Guest Post - Old School Marketing for New School Marketers


My name is Tom Buckland and I’m an SEO freelancer. With that one statement, you probably already have a grudge against me.

The truth is the SEO industry gets an extremely bad name for itself – with the constant cold emails that business owners receive and the horror stories of client websites dropping from Google. There is good reason why the average business owner automatically takes a defensive stance when an SEO / digital marketing guy introduces themselves.

But, like a lot of industries, when direct marketing is done correctly, there is no reason why you can’t land clients in even the toughest industries.

This article is about a case study / client generation strategy I ran for my seo company HQ SEO.

The Strategy

Our strategy was simple. We would use direct mail and email to pre-qualified prospects. I would personally write the copy, a skill I learned from 2 business books, which I’d highly recommend to anyone who owns a small business, “Guerrilla Marketing” and “Words That Work”.

Stage 1 - Create a list of pre-qualified prospects. For anyone interested in replicating this process you want to create a list of business owners who are already actively marketing their business. This is essential, as dealing with business owners who don’t understand why they should be marketing is not a conversation you want to have with someone when you are trying to close them.

To get the list of prospects, go through your local magazines, newspapers, online classified ads, and most importantly, search in Google to see the businesses using AdWords. Find businesses that are already spending money on advertising or marketing. These prospects will be 100 times easier to eventual close than ones that can’t see the value of online marketing at all.

Stage 2 - Once you have your list of prospects, the next step is to decide on a contact medium. I’m not one for cold calling, which left me with either direct mail or emails. We tested both, but play to the strength of your business.

Stage 3 - Write your copy. There are a number of aspects that change depending on who you’ll be emailing, but below are a few keys to remember when writing copy, for both email and direct mail.

  1. Keep it on 1 page.
  2. Keep it short.
  3. Don’t add fluff.
  4. Make it personal.
  5. Make it relevant.
  6. Say “you” and “your” more than “we” or “I”.
  7. Use imagery.
  8. Have a catchy and relevant headline.
  9. Include at least 2 calls to action.
  10. Describe the benefits.
  11. Don’t add irrelevant points.
  12. Use simple language.

If you keep to all of these rules you should be able to have a piece of copy that you can use as an outline when you send to your prospects.

A side note on personalization: We contacted close to 800 businesses in this period. 100 through direct mail and 700 through email. Ideally we would have researched each individual and business separately, but that would have taken forever. Instead on our emails we used a semi-personalized script, repeating the business name and owner’s name, as well as including an image relevant to their business. In some cases this was a screenshot of their current rankings, in other cases it was a picture of their website discussing potential redesign elements. Either way, to the prospect it would have felt personal. This is the key.

Stage 4 - Delivery. If you are using email, then your delivery medium is pretty simple, you press send. But if you are using direct mail and physical letters, there are 3 key elements to remember:

  1. Hand write the envelope. This looks more personal and not mass-generated.
  2. Use headed paper. Looks professional and costs pennies!
  3. Use a white, standard envelope. Again very professional and also the cheapest.

The Results

In total we sent 700 emails. Managing to increase our open-rates to 1 in 3. The click through rate of 14% on the emails was again lower than we wanted but all in all gave us 32 “bites”. Screenshot of our email stats are below.

Of those 32, 18 prospects went on to contact us for the consultation / audit. Although this number was far higher than the results generated in the direct mail testing, we also noted the style of response was negative and short. Such as the one below. 

And although the stats, volume and personalization all came together quite nicely, we concluded that people simply were more negative when they receive a semi-cold email, than they are when they receive a semi-cold letter. The physical aspect and cost might have something to do with it, or (and what I believe) the nature of the industry plays a big role.

A side note on the industry: If you’re in digital marketing, it’s better to do what other marketers and businesses are NOT doing, which is sending a physical letter.

The direct mail results were more difficult to calculate. But assuming 90% of mails were delivered and opened, we can say approximately 6% of individuals took action. This lead to 5 individuals making direct contact requesting a proposal / consultation. 2 of which came on to be clients.

Time, Costs & Conversions

Direct mail results

Research time: 50 hours (yes it really did take this long!)

Writing time: 15 hours (Semi-personalized script made this easier)

Printing/Writing and mailing: 5 hours

Cost: approximately £100.

Results: 2 signed clients @ £300 / month.

Average time of a client is around 6 months. Meaning our total earnings for the campaign were £3,600.

Although this is not all profit, the ROI was incredibly high. This is also a technique I highly recommend for start-ups, as it’s extremely time heavy with the research and writing, although relatively cheap compared to other start-up marketing techniques.


Research & writing time: 60 hours

Costs: £640 (Wages + Email tracking software)

Results: 1 signed client @ £400 / month.

