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Traditional Marketing vs. Digital Marketing: How, When, and Why To Use Each Form

As we’ve shared in other blog posts, we don’t love the use of the phrase “traditional marketing” to refer to activities that marketing teams at organizations, and advertising agencies, employed prior to the arrival of the internet and the digital marketing tactics made possible by it, but it’s become a tradition now to use the word “traditional,” and it’s something we don’t see changing. As we just alluded to, digital marketing activities are those that require the internet for execution and/or present information in a digital fashion or on some form of digital media.

Per our blog post heading, the aim of this discussion is to provide some insight on the difference between traditional and digital marketing and when to use each form. Most organizations will benefit from employing a combination of traditional and digital marketing for the reasons outlined below.

What Is Digital Marketing?

As we expressed above, digital marketing activities are those that require the internet or other digital technology/platforms for execution. Unlike traditional marketing opportunities that are all about putting the idea of your products, services, and solutions in the heads of individuals who might be a good fit for them, many digital marketing activities, such as organic search/SEO, paid search advertising, and social media posting are focused on getting information in front of individuals who are actively searching for your particular organization and/or the products, services and solutions you provide. Digital marketing activities include:

  • E-mail marketing – sending an e-mail/e-blast to existing clients, or to prospective customers who meet your target-audience criteria, e.g., meet certain age, geography, income, gender, job title, industry, or other demographics.
  • Social media postingposting free/unpaid updates on various social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, and LinkedIn.
  • Display advertising/social media advertising – this includes running paid ads that are served up by a social media platform, such as Instagram or Facebook (you can buy ads on the two aforementioned platforms together) to people meeting the targeting requirements you set, such as those outlined above for e-mail marketing; plus, Google Ads offers display (image) advertising to allow you to reach individuals whose behaviors, interests, and demographics make them a good fit for your products and services.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – employing free/unpaid/organic tactics such as optimizing behind-the-scenes meta/SEO post and page title tags to ensure your website and Google My Business Profile rank as well as possible in Google and other search-engine results for relevant searches conducted by your target audiences.
  • Paid search advertising – think Google Ads or Bing Ads – these are ads that are served up a the top of search results for search terms used by target audiences that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions an organization offers. This former blog post addresses when it makes senses to employ paid search/paid SEO tactics.
  • Banner advertising – this is advertising that is bought from an external website that serves the same target audience your organization wants to reach.
  • Other – the above list is not exhaustive, but highlights the most common forms of digital marketing. Other examples of digital marketing include, but are not limited to, digital billboards or transit posters, and ads that run on a TV-type monitor at transit stations, such as subway stations.

So, What Is Traditional Marketing?

As we explain in our blog post about push vs. pull marketing, to us, many forms of traditional marketing are “push” activities. They are marketing vehicles and activities that reach your target audience(s) and put the idea about your product, service and solution in their heads. Examples of traditional target marketing activities/vehicles include:

  • Broadcast Advertising – radio and TV (network and cable — of course now, you can also run advertising on streaming channels and stations)
  • Print Advertising – magazine, newspapers, and other print publications
  • Direct Mail – a postcard or letter is mailed to a purchased or existing list of current or prospective clients
    • When the list is purchased, the names and addresses you obtain would meet certain criteria that you specify, like geography, age, gender, income, job title, industry, etc.
  • Outdoors Advertising – billboards (static poster, and now digital options as well)
  • Transit Advertising – posters and signage (static, and now digital options as well) that appear inside a bus, train, or subway car, or on train, bus, or subway platforms. You can also “wrap” a bus or train, or a bus stop kiosk, with your branding.
  • Mall or movie theater advertising – posters and signage (static, and now digital options as well) that are placed throughout mall corridors or advertising that appears at the beginning of a movie while one is waiting for a movie to start.
  • Event Attendance/Tabling – the aforementioned could refer to having a table at a community or some other event where prospective customers can walk up to your table to obtain information about your organization and your products and services.
  • Tradeshow Attendance/Booth – the aforementioned is all about setting up a booth at a trade show which is expected to draw your target audience, and sharing information about your products and services with booth visitors.
  • PR/Publicity – distributing press releases to gain media coverage of an announcement made by your organization, or pitching your story to media/reporters who serve your target audience in hopes the media/reporter will “cover” your story.
  • Other – the above list is not exhaustive, but highlights the most common forms of traditional marketing. Other examples of traditional marketing include but are not limited to distribution of branded, promotional items, and lobby merchandising (if your organization has physical locations that customers can visit).

Why Most Organizations Should Employ Both Traditional and Digital Marketing Tactics

As we’ve discussed with many of our clients, some target audience members may not be “online” regularly. Perhaps, their busy personal and work lives just don’t allow for them to be regularly viewing social media posts and profiles, and/or conducting search-engine searches. Or, they may just not like being online.

While, individuals who visit your social media profiles and/or land on your website because they conducted an appropriate search-engine search might be warmer/hotter leads — therefore, they may be more poised to buy your products, or engage you for your services/solutions in the near future — some other target audience members may need some prodding or reminders (delivered to them via traditional media) about your products, services, and solutions.

