How snuggle time improves my work performance

Running a business is stressful. Especially when you’re a (fairly) anxious person to begin with. Some days there isn’t enough CBD oil on planet Earth to calm my work stress, but over the years I’ve found that snuggling with my kids before they go to bed really helps. Here’s why…

My children are still reasonably young (8 and 6, respectively). They’re still at an age when they don’t seem to mind snuggling with their old man before they go to sleep. I know at some point that will change (can you imagine trying to snuggle with your teenager before bed?!?), so for now I try to squeeze in as many snuggles as I can, while I can.

But snuggling with my kids does something else for me. It puts things into perspective. I have a great life, and I know that I’m truly blessed. But that doesn’t mean I always see the forest for the trees. When a client is unhappy, or a project isn’t going well, I feel that stress in my bones. It literally makes my mind race and it keeps me up at night. Snuggling with my kids before they go to bed reminds me of what is truly important in life. My family. Yes work is important. Very important in fact. But it can’t hold a candle to my kiddos. And that knowledge (and the ensuing calmness it leads to) improves my performance the next day at work.

I’m not sure what I’ll do when they’re too old to snuggle. I doubt I’ll be retired by then. Maybe I’ll have to get a dog instead…


Help! My marketing campaign isn’t working…

After 12 years in the business, I’ve pretty much heard it all from clients. The good, the bad, and the ugly. In this month’s post I wanted to address some of the negatives associated with digital marketing campaigns, in the hope of setting realistic expectations for success.

One of the issues I’ve heard is that “my marketing campaign isn’t working”. That usually means different things to a client than it does to a marketing agency. When a client says that his campaign isn’t working, he’s usually referring to ROI. Either he’s losing money, or more likely he’s not earning as much money as he’d hoped or expected.

What we control (sort of) and what is easy to track… Traffic and leads. To be clear, there is a big difference between “I’m not getting any leads or traffic” (that’s a big problem) and “I’m not getting enough business out of this” (also a problem, but easier to fix). To an extent, a marketing agency has some control over how much traffic their clients receive. Yes budget reigns supreme, but the quality of the ad content, the bid strategy, the relevance of the keywords, and several other factors are very important to the number of overall website visits and leads that a client receives. Fortunately, we can track the number of clicks, impressions, phone calls and website inquiries our clients receive, as well as where their keywords rank, so determining how much traffic and how many leads they are receiving is pretty easy. What we have no control over, and what is not easy to track…

ROI. Once someone sees your ad, the agency’s ability to convert that search query into a paying client ends. We can do everything right, but we can’t force people to do business with you. Though unlikely, it’s possible that you could receive a ton of targeted traffic, even a bunch of phone calls and leads, and still not get a single sale from it. How? Perhaps your price points are too high relative to your competitors (this is common, and something we always watch out for with our clients). Perhaps your current promotions are a lot less attractive than what others are doing (again something we watch for on a regular basis). Or perhaps you’re not answering your phone when it rings (you’d be surprised how often this happens, especially with small business clients). Whatever the cause, they all contribute to a less than desired ROI. I find that setting realistic expectations at account inception with regard to time frame, traffic and lead levels, and ROI figures, solves a lot of these problems.

So what are those realistic expectations?

With a PPC or Social Media Marketing (SMM) campaign, we usually tell clients that they can expect traffic, and likely phone calls and leads, pretty quickly. With SEO campaigns, we usually tell clients that they should see ranking gains in the first 2 months, but that it will likely take 3-6 months before they start receiving traffic and leads out of it. Notice what is missing? ROI and sales/revenue figures. There is simply no way for us to know when those will come, as many of the factors that go into ROI and sales are out of our control. For that reason, we don’t even offer a guess. The take-away. There are no guarantees in advertising, but if you pick the right agency and you keep your expectations grounded in reality, chances are you’ll be very pleased with the results.

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You can’t build your business on a house of cards…

Recently, while talking to an old friend, I was reminded of a company I know of (to protect myself from the overly litigious I won’t mention how I know of them, what my relationship was with them, or even where they were located) . This company (which is now out of business but shall remain nameless all the same) sold online traffic to clients in all types of industries. They were a performance-based marketing company, meaning their clients only paid them for the traffic they received (leads, sales, etc).

