The FCDC was at BrightonSEO in April and we had a lovely chat with Ian Helms.
Ian is an SEO & Cross-Channel Content Marketing Strategist.
Name: Ian Helms
What Ian Does: Director of Growth Marketing
Noteworthy: Ian’s talks have covered everything from getting editors to give SEO some much-needed love to LGBTQIA2S+ marketing best practices.
💡Gaining People Skills.
Ian reflects on his 10-year experience in the restaurant industry and emphasizes the importance of people skills. Working as a server, he learned to navigate various customer profiles, dietary restrictions, and different age groups. This experience helped him develop the ability to read people, understand their needs, and respond effectively, which has been beneficial in his career working with clients and coworkers.
He emphasizes that working with diverse individuals enabled him to gain perspective, understand different ways of thinking, and develop empathy, which is crucial when working in customer-facing roles and marketing.
💡Value of Internships.
Ian reflects on his nine-month internship at MSL Group and highlights the importance of internships as a valuable stepping stone in the industry. He discusses the hard skills he learned, such as time management, and the soft skills he developed, including the ability to say no and navigate different tasks within a diverse team.
He shares his perspective that internships can be instrumental in gaining experience and foundational knowledge before moving on to new opportunities.
💡Networking through webinars and connecting with industry experts.
Ian highlights the value of attending webinars and actively participating in Q&A sessions. He suggests asking questions and connecting with industry experts on platforms like LinkedIn to build relationships and gain insights from experienced professionals.
💡Marketing for a Q.Digital.
Ian talks about his current role at a queer company and the shift in his marketing approach. He discusses how they create content focused on LGBTQ+ news and work towards expanding their reach and audience. Ian’s background in SEO helps in optimizing their content to reach new audiences and increase visibility.
💡 Influencer marketing and authenticity.
Ian discusses influencer marketing and highlights the importance of authenticity in this field. He believes that the right fit between the influencer and the brand is crucial. It’s not just about the number of followers an influencer has but also their genuine connection and passion for the product or industry.
He mentions that some brands are moving towards more authentic approaches, such as affiliate-style influencer programs, where influencers are required to generate sales or meet specific KPIs. However, he warns about the potential pitfalls of turning it into a toxic situation or a pyramid scheme.
Emphasizing the importance of reading and watching educational content.
Ian encourages aspiring marketers to invest time in reading and watching educational content. He suggests reading as much as possible for those who prefer reading and watching videos for those who prefer that format.
He believes that there are resources available in various formats to cater to different learning preferences. By actively seeking out and consuming educational content, marketers can stay informed and continuously develop their skills and knowledge.
Challenges in measuring ROI for influencer marketing.
Ian acknowledges the challenge of measuring return on investment (ROI) for influencer marketing. He suggests that ROI might not always be the right key performance indicator (KPI) to focus on. Instead, he suggests considering other factors like brand awareness.
He mentions that it can be difficult to attribute sales directly to influencer marketing, as there might be alternative paths to purchase or reasons for not using specific discount codes. Tracking the impact of influencer marketing requires careful consideration of multiple touchpoints and metrics.
The intersection of AI and marketing.
He briefly explains that generative AI could be used to assist with email copywriting and that people can reach out to experts in Slack groups to get more resources on how this can be done.
Note: It is important to use AI ethically and ensure that human oversight is in place to maintain the desired brand voice and messaging.
Continuous learning in omnichannel marketing.
Ian emphasizes the importance of continuous learning for aspiring omnichannel marketers. He suggests joining relevant communities and Slack groups to stay updated and connected with industry professionals.
Ian advises leveraging these communities to seek resources, ask questions, and even network with industry experts. He encourages individuals to explore different formats of learning, such as reading or watching videos, to find what works best for them.
Connect with Ian
Communities to Join
Women in Tech SEO
Out in Tech
Chima Mmeje 0:05
All right, final guest for our writing SEO Special Edition. Ian how do i pronounce your last name
Ian Helms 0:12
Chima Mmeje 0:13
Say that Again, Holmes helms en Helms, because, you see, I’ve asked him everybody had fun as your last name because your last name is always a thing that I do that I struggle with in films.
It is so good to finally have a conversation with you. And wanted to get in one on one. This is the first time we’re meeting in person despite, attend the bachelor together last year. Yes. Yeah. Finally, finally,
Ian Helms 0:37
finally. 65 days.
Chima Mmeje 0:41
Finally. Alright, so I’m gonna dig in and start with the question. I always ask everybody, what was the first job that ever puts money in your pocket? Like, you have to dig back all the way? Oh, the very, very, very first job you did that put money in your pockets.
Ian Helms 0:57
The first one that was like a part time, like one time thing was picking rocks and a field for for a local farmer, they, you know, their machinery gets all chewed up with rocks in the field.
And so, yeah, a friend of my dad’s needed help picking rocks. And so my brother and I did it for you like padlock. Yeah, it was cash per per. Per rock load. I guess we had like this little wheelbarrow that we were filling up with.