The email outreach did generate more “bites” but the eventual traffic was a lot colder and hence more difficult to convert leading to a lower ROI. The eventual conversion rate was only: 700/1 = 0.14%.

Thoughts and Advice

If I had to give one piece of advice to someone looking to generate clients in this way, it would be this - Don’t get bogged down in the numbers or the methods. 10 highly personalized direct mail pieces or emails, to warm pre-qualified prospects is better than 10,000 cold ones. And taking action is better than 50 hours of research! So although testing is a key to success, remember you can test with extremely small volumes and refine your copywriting and data so that when you do run larger out-reach campaigns, they will be extremely profitable for your business.

Guest Post: 3 New Methods for Amplifying Your Brand’s Instagram Account

The following is a guest post by Lucas Miller. Lucas is a young, up-and-coming Wizard of Public Relations. When not writing, running or studying, he’s working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the “World’s Greatest Pompadour.”

As far as social media is concerned, few are the channels which can compete with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. In recent years, with the advent of Pinterest and the growing popularity of visual consumption, Instagram has successfully managed to solidify itself as a social force to be reckoned with. No longer is Instagram only for the young and self-absorbed, but for businesses of all sizes and success levels.

Statistically speaking, it seems that social fanatics from all the world’s corners can’t get enough of the network. Within a month of the app’s initial launch in October of 2010, the platform exploded with over 1 million user downloads. Five years later, the groundbreaking app currently lays claim to over 300 million active users, 70 percent of whom aren’t even from the United States.

Still not impressed? According to IconoSquare, 61 percent of users like at least one photo or video each and every day, with 30 percent of users liking upwards of 10 of them. The most important part of it all, however, is found in the fact that 32 percent of all Instagram users follow at least five brand accounts. Due to such stunning success, America’s leading brands have taken notice and are tapping into the smartphone app for marketing success.

Same Old Strategies, Same Old Results

It seems that most marketing agencies have the same set of rudimentary strategies for pushing their products or services through Instagram. Truthfully, there’s nothing wrong with what’s being done and, overall, when implemented on a regular basis, the results are nothing but positive.

Images and videos featuring product demonstrations, behind the scenes footage, employee hijinks and company culture are smart, yet commonplace methods for amassing followers and building a reputation on Instagram. Taking things a step further is the stuff of advertorial genius.

Says Kevin Johnson, a Social Media Strategist at Fusion 360, “For social media to really work for both advertising agencies and clients alike, social scheduling can’t become the be-all and end-all of a marketing plan. Everyone’s doing just that. To break away from the proverbial pack, something new has got to surface.” In order to more fully separate yourself from other industry-specific accounts, a series of lesser known tactics can make all the difference.

1) Debut Teaser Videos Through Instagram

Though Vine has successfully managed to corner the social video-sharing market, Instagram has made a dent in the powerhouse’s audience devotion. As opposed to Vine’s 6.5-second video platform, amateur video production specialists on Instagram are allotted 15 seconds worth of air time to spread their respective messages—small and large businesses included.

Seeing as corporate and Internet videos are a key component of any digital advertising blueprint, marketing agencies produce them in droves for their clients. Instead of debuting a new product or service video on YouTube or Vimeo, release a teaser clip of sorts on Instagram to help build intrigue with the public.

According to SimplyMeasured, 73 percent of brands post at least one video per week. With multiple teaser videos being published each week, by the time a video is properly debuted in its entirety, a sizable audience will be both present and willing to share on their own individual social outlets.

2) Promote Your Brand Through Booming Social Trends

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Twitter’s #FollowFriday seemed innovative. In today’s day and age, there’s a hashtag for each day of the week. Observe:

   Monday - #ManCrushMonday

   Tuesday - #TransformationTuesday

   Wednesday - #WomanCrushWednesday

   Thursday - #ThrowbackThursday

   Friday - #FlashbackFriday

   Saturday - #Caturday

   Sunday - #SelfieSunday

On Instagram, the aforementioned hashtags garner quite a bit of public sway and allow for brands like yours to become an integral part of meaningful conversations.

Once again, through social research conducted by SimplyMeasured, it’s been reported that 91 percent of posts by Instagram’s top business accounts have between one and seven hashtags. Oddly enough, though most people are completely unaware as to the literal function of hashtags, for brands that use at least one of them wisely, posts receive an average of 12.6 percent more user engagement than those which don’t. Case in point: using hashtags to promote your company through social trends is well worth your time and effort.

3) Use Image Analytics to Better Understand Your Audience

Even though there’s usually a price tag associated with image analytics tools, the payment pales in comparison to knowing which image and video types resonate most with your fans and followers. Curalate and BlitzMetics, for example, are industry leaders in the ways of social listening on Instagram and Pinterest.