This company had many problems, from poor management to a flawed business model, and just about everything in between. But the biggest problem was that their entire operation was based on a house of cards. More to the point, what they were doing was fraudulent. Specifically, the traffic they were sending to their clients was garbage, and they knew it. The traffic was called “incentivized” because users were compensated to complete offers (such as surveys, quotes for auto insurance or credit cards, or even purchasing actual products). Once those offers were completed and the users received their rewards, they would promptly opt-out of the surveys or cancel their quotes or purchases, usually leaving the advertisers (their clients) with nothing to show for it. Eventually of course the advertisers would wise-up and cancel, occasionally sending an official cease-and-desist letter in the process. They would then have to find new clients to replace those that had left. It was a shell game. Not surprisingly, and most deservedly, the company eventually went under.

I promised myself that I would never engage in business practices like that, and that I would do everything in my power to make sure that our services were not only legitimate, but also in the best interests of our clients. I’m happy to say that at DanMatt Media both are true.

The traffic we use comes from either the world’s largest search engines (Google, and to a much lesser extent Bing) or from our vetted collection of online and offline pay-per-call publishers. None of these sources reward their users for completing offers or buying products. That vastly improves traffic quality and ROI for our clients. To be fair, not every marketing campaign we run proves successful for our customers. Some do not obtain the ROI they are looking for, and eventually cancel. But that’s not because the traffic is fraudulent. Sometimes things just don’t work out, but if the intent was honorable and the traffic is legitimate, we can always hold our heads high.

One can learn a valuable lesson by studying this unnamed company. You can’t build your business on a house of cards. There is no get-rich-quick scheme in business that works longterm. Offer your clients a valuable service, based on legit traffic, and give them the customer service they deserve, and you’ll be rewarded with a successful career. It won’t work out for everyone, but by and large it will work well for most.

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Why you need diversification in your marketing plan…

Diversification. It’s something we all hear about from our financial advisors and nutritionists. Turns out, you need it for your company’s marketing plan as well.

Here at DanMatt Media we have a lot of clients. Big ones and small ones. Local ones and national ones. But one thing that many of them share in common is a lack of diversification in their approach to marketing.

We offer all kinds of solutions to help grow your business. Pay Per Click, SEO, Social Media, Print, Direct Mail, Radio, and TV advertising, to name a few. And though we always harp on our clients to use as many of these channels as possible, many of them choose to only focus on one of them in order to save on costs.

The problem with that approach is that you’re leaving too many sales on the table. You’re not reaching enough people to actively and aggressively promote your products or services. It’s like choosing to only eat grilled chicken for every single meal. Sure, it’s healthy, but you’re missing out on the valuable nutrients you’d receive with a balanced diet. The same is true in marketing. You might be doing really well on Google organic (via your SEO campaign) but you’re missing out on the paid search traffic (Pay Per Click) and the social media traffic, and that’s costing you a lot of new customers and the subsequent growth in revenue.

I know what you’re thinking. “Sure, I’d love to use all of these channels, but my budget doesn’t allow for it”. We get that, and it’s a reality we face with almost all of our clients. But that’s precisely why you hire an expert marketing team like us, so that we can do the research for you and apply our decades of experience to advise you on which channels make the most sense for your company, all while staying within your budget constraints. Typically, that will involve all or some combination of at least SEO, Pay Per Click, and social media marketing.

When you’re ready to get started with your diversified marketing approach in 2019, give us a call or send us a website inquiry. We’re here to help you grow!

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Finding the right person for the job

For a service-based company like ours, there are few things that are more crucial to success than finding and hiring the right people.  Service-based industries cannot rely on a product to sell itself, so they must take great care to find the right employees, whether those people are outward facing (for example, sales staff) or inward facing (project managers, programmers, etc).  Having just gone through this process recently, I thought it would be a good time to share my thoughts and observations.

I don’t believe you can hire the right person if you don’t know precisely what you’re looking for.  Hiring managers and company executives should take a hard-look at their organization and really drill-down on the type of person they need to fill their crucial roles.  Think about what qualities and skills the role really requires, and make sure those are communicated clearly and effectively in the job ad.  It’s nice to hire a team-player and someone with a good attitude, but for a sales role those may not be the most important qualities to look for.  To save your valuable time, you’ll want to screen-out as many applicants who do not fit the role as possible.