Chima Mmeje 1:32
How much were you getting paid?
Ian Helms 1:33
I think it was like $2 a
Chima Mmeje 1:37
barrel? What are you spending your money on?
Ian Helms 1:40
Probably nothing at that time. I think I was. I think I was saving it.
Chima Mmeje 1:48
Some maybe, maybe close even.
Ian Helms 1:51
Oh, yeah, I was like, I was pretty young. I think I was like 10 or 11 when I was doing that job. So I didn’t really have a lot to really spend my money on that I really cared about at that point in my life. Oh, yeah.
Chima Mmeje 2:04
Wow. That is interesting. And then from there, what was like the first proper job that you had back at university before University?
Ian Helms 2:15
My first like, full time well,
Chima Mmeje 2:17
it was like, like, no, like, no, like, full time after university. You know, like no job.
Ian Helms 2:23
I worked in I worked in the restaurant industry for almost 10 years. Wow. Stuff. Interesting. Yes. I started as a dishwasher. at a at a local steakhouse restaurant. I’m vegan.
It’s kind of funny. And and I started as a dishwasher moved up to a prep cook. And then eventually through college, I was a server a bartender, a manager, a caterer. I did all the things in there. Do I drive a
Chima Mmeje 2:52
Yeah, you said you said you were a baker.
Ian Helms 2:54
I am vegan. But I I cook a lot. I cook a tonne. I love cooking. Baking is a little bit too much of a science. In some ways.
Chima Mmeje 3:05
Well, you like cooking? Yes.
Ian Helms 3:09
I would say so. Yeah. Okay. Okay. I mean, as much as I’ve technically cooked in a in a proper kitchen, but it wasn’t like a fancy restaurant by any means.
But, but from that my obsession with cookbooks, I watch Food Network all the time. I’m I would consider myself better than a home cook. I’d say like a home chef. Okay.
Chima Mmeje 3:33 So first question. What did that progression of 10 years working in the restaurant industry, from this job to the next job as he kept on moving up? What did that teach you that 10 years in that industry?
Ian Helms 3:45
Oh, that’s a great question. I honestly, it’s funny, I referenced this in every single job interview that I’ve ever had is the people skills, being able to, especially as a server when you’re working with customers who have dietary restrictions, families, older people, younger people, just like I’ve served everyone from basically a newborn baby to to, like 90 year old grandmother, who has like very strict diet, dietary needs.
And so learning how to navigate all those situations working at a bar where everyone was just really drunk. Like you learn how to read people read the room, how to respond to different questions or ways that people are asking you and learn their body language and, and all that. And so I think that’s translated really well into a career, working with clients and even just working with internally with coworkers. Yeah,
Chima Mmeje 4:43
I was about to ask, what did that teach you about working with multiple personalities? Yeah,
Ian Helms 4:47
it was it’s exactly that you meet so many different people that I don’t think I could meet somebody today and meet the same type of interest and be surprised like about how they might actor or whatever like it gives, it gives me a lot of perspective of like, how other people are thinking and a way to put myself in their shoes, I
Chima Mmeje 5:09
guess. So empathy? Yes,
Ian Helms 5:11
I think so I think that’s a good way to just
Chima Mmeje 5:13
That’s a very good way. That’s a very good because I feel like if you work in any sort of customer facing role, it directly translates into any sort of marketing that you end up doing. So how did you learn in marketing? Because everybody has this I came in by accident, accident accident, an accident for
Ian Helms 5:32
you? No, no, I actually. So I had a high school marketing course. I’ve already is that, do you have secondary school here? Yeah, a secondary school marketing course. And I fell in love with marketing at that point. But I went to school, when I went to university I went to school for I started to go for business.
And then I hated econ economics was the bane of my existence. So then, through working actually, at the restaurant that I was working at, I met a waitress who was in the journalism school, told me about the strategic communications track that we had at the university that I was at.
And so I ended up taking her advice and applying to the journalism school. And then I studied journalism, strategic communication and Spanish. And then that basically set me up for good career and public relations, because I learned the journalism side. And then I also learned kind of the more creative side of business, the strategic community. So
Chima Mmeje 6:37 you started you started marketing with with PR. Yes, that was your first role.
Ian Helms 6:41
Yeah, it was an internship at MSL group, which,
Chima Mmeje 6:45
wow, that’s huge. That’s huge. How long was intention for
Ian Helms 6:49
it was originally for six months. And then I got extended for nine months, hoping that there was going to be some new business to come through, but it didn’t happen. So I had to go in house. Okay,
Chima Mmeje 7:00
so you did nine months of internship? Yeah. What did you learn both on the hard skills and soft skill side?
