Updated: May 9
Hello, it’s Paul Clegg and today I've got the pleasure of talking with Kelly Logan from SME Marketeers.
I’ll introduce you straightaway to Kelly.
Hello Kelly, I believe it's your first interview, so before we go into the meat of it. Just tell me a little bit about yourself.
Hi, Paul, Thank you for having me on.
So obviously, I'm a marketer and have been for a long time, but my other real passion in life is eventing. I have a horse. I used to event and I'm looking to event again now onto a new youngster that I've brought on. So that's what I do in my spare time, although there’s not much spare time with horses.
I believe that! I know a few people with horses.
So I’m looking at the website, what does SME stand for?
So obviously SME normally stands for small, medium enterprises, but we've been a little bit creative with it and we actually use it to mean small, micro and entrepreneurial companies. The idea of SME marketeers came about because there's three of us, with complementary marketing skills, all very passionate about digital marketing and also about helping small companies, using our knowledge to help them. And so while we were sitting there developing our ideas, this idea of three marketeers - a bit like Three Musketeers, or the SME marketeers - came about. And the famous ‘all for one motto’ neatly sums up what we want to do, which is really help small businesses. We really are behind you as a small business. And so it all came together quite nicely for the SME marketeers.
I also come from a marketing background. My marketing was formed at a large corporate organization. I was head of a team of 40 marketing people at one stage. The challenges of a small business are very much different than the challenges of a large business with a big marketing budget. Do you find that?
Yes, absolutely, I've been quite lucky that in my marketing career of over 20 years, I've worked in both global corporates and small companies. I've worked agency side and client side. So I've had a wide experience of working very much with the different needs of a small business to those of the corporate. And whilst there are some fundamental things that always the same - your marketing objectives must support your business goals; and it's always about how relevant you are to the customer making sure your message is relevant - there's very much different issues faced by a small company to one with deep pockets and lots of money to spend on their brand awareness.
I've always found that when I talk to people in business, the vast majority of them have got into business for their reasons, either they've left a corporate company or left a business and wanted to create something they own or following their passion, etc., that is where their expertise lies. The challenge then becomes, how do I go and find customers? How would you advise somebody right now that is starting a business?
Being a start-up, you’re obviously very much going to hit the brand awareness phase, getting people to know who you are. But budget is usually quite limited, so I will take one of two approaches:
1) If you're selling perhaps a product and you're looking to sell nationally so it doesn't really matter to you with the customers local or up in Scotland, you can do what I call piggybacking off of the big brands and their marketing and reputation. So people like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, all those places that have built a reputation, you can sort of piggyback off of their spend and their marketing to get your brand out there, [although it comes at a commission cost]. And then what I would do to compliment that would be to support it with Google paid search just on your brand name. So if someone does see your products on one of these big engines, and [at a later date] they want to come back directly, they can find you.* Because unfortunately, when you first start and you likely to have a new domain and a new business, you end up in what they call the ‘Google sandpit’. Which means for the first three months, Google will basically watch traffic to your site and it won't put you in search results until it proves to itself that you are a trustworthy source and that people are enjoying your site. And so, you have about three months where it monitors you before you start to appear. So, getting presence on somebody else's marketing spend in exchange for commission helps you and helps Google see traffic to your site to learn that you are actually trustworthy and get that ranking quicker. * N.B. There will be clauses about time periods for return and paying commissions 2) If you're a local, say you're a plumber or a driving instructor and you want to really just target a local community then you've got a different strategy you can employ, which is a much more local focus. And there are things you can do like having a Google My Business profile, which is free. You sign up with a Gmail account and you put in all the key information about your company. So now when someone types in your business name, you'll see it appear in what is called the knowledge panel - if you've ever noticed with some search results that a business comes up in the top right hand panel, and that's called a knowledge panel - and that has all your basic information. So that's a good way to start getting hits, getting yourself present on Google. You get reviews on there. It also scrapes reviews on social. So, again, if you if you're looking very much at the local community, get involved with the local community, the clubs, the social sports, the fetes and be a sponsor. Get brand awareness in a cost-effective way by giving up your time. Each of these sports clubs and communities will have a small website themselves and if they can link to your website, it does one of two things.
You're getting customers to come to you from these sources,
But also, you're giving Google a tip off that actually your you're active in the local business. So now when someone starts to search for your business, Google is putting all this information together and you're starting to rise in its maps and in its local search.
