A couple weeks ago, I was running west on Irving Park and saw one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants, Café 28, closed after 17 years. Bummer. A couple weeks later, I was driving south on Damen and saw that Bucktown Beanery (coffee) and CANS (bar) also closed. Double bummer. My first thought - why couldn’t they keep customers coming through the door?
The same question is constantly on Reva Minkoff’s mind and she’s actively trying to address it through digital marketing. She says, “I really think digital marketing is part of our currency today and I believe that it should be accessible to anyone."
With that goal in mind, the founder of Digital4Startups and DigitalGroundUp wants to teach startups to make digital marketing work for them. Digital4Startups is her consulting arm and DigitalGroundUp is her soon to be released interactive software platform for teaching digital marketing
Her efforts are getting noticed. DigitalGroundUp received a 2nd Place award at the 2012 SeedCon Fast-Pitch Competition and was a Finalist in the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association's 2012 Digital Startup Initiative Competition. Before completing the 2012 Spring Semester, she was named the Founder Institute’s Female Founder Fellow, a distinction given by the program to their most promising female applicant.
We had a chance to speak with Reva to learn why she’s so passionate about digital marketing and how she shares her knowledge with others.
Where did you get the idea for these companies?
Two things. First, I’ve been doing digital marketing since high school and through my experiences at Google, Sears, Poggled etc., I saw the same digital marketing mistakes over and over again. It became easy to spot them - not the optimal setting or the campaign wasn’t set up correctly - and how to fix it. Relatively simple things were costing companies thousands of dollars, so I decided that I wanted to empower people to find and fix their own mistakes without having to hire a specialist because most startups can’t afford them.
Second, I organized monthly Lightbank-wide marketing meetings for anyone that did or wanted to learn more about marketing for the companies. Come with questions and we’ll help you address them type of forum. I realized talking to people and putting our heads together to help those with limited knowledge address their needs was the favorite part of my job.
Why develop an interactive platform to teach digital marketing?
There’s a bunch of stuff scattered across the Internet, YouTube videos, books, but reading/viewing and doing are two completely things. It needs to be interactive to stick. So we’re requiring the user to interact and understand what they’re doing before proceeding to the next exercise.
The first class is Math for Digital Marketers. Without understanding the metrics, you won’t know if anything you’re doing really works. The class is still in alpha stage and invite only. In the meantime, we launched a forum so people can ask questions and we’ll respond to all of them so we can provide value now.
What are the biggest digital marketing challenges for entrepreneurs?
1) Tracking. If you can’t measure it, how do you know if it’s working? Companies are spending time and money without really knowing if what they’re doing is working. You need to know who’s coming to your website, how long they’re spending time there and what they’re doing.
2) Right time. Right place. Right people. Some companies are running ads, but the settings aren’t really helping drive results. I’ve seen companies run ads in geographies they don’t support, on devices they can’t support or when the business isn’t open.
3) Big Picture. You always have to keep an eye on the big picture because it’s easy to get caught up in a tactic. You can run the best search, but if there’s no conversion funnel, it doesn’t really matter. You can have a great site and repeat customers, but if you’re not leveraging them, they’re not coming back and/or telling their friends.
We’re launching a new landing page on DigitalGroundUp in the next week that pulls in all the little pieces – blog, the forum, the sign-up for beta – so that we can show everyone everything we’ve been working on.
The first DigitalGroundUp courses will launch to the public this summer.
What keeps you up at night?
I’m one person. How do I change the industry? I really think that digital marketing is how we do business today and it’s frustrating to know that companies can’t capitalize on it or don’t have access to it. I’ve seen small businesses go under, especially one’s that I really liked, and wonder if I could have helped them. Could they have done something to stay more profitable? How can we do digital marketing faster, better, more efficiently? I want to do something about this and how do I?
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