The Four A's of Digital Marketing

What are the 4 A's of Digital Marketing?

Two 25 year Industry Vets share some insights to Digital Marketing and where it is going. 

Back in Detroit a long time ago, while Netscape was the main browser two curious guys set sail into the word of Web Design and Internet Marketing.  Today, the landscape is much different but their commitment to the industry has lead to thousands of projects under their belt.
This experience is now being shared with you, and in our first conversation... Jeff Stanislow, the Chief @ Chief Internet Marketer talks Melih Oztalay (CEO of SmartFindsMarketing) about his 4 A's approach to success. 

  • Anticipate Change
  • Accept Change
  • Adapt to Change
  • Adopt the Changes

Along with these digital marketing principles he follows, we talk about options that work that don't include Google, and Influencer Marketing.

Enjoy the show, it is about 20 minutes.

The Host:  Jeff Stanislow, CEO of Chief Internet Marketer

The Guest:  Melih Oztalay, CEO of Smart Finds Marketing

Transcript of the Digital Marketing Podcast - The Four A's of Digital Marketing

Jeff : 00:00 Hello, this is Jeff Stanislow the chief, at chief Internet marketer. We would like to welcome you to this show today. We've got a great subject matter with us and an excellent guest someone that I actually crossed paths with many of times back in the city of Detroit. Today I'd like to give a warm welcome to Melih from Smart Finds. How are you doing today Melih?

Melih: 00:25 Jeff, nice to be on your show. Appreciate your invitation. Glad to join in.

Jeff : 00:30 Well, I appreciate it very much. We had a little dialogue before our conversation here on the air about being in Detroit and you've been in the business for about 25 years. I think I started right around the same time and we got to reminisce about some great organizations that we are part of Great Lakes Interactive Marketing Association, some clients and you know, what have you. You were telling me a little story about what's going on in Detroit? What's going on there now?

Melih: 00:58 I think after the financial crisis and the city, the metro area took a while to get back on its feet it's definitely a back on its feet, however, if you think about the landscape of digital marketing within the city of Detroit or within the metro area before and after 2008 it's different. The agency world is not what it used to be. It's changed as well. A lot of things that were being outsourced have gone in house. The landscape have changed but the good news is that the city and the metro area is back on its feet.

Jeff : 01:42 That's good. That's good. I was always a big champion of Detroit. I spent most of my life there 40 years and 10 years in Tampa now which I enjoyed both but I always have a big, big warm spot in my heart for the city of Detroit and to keep an eye on what's going on there and everything like that. Tell me a little bit about Smart Fines.

Melih: 02:03 We have been, like you had mentioned earlier, we've been around for 25 years. We were originally in the traditional world of marketing going back to '87 actually, and then in '94, we opened up our internet group, starting with our ISP division. By the time we went through the wild wild west of the 1990s. It was a lot of fun, Netscape, Yahoo, where the big deals at that time. You know, windows 3.1 was still on the market, 14, not 4 modems, those types of things, but as we got into 2000s, we sold off the ISP division in 2002, we went a hundred percent digital in 2004, which is the exact same year that Google went public and changed the world of digital marketing for the better I might add. We're a digital marketing agency with so many years behind us. We have a lot of experience, a lot of knowledge. I'm not gonna use the word expertise. I think the world of technology, the world of digital marketing, is a difficult one to say, "I'm an expert," because it's like, what do you mean you're an expert in what? What part of the broad spectrum of digital marketing are you an expert of because you can't be an expert in all of them, all things. So rather than using the word expert, I suggest that we have a lot of experience, broad experience in B to B, B to C, as well as a lot of knowledge that we've gained over a such a long time as far as the marketing process, the technologies, how to integrate these things, how to measure them, how to determine what makes things better? How do we stay ahead of the game as much as possible? It's hard. That's a hard one to do, but from our standpoint we pretty much manage clients entire web presence from A through Z.

