The five experts you meet in digital marketing heaven

Although it originated in an African proverb, Hillary Clinton can be credited with popularizing the phrase, “It takes a village,” when she published a book by that name back in the ’90s.

But not only does it apply to raising children, in today’s complicated business environment, it applies to marketing and specifically digital marketing. It takes a “village” or team of experts in five areas to do a thorough job of marketing your business in the digital world. Is your team complete? Do you have any slots you need to fill?

Review the lineup below and judge where you are. I fully understand that most small business owners can’t have all of these individuals on their full-time staff, so I offer some advice on how to fill those positions on an “as-needed basis.”


Digital media are visual media and you need a good designer for web pages and for other digital promotional materials. A mistake many small business owners make with design is to think it’s a “one and done” process. They believe that once they have a website up, they are set for life. Just as big city stores keep their window displays fresh, you need to occasionally freshen up your website.

Also, web design aesthetics change over time; don’t let your site look “dated” – unless you’re going for a retro look that is “on trend” again, like the ’90s-style sites Steven Melendez talks about in this article, Oh Snap! ’90s Web Design is Hot Again.

But here’s the kicker: While you need to keep things fresh, you also need to keep your look somewhat consistent and this conundrum creates a challenge for small business owners. If you could keep one designer on staff all the time, you could more safely assume that brand consistency would be maintained.

However, small business owners will usually be giving the designer job to various freelancers or agencies over time. This means you need to create a style guide that defines colors, fonts, logo placement, and other graphic design elements that are important to maintaining the digital look and feel of your brand. If you use a good WordPress template for your website, some of these elements will be standardized.


In marketing, words and pictures go together like peanut butter and chocolate, so you need a wordsmith to work with your designer and with the other members of your digital marketing team.

Even if you did well in high school and college English classes, don’t think that you can write marketing copy for your business. In fact, good school writing usually makes the worst marketing copy.

I can’t tell you how many times business owners have sent guest posts to me that they would like me to publish and when I’ve read them, they sound like a high school English class theme. They might merit an “A” in school, but they would never hold an online reader’s attention.

You can find experienced freelancers who are able to take your thoughts or the points you want to make and put them into words that will entertain, inform, and motivate your audience. As with your visual design, consider a style guide. You can also tell writers to use AP style and then add a couple of things to it, such as how the name of your business should always be written.

SEO expert

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for online success. This expert is one that you will need somewhat less often than the graphic designer and copywriter. You want to make sure that your site is initially designed well from an SEO perspective and you want to know what keywords you need to be working with as you expand your site.

If you have a WordPress site, one or more of the Yoast plugins will do a great job guiding you as you add content to your site over time. However, it’s wise to work with an SEO expert before you launch (or relaunch) your site to be sure the you’re doing SEO right the first time; a plugin can’t save a site that is poorly designed for SEO.

Social media expert

A strong presence in the social media world is invaluable to the overall success of your business; you can’t let it slide. There are two parts to this:

  • Initial evaluation and planning, and
  • Ongoing implementation.

In your initial planning, you need to determine:

  • Which social media platforms are best for your business,
  • How often you need to post,
  • Which means will be used for posting, and
  • Who will be responsible for posting.

You can work with agencies, freelancers, employees, and apps to take care of each point mentioned above. While you need to invest time and money in your SEO early on, you can allow your social media marketing to evolve over time.

For example, to determine which platforms are best for you, you can do a survey or study to find your demographics, or you can experiment with the various platforms and find which give you the highest rates of engagement…or do both! The point I’m making is that you can’t make any errors along the way that cause irreparable harm. (An exception to this would be to post offensive content and give your business a black eye. But even then, the half-life of negative social media is fairly short.)

Online marketing expert

The individual or agency I’m talking about here is an expert in paid online advertising. The pro will also help you with your organic search engine marketing (SEM), but will specialize in ad placement, keyword bids, Facebook ads, retargeting, geo-fencing, mobile marketing, and other areas of online marketing.

There is a huge dichotomy in online advertising: When optimized, you target exactly the prospects you want to reach; but when done poorly, you waste your money blasting your ad out into the great void of cyberspace, never to be heard from again.

Unless you’re some kind of digital ad savant, the learning curve can be very steep in paid online advertising. The plus side is that you can easily control your costs, so if you want to risk $100 to find out if you can master AdWords or Facebook ads – as an example – you can do it.

However, if you see online advertising playing a major role in the growth of your small business, you’ll want to find an agency or individual with a proven track record. Take your time selecting someone. As you may have noticed, ahem, the Internet is full of hype and people tend to oversell their expertise.

As a buyer, beware.

I titled this The five experts you meet in digital marketing heaven because if you’re able to put together a team of these five pros, I believe you’ll find yourself in digital marketing heaven!

Now it’s up to you. Will you enjoy heavenly results from your digital marketing strategies, or will your results go in the other direction…?