The digital media landscape is crowded – with so many tactics, technology, and tools out there. And, it’s changing all the time. Like right now, video has become an essential marketing channel for many businesses.
David Reske, founder and president of NowSpeed, talks about how to cut through the clutter to find the digital marketing techniques that attract and nurture your audience – and how to integrate them to make the biggest impact.
We also talk about how to link strategy to results, as well as…
- The foundation of every digital marketing effort
- 4 necessary elements of a website – and how it fits into your marketing
- The biggest mistake companies make on social media
- How to use different channels for targeting different information about your prospects
Mentioned in This Episode: www.nowspeed.com
Jay Sparks: Hello, this is Jay Sparks, your host of Finding Unique Value, where I interview business owners who found a unique value in their business or industry that others have not yet seen or explored. Today I’m excited to be joined by David Reske, who is the founder and president of Now Speed Marketing, a digital marketing firm. This is a sector that is deceptively simple because we’re all consumers of digital marketing these days. So it seemed relatively easy to, because we’re users, to just do what we and that will also work for our business, our service, and we can find more customers. Anyone that’s tried this kind of haphazard approach will understand that this is neither something that’s simple, cheap or effortless. As a matter of fact, that can end up being very expensive. And if you really go awry, I think you can certainly ruin your reputation. There’s many stories out there where this has happened to even large businesses. So I’m very interested to get David’s view on how best to coordinate all of these resources and where his firm finds the value, and of course clients.
Welcome to the podcast, David. It’s great to be speaking with you today.
David Reske: Jay, it’s great to be here. Thanks for that great introduction. I’m looking forward to the conversation.
Jay Sparks: Good, good. Well, could you take a minute, I know I just gave just a very brief overview here, but just how you got to this place of starting this digital media marketing firm. Because it seems right now, I’ve seen a lot of people doing what you’re doing, but I can’t imagine, they don’t have your experience. I can’t imagine that they’re able to do all the things that you can. I’d be very interested to see what your background is. Because I know you’ve been doing this for a long time.
David Reske: Sure. Well, I started my career many years ago in sales, selling computers and got a little tired of doing that after a while, decided to start my first company in the early 90s building websites. That was when the Internet was very young and everybody wanted a website and it was pretty cool. If you wanted a website, you know why. But we focused on helping good size companies build websites and web applications.
I grew that company up and I sold it to a very large company in 1998 and then was a senior partner there for a while. Then I decided to do it all over again and go back to being an entrepreneur and started this company in 2003. We’re a boutique marketing agency focused on helping companies grow through using the best digital marketing tools and techniques. So after about, I think it’s been about 25 years of seeing a lot of change in digital marketing, I think we’ve got a really solid methodology and program to help companies grow and help them untangle this web of thousands of marketing applications and tools to find the things that really make the biggest impact.
Jay Sparks: Wow, that’s incredible. So when you were designing websites that that was back when it was probably six figures, right, to build a website. And that’s why you had to work with larger companies, is that correct?
David Reske: That’s right. So back in those days, in the 90s there were no really tools to build all these things. So you really took a software engineer to build a website and incorporate features that we take for granted that are easy to do now, like adding eCommerce or credit card transactions or catalog features or content management system. That was all built by hand back in those days. So it’s gotten much, much easier as the tools and technologies have evolved to make all the things that we see on the web possible.
Jay Sparks: So now that it’s so easy to do, even I was just looking recently, all those things you mentioned can almost be done for free or close to it. So it’s kind of with investing, you used to have to have a broker and now you can kind of go do yourself. But what that’s done is it’s allowed people to go and from an investing standpoint blow themselves up very quickly without any supervision. I know that’s also the case in your world because I could really have a website up before we’re done with this conversation and I’m sure it would not work the way it should or get to the people that I want to get to. So I think it’s doing one thing but it’s doing another. I think it’s helping me, but it may be hurting me.
What types of mistakes you see people doing today that ended up coming to you? Because I’m sure a lot of people try to do it themselves and coordinate all these things. Because as I said in the introduction, it seems so simple but it really isn’t. When you start looking at all the hundreds of details that flow after these things are put in place.
