Thanksgiving 4

It’s Thanksgiving. Time to be thankful!

I don’t believe there is any greater feeling in the world than gratitude. After all, if you’re grateful and thankful for something, you can’t help but have warm feelings about it. In that vein, it’s time for my annual list of what I’m thankful for. Hopefully, you have some or all of these things in your life too…

Health: My wife is healthy (very healthy now that she’s on her healthy eating plan). I’m reasonably healthy (though I could certainly drop 20 pounds). My kids are healthy. Even my fish are healthy. It’s true that without your health you have nothing.

Business: I’m thankful for my job. I’m thankful for my clients (the big ones and the small ones). Without them, I wouldn’t have a job and no one would be able to read this incredible blog post. And I’m thankful for my co-workers, who not only put up with me, but take great care of our clients as well.

Golf: Even though my golf skills have seriously diminished of late (see last month’s blog post) I’m very thankful for this greatest of games. Golf gets me outdoors, burns calories, and gives me some much needed diversion from work and parenting. If you’re not yet a golfer, I urge you to take up the game.

Perspective: Unfortunately my wife and I have lost family members and friends in the last few years, all of them too early. Their deaths have given me a greater perspective on life. It’s short, precious, and shouldn’t be wasted worrying about things that don’t really matter. I try to remind myself of this when I lose a client or my kids have a tantrum. Easier said than done, but I’m working on it.

Tomorrow: If you’re healthy, there is always tomorrow. Tomorrow brings the promise of new opportunities, new experiences, more snuggles with my kids, and maybe one more round of golf in the 60s (this is the first year I haven’t broken 70, even once, sigh…).

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Is this the beginning of the end of my amateur golf career?

Last week I played in the Colorado state Mid Amateur Championship. It’s the championship for the best amateur players in the state aged 25 and older. I’ve played in this event most years since I moved to Colorado, and in the past I have almost always finished in the Top 10, and even contended for the title a few times.

But that was in my 30s. I’m 40 now, with two young kids and a busy job. I don’t practice and play golf nearly as often as I used to, and I hit it shorter now than I ever have. This year’s event was held at a golf course that is universally considered to be a “bomber’s paradise”, meaning it’s wide open and very long. Simply put, that’s the worst kind of golf course for me. I hit it short and (usually) straight. I need shorter, tighter golf courses to level the playing field.

This year I made a 30 foot putt on the 18th hole in my second round to make the cut right on the number. In the past, I never even considered the cut line, as I was usually around the Top 10 after the second round. But this year, after a tough first day, I knew I had a lot of work to do to make it to the final round. I played well in round 2, and was happy to make the cut, but it reinforced something I’ve been thinking about for the last year or so. Should I really be trying to play golf at this level anymore?

I read the post-round article and compared the clubs I was hitting into greens to that of the winner. The 15th hole is a 510 yard uphill par 4, and it was cold the last round. I hit a good drive and had a 3 wood into the green. The winner hit a gap wedge. The 18th hole is a 590 yard uphill par 5. I hit a good drive, a solid hybrid to lay up, and a little 8 iron into the green. The winner was pin-high in two shots. It was the same way with most of the other holes that day. So what does all this mean? It means that I don’t hit the golf ball nearly far enough to keep up with today’s modern mid-amateur golfer. My lack of distance, especially at a wide-open and long course, puts me at a huge disadvantage. The same can be said for my lack of practice and lack of tournament golf throughout the year. It’s become too difficult to compete at this level when you’re spotting the field 50 yards off the tee and playing one quarter as much as they do.

As much as I hate to admit it, the time has probably come for me to consider gracefully bowing-out of competitive golf. Sure I’ll still play a select tournament or two each year. Maybe my club championship and a two-man team event, where I have a partner to help carry the load. But competing for individual state and national championships is likely behind me now, and somehow I’ll have to come to grips with that. Every athlete has his heyday, and eventually the game passes all of us by. Time to embrace casual golf with friends…

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Does SEO really work?

One of the questions I’m often asked by prospective clients is, “does SEO really work”? The answer is yes, but it depends on your expectations.

Unlike SEM (pay per click marketing) where you can outbid your competition for the coveted spots at the top of page 1 of Google, with SEO you can only outrank them if your site is deemed more relevant and worthy of that lofty ranking by the geniuses at Google. How Google goes about determining that formula is due in large part to their murky and mystical algorithms, and no one outside of the tech giant really seems to have the answer. But that doesn’t mean that SEO is a complete crap-shoot.

