From the writing program at SUNY Potsdam to a semi-professional career in 3D computer graphics to a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Syracuse University, David Dewhirst has explored just about every medium one could imagine. He brings all of these skills, plus years of online business experience, to ThreeTwelve Creative after many successful years as a Software Engineer at MediaBrains/AgingCare.com. With all of these skills, he is sure to please — or at least entertain.
ThreeTwelve Creative provides a unique but important solution to SMEs: They handle all aspects of a company’s online presence, from website through social media to blogging and other content generation, pay-per-click management, landing pages, lead nurturing, and beyond. If it’s online, ThreeTwelve does it – allowing its clients to focus on their own core business.
MO: What are some recent examples of what you call “Bringing the Online Awesome”?
David: One of our Complete Online Presence clients recently stood up in front of a group of senior executives from other SMEs and said “ThreeTwelve Creative has transformed my business.” We’ve been able to literally double his millions in revenue just by, as I like to put it, bringing the Online Awesome. He’s a great guy with a great business and a world-class product, but he simply didn’t have the time or manpower or expertise to put into making his company awesome online. We came in and restructured everything: His website, his email campaigns, his pay-per-click, his social media, literally just everything — if it’s online, we do it for him. We mean nothing less than “Complete” when we talk about Complete Online Presence. And that lets him and his people go about doing what they do best – running his company – and lets us do all the online stuff, which is what we do best. It’s saved him money, because he doesn’t need to hire, for example, a creative director, an email marketer, a web designer, and all the other people you need to do online well. We eliminate the need for him to have all those people on staff. And by linking up all the online channels into one coherent whole, driving people to the content that we’re always creating on the website, setting up great landing pages, etc., we grow our clients’ qualified leads – and thus their sales – far beyond what they thought possible.
MO: Any tips for our readers on lead generation?
David: Content. Content, content, content. Google has well over a TRILLION pages indexed – how are you going to stand out? The best way is by providing a constant stream of high-quality content that your prospective customers will actually want to consume. Google is getting smarter and smarter, and if it’s content that people will want to consume then it’s content that Google will want to serve in search results. And then some of that content can be behind forms to capture these prospective clients – but once you’ve got them there, don’t ask for too much. People are put off by long forms. Make it easy for someone to become a lead. Ask yourself whether you really need to get much more than a name, an email and maybe a phone number – all the rest you can get later. And certainly, there are exceptions to that simplicity – you might sometimes NEED to capture someone’s favorite color, for example. That’s fine. One of my writing professors once told me it was fine to break the rules, as long as I knew what they were and I broke them with intent towards a purpose. That’s how I feel about asking for too much on a lead form: The rule is to keep it absolutely simple, but break that rule when you have a clear purpose in mind.
MO: To blog or not to blog, that is the question.
David: Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous comments, or to take pen against a sea of trolls, and by replying end them?
See my answer on lead generation: Blogging is an absolutely fantastic way to keep the content stream flowing. Here’s an interesting statistic, courtesy of HubSpot: Companies that increase their blogging frequency from 3 – 5 times per month to 6 – 8 times per month almost double their leads. Why? Again, people are hungry for good content – and when you consistently provide it, you position yourself as an expert in your field. I mean, I haven’t had a badge that said “Expert” on it since the Army gave me one for knocking stuff down with a rifle – barring certain professions, of course, there just isn’t a clearly demarked standard for who’s an expert. Forrest Gump might tell us that an expert is as an expert does – and he’d be right. The best way to show you’re an expert at something is to demonstrate it – but you might not even get that chance if you don’t start to position yourself as an expert beforehand by letting people know what you know. And blogging is a great way to do that.
See what I did there? We’ve moved from Shakespeare to Forrest Gump
MO: Creativity is the foundation of what you do. Where do you look for inspiration when you’re feeling in a bit of a rut?
David: One technique I employ is to sign onto the service we use for stock photos and search a random phrase – for example, I might search the phrase “vintage tin signs” and see what images the service returns. Among those images might be something that suggests a topic, or even just forces me to consider an angle I might not have thought of before. Sometimes you find an image that can become a visual metaphor for something you hadn’t yet realized you wanted to say. If you don’t belong to any stock photo sites, Flickr and Google’s image search work great, too.
MO: What are some of the most common issues that you see your clients facing and how could these problems be avoided?
David: I’d rather talk about prospective clients, because we’ve already taken care of the issues experienced by our clients – it’s what we do.
There’s really three overarching problems that I find when I talk to SME executives: Time, Know-How and Talent. All of the content generation, all of the social media, all of the lead capture – it can take an enormous amount of time and become a huge distraction away from where a company’s core focus should be. I mean, we all know what a time drain the internet is, right? And that’s fairly well-connected to the second issue I commonly see, which is that most companies that don’t specialize in this just don’t know what current best practices are, because just keeping up with those best practices is in itself enormously time-consuming. So, if they’re doing anything at all, there’s a lot of companies out there who are actually doing worse than nothing – just because they don’t know any better, they’re really shooting themselves in the foot by continuing to do all the same stuff, in the same way, that they did ten years ago or more. Finally, having talented people is critically important – but talented people are so hard to come by. Lots of people can string a few sentences together if you tell them they have to write something – but without talent somewhere along the line it’s unlikely to be content that will be engaging, or content that people will want to read.
As far as avoiding all these problems, that’s why ThreeTwelve is an attractive solution: We have the time to do these things, because these things ARE what we do. We keep abreast of all the current best practices, because being Online Awesome depends on it – as does being talented. And I have a staff that is among the most talented group of people I’ve ever had the privilege to know.
MO: Can you share with our readers how you’re currently developing extended technology offerings for your clients that will continue to add great value?
David: Our current methodology involves having a meeting with a client once a month where, among other things, we go over all the data we’ve collected over the past month; all the metrics and all the analytics. That’s nice, and I don’t see us stopping that practice – it’s valuable face time for us and the client both. But what happens if clients want real-time data? Well, they always have all their various logins, but for example they’d have to go to Google Analytics and figure out how to look at the data they wanted, go to LinkedIn and see that data, go to their CRM and see leads submitted, etc.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of having to go to all those different places, we could gather up all that information for them into one dashboard? It would be! So, we’re building that in-house to give our clients a kind of eye-in-the-sky look at everything. And that same dashboard would tell them not only all of the various analytics, but also let them keep track of all the obligations that ThreeTwelve had to them – so if, say, we had contracted with them to do 8 blog posts a month and 2 whitepapers, they would be able to log in at any point and see oh, okay, they’ve done 6 of the blog posts already and one of the whitepapers, and here’s links straight to them. All of these things are already available separately, of course. The dashboard will just put everything under one roof, so to speak, and make it easy for our clients to see what we’re doing for them on any given day, and what the results are. It’s a layer of transparency and accountability that I welcome.
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