Speaking of Curalate, Tim Peterson—a staff writer for AdWeek—says, “Curalate is able to track an Instagram posts likes and comments so that a brand can see how that popularity translates into added followers, but also capitalize on the popularity. Denim brand 7 For All Mankind used the platform to identify that an image was resonating on Instagram. It then pushed that out as a Facebook ad, resulting in the brands most engaged ad on that platform to date….”

Needless to say, if your business has yet to have experimented with social media, your missing out on all that the digital age of communication has to offer. Instagram, more than most social sites and apps, is excellent for increasing market reach. When applied, the aforementioned suggestions not only help businesses build a larger social following, but promise to provide for improvements in the ways of customer loyalty, brand identity and industry influence.

Guest Post - America’s Top 3 Taglines of All-Time

The following is a guest post by Lucas Miller. Lucas is a young, up-and-coming Wizard of Public Relations. When not writing, running or studying, he’s working tirelessly to perfect what he claims is the “World’s Greatest Pompadour.”

Coming up with great taglines is always easier said than done. The difficulty of creating a tagline lies in the fact that, in merely a few simple words, a brand’s personality, attitude and — most importantly — product or service must connect with all of society on an emotional level. That being said, it’s no wonder that few are the taglines that break free from a strictly advertorial role and become part of our very American culture.

3) The California Milk Processor Board - ‘Got Milk?’

Though the campaign officially hung it up in February of 2014, the “Got Milk?” tagline brought the dairy industry a tremendous amount of success during its 20-year run. Launched in 1995 by the California Milk Processor Board, in miraculous fashion, the tagline managed to transform milk consumption into a funny, and even sexy activity through celebrity appearances from the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, David Beckham and Angelina Jolie.

Yes, the tagline was simple, but it actually stood for something: milk should always be around. Furthermore, it was an actionable tagline. If you’re not running out of milk, then it’s going bad. Either way, you’re in need of milk and there’s no time like the present to get some.

2) Apple - ‘Think Different’

Even though a handful of grammar enthusiasts claimed that the tagline should’ve read, “Think Differently,” there’s no getting around the impact that Apple’s influential slogan had on the brand’s re-emergence as a powerhouse of marketing in the world of personal electronics. Crippled from the boom of the Wintel ecosystem, Apple’s reputation took a heavy blow as the Apple Newton proved to be an epic failure in 1987.

“Think Different” worked wonders for the counter-culture vibe which Apple originally transmitted to investors upon its founding in 1976. The restoration of such a character trait was desperately needed. Thanks to the help of the “Think Different” tagline, Apple — along with the timely return of Steve Jobs — quickly regained its stronghold as a tech leader and promoter of global creativity.

1) Nike - ‘Just Do It’

For over 25 years, Nike’s “Just Do It” tagline has been building the public’s perception of the Oregon-based sporting goods company. Rarely can three little words convey such a powerful, unifying image. Created by Widen + Kennedy in 1988, “Just Do It” is arguably the greatest, most recognizable tagline of all time. In that same year, the tagline made its first official media appearance in a commercial starring 80-year-old Walt Stack, who spends the duration of the feature talking about his daily 17-mile runs. No excuses. No complaints. Only results.

Regardless of whether your official “home court advantage” is found within the hallowed walls of Madison Square Garden or at the public park across the street, “Just Do It” motivates everyone to achieve greatness through pushing the personal limits of athletic ability until greatness is achieved.

Taglines and America’s Ever-Expanding Advertising Needs

Simply put, taglines are vital for entrepreneurial success. In fact, each year, companies all across the globe spend billions of dollars on advertising and branding. Produced by Fusion 360, the following infographic presents the current ongoing relationship between the world of advertising and corporate pocketbooks:

For many old-timers, advertising is merely a type of pseudoscience. For those who embrace advertising’s impact on American society, however, a well-crafted tagline does more than any long-winded white paper, press release or newspaper article ever could: it molds identity.

Guest Post - Top 5 Holiday Marketing Tips You Should Know

The following is a guest post from Ivan Serrano. Ivan is a journalist living comfortably in San Francisco, California. Ivan's niche is in social media, business and marketing. When he's not typing up another masterpiece, he'll likely be off practicing his photography or losing his voice yelling at the television whilst watching his favorite sports.

With the holiday season in full force, every marketer wants to know the best strategies for creating a strong marketing strategy. However, with so many brands trying to get noticed during the holiday season, it can be challenging to create a holiday marketing strategy that stands out.

Luckily, there are a number of marketing secrets that many marketers still don’t know about. To help you create a holiday marketing strategy that even Santa Claus would approve of, here are five holiday marketing tips you should know:

1. Define your target customer.

Before you can implement your holiday marketing strategy, you need to determine your target customer. Will you be targeting last-minute shoppers? Or will you be focusing on people who finish their holiday shopping before December? Whatever audience you determine to target, you’ll have to create a strategy they revolves around their habits, interests, and demographics.