It's just about being creative, especially when budgets are small at the start - the first phase of start-up.
You made a very good point there, Kelly, because as an observer of the way people start-up businesses that don't understand marketing, the first thing they think they need is a website.
And, of course, very often, I think you've mentioned it earlier, they don't have a great deal of budget, and yet marketing isn't a website and a website isn't marketing. It's an element within the whole marketing mix. You've talked about Google. You've talked about social media. I just talked about websites. There's lots of ways to market your business, so would you say that the first thing that somebody should do is to talk to somebody that understands marketing somebody like yourself before they even start looking at a website?
Yes, because I think often the way things come about is they [small business owner] start chatting with friends and family or perhaps they're at a trade show and people say, “oh, have you got a website, I want to find out a bit more about you?” and the awareness of needing a website comes about. But they don't have a lot of information about how to create a website, so they start Googling and see the likes of Go Daddy and lots of big brands that can actually help you get live quickly.
But actually, if you haven't done the background preparation and this is so often the case, people start a Website build, but it doesn't do what they want to, it's too difficult and they find that:
a) they stop using it because it's just taking up too much of their time and they can't really see a return; Or
b) they built a site and they dogmatically followed a template and now no one's really coming and buying and they don't understand why.
And so I think you really need to take a step back and be really clear about what you want from your website - have a really clear objective about what you want the customer to do when they get there and make sure that your copy, your navigation and page design really prioritises the message you want and the action you want them to take.
If your site aim is booking into a facility or buying a product or getting someone to call you about your service - keep in mind, the end to end journey. And then think about what you need as a customer lands on your site. What information do they need to support their decision to move forward and find out more about you at each stage until they eventually become a purchaser.
I've actually done a preparation sheet (below) that will help people to write down all the information that they need to make it clear in their head before they approach creating a website. Because with the content management systems available, you can do it yourself, but you do need to have the preparation behind. So you do need to do a little bit of information and a little bit of digging and prep before you start.
On our Web site, we have what we call the Getting Started Guides section, and there's information - videos and downloads - so that you can actually do this yourself. Because again, part of our motto being all for one, we really want to help people do this for themselves. And the people who have started their business are so passionate about what they do, and you really want those people to be able to show the world how great they are. And so, it's just making an equal playing field. You want to really help them.
I am sometimes very provocative with a new business or any business - I'll say you really need a website? I only say that just to get them thinking about what they want the website for. And what people don't realise is that I might get a website up, but then the challenge is getting people to look at that site. OK. You can show your friends you've got a website, but they're not probably buying from you anyway.
So, I think that's one of the biggest reasons they ought to be talking to somebody like yourself to begin with. Decide what you want a website to do, what you need it to do and how can you make it stand out and get attention?
Absolutely. And I think that's true of all channels. Something I often see again with small business owners is that they've gone to a conference and they've been told that the new thing is this - it's podcasts, converkit, and so on. And they cram it onto their site because they've been told “this is what's gonna make them sales”.
And yet the customer lands and is really confused about what this ‘thing’ is. They don't even know what you're offering yet and this this thing's leaping out at me, and it's not even part of what I've landed on your site to achieve.
And again, we have conversations with people and they say: “oh, I think I should be using TikTok”. And our reply is “Okay. But your target audience is 45 to 70. They don't care or even know about TikTok - they still think that's the sound of a clock! It means nothing to them!”. So why use TikTok other than it’s the latest fad? You know, it's about really understanding who your customers are, where they are and being present where they are rather than trying to force them into a channel that they're just not going to use.
I’m laughing because I'm thinking of the older person, even older than me, to who TikTok makes them think of their pacemaker's.
[laughs] Exactly. It's really about using the channels that your target market is looking at is consuming.
So I think the business owners got to realise that they've got to live up to resources that usually very precious. The first one is money. They have a limited amount to spend on marketing and getting out there. And the other one is time. But it's a challenge.
And I think, again, that's why part of the prep sheet I've put together is about identifying your target. Creating personas - it's kind of a marketing gimmick – but actually just by identifying who your customers are and having in mind who they are and how they might be looking for you can tailor the marketing channels.
You say, for example, [Excuse the generalisation for these purposes] Tim, who's 45, he's an investment banker. And he in his spare time, he likes to run. He's going to be looking at certain media. He's probably not influenced by social media, but he'd be looking at other sources, perhaps he reads the Times or The Telegraph. You need to try to understand where that person is going to find their information. He's not likely going to go to TikTok.