Sometimes, there’s just not enough people searching regularly related to the products, services, and solutions that your organization offers. Target audiences just don’t know you and/or your products and services exist. All the more reason to employ some traditional marketing tactics.

Free Marketing Brainstorm With Marketing Experts

Our Boston marketing agency has experience related to executing the majority of the digital marketing and traditional marketing tactics above. Unsure which tactics to execute when, or need more detail on what’s involved in executing them, and/or more information on production and media-buy costs?

Schedule a complimentary discussion with our expert marketing team today to brainstorm about your organization’s particular marketing opportunities and challenges.

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4 Free Google Accounts Each & Every For-Profit and Non-Profit Organization Needs

Regardless of whether your organization is for-profit or non-profit, because it’s highly likely you want target audiences to learn about your mission, products, services, and solutions, and you want to be able track which marketing and communications activities are creating awareness and sales/engagement, you’ll stand to benefit greatly from setting up and using the following four types of free Google accounts:

  1. A Google My Business Profile – this supports your organization being found locally by relevant searchers, since often Google will serve up a Google My Business Profile in lieu of a website for searches that include “near me” or the name of a city or town. You don’t want to miss on out on the opportunity to make target audiences aware of your organization!
  2. Google Analyticsa GA4 Google Analytics account will allow you to analyze which of your marketing activities are driving the most traffic to your website, e.g., Google Ads, social media advertising, organic social media posts, search-engine optimization tactics, or e-mail/e-newsletters.
  3. Google Search Console – this tool serves a couple of purposes. It allows you to see for which search terms Google is most frequently serving up your website. And, then, for which search terms for which Google serves up a listing (which includes a link to your website) are searchers then clicking on the link to visit your site. This free Google tool also lets you see, on average, where in Google Search results listings, a listing with a link to your site appears, and the % of people who click on a listing link when it is served up to them. You can also use your Google Search Console account to submit revised or new blog posts or website pages for indexing/crawling, so that you don’t have to wait for Google to find this new and revised content, and therefore, wait for Google to start serving it up in search results for relevant searches.
  4. Google Tag Manager – this tool allows you to set up tags that track various actions that a website visitor can take on your website. These tags basically “fire” and provide data to and in Google Analytics when visitors take actions like completing and submitting an inquiry form on your website, clicking on a hyperlinked e-mail address or phone number, scheduling an appointment, or purchasing something. Such desired actions by visitors are known as “conversions.” Without the use of a conversion-tracking tool like Google Tag Manager, you’re never going to know what marketing activities are causing website visitors to “convert,” and as a recent article about analyzing digital advertising results from Search Engine Land explains, that’s so important to understanding the effectiveness of various marketing activities and where to spend your marketing time and dollars.
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Need Help Setting Up Google Accounts?

Our team is always here to help. Contact our Boston digital marketing agency today for assistance or learn more about such services on our Google Analytics Set-up and Reporting and SEO services pages.

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SEO Is What?

Sure, we could have titled our blog post, “what is SEO?” (and we do answer that question in the explanation about our Boston SEO Company’s SEO services), but where’s the fun in that when we’re using an SEO tool, which we regularly recommend others use, to identify what questions are asked most often about SEO (search engine optimization). “SEO Is What?” is one of the most-asked question about SEO. So, in keeping with what we advised our readers to do to prepare for and capitalize on Google SGE, we’re going to answer that great question below.

SEO What Is It?

And, while we’re at it, we’re going to answer another very similar high-volume search question. The one in our header above. Because succeeding at “search” is all about making content understandable, we’re going to keep this really simple. SEO means employing tactics, activities, and best practices that support and lead to both your organization’s website and other digital properties, such as your Google My Business profile, or your social media presences, ranking well in Google for relevant searches.

So, what’s a relevant search? A relevant search is when individuals (likely target audience members for your product or service) enter terms into a search engine, like Google, that are relevant to the products and services your organization offers and the geography in which you offer them. These relevant search terms are known as “keywords.”

What Are SEO Tactics?

Some SEO experts break down SEO tactics into these different categories. And, quite honestly, some use the category terms differently, but this should still give you a good idea of what SEO is all about. Note that on-page and off-page SEO tactics also fall into either the “organic” SEO category or the “technical” SEO category.

What Is On-Page SEO?

This category of SEO tactics includes tactics you implement on your website pages and posts, such as incorporating high-volume, relevant search terms (keywords) in your website content, like we are doing with this blog post. And, making sure behind-the-scenes tagging capabilities, known as meta tags (available with all website platforms), are used appropriately to provide Google and other search engines with essential information about your website — and ultimately the products and service you offer, and the people you serve.

What Is Off-Page SEO?

These are SEO tactics that happen “off” your website, but impact SEO results and being found on Google. A great example of off-page SEO is soliciting backlinks (links on other external sites back to your site) from organizations with whom you partner, collaborate, are a member of, etc. Another great example is making sure you establish and maintain an effective Google My Business Profile.

What Is Organic SEO?

Tactics that fall in this SEO category are tactics that focus on making sure your content is helpful and addresses target audiences’ needs and questions, and tactics that ensure Google and other search engines can easily crawl your site and know what your content is about (via the meta tags we talked about above), your location, and the location you serve.

