Digital marketing agency Flying V Group takes a multi-pronged approach to boosting traffic, leads, and sales for its clients, encompassing SEO, paid search, social media, content marketing, and more.
Robb Fahrion, co-founder, partner, and SEO lead, says their main goal is to build a digital marketing strategy that drives growth. And if there is anything that remains constant in digital marketing, says Robb, it’s that what works is always changing, which forces you to closely watch trends and tweak campaigns as needed.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown another layer of difficulty on the whole process.
Robb talks about how what they do for their clients has changed, the adjustments they’ve made to digital marketing strategy, and more.
Tune in for tips on what you can do to reduce the impact of coronavirus on your business and plenty of strategies that get great results even in normal times.
- A way to save money on marketing when budgets are tight
- What sort of projects you should focus on right now (to reap returns later)
- Why SEO is more important than ever – and what you should be doing now in this area
- A marketing channel that is more important now than ever – and how to get started
- And more
Mentioned in this episode:
Steffen Horst: Welcome to the Performance Delivered: Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success podcast, where we talk with marketing and agency executives and learn how they built successful businesses and their personal brand. I’m your host, Steffen Horst.
Today, we’re going to talk about what you should be doing online for your business during this time, during COVID-19. Here to speak with me about the topic is Robb Fahrion, who is the co-founder and partner at Flying V Group, a digital marketing and advertising agency with offices in Orange County and Phoenix.
Robb started Flying V Group four years ago, after he and his brother were frustrated with their current corporate jobs. Robb’s passion lies in helping other businesses harness the power of the internet and use it to grow their businesses exponentially. Robb is an avid writer and loves contributing new pieces to the Flying V Group blog and other internet marketing content websites. Robb, welcome to the show.
Robb Fahrion: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me, Steffen. And I really appreciate you having me on the show and pleasure to be here.
Steffen: Thank you. Well, before we go into the main topic, let’s learn a little bit more about you. How did you get started in advertising?
Robb: Sure. My first go-around… I was always inclined with marketing and really enjoyed marketing during schooling and university. And after I got out of school, my first real deep-dive into marketing was with a tech startup. So I ended up being the marketing director there, and we were a really lean team. So I was wearing a bunch of different hats, whether it was web design, press release, writing, social media posting, so I really got to kind of dive into every different aspect of digital marketing and advertising paid strategy as well.
And that’s really where I fell in love with the dynamic environment that digital marketing creates and the advertising components from an analytical standpoint. I’ve always been a numbers guy. So I love looking at trends and adjustments that we make to ad campaigns and seeing the results. So that’s how I got my start there. And then shortly thereafter was when I started Flying V Group on my own with my brother, and I’ve been going at that ever since.
Steffen: Right. So did you work in an agency before?
Robb: Yeah, I did not. So yeah, it was actually a tech startup. We were doing cryptographic bits, splitting software, data security, actually. So we were taking users’ data from different corporations and making sure that, not only was the network secured, but also that the data was secured as well. So some pretty technical stuff there, which also, I think, has played really well into agency work, right, especially with the SEO work that we’re doing, Google advertising, because that becomes very technical and very analytical as well.
But yeah, I wasn’t on an agency prior. But that was working for a corporation, like I said, tech startup, and just wearing a bunch of different hats there that then fit really well into agency work because, obviously, you know, when we’re coming in with digital marketing and advertising strategies, there’s a lot of moving parts that go into those strategies that we’re creating. Yeah.
What Projects Should You Invest in Now?
Steffen: So obviously these are difficult times at the moment for everyone–for individuals, but also for businesses. Some are heavily relying on people visiting their brick-and-mortar stores. Others are selling products online normally, but their products might not be in a strong demand. At the moment, a third group of businesses might actually be benefiting from this pandemic. As an advertising executive, what general advice would you give business owners? Doesn’t matter what group they belong to.
Robb: Sure. Yeah, we’ve really taken this opportunity to encourage not only ourselves but also clients to focus on pieces that they might have put on the back burner before, right, because what we’ve found is regardless of what industry we’re in, it seems like we have a little bit more time on our hands, right?
