Frequently Asked Questions

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Remember, strategy is what amateurs are selling. MadPipe is tactical.

Solution Matrix

Answer some basic questions.

Does this differ from other marketing?

Most marketing direction sticks with best practices, budget administration, and outsourcing to freelancers. You want someone that builds marketing into the company fabric and works to bottom-line business goals.

Why not hire a full-time expert?

At the Marketing Director level: it costs $125-250K+benefits—NOT counting the actual marketing budget that person administrates.

What do you get for that? Potentially, a lot of unnecessary time at desk. For that same money or less, MadPipe could run an entire marketing program with content writers, email campaigns, on-message pay-per-click ads, social-selling training, and SEO.

What should my marketing budget be?

1) What are your goals? How big a game are you playing? How big a race do you intend to run?

2) Here are some norms. FYI: The Campaign Director can determine what best to spend it on!

What's a Creative Director?

In a political campaign, you want victory, and the Campaign Director gets it for you.

That's what MadPipe does through marketing campaign leadership, messaging, visual storytelling, and marketing-sales alignment. That combined approach falls under the heading of Creative Director.

What's the plan?

  1. MadPipe develops the brand story (MadPipe guides messaging in any/all marketing channels).
  2. MadPipe creates a marketing plan (channels, activities, budget, and a roadmap or calendar if necessary).
  3. MadPipe puts together the team and launches.

What if we're starting with a website?

A campaign manager can guide your website build/overhaul to market MUCH more effectively than most companies can do on their own.

Most companies DON'T end up with a website that is a marketing engine, because they don't have those considerations driving the project from the outset. Then, when they launch their marketing, it becomes an afterthought, out of alignment, or requires a website revision to be successful.

Can you train us?

Yes—if you can pay for it.

What if we have someone in charge of marketing?

It's not a problem for MadPipe. Some companies embed MadPipe so completely that Daniel DiGriz acts personally as their Marketing Director or outsourced CMO. Others already have an internal marketing role that benefits from collaboration with MadPipe. MadPipe just wants to win whatever ball game you're playing, and is happy to collaborate and share the credit.

Will you evaluate our strategy?

As part of an engagement, of course. On a stand-alone basis, you don't need that. The only thing that matters is the bottom line—what has it done for you exactly and lately? Is it generating interest, getting your name out in the marketplace, and (along with your collateral & salespeople) recruiting leads? You already know if it's a good investment. If it's not, MadPipe is NOT going to tweak it for you—MadPipe is going to replace it with something that aligns with your goals.

Pitfall Guide

Avoid some basic traps.

What is The Silo Trap?

Marketing is often unplugged from sales, not tied to the revenue center of the company, and fraught with issues of power and accountability.

The Trap: An autonomous marketing department IS a silo. It drains revenue but does not participate in increasing it. Therefore, from a strictly fiduciary perspective, it has no value.

On top of that: When it's left solely in the hands of specialists, and doesn't bring the broader organization together around company campaigns, activating internal brand advocates to champion the cause, it can't achieve the momentum needed to beat competitors who also have marketing specialists.

Solution: Create sales-marketing alignment, and place marketing in the service of sales. Utilize marketing as a base to create brand advocacy across departmental boundaries.

What is The Mimicry Trap?

Successful companies spend money on marketing, and we assume that their marketing efforts are WHY they're succeeding. It is often the case they BECAME successful first, and for other reasons, and that gives momentum to their marketing—not the other way around.

The trap: Your company mimics competitors' marketing strategies, thinking they are a pathway to catching up. But you never do.

Solution: Do the thing the competitors WON'T do.

What is The Pure Marketing Trap?

The company tries to act (essentially) as a news/publishing outlet, creating generic industry content on the justification that it demonstrates credibility. Generic = primarily informative and barely mentions (or doesn't) that the company actually sells anything. Sometimes the logic is even, "Let's become the industry's main news source."

