Digital Marketing Questions from the Mailbag – Rich Brooks

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Digital Marketing Questions from the Mailbag

How do you market to people who don’t even realize you, your business, or your industry exist? How do you best use social buttons on your website? And how many branded domains should you be renewing each year? Answers to these questions and more on this week’s episode of the Agents of Change podcast!

Rich Brooks: Welcome to another episode of the Agents of Change podcast. You’re looking for advice on how you can reach more of your ideal customers through search, social, mobile marketing, really anything online. Then you’re in the right place, because this is the podcast that is dedicated to making your marketing more successful. My name is Rich Brooks. I’m the host of the Agents of Change podcast. This is episode 317, and as always it’s powered by flyte new media. Today we’re doing a mailbag episode where you ask me questions and I give you answers. Yes, yes, it’s true. You’re stuck with me again. I know, I just did a standalone episode not two weeks ago, but I got busy with Agents of Change, as I mentioned, and we basically got away from scheduling interviews. You know how you get busy. I mean, I was eight or 10 weeks ahead and then all of a sudden I was out of fresh episode, so here we are, but I promise you I’ve got new interviews all lined up for next week.

I’m going to be good to go for the next several months in terms of bringing you great digital marketing experts on a wide range of topics including Facebook ads and eCommerce and SEO and just a wide, wide range of great topics that you can sink your teeth into and start really building your brand and your company online. So just stick with me one more time. So by the way, I have gotten out of the habit of doing these mailbag episodes. I really like doing them. Whenever I do a presentation, my favorite part is always the Q & A, because it’s the one time that I’m positive that I’m giving the exact value that people are looking for when I’m presenting, because they’re your questions. If you do have questions, if you’re listening to this episode and you’ve already got questions or listening to this episode, makes you remember or think of some things that you’ve been challenged with when it comes to your own digital marketing, just head on over to the Agents of Change website.

Fill out the contact form, send it to me and I will add you to the mailbag. And then hopefully I can answer one of your questions on an upcoming episode here on the Agents of Change podcast. Before we get to that, I just wanted to share with you all, I’ve been running my business for 22 years. My business of flyte new media, not of the Agents of Change, that is about eight years old. And with flyte new media, we are successful. We’re in the black almost every single year. We provide good work. The employees seem to be happy. I don’t know, maybe I’m not the best person to judge that, but they seem happy when I walk down the hallways. What can I say? But I’m always looking to improve my business. I never took a business course. I didn’t go to business school.

I don’t have an MBA. So there’s a little bit of imposter syndrome that’s always going on with me when it comes to my own business. Yes, I employee a bunch of people. Yes, they seem to be happy. Yes, we do good work. Yes, we’ve been doing it for 22 plus years and yet I am still struggling with am I really adult enough to run my own business? So of the things that I’ve done over the years is one, I’ve joined a series or created a series of masterminds including one I’m in right now with other agency owners. I’ve hired different coaches and consultants over the years as well. I consume as much content as I can around the business world. I even started another podcast called Fast Forward Maine, which I think I’ve mentioned here on the show, in part so that I could interview other business leaders about what it takes to run a business.

And then this past weekend I actually took the weekend, I took Friday and Saturday off and I went to a business retreat run by this woman Michelle Neujahr, and it was very powerful. There were about a dozen of us at different stages of their business, but mostly looking to break through the million dollar mark. There’s a lot of research that shows that if you have a million dollars in revenue, a lot of your problems go away. Probably there are other problems, but the bottom line is it’s kind of a safe place to be and that’s kind of where I’ve been trying to get my business over the past few years and really looking to grow it this year. So, I sat down. I went to this weekend retreat. I invested my own money in doing this. I invested my own time and doing this. I took it very seriously. And it was really eyeopening. A lot of this stuff I’ve been, I’ve known for awhile, but it just took a while for me to kind of really focus on it.

And there was a section on working on your mission and your vision and your legacy statements. There was a part about really identifying your ideal customer, something I talk about quite a bit here on the show. And then there was also about narrowing your lane, something I struggle with. I love working with so many different types of businesses, but that’s not always in your best interest. And then a section on the financials, which I have to admit, have always been my Achilles heel. Something I’m constantly trying to do better at. Anyway, the weekend was a great success. It really helped me narrow my focus on the way that I want to take my business in 2020. Got a few members of my team really on board about this. We’re excited about the growth opportunities here, and the reason I’m sharing this is just because if you’re a business owner out there or business leader, have some voice in your company, doing these retreats, going and investing in yourself, investing in your business is so critical, I believe, to your growth.