And so we’ve said, “Hey, this is a great opportunity for you to take a step back, identify some areas of improvement that can be made, whether it’s marketing, whether it’s accounting, finance, right, different areas, to really tidy up and improve your overall business structure.”
From a marketing standpoint, you know, we’ve really encouraged clients, ones that maybe have had to close their doors, to get creative in terms of ways they might be able to outreach to their clientele or their customer base, whether that’s video marketing on social media platforms or if it is writing that e-book that you’ve always wanted to write but you haven’t had the time.
So we’re looking at investments now that you can make at this present time that are going to pay dividends, you know, hopefully when things start to normalize a little bit, and I think this could really go for any of those businesses, you know, whether you’ve seen dramatic losses, whether things have kind of stayed the same, or even if things haven’t necessarily gone one way or the other, and you know, even may have improved, there’s still, you know, there’s still that ability to hone in on what you want to focus for things that maybe you haven’t done in the past.
I know for our own agency, you know, we’ve blogged. Writing has always been important, but we’ve been slacking lately because client work has ramped up. Well, now we’ve lost some client work. So let’s get back to how we were moving before this. And then podcast as well. You know, this is something that, not only am I trying to participate in other podcasts and great shows like this one, but we’re even considering options to start bringing hosts on, creating that additional content with that available time and, in some cases, available resources that we might have at our disposal as well.
Steffen: Yeah. Obviously, I mean, as I mentioned, this is challenging for any business, and the businesses that hopefully don’t have to close, they might have, the owners, the employees, might have more time on their hands at the moment than they had before. A couple of things you mentioned don’t really need money or financial resources to be done. Right?
Steffen: And you can write a blog post, that’s a question of time. You can write an e-book that requires you to do some research, creating an outline, and sitting down and writing. What you’re basically saying is, at this point, where you have probably a little bit more time, use the time wisely, invest it in areas that don’t cost anything from it. Right?
Robb: Yeah, you’re exactly right. Because a lot of times as an agency, when we’re working with clients, we’re coming in, and it’s not that maybe the client can’t do what we’re doing. But they don’t have the time, right? So that happens a lot with social media marketing, like social media marketing, you know, hey, at the end of the day, the consistency is important.
But you know, graphics and writing up good copy, especially if it’s the owner, let’s say, writing that. They have the ability to do that. It’s just, a lot of times, they don’t have the time, right? And so now we’re encouraging instead of, you know, relying on an agency like ourselves, you know, there’s different things that you can handle internally because you have extra time on your hands.
So yeah, that’s exactly what it is, is how can I use what I do have at my disposal, which right now might not necessarily be extra marketing funds or advertising funds, but your time is a currency as well, right? And so that’s where we’re encouraging business owners and clients that we work with to get creative with how they might be able to invest in their business without it always being a monetary investment, right?
I think people always associate an investment with dollar signs, but there’s a lot of other ways in which you can invest in your business that will pay dividends, and now, with that time, use that time to create, use that time to reach out. You might even be using that extra time to go and reach out to those customers and ask for testimonials, you know, different pieces like that.
That can really start to elevate your business and separate you from others when they might not be doing anything different at this time.
How Video Content Can Reel in Customers
Steffen: We already mentioned a few activities that businesses could do. You know, during this time, I think you mentioned blogging, podcasting, obviously, what other activities would you recommend doing at the moment?
Robb: I think video has already made a really big dent just from a digital strategy in general. But I think any way that you can even further invest in video content as well I think would be hugely beneficial. You know, you talked about, I mentioned, you know, back a couple years ago, I just put together some real quick tutorial type videos. That was… It helped me to show our expertise and how we think through problems and how we attack certain instances and, you know, you record that.
Nowadays, we have screen sharing and screen recording type technology at our disposal to where you jump online, create, if it’s a tutorial, you take that tutorial, plug it into YouTube, add titles and descriptions that work from a search engine optimization standpoint, online visibility and things like that.
So I think those would be creative ways or, like I said, I even mentioned the testimonials earlier, you know, trying to schedule a screen share with a customer and just talk about, hey, what has your experience been with our business or how have we helped you and that’s content that will be useful, not just today, but a year, two years, three years down the road.
