Bandwango Q&a With Brian Matson From Twosix Digital

Emilie Harris  |  January 27th, 2021

We had a chance to talk to Brian in-depth during our January webinar, but we didn’t want to stop there. Those who have heard Brian speak in the past know that he’s full of knowledge and creativity. Our Director of Marketing Operations, Emilie, took some time to pick his brain in this month’s Bandwango Q&A with Brian Matson blog.

If you want to see the recording of the webinar, TwoSix Digital’s Brian Matson & Bandwango’s Mo Parikh: Control Your DMO Destiny, click the button below!

Q & A

In your December 2020 “On Our Radar” post you say “In 2021, I hope that DMOs will start to lead the way with valuable deals, discounts, and packages to finally have a strong conversion point to measure with absolute accuracy.“ Why do you think DMOs haven’t been as focused on that piece of the puzzle in the past?

It’s most likely a couple of factors. The first being a time issue. There’s no doubt that coordinating with partners and developing packages for the website is time consuming. It isn’t easy to get offers from partners to build compelling packages.

Additionally, getting those packages available on a website can be challenging. Not a lot of DMO websites are built to feature these types of opportunities. Most marketers aren’t web developers so that creates a huge barrier towards providing these offers.

It’d be great to see DMO websites prioritize their content to feature deals, discounts, and packages. Those offerings are a key differentiator and value-add that we can provide to our audiences.

What do you think the first step for a DMO looking to make that pivot would be?

Educating their partners about the benefits of providing deals, discounts, and packages to consumers would be a great start. Many see these offers as a hit to their bottom line rather than seeing them as a key promotional opportunity to gain them a bigger share of voice.

We talked about how the pandemic has forced more DMOs to get away from inspiration and into these deeper funnel initiatives during our webinar. We talk a lot about how the pandemic has hurt DMOs, but are there any unique opportunities you feel like it presented?

The pandemic forced innovation for sure. As a digital marketing educator it was remarkable to see how messages I’ve been presenting for years finally gained traction with small businesses and organizations when the crisis hit. In the past, we’d talk about using online ads, live streaming platforms, and leveraging virtual experiences. These messages were falling mostly on deaf ears. Once the pandemic hit, things changed pretty quickly. It may have been a bit of a forced innovation but in the long run these businesses have now fortified themselves to be better and more profitable than they have ever been by embracing new tools and tactics that provide them with improved marketing results.

Also during our webinar, you made some excellent points about first party data being more necessary than ever. We know cookies are changing. Can you share how you’re helping clients prepare for that change?

We are encouraging our clients to take control and futureproof their efforts. That comes down to owning your data and making efforts to continue to grow and deliver value to their consumer lists. I feel like the wild, wild west of digital marketing could be coming to an end. We’ve enjoyed some amazingly powerful tools for the last decade but the times are changing. I fear some businesses and organizations may get caught in a bit of a pickle when the rules start to change.

It’s time to build conversion points and leverage multilayer marketing efforts that truly nurture audiences. It’s time to start thinking about our destinations a bit more like an online t-shirt shop that guides consumers towards a logical point of purchase. We’re a bit stuck on the inspiration side of things and not on closing the deal.

TwoSix Digital has made a name for itself by building social campaigns that perform. They’ve always struck me as very creative, but also obvious in a “duh, why didn’t I think of that?” way. Can you explain how you approach building campaigns with your clients?

It all comes down to fundamentals and leaning on assets that have a proven track record. We leverage analytics, and keyword research to determine what resonates and what is in demand from audiences. The targeting tools that we have available today make pretty easy work of reaching the right people. The biggest hurdle is having content that is actually useful to those audiences.

Landing page, landing pages, landing pages! A click means very little if there’s nothing for audiences to convert on when they arrive.

I have to admit, I’m a long-time fan of your speaking. One of my favorite talks you ever gave was about how blog content doesn’t have to be brand new every time. Where do you think DMOs waste the most time – and do you have a hack for how they can stop?

It really starts with keeping track of what you have and determining whether or not you have what fulfills the demand of audiences. Doing regular (at least seasonal) keyword research can help guide your content strategy. Most DMOs, in my opinion, write way too much redundant content because they feel this need to write new content. This approach, ultimately waters down their content marketing efforts and they can start to compete with themselves. Instead, focus on updating what you have. Improve existing landing pages with thoughtful integrations and updates.

What do you wish was the most commonly applied piece of advice?

I end pretty much all of my sessions with the phase “If you never try, you’ll never know.” I wish more people would put the strategies to work for their organizations and businesses. I realize that there’s only so much time in the day and that people get busy but I do feel like the strategies that we share could help people work smarter and not harder. It’s not about making things more complicated or adding a ton of work to the mix. It’s about letting go of old strategies and installing better ones. I do feel that a lot of businesses and organizations could see remarkable results if they just took the time to simply try. There’s no better time to experiment with new things than today.

One of my long-held beliefs prior to the pandemic was that QR codes were useless. I’ve changed my mind about this since the pandemic because consumer behavior has changed so much in the past months. Is there any opinion you had about the industry or digital marketing that has been changed – either because of the pandemic or some other reason?

I may have grown a bit apathetic about the power of old school word-of-month marketing and the value that building online communities can have. The idea of the “super fan” has been replaced by highly-targeted ad campaigns. Not everyone has the means to do paid programs, especially after such a rough 2020. I think there is still hope to do things organically if you put in the time and provide opportunities (and marching orders) to your community. The pandemic made it essential that DMOs be present among locals, showcase their value, and think of their organizational mission in a different way. For most of my tourism career the idea of marketing 100 miles outside the area was the strategy. That’s probably not going to cut it moving forward. I think putting some efforts (and some dollars) to motivate your locals to spread your message will have a higher priority moving forward.

On a personal note, what has kept you sane during this pandemic?

During the pandemic I was able to put some energy into my YouTube Channel featuring the restoration of vintage motorcycles. I’ve developed a brand, began building a website, created hundreds of videos, and started to regularly live stream. It’s been a great way to get back into the trenches to build a community centered around a very niche activity. It’s been extremely rewarding (and refreshing) to see that a strategy focused on useful content and engagement can still organically grow your own little corner on the internet.

Thank you, Brian! We love hanging out with you.

Likewise! Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.