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Marketing Your Brand Online
For many brands, digital marketing is still a new frontier (yes, even in 2019.) But ultimately a lot of the basic principles of understanding consumer shopping trends and effectively delivering a digital marketing plan is really not that different so many other aspects of marketing.
Recently, our CEO Stacy Jones, sat down with radio host, business consultant and digital marketing expert, Sharifah Hardie to discuss her in marketing. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded shares insights on digital marketing and strategy from X Roads TV's founder, Sharifah Hardie's experience and expertise.
A Little Background On Sharifah
With over 25 years of experience as a radio host, online marketing specialist, and business consultant, Sharifa Hardie served a key role as a consultant and as director of marketing at Punch TV Studios, where she was able to assist the company to expand its reach, gain national exposure, and raise millions of dollars in its initial IPO.
In addition to the success Sharifa experienced at Punch TV Studios, she's also consulted with such companies as The Hollywood Film and Acting Academy, Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, Pit Bull Energy Products, Jordan's Rooter and Plumbing, Southern California Black Business Expo, Radiance Magazine, Sandy Chastain and Body Studios and countless other businesses.
Transcript From Interview
Question: Can you tell us a little bit about how long you've been doing what you do, a little bit about your background, where you are at, and what got you to where you are doing what you do today?
Answer: in 1994, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. That was my driving force because I had this newborn baby and I just wanted to spend all the time with her. And so when I built my first website, all the people I knew were like, "I want a website," so I started building websites for them. And then when I started marketing my website, then all the people I knew were like, "I want you to market my website," and so I just started like that.
When I became a radio host and I hosted Ask Sharifa Radio, that came about because my email was ringing, my phone was ringing because people always had these questions about online marketing, websites, and I'm like, "Okay, wait a minute. This is what we're gonna do. I'm gonna give everyone one hour a day Monday through Friday to Ask Sharifa," and that's what started my radio career.
Then, I went from radio to marketing to being an influencer, being an online marketing consultant, and then later today, now I own quite a few businesses, my television network, which is Crossroads TV, I have my own PR firm, which is In the News PR, and then I do a couple of other things I'm pretty sure we'll talk about during the course of this interview, but just wanting to be with my baby is what started it all.
Question: So, what is the driving force for you that makes online marketing one of the best marketing tactics that you believe in and what makes it so killer that you're here to talk about it today?
Answer: The main reason I say that is because I tell people all the time, a website is absolutely nothing more than an electronic business card. It's just a business card. That's what our website is, but when you go offline and you go to networking events or wherever you're going, you pass out business card after business card after business card, but you're out doing that. With a website, you can just tell anybody, social media, when you're talking, when you're chatting, whatever you're doing, just add a little website URL and people instantly go directly to your website and they can utilize your service and buy your product.
I'm a microwave internet baby, so I want everything instantly. So that's what online marketing offers our customers, the ability to have your services, to order your services instantly, and that's really what you want. You want your email inbox to have notifications of a new sale, new sale, new sale, new sale. It's easier to do that than to go out and try to sell a product or service to somebody. You use a lot of gas, you use a lot of time, and you use a lot of energy, where with online marketing, just by putting out ads, you can reach millions and millions of people. So that's why I highly recommend it.
Question: What are some of the projects that you've had the most fun doing and where you've seen some of the biggest wins potentially come in?
Answer: I honestly can tell you that it would be with Punch TV Studios, because Punch TV Studios, I started with that company in 2013. We took the company public in 2016 and I literally worked for that company for three years without receiving a paycheck.
It was so fun because it was one of the few companies that I saw go from nothing, from an idea, to raising millions of dollars. That's beautiful because there were so many things that we started that didn't work out. There were so many things that we just knew were going to work out that didn't work out, so I saw so many aspects.
Being that it was television network and being in entertainment, I always tell people, "How hard can entertainment be?" You meet celebrities, you see people. It's funny now because it's very difficult for me to watch any television show or any movie, and I can turn on a movie and I'll say, "I guarantee you in this movie, I will know one of the characters personally. They're in my cellphone." My friends are celebrities. I learned all this from being at Punch TV Studios, making these introductions, so it was a wonderful experience, which I later took into being a CEO and owning my own television network, so it was just a lot of fun.
Question: It's really interesting. What are some of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to understanding online marketing?
Answer: Being a website designer and an online marketing expert, I have seen some of the most beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, expensive websites that ever were designed make no money. I have seen some websites that some people will look at and go, "That is ugly," or, "That is unprofessional," literally make millions of dollars.
People always ask, "How is that possible? What is that about?" And I always tell people that no one loves you and your business like you love your business, and so sometimes what we do is we create our social media and we create our website in love with it, so we want to put all the bells and the whistles and the little pretty buttons and the little layout and it's magnificent and it's shiny, but you know what? When people come to it they have absolutely no idea what you do. They don't know what you do. They don't know what your product is. They don't know what your service is.
Photos, messages, posts that you want to help get customers and clients and sales should have a call to action. What is it that you want the person to do? When they land on your website, what is it you want the person to do?
