Have a podcast in 30 days

Without headaches or hassles

Every business knows that they need a website. But your website is more than just an online business card.

When done properly, your website builds customer relationships before they ever set foot in your doors.

In this episode, web designer Darren Fox discusses how to maximize revenue from your website and a mistake business owners make that leads to throwing money away on web design.

Show highlights include:

  • Why the first step in developing an effective website that grows your business has nothing to do with building your website (7:16)
  • The smartest team building move you can make as a business owner if you want to dominate your market (13:11)
  • Why viewing your website as an online brochure is costing you a fortune in lost revenue (13:38)
  • How a forced shut-down of your physical location can skyrocket your business (18:13)
  • The Social Media secret for making customers feel like they know you even if they’ve never visited your business (21:32)

If you enjoyed today’s show, make sure you head on over to www.tapsandtees.info and download your free report of ‘No BS,’ game-changing marketing tips and strategies that show you how to blow up your brand online.

Read Full Transcript

You are listening to the Taps and Tees Show, weekly conversations for people passionate about marketing, golf and craft beer. Marty is the cofounder of Bad Rhino, an award-winning digital marketing agency helping golf and craft beer brands get real results in social media marketing. Here is your host, Marty McDonald. [00:21.7]

Marty: Hey everybody to another episode of Taps and Tees and we're continuing on our theme ever since we've been in this little pandemic that just keeps going and going and going. I hope you're staying safe, but bringing on experts, bringing on people that I know that I trust that I've worked with, whether it's in a mastermind group or hired directly and just giving you some good advice, because we're getting inundated for the last six to eight months here, with questions on what to do during this time, how to do it. And I have a great guy coming on Darren Fox. And before I intro him, you know, he's got like a, you know, it's got a good personality. He's easy going, but he's very accomplished, which I like. You know, he's polished from that standpoint; it's got about 20 years of hands-on experience. He really knows brand development, is very strategic in anything that he does, which I think is really good. [01:13.2]

And he's got that rare blend of creative abilities, being able to take that and mix that with a strategic approach to really help you grow. And I think that's a rare combo of having the strategic part and then being able to execute. He runs Idea Marketing Group there in Yorkville, Illinois. I wasn't gonna tell you where Yorkville was, but I figured out dropped the Illinois part in there. So it was about an hour outside of Chicago and they do award-winning web design, web development, digital marketing services, and they have clients locally, nationally, and globally. And it's always good to get that good perspective when you have people that are just not working in your backyard, what they really do though, which I really like, and I've talked to him and he was actually another gentleman that in the mastermind group when we were in Colorado, what I really liked to hear from is that strategic part, like I mentioned before, so you're not just going to throw a website up there. He's going to talk to you about how to get that website seen, you know, and utilize variety of different marketing strategies. [02:13.5]

You know, whether that's search engine marketing, pay-per-click blogging, social media email, and the list goes on and on, but really working within that, you know, his area of expertise to develop something that actually produces some sort of result for you. And I think whether you're in craft beer or golf, that's one of the common questions we get about website development at Bad Rhino is, Hey, what do you think we should do here? And it's like, okay, well, what are your marketing goals? So we'll let Darren talk about some of those things today on the show. And Darren, are you there? [02:44.5]

Darren: Yeah here, thanks for having me Marty.

Marty: Oh, you're welcome. And so Darren, why don't you add in anything that I missed there and, tell everybody, you know, about yourself.

Darren: Yeah, yeah definitely. You kinda hit it, hit on the head there too, so. I've been in the industry for a little over 20 years and kind of got an early start into it actually back when I was in high school. So it was kind of a funny thing as I went off in my junior year of high school, I started at a freelance business of just doing some graphic design work here and there. And like web wasn't, even really something that was being talked about at schools. It was still such a brand new concept. And I kind of got into it from a weird angle of playing online video games with people from all over the world. And I was like on this team and they wanted a website for the team that I was on. So I was like, you know what, I'll, I'll try to mess around with that and see what I can do. [03:42.9]

And I just started reading like online articles, kind of teaching myself how to do it and basically built the website all in notepad. And that was pretty much like my first take of web design. And from there it's just been, you know, a passion of mine to really jump in and, you know, learn more about it. And then, you know, I was kind of pursuing graphic design early on, cause that was like what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And then as soon as I got a little bit of taste of web, I was like, you know what, I love this, that you can solve these problems and still have a creative touch on it. And that was something that.

Marty: Hmm…hmm. [04:23.1]

Darren: Really stood out to me. So I ended up kind of changing the direction of my career and I, I got a degree in both graphic design and then as well as web design. And what's funny is even in college professor that was teaching the class since it was such a brand new subject, she was actually coming to me a lot of times with questions that she got stuck on, in the book and I was able to jump in and kind of help her walk through that.

