Tuesday, April 28, 2015

U.S. News Interview with 1871's Reva Minkoff

Business woman working remotly from her dining table. Home kitchen in the background.

Avoiding Small Business Blunders

Entrepreneur Reva Minkoff aims to stop small businesses from making the same mistakes over and over.

Business woman working remotly from her dining table. Home kitchen in the background.
It's smarter business More

Common mistakes account for too many small businesses wasting an average of 25 percent of their pay-per-click advertising budget each month. After identifying the same basic mistakes in 95 percent of the accounts she consulted on, Reva Minkoff started the award winning-website DigitalGroundUp in the summer of 2012 to train small business advertisers and over 300 students in successful digital marketing through short, hands-on online courses.
The company has since collaborated with major companies such as Facebook, while Minkoff herself was invited to the White House to live tweet the arrival ceremony of new British Prime Minister David Cameron. I recently interviewed Minkoff by email.
What are the worst mistakes small businesses make in advertising?
Not tracking their results. It drives me nuts when companies don't know what's happening on their website, what the results of their marketing are and how both are factoring into their bottom line. If they're spending money on something, they should know what they're getting out of it, and if they don't, their agencies and developers should be working with them to help get them that information.
What are the most common pieces of advice you give students?
I remind students to focus on the overall concepts and not the interfaces. The fundamental digital marketing concepts haven't changed from day one. As long as students understand them, they'll be able to adjust to any other changes that may come their way and make the right decisions when faced with a new concept.
The lessons that we offer are applicable to both established companies and startups. The principles of digital marketing are the same regardless of the size of the company. We have found that it's more about what the goals of the campaign are and how new the company is to advertising. We've worked with established companies on launching a new product or launching marketing campaigns for the first time and the dynamic is the same as working with a startup launching a website for the first time.
What advertising trends do you see evolving? Dying?
I think the days of large cost per impression based buys directly through an advertiser slowly coming to an end as programmatic and auction based bidding and buying continue to evolve and become more commonplace. Tracking and personalization are both two areas that continue to grow and evolve. Both have grown and improved a lot in the last decade.
Digital marketing is very important for most companies. In this day and age, it's important that all companies can be found online. It adds credibility and is an important source of information for current and prospective customers. But not all tactics make sense for all companies and all situations.
Social media is just one part of the digital marketing toolkit. Again, every campaign necessitates a different set of tactics. Sometimes social media is the right solution, sometimes it's not. It's important to think of social media as a part of what digital marketing is, not the only thing.
How should businesses measure the success of their digital campaigns?
Success metrics vary depending on the goals of the campaign, but I think that one thing businesses should focus on is sustainability. It's important to drive quality results that last. For example, if the goal is to drive traffic to a website, success is driving traffic at a low cost that engages with the site and returns again regularly so that next month, that traffic is free. It's important to always keep an eye on the bigger picture and ensure that the campaign is sustainably achieving whatever that is.
Which three companies are using digital marketing effectively?
There are lots of great digital marketing campaigns out there. It's hard to say who is the most efficient without knowing the actual numbers and conversions. From a creative perspective though, Birchbox, American Airlines and Amazon have all produced great work.
What makes you one of the best female CEOs?
I don't know if I'd say that I'm one of the "best" out there. There are so many incredible female CEOs. I strive to conduct my business with honesty and integrity while giving back to the people and companies around me. It's important to me to be a role model and to give younger women someone to look up to. And it's important to me to run my companies such that I would want to do business with them, were I on the other end of the table.
What advice would you give budding female entrepreneurs? 
Surround yourself with a great support system. There are a number of amazing groups for female entrepreneurs of all ages and life stages. Whether it's moms, senior citizens, college students, or groups that span generations, find whatever group works for you and get involved so you’re never alone in your quest.

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