What Is Technical SEO?

This last category of SEO tactics is often overseen by a web developer or requires a web developer’s help. It’s all about making sure your website is mobile-friendly, and can, therefore, be read by mobile devices like cell phones and tablets that access it. And, that your site loads quickly.

What Is Paid SEO?

Paid SEO means buying advertising from search engines like Google to support an ad with a link to your website appearing at the top of search engine results for desirable keywords for the geography you serve. Since Google is still used by 92% of internet searchers conducting an online search, we equate Paid SEO to Google Ads.

Need Help Ensuring Your Site Is Optimized For Search In 2024?

Schedule a complimentary 1/2 hour Zoom call with our team of SEO experts to discuss your organization’s SEO opportunities and challenges.

Make 2024 the year your website and other online presences/profiles get found!

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Is Social Media Worth It?

On average, 110 individuals a month enter the question posed in our blog post title into Google. That’s over 1,300 individuals a year wondering whether they should be investing their time, energy, and money in social media.

Obviously, our Boston digital marketing agency and SEO company doesn’t know the intent behind the posing of this question. Are the searchers posing this question related to their personal use of social media or use of social media for their business? We’re guessing it’s a combination of both. That said, the purpose of this blog post is not to answer the question of how much time you should spend on social media related to your personal life, but rather, with a new year about to get underway, whether you should continue to invest time, energy, and money related to posting on social media and how much.

How Much Time & Energy Should My Organization Spend On Social Media?

The answer to the above is it all depends on the nature of your organization and the products and services you offer, plus the social media results you’ve seen to-date. I remember when organizations first started using social media to promote their businesses — I recall that happening in the early 2010’s. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations felt that if they didn’t jump on the social media bandwagon, they’d be left behind, have a huge competitive disadvantage, and maybe suffer great financial consequences. At the time I was in a marketing role at a health care organization, and quite honestly, I did champion the use of social media to create awareness of my organization’s services, but I don’t think I ever believed that social media was going to have an immediate, large impact on sales results. In many cases, as discussed below, social media has a less immediate impact and is more about creating awareness.

As a marketer, while I’ve often felt hesitant to voice the above and related thoughts about social media to other marketers, I’ve always been nervous and apprehensive about organizations moving too much of their marketing team’s or agency’s time and/or budget away from other traditional and digital marketing activities, and into organic social media activities vs. paid social media ones and/or investing too heavily in organic social media. Why? Because I just wasn’t seeing organic social media vs. social media ads moving the “conversion” needle, i.e., causing desired actions by target audiences, particularly when they visited an organization’s website.

Website Data Doesn’t Lie

For years now, I’ve been able to use various forms of Google Analytics to track either my employer’s or my clients’ website visitors — how they arrived on the site and what actions they took there. In many cases, very regular social media posting was driving very little traffic to their websites, and the traffic that was visiting their sites (due to clicking on a link to their website shared via a social media post or profile) wasn’t taking a desired action like completing a lead or inquiry form, or buying a product or service.

2024 Recommended Social Media Use By Businesses

So, what does that mean for organizations and their use of social media in the new year?

  • Consider how much time and money you have to spend on all forms of marketing, not just organic social media posting. Whether it be internal staff or an outside marketing consultant or agency that does the work, how many hours and what marketing $ budget will you have to spend in the new year for all forms of marketing?
  • Based on 2023’s time and $$ spend on social media (fees to agencies and/or consultants for their organic social media post work vs. social media advertising work and/or advertising buy), how much of your 2024 marketing budget and time would be spent on organic social media posting vs. social media advertising, and does it warrant that percentage of your overall marketing budget and time being spent on it? So, how will you know if it’s warranted? Ask yourself the following:
    • Do any sales or leads tracking systems, including Google Analytics (GA4) indicate that you are getting a sufficient number of inquiries or sales to justify the time and $$ associated with organic social media posting?
    • Do you often learn anecdotally from new and prospective clients that they learned about you on social media due to your posts or profile?
    • Does the product or service that you offer have a long lead time, i.e., do target audiences often take a long time and do a lot of research about your products and services before they make a decision, and therefore, is awareness creation among target audiences an important first step in the sales process?
    • Is your product or service one that target audiences tend to investigate on social media such as a consumer goods or consumer service one, like jewelry, clothing, a hairdresser, or a restaurant?

If you can answer “yes” to any of the questions above, then it’s likely you still want to have a fairly robust presence on social media in 2024 and, therefore, do want to continue to put out a steady stream of social media posts on the various platforms in which you participate. Keep in mind that daily posting is likely unnecessary and may actually be considered by target audiences as annoying. 3-5 posts a week is likely the ideal cadence for most organizations posting on social media.

Do I Need To Have A Social Media Profile On All Social Media Platforms?

The answer to the above is “no,” and if you do, it’s likely because you haven’t taken the time to really understand your particular target audiences and their social media preferences. Which profiles are they most likely to hang out on based on their age and interests — and are they personal platforms vs. professional ones like LinkedIn? Are there particular platforms like “X,” (formerly Twitter) or TikTok that your target audiences won’t/don’t visit and on which your organization wouldn’t want to have a profile simply because of all the negative press and sentiment associated with those platforms?

