2020 was a roller coaster of year with many challenges for all of us, both personally and professionally. Despite the many challenges, we chose to end the year feeling a strong sense of gratitude. We are grateful to you, the listeners of Digital Marketing Happy Hour, as well as the many guests who joined us in 2020.
Chris Casale and I break down the “Best of Digital Marketing Happy Hour 2020” podcast by featuring guest highlights and important takeaways from Jay Baer, Scott Brinker, Neal Schaffer and more.
Chris Casale: [00:02:25] 2020 has been a roller coaster of a year for a whole host of reasons, you know, covid-19 notwithstanding all of that. But I think when everything happened, you know, we’ve been talking about doing this podcast for years and it’s funny how it takes a global crisis to get us to actually sit down and take the time to do it.
I think, you know, when we kick this off, when we started doing this at the beginning of all of this, we were just looking to add a little value, have a little fun, and hopefully a few people would listen. And each of us had sort of come up with these lists of our top three guests that like, if you could pick anybody that you would love to have the opportunity to interview, who would they be? Right. And so we took the time to do that. And lo and behold, in our very first year on the podcast, each of us got one of our guests. And how cool is that? I mean, really?
Chris Casale: [00:05:24] Part of the reason I went into Web is that I didn’t want to necessarily have to create these fancy algorithms that I couldn’t see the output of. I wanted to see how people were using the technology. So it was this weird feeling of I like it, but I don’t know quite where I fit. Fast forward a few years ago, I was getting on a plane to visit a friend of mine in Boston, ironically.
And when I get on a plane, despite all of the Kindle and Audible and all the digital stuff, I love to just hold a magazine. And I happened to stop off at the magazine, stand and pick up a copy of Harvard Business Review, which I have kept all these years.
Scott Brinker: [00:05:56] Oh, wow.
Chris Casale: [00:05:57] It’s the original. And I you know, you’re getting on a plane reading and flipping through the articles. And I came across this article titled, “The Rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist”.
And I can’t tell you, I don’t know if any of you have ever had a moment where you’re reading something that you feel like was written for you that you can see yourself in. And it was this sort of eureka moment for me of like, oh, my God, I’m not crazy. This is actually a role. This is important.
Ryan Smith: [00:12:55] So hearing Scott’s perspective, I thought just shed a whole new light on martech. And with that, the next thing was how big of a role does budget play with success in implementing martech in SMBs in any business?
Scott Brinker: [00:13:11] Yeah, that’s a great question. I think it can play less of a role today than ever. You know, I mean, part of the process of examining the martech landscape every year we end up like visiting every website, every one of those technologies, part of the validation of, you know, making sure these folks are real and what they’re doing, you know, and that was part of that exercise. I’m always looking for, you know, pricing pages have become a lot more common, which is a great thing for transparency in the industry.
And the truth is, there’s just amazing technology here in martech today that’s just not that expensive. In fact, if anything, this is why I feel, frankly, I think SMB users are getting to a place where they have some real advantage over their larger competitors in martech because they can now afford some stuff that’s truly state of the art.
But the advantage they have over their larger competitors is they’re able to actually adjust their strategy and implementation and operation around those much more quickly and experiment with it versus, you know, in a larger company, any time you want to change the way things are connected or you know who’s doing what, you know, it just it gets a little bit more complicated. And so, yeah, I think there’s a lot of money spent on martech, but I don’t feel like budget is the bottleneck now for people doing great things in the space.
And so I guess my first question for you is, what was the genesis of that? Because I guess in my mind, because it’s so near and dear to my heart, I sort of see this Back to the Future Doc Brown moment, you know, hitting your head and waking up with the idea for the flux capacitor. You know, what was what was your realization of it? And could you have ever imagined, you know, this is the July, August, 2014 issue so many years later what this movement would grow into?
Scott Brinker: [00:06:46] Yeah, wow. It’s I mean, it’s been the rise of a net new profession, you know, I think. Yes, so a little bit of my background is sort of through the late 90s and into the early 2000s, I was running the tech group at a Web development agency. And so our agency would get hired by the marketing departments of these Fortune 500 companies because it was marketing that had, you know, the budget and had big dreams of, you know, what they could do on the Web.
But since I was running, the tech team at the agency would then be my role once we got the engagement to go and talk to the IT department at that company, because the marketing department and the IT department couldn’t actually talk to each other. It wasn’t that they hated each other. It wasn’t like there’s an animosity was frankly more of just like they literally did not know how to talk to each other.
They were just living in a different world with different objectives and different language. And so as I was like, yes, shuttling back and forth between these two departments, it just two things struck me as like, yeah, wow. I mean, the gap there was wide. But also when you were looking at what the businesses were ultimately trying to achieve and execute, it was so clear that these groups were going to have to work together. And so that’s where I got really fascinated by other professionals who were serving as the bridges between these departments.
And yeah, I mean, I didn’t actually come up with the name chief marketing technologist. Someone else had suggested, oh, hey, maybe there should be a role of someone who’s explicitly designated to bridge these two departments. And so, yeah, that started the blog. And, you know, for the first from 2008 till 2014, you know, it really was a ragtag band of individuals like yourself.
