Our talk with Dan Golden of Be Found Online brings us to discuss how brands can diversify through multiple channels. The full transcript for Talk Experiential episode #22 How Brands Diversify Through Multiple Channels is followed below.
#22 How Brands Diversify Through Multiple Channels
Dan Golden on episode #22 of Talk Experiential.
JOEY: Welcome back to another Talk Experiential podcast. We got Dan Golden from greater Chicago running a pretty cool company in Chicago. How you doing?
DAN: Doing well. Happy Friday.
JOEY: Happy Friday. Happy Friday.
DAN: Unless this gets published on, like, a Tuesday, in which case, happy Tuesday.
JOEY: You know, it could be a Tuesday, or a Friday, you know — hopefully it’ll be published soon.
DAN: All right, sounds good.
JOEY: Well, cool, Dan. Why don’t you tell us about yourself?
DAN: Tell us about Dan?
JOEY: Tell me about Dan.
DAN: President and Chief Search Artist of Be Found Online. I wrote a great digital agency. We’ve got offices in Chicago, London, opening one in Florida soon, Singapore, Belize. But Chicago’s the hub and we’ve been at it for about 10 years. We do everything other than build websites when it comes to digital.
My lens, I think, on experiential marketing, I think, has really changed over the last decade, as I went from being that digital whippersnapper, or the search marketer who scored everything that couldn’t be measured at the same level that we grew up tracking digital advertising. And I’ve been converted.
You know, as we think about what customers care about and what is an impression — I think that’s one question we’re often tackling. Like, what’s the value of an impression in search, an online video, if you don’t — if you’re not listening to it. Viewability. There’s so many different questions, trying to quantify the value of a brand impression and interaction, and that’s where I think the experiential comes in. Even if it’s one touchpoint. The value of that experience or depth of that experience is certainly at another level than did you see a banner ad.
JOEY: Right. I’m sure you’ve seen it over the years, too, just doing digital marketing and almost bring it into a digital world, too, right? You know, just how people click around. Instead of just clicking on a banner ad, click on something that they like that kind of hits their focal point and whatnot.
Regarding growing your business, digital marketing — how have you seen the landscape change over the years?
DAN: It’s noisier, and I think marketers say the same thing every year, and it’s true every year. The multitude of channels and the battle that we all have for attention. The complexity of having a strategy that spans Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google, display networks, content marketing, native ads. It’s like playing whack-a-mole and to have a cohesive strategy and a cohesive customer experience, as we’re targeting across all these different channels, it’s gotten harder to wrangle that stuff in and truly be an expert in each one of them, right?
As an agency owner, we’ve kind of grown horizontally as we offer more services, because we grew up in search and search is still a critical channel for every client we work with, but that’s one of those things and why I’m a believer in experiential and offline experiences that —
You know, I grew up in the demand capture business, and we could squeeze as much out of that sponge as possible, and that was kind of our secret sauce, why we grew so fast, is getting really good at capturing and converting demand. We work with a lot of brands where I’m like there’s a limit to how much you can get out of search and capturing these demands. You have to actually create demand and experiences and remind people about the brand even if it isn’t a direct response message. I’ve truly learned the value of all the other touch points. Even the ones I know nothing about.
JOEY: Right. Obviously you’ve built a pretty cool company. I mean, you guys are international now. Worldwide. Over the years, when you said it gets — it’s noisier — talk a little bit real quick regarding the demand capture, reminding people —
I know with marketing, just to get someone excited about it — or, at least, really remembering your brand, you need at least five to 12 touchpoints at some level to actually build that trust. What are the kind of things you’re seeing some of these brands are having to do these days to fight the noise?
DAN: One of the challenges is you have to be relevant to each platform. You can certainly take one subject or type of content or content theme or campaign, whatever you want to call it, but you can’t just spray and pray. Like, it — your creative on Instagram has to very much fit that format.
I think we’re years passed the old let’s just take our TV spots and run them on YouTube, right? That stuff doesn’t work either. You need to think about different formats, you need to tell a story in six seconds or convince someone to continue watching in three seconds. So, the formats are very different. Even if it’s one cohesive message you’re trying to convey as a brand, there’s still, you know, the challenge of telling that story in a bunch of different platforms. When you think about mobile consumption and mobile attention span relative to desktop and some of those more interactive experiences, it’s all about these tiny little moments and pockets of attention that brands need to capitalize on, and it differs across platforms.
JOEY: Right, platforms and clients too, right?
DAN: Yeah. In terms of growing our business, I’ve always gone where the food is. We haven’t built our own technology or spent three years working on something we hoped to offer. It’s all very demand driven, and as these platforms have popped up over the years — you know, a few years back, there were no Pinterest experts in my team. We had an opportunity, there was a beta on — you know, as their platform is coming together and I heard from some folks on the team, like, well, how can we sell this, we’ve never done it? I’m like nobody’s done it and our clients haven’t done it and no other agencies have done it, and we’re —
Like, believe in yourself that you can figure this stuff out, and test and learn quick, and you can become an expert. Right now, we’re doing a ton on voice search and the conversational experience between brands and their customers, and how do you personalize a brand experience at scale. This stuff is moving so quickly — I mean, that’s the fun in all of that, is figuring out what’s next and just having the confidence that — certainly, there’s plenty of things that agencies need to do and stay within their wheelhouse, to not say yes to everything, and I’ve always been committed to not doing things that we suck at and faking it, which is why we always like to have partners or partners like you if we need a client that needed an experiential campaign, but yeah, it’s move quick and figure stuff out. The clients we work best with are not afraid to fail here and there as you’re trying out new channels. That’s kind of having that risk tolerance — I think it’s key to being successful.
