Beyond The Buzz

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

– Ray Bradbury

Bigger: Is it always better?

Published April 20th, 2011 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Bigger: Is it always better?

As part of our continuing series on burned out clients, (previously we’ve discussed social media marketing and reputations) today we’d like to talk about bigger and better. In most things, bigger is better and usually when you pay a lot more, you’re going to get better quality.

This isn’t always the case in marketing though. Not too long ago I was working on a film project as a producer. Producers do a variety of things on film projects, one of those being to figure out if money is being spent effectively. As we began looking at website design and marketing, one of my partners knew the perfect company to get us exactly what we needed for the project. I wanted to at least get competing offers from my own partner, JV Media Design even though everyone seemed already sold on our partner’s decision.

When the proposals came in, we were all surprised at the difference between the two. The other company’s proposal was five times that of JV Media’s. Being the only person in the group who understood marketing speak, I looked over the proposals very carefully to see what each company was offering. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that JV Media was offering almost double the work for less price. Obviously, this made the decision easy…right?

 Not necessarily. The other partner insisted that because JV Media’s numbers came in so low, there was no possible way that the work could be of a high caliber. The quality must be lower because they were charging a lesser price.

 This surprised me. I understand bigger is better and I get that usually when you pay a larger amount, the item you purchase is going to be of a higher quality, but this isn’t always the case when considering service based companies.

The other company was based in a huge metro area. They were offering us a rate commensurate with their location. But a website is universal. The same website will be seen in Kentucky, Oklahoma, LA and NY. So that doesn’t matter. 

What does matter is the marketing company’s operating expenses. A company based out of New York City has a massive overhead when compared to a company based out of a small office in Oregon. The quality of the work could be exactly the same or even better from the smaller office. The larger company needs to cover their massive operating expenses and they share that cost with you. 

When considering a web design company, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Get competing proposals from a variety of locations. Web design does not necessarily have to be completed by someone in your local area. The internet has provided numerous ways for instant communication. (Skype, email, teleconference and document sharing to mention a few.) With these at your disposal, there isn’t always a need for a face to face meeting.
  • Look at what they’re offering. Is it just a template that they’ll plug your design into or are they going to create completely new website designs for you? Will there be ongoing support after the website goes live? What sort of updating do they offer?
  • See what they’ve done for previous clients. Do you like their work? And even if you do, will their work match your company’s business?
  • Get references from previous clients. Find out what they were like to work with. Even if their design is fantastic, their customer service may not be.

When it comes to marketing, PR or web design, be a wise shopper. If you wouldn’t go into a store and automatically go to the most expensive rack of clothing first, then don’t do the same with your web designer. Check the quality and be sure that it matches your price and budget.

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing. She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is co-owner of Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.

Good Reputation or Name Dropping?

Published April 13th, 2011 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on Good Reputation or Name Dropping?

The next step in our series on burned out clients involves company reputation. Not your company’s reputation. The marketing people you’ve hired.  (Our previous blog entry in this series covered social media marketing. Check it out here.)

A lot of companies bring in new clients based on their previous client list but this can be misleading. Just because someone has worked with a big name client doesn’t mean that they’re a more effective or better marketing company.

Recently a potential new client came to me and asked me to evaluate their marketing message. This included looking over their website, social media and pitch packages.  In looking at what they have ‘out there’ I came to a really fast conclusion. Their message lacked cohesion. The website was clean and simple, but not effective for providing the correct information. Social media didn’t ‘match’ the website and if someone were looking this company up, they could end up in several different places online, each with their own distinct message. Unfortunately, none of those messages was the one that the client wanted to convey.

When I spoke on the phone with the owner of this company, she agreed wholeheartedly with everything that I had to say.  There was an immediate connection and within minutes, we’d come up with some feasible goals both long and short term for the company. She then asked me to submit a proposal for those goals to her. The following day I did and I got an immediate reversal of interest.

Why? Well, after we had spoken on the phone, she went back and checked all of their spending on marketing in recent months and it had added up to over $30,000. When I asked what she’d received for this amount, she told me that she’d received a website and that her offices were filled with marketing materials (business cards, letter heads, custom printed folders, etc.) but she wasn’t sure what she needed to do with them or if anyone at the company would even have the time to do anything with them, let alone handle the potential responses that would come from sending out these pitch packages. I was stunned. This amount of money would fund Beyond the Buzz covering all of your marketing needs for at least six months – if not more. Yet all they received was a website that didn’t work for them and a truckload of marketing materials that they couldn’t use.

