Rachel R. Noall is a Marketing Guru and the founder and CEO of RN Marketing Collective. The firm’s mission? To provide creative entrepreneurs with the digital marketing solutions they need to flourish.
I recently got a chance to interact with her. During my interaction with her, she talked about some of the biggest marketing blunders, areas where digital marketers can focus to get desired results and also about how the current pandemic has provided a plethora of opportunities for business owners.
Rachel, Thank you for having this Interaction. For the last few years, you have been helping businesses improve their digital footprint. For our readers, tell us how and where exactly your journey began?
I never sought out to be a business owner. That being said, to make money as a creative writer, one has to learn about how to run a business – there’s simply no way around it. As I was navigating how to market myself, I found that there were not many accessible options for everyday creatives, people pursuing passion projects, or even for small business owners.
After diving headfirst into all things marketing, I can now say, that 4 years after my journey began, I’ve worked as a consultant for some of the most successful companies within their given sectors.
With all of the knowledge and experience I’ve acquired, I want to bring the top digital marketing strategies to creatives. Creative entrepreneurs require out-of-the-box solutions, and these don’t have to come at a high price tag.
What inspired you to help entrepreneurs in their marketing pursuits?
Honestly, the lack of options and misinformation.
Unless you’ve worked in marketing you don’t know “what’s a good deal.” You also don’t know what questions to ask and what strategies actually produce valuable results.
I know so many people who are talented and they produce amazing products to their clients, but they don’t know where to begin when marketing is brought up. I want to help these entrepreneurs – those adding true value to their customers, tangible and affordable marketing options in a world that’s otherwise saturated with hefty invoices and false promises.
Being a marketing expert, tell us more about how marketing has evolved in the last couple of years?
There are a few things that have shifted marketing practices over the last few years.
Algorithms on all platforms are updated constantly. Whereas businesses could be discovered easily 10 years ago on social platforms, they are all now more “pay-to-play” arenas.
SEO practices, and particularly local SEO, are more important than ever. Competition is so high for popular keywords. Businesses and bloggers can’t just leave SEO to the “Google gods” anymore; being deliberate, purposeful, and paying attention to detail is key.
Some people do not see the desired results for their social media campaigns. How can they optimize their campaign for better results?
Invest in a good survey. Get to know your audience, and not just want they like, but who they are, their age, where they live, and about any related interests.
Having all of this information can help you paint a more specific picture of your target audience. The thing is, each niche audience encounters their interests differently, and the survey can help you nix or add strategies that probably weren’t on your radar.
Do you believe LinkedIn is an underrated marketing space?
Absolutely. All statistics show that LinkedIn is growing at an exponential rate. Additionally, the premium features offered on LinkedIn facilitate lead generation.
Every small business should be on LinkedIn. No exceptions.
How should businesses tune their marketing strategies during and after the Corona pandemic?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrolled through Instagram and seen some cringe-worthy advertising during this crisis.
It happened so often, in fact, that RN Marketing Collective authored an article titled “Do’s and Don’ts: Marketing During COVID-19.”
Instead of asking anything from consumers, companies need to focus on what they can give – what value they can offer to make this unprecedented time feel less scary.
Right now, I suggest focusing on community-building and making offers instead asks.
Many businesses make a mistake in copying marketing strategies from other successful businesses. However, one size does not fit all and this holds true in the field of marketing too. Do you agree with this assertion? If yes, why?
One size DOES NOT fit all. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t learn from others.
Specifically, what businesses like yours, on a local level, are the most successful?
There are ways to emulate this success without mimicking it of course. For example, if local SEO is driving clients to their website, you should probably have local SEO at the forefront of your marketing strategy too.
I would never recommend copying another business’ marketing strategy. This ignores the fact that your branding, employees, and clients are unique – don’t make that mistake; if you don’t think you’re extraordinary, why would clients choose you over a competitor?
What tip would you give to young entrepreneurs who are reading this Interview and are in the process of launching their marketing campaign?
First of all, congratulations. This is an exciting time, and while all new business owners have some nerves to shake off, most of this journey should be thrilling.
Second, don’t feel like you have to do “everything” when it comes to marketing. Small spends and testing are your friends. Find what works for you, and that won’t always look like checking off all of the major marketing “boxes.”
Experiment. Hone your message. Dive in.
At RN Marketing Collective, your dream is our priority. If you want to learn more about how we serve creative entrepreneurs, reach out to us. We’re happy to be your ally and teammate as you grow your business.
In this Interview New York Based Fitness Coach Larry Greenfield talks about his Entrepreneurial Journey and how he is helping folks over 40 live a better life
Larry Greenfield is a certified fitness coach from New York, NY, who specializes in helping men and women over 40 get into the best shape of their life. Through years of experience, he’s discovered that personalizing his approach to fit each client’s needs and aiming for long-term results is the best path to improve his clients’ lifestyle. He uses a specific approach to help clients overcome all physical and psychological barriers. Empowerment through fitness and proper nutrition leaves his clients feeling confident in their own skin.