JOEY: I love it. You’re literally taking the entrepreneur approach, one, and you kind of have to, in — I feel like digital or a growing agency, you have to stay on top of where consumers are going, or consumers are even on a B2B level. What are people using. Because you can’t be stagnant. I see a lot of agencies, even big ones, that go down the same line and don’t even understand what Snapchat is.
We had a meeting with a potential client — we had a digital client partner — we were launching a brand here in Denver, and they couldn’t even explain the GPS tracking location for the filters. It’s definitely interesting and to your point, too, one, no one else is doing it, so let’s just learn it and provide it. Typically you’re going to have success on that.
DAN: Yeah, and there’s always a balance between chasing — I mean, I call a lot of things bright shiny objects, right? You have to balance chasing after those things and getting ahead of what’s next with driving revenue tomorrow.
You can’t gamble with 50% of your budget, but you probably should be gambling and testing out with 10% of your budget, you know? It’s easy to say that, and I also empathize with the position a lot of our clients are in, right? When you’re answering to the CFO and you’ve got quarterly revenue targets you have to hit, you can’t divert all your attention to shiny objects, but at the same time, you have to be pushing the needle and trying new things.
If you rest on your laurels, those channels dry up, right?
DAN: We work with a lot of clients that come to us and they’re either too dependent on Google or they built their brand through Facebook and costs are going up and they need to diversify and have new channels. Most brands we work with have a winner or a couple of channels that work really well for them, and that’s scary, right?
If you’re relying on one channel or platform or even just two channels and platforms — like, Google and Facebook change the rules like that. You have to be ready to pivot on a dime. You don’t want to be starting your testing when the ball drops. You want to have some emerging channels to shift to in a more practical way or less risky way versus starting from scratch when you’re up against the wire.
JOEY: You brought up a good point. I do see brands — seeing them focus on one channel and building their entire everything on that one channel and then they’re like yeah — your target market’s on this channel and it’s a huge lift — how do you approach those type of clients that are single-minded focused and you’re like dude, you guys need to find other ways to get in?
DAN: Yeah, I mean, it’s that. It usually helps to say the word dude, to kind of break things down, to be like you have to. It’s great that you’ve had this success on — there’s some amazing brands that have not spent a whole lot of media and built their brands on Instagram, and that’s awesome, and I don’t — you know, I don’t want to take away from that, because it’s hard, and there’s plenty of brands that try and do that and aren’t successful, but you got to be thinking about what’s next and where there’s scale, right? And a lot of that happens beyond the digital world, whether it’s experiential marketing or even TV.
There’s brands where I see — again, as the digital agency guy, where it’s like you need to create some bigger demand if you want to scale at the rate your investors need you to. If you really want to go after scale, some of these other channels definitely make sense.
JOEY: That’s good. Digital marketing, obviously, is something that’s a need. Especially in experiential marketing, when we do a physical program, we have to tie it into digital, because it’s stupid if you don’t. I’m just real about it. We hand out naked juice or some type of product — you can’t just hand it to them and they be excited about it. Why don’t you extend that engagement? I guess on a digital side, do you focus more on a consumer level or B2B?
DAN: The answer’s yes. We do both. I mean, we have some — I think a lot of the digital marketing tactics are very portable. Certainly there’s audience targeting and there’s a very different approach between B2C and B2B, but when you think about it from a platform and time and consumption standpoint, you’ve got a CMO that spends 30 minutes a month on LinkedIn and 30 hours a month on Facebook, right?
LinkedIn is a much more targeted platform, but there isn’t as much time spent, so there’s — I think there’s a big crossover between B2B and B2C, and a lot of the same — it’s a lot of the same channels and tactics, it’s just targeting and the creative approach which is different.
JOEY: Talking about BFO and how you’ve grown it — what’s your role? Is it a sales kind of role?
DAN: Chief Executive and —
JOEY: I know it’s everything.
DAN: A bit of everything, so —
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DAN: Over the last couple of years, my role has solidified a little bit more. And it’s more to be the external face of BFO. Doing podcasts like these, getting out there, talking to folks, talking to other agencies and finding out what’s next in the marketplace, right? What we need to be offering in the years to come and who we need to be partnering with for marketing channels that fall outside our wheelhouse.
It’s a fun role and certainly I’m not too detached from what’s going on here, but promoted some folks that are running a lot of the day to day and doing a great job and freeing myself and my cofounder Steve up to get out there and find new opportunities and represent the brand.
JOEY: Then it goes back to experiential marketing in a way. Now you’re actually experiencing — we’ve met before. Well, no, I’ve known you for a while, because you’re the bright orange guy online. You just stick out like a sore thumb.
DAN: In a good way.
JOEY: I mean, we went out in Chicago and what were you wearing? Like, cat pants?
