In the first episode of our I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Meghan Trapp sits down with Digital Strategy Director Aaron Mackel and Creative Director Max Riffner to discuss why digital marketing matters for businesses, common misconceptions we’ve heard from clients, and more.
With new clients, what are some of the misconceptions that you hear or some of the things that make you cringe?
Mackel: One thing for sure is a misconception about timelines for results and really wanting to label that, especially depending on what type of project we’re talking about. SEO is a great example of that. If you’re thinking you’re going to get results within weeks or even within a couple of months, you’re already kind of expecting a little too much.
Riffner: Most people don’t realize how long some of this stuff takes. I’ve been doing this for 24 years professionally, and people still ask me to just Photoshop something. Photoshop is great in that it takes a lot of those physical tools and distills them down into a software version, but you have to know what those tools do, and I feel like it’s gotten worse in the last five or six years with the app economy. Apps allow people to be sort of good at design, but not really understand why something is working or how. The democratization of tools, which in essence is a good thing, has led to a lot of misconceptions about how easy or difficult something is to create.
When should a business move away from DIY tools to a professional service?
Mackel: Some of them make people think lightning can strike. A lot of people think they can set up a Shopify store, use drop shipping solutions, and start running Facebook ads, and all of the sudden they’re making millions. Sometimes, lightning strikes like that, but I think it’s important to think about it as this long-term play. Those are the rare instances, and what we want to get across is that you need to be thinking about digital marketing as a daily, ongoing thing where you’re building your brand and presence. Digital marketing is real marketing. It’s not the tools or the tactics that make it great. The tools are great, and they all have their place, but it has to be backed by real strategies and processes and be a long-term effort.
What are some of the things we’ve seen or things clients should be wary of when they’re going through that process?
Mackel: This one’s very common, but if anyone is promising positions on Google results or anything like that, that’s an instant red flag, and you need to run the other way. No one controls the way Google displays results. They’re changing on an ongoing basis. But a good strategy will make you visible in many different ways. It’s never going to be a guarantee that it’s Position One.
Riffner: From a creative standpoint, what I’ve run into is a client saying “We had a logo designed by somebody on Fiverr,” and that raises a lot of red flags. Not that everybody on Fiverr is bad, but there are a lot of scam artists who steal others’ artwork. I wouldn’t use Fiverr for that in the first place, but if you had, I would definitely ask to see that person’s work and their process and how that was developed over time. That’s always a little scary because that ties into their brand, trademark, and copyright. It’s a potentially very expensive fix. You pay for what you get. If you’re not willing to spend the money, you’re maybe going to get garbage.
What other advice do you have for small businesses when it comes to building a digital marketing strategy?
Mackel: Really look at your digital marketing plan comprehensively and long term. Anyone you’re working with, expect them to really get to know you and your business and work with you to build a strategy around that. Anyone who’s being really pushy around a certain tactic or really speaking up to something like that and how it can help you grow by significant percentages without actually doing the research to understand you and your industry and how you need to go about achieving those things, it’s kind of that red flag. It has to be a long-term, comprehensive plan that’s built out specifically for you. Plan on it being something you’re investing in regularly. It’s definitely not a set-it-and-forget-it type of area. If you’re not updating and monitoring and optimizing on a regular basis, someone else is and will surpass you, and that initial investment will stop working for you over time.
Riffner: I would ask to see any potential partner’s process. If they’re pushy on one particular aspect or they’re vague on how they’re going to accomplish any of these things that they’re promising, I’d be a little concerned. That’s always a red flag for me, and that’s what we hear from people that have been burned by other agencies that are less reputable. Unfortunately with digital marketing, it’s often easy to fake it. I’d ask to see processes, be wary of pushy people, and maybe even take a look at case studies or recommendations from their client list. That should be available.