Marcus Miller of Bowler Hat tells us about digital marketing.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Marcus Miller: We are doing good, at least I think so. My daughter did not get to do her GCSE’s and my two eldest children are studying for their A-Levels and GCSEs in these challenging situations, so it is not ideal for their education. All of us are missing our friends and the normal social activities we would be following, but we can’t complain and can only be grateful that things are as well as they are. Ultimately, we are a tight unit, so we will survive.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Bowler Hat.
Marcus Miller: I founded this company around 12 years ago. At the time, internet marketing and search marketing were really blowing up, and whilst I was working in the industry, I was getting a lot of requests for help outside of my day job, so it just made sense to jump ship and become a consultant. As the industry has grown, being a one-man band is more difficult. We spotted that most small businesses have dreadful digital marketing, so we set out to fix that!
How does Bowler Hat innovate?
Marcus Miller: Innovation is a given in digital marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search (PPC) in particular. SEO is a black box, we have best practices and industry knowledge, but there are so many variables. PPC moves so fast we are constantly fighting the system to ensure we get the best results for our clients. Marketing, in general, requires experimentation – new messaging, new audiences, new tactics. With digital marketing, there is innovation needed at a tactical level to get more clicks, improve position, get more search engine real estate for your brand – it is constant innovation at a macro (platform) and micro (customer) level to get the best results. It’s fun if you are a little obsessively minded like I am. 🙂
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Marcus Miller: Hmmm, it is a tough one to answer, as we are not affected in the way that many businesses areas we can still operate. We are also very digital and experienced using cloud and video conferencing, so none of that is really very new to us.
Initially, the greatest hit was the loss of business as we had clients in industries that just could not and still can’t operate. We continued to serve these clients as best as possible pro bono initially to help them come out the other side as strong as possible.
The two big problems are the fatigue I think we are all experiencing and how this impacts mental health and productivity. From a dry, mechanical perspective, we can conduct our business from our homes, but something is lost. What suffers here is the magic spark that is the root of any game-changing marketing campaign. We can do the zoom call to replace the strategy meeting, but often, it is the watercooler conversation about that meeting, where the penny drops, and someone has that lightbulb moment. Then, the conversations that spring out of this build out the idea. So, the mechanical aspects of what we do are not a problem but the
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Marcus Miller: The most difficult choice I have to make at the moment is to resist my desire to bring the team back to work. The advice of the UK government is to stay at home. This impacts our productivity, growth and dampens our creative spirit a little, but we can just roll with that for now for the greater good.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Marcus Miller: Really, nothing new here. We already heavily used Asana and Google Workspace, so everything we did was already in the cloud. In that respect, we are very fortunate that our toolset has not really changed.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Marcus Miller: I am not really a big fan of looking at competitors. I tend to feel that we should look at ourselves and try to be better than we were yesterday. Focus on making Bowler Hat better, rather than worry about what our competitors are up to. That just seems like a path to misery! That said, we are often looking at our customer’s competitors and trying to ensure that whatever games they must play to win the business war they are playing… and winning.
Your final thoughts?
Marcus Miller: This has been a difficult 12 months for everyone in so many ways. But, the end is in sight; let’s start setting objectives on focusing on the light at the end of the tunnel!
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