So if you’ve not done something like this, find a mentor, find a business coach, find a mastermind, find a retreat that’s about growing the business and the way that you want to grow the business. Talk to other business owners who are a little bit ahead of you. Find out what they did, what books they read, what podcasts they listen to, and maybe what local business consultants they work with that really help them get to that next level, because once you get there, you’re going to be really happy that you did. All right, so let’s go to the mailbag. Now the first question I have is a recent email that I received that has some complimentary feedback on both the Agents of Change Conference as well as a follow up so that I did on the conference, but I feel it’s important to the integrity of the question that I include this not just because I want to say wonderful things about my own event.

Here it goes. I mentioned it to your team, but wanted to be sure that I also told you how much I appreciated the Agents of Change Conference this year. It was a great event and I came back to the office with a bunch of practical ideas, so thank you and well done by all. I also really liked your related takeaway podcast earlier this month. I was just asked some questions that I genuinely don’t know how to answer, so I’m writing in the hopes that you can shed some light. We have a list of domains that were purchased over the years as a precautionary measure. Things like mycompanyblog.org or mycompany.net. I inherited this list when I took my job and recently a few of them were up for renewal, which leads me to my questions. First, how necessary is this practice? I understand the logic behind insulating our brand name, but I haven’t heard or read about this topic in any recent or current resources.

Second, if it is worthwhile, how many variations should we keep and which ones? I appreciate the reasoning behind keeping dot net, but what about domains like dot TV or dot co. So a couple of quick notes before I answer this question, first of all, obviously this woman did not write mycompanyblog.net. She gave me the real domains, but I’m making them more general. I want to protect her anonymity. And secondly, I probably could have skipped the first paragraph where she said nice things about Agents of Change, but why would I, really? Okay, so a few things to unpack in this question. First, blog domain names. Now, there was a time when we had a domain name called flyteblog.com, and we had that because this predated WordPress or at least our use of WordPress and we were using a service that we required to have our own domain names separate from theirs.

So … And we couldn’t use our current domain name at the time. So that made sense. There was also an argument to be made back in the day that you should have a separate domain for your blog as well as other things, because you wanted to own as much of the home page real estate of Google as you possibly could. However, things have changed and Google is now looking for more authoritative sites and that usually means bundle all of your best content to one domain and really make that a great resource that people are going to want to link to. And my experiences, people are more likely to link to a blog post than a salesy page on your website, so why not put all of those things under the umbrella of your domain name rather than have a separate domain that you’re going to have to manage separately.

So, going forward, I think that I would never recommend somebody get a separate domain for their blog or even a sub domain for their blog, but rather they’d keep everything just under that one domain. Another piece of the puzzle is the whole dot org, dot net, dot TV, dot co, dot biz, dot everything question, and as there have been more of these top level domains out there, there’s a question of whether we should just continue to buy all of them. When we first got started, everybody would, who bought the dot com would also go after the dot net or the dot org, because it was basically a land grab. These days, I don’t know if I would really argue that so much, and if you can’t get the dot org or the dot net, I wouldn’t worry too much about it and I wouldn’t be going after all of these different domains. Again, I probably focus all my attention on one. Now, if you have kind of a generic brand name, you might want to get multiple ones just so somebody with a similar name can’t.

The best domain name for almost everybody is going to be the dot com, because that’s the default in everybody’s head. So that’s going to be the best one. Another question you might want to ask yourself is if you don’t reserve these other alternative domains, who else would grab them? And if you have resellers for your product, as is the case in this particular instance, would your resellers go ahead and get your dot orgs and dot nets to utilize them to maybe build their own visibility? And that may be a challenge, but then again, if they’re your resellers, maybe you want them to succeed anyways. So that’s something you might want to take a look at. But keep in mind, let’s say that Agents of Change was reselling our services or products if we had any. So, I would get the Agents of Change dot com, dot org, dot net, dot TV, all of these things to protect anybody from using my domain, either because they’re a reseller and they’re trying to build up their own trust under my brand or because maybe they hate me, right?

Maybe they’re a reseller of mine or they’re not a reseller of mine, but they just don’t like the Agents of Change, and so they want to create a website where they can build momentum and then talk about how terrible our products or services are. I can understand why you’d want to protect yourself from those sort of things, but the bottom line is people just come up with other clever names. There was a time when Verizon decided to go out and buy the Verizon sucks domain so people couldn’t use it, couldn’t buy it and use it. Once people saw that Verizon had gotten Verizonsucks.com, you know what they did? They bought Verizonreallysucks.com, because people are clever. They’re not going to be dismayed by the fact that you bought up all these other domain names. So the whole land grab thing really isn’t going to work.

In fact, I couldn’t get agentsofchange.com, so I got theagentsofchange.com. I couldn’t get flyte.com for flyte new media, so I got takeflyte.com. There’s always a variation somebody is going to be able to get. So keep that in mind. And then one of the last things that matters is what’s your budget for all this? I mean, $17 a year is not the biggest expense for buying one or two extra domains, but what if you get 10 or 15 or 20 or 30? What’s that expense going to be like year over year? And is that the best way to spend your money? For some people, $17 or even $170, if there’s 10 domains you’re protecting, that’s really a rounding error. And for other people, $170 might make a big difference in your bottom line. So again, take a look at how many of these you really want to protect and keep under your own umbrella and then make a decision that way.