There are a number of ways to collect data about your target audience, but one of the easiest ways for marketers to collect information is through targeted social advertisments. Social networks such as Facebook and Google Plus make it easy for marketers to identify their target audience and create a campaign surrounding those people. This way, you’re able to design a holiday marketing strategy that will reach the right people at the right time.

2. Re-connect with your audience.

Although the holidays are an important time of the year for businesses to boost profits, it’s also an important time to remind customers how important they are to your company.

As you continue to advertise to your customers, take time to re-connect with them and show them the human side of your business. Communicate to your customers that you care about their holiday traditions and that you want to celebrate the season by their side. It’s also a good idea to focus on any charitable causes they might be interested in and give back to your community in a thoughtful way.

3. Create valuable content.

Most marketers think that the holiday season is all about selling their product or service. However, an important element they forget when creating their holiday marketing strategies is the type of content they’ll produce to reach their audience.

Before a customer can make a purchasing decision, they need to view content that will help them make a decision. For example, 90 percent of online shoppers will watch a video before they make a purchasing decision. As a marketer, you need to create holiday-focused content for your customers that will help them make faster purchasing decisions during the holidays.

4. Go above and beyond to create a unique holiday brand image.

Everywhere you go during the holidays, it’s very likely you’ll see images of Santa Claus and Rudolph, red and green lights, and Christmas presents galore. Instead of blending in with these traditional holiday images, why not create a unique holiday brand that will make your business stand out this season.

When developing a holiday brand image, thing about how you want to stand out to your target audience. Think about the voice you want your business to have and how you want to be perceived in your niche. Your business has a unique story to tell during the holidays, so make sure it’s reflected through your holiday branding.

5. Countdown to the holidays.

If you’re looking for a fun and exciting way to get your customers engaged this holiday season, think of unique ways to count down to different holiday events.

For example, you could host a “12 Days of Christmas” holiday Facebook contest where you give away a prize each day. You could also host photo contests on Instagram or even ask people to share how they’re counting down to special holiday events. By getting creative with celebrating the season, people will get more excited and be more likely to make a purchase from your business.

Throughout the holiday season, people want to feel like they’re a part of your brand. By following these tips, you’ll be able to create a holiday marketing strategy that reminds your customers about the magic the holiday season can bring.

What are your best holiday marketing tips?

Guest Post - How Not to Use Social Media

The following post was provided by Nick Rojas. Nick is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.

There are many recommended ways to use social media, a low-cost way to reach market segments, whether you’re a large or small business. Using netiquette and abiding by the decorum of each social network are a great start.  In order to be effective using social media, however, there are almost just as many suggestions of what to NOT do.

Take a look at some of these “don’ts” when it comes to social media management. Here’s what not to do when marketing via social media:

1. Exist on one social platform

Some marketers focus their attention solely on one social website, like Facebook or Google +. This is definitely a missed opportunity to reach other demographics that are part of your audience but who may hang out on different platforms. 

2. Try to use all social platforms

The opposite of the preceding offense, trying to maintain a presence on all social networks often results in spreading your coverage too thinly. Pinpoint where your audience is located, and focus on those platforms rather than casting your net too wide.

3. Copy & paste

Due to the availability of free social media management tools, it’s possible to schedule numerous posts over several social networks at once. Avoid the temptation to send the same message out to all your platforms -- it looks tacky and deprives you of the ability to hone your presence to fit each channel. 

4. Don’t update your homepage

All of your social media platforms should point back to your homepage. Don’t get caught up in updating all your social platforms and forget to add fresh content to your website. This content should include: news, events, product updates, and perhaps a blog.

5. Be professional at all times

You can sound knowledgeable on social media without sounding like a snob! Try adding a human quality to your interactions online -- people will remember how your brand makes them feel.

6. Forget email marketing

Just because there are so many social media outlets to choose from, doesn’t mean you should move away from emailing your contact lists. Email blasts are still a hugely effective way of generating web leads, and should be sent out periodically.

7. Ignore the critics

Your presence should be regular and consistent on social media. Be visible and don’t shy away from potential criticism online -- it likely will come up at some point. Instead of shying away from potential negativity, allow room for it and deal with it as needed.

One of the worst thing you can do on social media is failing to respond to customer service issues, basic complaints, and the like. Your social media pages are where you can control how your brand is presented and packaged -- don’t miss out on the opportunity to address potential detractors and turn the story around in your favor.

8. Focus exclusively on social media

Social media is an important arm of online marketing and is a great way to add to your roster of content around your business. It’s important to plan your time wisely when it comes to web platforms -- there’s always more that can be done on social media, more interactions to be had and more content to create or strategies to try. If you are also responsible for maintaining a blog, it’s a good idea to limit your usage and focus on those longer pieces.