Jeff : 04:20 That's interesting. I always answer when someone asked me about being an expert and I said, that's, you know, being an expert in digital marketing is very challenging in itself. I say, "you know, I'm a 25 year old rookie."

Melih: 04:33 There you go. I agree.

Jeff : 04:34 And when it comes to digital marketing, I think everybody's a rookie because when you're not holding the cards, like Google, you know, they make [unintelligible] but he's a rookie again. Got to learn it over.

Melih: 04:45 Yeah. I mean, let's face it, the players in this world are Microsoft, the Cisco's, the Yahoo's, Google, Facebook, Twitter, you know, some of the big names right there that facilitate how we interact in the digital world.

Jeff : 05:03 Yeah, yeah, yeah. And Amazon and, and you know, organizations like that, and Walmart. It's kind of the rule of three, right? You know, at the end of the day, every mature industry kind of has three major players, that kind of control the majority of the market.

Melih: 05:16 Sure. Exactly. I agree.

Jeff : 05:21 Yeah. So you're very passionate about your job, obviously being in the same career for a long time, and I think we were talking a little bit earlier about the four A's that kind of are your guiding principles. Can you explain that a little bit more in depth what they are and, and how they impact or maybe for our listeners that might be able to take some of that value back with them.

Melih: 05:42 Sure. I think what we probably want to start with is how did I come up with these four A's? The origin of this was twofold. One was the fact that we're an industry that continually changes. It's on a monthly basis, small things, whether it's, you know, every three, six months, something major happens, algorithm changes, technologies, that come about. It's a changing world and it's also a never ending world. The other part of, as far as how, you know, these four A's came about was directly related to our clients who had a difficult time accepting the fact that there was a change and not accepting the fact that there is no end point. And look, I'll be perfectly honest, I'm talking about my fellow baby boomers. They have a very difficult time working within this industry. Ultimately as time progressed and you know, again, talking about the experiences that you run into in this industry and with your clients. I started, in my speaking engagements, I've started talking about these four A's, which the starting point of this is you have to anticipate that there will be change. That's your first "A". The second "A" is about accepting change. And that's a hard, that's a hard one. That's a hard pill to swallow for a lot of our clients. And I shouldn't take this, our clients, but businesses in general. Why is that a hard pill to swallow? Because that means you're spending more money or the money that you spent isn't going to how the value that you were anticipating. That's the hard part. When all of a sudden, because of changes in the industry, regardless of what they are, you have to say, "okay, I'm accepting this change." Now, if you accept the change, you can move forward. It's when you don't accept the change that you start causing yourself struggle and you become less competitive in the marketplace. My suggestion is accept the change. Once you've gone through the process of accepting that change, then it's about adapting to the changes because you're going to have to change something, whether it's your content, whether it's your website, whether it's using social media in a different way, whatever that is, but you have to adapt to these changes. And the last step of course, is adopting the changes into your marketing process. Now, if you're working with a digital marketing agency, you know, that last stuff was a little bit easier. If you're doing things in-house, you have to figure out how you change your process to adapt to these changes. So those are the four A's, anticipate change, accept change, adapt to the changes, and last but not least, adopt the changes into your process. Like I said, this world of change is hard for businesses from the standpoint that it affects budgets, not only does it affect whether or not the previous budget continues to have the same value and longevity or whether it's about adding budget to be competitive and to engage utilizing whatever changes took place. I'm not suggesting it's something you say yes to right away. The first reaction is always a defensive one. So you have to work through the process with these clients.

Jeff : 09:29 Yeah. One of the things that I always, you know, think about when it comes down to change, and it's kind of an ironic story, I had a client that I was doing some coaching with and she kind of just broke down to me and just said, God, I would wish that yellow page guy would just walk in this office so I can pick out my ad and go about my business. And it kind of resonated with me. I was saying, you know, I can understand from the client's perspective of writing a check for that ad and then just seeing how it performs over a year but the lack of control that you have with that spend is somewhat crazy in regards to it. So, you know, I always say that you can have things fast, you can have things cheap or you can have things good. Pick any two. So, you know, kind of think about that a little bit. It really resonates, but anyways, so one of the changes that you made, I was reading a little bit about, is a kind of a shift away from, you know, just trying to make Google happy, and you said you looked at some new avenues and the Omnichannel, or stack, or funnels, or whatever you want to call them. Tell me a little bit about what you've been doing there.

