that our product is our people and when you're hiring a marketing agency versus a marketing product, you're hiring people's expertise, experience, thought process, problem solving skills, and ability just to fight through the obstacles that are stopping whatever marketing challenge you have. So, I am a huge huge believer in fostering professional development and hiring the right people. I think it starts with the hiring philosophy that we've taken on and we will never hire somebody who considers the job to be a lateral move or a step down ever. We will never hire somebody that is looking at it like it's a demotion or anything. We want to bring on people, and we always find people that feel like they're being held back in their current role. They know there's opportunity, they know that they can contribute more than they are and they just need to be given a chance. So, when we hire that, that's really what we look for and those are the questions that we ask, is the resume should show can you do the job? The interview is about identifying do they want the job? Is this an opportunity that they believe will change their life and what's their why? Why do they want to be in marketing and why do they want to work for our company? And we're looking for the motivation of changing somebody's life which is changing some of the business owner because if you can help that business grow, you can help put more food on their table, make their life easier. You can help their employees make more money. You can just have bigger impacts. So, that's really what we're looking for. And then when we bring those right people in, now it's about making sure that they have the opportunity to grow the right way. And what I mean by that is we are very fortunate that we get to work with the employee culture we have of millennials and I hear a lot of griping about managing millennials and I've done talks on that and I've read a lot. I'm kind of on the opposite side of the fence where I feel incredibly fortunate that we have the ability to work with an age group that is incredibly fast thinking, they connect. It's like a marketer's dream because every marketer wants to connect their product with people and for the majority of the generation of millennials want to connect with the world and they want to make a change, they want to make impact and so they're not necessarily working for themselves. They're working for kind of a greater cause and one of the key things that I have found to successfully manage our team is by clearly outlining what is expected of them where they can go in the future, where they can take that role and then giving them the freedom to make the role whatever they see it needs to be. And so in our account manager, a perfect example, our account manager the kind of the day-to-day description is they're in charge of the client experience. They're in charge of delivering projects on time, error-free in a pleasant way with our clients and that's their job and our team that came to us and we've assembled relatively new, they haven't had a lot of experience in the in the agency world, but they found ways to create checklist and processes and by interviewing our clients and finding out what works and what doesn't work, they have made the job so much better than I ever could have because they live and breathe it. We give them the opportunity to have a voice and then we implement their solutions and we see the company just get better, and not even incrementally just like leaps and bounds overnight better when we let people have voice and let their ideas come through. From a creative side, it is almost law that everybody has an opinion and has a voice because I believe in just being a business owner, I believe that I have a lot of good ideas. But, one of those ideas is that I don't have all the ideas and I'm definitely not the best person to come up with every creative campaign and every idea. And so, when we do creative brainstorming sessions, it's an open room. Anybody can come in to it. They can take half an hour, an hour. We invite clients in and we brainstorm and we write all over the walls and any idea we throw up there and we see what's going to work and why is it not going to work in and then we test each other and we challenge each other and and at the end of the day, we just get to the best ideas what's actually going to win. It's funny when you come out of an hour-long strategy session, you're kind of just mentally drained but you look up at the idea, you go that molded from 13 people's opinions of sometimes it gets heated and are some really good discussions, but what came out of that is so much better than if one person was sitting on a laptop trying to come up with something themselves. So, and our tagline is The Science of Marketing, which we take seriously, but it's the power of collaboration and it's collaborating with each other and collaborating with our clients and their clients to make sure that we deliver the best experience.

Jaimee: That's fantastic. And I think that's really the key component to delivering a next level product. You have to think it through on all facets and the more brains and the more collaboration and the more conflict and the more room for discussion is so important and I think that's really quite an accomplishment actually to create a safe work environment where it's healthy and it's encouraged for people to really express all kinds of views about a product or a service. You know, like I think that's so important. So good on you Kevin.

Kevin: Yes, thank you.

Jaimee: So, for the business owners who are tuning in right now, how can they improve their current marketing plans for their business?

