Recently, Sangeeta, our evangelist at DigiNekt interviewed Matt Bertram, an expert entrepreneur and strategist in digital marketing. Matt is also the Co-Host of an SEO podcast show, “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing,” which has 3.8+ million downloads as of now; and his book “Build Your Brand Mania,” was recently featured in Amazon’s best-sellers.
Our discussion was mostly based on marketing and growth-related challenges for small and medium businesses (SMBs). During the interview, Matt shared with us his knowledge and insights into the different related aspects like hiring the right people, outsourcing the work, and a few tips and strategies regarding marketing an SMB online.
Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Sangeeta: What are the challenges commonly faced by small and medium businesses? Is it finding the right skill set or beginning with the right platforms, too much competition or constraint of the budget? Or, is it something else?
Matt Bertram: There are many challenges that small business owners have to face, as they have to deal with so many things at one time. However, two things that I always hear about from small and medium business owners are regarding hiring the right people, and marketing and sales. As internet marketing is such a broad topic and it has no barrier to entry in it, anyone can get involved in the business and say “Hey, I’m an internet marketing expert.” And, you have no good way to verify it!
This is same when you’re hiring a contractor to get a job done, you have to figure out if the person can do what they say they’re going to do, and how do you figure that out? I mean, where’s the transparency? Where are the certifications? Where are the things that you need to make a good decision on hiring that right person?
It’s a very challenging endeavor for most of the small business owners to find the right people, right contractors as well as finding the right person to deliver that qualified work. That was one of the reasons why we started our SEO podcast. We wanted to put everything out there to make it completely transparent, and say, “Hey, if you’re resonating with what we are saying and this is making sense to you then give us a call, and we can do some consulting with you to point you in the right direction.”
Sangeeta: Is there anything that you want to recommend to the small business owners, who cannot afford a full-time agency, to do when hiring a person? What should they look at?
Matt Bertram: Well, I’m a big proponent of “show me, don’t tell me” when it’s about hiring a person. I think when you’re looking to vet somebody to hire, say for content writing, you should look at their portfolio, their past work to understand if their topics or the style of their writing is in line with what you want to see. That’s what I’ve done, when we’ve hired consultants. It helped us build a good pool or stable of contractors.
One thing that you can do during hiring is giving the person a little job and work with them on it. That’s low risk, and it lets both of you understand each other’s working style. I know this must be sounding the cliché “hire slow, fire fast” kind of analogy, but it’s imperative to know people before you absolutely need them.
Another thing that I always recommend regarding hiring is to check for personal references. I think it’s really odd that many business owners hire people for full-time jobs without knowing if they can really fit in with their working environment and culture, or not. To give you a better idea here, I am about to hire a person for a full-time job. That person appeared to be good from all perspectives; he was saying the right things, and his background showed it as well. However, he didn’t have enough data for me to truly make a decision. So, I asked him for references, and he did send a few. I called those references and that helped push me over the edge that he was the right guy. See, people are generally honest and they will give you better insight into working with that person. However, you will also need to read in between the lines of what they say and what they mean, but doing your due diligence is essential as a lot of people can claim a lot of things that you will need to verify, before trusting.
Sangeeta: What are your views on outsourcing? Should SMB outsource their work?
Matt Bertram: Outsourcing has really matured and grown into a full-on service in the current times. However, there are still some challenges, such as overcoming the language differences that businesses may run into. Especially, when you think it from a content standpoint. Such challenges could be potentially higher from India where the person you’re hiring is classically trained in British English which sounds different from American English.
There are some real advantages to outsourcing, especially on the programming side. Suppose, your site went down at night, during the closed hours, you have someone overseas who is just getting up in the morning and is ready to run with the issue and fix it. That’s usually great from a production standpoint! You can deliver things a lot more effectively.
Some SMBs could argue about the cultural differences that are there in a lot of cases, but that’s starting to be flattened too. I think there’s a lot of people in some of the hubs, especially in India that is getting educated over here and getting into the Silicon Valley and coming back to start their own little ecosystems across the world. So, I believe the world is getting smaller and smaller and we have fantastic copywriters, SEOs, PPC specialists, and web designers everywhere. But again, the problem is how do you differentiate between everybody that claims to be the one and who is the one.
Sangeeta: In your book “Build Your Brand Mania,” do you cover how a new digital marketer or a freelancer can start to build his brand?
Matt Bertram: Well, yes. I’ve done a lot of research on trust and authority building (which are the two important foundations of building a brand) for the book, and established them as powerful tools to build a brand. Small business owners and digital marketers will find lots of different examples, case studies providing personal examples, examples with clients, and references to the relevant books and data that they should utilize for building their brand.
Sangeeta: What are the trends of 2019 that small and medium businesses should cash on?
Matt Bertram: We’ve done a few podcasts on the trends of 2018, and from my knowledge and experience, I think that people are looking for personalization, and digital marketing channels like email automation, instant messengers, automated tools and BOTS, and others are really up to cater to their needs. So, I think automation, not necessarily for 2019 but in general, has been a solid trend, which is underutilized.
Also, I think that voice search is trending to get in front of the wave, but right now it’s videos that businesses should actively be focusing on. With video content increasingly appearing into vertical searches on Google, video-optimizing your site has become extremely necessary. However, videos are difficult and extremely challenging, and in lots of cases, is creating a barrier to entry for small businesses, but that also makes it less crowded for businesses to leverage.
A lot of exciting things are also happening in the crypto and security space on approving transactions like the delivery of services and fulfilling the contracts, but I don’t think that might become a trend this year—it may take some more time for small business owners, so might be next year. However, I think it’s the automation and videos that small business owners must be getting into this year.
Sangeeta has over 8 years of experience in IT and 6 years of experience as a digital marketer. She has hands-on experience in most digital channels including SEO, Social, PPC and Email marketing. Her job profile as an internet marketer required her to handle and train teams for deliverables. She has trained and pushed team members to learn digital marketing concepts which are novel yet beneficiary for businesses.