David Reske: Yeah, that’s so true. And I love your analogy to investing. I mean, just because I can open an online brokerage account in a few minutes and by a stock doesn’t mean that I’m buying the right one or I’ve got a really good financial strategy for my family across my lifetime. So it’s the same thing with internet marketing. Just because you can open a Google account and start spending money on ads doesn’t mean you’re actually going to focus on the right target audience with the right message to get the right kind of leads to integrate it into a whole program. And that’s really what our expertise is, is really putting all of those components together into an integrated program to help companies grow.
I mean you think about marketing, at a high level, what are we trying to accomplish? We’re trying to build awareness of a brand or a product. We’re trying to drive engagement. We’ve got to have people take some action and then download content, go to a website, like your content, share it, take some action and then convert. Convert, it might be a purchase, it might be giving their contact information, signing up for a webinar or downloading information, basically becoming a lead.
We run programs across that whole funnel, awareness, engagement, conversion to help businesses get the leads or the sales they want in order to grow. But you can’t, it’s easier said than done than just start spending money and hope for the best. Companies waste a lot of money in that environment.
Jay Sparks: Oh sure, sure. Do you have, is there a, like if someone is bootstrapping and maybe can’t do everything all at once, is there a certain sequence that tends to work best or does it depend on what sector of the industry they’re in or what exactly they’re trying to do? For instance, if they’re already getting a lot of leads and either convert them or if they’re not getting leads and just need to start there? Or was there some other thing that you consider?
David Reske: Yeah, when we get started with a company, we do a detailed analysis to figure out where the challenges are. So the challenge could be that the website is awesome, but they’re just not getting a lot of organic search traffic. Or maybe they’re getting a lot of good search traffic, but it’s not converting to leads. Or maybe the website’s terrible because it was built five years ago under a different set of aesthetics and they need that to be fixed. Or maybe they’re spending money on advertising, but it’s not converting into, you’re getting a lot of awareness, but they’re not getting the conversion. So we diagnose each of these pieces and try to find out what the issues are and fix them and create new programs.
But I think that said, as a foundation, it’s still the worldwide web and you’re going to have a good website to start. If you don’t have a good website with good content, everything is harder. And websites today have to have a kind of a modern aesthetic. I look at websites from potential clients every day and it’s just amazing that something that was developed five years ago looks like your business is not a business. The photography’s wrong, the architecture is wrong. There’s no call to action and the landing pages are terrible. So you’ve got to get that piece right because that’s the foundation for everything.
Jay Sparks: Then once you go from there, how do you look at all the other different tools are available now to reach out and try to attract a new customer?
David Reske: So I would think, once you had a website, I think there’s maybe four broad areas would be the next level to figure out. One would be make your website look what Google wants to see so you get more traffic, so you get more leads or sales. And we call that search engine optimization. We’re basically kind of reverse engineered to how Google things and again, bake in the right keywords so that your website, we’re not trying to trick Google, we’re trying to make it look what they want so that you get free traffic. So that’s SEO or search engine optimization.
Another great thing to do if you’re not getting enough free traffic, use paid advertising. You can do paid advertising on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, there’s remarketing, there’s banner advertising. So there’s lots of ways to spend money on advertising. But when you do that, make sure you connect the dots between who you’re targeting, the message you’re putting out, where they’re seeing you with the right platform and the results. And so advertising is cool, is really important there.
Jay Sparks: Let me ask you about just the paid advertising quickly because there’s a couple of different sources that you mentioned there. Is it best to try to use all of them if you can afford it or does it really depend on the type of customer that you’re looking for? Because when you name those, in my mind I just think of very different people when you talk about LinkedIn versus Facebook for instance. Or do you just use them, or do you change your message on each to match the people that are typically on there?
David Reske: Well the great thing about the different options we have in advertising today is they all collect different kinds of information on their users. And so that gives us different targeting abilities. But broadly you can think about advertising choices, I think of in two camps. One is kind of behavioral targeting, target based on what people are actually doing. And then demographic targeting what we can know about them.