DAN: Oh, the cat pants? Yes. The epic — well, the story was my cat — cat rest his soul — cat pants was our original BFO mascot, and some folks at the office were reminiscing about cat pants and ordered me these wonderful spandex cat pants that showed up on my desk about a month later. I think they had forgot they had ordered it, because I’m pretty sure they were here drinking late one night, but yes. Let me tell you, they’re comfortable. Spandex cat pants from China? Highly recommended. Just saying.
JOEY: Look, we were playing shuffle — what was it? Shuffleboard or something?
DAN: Yeah, yeah.
JOEY: They looked great. I mean, they looked comfortable, I guess. I wouldn’t say great. You definitely stuck out like a sore thumb. I mean, you’re almost experiential marketing in itself. You kind of are out there.
DAN: It is.
JOEY: In a good way.
DAN: In a good way. I mean, you have to break through, right? From an agency standpoint, we’re all data driven, we all — there’s so many clichés that are common, repeated. To break through and — I hate to say it, but an orange jacket — and I love orange, so it’s not disingenuous.
JOEY: Me too.
DAN: But little things like that that help a brand stick out are — it works. There’s a positive ROI to it. The experiential marketing campaign I’ve always wanted to do for BFO — I would call it the worst experiential marketing campaign ever, because a lot of the work we do is not sexy. We’ve got a team that is really good at math and they play with spreadsheets and machine learning algorithms and segmentation of campaigns. A lot of the stuff we do to host people is the boring, hard work that a lot of brands can’t do in-house or a lot of agencies can’t do in-house.
My thought is to get a group of our analysts, to put some desks at a street festival or at Lollapalooza, Burning Man — I wouldn’t do that, but — take it out of context, and just have them do a day of work optimizing client campaigns at an outdoor event and have it be the BFO experience.
The actual experience itself, I think, would be awful, and henceforth it would be the worst experiential marketing campaign ever, right? Someone walking by, they’re like why the hell are these people working here? But the tagline at the end, because this would all be great video content, is BFO, we do the hard work to make you money while you’re out having fun.
That’s really what we do. That’s our brand promise. A lot of clients rely on us to be watching the clock and looking at the campaigns and spend and moving all the levers while they’re focusing on their business.
That’s my digital marketing experiential campaign that would, in some cases be the worst, but I think the angle could really tell our story in terms of what we do day in and day out.
JOEY: I think it’s awesome. It sounds pretty cool. Kind of going back to experiences, you can bring an experience to a digital world. You know, it’s really — as you know, it’s evoking an emotion. Like oh, that’s stupid, but — well, they wouldn’t think it’s stupid, because they would just think it’s interesting, I think.
Like, oh, okay, I can rely on them while I have fun and trust them, you know?
DAN: Yeah. I think someone who saw the video would get it. I think someone who saw — like, why are these guys sitting at a desk in the middle of the street while we’re all out here drunk — they wouldn’t get it but that’s fine. I don’t think I’ve ever closed any business at a street festival so —
JOEY: Right. So, you live near Wrigley’s Field. You’re blocks from there, aren’t you?
DAN: I’m blocks from there. It’s a hop and a skip. It’s a great example. The park at Wrigley, they built this new outdoor — it’s got a field, there’s these fountains that my kids trounce around in. There’s a big screen. They do movies during the day, and it was called The Park at Wrigley, and about a month ago they finally branded it. It’s Gallagher Way. Gallagher is an insurance company, and I had never heard of them, and I was so — when it was announced we’re like there’s no way. We’re all going to call it the park. Nobody’s going to call it — a month later, we’re all like let’s go to Gallagher Way.
It is commonplace and I was noticing the other day that my brand recognition of Gallagher and what they do has gone up exponentially. As a marketer, when you see marketing working on you, it’s like — you’re like they got me. But it does — I mean, planting seeds, it works.
I have another fun example. I was with some friends. We went on the Bourbon Trail around Kentucky, checking out a bunch of different distilleries, and one of my good friends — he’s a sax player out of Nashville — Evan Cobb, you should get his latest album, Hot Chicken. Good stuff. He really wanted to go to Woodford Reserve. That was high on his list. We were there and they were playing Kind of Blue, Miles Davis, the quintessential jazz album most people have heard even if you’re not into it and he was like whoa, they’re playing jazz here? And we asked one of the people working here and she’s like oh, yeah, well, we’ve really been targeting the jazz listening audience, and it was at that point when he was like it worked. I’m totally their demographic, they’ve been targeting me and that has to be why I really wanted to go to Woodford. He didn’t even drink it all that much.
As a marketer, I know we’re always tough to sell to, but it’s funny when you kind of realize those moments, when you make those connections. Why did I think about this, or why is this brand in my consideration set and sure enough, there’s been touch points along the way that weren’t the last click that you clicked on before you bought something.
JOEY: What you guys do is — I almost think it’s an experiential marketing, just because you are evoking an emotion. First off, how the hell are you going to get someone to click on a button? That’s a feat in itself. And then especially —
DAN: Not only click on a button, but click on a button after providing your information that you know someone is going to call you back and try and sell you shit. It’s the art of persuasion. The brand experience of building trust and providing the carrot on the other end of that lead form. All of that stuff matters.
