The Outsourced Marketing Department

outsourced marketing departmentToday I outsourced two graphic projects to Fiverr for a total of $11.  Actually, with tip included, the two graphics projects were a total of $21.  The turnaround time was less than 24 hours for both pieces of content, and the work was perfect.  The individual I worked with was cordial, prompt, and had 20 other glowing reviews of her work.  Ten years ago this would have cost me hundreds of dollars if not more.  So, where is marketing going?

I know this much, I recently started a marketing/sales agency and haven’t even considered hiring someone in graphic design, branding, or website design.  I will partner and outsource on creative projects (with people I already know and trust) so I can focus on a real differentiator, driving bottom line revenue for my clients.

Marketing has changed a lot in the past few years, and it’s changed for the better.  Marketing is much more data driven, and the data is coming out of analytics software along with sales and marketing automation tools.  Rather than needing a graphic designer, you need an expert in running Salesforce and Marketo.  Instead of needing an in-house web designer, you need a conversion rate optimization expert to A/B test exactly what is working on your site.  Most importantly, you no longer need these individuals on staff, utilizing contract workers, consultants or agencies instead.

Perfect for Small Business

Don’t get me wrong, there will always be a place for marketing research, strategy, and direction.  The strategic marketing direction comes from the Chief Marketing Officer, which is still an incredibly important role.  However, your CMO no longer needs a staff of 20 plus, instead they need great software, great software administrators, and a sizable budget.  For small businesses that strategic marketing direction needs to come from the owner, sales or a trusted marketing agency.  The marketing budget should be reflective of the fact that the marketing group is lean on headcount and heavy on outsourcing.

We regularly talk with clients who haven’t made the transition from traditional corporate marketing to more of an outsourced or contract type engagement.  For the most part, management isn’t putting a big enough emphasis, or spending enough money, on results-based marketing.  They hire a graphic designer or marketing generalist, pay them $30-40k per year, and expect that they know everything about marketing and can help affect the bottom line.  Generally, a graphic designer that is a few years out of school doesn’t have the experience to know a lot about lead generation, online marketing, or marketing strategy.

The Move To Trusted Partners

As software programs and outsourcing platforms continue to advance, so will outsourcing of the marketing department.  There will be no such thing as a marketing generalist or a big marketing department.  The Chief Marketing Officer will have a bunch of trusted partners for everything marketing, and a handful of administrators and project managers to move the projects along.


Blake Johnston - PhotoBlake Johnston is the founder of Klaire Ryan Consulting, a sales and marketing optimization agency based in Lincoln Nebraska.  Klaire Ryan Consulting helps clients’ with sales consulting, lead generation, and online marketing strategy.


The Experiential Factor: How Event Design Drives Engagement

EventMarketingExperiential marketing gives businesses the chance to get back to basics and take their product directly to the customer. This innovative and flexible approach to marketing breaks down the business-consumer divide and puts the customer back at the heart of your business. When executed correctly, events can allow you to make profitable connections – in terms of potential leads and experience – and create B2C relationships that traditional advertising strategies just don’t have the potential to facilitate.

So how does it happen?

Why event marketing works

Last year, the Content Marketing Institute reported that 74% of B2C marketers think that in-person events are a more effective form of marketing than any other tactic. Although commercial advertising undoubtedly still has a place in any marketing arsenal, it doesn’t hold the consumer’s attention or allow them to experience a brand in the same way that an event can. Consumers are becoming progressively less impressed with tired and outdated promotional tactics, now searching for a more authentic business-to-customer experience – and it’s one-on-one engagement that makes this possible. Event marketing provides you with the opportunity to treat your consumers as individuals rather than statistics – and this acknowledgement of their worth is a way to convert brand loyalty into sales of your product or service.

Breaking the barrier

At the heart of experiential marketing, the aim is simple: to break down the barrier between the consumer and the brand. Once this divide is removed, you can begin creating authentic relationships with consumers – and this can have a monumental impact on your business.

Immersing your customers in a unique and memorable live experience means they’re not only likely to enjoy the event but also stand a greater chance of remembering your brand and what you stand for. This sort of positive engagement makes consumers more inclined to share their experience of interacting with your business with their friends and perhaps even other businesses. This all helps to spread the word of your brand – meaning you could end up reaching thousands of people by making a handful of connections at an event.

Your event

Event marketing is unique in that it provides one platform which can be utilised in a number of ways, according to each business. From bespoke companies to corporate chains, events provide a platform for everyone. When it comes to planning your marketing event, there are three golden rules to keep in mind:

  1. The consumer – Your target demographic should be at the heart of the whole process. From the way you initially approach them to any future contact, the purpose of the event is to reach out to prospects and immerse them in your brand by making authentic connections – and, done correctly, this will ultimately lead to future sales.
  2. The message – Events are an opportunity to showcase your brand, and this can be effective from the moment a consumer arrives at your stand. From your choice of colour scheme to the way you encourage audience participation, your presentation should be representative of your business in every possible sense.
  3. The follow up – Many businesses work hard to make their events a success by securing strong prospects, but they fall at the final hurdle by failing to follow up. Make sure you don’t lose out on a killer lead by contacting potential clients in a proactive and timely manner.