Being a Fitness Coach is a demanding job. There must be some good days and some bad days. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
The best days at work are when I get to complete my morning routine, and everything goes to plan. The worst days are when, for some reason, my morning is hectic, and I have to change plans a lot. If I don’t have the best day, I try to take more breaks and meditate/workout to get my mind off things.
Who are the clients that you most enjoy working with?
I enjoy working with all of my clients, but I really love working with clients who have been with me for a long time. We know each other’s communication styles, and we are used to a routine. First-timers sometimes could be difficult since we are still building that trust and rapport.
There are moments in life which change you for good. What was your biggest ‘a-ha’ moment?
My biggest “a-ha” moment was when my kids were born. I realized that I had to provide for my family, not just spend time on anything I wanted. It took me some getting used to since I am a very independent individual, and I like my financial independence. But in the end, they’ve pushed me to strive for more. They still do.
Working with your first client is always memorable. How was your experience? What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
Working with my first client was indeed memorable. He was a referral from one of my close friends. Since I had recently graduated from a fitness certification program, I didn’t realize that what worked for me wouldn’t always work for other individuals. Understanding that I had to personalize workouts based on the age and the lifestyle of clients was a huge breakthrough. Those struggles early on in my career allowed me to be successful, now coaching 40+ year-olds and transforming lives.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has thrown challenges of biblical proportions. What would you do, if you are endowed with unlimited resources?
If you are talking monetarily, I would probably invest them in the economy. If I talk just about my City, the COVID-19 outbreak negatively impacted New-York’s economy, and unemployment is skyrocketing. Creating jobs and helping those in need would be how I would spend unlimited resources.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
I enjoy being in nature. I am a massive fan of outdoor activities and outdoor eating. Last time we were BBQing, I lost myself in it and ended up 7 pounds heavier than my healthy weight. It’s a dangerous activity to lose yourself in.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I enjoy traveling with my wife; sometimes, we bring our dog with us if we are on a road trip. I also go hiking, boating and kayaking a lot, when I can get out of town.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
By helping 40+ year-olds live healthier lives, I change the way they see themselves and improve their relationships with their families and loved ones, even their work-life. I think it’s a big enough difference.
Leading SEO Expert Justin Davis Shares Valuable SEO Tips and Explains Why Entrepreneurs Should Do it Right to Remain on Top
Justin Davis is a leading SEO Expert and specializes in Link Building, an important aspect of Search Engine Optimization. SEO or Search Engine Optimization simply means how effective your business is optimized for search engine results. For example, if you provide plumbing services and if someone searches on Google with the keyword ‘Best Plumbers Near Me’ and your business website or your information comes on the top position, you can be said to be search engine optimized.
Given the kind of competition Startups and Businesses have, it is important that they have an optimized search engine presence.
Justin, Thank you for talking with us. Tell us more about the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) for small business owners and startups.
Thank you for having me. SEO only matters for businesses that have customers (or potential customers) that go to Google or other search engines to look for their products and services. One of the benefits to a small business is that SEO will deliver leads that do not directly need to be paid for.
Of course most businesses would enjoy natural, organic traffic to the website from people researching services or products before making a buying decision. But there are costs in getting to this point. The time required depends on how strong the competition is.
At a minimum, small businesses should have a grasp on what keyword phrases are important to their business, how much search volume is behind those queries, where they stand compared to their competitors for those keywords, and approximately how much traffic the competitors are getting from those keywords.
What are some of the biggest mistakes businesses make when planning their seo strategy?
I have seen lots of businesses waste countless hours and thousands of dollars optimizing their on-page SEO, and reoptimizing, redesigning, and on and on. Monthly spending on SEO services should almost be entirely for off-page strategies like backlink building.
Onsite optimizations should generally be a one-time fix and coaching for best practices moving forward. Let’s face it.. Most companies know little to nothing about SEO. That’s why they hire out. So the client needs to at least somewhat educated on the basics in the beginning.
Setting clear expectations by talking about what the deliveries will be, a timeline, KPIs that will track progress throughout the campaign, costs, results – these should all be covered. Properly setting expectations of how much the services are going to cost, how long it’s going to take, and what estimated results will help with transparency and clarification.
Panda update of Google was a big learning curve for seo professionals. What are some of the current trends in seo?
Nowdays I just focus on producing high quality content and getting high quality links to point to that content. I leave the trends and tweaks to the SEO bloggers and every once in a while I incorporate something new into my strategies.
Think about link building as being a timeless SEO activity. Getting links from high-quality websites will always be great for your SEO. Why? Because this is the system that Google search results was based off of. A linking/vouching system is similar to that used by many scholarly medical journals and so on.
Forget trying to figure out the new fads, tips and tricks. Stick to doing a lot of what we already know works. Optimize your site on-page, and then continue adding content to your site while getting links from quality websites in your niche.
Tell us the importance of link building for a website. How do businesses ensure that they have a quality link profile?
Link building is important for a website because Google’s ranking system relies on links heavily to reveal authority. The amount of links from trusted sources are looked at as a vouch, basically voting for the linked site.