As B2B marketers, when marketing for B2B clients or agencies, there’s — I kind of have to wear two hats. I’m wearing one right now. The direct marketer that wants leads, performance, accountability for every dollar that’s being spent, but at the same time when you’re asking for that lead or requested proposal, whatever that is, I want someone to have seen positive content. We win awards. There’s all sorts of good news and stuff that isn’t a direct call to action. Once people have seen that multiple times in the back of their mind, it has built up that trust.
I think a lot of what we do in the digital world — there’s certainly conversion, but you’re building trust, so when you’re finally asked for that form or asked for the sale or asked to give a demo — whatever that call to action is — you’ve built trust in the brand and you do that through a landing page experience, through content marketing to talk about — it can’t all be direct response, right?
If you’re saying — I — and there’s plenty of agencies and brands out there where every piece of content at the end of the day is trying to sell me something, and it’s really easy to see through that, and consumers are becoming smarter, and on all of these digital platforms there’s a barrage of content. When we started doing Facebook ads, there was a 100x increase in the number of brands and content marketers. There’s so much out there. It’s a battle for attention. Brands have to be a lot more respectful of their customer and prospect’s time. You got to give out value and all of that stuff adds up over time when you’re finally ready to try and make the sale.
JOEY: I was just at Outdoor Retailer — it moved from Utah to Denver, so I was just here this week and I was talking to some folks about — a brand almost is a person now. Especially how one, there’s so much out there, and they almost have to take a stance. I mean, the one that I can think of is WeWork. They are now not allowing their internal employees to expense meat, and it’s interesting, right? Some people are like that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard and they’re going to be pissed off about it, but the other side is their target market is millennials and they’re helping the earth and kind of going down that route.
It’s definitely interesting how brands are taking a whole different approach on what they stand for. It can be either good or bad, right, for the brand?
DAN: Yeah, right. It’s risky. There’s some brands that do an amazing job of taking some of those calculated risks, even if they’re taking a polarizing position. Ben and Jerry’s, courageous brand in a lot of ways, but I also know they’re very calculated in the stances that they take.
I can’t say I’m really going out on a limb, but I started Employers for VTO. We closed our office on election day in 2016. I’m actually joining forces with ElectionDay.org this year, and I’m trying to get every one of our clients and partners and vendors to close on Election Day and make it a national holiday.
JOEY: Very cool.
DAN: Yeah, if it’s not going to — I’m not going to repeat all the stats, but most people that don’t vote do it because they’re too busy at work. Number one, right? That’s one easy thing companies can do to help take a stand, help people get engaged civically. Yeah, I mean, I think brands —
You got to be careful it’s not green washing or we did one charity event and then we’re going to promote the heck out of it for the next three months. It’s really easy, I think, for people to see through what’s not genuine or what’s — I would say lame — attempts at using philanthropy to drum up business, but people, and especially millennials, want to work with brands that share their values. I think there’s a lot of opportunities — and there’s ROI on that. I’m actually working on a couple different studies to try and quantify that and really figure out how running a conscious business — there’s a lot of ways it pays dividends, but from a marketing standpoint, how do you tell your brand story in a way people care about and believe in?
JOEY: Absolutely. That’s really interesting. I think, too, just back to your Election Day — you know, it just helps change as well. You know, get people involved in caring about something. Bringing your values to something you care about. For me, I care about a lot out there, but if my thing is — if I can’t change it, I’m not going to be so pushy over it. Me, myself.
Reality is reality. Where things are at. But if you can kind of help push that, I think that’s better.
Really quick, I wanted to ask you about Shaq and the Super Bowl.
DAN: I did give you a preview of my favorite experiential marketing — I guess being on this side of the fence. But yeah, I was at the — this was not the good Super Bowl, it was the one the Seahawks lost to the Patriots, whenever that was. A few years back. 2015, maybe.
Yeah, I got hooked up to the Budweiser Whatever, Whenever experience, and they took over a parking lot in downtown Phoenix and there were boats and there were — they put sand all over the whole thing. I could tell this was a whole — it’s very obviously a branded event. It was kind of Budweiser everything, but free beer, free food, all that stuff was pretty cool.
My favorite part of this whole thing was there was a big throne and there were a bunch of paint easels set up around the throne, and people were sort of stepping up. I missed it by one step. Not that I could actually paint, but I’m five feet away from the throne and there’s — the easel’s lined up there. Out of the blue, from behind a curtain, Shaq walks out and sits down five feet away from me in this throne and for a good 20 seconds we caught eyes, made eye contact, he was looking into my eyes, and he was doing a dance with his pecs while staring into my eyes. Shaq. Five feet away. Doing a pec dance.
That’s a brand experience that I will not forget. After that he did a DJ set, and in addition to being a very large human, he was actually a great DJ as well. That’s my favorite experiential marketing campaign, and let me tell you, man, that guy’s mesmerizing. He might have actually been trying to hypnotize me, and it might have worked.
JOEY: It might have worked. Now do you drink Budweiser every day? Not every day, but is that your choice?
DAN: Not every day. I still tell — on a hot summer day — and I could — I could drink nice beer. I like ales and dark lager and da da-da da-da — Busch Light is still my favorite beer on a hot day. It was my poison in college and something about it — that’s my cheap beer of choice.
