In my twenties, I took a job as one of the very few digital marketing specialists selling digital real estate and goal achieving solutions on ‘CityName’ dot com websites for practically every Silicon Valley city and region. The company I worked for was a small off-shoot ‘digital arm’ of a much larger, more legacy newspaper company with deep roots in several SV communities that focused on everything from politics to the arts. It was a fun time and a killer job to have, especially as a freshly married new father. I had left the restaurant and banking industries where I cut my teeth on consumer service, multi-tasking, sales, and product and procedure knowledge. It was some good honest work, but I left for this new digital marketing and media job.
When concepts of fully-trackable marketing solutions were introduced to me, I had some great opportunities to test, study, refine, and repeat all different types of digital programs and tools, with all manner of businesses, goals, and purposes. After a short time, it became clear that unlike most other traditional advertising options, digitally driven marketing tools were the most transparent and truth-telling in a business’s marketing toolbox. To give you some perspective, this was before Facebook and ‘theGram,’ back when most locally-owned businesses spent marketing dollars on newspaper, TV, and radio advertising, and websites were hard to manage. I knew that I was up against some big players in my community, but the idea of sticking with some good honest work fueled my fire.
I held a few of the main jobs at that company. As the Digital Literacy Manager for the newspaper company, it was my job to educate and support the newspaper teams and leadership, while guiding ongoing digital content strategies and distribution. As the Digital Marketing Specialist for the digital off-shoot, it was my job to get locally-owned businesses to participate with smart, goal-driven marketing solutions while educating the market on the exciting, awesome expectations of digital marketing in comparison to traditional marketing. As the City Manager for any of the ‘CityName’ dot com web guides in my book, it was my job to curate relevant and correct locally-owned business information, while representing entire cities in the world-recognized region of Silicon Valley. If that ain’t some good honest work, I don’t know what is.
You see, when I convinced a local business to participate with any of our digital marketing programs or digital real estate on these one-of-a-kind city guides, I had the privilege (unlike most traditional advertising options) of bringing real, raw data and results back to the business owner. It was night-and-day for these business owners. They were used to hearing rounded-out ‘reader stats,’ inflated ‘distribution details,’ and hypothetical ‘what-if- situational’ results. With the old marketing options, unless it was a cut-out coupon or a direct ‘I heard/saw you on KXYZ station’ in-person referral, tracking marketing results wasn’t easy. There was a lot of fibbing and fudging. The ability to measure results in all types of new ways made for some good honest work.
I embraced (still embrace) the hell outta this good honest way of working, and arrived at every meeting with solutions and details they’d never expected to see before. We’re talking exact conversion rates, the exact amount of revenue, who bought, who called, what they clicked, what they asked for, how long and how many times they visited, etc. It was amazing.
Now here’s the thing about this type of full transparency: it’ll tell you what’s happening while also exposing what’s not happening. Fortunately digital marketing (then and now) is way easier to change when something isn’t working, compared to print, TV, or radio. Digital marketing also has way better ROI metrics, so no matter good or bad, it was all good.
Most important of all, I was doing good honest work that helped locally owned businesses all over my community thrive.
When I realized that these locally-owned businesses were spending hard-earned money on traditional advertising outlets, all to send customers to a website that wasn’t built for success, I knew they needed to first spend time on the website before spending money for ads promoting it. These days, when companies spend money on lead generation but don’t reuse the data they’ve collected, I know that they are wasting money and simply being ‘sold’ on a marketing scheme. Years of good honest work have taught me that before any business spends money on advertising, they must focus on how they can improve organically and leverage native data to succeed. With every situation I enter, I go in intent on doing good honest work.