Add “first user source/medium” as a second dimension to your Google Analytics traffic acquisition report to determine which forms of social media are driving the most traffic to your website and/or your Google Analytics conversions/events reports (and add same “first user source/medium” dimension) to see which site visitors coming from social media are taking desired actions on your site. That will help you determine which platforms you should continue to post to most regularly, if at all (although don’t completely vacate a platform without encouraging visitors to follow you on another social media platform).

The Social Media Platform You Should Always Be Posting To

Being the SEO geeks and SEO experts that we are, we always say to our existing and prospective clients, “always think of your Google My Business Profile as another form of social media.” As we explain in our blog post about ranking locally, when Google decides to serve up your website in search engine results for relevant terms, depending on whether or not a geographic (city, town) or “near me” term was included in the search phrase, Google might serve up your website or it might serve up your Google My Business Profile.

To keep your Google My Business Profile ranking as well as possible in search results, be sure to keep it fresh/current, as Google rewards such profiles the way it does websites.

Need Help Related to 2024 Strategic Marketing Planning?

Need help figuring out where and how to spend your 2024 marketing $$ and time? Reach out for a complimentary discussion of your marketing challenges and opportunities.

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Blogging Is Still A Very Effective SEO Tactic

I recently watched a video from an SEO expert who stated that, for certain organizations, regular blogging may no longer be an effective SEO strategy.

The above is not what I’ve seen in the past and what I continue to see. My clients who make and take the time to write and post new blog posts on topics that their particular target audiences are interested in and need to better understand, continue to drive traffic to their website from audiences who have great potential to buy their products or use their services. And, they are driving those relevant audiences because they are ranking well on Google for desirable search terms (known as keywords) because Google is indexing their blog content and serving it up in search results in relevant geographies.

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How To Blog Effectively

Anyone can “blog,” but how do you blog effectively to support SEO and actual sales?

  • Employ a keyword planner tool, like Google Ads’, to determine on which high-volume keywords your target audiences are searching
  • Use tools like Ubersuggest, Google Trends, and Answer The Public to see what questions your audiences has or what they are searching most about, and create blog posts that speak to those searches and questions
  • Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine what new, or long-time, blog posts on your site individuals are visiting most and make sure that you:

Need Ideas About What To Blog About?

Our team can help you develop a blogging strategy that would include research to determine what you should be blogging about. Depending on the complexity of the products and services you offer, we can even write and post your blog posts for you and make sure they get crawled/indexed by Google.

Reach Out To Our Boston SEO Company Today!

We love a good complimentary discussion about any organization’s marketing challenges or opportunities — whether the organization be a nonprofit or for-profit. To-date, we’ve supported approximately 125 different brands, so there’s very few industries, products, or services for which we don’t have at least some relevant marketing experience; plus, we’re quick to learn new industries, products, and services. So, schedule your free call with our team of SEO experts today!

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How Publicity Supports SEO (Being Found on Google)

Sure, after reading the above title, you probably immediately thought publicity activities support far more than SEO. Without a doubt that’s true. We’ve always been a huge fan of activities that create or cause publicity (public awareness), particularly ones that lead to online or print coverage like pitching a story to appropriate reporters/media, or sending them a press release. Publicity tends to be a fairly “free” means of creating awareness, or driving sales or engagement, although there’s the cost of time spent drafting a press release or a pitch, and then, time spent outreaching to various media. And, if you use a media service to distribute your press release or there’s an event associated with the publicity, there’s those additional costs. Still, publicity can be far less costly than buying advertising.

The SEO Pay-off of Pitches and Press Releases

But, the purpose of this blog post is not to discuss ALL the merits and benefits of implementing publicity tactics, but rather it’s specifically about why and how publicity activities can support your organization being found on Google, which is what Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about. When a news publication or some other organization either publishes information you shared with them in a press release or writes a story (based on a story you pitched them and their interviewing one or several individuals associated with your organization), and then shares it on their website or blog, they’ll almost always include what’s known as a backlink to your organization’s website.

As we discussed in our blog post about the benefits of backlinks, a link to your website or blog — placed on the website or blog of an external organization — increases the likelihood that Google will serve your website up in search results (and higher up in results) as long as the website/blog that is providing the backlink is considered reputable/creditable by Google. This is how publicity directly influences SEO.

But, even if individuals reading the online article/post about you don’t click on a backlink to visit your site, they may Google you later or type the URL they see in an article directly into their browser or search engine and visit your site via those means vs. the backlink. The aforementioned holds particularly true for printed articles, such as articles that appear in a newspaper or magazine. Regardless of how visitors get to/land on your online site or blog, increased traffic volume supports SEO. In general, Google views sites that have greater traffic volumes as ones that are more creditable/reputable, and Google prefers to serve up the aforementioned types of sites. This is how publicity may less directly influence SEO.

In sum, both print and online story and press release coverage can support SEO, even if the support is less direct!

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Reach Out To Our Boston SEO Company To Talk About The Overlap Between SEO and Publicity

Our Boston digital marketing agency and SEO company would love to chat with you about how publicity can support SEO success and what type of publicity makes sense for you and your organization to consider and pursue. So, reach out today to schedule a call with our publicity and SEO experts.

