You want to have clarity in your message, and you want to make it easy for the right client to find you. – Lori Highby
Meet Lori Highby
With a core personal value of lifelong-learning, Lori Highby has shared creative and strategic digital marketing, personal branding, and entrepreneurship lessons with people and organizations from all over. Her 20 years of experience, education, and involvement range from currently owning a digital marketing agency, Keystone Click, being the 2013 recipient of the “Bravo! Entrepreneur Award” from BizTimes Media, teaching undergraduate students as an adjunct professor at UW-Milwaukee, and serving on numerous boards including the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. Lori earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Business & Marketing from Marian University and her MBA from Cardinal Stritch University.
I want to talk about your story and how you got to the place you are now. Let our audience know how you’ve got to be the expert you are.
I was going to school for commercial art and graphic design, and I was working full-time at a web development company. I found that the marketing guys were doing all the fun things like going to golf outings, taking clients to lunch where the designers were just sitting at their desk, day in and day out. I’m like, I don’t want to be doing that. At the same time, I was also taking a sociology course. I was fascinated by how messages and visuals can impact a decision that someone makes and that comes down to marketing. So I shifted my educational direction to be in marketing, while also working full time.
I was at this agency for about five years, and I was doing SEO and PPC and email marketing before those were common acronyms in the space. I then went to a traditional marketing firm where I was doing outdoor radio print for quite some time. They brought me on because they wanted to start tapping into the digital space a little bit. They weren’t as eager as they had initially told me. While I learned a ton about traditional marketing and advertising, I found that my true passion was really in the digital space because so many cool things can be done, and it’s constantly evolving.
In 2008, I decided to start my own shop. When I started, I was just going to do websites, because that was something that I knew a lot about. I found that over time someone would ask me after we built the site, how do we get found on Google? And I would just tell them what to do because I knew how to do it. And then they’d say Facebook’s coming up, and they’re like, should my business be on Facebook? And I’d say, yeah, this is how you do it. So eventually, my clients were coming back and asking if I could do those things for them because they didn’t want to be doing it.
Eventually, we evolved to become more of a strategic digital marketing agency. It was never a smooth path. I know this podcast is very much about overcoming the challenges that we faced, and I went in and started a business because I love marketing, and I’m passionate about it.
Understanding the financials is something that I’d say, is probably one of my weakest areas. I’m heading to a two-day workshop to better myself in this area. I think that’s one of the things that as a professional, and a leader is we continually need to be educating ourselves, while also aligning ourselves with those that have the strengths that are our weaknesses. It’s still good to consistently be adding knowledge to our buckets. In the digital marketing space that we’re in, there are new things happening all the time. We are constantly educating ourselves.
What was it like when you hired your first team member?
I had no idea what I was doing. That’s another area where I invested some time to be properly trained. To be properly trained first on the interviewing process, I had someone coach me on how to conduct behavioral interviewing, and that significantly changed how I interview. And now our interviewing process is no different than the sales pipeline process. It’s a funnel. You have this big bucket of candidates and you have different levels of activities that you’re engaging with them to see who’s going to move on to that next level.
Please share the interview process you use.
We will post a job that’s available out on a number of channels that align with our industry. And we use a platform called Workable.com. It acts as a sales funnel, but you set the stages for the different candidates that you have. Then we do a phone interview where we ask them the same 10 questions. It’s a quick 10-minute call. But the process for them scheduling the interview is one of the tests. You qualified yourself right away. The next phase, based on how that phone interview went, is an in-person, but now it’s via zoom conversation. It’s more of a deeper conversation with some additional team members. I’m not in it at that point. It’s to make sure that the team is comfortable with the personality of that individual. It’s extremely important that we maintain a positive culture and workplace. Then I conduct the behavioral interview and then we also will do a skills assessment. Pending on what their role is, we want to make sure that they can do what it is that they say they can do.
Please provide your tips to help keep our messaging on target.
Tip #1 – Conduct research to build a solid marketing plan together. And, in today’s day and age, content is the fuel around that. First and foremost you need to know what it is that you’re trying to achieve. So earlier today, I had a phone call with a prospective client of ours, and she wants us to run some Facebook ads with her. So what is the goal? What do you want to happen? She wasn’t able to give me a clear answer. How do you define success if you don’t even know what it is that you’re trying to achieve?
You need to know where you’re trying to go. What is the goal that you’re trying to achieve? I always like to relate it to a GPS. We have our end destination, we plug it into the phone, and you get a couple of route options. And you may end up getting a detour, which I’d say 2020 is a great detour for all of us. It’s easier to follow that detour to help you achieve that goal that you have at the end of the day.
Tip #2 – Take a look at your competition. I don’t want you to put too much thought into this, that you’re constantly looking at them. But when you’re looking at that destination that you’re trying to reach, it’s really good to see what competition you have out there and take a look at what they’re doing.
We typically recommend looking at about three to five competitors. Where are they showing up online? What channels are they on social media? Are they sending out newsletters? Are they blogging? And what is it that they’re saying? Is there a consistent message that’s being conveyed? Or are they just kind of all over the place? What type of content are they publishing that people are engaging with? You also want to take a look at how they are showing up in the search engines. When you are Googling for your offering, and your competitor shows up, but you don’t, that may give you some insight into what they’re doing on their website and the type of content that they’re creating. You can also take a look at what kind of ads they’re buying. On LinkedIn and Facebook, you can type in any company’s name, their page on those channels, and see what ads that they’ve been doing.
Tip #3 – Understand your customer. There’s an exercise that we like to do with our clients, which is to identify who your favorite customer is to work with. Try to get inside their head because you want to understand what their biggest pain is. What are their values? What’s important to them? Who is it that they’re trying to impress? And why is this important? Understanding the ins and outs of that ideal customer is going to be extremely important. But at the end of the day, you want to know what it is that they want from you. You can conduct this research on your own or you can find a third party. I find when we do this, we get a lot more information, if we’re speaking to our client’s customer, as opposed to them getting it directly.
You want to understand when the third party is involved, they can ask additional questions like how they found you. Why do they keep buying from you? Do they refer business to you? Why or why not? You will also want to ask some non-business questions like what social media channels are they on? Do they listen to any podcasters? Do they subscribe to any newsletters? It’s better to understand what your ideal customer is doing as an individual and a human being. The better that you can understand that customer, where they’re hanging out online, and what pains they have; you can ultimately craft content and position it in the right spot to attract that ideal customer to you.
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