Please introduce your company and give a brief about your role within the company?
My name is Brittany, and I own Empty Desk Solutions – a small boutique social media marketing agency located in Port Moody, BC, Canada. Empty Desk Solutions is in year six and we have helped over 150 small businesses with their social media marketing and various other digital marketing initiatives.
Mention the objectives or the parameters critical in determining the Digital Marketing Strategy for a client.
This question, I suppose, varies depending on the specific service an agency offers. In our case, we are offering social media content marketing services, so we must base our plans off of KPI’s that content marketing can achieve. Many businesses will want to focus on ALL objectives as a vague strategy, but we consult on choosing a couple of crucial goals for their social media marketing so that we can make sure things are working in proper order for them. For example, if you were using the content only and no ads, it would be challenging to achieve awareness, revenue, loyalty, click-throughs, etc all at the same time. However if we decided to look at say loyalty and brand awareness at the same time, we could achieve that with the top of mind awareness that social media content marketing is capable of creating. We like to base our goals around things that we can easily measure for a client such as reach and engagement which we want to see trend upwards over time. If the client has in-house marketing capability then we can also partner with them to align our content with current promotions and assist in driving sales and sign-ups for other offerings.
How does your company differentiate itself from the competition?
In our market, we are filling a void that currently exists in the small business marketing space. Small businesses and non-profits are generally forced into one of two or three directions. They can choose to work with a typical agency (sometimes much more money than they can afford), they can pay for expensive consulting to ‘DIY’ their marketing, or they can opt to hire a junior position or intern (or find an individual freelancer or contractor). There are not many options for smaller local teams or boutique agencies like us who offer an in-between option! We give them the agency experience without the agency cost. We are also working on an exhilarating course for small businesses and non-profits where they will be able to learn our content marketing processes to be able to handle their social media marketing; we can’t wait for its launch this fall.
What industries do you generally cater to? Are your customers repetitive? If yes, what ratio of clients has been repetitive to you?
We have a large percentage of clients in the mortgage, real estate, and finance world. Most of our customers are on a monthly plan and very rarely do we only work with someone on a one-off basis.
Please share some of the services that you offer for which clients approach you the most for?
Our primary offering is our social media all-inclusive marketing plan. This plan mostly takes the place of having a mini-marketing team. We handle all of the primary digital marketing activities for them so that they can check out of social media (unless they want to join in on the endless scroll haha!). We also offer smaller content plans for businesses that opt for 3+ posts per week that don’t need the full all-inclusive plan, and we build small Wordpress websites for local businesses.
What do you find to be some of the most critical factors for running a successful agency in the field of Digital Marketing?
I believe that the ONE key factor for running a successful agency is no different than the critical factor that separates any business from its less shiny competitors and that is communication! Our clients are always in the loop and never left to wonder what is going on – we keep their needs and wishes at the forefront of everything we do, and we do it with a smile every single time. If you think back on poor business dealings you’ve had in the past whether it’s a service or product you were disappointed in, I bet you can sum it up to poor communication somewhere down the line. The customer experience is what keeps them coming back, and I genuinely believe this is why we have always had such loyal clients.
What are the key factors that you consider before deciding the cost of a project?
Before deciding how to quote on any project, we determine:
i. Is it something we WANT to do (we used to say yes to everything, now we are more selective).
ii. Does the client share the same values? If yes, we proceed to the next step. If not, we find them someone else.
iii. We decide if they need us for our hourly virtual assistance plan or if they need us for a social media marketing plan (or website) and then we get started on taking stock of all of their goals and needs.
iv. Once we have established what their needs are, we get to work on building their custom proposal which outlines all of the deliverables and costs associated with it. We estimate the hours required monthly to complete the job and then charge based on that.
What kind of payment structure do you follow to bill your clients?
The majority of our clients are on an ongoing monthly automated billing structure (invoices sent from QuickBooks and they have 30 days to pay). Our website clients are billed 50% upfront and 50% on the launch, and our ‘hourly virtual assistance’ clients are billed the last day of the month for all hours incurred in that month.
What is the price range (min and max) of the projects that you catered to in 2018?
In 2018, we had projects that were hourly as small as a half-hour charge (like a simple graphic change) and had more extensive plans like our all-inclusive plan that clients opted for. Our average client spends to be in the $500-1000/month range.
Name a couple of activities that you think to provide the best ROI in terms of benefit/impact when it comes to different areas of Digital Marketing.
I suppose our answer is a little bias on this one because content marketing is our core service. We believe that creating regular, branded, fun social media content is necessary in today’s world of small business (and for non-profits). It’s all about staying top of mind, and there’s no better way to do that than with social media. If you couple this with building an email list that you can nurture as you grow, then you’re golden!