Ian Helms 7:09
Um, the most difficult thing for me, that I had to learn was time management. Oh, that’s, that’s, that’s tricky. And also saying, pushing back and saying no, as an intern? I didn’t, I didn’t say no enough. And so that was the issue. I was saying. No, no, no. No, I didn’t say no enough. The issue was that I took on so many extra projects. I started as a digital PR intern.
And then I also took on some corporate PR tasks. And then we also had a third, like, I can’t remember what the third group of our, our PR team teams work what it was. But we had all three of those divisions. And I started as digital, but then I started doing all these other things across and then I was getting paid hourly.
And because I was an intern, there were all these rules about how many hours that you could do you want it to actually pay you overtime, and they didn’t want to. So I would work more than 40 hours, but I wouldn’t clock my 40 hours. And I would like hide away in conference is a super illegal but technically speaking, but I would hide away in conference rooms.
So to get my work done, or just work late at at home at night to get the things done. But it was such a valuable experience that for me, it was worth it. And for me, I didn’t really
Chima Mmeje 8:40
mind that it was Yeah, we had someone earlier, Naomi, who was talking about how internship helped her when she was starting out, and she knew she was going to make a lot of money. So she had kind of planned for that. Because she knew that it was going to be a valuable step to take.
And I think you’re the second person who’s talking about that route, using an internship to get your foot in the door to do the hard learning to learn all of the basics. No, you’re the third person actually, that we’ve had today. Yeah, the top lesson today is talking about an internship.
Yeah, to get in to get like into the industry. So that’s very interesting. That is very interesting. That means there’s value in internship, even when you know, like making great money from Yeah, because you’re just starting out in your career.
Ian Helms 9:21
Yeah, I know some people who are serial interns though, and they just hopped from internship to internship to internship, hoping that it will turn into a full time job at those places.
And I’ve from all of my experience personally and just from other friends, it is significantly harder to bank on getting a job from an internship for the same company than it is to take that knowledge and the skills that you Wow,
Chima Mmeje 9:47 and girls. Okay, that is a very different opinion. Why do you think that? Is it just based on your personal experience or what you’ve seen with other people?
Ian Helms 9:55
Yeah, partly on my personal experience, and maybe and I mean, maybe it’s the type of People who internship hop is part of the reason that they didn’t get the job is because they weren’t good. So maybe that is a part of it. But I think, yeah, I think for me, it was, yeah, it just wasn’t a guaranteed thing.
And, and while I was expecting it and hoping that, you know, even if there wasn’t new business that came through that, they would still be like, Wow, you’re so dedicated, and you love what you’re doing. You’re clearly passionate about it that, you know, it turned into something anyway, or that I would even get support in some way to like, help me find something after they said, like, sorry, but it didn’t really happen.
And so I, I’ve learned through that, and my, my dad was laid off after working at the same company for 36 years, wow, that you just can’t rely on a company all the time, which is sad, because I do. I’m a multiple time voted culture Queen for my companies that I’ve worked for.
I care about companies, and I don’t and I do think it’s okay to call your work fan like to call your work, coworkers family and to think about a job in that way. Because I feel like that’s how you care about what you do a little bit more, and you put a little bit more effort into it. And
Chima Mmeje 11:14 just are you talking to Gen Z right now, because there’s you’re probably going to be shooting news is that you’re saying all of this? Dude, they’re like, Shut the hell up. We don’t want to hear any of that.
Ian Helms 11:28
It’s, I mean, it’s funny, my partner, who you met earlier, yeah, he, okay, I would, how does he say it? I live to work, and he works to live. And I think that’s like,
Chima Mmeje 11:41
exactly, because JC don’t want to hear any of that. Like, nah, companies don’t deserve our loyalty. And you’re saying, yes, treat your coworkers as a family. They don’t want to hear any of that. Yeah, company. That’s why you see them job hopping every other year. Yes,
Ian Helms 11:53
companies don’t as companies deserve loyalty to the point of like, like, I, when I find a company that I thoroughly enjoy, and coworkers, I enjoy it, I definitely want to stay there. And we’ll do what I can to make my to make myself valuable and to do whatever I can to get to a point of, you know, being an asset, I guess, in that sense, but but also, at the same time, through that experience that I had, with my dad getting laid off after working for the same place for 36 years, it just was a wake up call where I was like,
Okay, you can’t, you can’t rely on the company all the time. So it’s okay to keep your inbox open for new opportunities. And when you leave a company to not feel as guilty about I used to feel a lot of guilt when I interview or are trying or even think about looking for a new job, because sometimes it wasn’t the right times you do have the family and you do have the great culture.
But if you’re not getting that promotion, if you’re not getting the the support that you need, if you’re not getting the development opportunities that you need, then then you got to look out for yourself in that sense. And that is something that I’m very passionate about, what
Chima Mmeje 13:03
did you have to do to get your first job, your first proper job in PA?
Ian Helms 13:09
That was a it wasn’t a who, you know, situation, because I didn’t know I didn’t technically know the people but it was networking was a was a big piece of it, I found my it’s so funny. I never really thought about it until right now how much like my LGBTQ pneus, like has helped an asset in my career.