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Four Things Getting & Staying In Shape and SEO Have In Common

Since our blog here at Results C & R focuses on marketing, but still covers one of our passions — walking — once in a while, we’ve been giving some thought to how we can combine two of our favorite topics in one blog post. Therefore, we’ve been noodling what walking and SEO have in common. And, here’s what we’ve come up with.

Staying In Shape and SEO Both Require Consistency

As it should, regularly posting content that is helpful and relevant to the target audiences your organization serves continues to greatly support your website and Google My Business profile being found and ranking well on Google. We recommend putting up new, fresh content at least twice a month. The aforementioned can take the form of a new blog post, a relevant FAQ, or some other type of website page. You can also support ranking well by simply updating existing content, including blog posts. The same goes for walking, or whatever exercise or athletic activity (or a combination of several) you choose to do to get and stay in shape. Exercising regularly and consistently is the only way to get and stay in shape.

Staying In Shape And SEO Both Require Patience

Unless they have an SEO expert on their internal team who has advised them otherwise, many organizations believe — until they meet with an organization like our Boston SEO company — that after implementing a few on-page and off-page SEO tactics on their website, that their site will immediately start ranking/be found on the first page of Google. As we discuss in this blog post about what to know before you engage someone for SEO services, that’s just not a realistic expectation, particularly if your organization’s marketplace is a very competitive one and you have competitors who effectively employ SEO tactics to support ranking well. It’s a slow, long climb to go from NOT ranking well in search results to ranking on the first two pages of Google for desirable, high-volume terms used by your target audiences to find someone who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems you do, and it requires great patience.

We’ve found the same goes for staying in shape. It takes time to build up stamina to walk or run longer and longer distances, or to walk or run faster. The key to success is to remain patient and slowly increase the distance you walk and the speed/pace at which you walk. The same analogy applies to other forms of exercise, of course!

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Our Founder’s Twin, Audrey Snow Barresi, who regularly raises money for various charitable organizations through running and walking in various cause athletic events. She’s a wellness warrior who inspires others to stay well, while giving back big-time!

Staying In Shape And SEO Are Both Life-long Games

Staying in shape and ranking well/being found on Google are both long games, as we explained above, but also life-long games. In addition to it taking you a while to get to where you want to be, if you don’t keep up with your regular, ongoing exercise and continue to implement tactics on your website to support SEO (and particularly the tactic of regularly adding fresh, relevant content to your site), you’re going to eventually forfeit any forward motion/gains you’ve made.

Staying In Shape And SEO Often Require Support From A Partner

Whether it be sticking to an exercise routine or related to obtaining an athletic goal (like completing a marathon), or staying on track with executing SEO best practices; sometimes, you just need an accountability partner to keep you motivated to stay the course.

The team at our Boston SEO company is always here to serve as a cheerleader and accountability partner related to continuing to rank well/be found on Google. But, we’ll also gladly cheer you on related to your walking goals and other health initiatives! So, reach out today or use our calendar app to schedule a complimentary discussion about your challenges and opportunities. We’re “cheer” for you!

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Why Your Marketing Agency Should Be Both A Strategic Partner and Accountability Partner

A former manager of mine used to say I was a great “bird dogger.” Believe me, it took some painful lessons to realize that just because I assumed co-workers were moving time-sensitive/critical-path work forward, it didn’t mean they were. Sometimes, particularly when you are just starting out in the corporate work world, you need to get “bitten” a few times, to acquire and employ new skills.

Getting back to the bird dogging. At our Boston-area digital marketing agency and SEO company, we believe that any and all marketing agencies and marketing consultants should serve as both strategic partners and accountability partners. Read on to learn why it’s so critical to sales, marketing, and SEO success, and to assess whether or not your marketing agency or consultant serves as both types of partners.

Why Your Marketing Agency Must Be A Strategic Partner

Whether you’re a small business owner with no marketing staff and you’ve outsourced your marketing strategy and/or your hands-on marketing work to a marketing agency or consultant, or you’re a mid-sized business that has a small in-house marketing team, it’s likely you and your team are far too busy to stay on top of cutting-edge marketing tactics and tools. Particularly as pertains to digital marketing, available opportunities/tactics change constantly, and there are such a large number of broad digital marketing categories (as indicated on our digital marketing services website page), that it would be impossible for you and your team to be experts in all available digital marketing topics, like SEO, social media advertising, Google Ads, etc.

I’ve mentioned this numerous times in blog posts and on Results C & R’s website pages, but when I launched my digital marketing agency and SEO company in 2014, I launched it with this tagline and philosophy: “Maximizing Results Through Research-Supported Marketing.” I always say I will never encourage an existing or prospective client to begin or continue with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them, based on secondary or primary data. That’s why I regularly ask prospective clients to let me look at their Google Analytics data before they engage me for work, and that’s why, for many of my clients, I track their digital marketing KPIs on a monthly basis and review results with them. Then, we talk about implications and what tactics we’ll put in place/what steps we’ll take to try to move the sales, inquiries, engagement, etc. (conversions) needle by the next time we meet. Often, it’s tiny steps, but steps we think make sense even if they only lead to slow progress as far as conversions go. Progress is progress, right?

