Interview with Jean Moncrieff, Advisor, CMO & Coach – Emerge Studio

We believe that sharing is caring. And sharing knowledge is powerful. As such, we are kicking off a series of video interviews with business and digital marketing experts, with the intention of learning from their experience and applying that knowledge back into our own businesses.

Our mission, here at Stoica, is not just helping B2B companies grow their online impact and their businesses, but we also put an emphasis on helping other fellow marketers or business owners who want to learn and try ideas we have already tested.

The first guest in the series is a long time friend of STOICA.CO, Jean Moncrieff. Jean is an Entrepreneur, Investor, and Internet Marketing Consultant. You can find Jean on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Our colleague, Elena Iordache-Stoica, our Digital Strategist, recently interviewed him about the new trends in digital marketing and the new approach specialists might need to embrace.

You can either watch the full video interview or read the highlights we extracted for you below.

Remaining relevant

One of the biggest struggles nowadays is remaining relevant. As everybody migrates online marketing and there is more noise, what should a digital marketer do in order to be heard?

Jean suggests two things…

Firstly, that owners take the opportunity to ‘reset’ their businesses by going back to basics and uncovering their core offer — the reason their business exists. In the process, he recommends cutting products or services that have sprouted due to customer needs outside of your core focus. The reason being, products and services that don’t directly enhance your core offer consume valuable sales and marketing resources.

Secondly, once your business is clear on its value proposition, a marketers job becomes much easier. Of course, marketers must still ensure they understand their customers’ pain, and align the company’s offering to solve that pain. But, when it comes to content marketing, having a clear value proposition makes it easier to create helpful, insightful content that leads the customer toward your core offer — a solution to their pain. Researching and truly understanding your ideal customer and their challenges will help marketers create better, more relevant content that customers and prospects want to consume.

Is LinkedIn the new Facebook?

Some say that the popularity of LinkedIn will grow due to the platform being less crowded, allowing users to gain visibility without much effort. So is this the new best channel for marketers?

Jean says that we cannot simply select a platform without understanding the goal of the platform, where our audience is hanging out… and doing some research and testing.

At the moment, advertising on Facebook is relatively cheap, while LinkedIn is typically more expensive. He suggests testing campaigns across both platforms. Arguably LinkedIn is better for B2B, however, if the Lifetime Value (LTV) of a customer is below $15K then LinkedIn may not be viable. Every business and audience is different, and that’s why traffic research and testing is a vital part of your paid advertising strategy.

But there is one mistake Jean sees frequently and he thinks we should pay more attention to: when testing, make one change at a time. Don’t change a whole ad, change just the title for example. Otherwise, you’ll never know what works and what’s broken.

A new way of doing digital marketing

The pandemic has clearly meant a new approach for marketers and their online activity. When talking about what has changed, Jean focuses on the need to adapt to the new context and to the power of networks, niche agencies and specialist skills.

Other changes he is observing include business owners taking a more hands on approach to marketing strategy and tactics. “Owners are wanting to develop a better understanding of digital marketing and are asking more questions about strategies and tactics,” says Jean. 

Also, we’re seeing a trend toward video content, and we need to adapt our strategies to this shift. For instance, as trade shows go virtual, marketers must consider new ways to pull attendees into virtual conversations at these events.

But the main point he makes is related to agility and networks. He thinks that it is not enough to niche your agency, but also to have access to specialist skills in order to provide customers with a comprehensive service — while he advocates sticking to what you do best, you need a black book of experts you can refer customers to when they need an expert in a specific field.

Building digital strategy as an SME

Increasingly, businesses are moving online in order to survive. Regardless of whether this is something new for them or they’ve been using digital tools for a while, what should they focus on when building their digital strategies?

Jean thinks that in order to build a strong digital strategy, the first step is understanding their ideal customer and creating an avatar (buyer persona). Obviously an understanding of what competitors are doing online is important too. For instance, using Facebook Ads Library to see if competitors are advertising on Facebook and the ads they are running, gives an indication of traffic and how a channel performs.

A business should also have a deep understanding of their core offer and they should be able to define the journey a customer follows to arrive at that offer, very well. As a result, they will be able to create Customer Journeys that attract their ideal clients.

Having all these elements clearly stated helps a small or mid business build their strategy and start crafting content (in the video, you’ll also see some examples of content you can create).

Also, another direction business owners and marketers should focus on is building emailing lists. According to Jean, a list is the biggest asset a business can have, but it will only work if we interact with people on the list regularly (once a week). And think of them as people who need help solving a challenge, whose trust needs to be earned through insightful content that leads them to your products and services .

Sales and marketing departments should be aligned

In most companies, sales and marketing are different departments that rarely interact in creating customer journeys. However, when they do work together, both parties can achieve great things.

Unfortunately, Jean thinks, this is a cultural issue. “Organisations are still very siloed and as they mature, these silos become more pronounced,” says Jean. “Ideally, we want to integrate them more closely and that has never been more important than right now.”..

Marketing, he adds, should take the lead and show that working together will really drive results. And they can do this by creating bridges, working together and showing the benefits an integrated campaign can bring to sales and the business.

To conclude, Jean thinks that this is the moment a company should reset and reinvent themselves, focus on their core products and make the most out of their limited resources. 

“It’s the time for innovation, but not random or opportunistic tactics,” he says. “Avoid overcomplicating matter and start with low hanging fruits.”. For example, if you decide to try something new, do something close to your core, don’t build a whole new product for a whole new audience. Keep focussed on your niche, and find new ways of serving them – such as productizing your existing services or creating subscription services.

Don’t forget that you can listen to the whole video here: