For over 12 years, Digital Telepathy has been inspiring people to think differently about how they approach business. Many different approaches can be taken when marketing your site’s content, and it’s important to understand each one. For our continuing series exploring development and SEO, we spoke with Brent Summers, a marketing strategist at Digital Telepathy.
What made you (or your colleagues) start the company/site?
As a kid, Chuck Longanecker (CEO) loved Star Wars. At 25 he used a $5,000 severance and started Digital Telepathy (DT) with a mission of creating special effects for the internet.
What do you think are the most important skills every new site owner needs to know, or what should his or her staff know?
I don’t think there’s a single answer here. All websites are unique. If I had to choose one ubiquitous skill it would be empathy. Company websites exist to serve the needs of their customers and potential customers. Websites should, first and foremost, meet the needs of the site’s visitors.
Technology is evolving in the speed of light. Users are getting pickier and sites are being consumed in more and more devices, resolutions, and browsers. Meanwhile, the costs of running a site seem to be on the rise, and there is a need to monitor and manage many moving parts at once. If you had to give your most important recommendations to new site owners with limited budgets, what would you tell them to focus on based on your experiences?
Content is the most important thing to focus on. Site owners must communicate their unique selling proposition and pricing in a way that resonates with their audience. Some sites needs infographics, some need pricing tables, and others need regular blog posts. Regardless of what you’re selling, it’s words that do the majority of the work. Once a site has a solid content strategy then design and interactions can help amplify the emotional impact of the story being told.
What are the tools/applications and devices you can’t live without and why?
The most popular tools in our agency are the iPhone, Trello, HubSpot, Adobe Creative Suite and WordPress. Each of these is essential in communicating with our clients and solving business challenges related to design.
How much effort do you put into Social media, SEO and Traditional Marketing (banners)? Which do you think is the most important and which is most effective in terms of gaining traffic?
Our primary focus for marketing is long-form blog content. We consider SEO when conceptualizing new content, but we mostly write from the heart. Our technical setup is definitely search optimized, but we’re not interested in “forcing it.” We work diligently on growing our audience across a variety of social networks, especially Twitter (Follow us @dtelepathy)! We don’t currently do any type of traditional marketing online or offline. Paid tweets are the only type of paid advertisement we are currently using. The best traffic results we’ve seen have come through helpful content that answers specific questions about our service.
Managing a site is a complicated task if you’re running a brand new site on your own or have a very popular site with a support staff. In your case, how do you manage your time? Do you have any tricks that help you become more productive that you would like to share with our users?
I manage my time with post-it notes and a calendar – it’s loosely inspired by Scott Belski’s “Getting Things Done” framework. You can read about taking a bias toward action on our blog. I believe that most successful people have a tendency to overcommit (I certainly do). By focusing on priorities, people can improve their reliability and yield better results. It’s always important to balance the urgent with the truly important.
In your opinion, how critical are core development skills in owning a successful site? If you think they are critical, what skills do you recommend for anyone that wants to own a site?
Development skills can certainly help. But tools like The Grid and Squarespace are making it easier for anyone to create an engaging website.
Do newsletters account for an important segment of your site’s success? If so, in what way?
Newsletter signups are one of or primary calls to action. Our service starts at $25,000 a month, so not everyone can afford to work with us. We aim to provide value to our subscriber audience with blog posts twice a week, and hope that sharing what we’ve learned helps other companies to be more successful in their own design endeavors.
If you only had $1,000 and needed to plan your site for the next month, what would you spend it on and why?
I would spend that on a really targeted blog post that links to a gated resource and reserve a substantial amount of money to promote that with paid social or SEM. A great blog post can have ongoing traction thanks to organic searches, and the gated resource offers a high-value conversion point, while paid promotion secures exposure so that there is an immediate ROI on what you spent on the content.
Where can our users go to hear more about your insights?
Check out the DT Blog at www.dtelepathy.com – we aim to educate and inspire others about how design can impact business.