Ask Yourself The Following To Determine If Your Marketing Agency Is A Strategic Partner:

  • Does my marketing agency regularly look at data available in various marketing tools and analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to determine which current marketing tactics are most effective and what the “health” of your website looks like?
  • Does your marketing agency document the above results/analysis and meet with you and your team regularly to review implications?
  • Does your marketing agency try to learn on your dime — therefore, are they charging you for the time they spend on educating themselves on a new marketing tactic, tool, or opportunity? They shouldn’t.
  • Does your marketing agency let you know if there is something you aren’t doing right and/or could be handling better on the marketing front, regardless of whether they are doing work for you related to it?
  • Does your marketing agency let you know when they don’t think a particular marketing tactic/opportunity is the right fit for your organization?
  • Does your marketing agency only recommend services they themselves offer, or will they recommend services/opportunities from which you’d benefit, even if it means they need to collaborate with/pull in another expert or strategic partner or refer you to somebody else?
  • Does your marketing agency have a number of collaborative and strategic relationships with other partners/subject matter experts (SMEs)?
  • Is your marketing agency regularly recommending new possible marketing opportunities to you?
  • Related to the above bullet, do you get the sense that your marketing agency wants to use you as a “guinea pig” to try out the latest-fad marketing activity or tool, even if it might not be the right fit for your organization? If so, that’s certainly not a win-win situation!

Why Your Marketing Agency Needs To Be Your Accountability Partner

So, here’s the questions you should ask to determine whether or not your marketing agency or consultant is a true accountability partner and the real tie-in to bird dogging reference at the beginning of this post.

  • If your marketing agency needs you to review something or provide information to move their work for you forward, do they reach out regularly for status updates and to remind you to ensure critical deadlines are met?
  • Does your marketing agency send you an e-mail after a meeting documenting what work you or your team are responsible for completing before your next meeting?
  • When your marketing agency senses that you are unable (for a variety of reasons) to review documents, provide information to inform their work for you, or complete hands-on work yourself, do they reach out and offer to help or to talk you thru what’s needed via a phone or Zoom call? Do, they do the aforementioned on a timely basis so that time-sensitive deadlines and deliverables are met?

I was talking with fellow marketing consultants this week and shared this famous line from the movie Jerry Maguire related to effective client-agency relationships, i.e., working collaboratively to move work forward, both successfully and efficiently: “Help Me, Help You.”

Does Your Marketing Agency Act Like Part Of Your Team?

Ultimately to determine if your existing marketing agency or marketing consultant or a prospective one is the right fit, in addition to the strategic-partner and accountability-partner questions above, you should ask yourself, does my agency treat me with respect and like a partner. Do I feel like my agency is as committed or even more committed than I am to my organization’s success? Does may agency feel like part of our team, and in some ways like family? Meaning, they’d do anything for you to help you succeed and only want the best for you?

I hope and believe that clients or prospective clients asking themselves any of the many questions outlined above arrive at answers that make them confident that the Results C & R team is both a strategic and an accountability partner and that we have our clients’ best interests are at the heart of everything we do!

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Should I Hire A Marketing Agency, A Marketing Consultant, Or A PR Firm?

Regardless of the size of your organization, it can be confusing to figure out what type of marketing agency or marketing consultant to hire to help you create awareness, and ultimately cause sales of your products, services, and solutions. The ability to market digitally/electronically — that came with wide-spread adoption of the internet — brought with it the following changes when it came to organizations engaging outside help for their marketing (outsourcing their marketing), whether it be for one-off/one-time work or ongoing work.

How Digital Marketing Leveled The Playing Field For Both Advertisers and Ad Agencies

  • Organizations who couldn’t afford the high costs associated with producing TV, radio, transit, or outdoors (billboards or other) advertising, found new, more affordable marketing activities were now available to them in the form of social media posting and advertising, tactics that support websites being found on Google and other search engines for desirable search phrases (organic search tactics/SEO tactics), paid search engine ads/marketing (SEM), e-blast and e-mail marketing, and more.
  • Since many organizations looking for marketing help no longer required the infrastructure and diverse skillsets associated with marketing tactics that involved large production activities and costs, some realized they no longer needed to hire a full-service large advertising agency — think the type of agency featured in the acclaimed TV series, “Mad Men,” or on “BeWitched,” as smaller marketing shops, like ours, could meet their digital marketing needs and/or traditional marketing needs related to activities that don’t require a lot of production, such as Public Relations (PR), or print advertising.

Getting back to whom your organization should consider hiring for ongoing marketing services or one-time/one-off marketing project work/help, here’s one Boston digital marketing agency’s, Boston SEO company’s, and Boston marketing consultant’s thoughts — yeah, we consider ourselves to be all of the aforementioned, and for clients who engage us for non-PR work, we can also be engaged for help with PR since our Principal has a great deal of PR experience.

This is a square gray image with our Boston digital marketing agency's logo (Results Communications & Research's) logo at the bottom. At the top of the image in big bold letters it says "Should I Hire An Ad Agency, A Digital Marketing Agency, Marketing Consultant, Or PR Firm?" Underneath That In A Dark Powder Blue It Says" Read One Marketing Professional's Thoughts."

