PRMM Interview 20 with Tom Pick on Digital Marketing

This week, I had the opportunity to interview digital marketing expert Tom Pick for PRMM Interview #20. We chatted about how companies can start with digital marketing, trends in digital marketing (hint: quality content marketing), and advice for those getting started in their careers.

Briefly, Tom is an independent digital marketing consultant, focused on helping B2B technology clients improve their online visibility and business results. In his more than 20 years of B2B marketing experience on both the corporate and agency sides, Tom has won numerous awards and helped clients ranging from single-person businesses to $1 billion+ corporations improve their online visibility, web traffic, visitor engagement, and lead generation. He writes about content and social media marketing topics on the Webbiquity blog. He’s earned an MBA from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from St. Cloud State University.

I’ve included a transcript of our conversation below the video.

Video Transcript

This is Cece Salomon-Lee with Tom Pick, digital marketing expert.

00:18 Give an introduction of yourself.

I have been in business-to-business (B2B) marketing for over 20 years. First part on the corporate side and the last 11 years as an individual consultant. I help a variety of B2B client, mainly in technology – software, hardware, IT services – mostly software with anything related to online or digital marketing – SEO, SEM, content marketing, blogging and social media.

I work with clients of sizes ranging from solopreneurs to $1 billion companies. In some cases I work with them 1:1 with some services or with marketing agencies if the client needs more – like graphic design, PR, website development, etc.

01:37 Where should companies begin for digital marketing?

I often use the analogy of dropping a pebble in a pond. You get the initial splash and then concentric ripples going out. Initial splash or center of the bulls eye is their website, so I generally work with clients to get their websit solid first. And that means professional design, mobile friendly and those technical elements – but also to get the architecture right. Really designing it for their audience. Telling people very quickly when they hit your site what do you do, who do you do it for, why are you the best at it.

Very clear navigation into diff areas. Helping guide the visitor to what you would like to do next – for example are you going after email sign ups, if you would like visitors in certain of the site to download a white paper or an ebook or register for a webinar. Making those call for action very clear, very compelling, and very easy to complete. Just getting the whole website information architecture optimization and conversion rate optimization (CRO).

03:10 Great point about website and getting it right there. Let’s look at larger picture. What are you hearing as the biggest trends for digital marketing this year?

Interesting you should ask that. I actually worked with a cohort of mine on the West coast to do a little research project at the end of last year. We asked a number of leading B2B bloggers what they saw happening . We basically asked the question, “What do you see successful B2B marketers do differently or more of in 2016?” And got responses from more than 2 dozen influential B2B bloggers. Several of them authors, people like Michael Brenner, Cheryl Burgess who wrote the Social Employee, Jeff Cohen who wrote the B2B Social Media Book, Carla Johnson who recently wrote a book with Robert Rose called The 7th Era of Marketing… so a number of prominent bloggers chipped in with their ideas and there were a number of themes that came out of that. The one that I would like to focus on the one that really came through – event with the wide variety of answers, there was one area that got a lot of attention and that was content marketing.

Specifically for the coming year focusing on quality vs quantity. People have figured out that there is a deluge of content out there. And simply adding to the noise is just adding to the noise. The focus is on quality over quantity, specifically in three areas.

  1. Targeting – writing for very specific audience. Using personas and mechanisms like that so you’re really writing for the needs of a specific audience
  2. Ask very specific questions for that audience and really targeting the content to specific individuals or individuals of a specific characteristic with specific problems and solving those problems.
  3. Appealing not just with facts and figures, statistics, and top ten lists and those type of things but connect on a more emotional level using humor, recognizing the different emotions of your audience is experiencing when they are having some sort of problem at work.There’s probably frustration. They may have the objective of getting a promotion or sort of getting recognition within the company, making their own job easier so they can get home earlier in the evening. All those sort of things – connecting the sort of factual, rational type of B2B messaging while also taking into account the audience’s feeling and emotions.

6:08 Great insights for companies and to help their B2B marketing. What is your advice for those starting out in their careers and seeking to get into digital marketing or marketing?

For anyone getting started in their career, the very, very general piece that I have learned – and probably didn’t do well early in my career -and have gotten better as time as gone on and wished I had better at right out of the gate is just understanding the value of making connections and staying in touch with people and paying it forward. Always trying to help people out and not just contacting people when you need something. Staying in touch and really valuing those connections because your career – whatever you’re in – whatever field you’re in, your career if going to take a lot of twists and turns over the course of your working life. Having those connections can often provide you with new ideas, new opportunities, new chances to different things and make other connections that will help you down the road. That’s some very valuable basic career piece of advice.

More specifically in B2B marketing the key is to understand your audience. How your audience buys, where they look for information, and keeping up with how those things change because they constantly change. The way that a B2B buyers buy now is very very different from the way they went through their decision processes back when I first got started in marketing and even more recently. If you look back 15 years ago and nobody was talking about blogging. You rarely heard the word blogger and of course now it’s very common place. 10 years ago nobody was talking about Twitter or Facebook. 5 years ago really no one was using the term content marketing. That sort of took off around 2012. So obviously these things change constantly over time so the key to being successful in this field – and if you’re just starting out – is finding ways to keep up with, again, your buyers, how they’re buying, how their buying process works, how the information gathering process works, what they’re looking for and where they’re looking for it and that’s going to ultimately help you be successful and stand out.

8:38 Conclusion and thanks for Tom Pick’s time.