There are many tried and true methodologies for improving traffic and keyword rankings in Google organic. On-site SEO services like rewriting meta descriptions and title tags, and creating and optimizing relevant and keyword-rich content all have their place in SEO success. Off-site SEO work like back-linking and citation building are certainly critical to success as well.

But Google search, whether paid or organic, is a page 1 or bust operation. So while moving an important keyword from the number 100 position to the number 20 position is impressive, it’s not likely to result in any new business for the client. To get anything out of SEO, you really need to be on page 1, and ideally in the first few spots on Google. The problem is, there are only 10 organic spots on page 1, and typically half of those listings are taken-up by sites with enormous amounts of traffic that a small to medium sized business will never be able to outcompete. That only leaves a handful of page 1 slots available for all the competing businesses in a major city or metro region. So what to do?

We tell prospective clients that real SEO success doesn’t mean all of your keywords are at the very top of page 1. That’s laudable, but unlikely to happen unless you have almost no competition. In the real world, the way we measure success in the SEO channel is to obtain SOME page 1 rankings for SOME important keywords. The more the better, but the goal is to have at least a handful of page 1 rankings for keywords that drive new business. That’s a far more achievable goal, and if reached it usually produces a positive ROI for the client. In other words, they get enough business out of having some of their important keywords on page 1 of Google to easily justify the cost of running the SEO campaign.

In the hyper-competitive world that we live in, that’s what real success looks like in the SEO channel.

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Sales: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I recently purchased a new car. The process wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t like the sales person I dealt with, and that got me thinking about the nature of sales.

A big part of my job is to bring in new business. That’s sales. It’s not all I do, as I wear a lot of hats, but it’s one of the most important parts of my job. I can’t say that I love to sell, but I don’t hate it either. I enjoy helping people, and partnering with them to help grow their businesses certainly qualifies as that. I’m a people-person who enjoys creating and fostering relationships, and that’s a big part of sales too. And you can make a nice living if you can sell, and that’s a big plus too.

But there are aspects of sales that I don’t like. I hate cold-calling, and even though it can be an effective sales strategy I don’t do it much anymore. It’s rarely well-received these days. And I don’t like the inherent mistrust that is associated with salespeople. We’re not all crooks, liars, and thieves. Some of us are actually good people, and I’d like to think that’s me too.

One thing that I have learned in my decade-plus of sales is that people by and large do not like pushy salespeople. They don’t want to be bullied into buying something, whether they need it or not. As such, I don’t push. Either we’re a fit for you, or we’re not. From the sale side, my job is to present our marketing solutions to a prospective client and discuss how we can help him or her, and why we’re a better fit than our competition. It’s not to convince them to sign-up for something they neither want nor need, nor to push them into something that isn’t in their best interest. If it’s a fit; great. We’re excited to be your longterm marketing partner and we’ll work as hard as possible on your behalf to ensure that you receive the ROI you’re after. And if it’s not a fit; that’s fine, and I wish them the best of luck with their business.

If this sounds like the kind of partner you’re after for your marketing efforts, give us a call.

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What do good rankings for SEO really mean?

In many ways SEO is the mystery of online marketing. By that I mean most people don’t really know what goes into an SEO campaign, and what the success metrics look like.

If you ask the average business owner, he or she will likely tell you that they’ve heard of SEO, and many know that it’s a form of online advertising through the world’s major search engines (such as Google, and to a lesser extent Bing). But most can’t tell you what a successful SEO campaign should yield. Most don’t know what it really means to succeed in the SEO channel.

The goal of any SEO campaign should be to have your ad appear as close to the # 1 position on page 1 of Google (and Bing, ideally) as possible, when someone searches for the keyword phrases that are most important and relevant to the products and services that you offer. That’s really all there is to it. By doing so, the amount and relevancy of the traffic coming to your website and phone lines will increase, and it’s highly likely that you will receive more phone calls and leads as a result. And more phone calls and leads SHOULD turn into new business.

Often a business owner will want any and all possible keyword phrases to rank on page 1 of Google. That’s a laudable goal, but it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever have all of your relevant keyword phrases ranking on page 1. Especially if you find yourself in a highly-competitive industry like legal services, roofing, plumbers, electricians, etc. What is a far more realistic goal is to obtain page 1 rankings for at least some of these important keyword terms. For example, a personal injury attorney might realistically expect to obtain page 1 rankings for terms like “motorcycle injury lawyer” or “medical malpractice attorney”, but may not not be able to obtain page 1 rankings for terms like “personal injury lawyer”. The reason for that is that page 1 rankings for incredibly competitive terms like “personal injury lawyer” are very hard to come by. Out of perhaps hundreds of personal injury law firms in a given metro area, there are only 10 spots on page 1 to be had, and that’s a tall order. The key though is to obtain page 1 rankings for some of these important terms, so that your organic SEO ads are being displayed to prospective clients.