How To Figure Out What Type Of Marketing Firm To Hire And Questions To Ask

Branding and Design Firm. A firm that refers to themselves as a branding/brand and design firm primarily focuses on helping you figure out the look and feel of your brand, including the logo, colors, and graphic elements that will be associated with your brand. They usually offer website design services, but not always. And, some do offer other digital marketing or traditional marketing services thru collaborations or partnerships with digital marketing agencies, advertising agencies, or marketing consultants, or marketing freelancers. So, if you know you will need particular digital and/or traditional marketing services after working with the branding firm to develop or execute a new brand identify for you, ask in advance if they offer those services, so you will know whether you will have the burden of hunting around after for someone to help with traditional and digital marketing services — particularly to drive traffic to any new site you engage them to design for you.

Digital Marketing Agency. Digital marketing agencies tend to offer both higher-level strategic planning services, as well as hands-on/execution services, related to any marketing tactic that is digital or electronic related, including: e-blast/e-mail strategy and execution services, social media strategy and voice (actually writing and scheduling of social media posts), online advertising (social media/display advertising, Google Ads or other search engine advertising), blog strategy and voice work (actually writing and posting of blogs to your website), and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Most will offer content marketing services as well to help you figure out what content your target audiences are most interested in, and an editorial calendar for serving up such content on your website. Website content writing services likely will be available as well.

SEO Company. Because paid search engine advertising/marketing (SEM) supports an organization ranking well in relevant search engine results, as our Boston SEO company does, most SEO companies offer strategy and execution services related to both organic search/organic SEO tactics, as well as paid search advertising services. Some will offer some additional digital marketing services as well.

Marketing Consultant. In the almost nine years since we launched Results C & R, we’ve met a large number of marketing consultants. The degree to which they offer hands-on/execution work vs. developing high-level strategic plans tends to really vary. Some offer a number of hands-on services, in addition to helping you develop a strategic marketing plan, while others don’t do the actual marketing tactic execution work. If your organization has a number of internal marketing people who can actually oversee or execute the marketing plan developed by a consultant, a marketing consultant may be just what and all that you need.

Public Relations Firm/PR Firm. The focus of public relations firms is to get your organization unpaid-for-advertising/marketing. By helping your organization develop a strategy for causing various reporters and media to cover your story, they help your organization get mentions and attention without the cost of an expensive advertising campaign. PR firms also tend to offer event planning services since an event may be the perfect way to create awareness of your organization and/or create good will among your target audiences. Keep in mind that if you only need help with putting on an event vs. getting regular/ongoing press coverage, you could consider hiring an event planning firm. Many event planning firms also have experience getting media/reporter coverage for an event as well.

In general, the biggest overlap between a digital marketing agency and a Public Relations firm is that they both tend to offer social media services, since social media posts — particularly organic vs. paid/boosted social media posts — can help to generate good will and create awareness of an organization’s products, services, and solutions.

Advertising Agency. Nowadays, when people think of, or decide to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency, it’s related to the fact that advertising agencies can pull in the right team members or hire the right contractors for a marketing campaign that requires heavy-duty production. As we mentioned above, scripting and executing a radio, TV (network or cable) or streaming advertisement requires the collaboration of a bunch of individuals with diverse skillsets, the renting of studios and/or locations in which to film, the hiring of “talent” for the broadcast spot — whether it be aired on the radio or TV. Activities like the aforementioned are often the reason why, in our current day and age, an organization would look to hire an advertising agency vs. a digital marketing agency. Although, most advertising agencies offer digital marketing services, in addition to traditional ones.

Web Design/Web Development Firm. Web design and web development firms are exactly what their name indicates — firms who help design and develop websites for clients. Many also offer logo design or other graphic design services because of their web designers’ ability to successfully complete such work. All web design/web development firms DO NOT offer SEO services nor do they always understand SEO, so if you expect or want to receive SEO services as part of your new website launch, be sure to ask any firms you are considering to design and develop your site, what knowledge they have of SEO and/or who they have on their team that has an SEO background. Otherwise, as we explain in this blog post, you’ll end up with a website that is not easily found via search engine searches.

Unfortunately, we regularly interact with prospective clients who had someone develop a beautiful, effective site for them, but the site is not being visited/found by target audiences because SEO tactics weren’t put in place by the web design/web development firm as part of the site development and design engagement.

This image shows the back of a dark-skinned woman who is wearing a striped white and light blue shirt. She is holding a pencil or pen above a notebook on her right-hand side and her left-hand is hovered over a laptop computer keyboard. The screen of the computer says "Marketing" in big blue letter. The image is being shown in keeping with our Boston Digital Marketing Agency's blog post about how to know what type of marketing agency or consultant to hire.

What Should I Expect To Pay A Marketing Agency Or A Marketing Consultant?

Based, again, on our 9 years of marketing agency and marketing consulting experience at the time of writing this post, we’ve found that, in general, the bigger the agency/marketing shop, the more expensive their hourly rate and marketing project fees are. Why? It mainly comes down to overhead and the costs of maintaining and marketing a larger organization, offering a large number of employees benefits, etc.