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Darren: So yeah, I've been in it from the very early stages of web design and how it's kind of grown and progressed over the decades. I think it's been great because I've worked with companies of all different types of sizes, industries. So I've seen all sorts of challenges that they face. I think that's been awesome for me to kind of jump in and see it from that perspective. [05:11.2]

Marty: Yeah, no, I think you know when you have that, I mean, you're not the first person to talk to, and I'm not going to tell my story about how I got started. Cause I've mentioned it too many times on this podcast, but I'll tell you after the interview and it's very similar, you know, the other guy, Kevin from Array Digital was on the other day or the other week.

Darren: Hmm…hmm.

Marty: And he you know, he started same way in high school, you know, and then like almost by accident, you know, and it's, it's funny as like how the more and more I talk to agency owners or digital marketers in general, how it almost became something literally like, Oh, I could do this and.

Darren: Ahha.

Marty: I could make a living at it. And then you find out, Oh, I'm pretty good at it too. And I don't know what the common theme is there. And it's like the accidental agency owner, right.

Darren: Hmm…hmm.

Marty: You know, I think it was mentioned quite a bit and sometimes like, you know why people don't want to do it because you're like, why am I doing this? It's so painful sometimes working with, you know, different clients and different challenges, but then at the same time when you get through that and you're like, Oh yeah, this is why I do it because it's so rewarding. And you get something that, you know, you get a client moving. So tell us about how, you know, a little bit more about how, you know, Idea Marketing Group comes together and then what you focus on there? [06:24.5]

Darren: Yeah. So we're essentially a marketing agency that's focused on strategy branding and web design. So obviously web design is kind of been our go-to because everything that we do is custom. We don't do any themes or templates, and we really want to take a deep dive into the business before we even get to laying it out, mapping out the site architecture, any of that stuff. And really just get to know the business, which I think is really helpful in allowing us to position the website in a way that gets those results that you were talking about earlier too. And what we've found over the years of doing this there's a lot of times people come to us and they say they need a website and they have a lot of assumptions of what's happening with their business, but they don't really have data that backs it, or even like a well-defined marketing plan. [07:16.9]

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Darren: And that's where we kind of step in a little bit and kind of say, well, I don't think we're quite ready to dive into the website yet. Let's take a step back, really think this through, because this is going to be a workforce for you. That's going to last anywhere from three to five years before you have to do any kind of drastic changes to the website.

Marty: Yup.

Darren: I mean, we really want to plan it and make sure that it's ready to grow and scale with the business.

Marty: No that’s super smart way to approach it. And people appreciate that, especially down the road.

Darren: Hmm…hmm.

Marty: I think a lot of web designers and web teams and agencies that were just specifically on website design, especially around 2010, you know, when you had mobile devices kind of take over everything.

Darren: Hmm…hmm.

Marty: Forgot about that part, when somebody just spent $12,000 on a website that was obsolete because the iPhone came out here like, Oh yeah, sorry about that. And they weren't like massive companies, you know, you're talking about a restaurant or something similar that just went, Oh yeah, it was finally time for us to invest, you know, invest in this. And then Steve jobs drops the iPhone out there and then it's like, Oh, well, yeah, our website's not going to work on your phone. [08:25.6]

Darren: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Marty: So I think keeping those things in mind where, you know, even on smaller budgets, when you start off somebody and say, all right, overall, this is going to cost you 20, but we can start off with a $5,000 so we can build on it. So this will get you where you need to be at the moment, but what stage this out, so we can do this as you grow or however you want to frame it. And then sometimes those websites grow into $150,000 websites, you know, and they're complex, but they can also be very simple. So what areas do you focus on as a group and, you know, do you have any specific industries that you work with? [09:02.0]

Darren: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, over the years we've worked with quite a bit and we've kind of narrowed it down a little bit over the years too. And a lot of our portfolio is made up of manufacturing, hospitality, and then non-profit.

Marty: Okay.

Darren: And then a lot of like food and beverage, cause that was kind of my passion. And that was actually one of our very first clients when I decided back in 2009 is when I kind of went off on my own and started this agency. And this was another one that was kind of like a curve ball. I didn't really have a plan to start an agency at that time. I went out for a job interview and I was like, you know, what, if I'm going to go off on my own, I need to kind of build up a portfolio first. So I can actually show that work. [09:50.3]

Marty: Yeah.

