With Craig Cherlet
Written by Franco Varriano.
Last week’s Marketing Chat with Around.io was a great success.
We talked about social media tactic for ecommerce and gave actionable tips on how to leverage social media platform to grow your business.
2. The Interview
Ned: Thank you for joining us today Craig. Before we dive into today’s topic, can you please introduce yourself and Marketing Stream?
Craig: Thanks Ned. I’m one of the co-founders of Marketing Stream. I’ve been working in marketing and tech for over 15 years in various areas from product development to sales and marketing. I love it. This is my passion.
The reason we started Marketing Stream was to help businesses big and small navigate the complex and ever changing world of digital marketing. Our main goal is to help them find new customers and keep the ones they already have. Our on-demand model provides a flexible & affordable approach to growing businesses by providing them with the right mix of skills and talent in both the art and science aspects of marketing.
Ned: According to you, is marketing an investment or a cost? Why?
Craig: Marketing is most definitely an investment. Your accountant probably considers it as an expense, but the brand your marketing supports is more like your greatest asset. Every marketing piece you create today and post online is there forever. I consider all of this content to be an asset that supports your brand, sales, marketing and customer support. Any successful entrepreneur will tell that they could not have built their business without marketing. Even Facebook, a multi billion dollar media company that sells advertising, spends tons of money on marketing and advertising.
One of the most exciting things with digital marketing today is the ability to monitor your marketing investments. Even 10 years ago, a marketer had no idea what marketing tactic was working or not. Today, you can track and monitor your marketing investments in real time across many metrics. Write a blog post. How many people read it? Create a video. How many people watched it? Post a tweet. How many people clicked through? This and more provides instant feedback on almost all your marketing investments.
Look at your every piece of your marketing as a long term investment and you will succeed.
Ned: This week’s talk is called “Marketing strategy 101” for ecommerce. Based on what you’ve experienced with your clients, can you give us a Marketing Strategy Guide to Ecommerce Nirvana?
Craig: Every business is different so what works for one business may not work for yours but before you start, you need to do the foundational work I mentioned earlier. From a process perspective, you need to adopt a lean and agile approach to your marketing. You need to be willing to try new things, measure their results, learn from experiments and repeat. There are millions of ecommerce stores out there and there are an equal amount of marketing tactics you can deploy. Before you can succeed with your ecommerce business however, you need to answer these fundamental questions. Why should people choose you? What makes you different? Once you figure this out, you will be on a better path to reaching your goals.
Most people then ask me, “Well how do you figure that out?”
My answer is that you need to ask more questions. We use various tools and techniques to do this. One is the Business Model Canvas and the other is the Value Proposition Canvas. These two tools can help you sort out your business model and product market fit. From there we then focus on going deeper with understanding your buyer personas and buyer’s journey. Once you have completed this exercise, you will be in a much better place to apply the tactical parts of your strategy.
Ned: What are the common marketing mistakes marketers make?
Craig: The number one mistake I see marketers and business owner making is jumping right into tactics before figuring out their business model, value proposition, goals and buyer personas. If you don’t know why you are in business, who your target buyer is and the need you are filling for them, the tactics will only get you so far. You need to spend time asking questions and listening and then executing if you are going to have sustainable growth.
Ned: Assuming you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur (selling let’s say unisex winter cap) and you finally have some money to spend on marketing activities (~ $5000). How do you spend the money and why?
Craig: If you’ve already sorted out the stuff I mentioned above, understand your target buyer and you have all the basics covered like a blog and all your social networks set up, the tactics you need to do become much more evident.
I would spend some of that budget on creating content for Instagram and engaging with influencers. Lots of people love the outdoors and you need to find these people and engage them. Use the right hashtags and post at the right times for your target market. Use a call to action in your posts asking your audience “see link in profile” and change the URL in your profile to reflect the latest offer or product you are pushing.
I would also spend some of that budget on highly targeted Facebook and Instagram ads. Use video and images of your product in different contexts. Do some A/B testing, tune in your ads, learn what converts the best so when you get more money, you can focus on what works. The key is always learning from your investments so you can make better ones in the future. I would probably also invest some money in Adwords for those people that are specifically looking for “unisex winter caps” and other related keywords.
Ned: Let’s now assume you’re first marketing budget is $100. How do you spend the money and why?
Craig: $100 is not a lot of money but if that’s the budget, I would probably put some of this into a highly targeted paid campaign either on Adwords or Facebook. If you know who your target buyer is, you can get the most out of your $100 dollars this way. Try several different ads with the goal of learning what works so you can double down on your learnings when you find another $100 to throw at it. Each dollar you spend, should bring value in the form of new business or new learnings. Follow the lean principles here. Build, Measure, Learn.
Ned: How can online stores use Marketing Stream to grow their business?
Craig: I believe that every company needs to become a media company that’s constantly creating and distributing quality content and engaging with with it’s audience through social media, email and other channels. The fact of the matter is that takes a lot of time, money, energy, skills and creativity to do this. We are a media company for hire and can help online stores in two major ways depending on where they’re at in terms of overall maturity. Number one, we can help with flushing out their business model, value proposition, strategy, and personas and second tactical ongoing delivery of marketing campaigns.
Ned: Hubspot is known to be inbound marketing kings. How can small online businesses can leverage inbound marketing to grow their business?
Craig: Honestly, we too are a small business and we leverage inbound marketing to help us grow. Inbound is about getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time. This is much easier said than done but that’s the overarching goal. The message or content can be anything from a social media post to your product pages to email and telephone. Having a single view of each contact is what inbound is about. It’s both methodology and technology all aimed at getting and keeping customers.
The Inbound Methodology consists of 4 main stages: Attract, Convert, Close, Delight and every business big or small needs to manage these 4 stages in the buyer’s journey. Inbound technology like HubSpot’s marketing platform makes managing this process a lot easier.
Ned: Deep inside most of us, we all want to be hackers (at least do). What is the best marketing hack every entrepreneur can leverage today?
Craig: Everyone seems to ask for the one hack. In practice, there is no one thing that equals success. It’s about the sum of all of the parts of your marketing strategy along with an eye on how each campaign is working. If I had to point out just one, I would say my most successful marketing hack is this. People don’t like being sold to. Instead, your marketing should focus on helping people buy from you. Remember each and every consumer is thinking…
“What’s in it for me?”
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