JOEY: It affects an emotion that you had a long time ago, so you want to continue that.
JOEY: Through college. Well, very cool. It was good catching up. Thanks for jumping on here. I hope to see you soon. Hopefully in the next month or so, I’ll be out in Chicago.
DAN: Let’s make it happen.
JOEY: Sounds good.
DAN: All right.
JOEY: Thanks for joining.
DAN: Thank you. Cheers, everybody.
JOEY: Cheers. Bye.
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Our talk with Dusti Reimer brings us to discuss how marketing is taking a chance on the future. The full transcript for Talk Experiential episode #21 One Night Stand Business VS Meaningful Relationships is followed below.
#21 One Night Stand Business VS Meaningful Relationships
Dusti Reimer on episode #21 of Talk Experiential.
All right. Welcome back to another Talk Experiential podcast. I have another wonderful guest which goes way back to college in Grand Junction, Dusti, Dusti Reimer.
How’s it going?
Great. How are you?
Oh, doing good.
It’s good to catch up.
It’s great. No, it’s been, what — we caught up about, what, a month ago, and then we haven’t talked since — I don’t know — 13 years ago, or even seen each other.
We follow up on social media.
Right, so we’re always close.
Yeah, exactly. You know?
So, yeah. But actually physically talking to each other, I think we sat by each other on graduation, and I think that was pretty much one of the last times I physically saw you, and 13 years ago —
Well, and you knew my wife better, too.
Yeah. I’ve loved watching your business and your career just blossom, and so you’ve always been somebody who’s been very inspirational to me as I watch from the sidelines and cheer you on.
Aw. Well, thank you, Dusti. Same goes to you. This is why I wanted you on this podcast, because from our last conversation, you have definitely an interesting perspective and background working with a few different folks. I think we got the same degree, right, marketing and business, or communications?
I actually went more the communications and advertising side.
But I think, kind of like everybody nowadays, it’s kind of really mixed together, so even though I focused more on that part of it, I really had to take a sidestep and learn a lot more on the marketing side of things, and I’ve actually found that I like data. I just really avoided it — this is me being lazy — I really avoided it because I thought I was really bad at math and I didn’t want to take the math classes which were required to get the marketing degree, so that’s full disclosure. I really was afraid of it in college, for some reason. I just didn’t think I had it in me, but now I realize that I actually do. So, I’m still learning.
No. Well, we all are. If I don’t learn every day, I feel like it’s not a good day. I think that’s the fun part of this industry. But why don’t you tell me about your background and some of the things that you’ve been doing in Grand Junction?
Yeah. So, obviously after graduation, I think everybody just went off on their own paths, and I had always had this real strong love for non-profits. I never imagined working in a private or a public sector. And so, I worked for the American Cancer Society, I ended up working for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, I had volunteered with March of Dimes — like I said, I just felt like I had loved community engagement. I loved giving back. I just really never thought of anything else.
And so, my husband is a power lineman, and we agreed that wherever he would get his job, we would go, because I could help any community with whatever they had a need of, and so we ended up in Winter Park for a little bit, and then we went to the Vail Valley. We lived there for about eight years total before we migrated back to Grand Junction for quality of life and the ability to be able to purchase a house and raise kids, which is great. We’re not originally from Grand Junction. We’re actually from Iowa, in a very small town in the Midwest. So, we moved around the state a lot. We did some time in Steamboat, and so we’re very familiar with the resort communities and skiing, and we love that. We’re a very outdoor, active family.
And I took a break from working after we had our first child, and then our second came rather quickly, so they’re about 18 months apart, and so I really wanted to focus on that. That and daycare is really — they said it’s about a college tuition right now for daycare, so there’s money-saving costs that go into that.
But I ended up getting back into the workforce out of frustration. So, I was looking at putting our oldest in ski lessons, and I got on a website for a ski resort locally here and was unbelievably frustrated with their websites. It was awful. And out of that frustration and the confusion, I thought, “I can do this better,” and out of just sheer thinking, “Maybe there’s a position that I can volunteer with, or maybe I can do something,” I got on their website to see if they were hiring, and they were actually hiring a marketing manager. And kind of out of spite and out of anger of seeing what they had going on there, I applied for it and went through the interview process. And I didn’t get the marketing manager position, but I actually was given another position to help with their group sales and advertising and events, and to help be a marketing manager’s assistant.
So, it was kind of an interesting transition for somebody who went from swearing they’d never work in a for-profit business to jumping in to saying, “I can help this. I can make this better.” And so, I had a couple of really good years of traveling on the ski circuit and doing media, and I ended up actually kind of stepping into that position for a little bit during a huge launch of construction for the resort and learned a lot. But during the process of getting back into it, especially in a regional sense, I learned that there was a lot of old mindsets and a lot of old traditions of things that people just don’t want to let go of. And so, it’s really interesting, I’m learning how to kind of bridge the gap between rack cards and social media.
It’s amazing that people even think about those. I look at them, and I’ll look and browse for three seconds — no, I’ll just walk by it, because it’s too much.