So in behavioral targeting, Google’s awesome because when you’re on Google, you’re searching for something and we can target the ads based on the keywords that they’re using in their search. So if somebody is searching for retirement planning guidance, let’s say, you can put your ad in front of them and but not only anyone, you can target it geographically, you can target it by time of day. You can put a banner ad, a text ad, so you can kind of all kinds of specific ads. They’re searching for something and that’s great because then you’re going to provide something to meet their needs.
The other area is demographic targeting. That’s where something LinkedIn is great because if you’re business to business, you can target based on job title or size of company or industry. But if you’re business to consumer, your business is business the consumer, then you might want to move to a platform Facebook where you can target based on interests and topics and maybe income and other things that they’re interested in.
But however you do your initial targeting, the great thing about the Internet is you get all kinds of data. So you can modify your campaign almost daily and modified budgets and everything in order to take advantage of what’s actually happening in the market. The old way was more set it and forget it. I bought the billboard, it’s there for a month, I get what I get. Now you can adjust the campaign, the messages, the topics, the call to action, the ads, your spending. You don’t have to make big bets. You can make small, incremental bets and adjust it based on real time data, which makes it very powerful.
Jay Sparks: No, that’s incredible. Now how about, because I know that the new trend now, at least to me, I’m not an insider like yourself, but I see a little more people like myself using video, a very personalized video. And also even live type things, like on Facebook. Is that something you see continuing and getting bigger and something that people should be thinking about now if they’re not already? Or is that something that really depends on kind of the business and service that you’re working in?
David Reske: Oh, absolutely. Video is huge. In fact, YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the second largest search engine next to Google. So advertising, well first of all, organically creating videos for your company or your product and putting it out on YouTube and then maybe sharing that content through social media, through email, through other channels is really important. Because you don’t want to just put it out there and hope people get there. You got to promote it and get it out there.
But you can also use video advertising to compliment that, to put your messages on an ad to drive people to the video or from the video to your website.
Jay Sparks: Now, do you help with the video piece also or is that something that you outsource?
David Reske: Yes, yeah, we help companies put the videos together and there’s all kinds of different styles of video you can use today. Animation or interview style. But yeah, video marketing is a very important part of most businesses today.
Jay Sparks: Excellent. You were going through I think four points and I apologize. I cut you off after the second one when you were talking about the different areas. Do you want to pick up with three and four? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to take you so far away.
David Reske: No, not at all. The third area I think of is social media. Social media is just massive today because of platforms Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and others. So using social media organically, so having a program where you’re posting organic and thought leadership content on a daily basis on these is really huge. One of the mistakes I see people making social media is they focus on creating content, but they don’t focus on building their audience. So you’ve got to kind of do both in social media. If you’ve got 100 followers on Twitter and you’re posting daily, nothing will happen. You got to build up your audience. So that, social media is huge.
Then the other area is really, probably the first area of marketing we thought about 15 years ago was email. Don’t neglect email marketing. Have a great email list, manage that, guard it well, nurture that. But you can use email as a great nurture tool. In the past people would buy big lists and spam people and that’s become very difficult and almost counterproductive. So we see nurture, we see email as a really good nurture tool where you’ve got a good list, good base of people. Stay in front of them regularly with good content and encourage them to keep coming back to your website and keep consuming new content so that they’re going to stay engaged with you until they’re ready to buy.
Jay Sparks: No, that’s incredible. Now do you think that email will, because the email now is an old technology, a very old technology, and I think that all the focus on social media, everyone I think is gravitating there. But I see a lot of the smart money calling their email list their most important asset, which is still unusual to hear. Because I figured it’d be something else. It sounds you feel the same way, it’s kind of a foundational piece of someone’s business. Don’t ignore it. Make sure you’re nurturing it, which I think is a great word to use. Do you think that will continue to be for the foreseeable future? I mean, we can’t see the distant future, but you don’t feel that’s going away?
