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Steve James: “Learn SEO”

Learn SEO: Use these facts about what the website is doing right now to explain how things will turn around with your e-marketing ideas: Many entrepreneurs get tired of nebulous, puff-filled visions of what could happen. Let them know what will happen and manage expectations, but use facts based on truth. Marketing a product or service […]

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Learn SEO: Use these facts about what the website is doing right now to explain how things will turn around with your e-marketing ideas: Many entrepreneurs get tired of nebulous, puff-filled visions of what could happen. Let them know what will happen and manage expectations, but use facts based on truth.


Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.

In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Steve James.

Steve’s background is in the entertainment, presentation and Special Event fields. As a Producer and ‘Creative Person’ in any team, Sales techniques were always required, but he always leaned toward the Marketing aspect of the Sales field, believing that the message is always better received if it is an entertaining one.

Following two years at an online marketing agency, he struck out on his own as a Freelance Consultant, offering small business online marketing services just as good as the ‘Behemoths’ in their industry.

Steve has worked from the Global HQ of his consultancy (The Spare Bedroom!) for the last seven years and is now working for his fifteenth client.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I worked in vacations for years: Onsite at British Holiday Centres (I was born in the UK), then on Cruise Ships for almost a decade, where I met my wife and moved to her home town of Vancouver, BC. I’ve now been in Canada longer than I lived in my home country, but have retained my natural accent.

On Ships I was a Cruise Director, head of entertainment and social life and loved inventing and running activities and shows that no-one had seen. When I had enough of a life at sea I worked in the Destination Management and Non-profit fields, again in charge of ‘Special Presentations’, before taking a couple of Sales positions in the early days of the Internet, which I have always enjoyed working in.

I made the move to Marketing Agency work in the early 2010’s and learned a lot of technical skills that I could add to my entertainment portfolio. When the small agency I was working for went under, I realised that I could still use my skills, and there were lots of small businesses that weren’t even on the net. I help out with website building and marketing services to ensure that thee 1- or 2- person companies can still make their mark online just like their much larger competition.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

The story that immediately comes to mind was my first attempt to build a site. It took weeks, and was so error strewn, that I realised that ‘Code’ wasn’t for me and the overall vision was. Somewhere there is still a website name never taken by anyone else because of the 5 errors in the title alone! Frustrating at the time, but now the memory of it makes me think twice — then a third time before promising what a website can do for someone else.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

There have been so many clever people that knew so much more about their fields than I do throughout my career, it is impossible to single out just one.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My very first client is a one-man company in a sunset industry. Even though we don’t have a consulting relationship anymore, I still work for him once a month for free, because it does good for both us. I can show that the phone rings, on average, once per day because of the work I have done promoting him. Even under the Pandemic restrictions we have all been living under for the last year plus, is still in business. I would like to think that my ideas and work have contributed to this. This kind of attention to detail may well be missing in a larger Consultancy or agency, which makes the difference, I think.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

There is nothing that is too big or too difficult to attempt. It sometimes takes time and money, but it’s better to start with a large-scale vision and slim that down, rather than dismissing ideas because ‘they probably wouldn’t work.

Work can be fun. After all, you are writing campaigns for someone that can’t do it for themselves and are responsible for the success of it. Find a way that your clientele help what people and how — then have fun with it.

The best ideas take time to gestate. No-one has all the answers at once, straight ‘off the bat’. It’s important to explain this, because you will learn that Not To Know doesn’t mean a lack of professionalism on your part. Owners and Managers of businesses learned things alone the way in their own businesses, so everyone’s work is also a journey.

I worked for a small Tailor concern a few years ago, Obviously the answer to the question ‘Why isn’t business better’ is ‘because no one wears Suits for years that require building, designing and repairing for decades.’ So where ti start? My brainwave was to turn the question around: Who does still wear suits? How about our local City Council? These Male councilors and Mayor have to dress up every time they go out. By friending them via Social Media, I also discovered other ‘local stars’ in our city that were well respected professionals: Realtors, Financial experts, Notaries, etc. I was amazed who actually did have to dress up for work. This discovery led to those that work for Non-Profits in the area and other local ‘stars’ with a wide spread of contacts, all of whom now use ‘my guy’ when they require something special.