Businesses have a quality link profile by setting standards in the beginning. Authority scores, organic search traffic, the number of keywords ranked in Google, rankings/positions for various keywords, Moz spam score, sniff tests, experience, PBNs and IP addresses – are factors used to determine whether a link prospect is qualified.
Lots of businesses try to go cheap when it comes to link building. This is probably because it takes a lot of time and money. I get it! But when taking shortcuts and hiring amateurs, they often end up with spammy links and little to no improvements in keywords and actual website visitors.
Even worse, they could be penalized and completely lose everything in Google search. Bad SEO can also do lots of damage to a brand, because a big part of off-page SEO is outreaching/emailing every other business and organization in your industry on your behalf.
There are many businesses that want to indulge in shady link building programs just because they are in a hurry. As an expert in this field, how do you handle these clients?
I am very clear with possible new clients. I go over the preferred types of links and associated metrics ahead of time.
One of the qualifying factors I look for in clients is that they respect my expertise and take more of a hands-off approach. Micro-managers need not apply! So I just politely smile and reject those clients. PS: I turn down 90% of businesses that reach out to me because they don’t meet all of my qualifying factors. This is multiple businesses per day.
What SEO tips would you like to share with all the entrepreneurs who are reading this?
Hiring the right person for SEO is crucial if your business relies on traffic from search results. In the beginning, talk about what the SEO goals are, what the ideal timeline would be in order to meet those goals, and what budget is available in order to get there.
The SEO person should be able to explain what can be expected according to your goals, timeline and budget. Properly setting and tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that are specific to SEO and the campaign will show progress.
A proper SEO campaign will result in your website gaining authority. These gains will be shown in higher numbers of organic search visitors (check Google Analytics for this), higher rankings for more keyword phrases (various SEO tools for this), and higher authority scores (various SEO tools).
Justin Davis is the Chief Link Builder for Link-builders.com, an off-page SEO agency specializing in building high-quality backlinks.
Marc Bakhos, Founder of Hitch’dtheshoe Talks About how the Absence of a Shoe Design During His Wedding led to His Entrepreneurial Journey
Hitch’dtheshoe, founded by Marc Bakhos, was created with a vision to add the element of comfort and design in a formal shoe. Marc initially came up with the idea of Hitch’dtheshoe in order to provide class and comfort solutions for a wedding. However, with growing popularity, these premium sneakers have been worn by people on other occasions too.
This UAE based brand is creating quite a ripple in the domestic market. We recently Interviewed Marc Bakhos to understand the idea behind his brand. Among other things, we also discussed the impact of Coronavirus on Entrepreneurs.
Coming up with your own shoe brand is a risky affair given the intense competition in this segment. What inspired you to create Hitch’dtheshoe?
I was looking for a casual sneaker to get married in, but could not find a shiny sneaker that has the shine and the comfort that I was looking for to last for all the wedding festivities. So, I decided to create my own brand to cater to the gentlemen with the same struggle.
The name is derived from the word hitched, which means that you’re getting off the market. We started with Hitch’d gents, which caters to the gentlemen and the launch has been successful for two months now.
These shoes which are created to add modern and stylish charm to any outfit, are created with 100% Italian patent leather and 100% rubber sole.
You are a young entrepreneur and will have your own learning curve. However, the ongoing pandemic has taught everyone a lesson. What is the biggest lesson entrepreneurs can learn from the ongoing Pandemic?
That is true. This pandemic is a great learning curve for everyone. I would say that people should always look for opportunities that potentially arise from any uncertain event like the one we are facing today.
I believe that humanity plays a big role in these circumstances and the people who are able to help should help others in any possible way. I would say that the biggest lesson entrepreneurs can learn is that there is nothing above humanity. Moreover, nothing is permanent and you should serve your clients from that backdrop.
Considering the fact that there are several big players in the shoe segment in which you are offering products, how small businesses can compete with established brands. What should be their strategy?
That’s right. Competing with established brands is tough. One should, therefore, tread his or her path carefully. I would suggest that one should look for a problem that people are facing and try to find solutions. The solution should be niche preferably and using the right channels you’re good to go.
So, with the acceptance you are getting, are you planning to expand your operations?
We ship in the UAE at the moment. Our operations will open to the world soon. We are in the process of finalizing shipping processes and rates. This has obviously been hit due to the ongoing situation.
How has shoe industry transformed over the past few years? Do you believe that premium brands face challenge from cheap, look-alike products which swamp the shoe racks in several markets?
“I believe that any fashion product is easy to imitate, but it is hard to imitate the story.”
The shoe industry is always changing and adapting to customers’ wants and fashion trends. I believe that any fashion product is easy to imitate, but it is hard to imitate the story. In our case, there’s a story to tell. Also, people have a sense of appreciation for good products. On any given day, quality wins.
What has been your most satisfying experience as a business owner?
Being a business owner, it has been truly a blessing seeing the reaction of my clients after I show them my products.
It is like a need that they have been waiting for a while, and finally, it has been fulfilled. Being born and raised in Lebanon also makes me proud to have come this far, in creating something special for the world, as well as making my country proud at the same time.
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