Episode 3: Digital Marketing 101

What your small business is doing wrong, and how to fix it.

Stop all of your digital marketing efforts RIGHT NOW!

At least, stop until you’ve listened to or watched this episode… because most of the digital marketing advice you hear is completely wrong and completely inappropriate for your small enterprise. 

In this episode, your host Niel Malan, shares the three exact steps you need to be taking in your digital marketing strategy to start earning money NOW, not far into the future.

Heard something you like? Share the inspiration here :

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Welcome to episode number three of the Elite Entrepreneur show. Today’s episode is called Digital Marketing 101

If this is your first time tuning in, this is the Elite Entrepreneur show where we work with elite entrepreneurs to help them to run fantastically, spectacularly successful businesses and to become fully digitized. 

Thank you so much for your time, welcome, and I hope you enjoy the show. Today, I’m going to tell you some unpopular advice, which is to stop all of your digital marketing efforts until you’ve listened to or watched this episode!

Most of the digital marketing advice you’re going to hear is completely wrong and completely inappropriate for your small enterprise. 

Let’s dive straight in. First of all, there are so many approaches to digital marketing. Which is the right one? Should you invest in a website? Should you invest in an app? I mean apps are quite sexy. Should go the SEO route? Or should you build a Facebook page, or Facebook groups? Or LinkedIn? LinkedIn is the new thing, right? That’s where all the business people are. Or should you start a blog? And should you start focusing on sending out regular emails to people? Or is online PR where it’s at? 

The thing is, the world of digital marketing is so big. There are so many options, and there are so many platforms. You could Google, and only Google alone has Google Search and Google Display Network. It has YouTube, they own YouTube as well. Then you’ve got other search engines like Bing. Then you’ve got different social media platforms. There is Instagram, there is Facebook, there is LinkedIn, there is Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, and the list goes on and on and on. 

This is one of the key reasons why small business owners are so incredibly overwhelmed by the space, and why so many people get it wrong and lose money when they try to do digital marketing and completely waste their time. This is because people don’t have a roadmap, they don’t have a guide that can show them exactly what to do, when to do it, and what size business should do what kind of marketing. That’s what I’m hoping to give you in this episode. 

So, the first way to discern what you should be doing and what not, I’m going to teach you a thought process. The first thought process is: small business vs. big business. The kind of marketing that a small business should focus on is very different to what a big business and a big brand should focus on. 

Let’s start with the big brands. Their goals are different. If you take, for example, a large bank. Yes, they do want to grow their user base and they also want to acquire clients but they’re interested in branding, they’re interested in visibility, they’re interested in trust and reputation, they’re interested in the user experience when people log into the website. 

Their goals are very different to a small business. 

A small business, generally, their primary reason why they do any kind of digital marketing is they want to acquire more clients. In fact, I’ll tell you guys this: I’ve been coaching small business owners since the year 2000 and I’ve had the wonderful privilege of having over a hundred thousand people in front of me in live training locations. 

I’ve asked people the question, “What kind of digital marketing do you do?”

The range of options being ridiculous. So many people saying, “I’m onto Pinterest nowadays,” and others are saying, “listen here, Instagram is where it’s happening”… 

The range of reasons where people are advertising couldn’t be more different. 

But when I ask them, “Why are you advertising?” You’ll normally get reasons like, “I want to get bigger visibility”; “I want to get greater exposure”; “I want to get out there”; “I want to tell people about us”. 

Then I say go one level deeper – if there’s greater visibility, greater awareness once people know about you, how will you measure success? The moment I ask that question, everybody gives me the same answer, “Well, if I get more clients, if I make more money.” 


What you’re looking for is you’re looking to acquire more clients, is that a fair statement? Most people would say that’s exactly what they’re looking for. 

People perceive, if they create a Twitter channel, they’re going to acquire more clients, or they perceive that if they grow an Instagram channel they’re going to acquire more clients, or they perceive that a better website or SEO is going to get them more clients, can you see what I’m saying? 

