The Art of Client Reporting Part 1: Do Your Reports Suck?

The Art of Client Reporting Part 1: Do Your Reports Suck?

When we were a young agency, we had some difficulty with reporting. Because we focus heavily on hard data and have a bad habit of tracking everything, we ended up with giant spreadsheets at the end of the month. This made it incredibly difficult to know exactly what needed to be reported to the client. Picking out the important metrics and synthesizing them into something that was useful and captivating was a giant pain in the ass, and more often than not we would overload the report with numbers and analysis, just to be on the safe side. This sucked, and we very quickly realized that it sucked. Unfortunately, clients will rarely tell you if your reports suck. You can try looking online to see if your reports suck, but the resources available are generally not terribly helpful. They either suck themselves, or are incredibly abstract, or are so specific that it’s hard to really know how to expand them to other types of reporting. When we first started managing PPC ads for clients, for example, I looked for example PPC reports. I found something like this adwords report. If I was a client, and I got a report that looked like this, I would either ignore it, or be really miffed. That report tells me absolutely nothing. In fact, it’s worse then telling me nothing – it gives me the exact same information that simply logging in to AdWords would. If I’m paying someone to manage my AdWords, I don’t want them to give me the same information I could have simply pulled myself with very little difficulty....
4 Things I learned About Local Marketing When I Decided to Open A Small Business

4 Things I learned About Local Marketing When I Decided to Open A Small Business

The Brief In October, S&G opened a retail service-based business as a model case study. These are the lessons we learned from the experience. Clients under business pressure will want to cut corners. Be ready to provide a solid business case for why “best practice” is best. Look at your monthly reports. If they contain information that isn’t immediately actionable, or that doesn’t show bottom-line value, you probably don’t need to report it. It’s important to be yourself, but you have to keep in mind the prevailing attitudes of the community the business is based in. Take a hybrid approach and be yourself, but slanted towards those attitudes to keep from scaring off the community. The optimal channel mix for small businesses varies widely. Don’t assume that dominating a traditional channel will transform into instant small biz success. Constantly review which channels are actually bringing business and which are just stroking your ego. The Article As marketers, especially marketers dealing with small and mid-sized businesses, we tend to abstract away the companies that retain us. We forget that our clients are not simply a collection of personas, products, target customer groups, competitive advantages, keywords, and branding themes. We forget that that company is the realization of someone’s dream, that it is the lifeblood for many entrepreneurs. We forget that while we can explain away bad reports by citing global/national/local trends, calling them “corrections over a stronger-than-average previous month”, or a marketing strategy gone bad, the people reading these reports can only see them as heart attack, death in the family, and harbinger of doom all rolled up into a...

We Were Featured in Chief Content Officer!

It’s been way too long since we last blogged, so I thought I’d kick things off by sharing some exciting news: we were featured in Chief Content Officer magazine as one of the top content marketing firms across the globe! Woo! We’re sandwiched in there between some pretty big names in the content space, so we’re pretty psyched about that. Here’s some photos of us in print.   We’re about to get back into the swing of things again, so you can expect more weekly blogging (and probably some ranting) soon. Stay...

Social Marketing Like A Shark: How We Got A Client +400% Engagement and +700% Reach In One Week for Free

You’re a shark. Sharks are winners, and they don’t look back because they have no necks. Necks are for sheep. That’s right, a week after Shark Week, we’re putting out a post about sharks. TIMELY! But this isn’t really about sharks – no, it’s a combination case study, admonition, and guidebook for not being a sheep.Because you don’t want to be a sheep. You want to be a shark. Because sharks have no necks! At this point, you’re probably wondering wtf I’m talking about. There is a tendency in marketing to succumb to group-think – the sheep mentality. Someone writes a great blog post, it makes the round of the internet, and by next Thursday every single person in social media has seen it and is following it to the letter. And there’s nothing really wrong with that, per se. If you’re new to the field (and given that “the field” has existed for all of a decade now, who isn’t?), or you don’t have a lot of time or resources, I can see the appeal of reading something from HubSpot and thinking “Wow! That chart is really pretty, and I don’t REALLY want to be awesome – I just want to be good enough to not get fired!” If that’s you, this isn’t your post. This is for people who DO want to be awesome. The people willing to take big risks, and reap big rewards (and sometimes eat a BIG helping of humble pie when things go south). This is the story of how we stopped being sheep and started being sharks. So What’s The Big News?  ...

Need Better Content for Lead Generation? Call Your Sales Team

I talk to about 5-6 business decision makers every week about their marketing efforts and how well they’re meeting their goals – be it lead creation, brand awareness, partnerships, or revenue earned. This is a great way for me to get a broad overview of what a company’s business objectives are, what types of marketing outreach they’re using to get there, and whether or not they’re working.  What I often find out in these meetings is that companies are putting out the wrong kind of content and I know this because I always ask one thing: “What are your customer’s pain points?” The answer I usually get is a brief silence with a couple of ideas on what their customers or clients are having problems with, but rarely a definitive answer. This is a big problem because you can’t create content that will immediately let a consumer know that you can solve their problem if you don’t know exactly what the problem is. Asking the Right People So, the bad news is that you don’t have a clue (or maybe you have an inkling of a clue) about what really frustrates your customers. The good news is that you don’t have to embark on a gigantic clusterfuck of a focus group to find out. Just dial up your sales team, kick your feet up, and settle in for a fifteen minute conversation. You might be asking why it’s important to talk to your sales people. It’s pretty simple, actually. Your sales team is on the front line with customers and prospects every day. They undoubtedly have a few questions...

Content Marketing and Site Architecture: Semantic Hub and Spoke For The Win!

If you’re a content, inbound, or SEO veteran, you know all about the hub and spoke design. If you don’t, pay very close attention! It’s been written about before, many times, in many places. Still, I’m not convinced those write-ups do a great job at explaining and illustrating the concept for those new to the field, or to writers who aren’t nearly as technical as SEOs but who are trying to stay afloat in this rapidly changing field. I’ve also recently come across a great example of the design that is so blatantly obvious, yet so damn effective, that I simply can’t get over how awesome it is. If you don’t care to read about the theory and just want to go straight to the how-to, click here and skip my academic ramblings. What Is Hub-And-Spoke Content Design? The hub and spoke approach to content design is one that’s been in use in various forms since very early in the web’s days. The basic premise is deceptively simple – content is organized into hierarchical levels from broadest to most specific. So, for example, your top level (blue) page might be something like “Animals”. The next level (orange) will have several documents/pieces of content that are a little more specific: “Mammals”, “Reptiles”, “Amphibians”, etc. The next level under each category (purple) is even more specific, so under “Mammals” you can have “Marine Mammals”, “Bipeds”, “Quadrapeds”, and so on. So far, this should be nothing new to anyone who has ever built a web page. In fact, this is the most basic way of structuring things on the web.  In fact,...