The Trap: The company is NOT a publication—it will never become the Huffington Post of its industry, because that's not its core revenue model, and it takes 100% focus to actually run a publication, let alone a profitable one. The intended audience praises the material, which feels good. But the fundamental sales argument is not being made, and the initiative fails to build an active, thriving audience of brand champions who buy from and refer the company.

Solution: Make industry leadership the premise for your content campaign.

What is The Template Trap?

Somewhere, there's a blog post entitled "10 Things You Should Be Doing in Your Marketing". It's a collection of best practices anyone can Google and learn. Except the writer doesn't know anything about YOUR business, so it implies that one size fits all (i.e. there's a template for marketing).

The Trap:

  1. The template was created by marketing consultants, primarily to ease their burden and sell more marketing consulting. Just like therapy can often discover the need for more therapy.
  2. Anyone can Google and learn those things, so they are the most commodified strategies with the *least* competitive value. Everyone has the same game plan, so it's neutralized.
  3. If there's a template created by marketing experts, why do we need marketing experts? Just fire them and use their template! Or hand your team a book—any marketing book.
  4. The difference between info you can Google and decades of experience is nuance and context. Your marketing strategy needs to align with company revenue goals—a generic template just spends money for nothing.

Solution: Never accept a prescription without a diagnosis. Make anyone giving you marketing advice explain why it's right for YOUR company in particular, without reference to any other companies.

What is The Training Trap?

Most training consists of info, concepts, and tasks that the consultant knows your team can't implement effectively by themselves. It's designed not to 'transfer' expertise but to sell more services. It's priced affordably because it's a loss leader.

The Trap: Instead of being customized to company goals, training is often a collection of "tips" and "best practices" that could just as easily have been a blog article.

Solution: Make the training utilize real-world company examples.

What is The Numbers Trap?

Most marketing reports consist of:

  1. At best: mistaken or knee-jerk analysis that doesn't convey enough nuance about what the numbers really mean. For instance, does the bounce rate on a page mean the page is no good or that the marketing campaign that is linking to it is no good, or else that it's a normal increase from doing marketing in the first place? 
  2. At worst: selective data reporting, fluff and feel-good numbers with no close tie to revenue, and not a lot of actionable/useful analysis. What exactly is the value of a 'follower' or a 'like'? What percentage of those outcomes results in a conversion? Are we measuring conversions and, if so, what counts as a conversion? Are the conversions related to a campaign uptick or a seasonal spike?

The trap: You make decisions on which efforts to support or drop based on inadequate information. Even if you move the needle, you don't know if it's the right needle, because it's buried in arcane jargon that doesn't convey where it aligns with sales.

Solution: Always ask: what is the value of a particular metric.

What is The Website Panacea?

The company invests a disproportionate amount of its marketing resources (budget, time, attention) in producing a website. The belief is that the website will generate additional leads and is key to the company's growth.

The Trap: The more resources the company devotes, the more it develops an unspoken belief that launching the new website will create additional business. There's an immense letdown when discovering: a) It won't. It may merely *enable* the creation of new business. b) There's insufficient remaining time, money, and focus to engage in the kind of aggressive marketing and additional sales activity needed to produce that business.

Solution: Treat the website as a piece of sales collateral (it won't make the sale for you); prioritize using it to help you sell and close deals; Sales should run the project—get it to 'done' in the most efficient way possible (e.g. using Agile methodology); simultaneously create a multi-channel marketing plan around the near-finished material.

What is The Digital Divide?

The company employs an internal narrative about digital that says 'we don't really understand it' or imbues it with mystique. As a result, we look for new rules that do not originate in our 'normal', non-digital experiences. We try to reinvent the way people interact and can prioritize trivial mannerisms like "Never post on Wednesdays" or "Nothing in capital letters." Just as some of us who are more socially starchy might repeatedly confirm the time and place of a first date.

The Trap: We forego the opportunities for genuine human connections via digital and turn our digital strategy into a series of formulaic 'best practices' that have more in common with manipulating a capricious MACHINE than engaging human beings.

