Sarah Noel Block, the founder of Tiny Marketing, talks to us about integrating digital marketing for the first time into your marketing strategy. If you relied strongly on events and in-person networking, you might be wondering how to generate leads now. We talk about the different platforms you can use, and Sarah’s Tiny Tech Stack costs less than $200 per month!
If you prefer the audio version, listen here:
Has There Been an Influx of Clients Going Digital?
Ruthie: So in this episode I wanted to talk about something you mentioned about companies who haven’t done digital marketing before going digital for the first time. Have you seen an influx of clients who are going digital for the first time recently?
Sarah: I’ve seen an influx of leads, but budgets are being cut before it comes to fruition. But I am having a lot more people reach out to me about what the first step is.
They’re asking, “What do I do if I need to pivot from being primarily in-person, relying on referrals and networking events to going digital for the first time?”
What’s the First Thing You Set up?
Ruthie: What does that look like for the clients who have signed you on in the past? “I’m going digital for the first time. I do networking events and that’s usually it. I throw the cards in my drawer, I never type anything into my computer.” What’s like the first thing you want to set up?
Predictably, Content is King
Sarah: The first thing I set up is a content system. Content is still king. It matters because at networking events, you’re showing your expertise and your personality in-person, but you don’t have that option today. So what you need to do is use content for that.
Show what you know, and explain the solutions to the problems that you solve and in the form of content. Not only that, but you need to make sure that you’re talking about it on social media so people find you.
Ruthie: Yes, and I think that’s a huge driver! I don’t think people realize how much website traffic social media drives. Especially those businesses who are like, “No, we’ve been doing it this way and it’s been working all this time!”
I was just looking at my Google Analytics, and I’m super pumped because my top incoming traffic was search engine! But the next one was social media. We’re consistently sharing content, podcasts, and videos from the site.
Before search engines took the top spot, social media was it! Social media was what drove traffic to my website. So you’re completely right, and it can be a hard mindset to fight.
Social Media is How People Find You
Sarah: All that is just content marketing; it’s your content that brings people to your site through organic search. That can benefit you for years. I still have people coming to my site from articles I wrote in 2015!
But social media is how they find you in the first place; the biggest mistake people make is creating content and then taking it no further. If you build it, that doesn’t mean they’ll come. You need to show people that it exists first.
Ruthie: Yes. Say that again for the people in the back! I actually have a hard line that I will not cross; if there’s no promotion and distribution strategy for a company and they’re not willing to pay me to develop it, I’m not creating content.
I will not create content to throw into the black hole that is your website. Because then, as the consultant they’ve hired, you get blamed. They’re like, “Oh well, that content must not have been good because we didn’t get any leads from it. We didn’t get any results.” Well, did you share it more than once?
Sarah: That is part of the reason I pivoted my business. When I started doing freelance writing, I was working with these businesses that weren’t promoting it at all. You need to have a whole system in place or it’s not going to go anywhere.
Common Hurdles Seen in Onboarding and Marketing
Ruthie: I’m sure you’ve probably worked these things into your marketing to try and educate your audience, but are there any common hurdles that you’ve noticed when they’re just getting started with marketing/onboarding?
Hurdles to Onboarding
Sarah: The common hurdle I see with onboarding is miscommunication. It’s not setting boundaries right from the beginning, so the client doesn’t know when they should reach out to you, when they shouldn’t, or how quickly they should receive a response from you. Setting that straight from the beginning is important.
Hurdles to Marketing
For marketing, it’s when they come to me with a specific set of ideas that they think need to happen, instead of a problem that they need solved. I’m the marketing consultant. I will solve your problem. You run your business.
Ruthie: That is so true. I’ve run into that as well, when they come at you saying, “I already know what I need.” Then I’m like, “Well, I’m not a plug-and-play machine, so I need to be convinced that’s what you need.”
Sarah: I’m not going to start something for you that I think is going to fail. I will only do something that is going to succeed for you.