But my first internship I got from a Facebook group, it was called gay marketers of Chicago. And I posted that I was looking for to move to Chicago from Wisconsin, and somebody referred me to somebody else who had an opening an intern. And then that person sent my resume to their boss. And then they called me for an interview. And it turned into the role, but I wasn’t the only person being considered, of course.
Chima Mmeje 14:02
And that also there was that the same thing that happened for the first full time role.
Ian Helms 14:06
Yeah, after that. One of the one of my former co workers at that internship helped me work on my resume. And she had a friend who also was working in in house at the b2b company that I went to afterward that was looking for a coordinator and she was like,
Hey, I know this. I know this guy. He’s getting like, from here, but he’s so great. So you should totally like, consider him. And that’s,
Chima Mmeje 14:33
I love the fact that Ian is a second person today who is talking about the value of networking in London rose. I’m not saying he makes it easy, but it does make it easy. Because tapping into your network means that you need to diverse from 574 rounds of interview axing, asking questions like where do you see yourself in five years and just going straight into roles literally, that is what happens most of the time.
We need to again get your foot in the though because we also had Azim who are saying that he had a friend who went to school with, and his friend helped him get an interview for the role, and they were like 11 other people, but at least he got considered for the interview because of his friends.
So definitely tap into your network network. And so just that’s working on online because I know someone who got a job from someone that she met at Brighton, SEO, she was just telling me yesterday that she didn’t even know who the guy was. Yeah, she was just sitting down with him.
And she was just complaining about how fch days and SEO is that and how you she was she was in this position, she will be doing this. And she didn’t know that this guy was a decision maker at his company. Yeah. And from all of all that conversation that he had, I think was interesting.
Actually, it was another meetup or something that’s just, and from all of that did I was like, Oh, I definitely need you. And yeah, that was it. She got hired. Yeah, just by networking. So definitely, I just wanted to highlight this path, because I think it’s something that will be very vital for our community. Many of you are always talking about how you, it’s networking, because it makes you feel nervous.
It makes you feel awkward going to talk to people trying to build a network, or like you’re using people, I think it’s beneficial if you’re giving as much as you’re receiving, so that it doesn’t just feel like you’re trying to network with somebody for the sole purpose of what they can give you in the future. When you think about that.
Ian Helms 16:26
Um, it’s, it’s a tricky balance, I think. Because I do a lot of companies have referral programmes. I don’t know if that’s the thing. Yeah,
Chima Mmeje 16:37
everybody does that. Yeah. And the way you can just give someone your link for you get tried to apply for a role. Yeah. And then
Ian Helms 16:43
and then you get a little bit of a bonus, or whatever, from referring that person. And there’s used to be, I think, a lot more integrity involved in that, like where you like had, if somebody that you referred turned out to be not not good for the role that you get kind of banned from being able to refer people in the future.
But I think that there’s especially now like, a lot of value in just reaching out if you know, somebody or know somebody who knows somebody at a company, and saying, like, Hey, I, you know, for that self serving purpose, like vouch for yourself, if you really want it, I think that’s, that’s what I’m trying to get at is if you really want something, and it’s self serving, it’s okay.
If you really want it, you know? Yeah, as long as you’re honest about it, and you’re not making things up or lying about what your capabilities are, or whatever kind of situation but like, you know, if it’s available, if it’s something they’re like,
You have absolutely that’s, that’s kind of the point I’m not working to, in a way, because everyone has different skills and things and maybe in the future, they’ll need something from you. So yeah, it goes. It goes both ways, even if it might feel like you’re serving in the moment.
Chima Mmeje 17:55
So how long did you stay at this first job in PR?
Ian Helms 17:59
So the internship was nine months, and then my next job was like I was there for? Gosh, I don’t remember at least three, three years, three or more years.
Chima Mmeje 18:11
Then you decided to move to the company you were before this place you’re in now? No. So
Ian Helms 18:17
I had, that’s a whole nother story. But I had the internship and I worked at a b2b like, Benefits Administration software. Okay. And then I worked at an immigration technology company.
And then I worked at the agency that I was at right before last Brighton. And then now I’m at Q digital.
Chima Mmeje 18:38
Are you still in PR? Are you doing now? No. So
Ian Helms 18:41
I started in PR. And then I was a digital marketing coordinator. From there, I went to community content strategy. Then I went to content marketing and SEO at the agency that I was at is more of like a content for SEO. Yeah. Yeah. It was a very SEO focused content team.
So I wasn’t on the technical SEO side of the of the world as much. But I, but because I was passionate about I learned a lot about it at the same time. Yeah. And then, yeah, now I’m at Q digital as a director,
Chima Mmeje 19:18
what I want to talk about now is all of these different worlds that you’ve switched in, how did you get the skills to be able to assume these roles because you’re changing titles, but that is also changing responsibilities? And I find that very interesting. How are you acquiring the hard skills to do all of these roles?
