9 Years Digital Marketing – Based in Queenstown

Digital Marketing Agency Queenstowns oldest

9 Years Full Time in Digital Marketing

This week 9 years ago I was packing up a desk in Queenstown and finalising a project for Wet’n’Wild in Sydney to move to full time digital marketing and make Fully Charged Media more “official”.

This happened after several months of side hustling and finishing my many years in full time software development and tech leading for finance, media and tourism (although digital marketing involves much of that nowadays).

With 9 years being solely focused on digital marketing I’m pretty sure I can say we’re one of, if not the, longest serving business physically based in Queenstown that’s been purely focused on digital marketing.

Many other businesses have went for the cash grab of digital marketing trying to move from being design focused, and somehow thinking digital is an easy bolt on, Facebook ‘boosters’ turned glorified digital marketers, but who still don’t know what a Meta Pixel is, or website builders who don’t know anything about SEO – but that just underlines how big an industry this is. Sadly several others others haven’t lasted.

What I’m Grateful For

Thank you to the many hundreds of businesses, individuals and organisations who have supported me personally, asked me to talk to their members, and had faith in me personally when starting out. I knew I had “made it” when I saw a banner from Great South promoting my talk in Stewart Island :-) That meant as much to me as being on a panel in the Gold Coast with my Google Ads superhero and email marketing guru from the US.

From the big stage on the Gold Coast to Stewart Island Community Hall on a roadie for Great South

You’ll see me switch between I and we quite a bit as many of you don’t know it’s not just me, and hasn’t been for years but I’ll get to that later.

We’ve been lucky to work with businesses of all sizes – from new businesses right through to Queenstown’s biggest…. Businesses in the UK, Spain, US and more….and helped sell things from organic nipple shields, to luxury lodges through to faith based business coaches in the US (campaign launched this week!) and many things inbetween!

I’ve personally been lucky to have travelled to many places for courses, conferences and masterminds from Thailand to the US and Australia, and speak at some of them.

Me with Jeff Walker in Pal Springs – the “OG” of launching products online

I’ve launched websites from the Earnslaw steamship in Queenstown over a data connection (and it still ranks #1 many years later), and campaigns from balconies in Portugal.

This year alone I’ve been to both the Facebook and Google office in Silicon Valley.

(…..but to be honest I was only there for the selfies on the way to a mastermind in Palm Springs, and the best thing I saw at Facebook was a brand new Rivan SUV in the Facebook car park.)

Me passing through Silicon Valley

I’ve seen people who were on some of my early training courses move into Head of Marketing roles over the years. And yes, I’ll come clean – my first one on one course was in a hijacked friend’s office in a car rental company…and I still cringe about it every time I see the person who attended who’s still in town.

We’ve seen entire brands come and go, and we’ve outlasted many internal marketers we’ve seen come and go – one of those businesses has worked with us for over 7 years now for multiple brands.

We’re grateful for the business who have invested in digital marketing throughout the last couple of years and have thrived as a result.

The best thing I saw at Facebook HQ – a Rivian EV in the car park

This winter for one business we turned $9254k in ad spend into over $258,210 in revenue, and a few hundred tracked phone calls and emails on top, and in a market environment that was very different for them.

Like many businesses the last couple of years have been “different”, so for those of you that have had a to wait a while for projects to be delivered, thanks for your patience….but when we do it, we won’t be cutting any corners just to get stuff out the door.

I’ve been lucky to share good times, beers, stories, and mountain biking trips with some of the best in Google Ads, digital marketing and copywriting. I may not have created time to implement everything I’ve seen but jeez have I learned from some of the best.

What I’d Like To See Change in the Digital Marketing Industry

Despite the great stories I personally see, it always saddens me reflecting at the end of the year about the state of the digital marketing industry as a whole.

I often say one of my main roles is to help businesses answer the questions they didn’t know they needed to ask…or even better not to have to even think about them as they are taken care of by default.

Below is a common list of areas I’d like to see change in 2023 as it would be a dream not to be repeating similar examples next year.

Every day we hear horror stories about digital marketing. I’d like to see that change.

Businesses often don’t realise digital marketing is an industry with lots of different skillsets. An awesome campaign may not be awesome if your offer or website sucks, despite the campaign doing it’s job – bringing relevant visitors to your offer.

Sometimes you expect in depth proposals but don’t realise the time that goes into it, then you’ll go quiet, but you’ll happily pay your mechanic $100 for ten minutes to quickly plug in a diagnostic tool to tell you your cars broken.

Businesses still get swooned by elaborate pitch decks, proposals, big teams and shiny offices, not necessarily the capability behind them. We don’t do RFPs as all that free time has to be paid for somehow. We have a small focused team, they’re just not all local.

….and 12 months later the same businesses will stay on the phone for 45 minutes ranting about poor experiences, then go quiet when they aren’t willing to invest what it takes to have a good experience and results.

Business get swooned by fancy looking websites that tank SEO rankings and make things harder for your user as they have been terribly built, but you expected your developer and designer to be a digital marketer too.

We’ve seen businesses run campaigns in house to “save money” but end up burning their ad spend due to lack of knowledge, and thinking it’s just about following Google’s wizard (which is often the yellow brick road to budget burning in our experience!)

We’ve seen designers build banners and charge a fortune for them but they don’t fit the purpose of the ad platform.

We see businesses struggle for hours to find logins for their core digital marketing assets and don’t even know who manages their domain names.

On the rare occasion we charge hourly we get compared by the price, not the amount of work and value delivered in that hour.

There’s a lot of cowboys (and cowgirls) out there who often don’t realise they’re doing bad job as they’ve taken on work they’re not capable of.

Being honest I had the hardest meeting not too long ago as we backed out of a project due to some functionality lacking in some software – but we’d rather do that than take the money and deliver a solution that wasn’t best of breed.

We’ve done countless (hundreds) of in depth digital reviews over the years and have seen what people get away with in the industry like “we did SEO on your website”…but the absolute basics are missing. We’ve sadly watched from the sidelines and seen many fancy looking websites absolutely tank search rankings for successful businesses when they’ve been pushed live because people don’t really know what they’re doing….but have taken a lot of cash for the project, and more to help fix it. We’ve been involved in dozens of websites where you won’t see any reference to us in the ‘site credit’ footers (oh I wish I could change them to be “build by X, fixed by Y”).

Agencies get away with blowing $120,000 without having any conversion or sales data to show for it (a real life example from campaigns we have recently taken over), but when things don’t go so great in a campaign we’ll be looking at stories behind the behaviour but get asked harder questions than if we bullshitted our way through it. We’d rather have good questions so it helps educate though.

We’ve also seen many businesses expect world class marketing for peanuts and that type of investment in your business rarely works more than ticking boxes.

What’s In Store For Next Year and Predictions for 2023

I’m full of thanks for supporters throughout the years. I won’t tag many of the well known people and businesses here, but some of you know who you are so thank you.

For the tourism operators we work with, I hope you manage to push through the next few weeks.

Ok so you want a prediction about digital marketing in 2023?

I’ll keep it short and sweet.

AI will make great marketers better, and bad marketers worse.

An example from ChatGPT

That it’s, but it covers content, and marketing campaigns. Have you seen how badly Google matches some search terms using its AI? We do as we look at the details. FYI Google – Luxury Accommodation does not mean holiday park!

In 2023 we’re planning on how we can help even more people. This is a good time to reflect on whether you have the right priorities set for next year with digital marketing, or whether your team needs some support and training.

How can we help you grow through digital marketing next year?

Darren Craig

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