Darren: Otherwise nobody's going to hire me. So I was at this job interview and it was with a large restaurant in Chicago and he kind of threw a curve ball at me. And he's like, you know, he's like, where do you see yourself in five years? Like the standard interview question. And as I was like just completely honest. And I was like, you know what? I'd like to kind of be doing this either on the side or full-time of just building websites and doing creative work. And he's like, well, what if we become your first client? And we hire you to build out our 13 different brands that we have instead of bringing me on in house. And I was kind of taken back and I was like, Holy cow, this is a huge opportunity looking back on it now. I mean, now that I've gained some wisdom in business, I saw it was a lot cheaper moves at the time, but yeah, it was awesome. And I just kind of took that and ran with it. And that's basically how I got so invested in food and beverage is because as soon as I did the one restaurant group, another restaurant group reached out and I was doing work with them and then another one and it just kind of was like a snowball effect. And that's how he got so deep into like the food and beverage industry. [11:05.1]

Marty: Awesome. And I mean, I think that's, it happens to everybody is like you get one and its like you get another and you get another and you get another. And one of the, not going to go off, cause I told this story before in this podcast too, but one of the side business, I started happening the same way somebody interviewed me for a job and this was back in 2007 and I was like, well, I don't really think I'm going to leave my job. And they were like, well, we kind of kicked it around. You really only need somebody part-time and would you be interested in being our consultant? And there was no conflict of interest. And I was like, Oh yeah, that's how, and that's how like one of those side businesses that I had like was like, Oh yeah, sure. That could actually work. You know, and we hashed it out and it was, a two and a half year thing. And, it was fun and it's weird how that happens. Like when you present your expertise like that and you're talking to this decision-maker and they kind of see things and you probably flip that light on now as you know, the owner and leader of your agency, right? [12:05.6]

Darren: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Marty: There's million and one ways to, I don't know if you're allowed to say skin a cat, but I think that's the way, you know, you, there's no right or wrong way to kind of get in there and do something, which I think is, is really good. [12:19.1]

Hey, if you're enjoying what you're hearing on the show and want more, head on over to TapsAndTees.info and get our free report with game-changing tips and strategies straight to your inbox. Just enter your info and stop being stuck with no marketing plan. [12:32.8]

Marty: Tell me about the project that you were really proud of that you did. And you don't have to mention by name, but talk about some of the challenges that, you know, might help my audience when they're trying to decide on who is going to build my next website or who's going to do our digital marketing?

Darren: Sure. Yeah. And you know, one of the biggest things too, with being in the leadership role too, that I saw was, you know, surrounding myself with smart people. And that was something I started doing early on when growing the staff and led to the opportunities for us to be able to build really complex systems and work with different types of databases, to where the websites are, way more than just an online brochure. It actually is a piece that can automate portions of your business. Can, you know, interact with things that are happening on the backend with like sometimes POS systems for ordering. So there's been a lot of different things that we've done and we love taking on the really complex ones. You know, one of the big projects that we did that I'm pretty proud of was with a large healthcare association in that users go online and they can check to see if their doctor is board certified. [13:46.1]

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Darren: Cause obviously that's important to hear about the hip surgery. But what was really cool is we were able to tie that into a relational database that they keep in their office and we update it every single night with the Cron jobs where it's automated and it pulls that information off of their servers and brings it into the website. And it's millions of doctors records that get brought over every single night.

Marty: Wow.

Darren: So that one was really cool because then we also built like security features too, that monitor IPS and how people are searching that. And as they've done too many searches, a wall pops up that says, Hey, you've got to contact our sales team. So there is a lot of like really cool pieces that if you were to look at the website from the front end, you really have no idea, all that stuff is happening on the backend. [14:38.4]

And I think that's the stuff that we get really excited about too, is just taking those really complex problems and solving them. And a lot of times like, you know, people think websites are either the brochure or just like an e-commerce shopping cart, but even from like a sales standpoint of doing like lead generation of like, you know, signing up for gated contents or newsletter access and then taking that information and just building it into other systems, you know, that's the stuff that I think we do really good. So really looking at websites and thinking about like a really deep strategy of what are some of the problems that you have. And that's where we kind of jump in and we dig deeper because people need to be asked certain questions to get them to think about it in a different way. [15:30.6]

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Darren: And as soon as you kind of get that AHA moment on their face, that's when you can say, all right, well, here's a solution that we could do that could solve this other problem that you have that you didn't even really think about presenting on the website.

Marty: Yeah. 100% So when we're sitting here in October 20 something, and I'm in the middle of a pandemic in 2020, and going through all the fits and starts and craziness something good, some of them bad, you know, want to make sure that you're keeping everything safe, but at the same time trying to run a business.

Darren: Hmm…hmm.