The outcome that people are looking for is always the same. 

That’s were small businesses differ dramatically from big businesses. Big businesses want more clients, but that’s not how they judge the success or failure of their marketing efforts. Although, I do have to tell you that’s changing. CMO’s across the globe are starting to put a lot more pressure on their marketing teams to prove return on investment, but that’s a different discussion. 

Small business owners are looking for one thing: more clients. Client acquisition. So, my feeling is, let’s focus on what will be the most effective strategy to acquire more clients for your business. That’s the first thought process. 

The second thought process has got to do with budget, and specifically with big budgets versus having small budgets. When a company has a big budget, they can invest in marketing that will only give them a future return. 

I’ll give you some examples of that. Search engine optimisation is a really valuable and powerful marketing strategy that gives you a future return. It can take anywhere from six months to eighteen months to rank on the first page of Google, and then you start getting more business. But it’s a delayed response. 

The same thing with a website. There’s a lot of value in having a beautiful, functional website. It provides high quality information but it’s quite hard to prove measurable return on investment unless you’re already driving a lot of traffic there. 

Also, growing organically. What do I mean by that? If you look at the social media channels like Instagram, growing an Instagram following, getting a lot of likes and getting a lot of engagement – it’s valuable. There will be some relationship between that and sales at some point, but I can promise you it’s delayed. It doesn’t happen right now. 

Companies that have big budgets that can afford to invest, invest, invest, invest for a year, two years, before they see a measurable return on investment. Go knock yourself out. 

I can really see you cringing in your chair as I’m saying it because you’re like, “No, that’s not me. I can’t wait.” 

If you can’t wait for a return, you need to discount everything else that can’t give you a measurable, short-term return on investment. That’s going to be the big dividing line. How do we see our marketing? How do we see marketing efforts? Within this, I’m going to help you to simplify all digital marketing. In fact, not all digital marketing, all marketing. 

There’s only two legs to a marketing effort. There’s the editorial leg and there’s the paid media leg. 

The editorial leg basically means that anything that is not paid media, your website, your podcast, something like this that we’re doing right now… hugely valuable. Newsletters that you’re sending out to your email database. Content marketing. Your organic social media marketing. Everything that’s not paid, we’re going to put into a bucket called “editorial”. 

Everything that is paid, we’re going to put into a bucket called “paid media”. When I say paid, I’m not talking about paying an agency to write content for you, I’m talking about paying for the actual ad, where you pay for a click or you pay for a lead or you pay for a view, or something like that. 

The big paid media channels right now is Facebook and Google Search, and for some people it’s YouTube and for some people it’s LinkedIn. But you basically pay for an ad. 

You pay for a click, you pay for a lead, you pay for a sale. 

You’re going to have two legs – an editorial leg and a paid media leg. Most digital marketing efforts are put into the editorial leg. If you go to Google, and you search “how do I grow my small business” or “digital marketing”, 99% of the articles you’re going to get are going to be about editorial strategies that are all valuable and they are all delayed-response. They don’t happen right now. 

This podcast that you’re listening to, or if you’re watching online, this Elite Entrepreneur show that you’re watching right now, is a valuable editorial marketing strategy and it’s also the kind of strategy where I get a future return. I don’t get a measurable return right now. It’s just not how it works if I want to get a measurable return right now. 

If I want to get clients right now, what I need to do is I need to focus on the paid media side of things. 

Why? It’s very, very simple. If you do paid media correctly, if you run an ad today, someone clicks on that ad today and they go to a landing page where you make an offer and they provide the details and the lead comes in. 

They can come into your store, or if you don’t have a store, if it’s more of an online business they can go to your online store. 

If it’s an offline business but they don’t visit your shop, then your sales people can make contact. There is a lead that comes in. That lead converts into a sale in any way from a day to two weeks. That’s what we’re looking at. From click to customer, in a week to two weeks. That’s generally what we’re looking for. 