The client insisted that the reason they’d hired this company was because they’re ‘branding experts’ and they’ve branded some of the biggest name celebrities, companies and organizations in the country. They had hired the company not based on a solid reputation, but on their previous client list. There is a sense of prestige involved in being able to say that you have the same marketing company as so and so. I admit that. It’s fun to be able to share those names in certain circles. But the reality is that former clients do not create a solid reputation.

If someone begins dropping names of their former clients, the best thing you can do is ask for a reference from those clients. Don’t be dazzled by the celebrity. Follow up and be sure that they actually did a good job for those clients before you write your check.

Next time: Bigger. Is it always better?

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing. She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is co-owner of Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Published April 6th, 2011 in Marketing, Our Blog | Comments Off on “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”

Recently, I’ve had a spate of clients who have come to me after having not so pleasant experiences with other marketing companies or agencies.  The vast majority of these people have paid a fortune for products or services that didn’t benefit their company at all but they were part of a package that was sold to them by very prominent marketing companies. By the time these clients have gotten to me, they’re broke, their marketing needs a complete overhaul, and they’re gun shy.  

How can you avoid letting this happen to you?

Make sure you get what you pay for. One of my current clients was paying almost $2000 a month to a marketing company for Facebook and Twitter posts once a day that ended up being automated based on their own company blog. Do you get the significance of that? Someone in my client’s company was spending a good portion of their own time writing thought provoking business related blog posts and this marketing company just tweeted the title of the blog entry with a link back to my client’s blog. Oh and did I mention that every single tweet had the marketing company’s name in it somewhere? Seriously. That’s $2000 a month that my client was paying to have their own content tweeted by a company once a day while the marketing company was getting a shout out with each tweet. Social media marketing does not have to be an expensive venture.

  1. Check the numbers. Find out how many hours they plan to work on your social media marketing each month. Then ask how many posts/tweets that translates into and how much interaction they’ll provide with your fans/followers. Then do the math. You may find out you’re paying someone $100 an hour to make one tweet or post for you every day.  Is that worth the value to you?
  2. Ask for examples. You want to see current clients and what they’re doing for those clients. Then watch the Twitter/Facebook posts and see if they’re delivering.
  3. Find out who will provide the content. If you’re still required to provide the information, facts, etc. then you shouldn’t be paying a significant amount to someone else to package it into 140 characters or less.
  4. Watch closely.  Once you’ve hired someone to do your social media marketing, keep an eye on what they’re doing. It’s your company. Not theirs. Are they effectively sharing your message? Are they giving you everything they promised? And are your fans/followers responding to that message? If not, then you need to re-evaluate that relationship.
  5. Ask questions. Any company worth paying can answer the questions you have about social media marketing.

 

The last thing to remember is a big one. There are a lot of self proclaimed social media ‘experts’ out there. Listen, there is no school giving degrees in social media. There’s no one certifying social media specialists and there’s no list of social media experts you can trust that’s out there. Social media is something that’s recently cropped up with the advent of Facebook, Twitter and before that, Myspace. When people realized the value in these venues, they began utilizing them. As they should. This created the social media phenomenon. But it does not create social media experts.  Spending time online does not make an expert. Just because someone spends a vast amount of time on Facebook or Twitter does not mean that they are a social media expert. They need to understand your message inside and out and be able to effectively communicate that relationship to your audience. At the same time, they need to build a relationship between your company and that audience in a professional manner. Make sure that whoever you hire to carry your company message knows more than just Twitter and Facebook. Effective social media requires effective marketing and communication. Period. There are no shortcuts when it comes to your company’s message.

Next time: Good Reputation or Name Dropping?

Lori Twichell is the owner of Beyond the Buzz Marketing. She is also the Marketing Director for Christian Work at Home Moms and JV Media Design. In her spare time, Lori is co-owner of Radiant Lit and a professional book reviewer for Fiction Addict. Lori and her husband live in San Antonio, Texas with their three kids and two dogs.