In a similar fashion, may business owners want and expect all of the pages on their website to rank on page 1 of Google. Again, this is unnecessary and unrealistic. What is really important is to have your main service pages appear on page 1 of Google. Using the example above, a personal injury attorney would want his or her dedicated medical malpractice page (you do have dedicated website pages for each major service you offer, don’t you?) to appear in the ad on page 1 of Google when someone searches for a term like “medical malpractice attorney”. Having their blog page or their contact us page appear on page 1 won’t help. You want to connect your ad and your corresponding website page with prospective customers at the moment they are searching for the service in question.

If all of this still sounds like a mystery, give us a call or send us a website inquiry form. We can help you sort through the confusion and obtain real success via SEO.

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Keep it small, keep it all.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old saying, “Keep it small, keep it all”. In business, it typically refers to containing or minimizing the size of your business and overhead, in order to make sure that your company is profitable. This is doubly important with small business, and especially necessary when you’re talking about businesses in industries that change rapidly.

DanMatt Media is one such business. We’re small, family-owned and operated, and we are in an industry that changes very fast, sometimes even daily. Unlike traditional media channels such as print, radio and television, ads in the digital world can be put up and pulled down every single day, and sometimes multiple times in a day. But with that flexibility comes a very real problem; lack of continuity. These days, more than ever, clients come and go. Budgets get increased and then slashed, and customers more and more use price as the single most important factor on which agency they choose. What this all boils down to is that you can no longer count on anything, or anyone, for solid revenue every month. All of this necessitates keeping your digital marketing agency streamlined, in order to help ensure that you stay in business.

My last company (the name of which I won’t mention here) didn’t understand this concept. Perhaps out of vanity, or perhaps out of ignorance, their payroll grew to 4x what it needed to be to run the company. They had an entire floor of a high-rise building downtown, when what they really needed was a small office in the suburbs. This came about because the CEO assumed that the heydays of high revenue would continue in perpetuity. Of course it didn’t, and when it didn’t the company fell on hard times. The company became overstaffed and underfunded. It has subsequently been sold, rebranded, sold again, and is now out of business. The lesson here is that a small business must always plan for the future. The good times never roll month-in and month-out, so you can’t allow your overhead and work force to be dependent on your top quarterly earnings. You have to plan for the lowest common denominator.

Doing so not only ensures that your company can weather a storm of poor months or even poor quarters, but it also allows you to pass some of those savings onto your clients. And that in turn helps you to land new ones, which in turn helps you to grow, save, and ultimately stay in business. Small business owners would therefore be wise to ensure that their overhead and payroll are commensurate with their lowest monthly revenue figures. When the good times are rolling, save the profits and re-invest in your business, which can include additional hires, but only when necessary. And skip the fancy downtown office.

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Give us 3-6 months. We’ll show you what we can do!

In my job I speak with a lot of business owners and executives, most of whom have already tried SEM (pay per click marketing) and/or SEO (organic search).  And if they haven’t tried it yet, you can bet they’ve been approached with those services before.

All of these people have been told (correctly) that it takes time for the results to come in.  In the case of SEM, we typically see very good results in month 1, and those results improve in months 2 and 3 as we collect more and more data to analyze and optimize.  We make the changes and tweaks required for success, but we need enough time and enough data to be able to ascertain which strategies are working best.  For SEO, we still typically see good results in month 1, but it can take much longer to obtain page 1 rankings for important keywords.  You can’t outspend your competition with SEO, so you have to out-rank them with relevancy and quality, and that is never instantaneous.

This is why we ask prospective clients to give us at least 3 months with a new SEM campaign, and to give us at least 6 months with a new SEO campaign.  Those timeframes give us a very realistic opportunity to prove ourselves and obtain the results our clients are looking for, while simultaneously mitigating the client’s risk.  After all, we’re not asking them to stay with something forever with no results to show for it.

Unlike many marketing agencies, we do not require clients to sign longterm contracts.  Everything we do is month-to-month.  But we don’t have a magic wand, and great results take time to materialize, especially when we’re talking about a new SEO campaign.  So if you’re looking to get started with an agency that has a proven track record of success, give us 3-6 months and we’ll show how great we can be.  You won’t be sorry that you did.

