In 1977 a record called Bat Out of Hell by an artist named Meatloaf was produced by Todd Rundgren and released on Cleveland International Records. It was not an instant hit by any means. It was a very dramatic sounding and ambitious album, quite unlike anything that came before it. So was the artist. There was promotion, interviews, reviews and it all resulted in a general overwhelming mediocre response. A substantial amount of money had been spent on the production, and the subsequent marketing.
What was the ROI of this album? So far it was ZERO. A total loss.
Was the artist and producer upset with the outcome? They were certainly initially disappointed – but artists who believe in themselves and their art, and what they have to offer the public have a view that – in my opinion – brands should think about, and emulate. They persevere. They don’t give up. They don’t scan and add up numbers each day. They don’t have the knee jerk reaction to fire their PR agency, manager or agent. They choose the people they want to work with for a reason – and they trust them. They stay with it and keep it all going even though the ‘numbers’ would make a typical business close up shop.
What happened to Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album? Did anyone ever buy it?
It started out extremely slow, like a turtle without morning coffee going uphill pulling a truck. But then after a while, their ‘content marketing’ began making some noise. A music video got attention in Australia and England. Then the BBC aired a nine minute live Meatloaf track which received an enthusiastic response so they played it some more. In the states, promotion to radio stations got a DJ in Cleveland to play it – a lot. Response was strong. Then the rest of the country started to pick up on it. Radio began blasting it out. Performances and promotion continued. The moon the sun and the stars started to align – and presto – it became a monster hit. Beyond all expectations.
If your brand signs on with a digital marketing agency – what are YOUR expectations? They often fall into one of three categories – real, imagined or delusional.
Instead, your expectations should be segmented into THESE three components:
What can be measured? Things like real time results and influence of PPC & social advertising can be well measured. You pay, and then you get these results.
For content marketing, clicks to a website or views of a video can also be measured very easily. If your digital marketing agency’s copywriters created blog posts that double the overall traffic to your website, those are numbers that reverberate success. If your desire is to increase numbers for things like Facebook ‘Likes’, site traffic or social engagement, the resulting numbers are generally black and white.
If you discuss with your digital marketing agency in advance that you want to accomplish X, Y & Z and will consider success the achievement of certain pre-defined numbers each month – and they deliver this and prove it with metrics – then everyone is happy. Right? Perhaps…
But, this is not the only thing digital marketing should be about because we have to think big picture as we move into the future of ever changing digital marketing.
It needs the next two important elements.
Your brand has an infrastructure comprised of buildings, warehouses, vehicles, and machinery. Who takes care of all this stuff? If no one does, things break and become dysfunctional. You need professional management for everything to operate in sync with everything else in a manner that is right for YOUR brand. Without this, everything falls apart. You don’t necessarily expect your infrastructure management team to increase the value of your properties and you won’t see up-ticking ROI numbers after paying for these services. But there is a big price and cost for this service that your brand is quite cognizant of and more than willing to pay. Without this ongoing infrastructure management and maintenance – nothing else can be done.
Today, that mindset needs to extend over to your digital properties as well. The internet is no simple place. It is the foundation of your brand’s online infrastructure and has many components. Websites have to function well and follow SEO best practices that continually change. They need to expand with new pages and content. They also need ongoing maintenance and updates.
Then there’s all your social media properties: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Periscope – and more to add, manage, and maintain as time goes on. They all need to function as one big entity, coordinated with identical branding and continuity of messaging. They need content. Great content. All social and listing profiles fully expanded. Everything optimized.
Blogs need awesome, resourceful copywriting. The copy needs to be optimized for search and user value. Videos should to be created with a blend of professionalism and trendiness. Graphics, images, GIFs, infographics. Editorial calendars. Content strategy. More copy.
Not really measurable – not really management. What’s this?
This is Meatloaf!
This is how big success happens, as opposed to the slow steady tick that will maintain a company’s existence and show a reasonable amount of increasing profits. Would YOUR brand rather explode with tremendous success? Then you have to position yourself for this to happen!
That takes a different effort. A different mindset. A creative and coordinated strategy. Content marketing and outreach. Awareness. Engagement. Making a buzz happen. If you are obsessed with measuring the decibels of the buzz, then you will most likely be disappointed from week to week – because many things need to be done that do not manifest in any results that will translate into numbers. In THAT moment that is.
Bat Out of Hell was a uniquely created piece of content. The stakeholders in the brand believed in it. Outreach, marketing, more outreach, more marketing – with no results to be seen. And then BOOM – it took off. It was the fruition of a relentless, continuous, approach to make it happen, one that had many marketing components that eventually magnetically connected and became indelibly interwoven. It all added up – to big numbers. It became one of the biggest records of all time, selling over 43 million copies worldwide. Almost four decades later, it still sells over 200,000 units each year.
If you were a ‘Meatloaf’ today – at what point would your brand have questioned, or given up on, the marketing efforts?
For the moon the sun and the stars to align – your marketing efforts have to first create them all. That takes time. Then you have to get the right people to notice them. That takes even more time.
Sometimes the tasks accomplished that could be considered wasted efforts at that particular moment, turn out to actually be the real difference makers.
It is imperative to have a future vision.
And within that vision, the ultimate difference maker for YOUR brand is the relationship you form with your digital marketing agency. The trust, confidence and patience AND the ability to understand that YOU hired this agency for a reason – because they know more than you do about digital marketing.
Your brand is limiting its future possibilities if you are totally ruled by favorable numbers today. Math does not paint the entire picture, nor does it always predict the ultimate trajectory.
If you hire the right digital marketing team, and don’t overreact, encumber, modify, or complicate their efforts – the ‘Meatloaf’ may end up better than you ever imagined.
And the ‘numbers’ will then all add up perfectly!