Experiential marketing allows you to take a flexible approach to the way you present your product – using face-to-face business-consumer engagement to create a powerful brand bond. Once this is established, the real brand experience can begin. By creating and implementing an airtight engagement plan, from event to follow up, you can keep the customer at the heart of your business at all times.


Sam WrightDisplay Wizard provides professional banner stands, pop up displays and exhibition stands to entrepreneurs across the UK, helping your brand leave a lasting impact.


What is a Reddit AMA and is it Right for My Client?

ama_screenEach month, receives over 100 million unique visitors and billions of page views. With over 9,000 active communities centered around various topics and demographics, it is time for marketers to take a serious look at reddit as a marketing platform. One of the most rewarding strategies that marketers can start with is a reddit AMA.

What is reddit?

Reddit is a content sharing and community platform. The main unit of content on reddit is a “post”, which can only be submitted by users with a reddit account. People visit reddit to consume content and participate in communities (called “subreddits”) centered around their interests.

What is a reddit AMA?

A reddit AMA is a question and answer session between a reddit user and a reddit community (AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything”). AMAs are interesting because they are an efficient way for an individual to have an intimate conversation with a large community. The secret is reddit’s voting mechanism which allows the community to vote on the questions they submit to the user. Questions that are “upvoted” are pushed up the page and questions that are “downvoted” are pushed down the page. This allows the user to focus on the questions that are supported by the community and ignore the rest.

Here is an AMA by author Matthew Reilly:

During this AMA, Matthew responded to over 100 questions from reddit users. You can see in the copy of the AMA that Matthew linked to Amazon where users can buy his book.

Matthew’s AMA was done in the “IAmA” subreddit (pronounced “I am a”), which is a community dedicated specifically to reddit AMAs. The subreddit has over 7 million subscribers and is one of the largest communities on reddit, however, AMAs can happen in any subreddit. The IAmA subreddit is great if you want to connect with a general audience, but you can also engage more targeted communities by finding the right subreddit.

View Matthew Reilly’s AMA on reddit.

Why do a reddit AMA?

A reddit AMA is an opportunity to have an intimate conversation with a community that is interested in your client. An AMA can produce hundreds of positive interactions between your client and the community. AMAs often generate valuable feedback, interesting stories, and overlooked complaints.

Additionally, an AMA is an opportunity to promote something to a targeted community. AMAs are often used to promote product launches and events. They can also be used to simply generate brand awareness or to touch base with a specific community.

Is my client right for an AMA?

Determining if your client is right for a reddit AMA is very important. A client that is not ready for an AMA can have a bad experience that could negatively affect their brand. Here are the key attributes that make a client a good candidate for an AMA.

Unique experience, expertise, or authority

The client has to bring something to the table. A unique experience is interesting and entertaining to reddit users. Expertise ignites the curiosity of reddit communities and gives them someone that can answer their questions. Authority connects a reddit community to an influential leader and gives them a sounding board for their ideas.

Willing to answer almost any question about themselves and their business

Reddit users understand that some questions cannot be answered, but AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything” and they will hold the client to that if they think a question is fair. Do not suggest reddit AMAs to clients that have problems with transparency or authenticity.

Ready to put in the time and effort to connect with a reddit community

An AMA is not just another interview. The client must work with you to plan the AMA and be willing to learn about the reddit platform and reddit AMAs.

Also, the client must spend at least 1 hour answering questions during the AMA. These answers must be quality and detailed responses if they want to connect with the reddit community.

Next Steps

After you have identified a client that is right for an AMA, it is time to start planning the AMA. We created The Marketer’s Guide to reddit AMAs, which is a free and comprehensive guide to planning and executing a successful AMA. Download the guide here.

Bonus: I am happy to answer any questions you have about reddit and reddit AMAs. Post your questions in the comments section and I will help however I can!


david_digiovanniDavid DiGiovanni is a reddit marketing consultant. He helps clients engage their target audience on reddit with AMAs, advertising, and community development. He writes about reddit marketing on his blog,


5 Strategies Agencies can Use to Scale their SEO Business

Today’s guest post is from Dan Olson - Enjoy!

photo credit:dreamstime

Trying to add and scale a marketing services function on top of everything else you do for your small local business customers is not easy! Miscommunications are commonplace in your overloaded inbox, and the inquiries from clients can seem never ending. It’s important for you to work with your team to set up winning strategies and continuously stay informed of campaign status, project progress, and marketing successes.