The second question today is from somebody who’s a professional organizer. I’m a professional organizer and I have recently moved to an area where there don’t seem to be any other professional organizers, or people looking for the service. I struggle with how best to market my services to clients who may not even know that professional organizers exist. I believe a lot of people could benefit from professional organizing services, but may not be aware that such services are available. What are the best ways on the web to advertise a service that people are not necessarily searching for? This is a great question, because I’m sure a lot of us have services that maybe people don’t realize that they have a need. So really our biggest competition may be ignorance in the marketplace. I would say that maybe first off, more people in your area know about professional organizing then you have been led to believe.

Just because there’s not somebody in your area, doesn’t mean that they don’t really know about it. The next thing I would do is, after building a website of course is focus on my ideal customer’s pain points. I’d create content, probably blog post primarily, that address not being able to find things, or how to organize specific things, whether it’s kitchen drawers or financial papers, really depending on what my audience is looking for. And I’d really try and get a clear picture on who my ideal customer is. Is it a man or a woman? Is it residential or is it commercial? If it’s a residential, do they have small children? Do they have teenagers? Are they dealing with issues around the size of their home or maybe their garage? There’s a lot of issues and each person is probably an expert in their area.

I’d be creating content that addresses those specific questions, because let’s be honest, when we get really busy and we don’t know where to turn, we just turn to Google and we ask these questions, and if you’re creating this really specific, nichey content that is going to draw in your ideal customer, they’re going to be delivered right to your website. As time went on and I started working with people, I’d make sure that I collect testimonials to use on these pages. So we draw them in with the blog post content, but then we have testimonials that show, oh look, this is how they worked with this person and this is what the outcomes were. I certainly have the Facebook Pixel on my website to retarget people, because once people have shown that they’re interested in this and they go to your website to read one blog post, well that doesn’t mean they’re going to convert that very day.

It doesn’t even mean that they’re going to sign up for your free ebook on 10 tips to organize your life or whatever it may be, which you should obviously have and you should be collecting emails as much as possible. But for the people who don’t fill out your contact form and don’t sign up for your email newsletter, then the next step is to retarget them. And I think Facebook, especially for residential, is probably the way to go in terms of retargeting. These are people who’ve shown interest, so every single time you post a new blog post, you should be bringing them back to your website. I don’t necessarily know that I’d really be pushing for a hard sale on Facebook, at least at the beginning. It’s mostly just to get people coming back to your website and getting … Encouraging them to read another blog post, sign up for the email newsletter, fill out that contact form.

I’d also look to partner with companies that might have similar audiences to yours. Maybe there’s a home cleaning service if you’re on the residential side that doesn’t necessarily offer organization but their maids, their cleaning people are going in on a regular basis to these homes and they might have some referrals for you and maybe there’s a referral fee that you pay to these cleaning services. They don’t want to get into this type of business, but it might be lucrative for you. If it’s on the business side where you’re doing the professional organizing, then I might reach out to people who are going into small business offices in your area. These could be accountants or IT firms. And so just find out, are these the kinds of things that they’re seeing and do they feel that their clients are struggling with this? And maybe again, there could be some sort of referral fee, whether they actually give you … You pay them a referral fee for this business or maybe they would just do it because they’re trying to provide as many positive services for their clients as possible.

And also Pinterest really isn’t my area of expertise, but I would definitely be on Pinterest. I would have pin boards on the different areas that I help people organize with. I’d be connecting with other professional organizers in other parts of the country to build up my profile, and I’d probably be taking a look at some promoted pins as well just to drive some more targeted traffic to my website. I hope that helps. Whether you’re a professional organizer or whether you’re in any business, we’re just getting the information out there that you exist and that your business type exists, is part of the problem or part of the challenge that you face. Last question for the day. I want to let people who come to my website know that I’m active on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn. What’s the best way to do this on my site?

So this is an interesting question, because it’s definitely evolved over time. There was definitely a period where you wanted to promote all the social sites you are on, on your website. Let people know that you are a little bit cutting edge, because not everybody was active on these social media sites. But I would argue these days that most businesses understand the power of social and they’re promoting the fact that they are active in building audiences on these different social sites. And I do think it’s valuable to build an audience on certain social sites. Which social sites is completely up to you or really, it’s up to your ideal customer. In other words, if you really love YouTube but none of your audience uses YouTube or wouldn’t think to search for you on YouTube, that may not be the best tool for you. So a few things to keep in mind these days as there’s an expectation that your business is active somewhere on social media.

