Filling the Gaps in Your Small Business Marketing Foundation – Skip Blankley

Sara G. Norris

Investing in your small business marketing could give you the edge, traffic, and growth you are looking for in this new year. But with so much on the market, in terms of resources and technology, it may be tough to determine what’s effective in today’s market and what’s not.

On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Skip Blankley, Marketing Director for Juxt Media, to discuss marketing, effective strategies, and we’ll get his recommendations for small businesses.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Welcome into the show, Skip.

Skip Blankley:
Thank for having me, Jim. Good to be here.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So there’s a lot of small business owners out there, as you know here in Atlanta, that are coming off of two very crazy years in business, with COVID-19 hitting. It’s changed the way a lot of people have done business. However, they know one thing, that the market is strong out there. I mean, all of the economic indicators show that business is happening all over the place.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
But every business wants to get more than their fair share of the business that’s out there. And there’s no better place to start than with marketing and taking a look at what each business owner is doing in this area. So from your perspective, at what point should small business owners invest in marketing?

Skip Blankley:
Well, to be honest, I think if you’re in business, you should start marketing today. If you’re thinking about starting a business, you should start marketing today. Honestly, I think even before you open your doors or launch your website, whatever the case may be, you should be marketing. And that can take the form of just talking to friends, your peers, colleagues, other business owners, and determining whether … validating your idea is a really good way to start. I mean, marketing is essentially spreading the word about your business and you can start doing that before you even open your doors.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. And especially now in the world of social media, that everybody is on, whether it be Facebook or Twitter or whatever their choice is. And now we’ve got platforms like TikTok that you can do a whole lot on as well. What is your take on that? Should small business owners take a real serious look at that?

Skip Blankley:
At TikTok specifically?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
No, just at all social media. I mean, it seems to be a great way for small businesses to get the word out about what they offer, what they do, and how they can help the market.

Skip Blankley:
Yeah. So, yes. Well, I think the answer really is, it depends on your industry. It depends on your audience. And so, any good marketer would tell you that you want to start by defining your audience. You want to know who you’re marketing to. Your audience may be on TikTok. If you have that 17 to 25, or even younger demographic, then be on TikTok. Go where your audience is, essentially. And if your audience is … excuse me. If your audience is on social media, you should absolutely be marketing on social media.

Skip Blankley:
But I think even within the spectrum of social media, you have your specific … you have your Twitters, your Instagrams, Facebooks, et cetera. So figuring out where your target demographic spends the most time, and focusing on that specific platform. And in some cases in some industries, that may not be social media at all. But I think for most industries, at this point, you should have a presence on social media. It’s just determining which platform you should focus on.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. I spoke to one business owner here in Atlanta and they said, I’m on all of them. If there is a new one out there, I want to know about it, but I work diligently to make sure that I’m represented in all aspects. This individual owns a restaurant and he wants to get the word out. Whether the person is 20 years old or 90 years old, whether they’re a business person or a stay at home person that watches the kids, or what have you, they want that person to know about their restaurant. Is that a good idea, that if you’ve got a mass appeal product, to be everywhere that you can be on social media?

Skip Blankley:
Yeah, if you have the resources. I would not spread yourself too thin. Again, focusing on these specific platforms that you get the most response from. Maybe spend a couple months or three months posting to every single platform, find out where your audience is engaging with you, and then start focusing there. But yeah, if you’re just getting started, that wide-net approach, trying to capture as much attention as you can, is important.

Skip Blankley:
And in the case of a restaurant, absolutely. You’re trying to appeal to an 19 year old as much as you’re trying to appeal to a 65 year old, and everyone in between. So it, again, depends on the industry.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. So we’re talking about social media. This is obviously different than the traditional media, the radio, television, billboards, newspaper … I guess if anybody’s doing newspaper now. But talk to us about that. Is there still a place for traditional marketing? And maybe that includes even something like direct mail marketing, right to the home or the office. Talk to us about, is there still a place for that in ad budgets?

Skip Blankley:
Absolutely. And again, industry-specific. Real estate is a really good space, specifically, where the mailers are still working.. My wife and I just bought a home and our agent came from a referral … it was a good friend of mine whose wife is an agent. But we’re still getting mailers all the time when we’re ready to sell our home, call me, call me, call me. And if I didn’t have the network, if I didn’t have a real estate agent in my network, then there’s a good chance I would’ve picked up that postcard, thrown it on the fridge. And when the day came, perhaps reached out to that person.

Skip Blankley:
And so, newspapers … I mean, there are some spaces that I would consider dead. But again, know your audience. If your audience is picking up the AJC every morning, then you need to be advertising on the AJC.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. And what about advertising … back on social media. To buy the Facebook ads and to buy the Twitter ads and things of that nature, what do you tell your customers to do more? And I know it might be specific to the type of business that they run, but should the average person or the average business owner take their ad budget and say, okay, half I’m going to spend on digital and the other half is going to be traditional? How does a company decide what to spend, where?

Skip Blankley:
To decide where to spend, I would look at what your competition’s doing, and then combine that with some of the research you’ve done on, again, where your audience typically is. And you can find a lot. Success leaves a paper trail, digital and otherwise. And so, right, if you have a competitor in the space that you know is doing a really good job advertising online or offline, reverse engineer what they’re doing, find out where their budget is being allocated.

