One-stop Marketing Shop

If you were hard-pressed to make a marketing flow chart for your business, how connected would it look? Would it dead-end at missed opportunities? Or do you feel fairly confident you’re getting the most out of your marketing efforts – paid and non-paid?

Missed Opportunities

Missed Opportunities

What I’m suggesting here is that there are missed connections and opportunities abound for most businesses. There are a host of factors at play including resources (time, money, people power (internally and outsourced)), timing, planning, knowledge of communication mediums and access to these platforms paired with and understanding of technology (i.e. social media, analytics and web dev tools).

This translates into numerous barriers when carrying out a comprehensive communication approach. Given the vast skill sets needed, typically no one marketing person at a company can fulfill them — unless of course they are well-versed in online programming, graphic design, social media, brand championing, writing, networking and public relations and actually like doing all of those things.

Where it seems to break down for small businesses:

1. Business owner has unrealistic expectations of the marketing person (too many varied rolls and unclear direction on priorities)

2. There is limited access to in-house resources or limited funds to outsource to gain in-depth knowledge in highly specific areas (like SEO or public relations) or basic best practices (i.e. social media accounts)

3. The marketing person is too tied up in day-to-day internal communication efforts and has no time to repurpose or share this content externally, it’s not a priority

4. A business owner is outsourcing IT and graphic design for example, but is doing all of the management of both/multiple parties and the projects and content are not syncing up as they should — highly inefficient.

What if you sat down and looked at where your business fell short. Where are the gaps? What skills sets do you need? What if one person (two at tops) could handle the full scope of your marketing needs?

I’m working on answering that last question. I don’t claim to have all of the skill sets listed above, but I do know how they work together to effectively and efficiently form a complete plan. One of the first things I recognized when launching SparkTrack was the need to pair with someone who has complementary skill sets to provide this full package. We’re talking brand and business development, web development, graphic design, writing, social media, video, events, networking, public relations and leadership coaching. I’m in the process of putting this type of one-stop marketing shop together. Exciting stuff.

Appealing or no? Pros or cons from the small business owner perspective?

Inspiring Social for Small Businesses

We tried to do it all. Be all to everyone on every possible social media channel out there. Plus manage our small business and demanding workload. We’ve outsourced until our brand got lost. We’ve had enough. 

These are the conversations I’m having with small business owners specifically in the Minnesota marketplace in the architecture, landscape architecture and design industry. But frustration is no excuse not to have a plan. And so to delve into these questions and bring some sanity to small firms’ social media and traditional marketing, I started SparkTrack Consulting.

It’s always been about balance and efficiency in my world. SparkTrack reflects my approach to communications: how do you spark content and topics worth talking about and how do you effectively track, analyze and improve your path?

We start by asking questions like: Where do you need to be? which btw, is as important as where you don’t need to be; What are your strengths?; What are you already doing that you can easily repurpose?Where is your audience?; If you had to choose a single social media channel and do it well, what would it be?

We answer by doing our research and homework (no excuses – the content is out there!), maybe even talking a class; observing what others in the industry are doing (best practices); and connecting with someone who will force us to pay attention and get us on a consistent content schedule. Let’s start with research through the list of resources below.

AIA

I didn’t attend last week’s AIA National Convention in Denver, but I see they offered this four-hour session on June 19 : Tools and Trends in Web Platforms and Social Media for Residential Architects and Small Project Practitioners with presenters from AIA National, Houzz and The Business of Architecture. Hopefully some Minnesota architects were able to attend and put this knowledge into practice.

In a recent search of AIA national for overall social media best practices, the most recent info I found was last updated on June 2011. It’s still worth a read. I also came across a social media article where AIA interviewed several firms including one powerhouse I’d recommend checking out: BUILD. See also BuildLLC’s overview of social for firms, based on their 2011 presentation at the AIA National convention and a January 2013 Social Media in Architecture presentation by Brian Skripac of Astorino.

Knowledge Architecture

I had the opportunity to attend the Knowledge Architecture Conference in SanFrancisco in April 2012. If you’re not following them, do it! (on LinkedIn or Twitter at @karchitecture) They are leaders in the AEC industry in knowledge, software and technology and just published their 2013 conference talks. Also check out Social Media in Action, which came out last spring prior to KA2012 where author Amanda Walter spoke. It’s the first book of its kind to apply social to the business of architecture.

Markitecture

Lastly, here are some good tips specific for Twitter from late 2012 that still hold true from Markitecture (because what noun hasn’t been merged with some form of the word architecture?).

Research should inspire. You might even consider a social media class or local resources like Geek Girls, Kane Consulting podcasts and monthly sessions of the local Social Media Breakfast.

Whatever it takes – get inspired to begin. Next step : checking out social media best practices.