Interview: eMarketing Tips, Mistakes and Best Bets

I was recently interviewed by Décor Magazine, the oldest and most prestigious national print publication for the art gallery and framing industry. Décor asked me about internet marketing and how it can help its core readers, which are mostly high-end art gallery owners.

Below you will find my answers to Décor's interview and an audio podcast of the interview.

1) Tell me as much about your background as you're comfortable with-- family, education, professional life, and how you got into online marketing and communications.

A. I was imported from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Miami, FL by the software giant Oracle Corp. to launch the Internet Sales Division for Latin America and the Caribbean. This was during the pre-internet bubble days, or 1999, when times where great for technology, big salaries, and big budgets. While I was with Oracle, I was introduced to the world of online marketing and communications. Soon enough, I realized that eNewsletters were our best performing marketing tool and I thought that perhaps there was an opportunity to show other companies how to use them. So I gathered my courage and left Oracle to start Loop.

2) Tell me about Loop Consulting Group and the extent of your duties as President. What exactly is the company and what does it do?

A. Loop Consulting Group helps organizations use the Internet to achieve their online marketing, communications, and revenue goals. We specialize in the use and integration of online communications tools like websites and search engine optimization, eNewsletters, business blogs, and online video production and distribution.

3) What unique challenges face small, independently owned businesses in trying to get their marketing messages out? Obviously, smaller budgets, but what else? How can they overcome these challenges?

A. I think one of the biggest challenges is choosing the right marketing vehicle, or marketing tools options. There are dozens of ways for a business to get their message out. Businesses can use tools to increase website visibility, they can set up a "pay-per-click" program, add an eNewsletter, a blog, or an online video. They can also use podcasting, writing articles for trade publications, adding sponsor sites, banner ads and so on. The best way to overcome the communication vehicle selection process is to define, as specifically as possible, who the target audience is and then determine where they are online. Once this is established, then select the best tool to reach them. For example, if your target audience is tourists that come by your gallery, find out what they read or where they go online to find information about your city's art galleries; this could be a good place to position your message or sponsor.

4) What are the biggest misperceptions that businesses have about online marketing? Why do they have these misperceptions? How do you cure them of said misperceptions?

A. It's a mix between traditional marketing, the way things have always been done, and a new online channel. People tend to think that because they don't personally use the web, email, or search engines, then no one else does either. There are approximately 6 billion humans on earth, and from that number, 1.3 billion connect to the web in some way or another. I remember when the internet was called a trend, and now it's they way things get done.

5) What are the biggest mistakes that uninformed companies make when starting their own online marketing efforts? What are some pitfalls to avoid?

I think assuming that by having only a website, you are covered. A website is a home base for information; the next step is to tell others what you are doing.

Ways of getting your message out to your audience are eNewsletters, properly designed websites for search engine visibility, and publishing or updating the website with new content.

In terms of pitfalls, I always stress that online marketing involves persistence and focus on objectives and measurement. There is no quick, get-it-now solution to increase sales; there's only reasonable judgment, execution, and measurement of efforts.

So beware of offers that promise to get you first place in Google for 20 bucks a month. If this was true, it would be like controlling search results, and I think Google would agree with me on this.

6) What are the most crucial tips you can give people who'd like to achieve successful online marketing programs?

The beauty of the web is in its ability to launch products, services, and information in real-time, and then test it for results. No other medium lets you actually test the message with the actual audience in its fully functional environment. The web allows you to track all the activity and monitor results in real-time. This allows you to measure your success or potential right away; if you like what you see, keep building it--if you don't, fix it, retry, or delete. But you must try new channels!

7) The art and framing industry is one with very visually-oriented products and services. With that in mind, do you have any ideas for specific things people in this industry should include in their online marketing efforts?

High-resolution images and professionally-taken pictures or video of your product is absolutely essential. Not only is the product displayed in all its beauty, but high-quality images communicate to web viewers that the company is a credible and serious source. Ask yourself if you would make a purchase online from website that was unorganized, with missing pages and small, grainy product pictures. That's why many successful online retailers allow you to enlarge pictures of their products. Also, these pictures or video can be included in your website, eNewsletters, email campaigns, Facebook, etc. Once the product is properly captured, you can reposition the same media in as many channels as you think will be effective.

8) Tell me more about the 80/20 rule. Are there any instances where a company can get away with including more than 20% advertising in a newsletter/article? Why are 80 and 20 the magic numbers?

The 80/20 rule is just a rule of thumb or an easy to remember tip. It comes from the old marketing saying that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers, so you should focus most of your marketing efforts on that 20%, since they generate the most revenue. When it comes to content, the 80/20 rule helps give the writers a guideline so they focus the message on what matters most to the reader; that should be 80% of your content. The remaining 20% you may use for advertising and promotion, and this applies to every tool--websites, emails, etc.

9) What has been your greatest success in online marketing?

Marketing is a work in progress, part art and part science. A campaign that is successful today may not be successful tomorrow. By using different online tools, we've created very successful campaigns for the following clients:

Pet Supermarket
- a large chain of stores that carries pet food and related products. We created an eNewsletter called "PetScoop" following the 80/20 rule. (80% content on advice about pet care and 20% on advertising and promotional.)

Results: By using the survey tool at the bottom of each issue, we've found that 60% of the readers find the advice "useful", so they keep opening the eNewsletter issue after issue. With an engaged audience, you see results such as 50% of the readers requesting the special saving coupon. That coupon costs the company nearly nothing to send, and absolutely nothing to print. These savings coupons are then taken to the store, and this means sales. "PetScoop" current issue...

The Latin Builders Association
is South Florida's most influential professional association for the advocacy of real estate development. We create and produce an online video channel called LBATV.

Results: The response from the members has been overwhelming, and the response from the organization's sponsors has been even better. All the member companies want to sponsor an episode, and that means revenue for the organization. But what I like most about LBATV is the ability to use video to raise the image of the organization within the community and region. Video allows people to "see" what kind of work the organization does, whether it is to bring 1,800 brand new bicycles to underprivileged kids or set the stage for interaction between political leaders and business leaders. LBATV video archive...

10) How much do e-mail monitoring and spam filter-penetrating services cost? Are they worth it for small businesses? Why or why not?

Prices range depending on the sophistication of the software and your network needs. Most small businesses already receive some kind of anti-spam protection at their PC level or ISP level.

But they're worth it from an efficiency standpoint, because they protect the small business from wasting time and resources that could be best used in other tasks instead of inbox cleaning or spam deleting. So I would recommend that businesses purchase these services at the highest level that they can afford.

As always, we are here to help. If you are interested in enhancing your online marketing communications efforts, contact us.

Marcos J. Menendez
President Loop Consulting Group, LLC
mmenendez (at)loopconsulting (dot)com



Apex Logistics Corp.
is an industry-leading custom logistics planning and freight forwarding company. With the help of Loop Consulting Group, they have successfully launched their brand online. LCG designed the new brand image and delivered it online through the creation of a new website supported by an automated freight quoting system and a strong search engine optimization program. We included the latest website analytics technology designed to measure and quantify the amount of total visitors that turn into new sales.

View their inaugural website.