David Reske: Yeah, absolutely. Email I think is going to be a core part of our lives for a long time. I don’t see it being replaced. I see all these other tools adding to it. So right now I check my messages on email, I check on LinkedIn, I get notifications on Facebook. I get voicemail. We just add these things to our lives. But no, nirvana in some ways is if you’re a company to have the email addresses people who’ve opted in, not just spam email, but people have opted in to receive email from everybody in your target audience. If you had everybody in your target audience, they were on your email list and they were following you on Facebook or LinkedIn, then you could start communicating with them regularly with great content and it would dramatically lower, you wouldn’t really have to advertise as much because you’ve got kind of a free way to get to all of them through email and social. But most people don’t have that, so they need to do advertising as well.
Jay Sparks: Sure, sure. No, that’s a very interesting way of looking at that. I hadn’t thought about that last piece. So how does someone engage, or how was your business model? How do you make your money as you’re helping people through this very complicated process?
David Reske: For most of our clients, we’re really like an outsourced marketing department. We can do one function, we could just be their advertising agency, we can just manage their advertising. But for most of our clients, we’re managing advertising, we’re managing organic search like SEO, we’re managing social media marketing automation. So we can really do as much or as little as they want. But our relationships are usually retaining relationships where there’s a fixed monthly fee and we’re managing that function of marketing for them.
Some cases we’re their entire marketing department, where they don’t even have a marketing staff and we’re working with a CEO and we’re getting it all done. Actually that’s generally less expensive than hiring staff, strangely enough, because we don’t go to the company picnics and show up at all their meetings. We just get work done every day.
Jay Sparks: Yeah. That’s a great use of being able to scale the electronic piece, is perhaps someone like you that can do it versus someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, they would just be scaling a lot of work that is ineffective, which is not what we’re trying to do.
David Reske: That’s right. And so for other clients, they might have a marketing specialist who may focus on content and strategy and holds us accountable, we’re the arms and legs. And in some cases they’ve got a staff and they just have a hole. So we focus some core function like, maybe we’re managing Google AdWords and digital advertising programs and they’re doing the rest in house. So pretty flexible, but we do some marketing programs, but in general we’re part of their lives every day and we’re just an extension of their team.
Jay Sparks: That’s incredible. So this leads me to a much more basic question. It’s not really about your industry, but after hearing you describe what you do and how you do it, and you’ve done this before. This is not your first rodeo, as they say. Why do you think that some people are not successful and someone like yourself is? Obviously you know the important advertising very, very well but there’s also many other pieces to your business that are important. What do you think that you’re able to, what advice would you have for someone that maybe doesn’t feel they’re moving as quickly and want to follow your path?
David Reske: Do you mean advice in terms of executing a marketing campaign or advice in kind of growing a marketing agency and building a business?
Jay Sparks: Yeah, just building a business in general. Because obviously if they have advice specifically on a marketing agency, you could certainly speak to that. But I think you could also speak to some more general things too. Because I think that there’s a lot of advertising out there for different things that they only focused on the positive. This is very easy to do and you can have your agency up in two months and you’ll have clients and things will really start moving rapidly. But it doesn’t always work that way. So what have you found in your years, in your 25 years plus of doing this that has worked well and has helped separate you? Because not everybody that started this 25 years ago is still doing this the way you are. They’ve probably moved on to other things but you’re still growing your business and helping more people, which is impressive.
David Reske: It’s a really good question. I think a few things that worked well for me. I think having a really solid offering with solutions that really work is really important. Then focusing on helping a clear set of clients where you’re really making a difference for them, where they can be a great referral source. Also had great relationships with other partners. We to say we play well in the sandbox. We work with other complimentary marketers like PR agencies and marketing strategists really, really well.
But then I think as far as the business execution, I think as a leader having really good problem solving skills and emotional intelligence really helps because there’s a lot of ups and downs of running a business and you don’t want to really get thrown off by that. When you lose a big client, when you lose a key employee, you’ve got to be able to bounce back from that and stay in the game, with your head in the game and keeping moving forward. I’ve been able to do that for many, many years and I think that’s one of the keys. I think if you’re a young entrepreneur that’s not always evident. Often you get thrown. It sounds a cliché to have great people, but you’ve got to have great people. You’ve got to have great people to get things done.