But the 19 year old student doing a fashion degree, might actually find that she's very into mobile and is often consuming videos from YouTube and TikTok. They'll be influenced by social media and they probably want a whole experience. They don't just want to land on a site by and go. They actually want the whole experience. And so if you can understand who your customer is, you can tailor what you offer and how you offer it and which channel you use to the best advantage.
If anyone is still watching this, they are probably shouting at the screen saying, "I’ve only got so much money!" So therefore, I would say that people need to invest their money where it's going to count. And unless they see marketing as an investment, they'll end up seeing it as a cost.
Now they'll turn their marketing off instead of turning their marketing up. Investments, in my view, is something you where you spend money and you're able to measure what return you get - a return on investment. Too many people spend money without even thinking about is it working? What return am I getting? We don't measure.
I agree. Again, to that point, it's key to have a measurement and a forecast. So the first thing we do, when looking to help start-ups is we look at the channels that will work for them and we forecast how that will pan out. We provide this as a spreadsheet you can use. And also, we have a monitoring spreadsheet so that each week you can see how you are performing against those channels.
The beauty of digital marketing over the old traditional media that we used to have is that, perhaps back in the day we used to put £600 into advertising in Yellow Pages and that be you for a year. And if you didn't get anything, you didn't get anything. Whereas now with digital, if that's your budget, you can put it into different media and start to see which is performing and and move the money appropriately. The only thing to be mindful of there is that if your volumes are small and you're expecting an instant return, you might take your money out of something which actually turns out to be giving you a lot of brand awareness and if you've killed off too quickly. You do need to be mindful of the figures and let them roll for a little time to actually give you some insight to what's going on.
And you don't need to spend a lot of money, I believe, to test out as to whether this investment in this media, or this campaign is working better than that. You don't need a great deal of money
Not at all. As I said previously with the local strategy, if you are a local business, you can be very cost effective and you can be creative about how you reach your market without incurring too much cost. So, as we said, getting involved in local communities, having a social presence. There are ways to get brand awareness and getting that business in before you actually have to start spending finances.
One killer of most businesses is cash flow, and that means that you're not getting enough pay for revenue in, before you're spending so much money out and is the time factor in there too.
So, you can decide to do it without an investment and it will take you longer. But will you still be around in the long term?
I think about all the challenges that a business owner has to put up with so many plates in the air that I maintain that you're just not able to do it on your own. You need to have somebody to talk to. And I would suggest, first of all, a good accountant that will help you control your costs. But your accountant will be looking at controlling costs. Very few of them are marketing orientated. So, the second person you need to have in your team is somebody like yourself that understands the challenges and is looking to help people get customers, get people in front of that person, getting the right people in front of that person's problems.
Absolutely. We had a question the other day. Someone said, well, how much should I be spending? What sort of money should I spend each month on my not spending enough or should I spend more? And we say work it backwards. What's the end goal you're trying to achieve? You know, don't just throw hundreds or thousands at it and say, it didn't work. What are you trying to achieve?
Work backwards from the conversion rates and how many people you have to reach and then work out you spend appropriately. Then look to the spend amount - does the spend tally? If the spend is outperforming the money coming in. Don't run that campaign.
That's why you need numbers, people and creative people together.
And that's what I love about marketing, because it does marry those two sides. You often have people in marketing who like problem solving. I love data figures. I'm quite mathematical, but I'm also quite creative. So, what I love is you can look at the patterns and the numbers that are coming through and then you try and find a creative answer to getting a campaign or a website or whatever channel live.
You're looking to do creative response to the problem you've got. So, I love that it matches the data side, the number crunching aside with the creative side, although I can't draw, I can only draw a stick man, I'm not creative artistically.
All business is a cost:
~ There's a cost to getting in business.
~ There's either a cost financially or there's a cost time.
~ And the time it takes to get paying customers enough to be able to sustain your expenses is the biggest challenge.
You can either do it the hard way or you can do it a more effective way. And anything that gets you those customers faster, has got to be worthwhile - providing you know the value of the customer and the cost of acquiring that customer. So, Facebook, YouTube, for instance, advertising is under-rated, I hear that Facebook costs dropped by about 40 percent during this lock down.
