Joel Comm on How to Channel Your Digital Marketing Efforts for Success

Joel Comm on How to Channel Your Digital Marketing Efforts for Success

W e live in an age where there is more opportunity than ever before, with instant access to an audience that is all around the world. However, leveraging this audience can be tricky, and many small business owners are unsure how to channel their digital marketing efforts into successful campaigns. If this sounds like you then you are in for a treat – an exclusive Smart Hustle interview with Joel Comm, an internet pioneer who has been involved in the online world for 35 years.

Joel’s titles include entrepreneur, author, speaker, and consultant, but it all goes back to 1980 when he got his first computer, a TRS-80 Model 1 with 4K of RAM and no disk drives. He rode the computer trend to the introduction of the World Wide Web and when he started his first website in 1995 it was one of the first 18,000 sites online. Since then he has worked at building and selling websites, including Classic Games.com which was bought by Yahoo and transformed into the world’s largest multiplayer game site, Yahoo! Games. He’s also written a dozen books, 40 e-books, and has been involved with blogging, podcasts, and developing software and apps.

Obviously we’re not using the term ‘expert’ lightly – Joel’s 35 years in the online world give him keen insight on how to manage your digital presence, and he shared this advice in our interview. You can listen to the full interview by clicking the play button below, or read on to discover his advice on three main interview questions.

Digital Marketing - Where Should Small Business Start?

Small businesses are blessed to live in a unique time with unlimited possibilities and a global audience to instantly connect with. To connect you need compelling content, though, and the key to creating this content is to think about what makes you stand out from all the others. That uniqueness is your greatest strength, so don’t be afraid to share it because it’s not what everyone else is doing. Playing off your (and your business’) most unique characteristics will get you the attention you want.

Once you’re creating compelling content, he suggests these ideas for taking it to the next level:

[starlist]
  • Make sure you are building a list that is all your own. It is tragic that many businesses have people come to their website then leave without the business connecting with them. In order to build a list you can offer something to get them to sign up – an offer, a free download, or something else of value that you can exchange for their email address.
  • Have the social media presence that makes sense for your business. Pick the sites that you enjoy and get you the greatest engagement then focus on those. You can’t be everywhere, so don’t try to do it all.
  • Consider video, in particular live video streaming. This is the new blogging, the newest method for content delivery. On platforms like Meerkat, Periscope and Blab.im you can build a significant audience even if you’re starting with nothing at all. If you offer valuable content, your audience will grow.
  • Combine these ideas when possible. For example, if you are holding a live video streaming event, tell your audience that you have a special offer for them on your website. This will funnel them to your website where they get your free offer and you get their email address so you can connect in the future. [/starlist]

In terms of social media advertising, a popular form of digital marketing, Joel cautions that you shouldn’t attempt this unless you know what you’re doing. For example, the little Boost Post button next to your Facebook posts is a cash cow for Facebook but it’s not very effective. Facebook does has powerful targeting options which can be very profitable though. Don’t attempt paid advertising unless you really know what you’re doing or can pay a professional to handle the work.

Advice for Entrepreneurs Getting Started

If you’re just starting out, Joel has this advice: [starlist]

  • Recognize the unique mix that makes you, you. Books and schooling tend to teach us how to be like someone else. Focus more on who you are and tune in to what you were created to do. This includes talents, abilities, skills and personality.
  • Don’t’ be afraid of risk. There is always uncertainty when you are pursuing your dreams and no guarantees. If you believe enough in what you’re doing and are willing to take the risk then you can make it happen. [/starlist]

Advice for Established Small Businesses

For those businesses who have been going for years and are doing okay, the one piece of advice Joel has is to ask your customers. When you get a ‘well-oiled machine’ you think you know it all so you stop listening to your customers and outside sources. Step away and be willing to ask what you could be doing better and what direction you should take next. Businesses that get stagnant and stick with what they know end up failing. Some recent examples include Blockbuster and Columbia House.

One final take away from Joel’s interview is to do what you love. If you listen to the interview, you’ll realize that he never says this word for word. However, when he describes himself as “a guy with a pail and a shovel, looking for a sandbox to play in” we can all feel the passion he has for his career, and it is undoubtedly this passion that has made him so successful.