Now, I can be over sales-oriented sometimes because I'm like, "Buy now, click here, get this," and I'll think, "Wait a minute." You have to find that medium between, "Buy now, click here," and there's no link in your post. You make a post that's about all the products that you sell, but there's no link in the post. You have to understand that this is a business.
There's a rule of thumb that says for every two beautiful, nice photos that you share, the third post should be an advertisement. It can be an advertisement, because if you're in business, you want to advertise. You want to promote. You want to market. So you don't want every post to be about marketing. You don't want every post to be a sales post. I mean, maybe you just want to share photos of your product or service that, "This is what I do. Look at this lovely bouquet of flowers we created at our floral shop."
Okay, I might try to push people to buy, but be clear on your intention and when you're posting of what I want that person to do. Do I want this person just to admire this bouquet of flowers, or would I like the people to buy this bouquet of flowers? Because if you don't know what you want the person to do, the person will have no idea what you want them to do. So always have on your website, have a call to action on your marketing posts, have a call to action and make your website clear and concise. Don't have 862 different things going on and so people don't know where to go.
There's also something, which I'm sure you're aware of, called the one click option, meaning that if you want somebody to buy, they should only be able to make one click from your homepage to whatever your product or service is. What happens is, people put up so much content and it's just content and content, and you click to another page and it's content, content. Then you click to another page, and five pages deep, there's this buy now button.
And then people say, "I didn't have any sales." I'm like, "Okay, did you add a buy now button? Did you have a shopping cart?" They're like, "Yeah, it's on my website," and I go to their website and it's five pages in. I'll say, "No, your shopping cart, your product that you want them to buy needs to be one click from the homepage." That's really the main mistake that I see people make time and time and time again.
Question: So, when you say monetize and when you say one click and needing this, how does it differ from different businesses? How should different businesses approach this?
Answer: Well, to answer your question, one click is a blatant statement across the board. Everything that you just mentioned is still one click, but they just approach it a different way.
Let me give two examples that you just gave me. You said the brand and the purchase a car. Most brands, and when I consider a brand, brands are speakers, brands are authors, brands could be your favorite singer. Those are all brands, and usually a brand still has something they want you to do. What is it that you want me to do? How is it that you monetize your website?
Now, if you're just a feel good blog and you just want to talk, then we're not worrying about it, but if there's some action you want me to take, that's when you do it in one click. A brand, they want you to go buy their tickets to their next event. Cool. So on the website, on the homepage, it should have one click to where they can buy tickets to their next event.
People have to be very clear as the customer, what is it that you want from me? Ask. Scripture tells us, "Ask and you shall receive. Knock and the door shall open," and people are so in love with their idea that they think everybody will get it. They're like, "Oh, they love my product. They love my show. I make the best soup in Arkansas," so they forget the ask. They forget to put that little thing that says, "Book your reservation today." That's the ask of what they want to do.
But then also, people have to understand the mentality of online shoppers. Offline and online shopping is a different mentality, and let me explain to you why. Offline, I say, "Hey, let's go shopping, Stacy. You my girl. I want you to go with me to Nordstrom's, right? We're gonna go shopping because I got this date I'm going on and I have to find the perfect black shoes. You wanna go?"
If you and I go to Nordstrom's and they don't have any black shoes that I like, what's the likelihood of us leaving either Nordstrom's or the mall empty handed? No, We're not going to leave empty-handed. Because our mission was to go shopping. You used your energy, I used my energy, you used your gas money, I used my gas money.
Question: Are there any other last bits of advice that you can give to listeners, whether they're from whatever industry, whatever background?
Answer: "Have fun." That's my tip. I always tell people, "You do what you love, the money will follow." Have you ever heard about Pike's Fish? The story is that they were going out of my business. The owner didn't have enough money to stay in business so he told all the guys at the fish market, he said, "We're going out of business. I can't save the company. Let's just have some fun," and they literally started tossing fish to each other.
Because they were having so much fun tossing the fish and the fish was flying, the customers, the people came over to watch and they bought the fish, and so they saved the business just simply by to a certain extent giving up and having fun.
So, do what you love and the money will follow. If you are not having fun in your business, find the fun. Find the aspect. I love what I do. Why? Because for the most part, I sit around and do interviews all day. That's my life, talking to people, interviewing and helping people, but I have fun in everything that I do. I've always said if it's not fun ... I'm like a big kid. If it's not fun, I'm not gonna do it.
But find the fun in your business. Understand that social media is about what? Socializing. Talk to people. Have fun. Make some new friends. If you make 10 new friends today, tomorrow I want you to make 100 new friends. That's the goal, but just meet people, meet people, meet people, and have fun and you'll see the results in your bank.
I always tell people when my new clients come on, I don't do a lot of reports. Some SEO companies or marketing companies or PR companies, they try to fool you with 18 different reports that tell you the click through ratio and this and that, and I only go by one report, one account that tells my clients that I'm working, and that's your bank account. If your bank account has increased, Sharifah did her job. So have fun, enjoy life, and that's it.
To learn more about the importance of successful digital marketing, you can listen to the full interview in our podcast.
The Next Step
Interested in learning more about digital marketing? Check out some other blog posts we've written on the subject!
Want to keep learning more tips and strategies from marketing experts based on their experience? Check out the rest of our podcast!