I myself, in that same category of like it was clear there was value being created here, but it was such a new role. You know, these technologists in the marketing department, what was that all about?
Ryan Smith: [00:16:11] the first thing I wanted to learn about is, you know, what are the similarities that Jay is running into with his business that maybe you were running into as well? So, I asked Jay how did the pandemic affect his business, Convince & Convert?
Jay Baer: [00:16:24] Yeah, we, we swung into it pretty hard. We, first day created a ton of content assets from the Youtility perspective. Right. Make your marketing so useful that people would pay for it.
We really tried to live that premise and have created one, two, three, four, five, six…six different kind of ebook white papers on helping customers through the pandemic. And we’ve created five, tomorrow will be our sixth webinar as well. So we’re trying to take what we’ve learned and what we know and give it away one bite at a time, as is the Youtility thesis.
We also doubled the size of our sales and marketing operation instantaneously because we just wanted to have more conversations with clients on the consulting side. We’re down a little for the year versus last year, but but not appreciably. The speaking side is down as well. Big surprise because all the conferences have been canceled.
However, it’s not down very much because I’m very, very fortunate in that I have done a lot of virtual speaking for a decade. Right. So this idea of doing webinars and online keynotes is not foreign to me. And I’ve got a lot of A/V equipment to make that happen.
And so I’m doing 10 events a month right now online, which is which is terrific. So it’s kind of nice not having to travel around and get to, you know, still wear the plan suit, but in my own home.
Ryan Smith: [00:17:42] In keeping with the theme of the pandemic, one of the things that’s really interesting is Jay wrote this book, Youtility several years ago, almost 10 years ago now. And what I thought was really interesting about the book Youtility is all these years later, it is relevant and it might even be more relevant in 202 and 2021 than it even was back when he originally wrote it. So I asked Jay about that.
Jay Baer: [00:18:10] So crazy man. I wish I would have, I wish I would have written that book this year. I mean, I think it’s actually more true than ever as…
Ryan Smith: [00:18:17] A hundred percent. Yeah.
Jay Baer: [00:18:18] …As it turns out. Yeah. I mean look. 54% of customers have since the pandemic purchased one or more things from a business that they’ve never purchased from before. And 89% of those customers say that they are probably going to stay with this new provider. So what that means is that we’re seeing huge market share shifts more than ever, quicker than ever, because market share tends to be stable in good times and tends to change in bad times.
And certainly this qualifies as bad times for many people. And that’s why right now, because everybody is uncertain, everybody is anxious, brands are built in bad times, brands are not built in good times. Right. You can sustain a brand in a good time, but you don’t build a brand at a good time because it’s all good. Like, what are you going to do for me that I don’t expect? Right. When it’s all good, it’s all good.
Right now, I’ll tell you a little story. Here in Bloomington, Indiana, where I live, there is a local craft distillery called Cardinal Spirits, owned by some good buddy of mine. And there is you know, there are successful distillery mostly here in our general area. But they’re doing getting some of their spirits distributed in in East Coast, big cities and stuff.
They’re smart guys, they’re great at marketing. Well, when the pandemic hit, they shifted almost immediately to making hand sanitizer, as you may know, many distilleries did that same process pretty easy. Well, they gave away tons of hand sanitizer to the hospital, the school’s first responders, et cetera, and and everybody in the community thought that was great.
Well, they kept, you know, making some booze because you gotta stay in business. And so what they would do and they still do this is every morning they would put a post on their Instagram and it would say, ‘good morning, Bloomington. Here at Cardinal Spirits, we figured out here’s what we need to sell today to keep the lights on’.
‘We need to sell 18 four-packs of cocktails, six cocktail kits’ and, you know, whatever. And if you buy anything from us, you get free hand sanitizer. Because we want you to be safe, people would go in, buy stuff online, pick up in the, you know, contactless, pick up at the end of the day or whenever they kind of hit the threshold.
So usually it’s like maybe three or four o’clock they would post again and say, ‘Bloomington, you did it. Thank you so much for your support. We have met our bottom line goals for today, for the rest of today. Please take your time and money and support a different local business’. Hmm.
Chris Casale: [00:20:46] That’s amazing.
Jay Baer: [00:20:48] That’s what builds brands. If you did that in a good time, it’d be like, meh. Right. It’s a story that doesn’t resonate in a different scenario, in this scenario where you sort of have it like we’re kind of all in this together.
At some level, it has huge, huge ramifications. And are they going to succeed disproportionately when things come back to where they were at some level? Yes, I believe so. I really do.
And I mean this sincerely, nobody is pro pandemic, certainly. Right. But it is also probably, probably the greatest opportunity you will have to build your business in your whole life because of these shifts in market share. And I firmly believe that how you handle your business for the next six months will have a material impact on your success over the next six years.
And the Youtility philosophy of like, look, as long as you can afford to do it. I know some people are literally hand to mouth right now, but as long as you can afford to do it in your business, giving away value right now will pay off huge down the road. I really, really believe that to be true and it’s great to see evidence of people like Cardinal Spirits believing in it.