I go back to those YouTube videos and a couple of them have, you know, four or five thousand views, and they’re just constantly churning out more and more views every single day. So the video piece obviously was always big and was getting bigger, but I think even more now, especially when we consider the remote nature that our lives have taken on now.
Yeah, any investment into video. And video’s always been a very engaging platform, and now, too, it doesn’t even have to be high quality, you know, production value either. I mean, there’s still a lot of value that can be provided just by jumping on your computer, turning on your webcam, and sharing your thoughts, or sharing your opinions, or showing, hey, we did this for this client. This was beneficial. I think anything you can do in that video space would be hugely beneficial during this time.
Steffen: Yeah, you just took away… What did you say in regards to production value, right? I think you’re absolutely right. It doesn’t require a proper studio with all the fancy cameras and someone that later on polishes the video to make it great. I mean, authenticity is probably much more important when it comes to those things. Whether you share information, ideas, whatever it is you put out there, I think that’s much more important than to polish it off at the end of the day.
Robb: I completely agree. And especially, you know, right now with COVID-19 and this pandemic, I even laugh at the number of individuals that are actually participating with video now during conference calls, right? Obviously, we were always having conference calls prior to this pandemic, but now you’re seeing the video, everyone knows you’re at home, right? Everyone knows you might be working from your couch.
And that’s okay. Because there’s still value that’s provided during that conversation, right? And now instead of, you know, just having that audio communication, you know, you have that video communication, and that just opens up all the different platforms for you to distribute that content as well. And with the fact that video is obviously a very, very engaging piece so, yeah, I found that to be interesting and, yeah, I agree.
At the end of the day, yes, is production value nice? But I mean, I’ve seen million-dollar funnels that just use iPhone video recording testimonials and they work great because, to your point, they’re authentic. They’re real. They don’t feel overproduced and overhyped and all those things.
So, yeah, I think there’s a ton of ways, and you don’t even have to buy new equipment or anything like that. You bust out your iPhone, record that, jump on Instagram Live, right, share your thoughts and opinions there. There’s just so many avenues at our disposal. And so we just, you got to get a little bit creative, right, you got to sometimes step outside of your comfort zone as well. I think that’s a big piece also.
Steffen: Yeah. I want to briefly go back to the blog topic. Obviously, not everyone is a writer. Right? And then people might get turned away by the thought, “Well, I have to sit down and think about a topic. How do I structure this? I have to come up with pieces that need to go in there.” Do you have a suggestion for people that have that issue on how they still can collect information, but without having necessarily to sit down at a computer and hammer in their thoughts?
Robb: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s starting with what you’re comfortable with, right? I think it’s something that can be a learned skill and something that you can improve over time, but also there’s no right or wrong length either, right? Like we hear a lot like, “Okay, for a blog post to be effective, you know, it needs to be x amount of words long.” Which, yes, longer articles tend to have more information in them.
But at the end of the day, I mean, it could be something as simple as, you know, a daily thought or a weekly tidbit on information that you found that you think your followers or your customers might find beneficial. You know, you look at Twitter–Twitter’s based off of 160 characters, right?
And it’s that bite-size information that you can disseminate that allows you to distribute your thoughts pretty quickly and easily without, you know, having to sit down and worry about writer’s block, or “Oh, I haven’t hit 2000 words, I got to fill in a bunch of fluff-type piece here”. So I think that’s the piece, too, is finding different mediums as well, you know.
LinkedIn, we’ve found lately to be really effective. Just LinkedIn posting, you know, to where it doesn’t have to be a long-form blog article. You know, I’ve seen people share a couple sentences with their thoughts, and that’s generated hundreds of likes and comments and started discussions. And those discussions begin to lead to discussions with potential customers as well.
So I think the social networking channels, those are ones to find, find some that you like and enjoy being on and, you know, they’re not as big of requirements as writing, you know, a highly researched blog article or a thesis, right? So yeah, I think it would be finding a medium. And then just like I said, you know, you’re not going to be perfect from the get-go.
I’m still working on the way I write, the way I speak, but you know, you’ll get more familiar as you start to do and try different things, you’ll identify what you like, and generally what you like is what you’re good at, you know, and you’ll just start to discover new opportunities in that way.