Once you’ve weeded-out the obvious non-fits, you’ll probably want to schedule phone interviews for those candidates with potential.  I like to keep the phone interviews fairly short (30-45 min or so) and use that time to really ascertain if someone has the skill-set and experience that the role requires.  Resumes rarely give you the full picture of someone’s aptitude, but it’s hard to fake competency in a phone interview.  I ask a lot of tough questions, and I follow-up immediately on the answers to those questions.  I press, but in a nice way.

The last step in the process is of course the in-person interview.  I’ve already asked most of the tough questions over the phone, so during this time (typically an hour or so) I like to get a feel for the candidate up close.  Does he or she seem engaged and interested in the job?  Do they seem like the sort who will give our clients the great customer service they deserve, and protect our brand image?  Are they really a good fit for this role, or is it a stretch?

I’ll close by saying this.  When you’ve found someone that you think would be a great fit for the position, extend them an offer right away.  If a candidate is that good, you can bet he or she is likely to be fielding offers from other companies as well.  At the same time, if you don’t find someone you really like, I don’t believe in making an offer just to “put a butt in a seat”.

Nothing costs a company more problems than a bad hire, so take your time in finding the right sort, and then go out and hire ’em!

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Are blogging and social media necessary for your business?

One of the questions I’m often asked, by potential clients and current ones, is whether blogging and social media are necessary for their businesses.  The answer is yes, and no…

A blog is a great way to keep the content on your website fresh and updated.  Blogs are an excellent opportunity to alert your potential and current clients to specials, promotions, and new services that your company is now offering.  It can be a great way to communicate success stories and helpful information.  But it will not, in and of itself, bring you more customers.

At this point you may be asking yourself how often you should update your website’s blog.  Well, in general, the more frequently the better.  Most industries do not change often enough to require daily blogging (tech, sports, and news would be the exceptions), and most business owners are too busy to blog on a very frequent basis.  But you don’t want a blog section on your website that hasn’t been updated in a year or two.  That gives off the appearance that you don’t have any news to report, and that you don’t care what user experience your viewers enjoy.  As such, we counsel our clients to update their blogs at least once per month.  That gives your website new content 12+ times per year, without adding too much to your already full plate.

In a similar fashion, your company’s social media pages (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,  etc) can be an excellent way to spread your message to the world at-large.  You can think of your social media pages as an extension of your blog.  In fact, we advise our clients to post their new blog updates to all their social media pages at the same time they are updating their website.  But you don’t have to wait until you have a new blog entry to post a social media update.  The more frequently, the better.

Blogging and social media outreach will not grow your business by themselves, and truth be told many successful companies do not blog or update their social media pages on a regular basis.  But they will help to increase your brand awareness and engage potential and current clients.  So long as you’re not posting anything offensive (and why would you do that?) there is no downside to getting your company’s name and message out there for everyone to see.

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The value of a face-to-face meeting

We’ve all heard the saying… “Customer service is dead”.  One round trip flight on a US carrier will assuredly confirm that for most of us.  But here at DanMatt Media customer service is alive and well.

We’re fortunate to live at a time when technology makes our lives and businesses easier and more convenient.  Contracts can be negotiated and signed over email.  Meetings can be held on conference calls and web cams.  We can all have longterm, lucrative partnerships with clients and vendors without ever having met them face-to-face.  But is that really the way it should be?

There’s no doubt that most of my client and publisher relationships were born through email, and nurtured over the phone.  We have clients all over the United States, and a few overseas as well (including England, India, Australia, and Romania).  Seeing them in person is a tall order (though I have made it to England and Australia so far).  But whenever possible, I like to meet my clients face-to-face.

I want them to see the passion I have for their marketing efforts.  I want to look them in the eye and promise them that I will do everything I can to help them achieve their goals.  I want to visit their offices so that I can get a personal feel for what they do and how they do it.  You can’t do those things over email or phone calls, so whenever possible I make sure to visit them and meet with them face-to-face.

If you’re not getting that level of customer service from your marketing partners, you should be.  After all, it’s your money, and it’s your campaign.  Modern technology and convenience are great, and we all take advantage of it every single day.  But nothing beats the value of a face-to-face meeting.

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What are you looking for in an agency partner?

Typically I write one of these blog posts a month.  They usually take the form of an essay on either work-related topics, golf, or a timely event (like last month’s entry on March Madness).  But for the month of April I thought I might try something different.  Namely, I’d like to ask the handful of people who read my blog posts what they are ideally looking for in an agency partner.