The Solution: As a Digital Ecologist®, MadPipe's founder takes the attitude that the best template for how digital ecologies operate is that of natural/human ecosystems. Tony Soprano's mom hilariously would not answer the phone after dark. But she has a point—people remain people, even when using a digital device. So utilize what we know about building healthy relationships and ecosystems in general to shape your digital strategy. Important shifts like round-the-clock access are the details but not the endgame itself.

What is The Emotional Boundary?

Recognizing the role emotions play in business is a fairly new phenomenon in professional settings, but it acknowledges that the barriers to our goals are often not purely intellectual or physical. We might struggle with control, status, or confidence in ways that hold us back and can only be addressed through transformative learning (vs. merely informative learning).

The Trap: We don't address the underlying causes of not achieving what we want. Whether we avoid it out of decorum, to save face, or to preserve relationships, this actually strengthens the boundaries that keep us disempowered (and disconnected), and it sublimates the conversations we would need to be having to reach orbital velocity on our goals.

Solution: Make it safe to acknowledge the emotional content of our work at work and acceptable to give and receive input on the emotions that contribute to or distract from our respective missions and personal objectives as professionals.

Side Note: Star Trek the Next Generation dared to introduce a wide audience to this idea in a professional setting. The inclusion of characters Counselor Troi (representing the conviction that our professional goals are rooted in our personal ontological framework) and Lieutenant Barclay shown in this video—who goes from uncomfortable struggles for advancement to near godhood—is an acknowledgment that it's now acceptable to discuss motivations—our internal dialogue and our ultimate aspirations for fulfillment.

Other Sales Questions

Because you've asked.

Can I get to the first page of Google?

Probably, but it won’t be instantaneous, and you’ll need to understand what Google is asking for, especially since Google has continually updated algorithms. You can speed up the process if you’re willing to do what they want. The short version is don't try to game the system and fool Google (they're faster than ever to catch that and penalize, or even blacklist the domain, so all your efforts are undone). Instead, cultivate a human audience. Google is a people engine and a content engine. Generate the kind of consistent, original content Google is looking for (because it's what people are looking for). No fluff content or filler will do—it must be content someone actually reads. Content is just one piece. Another is cultivating excellent PR. These are just some of the things MadPipe's Digital Ecologist® will be planning for you. Search shouldn't be your only goal; by itself, search is not a sustainable marketing strategy.

Couldn't I just leave my marketing to a marketing admin or freelancer who understands social?

Of course, but leaving your company's marketing to an admin or freelancer can result in rapidly diminishing returns if you don't provide routine strategic guidance. A marketing strategy must rapidly evolve and be tied to meaningful metrics, meaningfully understood. A metrics focus goes beyond getting hits and followers, which almost any activity can produce. Hits and followers don't automatically correlate with higher conversions and more dollars in your pocket. You need analytical science to determine what the numbers actually mean and what your audience is telling you. If what you're hearing is that they don't like what you're offering, it could be the wrong audience, the wrong communications, the wrong product/service offerings, or the wrong metrics. Your MadPipe Digital Ecologist® will provide the team leadership and strategic guidance a Marketing Department needs to generate value. Additionally, with freelancers, you'll spend even MORE energy on cultivating and supervising a team. You have enough to do on the operational side of your business without wrangling freelancers and getting them to collaborate effectively across marketing channels and according to a unified strategy.

Why might my website be dropping in search position?

The rules affecting placement of web sites in search engines, notably in Google, evolve continually. Sites that rely on outdated methods will eventually plummet when those methods catch up with them. Chickens come home to roost. You'll want to update your search engine optimization strategy and focus more on content marketing, PR, and cross-channel marketing to be effective. Your activity will need to be strategically planned and wisely led. The sooner the better, because the longer you go without doing, the harder it will be to stop the slide. Your MadPipe Digital Ecologist® will provide the leadership your brand needs to regain your position.

What do your services cost?

Pricing is dependent on the size of your marketing budget and, therefore, on the projected effort involved in planning the strategy and leading a marketing team handpicked for your brand. Think first about what your total marketing budget is.