But the other thing that I’ve done is I’ve created what I think of as an operating system for our company. It’s kind of a set of normal routines that we have here, checklists and process and a methodology that just takes us out of crisis mode every, we’re not reinventing the wheel every time. We’ve got a great system for making it all work. I think when you get to that level as an entrepreneur, then when a new client shows up you’re not like oh my gosh, what am I going to do today? You’re like oh, that’s great. We’re going to sign this person, we’ve got the hours booked and we’ve got the kick off process on the schedule here and here’s the plan and here’s how we’re going to help them be successful. So having that operating system for our company has made it work really well, and keeps us out of crisis mode and keeps us delivering consistent work.
Jay Sparks: No, I like that because you wouldn’t think of an artistic based firm like yourself to want structure. But I found when I’m able to impose that in the right way, it actually gives me more creativity because exactly the reason you described. It takes you out of crisis mode. You’re not thinking about what you’re going to do. You’re thinking about how you’re going to do it and your client and it provides a much stronger response. So , that’s great to hear. Now, how quickly were you able to do that in your career? Is this something that’s happened over many years or did you realize right away that I need to start to organize this and have some clear processes or I’m never going to be out of crisis mode?
David Reske: I think I started in that mode pretty early. I think in the early days of my first company building websites, I think we were making it up all the time. And the thing that made that work was just hiring great people. So with great people they can figure it out. But every client engagement is different, every website is different. We didn’t have as much process. In this company, I’ve really focused more on process and methodology and so it’s easier now to bring on great people, but we don’t have to have them reinvent the wheel. We can train them on our methodology and they can deliver great results for our clients in a more effortless way than when you’re just trying to get through things.
Jay Sparks: Yeah. I know a business plan that rests on your hiring superheroes is really, really tough. It’s hard to find those people that can do the work of 50. But they’re out there, of course, but if you have a process in place you don’t need that and you can still have a really high performing business and you as the leader aren’t scrambling so much, which is great. Could you think of one of those times that you bounced back? Just switching topics a little bit because I know that when that happens people feel very alone. And it’s not them. I was wondering if there’s anything particular that you’ve learned. I’m sure it’s kind of second nature not but maybe when you were early in the business, something that maybe was an obstacle, whether it’s a leadership skill or something that involved maybe some emotional intelligence that you hadn’t quite acquired yet in your experience. Is there any one of those things that comes to mind that you could speak about?
David Reske: Oh, so many bad adversity and have to bounce back. I think the things that are often challenging are losing big clients or losing employees or having non performing employees. So I had a strategy a few years ago where I thought I could grow the firm by hiring a high powered VP of sales and a large sales team and just have them cold call and grow that up. It turns out that in our industry, at least in my experience, more of our business comes through referrals and partnerships and basically long term nurture because not everybody’s ready to change their ad agency overnight. And so it’s harder to grow through that way. So I hired the sales team and spent a lot of money on growing that and at one point, it just was obvious that it wasn’t working. So I had to carefully look at the budget. It wasn’t totally not working, but it wasn’t working to the point where it paid for itself.
So that whole process of managing the financial side was important because I have a deep understanding of the numbers of the business combined with understanding where the people were at and kind of managing that transition from moving away from that sales model into the new model without blowing up the business in the process. So that probably took me six months to move there and I did it in a way that I didn’t fire everybody at once and create a huge shock to the system, change the business model. I think that surviving that, we didn’t lose a lot of money during that but we were not as profitable as we could have been.
So it’s kind of navigating that financially and navigating that people wise, navigating that with clients was a key experience for me getting back to a good place.
Jay Sparks: Sure, sure. Now were you able to keep most of the people or did you have to kind of bring in different people? Because typically hunters are different than farmers. If you’re looking for a salesperson versus a relationship person, or did you hire people that had enough flexibility they could do both roles for you pretty well?
