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SEO Q&A: Digital Marketing & Authenticity – with Nicole Osborne, Wunderstars

Discussing why authentic human connections matter in marketing, tips for content creation, and advice for pitching your own talks to industry conferences.  

SEO interview - authenticity in digital marketing

Lumar’s (formerly Deepcrawl) SEO & digital marketing interview series continues this week in a conversation between Deepcrawl’s Senior Technical SEO, Jamie Indigo, and Wunderstars founder and marketing coach, Nicole Osborne.  

The pair discuss how agencies can better promote their own services, why authentic human connections matter in marketing, tips for content creation, and advice for pitching your own talks to industry conferences.  

Listen to the full conversation below, or read on for an abridged transcript.  

Q: Hello. I have a new guest here with me now. Can you tell me your name?

Nicole: Hi Jamie! I’m Nicole Osborne. I’m the founder of Wunderstars. I’m a marketing coach for digital agency owners.

Q: This interview series has been focused on first-time speakers at BrightonSEO —  What was your talk about at BrightonSEO earlier this year?

Nicole: I talked about really encouraging agencies to not be afraid of showing personality in their own marketing. So many agencies are absolutely amazing in terms of doing marketing and SEO and such, but because they are so busy with client work, sometimes they don’t get a chance to really look good themselves. So I hoped, in the first half of my talk, to have an “oh shit” moment: “Yes, our website, our copy, is a bit boring.”

And then in the next half of the talk, I shared powerful strategies for how to put this right, for them to reconnect with their audience. So yeah, really cool topic; had some really great questions afterward. I was really impressed. It was lovely.

It’s quite funny, people can be shy about talking and just asking questions. And I totally get it. So we stuck around [after the talk] and then I had about five people come up to me. And we had some really good conversations. I appreciate it because it’s great feedback on your talk, you get a sense of what resonated, perhaps which points needed some more elaborating, and it’s really impressive how people take in what you say and then apply it straight away to their own situations.

Q: Tell us why this subject is important to you; why is it important to bring that authenticity into digital marketing?

Nicole: I worked as a marketing director for many years and I was always commissioning agencies. And, of course, I was impressed by statistics, by data — but what I really cared about was actually: what were the people of the agency like to work with? Let’s be honest, digital marketing is great, it’s fine. We make it better, but sometimes things go really wrong. And when you commission an agency, you want to see who would really help me in that situation; let’s say, if a budget gets cut, or your director leaves and you have to make changes. That’s why I think it’s so important to actually show people

I think there’s definitely a trend nowadays, where you want to know the person behind the service as opposed to just seeing a fancy logo or a fancy statistic. I’m not saying those things don’t help; I have a fancy logo myself at Wunderstars. But for me, it’s really about the people. So I really hoped [in my BrightonSEO talk] to inspire people to be braver and to not stick to the idea that we’ve got to be so “professional”.  

Q: What do you think are the biggest challenges looming on the horizon for digital marketers?

Nicole: People’s attention spans are really short. And I guess with the economic situation, I wonder if marketing budgets will be cut for a while. So that’s going to be challenging. But in digital marketing we’re so adaptable, right? I think we can weather the storm. So actually, I’m on the side of seeing opportunities more than anything else.

Q: And you’re in a good spot to do this. How does your role fit into a larger organization?

Nicole: I guess as a coach-stroke-consultant, I have this luxurious position — to be able to not mind office politics so much. So I’m going to say, “Look, guys, I know you’re really wedded to this idea, but the message doesn’t make sense. You’re talking too much tech, and most of your audience is made up of people [for whom] that’s really confusing because this is not what they’re doing on a day-to-day basis. So how can you use that in terms of really strengthening your marketing message?”

I’m never afraid of challenging the status quo. I actually really love that. And enabling people to learn, do it better, and get better results.

Q: That’s beautiful. How do you make allies across the team feel good?

Nicole: Good question! You know, I guess it’s by having real conversations to start with. I’ve been at this conference over the last two-to-three days. I am a well-known speaker, but the SEO community is pretty new to me. So some people you meet and straightaway they just want to pitch you. And it’s like, come on, can we not just take a little bit of time to get to know each other? I see this [pitch] presentation coming out and I’m like, “Okay, but do you have a dog? Do you have a cat? What music do you like?” Let’s have a real human conversation first because if we find something to connect over, I will remember that about you. As opposed to just, “What do you do for a living? How could we possibly work together?” Come on, let’s just get to know each other as people first!

Q: I think there’s actually a great counterculture in SEO, even at conferences. We are all digital, but we are going to choose to be people and joyful people and share that. I love it.

What are the top three SEO issues you encounter in your day-to-day work?

Nicole: There’s so much content that it’s really hard to choose quality content consistently and to really tune into what your audience is after. So it is really about messaging to that one person, with that one person in mind. I run my own small business and I find when I write emails or blogs — or I could use YouTube videos — I really think of one specific problem for one specific person.

Obviously [I create this content] having done the research — what are people searching for, all of that. But being really specific in your messaging, and really aiming to help that one person [is particularly helpful in content creation]. Because the more you try to please everyone, the more you’re messaging completely gets lost. So don’t be afraid of being really specific. And I guess that’s the beauty of SEO, because you figure out what people are searching for and what kind of content they love.

Q: Yeah, and how people talk about the same thing in different ways. 

Nicole: Absolutely.

Q: Do you have any advice for people who are considering pitching a talk for the first time or doing their first talk at industry conferences?

Nicole: It’s about thinking, “Okay, this is the audience [for the conference]. Who are they made up of?” 

You know, at BrightonSEO, we have a mixture of smaller agencies, bigger agencies, in-house marketers, small companies, big companies, the whole lot. So really thinking about: how can I link my area of expertise, the thing I’m passionate about, to, hopefully, what they are interested in? How can I have a hook in there and how can I make this relevant to them? 

It’s not about the things we want to talk about, it’s actually about what our audience finds valuable. So when you pitch … say what’s going to be interesting, what’s going to be different, and of course, be professional, but put some ‘real’ stuff in there.

Q: You don’t need to sterilize your story.

Nicole: Absolutely. Definitely. Storytelling is key as well — not just facts and figures but also, what impact did it make? How did it make you feel? Add all those things.

Q: People remember how they feel. They don’t really remember the content as much as the emotion they have when leaving a talk. So do you have advice for first-time attendees coming to conferences like Brighton?

Nicole: For first-time attendees, like at any event, some moments can be overwhelming. You don’t know many people, or it might be a brand new venue for you. So just go easy on yourself. Don’t put yourself under pressure to absolutely attend every session; you can’t at BrightonSEO because there are four tracks — you also have all the talks available to you virtually.

So just really pick up the things that you are genuinely interested in. Smile, have a chat with people. I mean, don’t run around like totally smiling all the time, but you know, be open to chatting to new people! I had some amazing encounters with people I’ve never met before. We went for dinner together, we had a drink together. So just be open to all of that. And yeah, just be prepared to have some fun. It is SEO, it is learning, but it’s also about networking, and sharing your challenges and joys with peers. I know it can be overwhelming, but just go for it.

Q: I love that. I think it’s great advice. Thank you so much, Nicole. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Congratulations on being that first-time speaker. I can see you out there rocking it, doing a lot more good. Bring that authenticity. The audience wants it. They’re hungry for this. Thank you so much for being here.

You can find Nicole Osborne at Wunderstars and on Twitter.  Jamie Indigo is also on Twitter — and on Deepcrawl’s Professional Services Team.

Want more first-hand knowledge straight from some of the world’s best SEOs and digital marketers? Check out our full interview series with search optimization and digital marketing experts.

Avatar image for Jamie Indigo
Jamie Indigo

Former Senior Technical SEO at Lumar

Jamie Indigo is a Former Senior Technical SEO at Lumar and was part of our Professional Services team.


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