Marty: So with the whole COVID-19 thing, you know, what were some of the big challenges that you had right out of the start. And now that we're unfortunately still almost eight months into this whole thing what are some of the challenges that you're still seeing and what did you do to combat those things? [16:24.7]

Darren: Yeah. I think initially the reaction for everybody at the time was just panic. And the first thing that they did was kind of just shut down things. And typically marketing is always the first one to go, which is always surprising to me because that's what..

Marty: Exactly.

Darren: Yeah, leads the force. So obviously the first panic button is just kind of a shutdown and hold, but then, you know, a lot of smart businesses started to look at what can we be doing online to communicate with our customers? Because we can't bring them in to the brick and mortar.

Marty: Hmm…hmm.

Darren: Trade shows are shut down, events are shut down and people are all working remotely now and they're actually online and way more than they were before. So you've got this huge uptick of online users that are in research mode of just looking for things to buy things to do. And all that energy is being spent online and they're looking for stuff. [17:26.1]

So we've had a lot of customers kind of shift advertising budgets and start putting paid advertising back on the website or putting in features to sell products on the website or, you know, whatever you can do to kind of take it and put it digital, that's been like the big thing that we've been seeing over the last few months. As you're saying, we've been kind of shut down for about eight months now in those first couple of months, like everybody just kind of shut things down and now we're starting to see everybody kind of shift gears and be like, okay, now we're going to bring this online. Like even a consultant that we worked with that was doing in-person training workshops have just been producing online videos to do courses. So that way they can do a pivot and start pushing, you know, that work online. [18:18.9]

Marty: That's awesome.

Darren: Its really thinking about, you know, what can you do with your business and just do that small pivot in how can you deliver the message maybe a little bit differently than you were before.

Marty: Yeah. I think a lot of things have come out just like that. I love the story. Like, it sounds so simple, but you know, we, we've worked with a lot of professionals over the years where they're like, yeah, I'm still going to travel 60%. I'm still gonna do these events, but I'd like to knock one event off my schedule, right. And I'd like to start to be able to sell a different way and take that money and transfer it into digital.

Darren: Hmm…hmm. [18:58.0]

Marty: And that was accelerated through this whole thing. Like we saw so many requests for that and so many similar things. But when you take that concept, like if say you can go to four events a year and the travel, the time.

Darren: Hmm…hmm.

Marty: All that, and you're saying the same thing at all, four events just take the time. And sometimes it does take, you know, a lot to then take that course, break it down, or take your speech and break it down into say five, six points, then create five, six pieces of content, plus five videos around it. So when I say content, you know, you want to have some descriptive texts like on your website or wherever. And then that might lead into your next phase, which might be a landing page. And then all these things, but there's so many cool things that you can do. And it's crazy to me sometimes that we're in 2020 and people have never even thought of this. So it's like wide open, but now. [19:52.6]

Darren: Yeah.

Marty: Everybody's starting to enter into it. So you have to get in, do it, then you have to be consistent with it. And it's a great, great thing for a lot of different industries. And it'll be interesting to see how things change moving forward. I mean, events will come back at some point. I mean, everybody really misses. They don't miss the travel. They don't miss the other stuff, but they do miss the interaction. [20:12.9]

Like at first it was kind of cool. Like everyone was like, sweet. I don't have to go to this event, this event, this event. Then by the time August rolled around September, I heard the opposite. Like, no, I don't want to go and be a road warrior. But at the same time, I'm really wanting to go to an event. I really want to interact with people. I really, you know, so we'll see how it shakes out, but it's a very interesting thing. And those were some great points. And you know, if you're sitting there and you have a craft brewery and you're trying to figure out, you know, how can I do that? You know, while we're still waiting to be at full capacity or whatever the situation is in your state, you know, you can create content around the entertainment you have there doing Facebook live videos. I know an Instagram live. I know, I know everyone's like, they've been people in doing that, but actually take it from a standpoint where you record some of it, like maybe their best one or two songs, original songs and let them know that you're doing it obviously. And put that out on a blog and it's on YouTube, it's on Instagram. Put those things out there. [21:13.3]

People search for random things, like what's a place like this like, so when I do go out in the middle of the pandemic and it is half open, I'm choosing a place that I kind of already know, cause I want to go someplace new. And that's the second phase I'm seeing now here in the fall, October 2020 is some businesses are seeing new faces come in because they're just trying to go someplace different, like someplace new.

Darren: Hmm.