The cool thing for a small business with a limited budget is you want to start with paid media. You want to start with paid media where you put in a dollar, or a rand, or a yen, or a Great British pound, depending on where you are in the world. Four of five or ten of them show up in a couple of days. That’s paid media. That’s what paid media does. 

My recommendation to small businesses; start with paid media first before you start with the editorial strategy. This is very controversial advice because a lot of people would say, “Yes, but Neil, that’s the worst advice possible because small business owners don’t have any money so they can’t afford the paid media. They should start with the podcasts, a website, with blogging and so forth.” 

That’s true except for two problems – number one: the delay. How long you have to wait until you make more money. Trust me, I’ve seen this a thousand times before, where people said, “No Neil, the stuff you’re teaching about, funnel building and about paid ads, it’s great but I don’t have the money for it right now. I’m going to build my website. I’m going to focus on my organic.” 

Talk to them a year later and ask how’s it going? Now they’re even skinnier than what they were because they have made no money in the last year. They are still not making any more money. They have an Instagram following of ten thousand people, but those ten thousand people aren’t turning into buyers, or their page is still not ranking number one, or they’ve got functional, beautiful, popping website that nobody is visiting, or they’ve got a YouTube channel that a lot of people are commenting on but nobody is buying anything. 

Do you understand the problem? I’ve seen this over and over again. 

Even though one may not have any money and the only thing you can afford to do is editorial, you’re still going to wait before you see a return. That’s the first problem. 

The second problem is editorial requires content. Content needs to be produced by someone. If you’re going to hire an agency to write content for you, it’s going to cost you a lot of money before you see a return. It’s going to be a thousand times more expensive than paid ads. 

If you think you’re going to write an article and publish it every Monday and you’re going to do four posts for Facebook, you’re going to do twenty posts for Twitter every single day, thirty articles on LinkedIn a week. Do you really think you’re going to keep that up, while you’re still running your business, while you’re still recruiting people, while you’re delivering, while you’re selling, while you’re doing accounting, while you are just trying to run this business? Do you really think realistically you’re going to be the person creating high quality content? 

If you get someone else, do you think they are going to create the same quality content as you? Do you think that you’re going to be able to afford it if you’re not making any money right now? 

The theory behind editorial is fantastic, the practice, I can tell you right now, doesn’t work like this. However, the alternative is this: If you have the ability, let’s just say you’ve got a little funnel, you’ve got one cracking offer and you know how to run Facebook or Google ads, and you put in some money, more leads show up in a day or two days. You convert those and you make some money. Can you see how it’s easier to go and invest a little bit more money into your marketing to just go and do that again? Can you see how that’s much quicker? 

Why? Because you don’t need ongoing content. You don’t need ongoing services. You don’t need complexity. 

All you are doing is taking your money and multiplying it, because you put it into a client acquisition funnel. That’s what I recommend for most small businesses. That’s what I’m all about, that’s why I’m so passionate about digital marketing, because I believe that the small guys can beat the big guys if they understand how to win with paid media. That’s where it’s at. 

But the requisite is you have to think differently. You can’t think on the cheap. What I mean by “on the cheap” is, I advise people to lose the notion that clients should just show up for free. Lose the notion that everything should happen organically. 

We often get this. People that are interested and looking at our courses. They’ll make comments on our ads saying you can get this information for free on YouTube or on Facebook blueprint. You can’t. Why would anybody give away high quality content for free? 

The stuff you’re going to find for free, I’ve never seen anybody make any money from it. Honestly, I’ve never ever seen that. 

The people that try to go on the cheap with their education, generally end up with cheap education and they end up with cheap results. Those of you guys who listen to our marketing show, last week we spoke about “learn to earn”. You’ll know exactly what I’m talking about; and if you haven’t listened to it yet, go back to episode number two. You can go to ww.eliteinc.com/2 and go through the episode Learn To Earn. 