Ian Helms 19:33
Yeah, a lot of it was saying yes, to a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily want to do or know how to do. And so, you know, you sort of learn along the way. Like, when you’re in house, it’s usually pretty small teams. And so you need somebody to work on the email or you need somebody, somebody’s out sick one day and you still need to post on social and so and so.
So just being like, hey, I’ll I can probably do. Yeah, yeah. And then in some case, that that was the majority of it was just learning from others and asking questions along the way and picking up those interests naturally to say like, Oh, that’s really cool what you’re working on, like, can you tell me about it? Or show me? Or could I try it sometime. And that’s a way to develop those skills.
And some of it honestly, a lot of it was just like digging into marketing resources and blogs, and downloading SEO guides and downloading. Yeah, reading and watching videos, attending conferences, webinars, I loved webinars when I was, especially learning, and I still attend them very often, even if it’s on a topic that I know,
or think I know, because it’s who has some unique experience or some other perspective, or did something completely different than I would have ever thought of doing that. I can then usually apply to.
Chima Mmeje 20:57
So that means you’re doing a lot of learning continuously, consistently. Even when you had learned the 10 exam, you still kept on learning. I think that’s very interesting. Because I think we get complacent when we think we know the job. Yeah.
And then we’re like, we don’t need to, we don’t need to attend this thing. Again, it’s SL content one on one, or is beginner level, something you’re saying like still goes to keep learning because there might be some new knowledge. Yeah, that you don’t even know about?
Ian Helms 21:24
Absolutely, absolutely. And oftentimes, too. That’s one of my one of the ways that I have not worked with a lot of people is the people who are leading those webinars are usually pretty smart people who have lots of experience. And so if you go in and you ask some questions in the q&a session that they usually is at the end of them or connect with them on LinkedIn after and say,
Hey, I really enjoyed this webinar that you had. That’s one easy way to break down break the ice of yes, because you can give them a compliment. At the same time.
Chima Mmeje 21:57
I think I was telling our SCDC members who are attending Brighton, attend talks and great way to network is to find something useful that you learned from the talk and then tap the speaker on LinkedIn or Twitter, tweet at them say this is what I learned.
And trust me, they’ll love it, because you’re telling them that all the hard work they put into creating the slides creating the presentation, yeah, was what? For you. So that’s another brilliant idea. attend webinars, I’m not really a webinar person, I think I’ll pay you to videos more.
Okay, well, webinars are just as useful. So do as much learning as possible is not going to come to you or your fit. But if you challenge yourself and you put yourself out there, and you’re open to learn new things, or you’re going to try you know, making mistakes, then that is how you keep learning and growing. The last agency job that you did, you sounds like you were doing, you’re wearing so many hats at that job.
Ian Helms 22:49
Yeah, one thing that I loved about the agency that I was at, I actually wasn’t looking to leave when I got my, my new role. It was just a combination of all my passions, but was that they weren’t a very siloed agency, though, does that mean?
So a lot of agencies like if you’re in content marketing, all you do is content marketing, just you only work on SEO and you never Yeah, you may be your client facing maybe you’re not like we were we were client facing. We were, like, able to work across the teams and collaborate really closely.
We had slack open communications for everything. And there wasn’t there were no silos in teams. Basically, there wasn’t a lot of yep, there weren’t a lot of issues or problems with people stretching their roles or trying to
Chima Mmeje 23:37
question from Dan, because I know this sounds cliche, but Jeff Bezos is always advocating for silo teams, because he says that that makes them execute faster. If they’re just working in that like, group.
Ian Helms 23:51
Yeah, I mean, no, no offence to Jeff Bezos. But I, I imagine that that’s true in the sense that, like, if you’re just doing a repetitive job over and over and over again, that you’d probably be less distracted and be able to do faster, innovate faster, then you’re not getting exposed to any new ideas or new perspectives. I think that’s where I would 100% So
Chima Mmeje 24:17
you make the argument for, for open to like, see what other people are doing on that, and then use that to build yours.
Ian Helms 24:26
You don’t have to be doing the social media implementation. But if you’re on that call, and you can hear what they’re working on, then that can spark an idea for what you might need to work on and how you guys can collaborate. Yeah, exactly.
And so if you’re working in a silo, you’re not going to be exposed to that and then and then your, your work might be good, but it might not get implemented then because all the people don’t know that you’re working on it or other people care that you’re working on it because you’re really talking about it.
Chima Mmeje 24:52
That’s a very good one. That’s a very good one working in teams, open teams work collaboration, real collaboration is happening. I don’t think we have Have a lot in agencies to be honest. And that kind of I don’t know, I don’t want to say what it is to wear many hats but more like it exposes you to many skills. And that’s actually how you become a well rounded marketer.