If your organization doesn’t expect to need the type of traditional advertising production work outlined above under the “Advertising Agency” section, you’ll very likely fare better financially hiring a smaller digital marketing agency or PR firm or a marketing consultant. Plus, you may end up getting more personal attention than you would with a larger agency. And, most smaller shops can pull in a collaborator, freelancer, or other agency or consultant, as needed.

We’re A Boston Digital Marketing Agency, Boston SEO Company, Boston Marketing Consultant, and Boston PR Firm All In One!

Due to our Principal’s more than 30 years of corporate marketing and consulting experience, we offer all the services called out in the heading directly above! We regularly meet with both start-ups and long-standing organizations — both for-profit and non-profit — for complimentary discussions about their marketing challenges and opportunities, so feel free to use our calendar app to schedule a FREE initial consultation https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.

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How To Know Where To Invest Marketing Energy and Dollars: Push Vs. Pull Marketing

Regardless of whether your organization has a small or large marketing budget and staff, you still want to spend your time and money on marketing judiciously. Who wants to throw either valuable dollars or time out the window, right?

Why not make this the year you ensure you’re maximizing your marketing efforts by revisiting your marketing plans based on the information shared below about what marketing tactics make sense based on available data.

What Is Pull Marketing?

Each marketing expert probably has their own thoughts on what they consider marketing tactics that fall in the “pull” category. But, at our Boston digital marketing agency and Boston SEO company, we think of “pull marketing” tactics as those to be employed if evidence shows that individuals are actively searching to identify someone in your geography who offers the products, services, and solutions to problems that your organization offers.

So how do you know if people are actively searching in the geography you serve for the products, services, and solutions you offer? The best way to ascertain the aforementioned is by conducting keyword research. As we explain in this previous blog post, keyword research helps you identify the average # of monthly Google searches that are conducted on search terms (known as keywords) relevant to your products, services, and solutions. Because of the tools to which you’ll need access and the challenges of figuring out how to structure your research, you’ll likely fare better by hiring an SEO company or a team of SEO experts, like ours, to conduct meaningful and accurate keyword research.

If keyword research does indicate a large volume of individuals are regularly searching to identify an organization like yours, then pull marketing tactics, such as optimizing your website to be found on Google via organic search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and/or paid search tactics (think Google Ads) make great marketing sense. You’ll still need to have an effective website (one with appropriate calls-to-actions and that provides for a strong user experience) to cause site visitors to take desired actions on your site (convert), but the two aforementioned tactics should definitely cause individuals who are “warm leads,” i.e., likely interested in your products because they are actively searching, to visit your website.

What Is Push Marketing?

We always like to say “push marketing” is about the putting the idea in the heads of individuals and organizations who might be a good fit for the product, service, or solution you offer. Push marketing tactics are all about serving up/providing information about your products or services to individuals who, based on various demographics and characteristics, such as age, gender, income level, job/career/industry, etc., might likely be interested in buying your product or engaging you for your service.

Examples of both digital and traditional push marketing tactics include: display advertising (both social media advertising and Google display advertising), banner advertising (ad purchased on a website that serves individuals and orgs. who might be a good fit for your product), and print advertising in a newspaper or magazine. The aforementioned list is not exclusive, but we think you get the picture.

So, when is push marketing warranted? Push marketing makes great sense if keyword research indicates that individuals aren’t actively searching in your geography to identify someone like your organization. Particularly when a product or service offered is a brand new one that your target audiences are not likely familiar with/don’t know exist, then focusing on executing effective push marketing tactics will be the most efficient use of your marketing time and dollars.

When To Employ Both Push and Pull Marketing

Organizations with particularly large marketing budgets and teams tend to employ both push and pull marketing tactics, and therefore, both pursue people that are “warmer” leads for their products and services, i.e., those who are actively searching AND people who are less warm but still might be a good fit for their products and services. A key reason they may employ both push and pull marketing tactics is that pull alone doesn’t bring in the volume of leads and sales they need to meet their sales objectives.

For smaller organizations who have fewer in-house individuals devoted to marketing and a limited marketing budget, the majority of marketing dollars and time should definitely be earmarked for the type of tactics — push vs. pull — that make the most sense for the organization, based on what keyword research and any other appropriate available data indicates. But, it’s likely still worth investing a small amount of time and dollars in push marketing tactics, like Google Display or Instagram/Facebook advertising, just to see what such tactics yield in results.

Our Team Of Marketing Experts And SEO Experts Is Here To Help

We always say our Boston SEO company and Boston digital marketing agency “never encourages clients or prospective clients to continue with or start with a marketing tactic that doesn’t make sense for them.” In fact, our company’s tagline since we launched our marketing agency in 2014 has been “maximizing results thru research-supported marketing.” We’ll never suggest a client employ a particular tactic, based on whether or not we offer a service related to it. If we don’t offer a marketing service from which research indicates a client would benefit, we’ll refer the work to a one of our fellow marketing collaborators. But, the very first step is holding a complimentary discussion to learn about your particular organization’s marketing challenges and opportunities, so please use our calendar app to select a convenient day and time for you if you’d like to chat!