Melih: 10:48 We have to rewind here to 2013, when Google implemented the hummingbird algorithm, it was a pretty significant change. I mean, prior to Hummingbird we have panda and penguin. You might remember those, but then hummingbird came along and, the entire system changed. It caused me agony because I had clients who were directly affected by this and all be it that they didn't blame us for the negative impact that occurred, nonetheless, they decided to refrain from pursuing digital marketing at that time for the foreseeable future. They didn't like the idea that they just spent all this money and didn't do, you know, because of Google's Hummingbird, something changed and now they have to keep spending. They just weren't happy about it. But that was one example. But other examples where it's similar to that, probably not as dramatic as that one. In 2014 we had a reach thing, okay, what is it that we're doing with Google? Do we really need to be number one for starters. And then the other part of it is, especially with our clients running Google ad words paperclip advertising programs, we weren't seeing the same results, the effective results that we wanted. We started going in different directions. So two very significant directions we took was number one, let's take more impact. Let's put more of our effort into social media marketing. And one of the one key element that I will explain here is that with social media marketing, when you're running an ad, let's say you're running a like campaign in Facebook. And I realized this might be a simple example, but just to let allow the audience to understand something. The like campaign, when somebody clicks on your ad they're automatically liking your company page. Therefore that one click gives you residual value. You can't get that in Google as an advertiser. And so that residual value, and social media marketing does have residual value in a variety of different elements, which is areas, which is great. And so we found that social media marketing has that residual value. And I don't want to get into too many details here, but there's also a compounding effect that social media marketing has that's very impactful. We found that to be a better direction to put emphasis on than trying to figure out whether or not our client's website was number one in Google because let's face it, being number one in Google means what it's based on your account that you're logged into or not. It's based on your geography. It's based on your search history, it's based on the cash, and the tracking that Google has in your browser. It's trying to, you know, you can put two computers side by side and both hit the same search at the same time and you will get two different results. We try, we ran that test multiple times. I can tell you that. Yeah, so social media marketing was one emphasis. There was another emphasis that we found helpful too. Clients, let's say we're getting a, I'm just throwing out a number just to make it easy, let's say 10,000 visitors in a month, but their lead value volume wasn't at the level that they wanted, right? They wanted 1% or you know, or more. The reaction from some clients, and or their traditional agency was, hey, we're going to throw another $25,000 into the advertising pool and let's get some more bodies and that'll get us to the numbers we're looking for. And we decided to take a different approach, which, you know, nowadays it's become a more sophisticated science called Conversion Rate Optimization, CRO. And so, if you're looking at your analytics, you're looking at your landing pages that are generating your leads or your sales the question is by utilizing the measurement tools that you have available, can you tweak those pages in such a way that you can generate the lead volume you're looking for using the existing traffic on your website without trying to spend money to get more bodies to your website. So these are the two, you know, when you say are there alternatives to Google? And I'm saying, I am suggesting, yes there is and there's two significant areas that we focused our attention on, which was social media marketing and we've found that it has residual value and then this process of Conversion Rate Optimization to improve the leads or sales utilizing the existing volume of traffic that you're getting to your website.

Jeff : 16:05 Okay. Tell me a little bit about... I mean I think that's a really good and interesting strategy in regards to that. I like that pay per click is, you know, you pay for the click and the visit but doesn't necessarily give any connection like a social campaign where a "like" can actually integrate that and you can create a lifetime value, a nurture relationships. I think that's a really interesting approach to do it. A lot of times people are talking about, you know, influencer marketing. We will kind of finish up on this conversation. I know you had just mentioned they did some research lately on influencer marketing. And I think we kind of understand what it is a little bit, but maybe where do you think it's going? It seems like there's so many influences out there now and, what are your thoughts on that as a marketing strategy, a digital marketing strategy?