Steffen: Yeah, I think one thing that I always find is helpful for me and then, you know, talking to some of our clients, when they explain this issue to them is have a voice recorder working, I mean, your iPhone or Android phone can be a voice recorder.
When you have ideas, you know, sometimes when we are not sitting down at a computer and are kind of staring at the screen, and it’s like, “Oh my god, what am I going to write? What am I going to write?” When I’m just outside or on a walk or you’re in a kitchen or wherever you are, when your creative juices start to flow and something comes up, just use your phone and record the information.
And you will be amazed how quickly you’re able to get together a piece of content that will be great, that people will love to read. And, you know, I think one more thing to mention on the length of the content, because you said, you know, not every article needs to be your blog post or whatever it is, needs to be two thousand plus words because you’re not always just writing for the new people out there that you want to attract to your blog or to your site.
But when you write shorter pieces, you can distribute it among your clients, right? They might want to know how you think about things. And this helps you to establish yourself among your clients as an expert. So you build a much stronger relationship with them because they know that you know exactly what is up to date in digital marketing, for example.
Robb: Those are all great points. Yeah, I love the voice recording piece. And yeah, I’ve done that as well. And then even going back to the video, which obviously, you’re recording voice, I would just take that video where I didn’t even have a script, I’m just talking through, like what I do on a daily basis. And then from there, now I just take that, and now I’m just transcribing it, right? And I’m obviously adjusting little things for grammar.
But to be honest, I was never a real big writer to begin with either, but that was a way that helps me, you know, piece together content in that way. And then off of that content, I would break out certain sections to create multiple, different pieces of content. So yeah, all those things you mentioned, very important.
And then I love the piece about your existing clients, too, because you’re exactly right. And I know just from our own experience, you know, we’ve had clients that are pausing, you know, they’re pausing their accounts, and if I were to just go away and, you know, not have any sort of outreach with them, I think, you know, you kind of get lost in the shuffle.
So like, to your point, we’ve made it an emphasis to, hey, any information, even if it’s just an email to where, “Hey, I was thinking of some ideas. Here’s an email I put together. I know things are tough right now. But what about this, this, and this.” To at least let them know that, you know, you’re still providing value to them even when they can’t provide anything back to you.
So I think that’s important. And that goes for clients that still haven’t had the pause or haven’t had to run into any issues. Now’s the time for, hey, you can show how much more value you have than they ever even thought, right? Because they’ve been so busy with other things. Well, now they have an opportunity to actually see the work that you’ve been doing and see what expertise you’re adding to their business.
And hey, we all know renewals always are coming up. And now when you have those conversations, they’re gonna hold you in such a high regard because, you know, they know the type of value that you can actually provide them.
Steffen: Exactly, exactly. So far, we talked about non-paid media activities, right? Things that are more time based, so people can do it. When it comes to paid media… So pay-per-click, for example. Have you seen any interesting trends during this time? I would assume that’s probably where people start first to cut back.
Why? Because if you need to make things tighter or, basically, look at the dollar twice or whatever the saying is, you probably start to cut back there. Is that, in general, a good idea from your perspective?
Robb: So we’ve seen… I’ll talk to a couple points. So we’ve seen two polar opposite things happening. You’re exactly right. One, we’ve seen people cutting ad budget right away. So, you know, if there’s no new customers that are coming in, or they might have had to close their doors, right. They look at the advertising as, hey, this is a place where we can cut in order to pay employees over this time, right? Because obviously, that’s a little, that’s more important.
So we’ve seen that on one end of the spectrum. But then on the other end of the spectrum, we’ve also seen certain verticals in which cost per clicks have increased, competition has gotten more competitive.
And I think that speaks to what I was talking about earlier to where people are seeing an opportunity to make improvements for their business, capture more market share when others are pulling back, that might not necessarily be in as good of a position it really… To give you an exact answer… I don’t know that I can do that. It really is a case-by-case basis.
But I can speak to our own company–we’ve gotten more aggressive actually. So we’ve increased ad spend, especially with like, far-reaching strategies. So like display type advertising, re-targeting of existing site visitors. So we’ve gotten more aggressive, and it’s not necessarily because we think that people are going to be making buying decisions right now, because what we found is they are not making buying decisions.