Difference between Consulting and Freelancing
Ruthie: Yes, absolutely. There is a big difference between paying a freelancer vs. someone who identifies as more of a consultant. I feel like consultants typically get paid to tell you when you’re being dumb. I have explained this to my clients when I feel like they’re going in the wrong direction.
Me telling you that I think that’s the wrong direction does not reflect on your intelligence or your competence, because you are good at what you do. You engaged with me because there was something you saw in my content or felt on the phone, and you knew you could trust me. So I’m asking you to trust me right now.
And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be with a consultant. If I was a freelance writer, of course I’d want to write for you because I know you won’t steer me wrong. You’re not going to just throw that content into a black pit somewhere.
If you’re a freelancer who doesn’t really go into the strategy and you don’t want to, you have to develop relationships with people who will take care of that for you. When you engage with companies/clients that don’t do that right, you’re set up to fail.
Sarah: I absolutely agree. You’re just wasting your money if you’re not working with an expert who can say, “That’s not the way to go.”
What Software Do You Typically Recommend for Companies?
Ruthie: I feel like any serious digital marketing strategy has to consider the tech stack. Do you have any software that you typically recommend to help companies get their digital marketing off the ground and into cyberspace?
Sarah: If you’re starting from scratch and you have a low budget, there’s a tech stack for you. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. I like WordPress or Squarespace for beginning your CMS. They’re pretty plug and play. If you want a custom template, you can find a freelancer to create that for cheap enough.
For email marketing. I like either HubSpot or MailChimp. They also integrate together; if you’re using the free HubSpot account you can’t do automations and workflows, but with MailChimp you can. So you can integrate the two of them and have the free HubSpot with the free MailChimp, and get a more robust platform.
Ruthie: See, that’s why I’m asking you the questions! That was fantastic. Perhaps I may have known that information, but I certainly hadn’t put it together.
I haven’t used Squarespace a lot. I know I don’t like Wix, but the websites I’ve made for myself have been in WordPress. While advising a friend who wanted to start a blog, and I told him to just use WordPress.
He’s like, “I don’t want to because there’s too many things to pick!”
And I said, “No, just pick a template you like and stay out of the settings.”
And then he ended up deleting it 30 min later. He was like, “I was fiddling with it.”
I said to him, “I told you not to fiddle.” If you just want something that’s straightforward, then don’t dig into it. Just add your colors, add your logo, and move on.
Sarah: If you want something that you can’t break, it’s Squarespace. It’s impossible. They don’t even let you have enough access to break it.
Ruthie: So Squarespace for website creation is like bowling with the rails on, right?
Sarah: Yes exactly. Can’t go into the gutter.
A Valuable List of Tools You Can Use
Ruthie: Before we started recording, you actually told me that you had something to help with this “going digital for the first time” concept. I think people who would already qualify themselves as digital would be interested in this as well. But you actually have a lead magnet all about this, right?
Sarah: Yes. I put together a whole list of very inexpensive tools that you can use to have a complete tech stack, project management, email, social media, CRM, CMS, SEO research, everything. And it’s all less than $200 a month. Plus there are different reoccurring codes.
Ruthie: That’s amazing, so we’ll have a link to that in the show notes, in the transcript, and pretty much anywhere anybody’s gonna be able to find this episode. That’s something I want to look out for myself, but I’m already on your mailing list.
I don’t think people realize how much work it takes to put together something like that. You’ve built a stack that would actually work together and you’re going to have minimized redundancies, especially considering you’re paying less than $200. That is, unless you flip the bill for something like HubSpot’s full marketing suite, which is super expensive.
Finding a stack that’s already laid out is half the battle. And with your experience, I certainly trust it. So for anybody listening, understand that the value of what she’s offering is huge. It’ll save you a ton of time. Settling into technologies that somebody of Sarah’s caliber has already vetted is huge.
Because you will spend a lot of time researching, you’ll get drawn in by the shiny object and maybe pay too much, you may get drawn in by a program and then 3 months later have to pick up and move everything to another program, etc. It’s no fun.
Sarah: No, it’s not. Everything integrates. I use all of these tools myself. I recommend it to any tiny, tiny business.
Ruthie: So definitely look in the show notes for that.