Melih: 17:03 If we think about marketing as a process and the process as a cycle and the cycle has a variety of activities inside of it, we have to keep in mind that the influence or marketing is in fact a great strategy. Number one. However, let's not be absentminded from the fact that the influencers cannot function without your brand support around them. So what I've seen it with, with influencer marketing, are businesses that are going after influencers, or sponsors and they're targeting their efforts or their budgets in a narrow area. And my suggestion is to open this up just a little bit. So you're already writing articles, you're doing content marketing, why not jump in and take a three pronged social media strategy approach. And we successfully pull this off very well. The idea is the three prongs are number one, to use social media marketers. In other words, let's say you're building a small army of 3, 5, 10, 25 people located in different geographies and you're telling them what you want them to do. You want them to share something. You want them to like something. You want them to comment on something. You're driving that directive to this small army that you've created and they're involved in the twitters, the Facebooks, the Instagrams, et cetera. However your strategy looks like there. The second level is to use brand advocates. Now, this concept of brand advocates might get a little bit confusing with a social influencers as they're being described now, but I see brand advocates in a different form, meaning that these are bloggers who have a following of people on a specific topic. Sometimes you get influencers who are all over the board. They're not category or topic specific. They just, people just hired them to promote whatever. It doesn't make a difference, whereas brand advocates are more narrow in the specific field and they have a following and they have, for lack of better words now, an expertise in the topic. So, brand advocates I think are an essential component. As long as they are narrow focused in a category or industry let's say. Then the third level would be utilizing influencers which come in two forms. You've got the paid influencers and you got the free influencers. The free influencers requires your labor time to build that relationship and to come up with relationship marketing and the paid ones are the advertising route, and that's a little bit easier, less time consuming, but my recommendation on influencer marketing is to take a step back and include them into a larger strategy. The idea of utilizing influencers as a narrow strategy, hey, here's my budget, I can only spend five grand and I'm going to hire two or three influencers and let them do their work. That's not gonna generate the response that I think that you're looking for. And because of that, I think there's a little bit of a backlash right now in this space of influencer marketing because businesses are hearing the hype, they're going after the influencers and then they don't see the results that they're looking for and they come back and say, it didn't work. Well, yeah, I agree. It probably didn't work because you didn't include a broader strategy into the [unintelligible] . So that would be my recommendation. When you're, if you're going down the path of influencer marketing, put it into a broader strategy.

Jeff : 21:00 Yeah. I think sometimes too is just like the people don't do their homework on the particular influencer and their demographics. You know, because they have a large network of followers. It doesn't necessarily mean that your brand resonates with their brand and their fans. You know, some of these things that I see, just like, I think some of them they force it with enough ad spend that it makes sense, you know, like Peyton Manning Song Insurance. They've kind of convinced us. But when I first saw that I was like, oh my god, what are they thinking? But I guess it's something you can kind of build a storyline and that makes sense. And then they tied in some other celebrities and some songwriting and now it's kind of got, you know, now it resonates. But, anyways, so, hey listen, we spent a lot of time here together and gosh, we got so much more, I'd love to have you come back out to the show and maybe we can kind of do something a little bit and put together some other content. I think we've provided some value to our listeners here today. In the meantime it's correct?

Melih: 22:21 Smart finds.

Jeff : 22:21 There it is, and you give permission to let people call you if you want. (248) 568- 2241. Since its a podcast I don't have to repeat it five times. You can just rewind a little, anyways, and then more information on your website, Is that good?

Melih: 22:52 You got it.

Jeff: 22:54 Listen, I really enjoyed your time and you know, look forward to this and I'll put this up and we'll put your social links in there as well, and we'll do it again. Thank you very much. Have a great day. I Appreciate it.