We've actually seen Facebook work in places that you wouldn't really consider, like for a business to business audience, which I would never have thought Facebook would work for.
But it gave them [the client] brand awareness, it gave those initial first steps to people who are searching. And it always contributes.
The beauty of things like Google Analytics is that you can see which channels people are coming from to land on your site and it tells you how often. People will use three or four channels in their research, they may see you through Facebook, then come back through a Google search or a recommendation or link from another social channel. And it shows you all of those channels that are involved in reaching a sale. So it really does help you, as you're learning, to really target down onto which channels are working for you and make sure that the spend that you've got is going into the right places.
Google's doing an algorithm update next year, which will be all about usability and its ranking will be about stickability and how people land and stay and engage your sites. If they're landing [on your site] and it's confusing and they're disappearing, then you're going to start to drop [in the rankings.] So, for me, those are the key areas to be thinking of and doing what you can to tick the boxes for Google. But if you focus on the customer first and you tick the boxes for them and you give them a good user experience and they're out there telling people, you are by association ticking the boxes for Google. So you should see these two naturally go hand in hand.
Google wants to match the person looking for a product or service with the most appropriate products and service. That's the best user experience for Google because we'll continue to use Google. People understand that and they understand how Google finds people through keywords, for instance. They'll know that just writing something or just putting something up on social media isn't necessarily marketing. It's fun.
There's a lot of people with lots of followers accept not doing any business. You’ve got to married the two really. You got to have a call to action to take people, as you say, on that journey.
I'm looking at my iPhone now because that's what my camera. One small iPhone has got to be the best marketing machine. I know it's got the ability to do everything and anything that anybody in marketing would want to do. All in the palm of your hands. You just got to know what buttons to press.
Absolutely. As you say, everything is delivered directly to your phone so you can you can use any channel and then you have a mobile device that people are taking with them everywhere. So you can reach people at any time of the day that they want to be able to consume your product. They can just switch on and take it. You know, it's fantastic that we have the technology these days that can enable that.
If we'd had this [Covid-19] 20 years ago, it would have been a completely different scenario. But we have so much available to us now. And it's just about being creative and going with it. And I think that's what small businesses have in abundance. The fact they've set up on their own just shows the entrepreneurial spirit that they have. And I love working with small businesses because the creativity that comes out of some people just blows you away and they are just really, really dedicated to what they do.
I've been talking to quite a few people are realizing that they need to have more of a digital presence or they need to refresh their digital presence. They need to refresh their website. How would you approach somebody that wants to refresh their website?
So if they're refreshing their website, I would say that they'd have some analytics on it already - hopefully. So, they will see what's working and what people have engaged with.
From a Google point of view, if you've had a website out for many years, they found you and they've ranked through your pages. So the last thing you want to do is take it down, scratch off and start again because you're starting that sandpit again. And naturally, you've got ranking and you will have pages that you are ranking for and that people engage with. So you want to use that as a basis.
And again, thinking about what your objective is, what the customer wants to achieve. You may just need to tweak the design. I had one client who had lots of different things going on. She offered sports coaching in lots of different ways and revising her site was just about just crystallizing the navigation in to more clear boxes. So just be more concise about the things that you are offering. Make the navigation smoother and really clearly prioritising the different aspects [you are] offering. And actually, for this client we still used a lot of the content, but we cut things where it was repetitive.
Another thing I see often with small businesses is they start to tell you a story about benefit. “You can use my system and it does this and that. They get the customer thinking, oh, that's great, that's great.” And then halfway through the conversation, they say, also it does this and they go off on a different tangent and they've lost the customer and the sale’s gone. They never really completed the loop of getting that complete buy in from the customer. They started to create what we call the desire for the product but before they go into their reasoning and the ‘Let me take action’ element, they've gone off on a different tangent and they've lost the sale completely. And you see that a lot of Web sites, flyers, Facebook, post videos. It's really common because it's almost not understanding the concept of closing that sale down. And again, that's back to my point of having a really clear goal. Every communication you have, whether it's Web site, Facebook, Twitter, flyer, a poster in the village, will have a really clear objective to what you're trying to get from the customer to do from that piece of communication.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you today. And I hope everybody that's got this far in the interview is found something that has been of value to them. And certainly, if they're looking to refresh their appearance digitally or they're looking to get something started to attract more customers, they should give you a call. Thank you very much indeed, Kelly.