Yeah. And I don’t want to put that down, because I’m sure there’s still somebody there, but I remember in one of our marketing conversations as we were talking about spending a large sum of our marketing dollars on it, I said, “When was the last time that you woke up at 3:00 in the morning, got in your car, drove down to your local visitors’ center or the hotel, and picked up all your rack cards to do research for your vacation?” I’m like, “You don’t do that anymore.” So, we had to work through what has worked in the past isn’t really going to help us move into the future. It really wasn’t an easy transition, but eventually we finally walked through the processes of why maybe that isn’t working. And a lot of people like to see that return of income, the ROI. They like to see the data numbers, and that wasn’t really providing a good, substantial backup for it, too. So, we ended up moving away from it and investing that money in better avenues of reaching our preferred clientele, which had a great return. So, it was really fun, and you gotta stand up for something, so I was really maintaining firm on, “Let’s not spend $40,000 in rack cards, and maybe use that for something beneficial.” So, yeah.
So, you worked at Powderhorn for a couple of years, moved around, the whole thing there. Now you have your own firm working with some clients as well up there?
I do. So, the surprise birth of our third child — I shouldn’t say surprise. I mean, obviously I knew I was pregnant for nine months — we had him and decided that probably driving 45 minutes each way in the snow for a 60-hour work week probably wasn’t going to be the best decision for our family, and so I left Powderhorn and created my own PR and marketing company. And so, we’ve got three clients that take up a lot of my time right now, and it’s perfect for our family and where we’re growing and what we’re doing, and we’re really well connected, and there’s a lot of other really good companies here, startups that if I don’t feel that I’m going to be the best fit for them that I can refer them off to other people.
So, the idea is really to keep the business in the best interests of the business owners and their markets in mind. I don’t really look to take on people with things that they’re looking for that I don’t believe I can be of beneficial help to them. I always looked at the job of being a marketing manager as one where we get to have a lot of fun with what we get to do. We get to create, and we get to see all this visual stuff, but at the same time, if we don’t take our job seriously that we can help these people grow, and that if we do our jobs well that they get to have a livelihood, then you really shouldn’t be in it, because I’ve seen time and time again great people step into a position maybe they’re not really ready for, and it’s like watching the Titanic sink over a year. You just slowly watch it going down, because they’re not really sure what they’re doing, and these businesses are just suffering for it. So, I really want to make sure that when I step in there that I’m really going to be able to perform to help them out.
Yeah. So, what caught my eye when we talked last time was, I guess, just learning how to market and then how to just get out there, and I guess just staying up with technology. I know that you are part of a couple groups that are interested in learning more on how to market yourself, how to use other ways — instead of a rack card — to promote a business. I guess, what do you tell these business owners that you’re working with that an ad in the paper might not get the most ROI? Sometimes it’s the works, and you’re going to still probably get some hits, but you can easily just go into Google ads or do a Facebook post. I mean, just a Facebook post would probably get more views than sometimes a newspaper would. But, yeah, I’d like to learn how you approach these clients. How do you get them to step out of the box and take a chance on the future?
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You know, we’re getting constantly bombarded, whether it’s on social media or e-mail, or we still TV, pop-up ads, retargeted marketing, it’s just left and right, and same thing with apps. You just watch things grow and fade out. I remember when blogs were coming up and people were just — I think that was back in the MySpace time, where everybody had a blog and that it was the cool thing, and then everybody started to become influencers.
And then there was this shift to the apps, and then Facebook, and you had to have a Facebook page, and then it just morphed after that into Instagram and Twitter and Snapchat, and every other app that showed up there, and so most people are just constantly trying to be relevant with new technology, even if it’s not to the benefit of the organization.
We talked about how people are just always trying to get on the new technology, and they’re not sure how to utilize it well. But the other thing is, they don’t even know if it’s going to benefit their target market, and we have to go back to the basics with your organization or whatever product it is. It’s like, “Who are you trying to reach? When you created this product, or when you created your organization, what was your goal? Who were you trying to reach, and is that still what you’re trying to do?” Because maybe being on Snapchat and trying to recruit a veteran isn’t going to link up. You’ve got to realize, “Why are you doing this? Are you doing this just to say that you have the technology, or are you doing it to spend relevant time recruiting new people?”
And I think asking the “why,” we lost that, there. We’re so into getting the new technology, like, “Oh, did you see the new thing out there?” “No, I didn’t. I have to have that.” And we somewhere along the way got so swept up in the new stuff that we forgot to say, “Well, is it really relevant to what we’re doing?”, and I think that’s okay. Not everybody needs to have everything. I think you just need to realize what is going to help your target market and grow your business, and when people remember that they’re specifically targeting or creating something for this group of people, you don’t need to try and cast that wide net. Just be specific.
And it’s okay to be specific, and it’s okay, as you watch other people walk by you, that you’re not grabbing them right away, because you want to hook, and you want to make sure that your group is being taken care of by you. It’s not just about, “Can they see us, and can we hook them, and can we get that one-night stand business?” We want meaningful relationship. We want this to go somewhere. We’re thinking long-term dating. We want to meet your parents. We want to have a family. We want to be in it to win it with you forever. We’re not just looking for a hook, and so that’s the thing that we’re trying to really establish with our clients that we have is that we’re in it for the long term. We’re in it for the three to five-year, really make a difference. People are finally hearing about us. We have been steady. We have been their rock, and we know beyond a shadow of a doubt what our products are and what we’re doing with them.