For most brands that bring in under $5M in revenue, the recommended minimum marketing budget is 7%. We're not sticklers for that; a $3.3M firm that has never done any concerted marketing and is relying on us to build out a functioning Marketing Department could perhaps get away with 4% for a while.

If your annual revenue is less than $1M, you should plan to spend more than 7%. For instance, a $300K company should probably spend 20% of its annual revenue on marketing.

Marketing is designed to help a company scale, so one goal should be to scale to the point that your marketing budget can recede to a lower percentage of revenue.

Why wouldn't I work with a traditional agency?

Have you been down that road? Most of us have. They'll do the marketing for you, but they don't integrate fully into your company. If you leave, your marketing drops to zero. It's all or nothing. That means the strategy is reticent to evolve, because the pieces aren't very modular. On top of that, the overhead costs eat you alive. Agencies mark up everything; they are essentially an organism for applying markup. MadPipe's fees and vendor fees are transparent, so you can see that there's no padding. If one area of the team is performing poorly, it can be replaced, because the Marketing Director works for you!

Should I just hire a full-time W-2 marketing director?

You could. That's exponential overhead, though. It does the opposite of getting you execution focused. It just adds another layer of bureaucracy, and one that doesn't need to be full-time. Most of what a staff Marketing Director does is allocate budget to agencies and freelancers (about 80/20 is the norm). So you have a layer of oversight that is mainly budget allocation. The rest is feet up on the company's mahogany desk. Keep it lean. And if the person is mainly focused on business development, that isn't marketing direction—it's one step above it. So you still need a marketing director. A MadPipe Digital Ecologist® does that without the cost and overhead of a full-time relationship.

Do I really need a team?

Yeah. If you have implementers with no strategic leader, then you become that leader. It costs you focus and productivity, as you take one eye off operations to run your marketing in-house. If you have the head without the arms, you've got no way to implement. Lots of people pretend you can combine the two ("I'll be everything you need") even though no company, army, or society works that way. Usually, it's a way to evade accountability. You've got the person implementing also choosing and reporting the metrics and standards and expectations for the person implementing. Strategy isn't fluff, nor is leadership. Ask what would happen to the operational side of your business if you dropped off the map for six months. A MadPipe Digital Ecologist® provides both the leadership and strategic planning that ensures a marketing team is truly effective.

How do I know you'll make the needle move?

No one can make it move single-handedly—not in a sustainable way that really counts. Instead, the available opportunity is to choose the key performance indicators (KPIs) that truly represent your business goals and plug in professionals to go after those goals in a way that's consistent and collaborative as a team. That way, the insights are passed horizontally as well as vertically. It takes the head and the arms. If the arms aren't performing, we can change arms, like bits in a drill. Meanwhile, we're providing guidance to the implementers designed to ensure their success, so they have every opportunity to move that needle. With a MadPipe Digital Ecologist®, you get strategy planning, strategic team building, and structured leadership with a singular focus—achieving your goals.

Can you recommend a book?

Sure, but keep in mind: most of the books out there are too theoretical to be useful. They tell you what to do but not how to do it, or they leave out some of the parts—like one of those furniture pieces that comes in a box and you have to assemble, but it’s missing the screws.

If you're doing it yourself, get The Blogging Playbook for Aspiring Thought Leaders. It’s short and actionable, and you can read it and start doing some content marketing right away.

If you're wanting to think about marketing, from a leadership perspective, get All Marketing is Dead: The Annihilation of SEO and Every Other Digital Strategy. This one will raise your skepticism of marketing "zombies" (strategies that are dead but still out there walking around and trying to get into your business) to healthy levels.

Are there industries you don't work with?

MadPipe doesn't tackle digital currencies, cannabis, real estate, or adult entertainment. Politics is acceptable, but MadPipe will be selective. There are wonderful people with vision and a helpful mission in most industries, but MadPipe doesn't take every project.

The question is not whether you'll grow your company. In this accelerating, uncertain, and disruption-prone market, it's grow or die. The question is how many false starts you'll pursue until you decide winning is too important to leave to chance. MadPipe is here to do one thing: win with you. Paint a target on your goal, and let's go get it.

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