Kevin: So, I think it comes down to strategy and tactics. So, let's first talk about strategy. One of the exercises that I like to run through with clients is I ask them, "What are you doing today and tomorrow to make your customers drive by five other businesses to choose you?" So you may be a service company and the analogy isn't applicable but what I mean by that is consumers have a choice and "What are you doing actively every single day to invest in your product and your people and your processes to remove yourself from being a commodity and to a real brand?" And it takes thought, it takes consideration and it takes a lot of hard work to sit and always re-evaluate and saying "What are we doing to actively stay ahead of the curve, actively ahead of our competitors and actively--" I keep saying it's a lot but solving problems. "So, what are you doing to make your customers drive by five others and choose you?" And that's a great exercise to do with your staff, go into your competitors and call them and see what products they're offering. And interview your customers. And while you're seeing them, post surveys and just listen to them and try to identify how you can mold your business into really the next kind of generation of where you're going to take your company and maybe that great industry disruptor is sitting there just waiting for you. The next thing is tactics. I love digital marketing. We have a digital marketing agency. So obviously I really believe in this but as far as advertising goes, I feel like digital is the way to go and the reason being is that in small businesses, we only have a finite marketing budget. We only have so much money, but we want to change our world. We want to bring in so many more customers and spend less to get them. So, where's your best bet? And I find that digital marketing allows you to target your exact demographic and that could be geographically, "Hey that community has the right income level and the right family makeup and the right shopping habits." It could be online, it's the same thing and you're targeting all of these great things we know about people. Targeting people that are engaged or if they have kids or they're highly educated or do they have habits where they like to travel. They're foodies and they like going out and eating at different restaurants. So, you can create that customer and a target customer persona and input it online and say I only want to spend my money reaching these people. And then you get to dictate how much money you spend every day. So maybe it's $10 a day or you know, $100 a day or whatever that is and then you can say "I'm only going to spend this much money when someone does what I need them to do." So, it's a click or a conversion or an impression. You get to determine what those actions are worth, so your money is spent so narrowly focused that it's hard for it to be ineffective. It really is hard to be ineffective. And so when I look at the targeting options at Facebook and Instagram have in YouTube and Google, all these platforms that the reason they're so valuable is they hold all of our consumer data. And the reason marketing is so exciting for me right now is that we can target the right people with the right message at the right time and only pay when they actually take the action we want them to do, so that's why I think advertising online is the way to go. I think videos moving forward are absolutely necessary. The ROI extends well beyond 30 days it could be years. Before we started today, you referenced some of the videos that I've created a long time ago, and we still have our intro video that we did, it's an animated explainer video, explains our whole process in 90 seconds. I had that done like a year into the business. It's been watched thousands of times and every time I have a client who's considering hiring us, they have done their homework and watched it. So, that one video profile has helped position our product and our company to a lot of people and it will continually help us for years. And so, I think creating great video content, being engaged in social media where on the platforms that matter to you and where your customers are matters. And then I just think investing in actual digital advertising, so many people are afraid to do it. Make sure that you have conversion tracking setup. Make sure that you would know how many customers you actually get out of the advertising you're doing so that you can feel more confident investing more money and watching your business exponentially grow. So, it's a long-winded answer but there's a lot to kind of redefining the marketing strategy and making sure that it's strong.

Jaimee: Well Kevin, thank you so much for being here with us today. Do you have any thoughts that you'd like to share with our listeners today in conclusion?

Kevin: Absolutely. So, number one is always think about your consumers. Continue to just almost be obsessed with thinking about how are you helping them today, and how do you need to help them tomorrow? What opportunities do you have to just make their lives and improve their lives tomorrow? And the people that are going to the people that do that the best way or the ones that are going to win tomorrow and that's kind of beyond marketing. So, I think if you have the right product, the right strategy, you don't need a lot of marketing. A great quote that I live by is "Advertising is the business tax of being unremarkable." So, the more remarkable you can be the less you have to tell people about who you are. So, think about what you can do to help your customers today, tomorrow and forever. I think that absolutely is the way that business owners need to think.

Number two is think about marketing specifically like a sports car and you want to take a trip you want to go to the mountains. You won't go to the beach. It'll be really fun when you get there. So that's what success looks like. But you need to make sure you put enough gas in the car to actually get you there. So, many business owners want the beach vacation, but they only put a quarter tank of gas. And so they get a little bit and they wonder why haven't I made it the whole way? So, defining what success looks like and understanding how much money, time and the team that you need in order to get you there is crucial. And really planning for success and breaking it down into what does success look like in three years? Break that down into the next year. Break it down into the next quarter, these segments to what do I need to accomplish by Friday in order to make sure I'm on track to accomplish these things? And without planning, it rarely goes right and it's really understanding the whole 360 view of how marketing fits in your business and how it will help put the fuel in the tank to get you to that success. That's really important.

Jaimee: Well, thank you so much Kevin.

Kevin: Thank you.

Jaimee: This has been awesome.

Kevin: Yeah, it's been so much fun.

Jaimee: And your insight, I just want to keep talking to you about this. This is such a great content and I know this is going to be very helpful for those who are tuning in. So, thanks again for taking the time.

Kevin: Well, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the opportunity. Love to come back anytime.

Jaimee: To all of our listeners. Thank you so much for joining us today for this episode of the Small Business Mastermind Podcast. If you'd like to contact us, you can do so by email at podcast@olympiabenefits.com. If you'd like to learn more about POD Marketing or get in touch with Kevin Wilhelm, you can contact him through his website at podmarketing.com. Thanks again for tuning in and we hope you can join us for next month's episode.

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About The Host

Jaimee Turner is a digital marketing specialist at Olympia Benefits Inc. She is a journalistic researcher and communications strategist who brings together people and ideas. Her corporate experience focuses on mass communications, marketing, and media relations.

She hosts the Small Business Mastermind podcast.

About The Guest

Kevin Wilhelm is the Co-Founder & President of POD Marketing Inc., full service digital marketing agency headquartered in Calgary, Alberta.