Paul Chaney has spent years studying, and working in, marketing. As head of of Chaney Marketing Group, he puts that knowledge to work for small businesses every year. Paul sat down with us to talk about marketing and what any small business can do to push their efforts further.
Tell us a bit about Chaney Marketing Group. How did you get started?
CMG started four years ago based on the fact that I don’t make a very good employee. I’m better out on my own. At the time, I was the online marketing director for a small tech company, and realized that in order to follow my heart, I needed to start my own business.
Actually, this is my second time to run an online marketing consultancy. In 2005, I started a boutique agency called Radiant Marketing Group, which was acquired by a startup in 2006.
How has marketing changed, since you’ve been working in the industry?
I’ve been doing online marketing in one form or another since 1996 and, as a result, have seen dramatic changes, the most prominent of which is the shift toward customer-centric marketing. That comes out of the polarity shift that social media brought about, which gave the consumer a stronger voice and, with it, increased influence in product purchase decision making.
More recently, the advent of big data and predictive analytics means that marketing must be data-driven. The Mad Men days of making decisions based on intuition or instinct are over. Thanks to big data, we can know what the customer wants before they do.
We all know the big changes social media has brought to marketing. What are some of the more subtle ones you think people have missed?
For me, the reason social media is (or can be) so powerful is that it humanizes marketing. I just talked about how big data is changing marketing, but nothing beats the personal touch. (Big data just helps me know “who” to touch and when.) Marketing via social media may be virtual, but it’s visceral, as well.
What are some of the challenges in marketing a small business online?
Time, for one. I just spoke with a small business owner who was interested in using my services because he doesn’t have time to do the work himself. Nor did he have time to keep up with all the changes continually taking place in social media and digital marketing.
Money is another. This same business owner and I were unable to strike a deal because he did not have the budget for it. I’m not that expensive either!
What are some basic steps a new business can take to improve their marketing?
I think in terms of systems. Everything need to fit inside some time of coordinated strategic marketing process. I advise small businesses to take three steps:
1. Develop a content plan based on themes and topics relevant to their business and that supports marketing communications goals and objectives. Think in terms of keywords, too.
2. Based on the plan, begin creating content for use on their website. Most often, this comes in the form of blog posts, but could include videos, images, PowerPoint presentations, email newsletter, etc. In order to maximize its value, take a piece of content and repurpose it for use in another form.
3. Syndicate that content to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and content networks such as YouTube, Flickr, Instagram and Slideshare.
I mentioned that marketing now must be data-driven. In that respect, using a marketing automation system such as Infusionsoft, Hubspot or Salesforce can help immensely.
Where do you see digital marketing heading for small businesses?
Two trends that I see on the horizon are mobile marketing and big data. We do everything on our mobile phones, so it makes sense to move marketing into that space, as well. Access to data will become more readily available to small business, so marketing decision-making will be driven by it going forward. Big data will help make marketing more personal, as well.
Want to know more about Paul? Follow him on Twitter.