The first interview for 2014! Luckily today's early morning we got in touch with Gail Gardner - social media marketer, Internet business strategist, successful blogger. The mastermind of GrowMap.com
Gail, would you introduce yourself with few sentences?
My goal is to get serious bloggers collaborating and sharing skills so that they can use them to benefit small businesses.You may want to watch these videos to have a clearer idea what I do.
Excellent, may be step a bit into your personal space? What drives your creativity?
A quest for knowledge and understanding that I can then simplify and explain to others. Remember the scene in the movie with the robot that comes alive? It is rifling through the library books reading them all? That is how I feel (but of course now we have the Internet).
How did you started blogging? And how many web projects do you run/own?
Marty Weintraub at Aimclear.com set up my first blog so I would share what I knew about AdWords and PPC (pay per click). When I quit managing AdWords accounts for small businesses I started GrowMap. I have other blogs with partners which are not very active, but I keep wanting to relaunch them. I'm looking for partners for NoBogies (golf blog and store) and ExecGiftsBlog (gifts) and plan to relaunch GrokHorses (horse blog) and PSPLiving (simple living blog) myself.
That's very impressive, any of these projects related to your education or a hobby?
Golf we chose because even in a bad economy some of those who play golf will still have disposable income. I bred Thoroughbred (TB) horses for the track for years and still have horses. I have an interest in crossing my TB mares on a Clydesdale stallion to get working horses. I studied English, journalism and German in high school and college, but my major was music (piano).
The gifts site was originally for a client. The simple living blog is what I am most interested in launching to share my unique understanding of how to live a healthier, simple life.
Do you offer web related services? And how companies and individuals can get in touch with you?
Yes. My real desire is to research and set brand strategy for small businesses. But many want ala carte services instead of understanding how they must be used together. My services are explained at GrowMap Services page.
Many do not understand they need to be capturing visitors and following up. I have recently identified a marketing system that is affordable even for the smallest businesses. And I also have a custom images and video person who can work with any budget. These are important - especially with mobile usage climbing and visual images and videos working best on social networks.
I agree with this point and online success very much depends on the business model. SEO, SMO or web development, what is your specialty? Do you think that today's webmasters need to be all rounders?
The reason I encourage bloggers to collaborate is that marketing effectively is too complex for one person to learn and keep current on everything.
The agencies that get results have many specialists all working together for one business. That is what we as freelancers also need to do: build teams of specialists.
Before anyone focuses on SEO, SMO, content or anything else they must do two things:
Create their branding position: why would someone buy from you instead of your competitors?
Identify where your target market is already active so you can interact with them there.
Only after you have done these two things should you be active on social media or creating content for inbound marketing.
Actually this was the next question, but are these your top tips for online success?
You must also ensure you have a marketing system in place to capture visitors AND have optimized your site so that it converts. To not do these things first will waste your time, money and effort spent on anything else.
You are definitely right, without tracking and measuring success, optimizing conversion and improving UI, it will be very difficult to go forward with the strategy
Yes, I would say so. You must identify a need, position your brand clearly for why you fill that need best, find your potential customers, and then interact with them where they already are in a manner they prefer.
Use social networks to attract them back to your site which is already optimized for conversions and to capture their contact information so you can build a relationship with them over time.
Do you think that there is any shortcut to brand building?
While this sounds simple, it is quite complex to do exceptionally well - and that is what is required to be successful.
Yes. Make sure you are filling an existing need (not trying to create a new one) and become active WHERE YOUR BUYERS ALREADY ARE. And we MUST use images and video!
If you would like to see sample custom images many are shown at Newhorizons123 and here is one of my new videos for GrowMap.
Would you share something about your typical day routine?
Processes and routines are essential. They are how I can accomplish what I do each day. I open specific apps and sites in a specific workspace in a consistent order. I actually use multiple PCs so I can do many things at once.
So for example, on my production desktop running Linux in workspace one I open Skype, then Firefox (where I do all blogging, reviews of sites, provide input on videos, etc.). Firefox automatically opens Trello, then my primary blog admin. In workspace two I open Chrome which automatically opens multiple Webmails, Nimble (social CRM), Commun.it (Twitter management tool), and Twitter.
On my laptop I open Skype and Time & Chaos Intellect. I only use Windows because I could not find any program that does what Intellect does for Linux. I bought that PC only to run this one program. I also use it to attend Go to Webinar because they STILL do not support Linux. And to attend or participate in Google Hangouts on Air.
Same here, multi-tasking all the way on multiple machines. Taking the best of Linux and Windows. Graphic design and SEO in Windows and web development and coding in Ubuntu.
I will be creating walkthroughs of my processes using Screencast-o-matic and uploading them to my YouTube channel.
I would like to invite you and your readers to join our Blogger Mastermind group and get access to our Trello boards. We have a Skype group with 125+ members. I save what comes out of those Skype discussions on Trello. There are details and a video explaining our resources on Trello in Growmap.
Last two questions in one. Work/life balance and what is your main goal in 2014 regarding your web businesses?
I don't have much of a life beyond what I'm doing online right now, and that isn't a concern during the Winter. But by Spring I plan to spend more time gardening and working with my horses and less time online.
My primary goals in 2014 are to continue to mentor bloggers to work with small businesses, help more small businesses thrive, and to launch PSPLiving.com.
I hope you and your readers will keep in touch as I'm working with an exciting new video technology that can turn any video into an ecommerce store, lead generator, or charity fundraiser. I'll be publishing some examples and there is already one video in the sidebar of GrowMap.com: "Seize the Power of a Video Smart Store".
Thanks, Gail! Keep in touch! We've just scratched the surface and probably there will be a 2nd edition interview with Gail Gardner in the very near future!