Ian Helms 25:11
Yeah, yeah, I like to think about the thing that I like about my job in my career. And the way that I’ve kind of evolved in my role is it shifted from doing all the things, at least once I did everything at least once I, I’ve managed social media, I’ve done paid ads, I’ve done paid search I’ve done, I’ve done like in my roles, like you’re wearing all those different hats, expose all of them I’ve worked on, I’ve built an email from scratch in a template,
I’ve coded a website. I’ve, I’ve, I’ve coded a website, I’ve done all these, these different things, traditional marketing, have sent out mailers and things like that. So I’ve done it at least once. And so I have the knowledge in my head about how to do it, or how it plays into the overarching Yeah, bigger picture of what’s going on.
And so now in my role today, and where my position was headed at the last agency I was at was very much more strategic and, and being able to kind of take a step back and look at everything that’s happening and be able to like move the pieces
Chima Mmeje 26:16
around. And I feel like all of your journey, all of these different hats that you have worn, has prepared you to for this director role that you are now playing at, or sorry, they are now involved in. All right, I want to now talk about what it’s like to be a queer marketer.
And because that is what you basically you’re a marketer, and you work for a company that is very much aligned to what you do. Yeah. Can you like give me? I don’t, I don’t know. I don’t want to I don’t want to put you in a box. But what what what is dark light, because we don’t have many people who are doing marketing the way you’re doing it right now, from that from the angle of being queer and
Ian Helms 26:55
inclusive. Yeah. And also being at a queer company. Yeah, mostly being as a queer company,
Chima Mmeje 27:00
how are you even marketing for your company?
Ian Helms 27:03
I mean, it’s a, it’s, it’s been a lot, it’s been a shift, because now we’re on the side of actually being able to do the things that I’ve talked about so much that I’m trying to get all my clients to do, we’re already proactively doing a lot of that and the content that we’re creating, we’re, it’s a lot of just LGBTQ news and everything, of course, but part of our part of our goals is to expand our reach and our audiences and get into houses and homes that people who didn’t know that we exist before can find us.
And so that’s where my SEO background is coming into play now and what I was talking about yesterday at my Brighton Yeah, and, and so that that’s a big thing there is like, I think, for me, I was telling somebody else about this earlier, thinking about things from an inclusive, queer perspective is really natural to me.
So when I’m in a room, and somebody’s not thinking that way it like, I don’t always know exactly how to approach it. Because it just seems so obvious. I’m for you. Yeah. Like, like, I’ll say something like, Oh, why don’t we do this? This is not my current role.
But in my previous roles, I’ll go to a client say like, Have you ever thought about doing your Pride Month campaign? And they’re like, No, I’ve never thought about that before. I’m like, Why haven’t you ever even thought about it before? It’s like, such a common thing thing now. And it’s such a, it’s like the easiest like the one easiest way that you can communicate or, or get in touch with the LGBTQ plus community?
Chima Mmeje 28:35
Slides, you actually have data to back it up. Yeah.
Ian Helms 28:39
Walks. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And, and it’s weird, because when I was working in E commerce, one of the clients that I had was a was an eyewear like glasses, brand. And so then you get into these like weird space spots of like, if you want to be gender inclusive, do you have a men’s and women’s eyewear selection, or the just all I want to say, because at the end of the day, glasses are glasses, like what actually makes it exactly a man’s glasses versus a women’s glasses?
Like, I could wear any, I could wear these heels, I could wear anything. And it’s, it’s now mine, it’s now whatever, you know, whoever I am, it doesn’t have to be like there’s no clothes don’t have a gender or you know, but people search that way.
And so that’s where it’s weird to try and peel back the layers of like how you position things or how you approach things and the potential loss in some senses of visibility if you don’t have like a men’s or women’s page if Google doesn’t rank you for those
Chima Mmeje 29:38
acts about that. But you still have to think about how people are searching what they’re searching for. Because if I’m just trying to buy like a beat like a fisherman has obviously is unisex, but I’m still in search. Being a fisherman, a woman. Yeah, it’s just Do you understand? I’m always putting that for women. Everything I searched for So did they optimise for that? Are you saying that to be inclusive? I’ve, what what are you saying?
Ian Helms 30:01
It’s a different? Yeah, I don’t have a perfect answer for it. And it wasn’t something that we ultimately got to but at least in my time there, but we had, we technically had an all eyewear page that was for anybody in that sentence. And then we had the men’s page and the women’s page.
And so we did keep a little bit of everything, but at the same time, it, it’s so it’s one of those things that like, if you’re as a company wanting to be super inclusive, and you want to be super woke, like, you can take the gender markers off of everything, but then you might, you just have to understand that there’s a risk of from like, an SEO perspective that you might lose some visibility, but at the same time, you’ll gain the trust and the genuineness you’ll have that authentic, you have to take a stand basically. Exactly. And so it’s it’s just, it’s a trade off in that sense. So I’m gonna be
Chima Mmeje 30:57
honest, and I feel like he’s just is the big brands, the ones who are known who are not really relying on non branded traffic or have like, 5 million 10 million branded traffic that there should be taking they should that kind of race.