A lot of people are in that hold phase, that things are uncertain, which honestly, uncertainty, in my opinion, is worse than things being bad, right? Because at least when things are bad, you know, you might have an end in sight, or you can at least strategize over the next six months. But right now, we don’t know how long this is going to last–three months, six months? What are the after-effects even if things get better and we find ways to handle this pandemic?
So yeah, to my point, it really depends. But in our own case, we’re getting more aggressive because we want to be having conversations right now. Regardless of whether or not that person is going to buy from us at that given time, we’re expecting, whether, again, it’s six months, twelve months down the road, things to normalize, or at least get back to some sort of normalcy.
And at that point, we’ve already had the opportunity to start to create that relationship and start to create that familiarity, or even if it’s now, they’ve just seen our name, and they’ve seen content, or they’ve seen case studies and work that we’ve done, when it is to the point where they’re ready to buy, we’re top of mind or they’ve thought about us or they have some sort of familiarity with us.
So that would, that’s the approach we’re taking. You know, I don’t want to speak for everyone as a blanket-type approach, but that at least, for our own business, is the approach that we’re taking at this time.
Marketing Trends After the Pandemic
Steffen: Interesting. Well, how about website design development, updating your website. From your perspective, is that something companies should look into, using this time where they might not get as much traffic to their website to kind of improve things, update things?
Robb: No doubt about it. I mean, if you’re in a situation where you know business is going to slow, then you know, going back to some of the topics we touched on earlier, now’s a great time to invest in those bigger-type projects, right, those projects that are going to take an investment from a time and energy standpoint, but you’re laying the groundwork, you’re laying the foundation for six months, twelve months down the road.
And yeah, I think websites are a great piece, and especially because of this shift in the way people are going to be doing business. We recently just spoke with a financial advisory firm. And the way that they would generate business is they pick up the phone call, and they schedule on-site meetings at potential clients’ locations.
Well, now they can’t do that, right? They can’t go and meet, they can’t go and sit in somebody’s office and provide a presentation. And so they’re scrambling in terms of, “Okay, we have a website that last time we touched it was 2010. We know we’re outdated. We know business is slowing at least a little bit.
So let’s invest in that because we know that things are going to change in terms of how people are finding new business, how people are generating new business, and you and I know this, right, but the trend is shifting faster than ever towards digital, right, towards online, how people find new businesses.
I mean, you even look at an industry like restaurants, right? Restaurants that weren’t prepared for takeout orders or online digital orders and delivery, right? They were scrambling, they still are scrambling versus, you know, if you had restaurants that were up-to-date on the digital piece, they had online ordering ready to go, you know, they’re obviously… Things aren’t the same, but at least they were prepared.
And now when things do get back to normal, they’ve got that avenue and revenue stream that probably more and more people are going to utilize because things aren’t going to go back to normal right away. Just because I’m in California, just because they say, “Hey, states open now,” doesn’t mean that people are just going to go back to the way they were living before.
Because people are still going to be nervous, they’re still going to be scared, they’re still going to be cautious. And the only thing I think that’s really going to ease those nerves is time, right, it’s time and it’s them seeing trends and things improving and getting better. And so, yeah, I mean, any way that you can upgrade, improve, add that feature that you’ve been waiting to add, I would say there’s no better time than right now.
And the sooner you can get going on those types of efforts, the better. And you’re just going to be able to add so much more value to your customers when they’re trying to find your products or services online.
Steffen: Yeah. And I think, to add to that, depending on how old your website is, you know, when, you know, Robb just said, you know, if your website was built in 2010, it’s most likely your website is not updated for the changes that Google has made on there and, right, who determine which websites are being displayed for certain search queries, right, you need not only a fast loading site but a lot of traffic these days comes from mobile devices, which means your website needs to be optimized towards mobile devices.
And he just said the very old most likely might not render even well on mobile devices, which means you’re missing a huge amount of traffic, equal, in this case, equals opportunity with people that are only using their handset in order to collect information. So that probably, just to add to what you just said, Robb, is just underscoring how important it is to update your website. Not only in a time like this, in general. Yeah.