No, absolutely. Well, and that’s how you have to run an agency, I think, is just being very transparent. I think, too, as a business owner — I mean, I’m a business owner with a couple other companies as well, and luckily, I’ve gotten a lot of experience with marketing, but I remember back in the day. It’s like, “How the hell do you market my product?” And when I work with clients, I really try to put myself in their shoes, because at the end of the day, we’re here to help solve a problem for them.
And I think as startups, just businesses, I think the scary thing is marketing. Marketing can be overwhelming, because you see these commercials on TV, you’re like, “Oh, I want one of those. Oh, that’s 50 grand and I don’t have that budget,” and them not understanding, like, “Well, is that really going to hit your target market?”
Say you have a product that’s — we’re starting to work with this Japanese company; it’s a cold brew called Boss Coffee, and I’m literally just saying that because I have one, and I’m drinking it, and it’s awesome. It’s not a plug.
I love coffee. We are aficionados, here, so I really love it (ph).
Great, I’ll send you some. But, anyway, we work with products. For a product like this, TV’s not going to do crap for them. This needs to get into people’s hands. People need to try it for themselves. It needs to be authentic and transparent. If they like it, they’re going to probably buy it. And if they like it, let’s build a platform for them to get a coupon, or receive some type of e-mail to actually remember that, “Okay, hey, I need to buy this, because I really liked this.” And the way we work is, we like to touch that emotion. “Man, I like that coffee, and it just triggered something in my head to really like this brand.” That’s a better way than just doing a commercial or an ad.
But, yeah, I think it’s, one, really trying to figure out what your product is and really understanding your consumers, your target market. Like you mentioned earlier, you can’t just put — working with veterans and Snapchat, like, “Oh, we’ll just do all platforms.” No, you find one that your demographic’s going to be on and stick to it.
I think also, marketing, it can be a lot of market research and learning. You’re not going to just land the perfect campaign the first time. And you mentioned earlier, too, and I’d like to quickly talk about that, regarding metrics, because data and metrics, I think that’s one of the biggest things, because first, you’ve got to be able to measure what you’re doing in some way, but also you’ve got to be able to adapt to what the market’s saying.
I almost like to do — if we’re going to do anything on the digital side, I like to do A/B testing. Let’s do two different ads and two different angles and see, what do people like, because literally, people’s minds change on a daily basis just with the outside world coming in, and, “Oh, the President did this,” or “Someone did this,” and “Me Movement.” There’s a lot of things that come at you. So, it’s interesting to be able to create some type of research and adapt to the next thing, but I’d like to learn how you use data to help your clients grow.
Yes. So, it started with Powderhorn and looking into their data and their reach, and where people were coming from, and again, just getting really specific. These are people we were treating as family and friends. We really never looked at them so much as clients as they were really — it’s that small-town resort, where these people are coming, and they’re coming often, and we’re seeing them and we’re building these relationships. Where are they from? In talking to them, why are they coming? They’d always tell us why they loved it, because it’s a gem. It’s the family resort. If you want to get back to the pureness of it, of skiing and the simplicity of it, it’s such a beautiful place to do that with your family. You really aren’t going to find a more affordable place to just enjoy the mountains. And so, digging into our demographics and finding where people were coming from, and talking with them, I really found that I enjoyed it and that we had a valuable treasure trove of information that we’d never used before.
And so, in taking on Jet Boat Colorado, they’re a new jet boat thrill ride here in Colorado right off of De Beque, and they’re one of only four boats in the United States that are operating jet boat tours, and it’s the only one on the Colorado River. And the thing that’s really cool about this is we get to start from scratch, and like you said, you just start out and you just do what you feel like your intuition is telling you to do. Do you think you’re going to be able to reach people on TV? Are you going to do e-mail blasts? Are you going to just drive your boat up and down the river as many times as you can, holding signs, waving? You’re just doing whatever you can to see whatever’s going to stick and hit the wall just to begin with.
And then, after its first year, we got to dig into some of the data, and he ended up having people from all across the country and in four different countries of the world take rides on his jet boat tour, because there’s nothing else like it. And so, being able to utilize that information and then move on into the next year, his goal was to double the rides that he had done previously, and we were able to do that because we had found a pretty solid demographic that were utilizing his services.
It’s not like a raft trip where you kind of have to be physically in shape, or you have to commit to either half a day or a full day. I mean, this is the benefit. Kids that weigh at least 40 pounds all the way up to people that are 100 years old can experience the river and thrills, and you can just fly down that river going 40 miles an hour. And then in the middle of it, he’ll spin. He’s able to spin this boat, and they do whips and spins and high-speed jet boat turns all in this shallow water, water you’re like, “No way is this boat going anywhere. I can see rocks. I can touch rocks with my feet, almost. I can hear it touching on the bottom.” But, I mean, he can maneuver this boat because it’s a specifically special type of boat, and that actually appeals to a really wide demographic of people.
But again, that’s great that we cast that net. We can get from here to here, but when you start targeting in on your specific markets, you’re able to build that love, and when people spread that word of mouth for you, that’s golden marketing. That’s the idea. When they have that experience, they have that emotion, you just have this gem. You have something that you can’t fake that they have as true and genuine, and when they light up telling other people about it, that’s a buzz you can’t recreate. That’s what you want. That’s the golden ticket right there.
