We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Hartland Ross of Hartland Communications, Inc. Hartland Communications has a very specialized business model, making a marketing managers job just a tad bit easier, therefore saving companies money by making their marketing manager even more productive. So, as we read what you will see is Hartland not only brings value to an organization, but does it all for free?
Tell us a little about your background, Hartland. What industry experience you have? And what did you do before Hartland Communications?
I began working in the technology industry, specifically internet marketing and advertising and in 1998, I was charged with all Business Development tasks and revenue generation for a banner network located here in Vancouver, BC. The company was the exclusive agent for all Canadian ad inventories on the Doubleclick network. As the internet bubble burst, the company was unable to secure any additional necessary financing. As a result of many inquiries for advertising that we were not able to fill at the time, I saw an opportunity that was not being tapped into. I then began consulting for some old clients and with this came the requests for list and advertising procurement that became our focus today.
You are in a very specialized niche, what can you tell us about what you do?
Our focus is working with small to medium sized businesses Ã¢â‚¬â€œ those with monthly marketing budgets of $5000 and up and helping them to market their products and services online. There are many ad agencies and others working with larger companies but the small to medium sized businesses are often neglected and task their marketing manager (if they have one) to drive online sales. These managers are often overworked and not able to allocate time to research their options nor do they inherently work with an unbiased consultant. As they approach each possible site or online solution to reach their audience, they are working with sales reps who can only offer their solution which may or may not be the best option. It is left to the marketing managerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s discretion to make decisions with very limited knowledge of what else may be available to them.
Seeing the big picture, offering them other options and having worked with many clients allows us to save the client time, resources and money by avoiding a trial and error process.
What is your process when working with a new client?
The first step is to understand them from what their product or service is and who their target audience is. We also need to know what advertising is currently being done or has been done and if any, what the results have been. This is very useful to adjust a marketing plan. Of course we also need to understand the marketing budget and work with this.
How do you go about finding places for advertisers to place their ads?
Over the past six years we have built a database comprising hundreds of sites, networks and lists. As we take on a new client and understand their needs, objectives and budget, we are able to make suggestions to them. These suggestions are based on the information we collect from the client but also based on our experience of what is working out there. It is important to understand that this is a collaborative approach and that we do not spend our clients money. All decisions are ultimately made by the client Ã¢â‚¬â€œ we are just there to guide them and present what we feel are the best options for them.
What qualities make a hosting directory a good place for your clients to advertise?
With the understanding that since many of our clients are not hosting companies, hosting directories arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t appropriate for all clients. Hosting directories are utilized by those tasked with sourcing hosting solutions and information for their company. Since hosting directories are utilized to compare and ultimately procure hosting solutions, they make a great addition to a hosting companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s marketing plan although it should be noted that some directories are better than others and are all dependent on client objectives. For information on what to look for in a hosting directory, please contact us and weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d be happy to share with you what would be best for you.
What makes working with you more advantageous than hiring an in house marketing director?
We actually must have an inhouse marketing director or marketing contact even if they are not an expert. This is due to our collaborative approach. We are not an outsourced marketing management company although we perform some of these activities Ã¢â‚¬â€œ it is not our role to be the marketing arm for any company.
Having read you customer testimonials, do you have any success stories that stick out in your mind?
I have many stories and although I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of one that stands out, we consistently hear of successes although often due to latent effects, these do not come within the duration of the campaign itself but rather show up as tracked sales 2 to 3 weeks later.
What has led to your success in the hosting industry?
Hosting is a very competitive industry with many new hosting companies (often resellers who can almost become competitors) going after the same audience. With many of the plan features being similar and little for the consumer to base decisions on, it is vital that there be differentiation and a targeted approach. Our focus then is to aid these companies differentiate themselves and to find their specific audience. It is through this process that we help our clients reach their ROI objectives and achieve success for them. Sometimes this process takes a few months since as with all advertising, testing is a crucial part of this process.
Ok, so what are the best buys that you have seen out there?
Some of the best buys can be found targeting the small business person/webmaster. This is a very large group and spends a lot of time online looking for solutions for their business. As a result, this audience is not difficult to find and since they are so receptive to solutions that will save them time and money, achieving a positive ROI is easier than many other audiences.
The hosting industry has changed a lot in the last year, what predictions do you foresee for this coming year?
I continue to see a lot of consolidation of the industry especially with those who have just achieved a critical mass and I expect this to continue. I also see growth for many new companies resulting in a polarization of the industry to those very large hosting companies and the very small ones.
Lastly, what is your favorite website and the most recent book you have read?
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have a favorite website but rather subscribe to quite a number of very good ezines Ã¢â‚¬â€œ too many to list. The topics of which are from internet marketing tips to industry announcements to general business advice to motivational and tactical articles. I am currently reading 2 books Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Conversations with God and Lance ArmstrongÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s autobiography having finished How to Win Friends and Influence People.
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