There are now more marketing platforms than ever centre the – in the space Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterst, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter, to name just the big ones. While this offers incredible opportunities for businesses of any size, what often occurs instead, is overwhelm. With a marketing budget in hand and a thirst to grow your portfolio, how do you know where to invest your efforts?
Former CEO and co-founder of MOZ, Rand Fishkin recently wrote the painfully real and humorous book, ‘Lost and Founder,’ which offers insight into the unravelling world of startups. Rand’s new software company, SparkToro, aims to reduce the confusion, workload and analysis paralysis that comes with targeting business advertising.
Stand Out Marketing Magazine sat down with Rand to find out all about making sure your business stands out in a sea of marketing opportunities.
Firstly – which platforms are the best?
When it comes to working out where to put your time and money, there is no ‘one size fits all’, but Rand’s advice is to start by making your website and email list the centre of your web marketing campaigns.
“Those are channels and sources that you can fully own and control. For the past 20 years, 30 years even, they’ve been incredibly powerful, malleable, controllable sources and I expect them to be one of the few channels to last in that way, compared to social media sources that are out of your control in one way or another,” Rand explains.
In addition to nurturing your website and list-building tactics, Rand’s advice is to consider your marketing opportunities cleverly. Rather than a scatter-gun approach, invest your time and money in select platforms that fit three important criteria:
- Where is your audience? Where do they pay attention and participate? Do they prefer podcasts, or visual media such as Instagram and Pinterest? Do they like to share on social media such as Facebook? Do they go to conferences and events?
- Where does your passion and skills lie? Utilise a channel where you can find your groove – don’t be tempted to spread yourself across numerous platforms and post poor content for the sake of ticking a box. That way, your content will be fresh, authentic and engaging.
- Which channel can you be uniquely valuable in, more valuable than anyone else who is playing in that space?
“If you answer all three of those, you’ve got your channel and you don’t have to play in the others. I think a lot of small business owners feel overwhelmed, like they have to be good at all these different things, but you don’t have to be. Pick one, especially to start with, that fits those three criteria,” Rand said.
How much content should I be posting?
With your chosen platforms up and running, the next challenge to standing out online is your content. The ironic thing, is that many successful businesses appear to be the ones who produce a lot of content, but mass content doesn’t necessarily equate to conversions. What you want to find is that your content and posting reflects your enthusiasm and passion, each piece fuelling the next. Rand describes this as akin to climbing a mountain.
“All the research says that the time when a business is producing the most content is often the time when they are also producing their most successful work. When you have the passion and you’re trying to create the unique value and you’re also posting every day, that’s when you keep investing and investing and climbing the mountain. You got a few visits today on that piece, maybe you will get a few more tomorrow,” Rand said.
“However, if your journey is starting to feel kind of rote, you are not finding a groove and can’t ignite the passion, if you are creating purely to tick the box not because you are discovering new channels and getting excited about it, then I’d probably stop climbing that mountain.”
What type of content do I post?
The key to great content is to create something that adds value and is unique to you and your brand. One stand-out tactic is to utilise research; whether that is from a recent study, a poll you have conducted yourself or insights you have found in your area of expertise.
“What I have found works extremely well in both B2B and B2C marketing is research; people love citing research! This is true across all press and media, right down to smaller publications and influencers. Showcase insights pulled from data that you have unique access to, or create your own by doing a survey to answer a question your particular audience will be interested in,” Rand said.
Do some digging around what types of content is posted on similar sites to your own, and aim to value-add with something bigger, better, more insightful or even a little controversial.
How do I reach my audience for maximum ROI?
When it comes to content that gets you noticed and transpires to conversions, Rand’s advice goes against the standard ‘write to your avatar’ pillar that has been industry experts over the years. Why not? Because they don’t know you yet – you haven’t got their attention, so market to those who DO have your audience’s attention.
“Your audience is listening and paying attention to social media influencers and podcasters, bloggers, writers, authors, journalists and speakers at conferences and events. Find those people and create content for them, figure out what they want to see or read. This will result in an incredible outsized return because those folks are constantly looking for what they are going to share and amplify,” Rand explained.
“They need your content. If you can serve them well, you can then reach the audience you want to reach just one degree of separation away – and that is incredibly powerful. I have found that to be a far more consistently successful tactic than trying to create content for the audience themselves.”
Reaching these people takes a little PR work, but it is worth it. Take the time to approach them personally, start a conversation and connect with them on a more personal level. You may be surprised how generous influencers and experts in your field will be with their time and advice, as they too want to see you succeed.
Where do I find these people? Enter, SparkToro.
Reaching a new market is challenging and, while worth the effort, can take a significant amount of your precious time. You may only have one contact to begin with, gradually finding more as time goes on, but in the process potentially missing many prospects.
Rand and his business partner Casey discussed this difficulty and have come up with a new and very exciting tool that sifts through the billions on online profiles to find the ideal ones for you.
“SparkToro crawls the web, crawls a bunch of social profiles builds a targeted list. For example, let’s say I was starting a lighting design firm in the West Coast United States. There are currently around 70 million individual profiles online and growing, so we would filter out the seventeen thousand profiles that say in their bio that they are interior designers (we don’t use personal profiles at all). Of those, 940 are on the West Coast,” Rand explained.
“We then look at what are the podcasts they listen to the most, what are the websites they visit, what are the social accounts they follow, what events and conferences they talk about the most and even what hashtags they use.”
The end result is a very targeted, unbiased set of data from which you can accurately target your marketing and PR pursuits. Ultimately, this will result in more effective campaigns and much greater ROI with less work – so you can get on with running your burgeoning business day-to-day.
To find out more about Rand Fishkin and SparkToro, visit