Ian Helms 31:08
Yeah, they should be because yeah, like you said, they don’t have to worry about Yes, it’s not as big of a of a potential loss for them, because they are already established, yes, exists and people are gonna go to them, no matter what.
Chima Mmeje 31:20
Okay, I want to ask you a question, the question that made me say, I have to speak to you, how can you be yourself authentically, when you’re working in house in a company and they want you to picture they’re giving this advice to someone who is in Nigeria?
Who is in India, who is quiet? Who has to wear a different mask every time they go to work? Because they’re afraid of someone discovering them? How can you present authentically and still do great work? Because I think that is something you have nailed to see.
Ian Helms 31:53
Yeah, I mean, it took a lot of time for me for sure.
And I do think, if I’m being super candid, yes, I have a lot of I do recognise that I have a lot of privilege as a white person as a male presenting person. Yes. And that’s, that has been a big driver and why I have pushed myself to be as authentic as possible in my day to day because I’m trying to use that as a way to being like, yeah, exactly.
If I’m more visibly queer, then hopefully, other people will, it’ll start to normalise it for other people. And obviously, now I’m in a LGBTQ owned and operated company. And so I, I’m able to just like kind of let my flag flies as high as I want. But in my last agency, I, you know, I started out the first job that I, or the first time that I interviewed with them in person, I had a shirt that had pride flags on it so that they knew immediately what they were getting into with me that I was, you know that I was a part of the LGBTQ plus community that I wanted to be seen, and that I wouldn’t that I was going to be seen if they were to hire me.
And if they weren’t going to, then it wasn’t going to be the right job for me. But again, also, I had like the privilege of not needing to have that job at the same time to be able to take that kind of stand that was like one of those risks that we were just talking about no way that that for me, the risk was more worth it than than not. And in some cases, the first job, the first job that I had, after my internship, I didn’t feel always as safe to be as authentic as I want him to be. And so I didn’t.
I didn’t let myself and it was stifling. And so I think I learned from that the first time that I was like, I didn’t say this in this conversation or didn’t bring up this idea because I didn’t want to expose myself or be seen a certain way or, or to risk not getting a promotion because of my identity or whatever else because that’s such I mean, as progressive as you know, we’ve gotten over the last handful of years like it’s still a real issue depending on what industry you’re in.
Yeah, I think it’s special about the digital marketing community is that because you can work remotely in many cases because you can work virtually like you can. I think I for me, it’s a little easier to be a little bit more authentic because you can have your desk set up with your pride flags or something that you that makes you feel comfortable and still, like visible without necessarily always having to present or like say super super outwardly queer things in that sense. If that makes sense. I don’t know.
But for me, it was just ripping the band aid off and and finding how much better it was like the first day that I actually came out. I it was such a weight off of my chest that I was like, what a what a rush what a feeling to like, finally be free from this shame that I was feeling. And this internalised homophobia that I was dealing with that. Like, when I did that, again, in a professional sense, it was a similar sense of like freedom, freedom and relief that I was able to just be like, Okay, this is me, this is who I am. And if you don’t like it, that’s your problem, not my problem.
Chima Mmeje 35:26
I feel like I like the thing you said about showing them from the stats from the interview stages, so that you don’t have to hide where you’re in. And they can decide if they want you because they will have the full picture exactly from the beginning, I know if you’d be worth taking that risk.
And I know more people who have taken that risk, and it hasn’t worked out for them. It’s just a handful of people that have been successful. And I think I was also terrified when I became a freelancer. And then I put the pride pin on my LinkedIn on my Twitter because I wanted to stop hiding. And I wanted to only work with people who are comfortable working with someone who was well, it’s a risk, but for me, it’s been a risk doesn’t want it Yeah,
Ian Helms 36:03
and those get more I feel like you establish an immediate connection, you have a it’s kind of what I was getting back at earlier with the whole working as a family in a way like, if you’re yourself, other people, you’re going to, you’re going to be able to be more vulnerable, you’re going to be able to talk to people on a deeper level that can establish those stronger relationships and ties.
And then it just makes your work more fulfilling, it makes the work that you do more successful in theory, because you’re actually caring about it in a way that you that you could or should. And then other people will start to see that hopefully, too. And then and then pick up on it and can continue to like reward you for that. And you know, like, reach out to you for that because of that.
Chima Mmeje 36:52
I want to talk about influencer marketing, you’re gonna know that that is something you do a lot of which your new job.
Ian Helms 36:59
Yeah, it’s part of it’s part of not it’s not part of my role, necessarily, but I’m familiar with you. I met on Instagram. Do that? Because he has he’s technically a queer influencer.