At UpCity, we recognize that you likely wear many hats as you execute campaigns for small businesses. We’ve talked to many consultants in your position, and have seen how steps to streamline processes and leverage technology can translate to substantial increases in efficiency, better working relationships, and ultimately, the ability to serve more clients more effectively.

We believe these five useful steps can help guide you and help you scale your SEO marketing consulting business.

1) Define Key Account Management Processes

The first strategy to scale your SEO marketing business is to define the processes by which your company  onboards new customers, contacts customers on a regular basis, and clarifies how much work it takes to achieve marketing success.

This will help to prevent future surprises and headaches (on both ends!), and ultimately help you to build be a successful account management function. Not only will your clients get a great first impression but they will know what to expect from you. Setting the ground rules for your team will allow you to hit the ground running with your scale strategy.

2) Client Education and Expectation Management

As many consultants and digital marketing specialists know, it is very difficult and time intensive to educate your prospects and clients on how SEO works, your search engine optimization process and the amount of time it can take to get results. Creating collateral and sales materials around these key areas can be really effective in this process. We also recommend utilizing reporting tools and systems to run audits to help the customer understand what they are doing well and maybe not so well, how that compares to their competition and what you can do to help them. Once the clients are better educated through this process, it is also important to set expectations on the time it can take for SEO strategies to be effective. As we all know, SEO takes time to see true results so setting those expectations early on will help build trust and position you and your client for long-term success.

3) Discovery and Data Capture

Now that you have established some key account management strategies above, it’s important to lay a solid foundation for your marketing operations practice. As part of bringing on a new customer it is important to have a solid discovery process by which you gather key inputs on high level items like business strategy and key differentiators as well as tactical items like website address, location information (name, address, phone number, hours of operation, etc) as well as all social assets and content. As you can see it’s a lot! It’s important to store this information in an easy, secure place (CRM systems, some marketing platforms) that all team members have access to and can leverage as they complete tasks on behalf of the customer.

4) Workflow Creation and Management

Once the inputs have been gathered in the discovery process, it is extremely important to create processes to determine what work or action plan needs to be implemented for a customer. When working with small local businesses, it is extremely important to start to standardize checklists and process to ensure key items are completed but also important to customize the process given the customers industry (ex. lawyer), geography, CMS and many other differentiating factors. Once these checklists and action plans have been determined then it’s important to be be able to delegate the right types of tasks to the right types of people within and outside of your organization. Having your action plans in robust systems instead of spreadsheets really allows you to scale your marketing operations practice and get it ready for serious growth. 

5) Measuring and Client Reporting

This final strategy may be the most important strategy need to scale your SEO services business. As many in the industry know it’s important to provide information and deliverables to clients but without a strategy this can require a significant amount of time and energy. It’s really important to clearly define the reports that are most important to a customer (ex. Analytics, Keyword Rank, Tasks Completion, etc) and work with systems to easily create and deliver these reports to your customers on a consistent basis. In the small business SEO world, monthly reporting seems to be the right frequency and should include an email and/or client meeting to talk through the reports and continue the client education process.

By following a couple of these five strategies above, you will definitely be positioning your SEO business for significant scale in 2015!

Don OlsonDan Olson is the Co-Founder and CEO of, the industry’s most robust SEO software and inbound marketing platform designed to help clients achieve local digital marketing success. Designed by pioneers in the search engine optimization industry, UpCity makes getting free traffic even easier. With a built-in “task engine,” UpCity creates personalized action plans and performance tracking reports to help guide each campaign to achieve measurable SEO success. As a stand-alone technology solution or as an extension of your services team, we partner with agencies to help them acquire, retain and scale their small business relationships.



The Importance of Competitive Intelligence

Photo via PhotoPin

Competitive intelligence is a key factor in developing your business and gaining customers. What is competitive intelligence? As John says, “It is the under-developed muscle of marketing.” It is taking marketing, sales and consumer data about our competitors and using it to make strategic decisions for your company. Rather than just the typical grouping it into corporate strategy, competitive intelligence needs to be woven throughout our marketing plans and the marketing plans of our customers.

This week, we welcome Margaret Dawson, CMO of RivalIQ to talk more about integrating competitive intelligence into all aspects of our marketing plan.

During the Breakthrough Training Series call, Margaret walked us through the 10 core steps to marketing competitive intelligence:

  1. Market opportunity
  2. Positioning & messaging
  3. Developing your voice
  4. Prioritizing marketing channels
  5. Content marketing
  6. Social media
  7. Packaging & pricing
  8. Influencer marketing
  9. Report on your successes and learnings
  10. Make CI a core competency!

We would love to have you as part of our team!  Interested in learning more about the bi-weekly training calls and the rest of the benefits of joining the Network?  Click here to sign up for our next Discovery Call.