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Never trust a skinny chef. Or… You can’t work in digital if you only exist offline

Henry Elliss
Henry Elliss
Managing Director
1 August 2011

Working in digital marketing is an exciting world. Not only do you get to work on a huge range of exciting campaigns with a wealth of interesting clients, your tool-kit is constantly changing. The tools and tricks I use to carry out work for our clients today are massively different to what we used 5 years ago (for instance), and I fully expect that rate-of-change to increase over the coming decade.

I’ve worked in online marketing for coming-up-to a decade, and before that I was building websites for friends and hobbies – all told I’ve been using “online” marketing for approaching 15 years, in one form or another.

The one thing that I think has enabled me to move with the times so quickly – and to sustain my interest in what is often quite a stressful discipline – is something I think all marketers should also be doing: Namely, practise what you preach..

Despite this seeming like common sense to me, I’m always amazed by how many people don’t seem to think this is an important tool.

For instance, I’ve met “social media experts” who don’t use Twitter, and SEO experts who don’t even blog, let alone have their own websites.

This was highlighted to us quite clearly last week, when social measurement team “PeerIndex” released their league table of the “NMA 2011 UK Top SEO/SEM Agency Bosses“. The table proved the point that, whilst a lot of digital agency CEOs talk a good game about social media and it’s relevance (particularly to SEO), very few of them are actually any GOOD at it. (And yes, that is Tamar CEO Tanya Goodin at the top of the table… well spotted!)

When I first started working in SEO, having a website of my own allowed me to practise techniques and tricks that we were telling clients to use – after all, how can you tell somebody that something works if you’ve never actually tried it yourself?

When I began moving in to social media, having (several) blogs allowed me to experiment again – and being an avid Twitter user allowed me to keep up with the daily changes that occur in the industry.

The most recent example of this was when, a couple of years ago, we began focussing quite heavily on influencer engagement (or blogger outreach, as some people call it – both names are crap if you ask me!). If you’ve ever worked in an area that requires you to contact people out of the blue, you’ll know what a mine-field it can be.

I was amazed by the number of people I came across in this burgeoning world who expected bloggers to respond to AWFUL requests – they’d happily send out a press release to a mailing-list of bloggers, under the false expectation that a blogger would be GRATEFUL for this content…!

So, I figured the best way to know how to communicate with bloggers (without pissing them off) was to up-my-game in the blogging world. I’d written a couple of blogs for a few years at this point – most notably one chronicling our renovation of the house we moved in to in 2004 – but I hadn’t put much work in to marketing them, so wasn’t expecting to ever be contacted by anybody.

I decided to pick a “niche” which is relevant to me – namely, being a father. Having just become a dad for the second time, I often find myself with pieces of advice (or warnings) I want to share with other people.

So I relaunched my (non-specific) blog as a Fatherhood blog (“daddy blogging” seems to be a growth area still!) and started posting content regularly, marketing myself and generally putting myself “out there”.

The result has been that I have now been contacted by several companies, agencies and brands about promoting products, covering events and generally working with them.

I’ve now experienced good pitches and bad, so I’m in a MUCH better place to know how to approach other bloggers when we want to work with them. It’s not really rocket science, let’s face it! Plus, I’ve gained a nice readership and made some new friends – and I aim to continue building that, going forward.

If you work in marketing but have never tried some of these things yourself, why not give them a try? You never know, they might actually help make your job a little easier!

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