Giving our clients the services they need at the prices they can afford is a difficult balancing act.  Often the budgets we have to work with are less than what we would like to have in order to guarantee success, but I’d like to think we do a good job with what we’re given.  If you’ve read these posts you know that customer service and transparency are a key component of our agency, and every DanMatt Media client receives both no matter how much they’re spending with us.

But what I’d really like to find out is where our future clients place their priorities.  Is price the most important factor when choosing an online and offline agency to help grow your business?  Is expertise and business acumen the first thing you look for when you select an agency to partner with on your digital marketing campaign?  Are you looking for a balance between the two?  Is your ROI the deciding factor when you make your choice?

I would like to invite anyone reading this post to share some quick feedback on what you would look for in an agency partner.  It’s always helpful to have outside opinions, and we welcome them.  You can send your feedback to info@danmattmedia.com, and I promise you it will be read, reviewed, and taken to heart.

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March Madness? You bet…

The calendar says it’s March, and you know what that means.  Everyone will be talking about March Madness.  Typically that refers to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship (more on that below), but there are other things around here that contribute to March Madness too.

Work:  I suppose every month has some work madness built into it, and March is no exception.  Why?  Well Q1 is always one of the busiest times of the year for us.  We’re launching new initiatives to make our online and offline services more attractive.  We’re designing and implementing new marketing campaigns on behalf of our clients (especially the ones we picked-up in the beginning of the year).  We’re recruiting new affiliate marketing sources to run our performance-based offers in 2015.  It’s a busy time of year, but we’re on top of it.  When it comes to business, a little madness is a good thing.

Kids:  If you have children (particularly young children) then you already know that every month is chock-full of madness, but if not let me explain.  Fighting.  Sickness.  Ear infections.  Tantrums.  Attitude.  It’s not localized just to March, but since the weather is cold and the kids are indoors, you tend to notice it more this time of the year.

Basketball:  OK, here’s the real definition of March Madness.  The conference tournaments are beginning shortly.  After that, the NCAA selection committee will seed the teams and the national tournament will begin.  In our offices we have Duke fans, Maryland fans, and even a single Northwestern fan (yours truly).

Duke enters the month ranked in the top 4 in the nation and looking to punch their ticket to the Final Four.  Maryland enters the month ranked in the top 15 in the nation and looking to make a deep tournament run.  And Northwestern?  They’ll be sitting out the post-season as they do every year, but fear not, they’re getting better.  Another 2 or 3 years and my alma mater will be making their first NCAA Tournament appearance.


Low Cost SEO: You asked for it; we delivered

You’ve probably heard that old saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”…

Here at DanMatt Media we’ve never claimed to be the cheapest advertising agency in the business. We’ve always placed our client’s needs, our commitment to customer service, and our dedication to quality and integrity at the forefront of what we do. We do that even when those values create higher prices that prevent us from signing a new client. After all, the true measure of ROI is not how much you invest in something, but rather what you get in return.

During the last few years we’ve had to turn away quite a few potential clients. Not because we couldn’t help them to grow their businesses, but because they could not afford our rates for local SEO marketing. These were companies that we knew we could help, but we couldn’t offer them a solution that fit into their budget. And neither of us benefit when these potential clients are forced to work with partners that deliver substandard SEO marketing.

Out of those frustrations grew our new, low-cost, local SEO solution. We’re still offering the same great customer service, the same commitment to our client’s needs, and the same dedication to quality and integrity, but at a vastly reduced rate. These local SEO campaigns will focus on clients who serve a single state or metro area (for example; the Washington, DC or Denver, CO metro areas). They will involve small numbers of highly relevant keywords, custom link building, and unique content, and of course they will still include our monthly reporting at no additional charge. Best of all, we are offering our new local SEO solution with no long-term contract. That means clients can cancel at any time, and are not locked into anything for the long-haul.

We’re excited to expand our suite of digital marketing solutions to include a new low-cost, local SEO option. This new offering gives DanMatt Media the ability to help virtually everyone to grow their operation, while at the same time remaining true to the values that have kept us as leaders in the online and offline advertising industry for the past 20 years.

And that old saying above? Well, maybe it is possible to have your cake and eat it too!