Ryan Smith: [00:22:20] One theme that comes up consistently throughout this podcast and Jay brought it up as well, is the importance of content and content marketing. And one of the questions that was asked is how frequently do people need to produce content? And this was Jay’s response.
Jay Baer: [00:22:35] I don’t think of it so much, Ryan, as a cadence, but more as a bingo card. And let me tell you what I mean by that. We have a principle that we use at Convince and Convert for client work called the 5x5x5. And the 5x5x5 works like this, you take your key customer personas, let’s say there are five, and then you look at sort of the classic purchase funnel: Awareness, Interest, Consideration, purchase, Advocacy, etc.
What we do is we create a grid with our clients and say for each of these personas and each of these final steps, what are the five questions that must successfully be answered for the customer to move to the next level? It’s like Chutes and Ladders. Informationally, no one’s going to buy unless they know what it costs. No one’s going to buy unless they know what happens if they don’t like it. And so you document all these questions, 5x5x5 = 125. 125 pieces of content that you theoretically need now. In reality, you don’t actually need 125 for two reasons.
Jay Baer: [00:23:44] One, the five different personas don’t have fully distinct question sets and you probably have some content already created. So what we find generally, and this is even for big companies, you we end up and we do a gap analysis of, you know, 50 or 60 questions that are pretty important to answer that are not really answered easily by the company. And then you just go out and you methodically create content to address those. Might be a video, might be a podcast, might be a blog post, might be an ebook, might be a webinar, whatever. You answer those questions methodically. And then how and when you roll those out, it kind of depends on your own cadence. But I guess I would say a very complicated answer to a very simple question, Ryan, would be if you’re not making content, at least weekly, I guess the question I would ask is why?
Ryan Smith: [00:24:36] Yeah, this podcast (episode) was loaded with tons of value and information from Jay, and the last thing that we asked him was what are the things that matter most to your customers? Have all the things that Jay talks about? It seems simple, but it’s completely overlooked. So let’s listen to Jay.
Chris Casale: [00:24:56] The three things you should focus on or how to be quick, clear and kind. If you can be
- disproportionately responsive,
- disproportionately informational and reduce sort of confusion, and
- disproportionately empathetic.
If you can just focus on those three things. And the recommendation I make in that keynote is if you can be 15 percent faster, 15 percent more understandable or less confusing and 15 percent more empathetic, within 90 days, you will be well on your way to delivering that coveted customer experience, which inoculates you against low price and operational deficiencies.
Quick, clear in kind.
Chris Casale: [00:26:49] One of the things that we talk about on this podcast all the time, if you’re a listener, is the importance of knowing your audience and making sure that you’ve got your personas or your ideal customer avatars and knowing exactly who you’re reaching. And that was one of the first things that Jason talked about and the importance of niching down. Here’s what he had to say.
Jason Osborn: [00:27:10] it’s really important that people do niche down into what they’re doing. And I like what you said, people were afraid of that. They’re really concerned about niching down and it’s one of the things that we chat through with our clients all the time. I’m constantly having these conversations because being able to niche down is really important.
One of the…so RETHINK for the social media – each letter stands for something on the first to it’s ‘R’ which is your Right niche and then E which is Evaluating your avatar.
- Right Niche
- Evaluating your avatar
And it’s important that you’re able to do both of those getting really clear on that, because if you don’t, what happens is you fall into what I call a commodity market where you’re just lumping yourself into a group of other people that do similar sorts of stuff to you and you end up competing on price.
You can be a personal trainer, life coach, you could be an accountant, solicitor or whatever, niching down and getting really clear on who your target market is. What’s the outcome that you’re able to help them to achieve? Being really clear on that’s important.
As soon as you start going really broad, we always tell people if you try to speak to everybody, you’ll end up speaking to nobody. So, and it’s kind of a cliche, but it’s so true.
Chris Casale: [00:31:49] So once you’ve niched down, once you’ve identified your audience, once you’ve found your customer, as it were. And I thought, Jason’s stories were excellent there. We always ask our guests for one takeaway. And Jason’s really kind of surprised me. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean, of all the things he could have picked, this is what he had to say.
Jason Osborn: [00:32:08] The one takeaway is stand out. Stand out, don’t be normal, don’t be a commodity. What makes you different, different, and how can you stand out and add more value then your competition.
Chris Casale: [00:32:26] Good advice from Jason Osborne, and you can learn a lot more if you go back and check out Episode 28, RETHINK Your Marketing Strategy with Jason Osborne.
Chris Casale: [00:32:46] we had an opportunity over the summer to interview Neal Schaffer and Ryan and I were very familiar with Neil’s work, very appreciative that he chose to come on the podcast. His book had been out for a little while at the time, The Art of Influence, and we had just done an episode talking about the importance of micro-influencers in the social media space. So having Neal on was truly a tremendous opportunity.
Ryan Smith: [00:33:30] I think from soup to nuts, Neal Schaffer brought it in probably more so than I would say possibly any other guests, arguably, that we had in 2020 in some of the things that Neil talked about in his book, The Age of Influence. How is influencer marketing and word of mouth similar? And the big thing really was getting it down to, which I thought was crucial in 2020, is what is the difference between micro-influencers and nano-influencers.
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