Exactly. Well, you nailed it right there. We hire brand ambassadors to represent brands, but having your own brand ambassadors that literally just really love your product and they’ll do anything to share it, like, “Oh, crap, guys. You guys have to try it, because I had this wonderful experience. I think you should do it, and it’ll go viral, almost,” viral or just people enjoying it, and I think that’s obviously where you want to get to in this very crowded world and trying to figure out where that is.
I think also just the interesting part of managing a ski resort, one, Powderhorn’s awesome, and it’s such a neat little place. It’s almost like a dream of mine, like, “I want to work for a ski resort.” I’m sure it’s obviously interesting, working with different consumers and how do you get people to come up the hill, because it’s close, but I’m sure people are like, “Oh, that’s too far,” even though 30 minutes is nothing.
Right. Or the challenge of the nice day versus, “Oh, it looks cloudy up there.” It’s really funny. We live in our valley. If people aren’t familiar with the Grand Valley, the demographics of the whole area and the landscape of the area is so unique and so diverse that really, from one end of the Grand Valley to the other, you can snowmobile and ski in the morning, and then drive down and mountain bike and raft in the afternoon. I mean, that’s literally where you can come and do everything that you want to do outdoors and in one day, and it’s really amazing.
So, sometimes the challenge is really like getting your locals to come up and say, “I’m going to not mountain bike today. I’m going to go ski,” and it’s always fun. It’s just a different mindset, and I think maybe just because we’re so spoiled, we get that choice.
So, where other people are like, “I bought that season pass. I am driving up. I am going. Gotta get seven days in.”
Oh, I know. We’re about to run out of time here, but I wanted to also just quickly plug, I know that you are still planning on doing this event next year in Junction. Is that still happening?
Yes, yes. So, we created the Experience Education Foundation this last month. It’s what I’ve been working on. So, the Western Slope is this really rich, dynamic region filled with all kinds of businesses that touch every place in the world. If you look at the ski resort industry, to agriculture, to even the wine areas, there’s a lot of diversity that happens on the Western Slope of Colorado, and we’re very fortunate.
At the same time, though, we’ve learned through our different groups and talking and communicating with people that we really feel that we’re lagging behind in some of the educational techniques, leadership with communications and marketing, so we’ve come together. A group of us are organizing a marketing and communications and leadership conference in the spring of 2019. A lot of organizations have typically the ability to send maybe one person every year off to a conference, and what we’d like to do is bring the conference here to Grand Junction where it’s a centrally located area so that everybody can come and be raised to the same level.
I’m a big believer that your weakest link is how strong you can be, and I feel that a lot of us keep chasing after the same things that have already been done, but we have this strong desire to create new, but we’re not entirely sure how that happens. And so, I’d love to be able to create this opportunity for everybody to come together and be inspired to create the new so that we can all experience it and learn from it. I love being able to set the bar higher for everybody, and that just challenges us all to be better, and it creates a better working environment, better living environment, more creativity for all of us.
Well, I’m excited. I think that’s a great idea too. I’m just excited that you’re taking the lead on this to be able to educate people and be able to bring a learning experience, and just open people’s minds. I appreciate meeting people and knowing you, that you’re always curious. “So, why are you doing this,” or how to make something happen. So, I think that’s great, and I’m excited to see how I can help in any way with it as well.
Oh, yeah, I’m so excited for you to come over and help me.
Yeah, I know. I need to get down there.
I know. You do. You really took off on the experiential marketing before it really became experiential marketing. The last few years, really, you were on the cutting edge of it, when everything has shifted now to really be about the experience, and you were like this trendsetter. You were ahead of it before anybody else was, and so, like I said, I’m just always in awe of you and what you’re doing, and so I’m just always cheering you on.
And I know there’s so many people that would love to hear from you. I know I would. I’m always looking for people I can learn from, because I know I am not the smartest out there. I’ll be the first person to tell you that I’m very humble about that. But I love learning from other people, and I love bringing people together, because it’s just such a beautiful thing when everybody comes together and learns, and listens, and talks it through, and so it’s great. It may not be pretty, but you know what they say, sexy sells, ugly goes viral.
Well, thanks so much for the kind words. I say the same thing, too. I don’t feel like I’m smart. I’m curious, and I think it’s just like I’m not satisfied with just the norm. I think that’s just how I grew up, too. It’s like, “Well, I don’t believe you,” and then you run a staffing company, and then you don’t believe anybody. You’re like, “Yeah, I don’t believe you. So, how do you actually really believe you and get you to believe in something?”
Yeah, it’s lessons learned. It really is.
Exactly. Well, awesome. Well, I’d love to have you on again, and I say that to a lot of guests, but I know that you have a lot of knowledge and are excited to stay in touch. And good luck with everything up in Grand Junction.
Thanks, and same with you. And, yeah, I’d love to come back, and I will definitely be touching base with you on dates that we should hopefully have finalized here. By the next three weeks, we’ll have it hopefully ready to launch.
Perfect. It sounds good. We’ll share it on our podcast. Once it’s launched, it’ll probably be on our notes page. Well, thanks again, Dusti.
Have a great rest of your day.
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