Danny BrownDanny Brown is one of those bloggers that seem to make excellent, salient points with every single post. It’s annoying really because he sets the bar so dang high!

In his spare time, Danny is VP, Marketing & Technology at ArCompany, a data driven business social media intelligence firm.

Danny is also co-author of Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing and blogger at www.dannybrown.me

More than that, Danny is awesome and someone you should follow, get to know, retweet, etc. Enjoy!

Question One – Data Driven Marketing

You are the VP, Marketing & Technology at ArCompany, and write extensively about data driven marketing. Your posts (link to blog) are very useful in explaining these concepts. However, it seems that many small and medium sized businesses are either not using or misusing data in their marketing.

What would you tell them to help them course correct?

Think how they got started, and how they used “data” to make their business a success.

  • A local grocer knows the fruits and vegetables regulars like, and makes sure the best ones are available.
  • A bar owner knows what days his regulars come in, what they drink, their preferred snacks, and has the drink ready at the bar.

These are two simple examples of using offline data (what you know about your customers) and transferring that to sales and loyalty.

Online data is no different, and offers a far more substantial opportunity to not only get to know your “regulars” (existing customers, community members, etc) but those in the market for your services.

Drop the mindset of “it’s too much information to digest” and replace it with “I only need the amount of information relevant to a given time” and filter out the rest. It makes data more manageable and relevant, leading to better opportunities and more informed decisions.

Question Two – Influence Marketing

I am influenced and I would like to think that I am an influencer online. I think this because I offer useful information for clients and colleagues to utilize, and they do. You wrote a book about influence marketing (link to book). Clearly, you know a thing or two about it.

What do you see as some of the most common misconceptions about what influence means online and how it can fit into a marketing strategy?

That popularity and social amplification equals influence. It doesn’t, plain and simple.

Too many brands buy into the social scoring version of influence, and see power users with large follower counts being the ideal promotional conduit. And, to a degree, they can be – after all, the more eyeballs that see something, the more the brand receives share of voice, right? Not quite.

If the recipients of a power user’s message aren’t relevant or connected to either the “social influencer”, brand or brand message, no amount of perceived popularity online is going to change that.

You want true influence? Stop scoring influence and start creating influence paths. By that, I mean, start with the customer at the heart of everything you do (instead of the “social influencer”) and work back from there. See…

  • who they go to for research
  • who they go to for advice
  • who they listen to for decisions
  • and who they buy from based on advice

These are the people you want to connect with, to help move your targeted customer along to the next stage of the purchase life cycle:

(Awareness > Research > Intent > Buy)

When brands start seeing influence marketing as a core business discipline, versus a brand amplification process, then they’ll start seeing real success. Thankfully there’s a book out there to help them do just that…

Question Three – Blogging Success

I love your blog and read it daily. It’s also been ranked as the #1 marketing blog in the world by HubSpot. To what do you attribute this success?

Thanks, Jon, really appreciate that, mate.

I think I’ve just been very fortunate that the audience that reads the blog has shared it with their own communities, and recommends it to clients, colleagues, etc.

From day one, I made the promise to myself that my readers have an equal voice in the discussions around a post, and that I will never write content just for the sake of it.

I would also challenge people to think differently, and expand on ideas that make us rethink what we know about topics, business, etc. We’re always in a state of flux, so the blog needs to address that and (hopefully) be an instigator for some of that flux.

Thankfully, others have bought into that premise and as long as I can live up to the early promises, then hopefully that two-way connection between blog and reader/peers will continue.

Question Four – Business Blogging

And on the subject of your blog. I have clients who are often confused about what a blog is and how it can help them. In your opinion, why is blogging important?

A blog offers two very core benefits to any business (though not every business should blog, but that’s another topic)…

First, it allows you to showcase your experience and what you can offer potential clients, partners and employees. It also allows your brand to take a definite stand in what its values are, and that’s a pretty strong reason for potential customers to become actual ones.

Secondly, it’s the best focus group you will ever have – you have an engaged audience of customers (existing and potential) that are offering you real-time research, likes, behaviours and more, on how your brand can be more appealing to them.

Why would you not want to offer somewhere that gives you that kind of return?

Question Five – Creating Compelling Content

One of your latest posts, There Is Zero New Content on the Social Web Today (link), pretty much dispels any arguments I seem to hear from my clients about creating content. They get wrapped up in trying to do something original when what their clients really need with is help navigating and understanding the information already out there.

Why do you think creating content is so hard for some and what advice would you give businesses just starting out?

I think it’s hard for the exact reasons you mention – they’re trying too hard to be original, and fear that they’re not bringing anything new to the table so why should they create content?

It’s also time-consuming to do it properly – but what business success ever came from not doing things properly?

Like you say, use a blog to answer the pain points of your industry.

I consulted with an insurance agency a while back, and that’s one of the driest industries around, and one that you wouldn’t necessarily expect great content for. So we created this character, a bumbling but awkward employee, who had to deal with bizarre customer phone calls, emails, etc, around policies.

It allowed the company to have fun while answering pressing questions for new insurance customers. Because of that, they owned their niche in the part of Canada they were based in, and received a huge amount of praise for their approach.

There’s a need for content that’s not “100% original”, and you can still receive great ROI from the simple task of answering questions.

Bonus…

Some Americans see Canada as the hat they forgot they had on. Why should Americans take Canada more seriously, eh?

Because we have better beer and have awesome multi-coloured money. Which makes up for giving the world Nickelback… so yeah, take us seriously dammit!!

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.