If I didn’t think big, have fun with my messaging and learn to pivot as w\the work went along, I would never have made a difference to this talented professional.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

The answer to ‘Why doesn’t my website bring in more business?’ in a current project I have just started is ‘Because you are aiming it at the wrong people.’ However to change it to aim toward your bread and butter would harm your current standing. Let’s improve the mssage you have now and add the details that would attract your desired audience. The cfact that you have to put up with calls everyday that are no good for you doesn’t mean that these contacts can be made to change their mind at some point.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.

Most Companies are so impressed with their own services they assume that all prospects will see them as the entrepreneur does. This means that any campaign started will have instantaneous result. Nothing could be further from the truth. You have to draw prospects into your story and educate them to see things your way. This takes time, multiple messaging and learning ‘ Beginners Guide’ to your business .

A Natural Beauty Product company couldn’t understand why they were getting traffic to their site but it buyers. As an outsider, I could see that although their UVP was that their goods were ‘all natural, hand-made’, the standing audience for exactly those keywords was quite small. We had to stand back and advertise to everyone that used Beauty Products, then educate them on why ‘All Natural, Hand-Made’ was a better choice for them. This took many weeks before the ship started to turn around, but the system worked out after a while.

Don’t be so much of an expert that you talk over your prospect’s head. Talk to them as they talk before making the leap to your own Unique Proposal.

If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

This is simple in concept: The more repeat customers you have, the better your business will be. Those repeat customers come from a pool of people that bought from you once. More repeating customers mean more initial customers which, in turn, means more prospects beig approached to grow the prospect pool.

From an online point of view, this means getting more clicks to your website that means a higher ranking that more people find easier. However you make that happen, the better. The more Marketing avenues you can use, the more successful this will be. Of course this isn’t as straight forward in practice, but it is the Foundation that everything else is built on.

A client of mine (More than one) questioned the need for any kind of Social Media, relying instead on the fear of the ‘Lunatic Fringe’ that all of the headlines write about this kind of marketing platform. My rebuttal is always the same: ‘If you had a way to promote your company to thousands of people in your marketplace for free everyday, would you take it?’ Conversation over.

Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?

Where do you get most of your traction from? Is it from Search or from Social? Are people evangelizing for you, or are you on your own? The position of your company at this moment in time shows the success of what tou are doing. This gives two answers: What works best and what is being ignored? Paid advertising within those areas will give you the answer to ‘start’ what you need to do.

Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?

The Understanding that it’s going to take a while, therefore let’s look at an Annual budget for Year One and try to make the ROI make sense. It’s the same as starting a TV advertising budget: What do you hope to get, who are we talking to and what messaging do they understand. Of course, the Budget is important, too.

Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?

What stage of the messaging are you at? What has happened so far and what has worked? Don’t look at the one surprise reaction to your message — look at averages. Over the last 6 months how many thousand e-mails have you sent out? What was the message and what was the level of success. If your messaging has changed, how successful was it? Just the same as the PPC answer, what is the cost and what is the ROI? Does it work?

What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?

Write about your business: Social Media posts, Blogs, Newsletters, online Fora, wherever you get a chance to explain to that growing pool of prospects how you can help them, the better.

Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?

It may be about your Client, but it’s really about their Customers.

You aren’t ‘doing a job’, you are responsible for spreading the message about this company. It is a partnership.

Learn SEO: Use these facts about what the website is doing right now to explain how things will turn around with your e-marketing ideas: Many entrepreneurs get tired of nebulous, puff-filled visions of what could happen. Let them know what will happen and manage expectations, but use facts based on truth.

If you have any doubts about a campaign, a post, a tweet, or anything: Don’t Do it. Your idea of what works and what doesn’t is correct. Even if it is your Client’s idea — let them know that it won’t work and why.

Be Bold. If you had the opportunity to write a clever TV Ad campaign for Rolex or Ferarri, what would you do? Well, the field is wide open due to budget and the name these people already have in the public eye. Well, your current client should be treated the same way.

What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills? When I first began, any kind of post on Marketing practices were of use to me, but I remember being very impressed with Neil Patel.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Experience tells me that whatever great cause you want to forward, it will never please everyone. Let’s eradicate poverty in the Third World. That’s big enough and will certainly upset more than a few people!

How can our readers further follow your work?

https://smallbizbigbiz.wordpress.com/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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