David Reske: Well we moved away from that hunter model and really moved toward a relationship building model where we’re working with partners. So that was how we had to transition. So we kind of let go some of the hunters and moved toward an environment where we had more account managers who nurtured relationships. We’re fortunate that we have a pretty good size base of clients. There’s a lot of relationships we can nurture and work on referrals and working on partners and shifts. That’s really paid off for us as well in the long run.
Jay Sparks: That’s incredible. And I think you’ve also, with the advent of artificial intelligence and the robot, if you can’t solve complex problems or influence people, I don’t know if you’re going to have a role in the future world. So it sounds like you and you’re training your whole company that to do both those things really, really well. So you’re always going to be relevant because some of these marketing tactics, if you call them, can be because they just involve just information, certainly can be better done by machine at some point, if it’s not already. So that won’t be the case with your business.
David Reske: Right, because we’re really focused, because somebody has to create and manage the strategy, the marketing strategy. But there’s also a strategy at every level. There’s a digital advertising strategy, there’s a social media strategy, email strategy. So we’re really good at not knowing just how to do things, but what to do and how to connect the dots between the activity and the outcome, the business outcome. And actually I’ve written a book on this subject called Digital Marketing In The Zone that kind of captures a lot of the methodology and strategy. And so it’s going to help become our blueprint for how to do the right things and stay focused on the right track. That’s been kind of a guiding force to help us focus on the right strategies for our clients.
Jay Sparks: Great. And what was the name of your book? I didn’t catch the last, digital marketing, I didn’t catch the last part.
David Reske: Yeah, it’s called Digital Marketing In The Zone.
Jay Sparks: Oh, In The Zone.
David Reske: Yeah, it published about a year and a half ago and it’s available on Amazon. But yeah, it was a great experience for me to write the book and kind of capture all of our methodologies there. But if any of your readers are interested in, or listeners are interested in a summary my digital marketing strategy, it could be a good resource for them.
Jay Sparks: Oh, fantastic. How long did it take you to write that? Because I know for many people they don’t do that because it is such an onerous task. So how did you break that down in your company?
David Reske: It wasn’t. It was a lot of work. It probably took me about three years to write it.
Jay Sparks: Oh wow, okay.
David Reske: And probably a year to get it over the goal line, all the editing and all of that for the publisher. So it was a lot of work. I found that in my world we write a lot of white papers and do a lot of webinars that are actually available on our website. So I found that the process of kind of creating those one at a time in every area gave me the discipline to kind of write, almost turn those into chapters. So that was a helpful kind of structure to get that done.
Jay Sparks: Now, how much of the book do you think will change slightly in three, four, five years? Are these principles that will always be there, do you think? Or do you think some of it’s dependent heavily on the current technology?
David Reske: Well, I think all the principles really work well, but I’ve realized that some things have already changed. Google’s gotten rid of their social media platform, Google Plus, and so that’s referenced in the book. So there’s all these little things that have already changed in the last year and a half. So I realize I need to probably update it slightly, but all the core strategies and the principles I think still apply and work pretty well.
Jay Sparks: Great, great. Well, besides picking up your book, which I’m definitely going to do, you’ve peaked my interest in several different areas already, how else can someone stay in touch with you or learn more about what you are doing right now?
David Reske: Well there’s two great ways. One is go to our website. We’ve had a lot of resources there. There’s a lot of free webinars there on different topics, there’s a lot of white papers on different topics, a lot of resources there for free. If they want to check that out the website nowspeed.com. Then I’d be happy to connect with anybody on LinkedIn and have any conversation about any of these challenges. Just about an hour ago somebody just connected with me on LinkedIn and wanted career advice. So I spent half an hour giving her some guidance on how to move from an old line marketing job into digital media.
Jay Sparks: Oh, fantastic.
David Reske: So if you want to engage on LinkedIn on any topic, I’d be happy to talk.
Jay Sparks: That is great, that’s great. Well, I really appreciate your time, David. This has really been a fascinating conversation. I’ve learned a ton. I’m sure anyone that listens too will also learn a lot. I want to thank everyone for Finding Unique Value and look forward to sharing our next guest with you next week. Thank you.