Ryan Cote on How Digital Marketing has Levelled the Playing Field for Small Businesses | MP 28

Ryan Cote on How Digital Marketing has Levelled the Playing Field for Small Businesses

Should you have both print and digital marketing for your business? What are the best ways to find your online audience? How can you improve your website’s ranking on Google?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks to Ryan Cote about making the most out of digital marketing for your small business.

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Meet Ryan Cote

Ryan CoteRyan Cote (Cō-tāy) is the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a third-generation, family-owned direct mail and digital marketing company based out of Fairfield, NJ. Ballantine has been serving small-business clients since 1966, when it was founded by Ryan’s great-uncle. Ryan has been with his family’s agency since 2003, and today he manages the growing digital marketing division.

From lead generation to marketing strategy for small businesses, Ryan and his company rise above the get-featured-quick schemes so often attributed to digital marketing. He loves to geek out on technical marketing talk as well as work with real-world business owners about growing their book of business in today’s online world.

Visit Ryan’s website and connect on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

In This Podcast


  • Integrating print and digital marketing
  • Small business marketing does not equal small ideas
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Finding your audience online
  • Tips for improving your website ranking on Google
  • Adjustments to make amid COVID-19

Integrating print and digital marketing

Both print and digital marketing are viable for many different business models. At Ballantine, the print marketing side mainly works with large companies that need to use direct mail, while the digital marketing side works with smaller businesses. However, even some of their digital marketing clients request print marketing at some stage, so Ryan suggests trying to integrate both print and digital into your marketing plan for a client.

The best way to go about this is to ascertain what marketing strategies are in place, which of those work and which don’t:

  • Establish the needs of your client
  • Formulate a comprehensive strategy that best suits their business model and, most likely, includes elements of both digital and print marketing.
  • An example of this would be: a postcard paired with an email campaign – once you’ve sent out the postcard via direct mail, follow up with an email, and then use that email as a target for curated ads via social media.

Small business marketing does not equal small ideas

The Internet and digital marketing have leveled the playing field for businesses of different sizes, in that small businesses can have access to the same online tools and platforms that bigger companies do. The biggest difference would probably be concerning budget, but it is still possible to make the most of the available digital marketing tools even with a smaller budget.

Depending on your budget you might have to start small, but you do have access to all the same resources as bigger businesses so you can still work towards bigger marketing strategies and campaigns through Facebook and Google ads, for example.

Search Engine Optimization

Ryan’s advice for marketing your practice would be starting with search engine optimization (SEO), and Google ads if your budget allows, as these tend to generate the most leads and referrals since most people go straight to Google when looking for something. SEO is also a long-term strategy, so even though it might take some time before you’re ranking higher on Google and getting all of those referrals, you can reap the most benefits from it over a longer period of time.

When you’re trying to make your website more visible and ranked higher on Google and other search engines, you really have to focus on content creation and making sure that you are optimizing your website with good, fresh content on a regular basis.

A good tip for SEO is to separate the different topics on your website as much as possible. For example, if your practice offers therapy or treatment for several different things, make separate pages on your website for each of those things. That way, the different focal points of your practice become keywords on Google, and people’s search results show more detail when specific pages pop up for those keywords rather than just your home page.

Finding your audience online

Finding your audience depends on the different platforms and resources that you’re using.

For Google ads and SEO

you need to find out what questions potential clients are asking, what they want to know, and what they’re looking for when they go onto Google, and then use that information to curate the content on your website so that it matches the keywords in Google searches. Ryan suggests these tools to help you:

  • Ubersuggest.io – Developed by Neil Patel, an SEO/content marketer, this relatively inexpensive tool analyzes your website and generates keywords that would be best suited to your website. This helps you to figure out what works what you should be using on your website to get the most hits from Google searches
  • AnswerThePublic – Similarly, this tool helps you to identify questions and autocomplete search terms that are related to your field and website. This helps you to curate the content on your website by answering those commonly asked questions and using the keywords from the search terms.

For LinkedIn

Build your audience based on information from your existing audience on the site, so you can figure out where to expand and where to target your marketing. Look at

  • What groups they belong to
  • What their job titles are

For Facebook

Look at specific things like your audience’s interests, and demographics

Once you’ve investigated your existing audiences on different sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, you can create a “lookalike audience”, and curate your website using that as your target audience and the keywords you found using the Google and SEO tools.

Tips for improving your website ranking on Google

  1. Make sure your site is mobile responsive, meaning that it loads fast on mobile, the URLs are all secure, and that the mobile version of your site looks good.
  2. Get verified on Google My Business and take the time to fill out your profile properly (photos, categories, address, website, services, etc.).
  3. Get reviews. Google-like sites that produce fresh content as well as sites that get a steady flow of reviews, especially good reviews.
  4. Work on having multiple pages that link back to you, or link building. You can do this by submitting your site to directories, writing for other blogs or trying to become a regular columnist, and contributing content to sites in exchange for them linking to your site. Other ways of creating a network of links back to your page include charities mentioning you once you’ve donated, and speaking at sponsored events that publish your details after the fact.

Adjustments amid COVID-19

I think, no matter what business you’re in – therapy practice, manufacturer, you know, whatever the case is – your online presence is going to be so crucial right now.

There is a trend of many people going digital and making their business partly or entirely online, so people are adjusting their businesses to try and reach as much of their audience as possible without physical interactions.

In the counseling world, there has been an increase in telehealth and online therapy, which is a new and interesting dynamic for many practices as they have to try to maintain that personal connection and earn trust over a phone or video call rather than face-to-face in their therapy rooms. Ryan’s advice in a situation like that is to add the relevant keywords, such as ‘video therapy’, ‘online therapy’, ‘telehealth’, etc., to your website and social media, perhaps even write a blog about your new online services, so that people can find you easier during this time.

Click here for a freebie from Ryan.

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding.

Thanks For Listening!

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