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ROI

ROI (Return On Investment) is perhaps the single most important aspect of any marketing campaign.  It’s something that our clients track regularly, and unfortunately it’s one of the few facets of a campaign that we have no control over.

As an on-line and off-line advertising agency, our job is to design and implement marketing campaigns that place our clients in a position to be successful.  Typically, that means that we get their ads in front of interested buyers at the moment that they are searching for the products and services that our clients are offering.  That holds true whether a potential customer is running a Google search (SEO and SEM) or looking through an old-school yellow pages directory (print advertising).  It’s the same thing; we want searchers to see our client’s ads right when they’re looking to buy.

The problem is that once they see these ads, we have no control over their behavior.  We can’t force them to call the phone number in the Google ad or in the yellow page ad, and we certainly can’t force them to buy from our clients.  If we had that ability, I’d be writing this from my yacht in the South Pacific, and not from my office in Colorado.

Ultimately, the ROI that our clients receive (revenue earned minus revenue spent) is the ultimate litmus test for campaign success.  Fortunately, over the last 24 years we’ve gotten quite good at creating custom marketing campaigns (in both digital and traditional advertising mediums) that put our clients in a position to be successful, and to obtain the ROI they’re looking for.

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New year, same commitment to our clients.

First of all, a very Happy New Year to everyone reading this blog post.  I hope 2018 brings you all many blessings and good fortune.

As we enter into a new year, I’m reminded of how often things change, and yet still stay the same.  The digital advertising world is very fluid.  Clients come and go, budgets go up and down, targeting and demographics change, and strategies are constantly being adjusted and altered.  But one thing will never change, and that is our commitment to our clients.

Everything we do revolves around what is best for our clients.  We don’t cut corners, we don’t put our needs above those of our customers’, and we don’t fail to listen to their opinions.  We are your partner in advertising, not your vendor.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a product to sell.  We don’t have a shiny car or a cutting-edge piece of electronics that we can show off.  Products like that help to sell themselves.  Our value-add lies in the marketing knowledge and experience that we bring to bear, and the tremendous customer service that we offer to our clients.  Selling a service is a lot harder than selling a product, but it’s what we do.

If you have been looking to grow your business, especially through Pay Per Click (SEM, also called Google Adwords) and SEO, and you’re looking for an agency with a proven track record of success and a sincere commitment to our client’s goals and needs, give us a call.  Chances are we can help you, and likely for less money than you may have thought possible.

 

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Is Pay Per Click worth it? You betcha!

Here at DanMatt Media, one of our primary service lines is Pay Per Click marketing, often referred to as SEM or Google Adwords.  Pay Per Click is a highly-targetable and very useful form of advertising.  Though it is more expensive to run a Pay Per Click campaign than say an SEO campaign, there are decided advantages to it.

If you look at a standard Google search query (for example, “Denver dentist”), you will often see 3 or 4 paid search ads at the very top of the page.  They are designated by a green “Ad” icon next to them.  These are the Pay Per Click ads, and there is a reason why they are at the very top of the page, and why they are likely the first thing you will see.  Google doesn’t make any money on SEO (organic search) but they make a whole lot of money on Adwords campaigns.  Every time someone clicks on those ads, Google receives a fee for the click.  As such, Google has a vested interest in having those ads seen by as many relevant people as possible, which is why they are at the very top of the page (there are also typically paid search ads at the bottom of the page as well, with the organic SEO ads sandwiched in the middle).

Pay Per Click campaigns can easily be three, five, ten, or more times as expensive as SEO campaigns.  The reason for that is that you (the client) are paying every time someone clicks on your ads.  That isn’t the case with SEO campaigns, which do not charge per click.  But while Pay Per Click campaigns are more expensive, they tend to produce a lot more leads (usually phone calls or website form submissions) and they drive those leads much more quickly.  The reason for this is simple.  With Pay Per Click, we can position your ad at the very top of page 1 of Google on the first day of your campaign.  If your budget allows for it, you can literally have the top ranked ad in your industry and geographical area.  That is not the case with SEO, which can take many months to achieve a page 1 ranking, let alone a # 1 ranking (and that may never happen).

So the real question isn’t whether Pay Per Click is worth it.  It is.  The real question for clients to consider is how quickly you need to see results (new leads), and what you are willing to invest each month to obtain those results.  Ideally, a client’s marketing budget should include several facets of digital media buying, including both Pay Per Click and SEO.  But when we get the sense that a prospective client is looking for results right away, we almost always recommend the SEM channel.