April 12th, 2012
by Jennie Jacobs
This morning I had the chance to attend a morning breakfast roundtable on web marketing. Put on by Santa Barbara Executive Roundtable (SABER), a small business educator and networking organization for local business leaders, the event was titled “The Marketing Experts Answer YOUR Questions”. The expert panel was comprised of local web marketing superstars, Lorrie Thomas Ross, CEO of Web Marketing Therapy, Jim Sterne, President of Target Marketing, Eric Petersen, President and Founder of Mission Web Marketing and Kyle Ashby, Founder of Kaldera Marketing. Each one of the panel experts brought to the table a distinctive and smart approach to marketing with a common passion for helping businesses to be the best they can be on the web.
The talk begin with short introduction by each of the panelists on who they were and their distinct approaches and philosophies on web marketing, followed by questions from the audience. During the Q & A three main questions jumped out at me and were reiterated in various forms throughout the discussion. I found the following questions and their summarized answers to be intriguing and inspiring advice for any business interested in maximizing their marketing:
1. What is the best, most important, single web marketing tool that I should be focusing on?
The experts, and myself, agree that there is no singular tool that works for everyone. Web marketing isn’t just about the tools; it’s about using them in a strategic way that works for an organization to maximize relationships. While everyone likes the concept of focusing energy into one area of marketing (“You should only focus on your video campaigns!”) the idea is not realistic. Organizations aren’t all created from the same cookie cutter, and as such, one must take into account all of the factors surrounding a organization; target market, messaging, product or service based etc, etc.
Organizations have an organic evolving quality to them, and the same goes for web marketing channels so you must be willing to test the waters and make sure they are working for you.
The common agreement among the panelists seemed to be that starting with a marketing plan is a great way to begin. Get an idea of what you already have in your “marketing toolbox” (as one panelist referred to it as) and also figure out what you need. I loved Jim Sterne’s analogy on the topic: “The car is most useful if you have a destination.”
2. Why are you here?
An audience member essentially asked the panelists how important it was it for them (the experts on the panel) to be at events like SABER’s event this morning. How important and vital to business is it for people to do talks and network? And the audience member also addressed his assumptions that it must be profitable in the long run, because they were taking time out of their work to be there.
Summarizing the panelists; all in all, it comes down to networking and building relationships. Business and marketing is about maximizing relationships, educating your market through quality content (in this case, information on marketing via speaking) and getting feedback from businesses on their most pressing questions relating to your field and theirs. In the end, it can position you as an expert in your field, increase your credibility, get you referrals and help boost business. Social media is powerful, but so is some old-fashioned in person networking.
3. What is the future of marketing?
The future of web marketing is change. While we can foresee things like mobile marketing taking center stage in the future, the reality is that the web is evolving at such an incredible rate and we will never know what amazing idea may strike next (Hello Facebook!). It was suggested by the panel that organizations focus on the present for their web marketing, but to be flexible and ready adapt to changes when they happen. And while the wild web is constantly in flux, Lorrie suggested that the one thing you can control is your authenticity. Be true to whom your organization is; be authentic not automated, in your marketing and people will respond.
In summary, marketing is about relationships. Despite a constantly changing web, stay true to your organizations true values. And remember, a little old-fashioned, face to face networking does wonders.