I believe that the big differentiator with elite entrepreneurs and other entrepreneurs is that they invest in learning. It’s not about the price, it’s about the quality. You’ve got to invest in the right learning so that you can produce the right outcome. 

When it comes to digital marketing, let me tell you something, it is a highly scientific affair. It’s very specific and there’s very specific things that you need to do to succeed with it. The most important departure point is to understand everything you should not be doing. 

I want to be very, very clear on this. If you have a limited amount of money and a limited amount of time, what you should not be doing is this: Don’t go and spend a lot of time and money on a website. Do not go and spend a lot of time and money on SEO. Not now. Don’t go and spend a lot of time building an Instagram page or a Facebook page, or a LinkedIn, or anything like that. 

Do not go and do the editorial stuff because it’s going to keep you busy, it’s going to make you frustrated and it’s going to make you wait a very long time before a dime shows up. Do not do that. 

Do the following: Learn how to succeed with paid media. Learn how to put in one rand or dollar, or pound, and get back five or ten in a day, in a week, maximum two weeks. That’s where the money is, because the instant you get that formula right, you can grow your company. 

In our business, every single month, we invest about seventy thousand US dollars into marketing. Seventy thousand US dollars a month. Why? Because every time we put in a dollar, five dollars show up. That’s about our return on ad spend. 

Our growth is predictable. I know if we want to get to ten million dollars in revenue, all I need to do is I need to put in twenty percent into paid media. I need to put in two million dollars. 

The cool thing is, I don’t have to have the money because I make more money than what it’s costing me, so all I’m doing is I’m reinvesting, do you understand? 

I’m going to give you guys three steps to get cracking with. If you’re inspired and you’re ready to do something and you want to just move things forward, there’s really three things that you need: You do need some kind of a functional website, but not for the reasons you think. You’re not going to send traffic to your website, the only reason why you have a website is, after people have redeemed your offer that you’re going to make on your client acquisition funnel, they’re going to go to your website and say, “Who is this person?” They just want to go there and see something functional that’s got a proper About Us page, it’s got a little bit of a bio, it navigates well, it’s easy to read and so forth, but it’s a credibility tool. 

Credibility is important, people will go and check you out before they go and make a purchase from you. They say 87% of all sales are influenced by online research, and I think it’s higher than that to be honest. 

So, you need to have a functional website, but don’t overdo it. A five- to ten-page website is more than perfect. It shouldn’t cost you more than a couple of hundred dollars and you can go to Fiverr, get someone there to build you a very nice website that won’t break the bank. A hundred or two hundred dollars will get you going. But that’s not where you’re going to make money, that’s purely the credential tool. 

Where you’re going to make money is really two things: First is a client acquisition funnel and the second is your paid media lead generation campaign. 

A client acquisition funnel is a little bit long to explain in this episode, but I’m going to make it very, very simple for you. A client acquisition funnel is basically, instead of a website, you have a page where you advertise a specific special. 

When it comes to digital marketing, people have got the attention span of a budgie. They get distracted and they’re all over the place. So they click on an ad and they land on a page, whatever they see has got to be a draw-dropping offer. 

For example, as a hair stylist you may want to say “come in for a free thirty-minute styling where we’ll show you on a computer what a new hairstyle will look like on your head”. 

It’s free, it’s compelling, plus it’s the person setting their chances that they’re going to get bookings for paid hairstyling is really, really good. 

The same thing with a CrossFit gym: “Click here to redeem a free seven-day pass to our beautiful CrossFit gym.”

It’s easy to say yes to… can you see it doesn’t require a lot of thinking, it’s not complicated? 

This is what we teach in our Agency FastTrack program, how to come up with a jaw-droppingly good offer. To put it on a page, or as we refer to it, a funnel, so that if you drive traffic there, and get people to say yes. 