Chima Mmeje 37:12
Okay. So we’ll be having some conversations about invoice. Influencer Marketing, actually has a great ROI. And what do you think marketers are doing wrong? Because you hear a lot of marketers complaining that, oh, I spent this amount of money and it didn’t really pay off. I just wasted this money.
And then you hear some people who are working with micro influencers are getting like really good. Alright, what do you think the marketers who are not getting our way or doing wrong, and once we’re getting our way, or doing right with influencer marketing.
Ian Helms 37:52
I think part of it’s the right fit, of course, you can’t just go to somebody because they have a tonne of followers and assume that that’s gonna turn into sales. And if somebody, you know, we talked about this a lot with the eyewear company that I was, that was a client of mine at one point where, like, if somebody has a 2 million followers, and they’ve never worn sunglasses, or posted a picture on their feed with sunglasses even or glasses in general, like you wouldn’t pick them for the product.
Exactly. And you don’t have to have already used the product or purchased the specific brands product, but like, you have to have at least care about the product in some sense, like the industry that it is a part of, or like the type of product that it is. And so because otherwise, yeah, I think it comes back down to authenticity. If you’re not, if you’re working with an influencer, who doesn’t have a true passion or care about what you’re trying to get them to help you sell. It’s not going to come off the way that you want it to.
I know, that’s a part of the reason why some some brands are going toward, like, you have to hit a certain impression count or even just like more affiliate style influencer, where it’s like, you get this code or you can stay on our influencer programme if you generate five sales of these basketball shorts every single month or whatever. And so you need to post as many times to make that happen.
And then you just get in this weird pyramid scheme kind of a situation because maybe you buy them like a pair because you’re one away and so you need to get them or whatever. But then it’s this toxic situation and then it’s not a healthy, that’s not authentic, and then people just get like, Why do you care about these basketball shorts so much that you’re posting about them so many times? And like, are they really that good?
And if your friends or followers aren’t buying it, then clearly that’s not the right fit for the brand as well. And so yeah, I mean You don’t always strike gold when you go with influencer marketing. But I think that the times that I, I’ve purchased from influencer marketing and the times that I’ve had success working with clients with influencers is, is yeah, when there’s like a true genuine connection between the brand, the product, who the person is, who their followers are, when all that kind of comes together to, to create that, that that you’re looking for.
And there’s a lot of them sometimes to the ROI, the eye that the are that they’re looking for. And the ROI is maybe the wrong KPI, maybe it’s like maybe instead of sales, it should be the brand awareness, or, or something along those lines, like like, like, maybe it’s not as unsuccessful as you think it was, maybe that person, maybe the person came back through a different link and didn’t go through the influencers link or maybe they just didn’t use the discount code because it didn’t care to use the discount code or whatever it was.
And so it’s hard to attribute those things sometimes. And so that’s also, I think, a tricky part of influencer marketing and proving ROI, which is also a tricky part of SEO because often first touch and so come back.
Chima Mmeje 41:15
That was a very good one. That’s very good. Because I asked, I said the same question. And she said the same thing. Pain, going to pay someone just because they have millions of influencers and didn’t have buying they don’t like the product doesn’t make sense.
That’s the level planning you don’t know each other boy is the same advice. So you know that this is something very, very consistent. Alright, so last question. What advice because usually when we ask people for advice, it’s always trying to get into tech. So who’s trying to get into content? What advice would you give to someone who wants to be an omni channel marketer?
Ian Helms 41:49
I mean, I think it goes back to what we were talking about earlier, keep learning keep keep your finger on the pulse as much as possible. Join slack communities join
Chima Mmeje 42:01
slack communities you would recommend?
Ian Helms 42:04
Well, I I’m a part of our in tech, which is, like a more b2b Software as a Service. Okay. TQ
Chima Mmeje 42:12
sent me that. Oh, added to the show notes of this presentation. Yeah,
Ian Helms 42:17
I’m in a growth marketing, Slack community. I have news, SEO Slack community. There’s lots of like little niche groups and things that exists out there. I know. There’s the women and I SEOs are lots of lots of people know about already.
And yeah, there’s usually always a group of people that if you can’t find the resource yourself, that then you can reach out to, to help you find the resource or to even potentially meet with you for a chatter and then it goes back to networking as well too.
But but if you through those groups, if you’re saying like, Hey, I’m looking to learn about AI, a little bit more generative AI and how I can apply that to email, copywriting or something like I could probably DM somebody on on one of my Slack channels right now and and get you five resources and somebody who would be willing to totally even show you their process, you know.
And so yeah, best best advice would be keep learning reading, read as much as possible. If you’d like to read watch as many videos as possible. If you’d like to watch this format. There’s formats out there for every everybody, everything.
Chima Mmeje 43:28
Yes, keep learning. Yeah, yeah. Thank you so much. Yeah. And thank you so much. This has been an amazing series in Brighton. Thank you for being our final guest.
Ian Helms 43:37
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so glad by
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