The Best Long-Term Digital Marketing Strategy
Steffen: Robb, the last question I have for you before we have to find an end to this podcast is, you know, in situations like these, people are always reminded how important it is to not only have a short-term strategy for their business. From your perspective, what is the best long-term digital marketing strategy for any business? Does something like that exist? And if so, how does it look like?
Robb: Sure. I’m a huge, huge proponent of search engine optimization for long-term business growth and lead development. It’s a tougher sell sometimes to get people to understand that, hey, look, you’re gonna be investing for three, four, six months, maybe forever, right, depending on how competitive your industry is, until, you know, you’re starting to generate the fruits of those efforts.
But I take my own company, you know, we didn’t have paid advertising budget in year one, year two, year three. So our only focus was on making our site as optimized as possible and content creation and distribution in order to share our expertise, which plays right into search engine optimization and being displayed and getting exposure online.
That for me is a piece that I try and include in any type of strategy that we’re working with with clients. It’s also that compounding return of traffic, too. And so what I mean by that is, when we invest in search engine optimization in month one, that investment pays dividends for us twelve months down the road, twenty-four months down the road, versus, let’s say, a paid advertising strategy.
Yes, you have that quick-win type where we know we’re going to generate traffic, but that investment you make in month one, you’re continuously having to make that same investment or a similar investment in order to get similar results.
Even if you’re optimizing those campaigns, right, the swing in results is not as big versus a search engine optimization campaign to where we’re starting to, you know, we can see ten, fifteen percent increases in traffic month over month over month over month or over a period of time.
With long term, it just becomes so much more beneficial for the business to where now we’re not having to rely on paid traffic to generate new leads, and especially in a time like this, to where if there was someone that hadn’t been investing in search engine optimization and was only focused on paid advertising strategies, well, now if that budget isn’t available for paid advertising strategy, well, now they’re not generating, they can’t generate leads because they don’t have anything that’s going to be that inbound organic side of things.
And not only that, too, but we find, especially as an agency, the quality of inbound organic leads tends to be a lot higher. And the reason why is those people are doing their research. They are looking at other options.
They know the landscape, at least, of what competitors are out there, versus on the paid side, you know, a lot of times, we found, not that there aren’t quality there, but you know, you have somebody, they jump online, they contact the first person they see. And you know, there’s a lot of times it’s not a fit, you know, it might not be a fit for your business, or there’s a lot of vetting that has to go on.
Versus with those organic leads, a lot of times they educate themselves through the content that you’ve created. They’ve gotten to the point where they trust you, they reach out to you, and that sell just becomes a lot easier and you don’t have to do as much convincing and selling, right?
It’s more of a, they know what you can bring to the table, you know what you can bring to the table, you have that honest conversation, they’ve already valued your company. And now they’re ready to move forward. And they were ready to move forward even prior to contacting you, right?
It’s just a matter of you kind of closing everything up and getting started. So long term, I can’t stress it enough, search engine optimization, and it kind of goes back to where those efforts are. It’s just time intensive.
And now, if you have more time and create content, distribute that content, that’s going to help search engine rankings, that’s going to help people finding you online. I don’t think there’s any better investment you can make, short-term, long-term, whatever your goals may be, than a solid search engine optimization strategy.
Steffen: Right. Well, Robb, that was, I think, a great final thought. Make sure that you develop a strategy that is not only focused on paid media, but also on getting traffic from sources where you don’t have to, you know, pay for it, basically, what you have earned at the end of the day.
Robb, thank you for joining me on the Performance Delivered podcast and sharing your thoughts on what businesses should be doing during COVID-19. If people want to find out more about you and Flying V Group, how can they get in touch?
Robb: Yeah, the best way is through our website, flyingvgroup.com. And then if they’d like to send an email as well, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org as well, and I encourage people to reach out to me directly and have a conversation or question, whatever it might be. Also, all of our social media as well. Really any avenue you prefer. I’d love to hear from everyone, and that’d be a great way to find us.
Steffen: Perfect. Well, thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at symphonicdigital.com or follow us on Twitter at @symphonichq. Thanks again, and see you next time.