Skip Blankley:
There’s various … I mean, you can do your own research. There’s softwares out there that can help you dissect this as well, or you can work with a marketer who can help reverse engineer some of what your competition’s doing. But I think combining what your competition is doing and what’s working for your competition, with what you already know about your audience and your target market, I think that’s a great place to start.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, for sure. I spoke to one small business owner recently, and they said they didn’t realize they had a marketing problem or they needed a pro until they figured out that it was costing them around $300 to get a customer in, to buy their product. Well, this particular product and this particular company only makes $150 when they sell a product. So they’re saying to themselves, to acquire that customer is costing us 300. And when we do, we’re only making $150. It’s not going to take long to run out of money pretty quickly, when that’s the case. So it’s professionals that can bring things like that out to say, what’s your acquisition of this customer going to cost in order for you to turn a profit?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And it is amazing how small business owners will run out there and just be willy-nilly about their marketing budgets. Say, hey, we run it here, we run it there. Or better yet, anybody that walks into that small business and says, we have got the answer for you. We can find your customers. Whether it be a magazine or whether it be a radio rep or somebody that walks in. And if that person’s a good salesperson, you end up writing them a check thinking, oh, this is where all of our customers will come from. When in reality, it was just a good salesperson and not necessarily the best medium for you, right?

Skip Blankley:
Absolutely. Yeah. And that’s like the leaky pipe, right? Like, you may not realize that you have that slow drip in the basement until you’ve got a small flood and your carpet’s ruined and you’ve got mold growth. And when it comes to marketing and advertising, the same thing can happen to your money, to your ad spend, to your marketing budget. It’s a slow leak. And it often times … and we do a lot of that damage control and pipe repair, if you will.

Skip Blankley:
Where we go into an account that they’ve been running in-house, whether it’s a solopreneur who’s wearing all the hats, or a small team, multiple people wearing multiple hats. And someone takes a quick course up over the weekend on how to run Google ads or Facebook ads, and then they set up a campaign. Months go by, the leads aren’t coming in … the money is going out, but the leads aren’t coming in. We then step in and we find the cracks in the pipes, so to speak, and help fine tune things so that they’re able to get more bang for their buck, ultimately.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right. That’s right. I will say this to my fellow entrepreneurs out there, that you can make a mistake with regard to the marketing when you don’t have a pro and you make the change too late. What I mean by that is I’ve got a number of friends of mine that have jumped into business, oh, I can do this myself. I’ll buy ads here. I’ll do this, I’ll do that. And now they’re out of their marketing budget and it didn’t work and it didn’t bring in the kind of business that they wanted. And now all of a sudden, they bring in the pro and the pro says, okay. Well, now I’m here, we’ve put together a great strategy for your company. But you have no money to spend. You ended up wasting it and spending it in the early days.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So I would recommend to the people that are listening, that when it comes to marketing, if you don’t have marketing dollars, then think twice about opening up your business. Because you’re only going to get frustrated. If nobody’s going to know about you, and you think that just because you hung the shingle or you put up a sign out front, people are going to rush in, it doesn’t work that way. And if you’ve got money put aside for your business and it includes a marketing budget, make sure a professional is in the loop as to how you best spend those dollars, because it’s an area that you can really waste a lot of money.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And more importantly, you can waste a lot of time. You wish you had those six months back or that year back of the time that you could have been selling to your marketplace when in reality, your marketing strategy was all screwed up, because there actually wasn’t one. And I’ve been there myself many times as a business owner and an entrepreneur, and I would tell you, don’t make that mistake. So it’s best to bring in somebody like Skip that can sit down with you to say, let’s focus on what your market is, what you want your customers to hear in your marketing message. What does the branding look like?

Jim Fitzpatrick:
There’s so many different aspects that go into an effective marketing campaign, and Skip is one of the types out there in Atlanta that can help you with all of that. So Skip, if you had one piece of advice for our audience, as we start the new year here, with regard to marketing, what would it be?

Skip Blankley:
Start creating content, in its various forms. Start writing, start blogging, if that’s where your audience is. Start recording videos, start posting on social media. Just, I mean, start a podcast, whatever the case may be. Content … Bill Gates said it many years ago, before the internet became what it is today, and he’s still right. Content is, in fact, king. And if your company’s not creating it, then you’re going to get lost in the shuffle.

Skip Blankley:
Because the companies that are winning today, if you take a look at all the successful companies on the planet, they’re all creating content. They’re all telling their story. They’re all spreading the word about their brand and how their solution can help other people through content. And that’s that short-form, that’s long-form. Everything from a quick little update on Facebook, a three second video, to a full length documentary. It’s all brand awareness, it’s all content, and it all helps get the word out about your brand and your company.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
I couldn’t agree more. I completely agree, Skip. That is a great tip, actually. And I think for entrepreneurs and small business owners, they should listen to that, because it’s great advice. And in so many cases, creating content, getting it out there, it doesn’t even cost you anything. But at least it’s a start, and it’s a great suggestion. Hopefully you entrepreneurs out there in Atlanta listen to that.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So if you want to get more information on how Skip can help you, we’ll show all the information on the screen here. But until next time, Skip Blankely, who is the Marketing Director at JuxtMedia, thank you so much for joining us today on The Atlanta Small Business Show. I know that our viewers will get a lot out of your information today, so I appreciate it.

Skip Blankley:
Absolutely. Thanks again, Jim. Great to see you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Okay. Thanks.


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Filling the Gaps in Your Small Business Marketing Foundation – Skip Blankley | Juxt Media

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