This makes the difference, because on a website, your conversion rate is anywhere from one and a half to two percent, as a global average. On a funnel, it can be as high as twenty or thirty or even forty of fifty percent. It makes a huge difference, because for your ad spend you get ten times greater value that what you would have if you just sent it to websites. 

That’s a client acquisition funnel. Now that you’ve got the funnel, you’ve got the jaw-droppingly good offer, all you need to do is drive traffic from paid media campaigns. My suggestion is Google Search and Facebook. 

Listen, let me help you out with something. Google Search is where people go and they look for your solution. Your ad should be popping up and it should take them to your funnel, so Google Search is a must. 

Facebook, right now, all of your buyers are on Facebook. You may not realise because they’re not looking for your kind of business on Facebook. But it doesn’t matter, they’re still on there. 

Facebook has superior targeting capabilities. Much better than a channel like YouTube, for example. Superior targeting capabilities where, once you know how, you can create a laser-like audience, send them to your client acquisition funnel and get all the leads you want and need. 

Now I know some people are going to say, “Yes, but what about LinkedIn?” Well, LinkedIn is awesome, except it costs ten times more than Facebook. A lead from LinkedIn costs ten times more than Facebook. Maybe it’s a ten-times better quality lead, so I’m not here to argue with you on that and, again, it’s not either-or. But for my money, where would I start? 

I would start with Google Search and I would start with Facebook ad campaigns and that’s all you need, my friends. 

Three steps to get cracking: Have a functional website, build a client acquisition funnel, and run paid media campaigns. Do that and that alone until such time that your business is growing fast, and until such time you can afford the effort to grow your editorial strategy. 

Once you can afford it, then you’re going to hire a content person to create content for your blog. Then you go and post all that blog content on the different social media channels. You see? Then you start your newsletter. Then you start your podcast. 

When you can afford the resources to help you execute it because you’re not going to do it yourself. 

So, you start with paid media. You start with client acquisition. You start by buying more customers. You start by getting return on ad spend in a very, very short space of time, and then you do everything else. And that’s how you succeed with digital marketing. 

What should you do next? The first thing you need is a client acquisition system. Now, if you’re one of our Agency FastTrack graduates, you’ll know how to do it and you need to make sure that you’ve got one for your business. 

Our Agency FastTrack graduates help small business owners just like you to get leads into their business, so you can reach out to my support team at [email protected] if you’re looking for recommendations from one of our graduates, but maybe it’s time for you to learn this skill for yourself for your own company. 

Because what can be more important for a leader than learning how to grow your own company? Can you think of something more important to do right now, than that? 

We often have entrepreneurs that go, “Listen, I want to learn how to do that to my own company.” 

So whether you make use of an agency like some of our fine graduates or you learn to do it yourself, make sure that you have a funnel, a client acquisition funnel. 

The second question is what can you do today to implement or improve a system. Those of you guys that don’t know where to get started, we can help you. All you need to do is you need to go to www.eliteinc.com/3 and book a complimentary 15-minute call with one of my team members to see if and how we can help. 

If you’re already in the game, and you’re already making money from your digital marketing efforts, I would love for you to go to our website at www.eliteinc.com/3 and in the comment box, tell us what you’re up to, tell us what’s working, tell us what you’re trying right now and what’s not working. 

Maybe we can give you some advice, maybe we can give you some encouragement, and maybe we can give you some guidance. 

Those of you guys who like watching video on YouTube, please remember to go to our channel and subscribe, and those of you guys who prefer listening on podcast, please remember to subscribe on your preferred podcast channel. Go to www.eliteinc.com/3 and you’ll find all the links to your favourite podcast channels. 

Those of you who are looking for a way to get cracking, go and book a 15-minute course with my team.

I will see you guys on our next episode, number four of the Elite Entrepreneur show. 

Let me know what you think, and again I just want to thank you. I don’t take your time for granted. I know that you have a million other things to do and the fact that you just took the time to watch this episode, I’m grateful and I want to thank you and God bless you. 

I’ll see you in the next one.