Marty: Like even if it is for an appetizer and a beer for a half hour just to get out of the house and they're researching it based on like, Hey, we've never been here, but we don't see much imagery or, or what's this place like? So start to create those concepts where you're doing tours of your facility online, you're doing them and you're saving them the video. So you can cut them up and use them as pieces. So you can show people what you're all about. Show people, you know what the food's like, show people what the beers like, and the atmosphere is like, even during COVID, you know, it's sometimes tough because you don't want to have people with masks on sitting around. [22:13.6]

Darren: Yeah.

Marty: It doesn't present the right image, but start to think of creative ways where you can share that. Because what we're seeing with our clients is they're getting new people coming in. Now, they may never come back, but they're trying new things because they're just bored to tears. And they're like, well, we can go right around the corner or we can drive a half hour and try this new brewery since we only have a couple hours and we're not going to stay there too long and let's have a flight and a snack and move on, right.

Darren: Yeah.

Marty: So that's starting to come back, which is exciting, but it presents a whole bunch of new challenges. And I'm actually going to do like a very quick video on that, about what we're seeing in that marketplace. And that'll probably come out right around Halloween. But as far as that, Darren, like got to hang out with you in Colorado. That was fun. Do you drink beer? [22:58.8]

Darren: I am an avid crafter, yeah. Yes

Marty: I know. But I had to ask it that way because it's like, all right, it's part of the interview. All right, so I know I saw you had a handful of stuff. I remember you showing me one and I can't remember what it was, but do you have anything recent that you tried, whether it was in Colorado or otherwise that's really stand out to you?

Darren: Yeah, definitely. I don't have like a, a go-to beer, that's like my favorite just because I like changing of the seasons when he switched the stouts for the fall and everything. But if I had to narrow it down, I've got two local breweries in the Chicago area that I love, which is, Marz Brewing and then a newer one that's called the Liquid Love and they make just great stuff. It's nice too, because they experiments and try flavors that you don't really see that often. So a lot of experimental type things, but they just kill it with, the beers that they make. [23:52.8]

Marty: Yeah. What makes it so special in your brain? Like what, what do you really like about it?

Darren: So like Liquid Love will do some things, like they had this Ambrosia hugs, which was like Merci or cherries with vanilla. So it was a sweet beer. It was almost like a, like a sour, but it's just, it had a nice finish to it. It's like stuff that smooth the drink. And then Marz has a lot of these beers that it's, well, first off I love all their artwork, so their can art is awesome. They always nail it when they you know, produce that stuff. But then like the flavors that they're doing, trying to think of, like the one I just recently had was called Nasal Cavity.

Marty: Really?

Darren: Yeah. So that one was good too. I’m trying to think of what was in it.

Marty: That's all right. We don’t need to know what's in Nasal cavity. That, that alone is worth asking the question all the way at what brewery was that?

Darren: Yeah, it's called a Marz Brewing with the Z. [24:54.4]

Marty: Okay. I'll have to check that out. How about golf? You play golf or no?

Darren: Ahhh…Not much of a golfer, so yeah, I've got a wicked hook. I’m on it too.

Marty: Everybody’s got a hook or a slice

Darren: So when they take me out to golf, I'm just the fun guy at the outing that usually drives the cart and drinks a lot.

Marty: That's awesome though. We need, everybody needs those people too. I'm a combination of both. It depends on the day, but I always like just going out cause I have a lot of fun playing, but Darren tell everybody where they can find you, your website, all that stuff.

Darren: Sure. Yeah. So our website is ideamktg.com. And then you can pretty much just Google search Idea Marketing Group and you'll find us, no problem. You’ve got, we're on all the different social networks and we're in the process to have a starting up our own podcast as well. So be on the lookout for that too. [25:47.9]

Marty: Cool. Well, I appreciate it, Darren it's great to meet you a couple of weeks ago out in Colorado and I really you know, like your style combining all that strategy and everything else into web design. And you know, I close out every show and, you know, just say like, you know, there's a lot of good people that I like to interact with and they're all on these podcasts. If you made it this far and you're looking for SEO help website help, digital marketing help, video marketing help, and a whole host of other things. They're all in the previous episodes. We're going to get back to beer and golf, I know I sound like a broken record every time I say it, but we are. But the marketing piece has been just offering these things up for people that do listen to this so they can get a different perspective on stuff that's out there because they're trying to make decisions quick and you know, you can't go wrong with the people I've been interviewing, including Darren today, which is good people, they know their stuff. And we'll go from there. Next episode, we have couple more. Marketing episodes to go and we'll, we'll be rounding that out and going through the end of the year, but I really appreciate you listening and thanks for joining us on another episode of Taps and Tees and Darren great guest, man. Appreciate it.

Darren: Thanks Marty. Thanks for having me.

Marty: All right, have a good one. [26:59.8]

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