First of all, don’t put … There’s two types of social buttons that I can think of. One is the social buttons that basically just lead to your profile, and then there’s social sharing buttons. So with the social buttons that point to your profile, one thing I don’t like to see anymore, and I actively recommend against this for our website clients is not putting your social buttons at the top of your page. I know people want to show them off as some sort of social proof, but they’re not social proof. It doesn’t take anything to create a Facebook account or a Twitter account. And I certainly wouldn’t link to them up there. So, somebody comes to your website. You spent all this time, effort, possibly money, in getting them to the website. They see the Facebook link at the top of your page. They click on it. Suddenly they’re not on your website. They’re on Facebook. And no offense, but Facebook’s much more interesting than your website, almost no matter what your website is.

And now you’ve lost them. Same is true with almost every single social media website. Your use of social media should be to use social media to drive traffic to your website, not the other way around. So if you do want to let people know that you have active profiles on social media, I recommend putting them down at the bottom of your page. I’d put them in the footer of every page and I’d really focus on which social buttons you use. Only place buttons to places where you are really active, like daily posts or at least weekly posts. I guess it depends on the platform. YouTube, you don’t need to be creating a video every single day to be considered active on YouTube. Once a month might be fine, but Facebook, you probably should be posting there almost every day if not every day. If you’re not active on those sites, don’t drive traffic away from your website to those sites.

And yes, of course I’m sure you open them up in a new window, but it doesn’t matter. You’re just immediately getting people to leave your website. So think carefully about linking to any offsite resource or social media site. And if you have a link to Google plus on your site, then you’re not really carefully curating this, because Google plus is debt, right? So what other sites are you linking to? And if you are linking to them, make sure that the link that you’ve created is to your vanity page, not to facebook.com/mybusiness/4739210. Like you really want to be very specific and send them to your vanity page, to your facebook.com/agentsofchangecon or facebook.com/flytenewmedia. So really be specific around that as well. Now on the social sharing buttons, social sharing used to be a really great place to build up social proof.

You could show how many people tweeted your blog post or shared it on Facebook or LinkedIn or Pinterest or all these different places, but as you’ve probably seen, Twitter I think was one of the first ones, just stopped sharing that data. So suddenly your numbers looked a lot lower than they might’ve been, because people weren’t sharing your content on Twitter. And then other platforms also removing a lot of the social proof from those social share buttons. I’m not saying don’t keep the social share buttons on there, but I think posting a number next to those social shares is a lot less important than it was just a few years ago. And I just think people are sharing less content anyways these days. So if you’re posting something and you’re getting just a few shares or a goose egg, don’t be sharing those numbers. That makes you look bad. And there are some social sharing tools where you can set a point in the sand.

So if it’s less than 25 or 50 or a hundred chairs, it won’t show anything. And then when you get to that magic number, then it starts the counter from that point. That’s not a bad idea either, but keep in mind that if people see that you’ve got one blog post that has a bunch of shares and none of the others have any shares, they’ll probably recognize that it was that one post that was popular and not your entire blog. Again, not your job to send traffic to Facebook. They’re doing a plenty good job on their own. Your job is to use platforms like Facebook or Pinterest to drive traffic to your website. Okay, I hope that was valuable. If you have any questions that you’ve been struggling with, fire them off to me through the Agents of Change website. That’s theagentsofchange.com. You can find our contact form there very easily, and by the way, I’ll usually fire you off a response email fairly quickly, even if it takes me months or even a year or two to get around to one of these mailbag episodes.

So I’m not like storing these questions up and not answering them for months and months and months and months. So I’d love to hear from you, know what your challenges are, and who knows? Maybe you can … I can track down an expert and we’ll interview them on the show. If you like today’s episode, but you want a little transcript of the show, don’t worry about it. We got y’all covered. Head on over to the agentsofchange.com/317 for a full transcript and links to everything we talked about on today’s episode. And if you’re tired of these standalone episodes, don’t worry. I am too. It’s a lot more work on my part, although I certainly appreciate the questions that you guys have sent in. We’ve got great guests lined up for the next few weeks and into the next few months, so there’s going to be some really quality interviews with some digital marketing experts.

Cannot wait to share those with you, so if you haven’t yet, sign up for the Agents of Change, subscribe to the Agents of Change podcast. You can do that on Apple music, Spotify, Stitcher, wherever you like getting your podcasts. I continue to use, what is the name of that app that I’m using right now on … I’m bringing up my phone right now. You can see how professionally, Overcast. So on my iPhone I use Overcast. I find it to be an excellent podcasting tool. If you’re, if you don’t like Apple podcast as a tool, I’d recommend checking out Overcast. Other than that, let me know if there’s any kind of content or topics you want to talk about on the show. You’d like me to bring in specific guests, let me know that too through the contact form and other than that, have a great week. We’ll be back again in seven to share some great ideas for building your audience online and generating more leads and more sales for your business.

Show notes:

Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing