Names: Marty McDonald (at left, above) & Rich DeMatteo Business: Bad Rhino Location: West Chester, PA Launched: 2011
Co-founders Marty McDonald and Rich DeMatteo of Bad Rhino, a social media marketing agency, saw the power of peer-to-peer connection long before Facebook and Instagram were household staples. In 2008, Rich leveraged social media to launch and grow an online career blog, Corn on the Job. Marty began dabbling in online marketing in 2002 as a side gig while working in staffing and talent acquisition.
The two brought their skills and passion for online marketing together in 2011 to form Bad Rhino, a small business helping other small businesses put their best marketing foot forward with savvy social media strategies. We spoke with Marty about the link between a killer social media presence and increased sales.
Hi Marty! Tell us about Bad Rhino and what your business is all about.
Bad Rhino leads the development and execution of social media strategy for clients around the globe. Our custom strategies help clients expand their reach and be seen and heard by their target audience. Once those strategies are developed, our team executes each step and/or develops the training tools to educate clients about how to promote their brand and ultimately get sales. We do all this with our team of four employees and ten contractors.
Who is your target client?
A business that gets social, one that understands that they need it as part of an overall marketing strategy. Bad Rhino works with craft breweries, non-profits, e-commerce and small-to-medium sized clients.
How are small businesses uniquely able to leverage social media for marketing?
Small businesses can leverage social media in two big ways, the first is to communicate with current customers/clients and the second is to speak to new potential clients. Small businesses need a strategy however, they cannot get by with posting and praying that someone sees their content. They need to take the time to develop a strategy both paid and organic then implement that strategy over time. Too many times we see a small business try social media without a strategy or plan and give up quickly because their haphazard methods yield no results.
Tell us about how you started up Bad Rhino.
Quite simply, we went to work. No financing -- we just went out and got our first client and went to work. Once we had the idea for Bad Rhino, Rich and I met for about six straight Saturdays to come up with service offerings focused on social media. We then started to work our network for opportunities and started cold-calling small businesses. Within about 30 days we had our first client, and we’ve been growing ever since.
What are your observations from the last decade about how social media has influenced or changed the way small businesses operate?
Small businesses that understand the impact of social and take the time to develop, execute and analyze their strategies are winning more than ever. Unfortunately, small businesses that rely simply on word of mouth to spread their brand message are missing out.
Today, people want things now. They want everything in an instant. This means questions need to be answered quickly and potential customers want to find your business fast when searching. Social media plays a huge part in quickly delivering your business to your future clients.
How do you help your clients understand that their social media strategy is working?
We always start with an audit of a client’s marketing plan and their competitors’ strategy. This helps us understand what short-term goals can be reached within 90 days. Then we look at long-term goals.
When analyzing our sales goals with a social marketing campaign, we start by reviewing a client’s website and the traffic it’s currently generating. We tweak and change ads and placements while targeting different demographics until we find the best performing strategy. When the numbers look good, we can start to scale up and increase ad spend.
When analyzing content engagement and brand-reach goals, we use custom analytic software to map out growth and expected growth over the course of the year.
How do you get new clients?
Through referrals, networking and a few well-placed ads. We try and do a bit of everything in order to get the right clients, from podcasting to blogging and public speaking. Our best results come through referrals from events and from social media.
In a business like yours where the social media landscape is constantly changing, how do you stay nimble, flexible and keep on top of things?
Our social strategies are always changing for clients. Every month we look at our methods for social ads, content delivery and engagement. After significant data is produced, we can make the right changes for clients.
In digital marketing we’re constantly learning and upgrading our skills. What was good yesterday is not necessarily good tomorrow. As a team, we stay on top of this with weekly training programs.
What would you differently if you were starting over again in business?
The one thing I’d change is to have been better at documenting our systems from day one. The systems we use to create content, implement marketing strategies, scheduling content and most importantly how we kick off client projects. As we started to grow, we had to spend more time documenting things, which slowed our growth a bit.
What learnings can you share with entrepreneurs just starting out or for those contemplating self-employment?
Know that it will be scary, bumpy, imperfect and, at times, feel like a big mess. You’ll experience all that at just about every growth stage thereafter. If you remember why you started and always provide excellent service, things will go well.
Two things you need when you start out in business: some savings and the ability to sell yourself and your service/product.
I've worked in print, broadcast and digital media for 20 years and managed to start a couple small businesses along the way. I love collaborating with and supporting creative folks who have great ideas. As Content Creator for the QB Community team, I’m excited to help other small-business owners be the best they can be!