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Jarod Spiewak is the founder of Comet Fuel, a boutique, strategy-first, agency that helps businesses run sophisticated ROI-positive marketing campaigns to fuel long-term growth, without all the typical agency BS.

We discuss the no-BS way to build your marketing presence, the challenges of products and automation that every entrepreneur and business needs to solve, and just explore lots of fun parts of marketing techniques and platform automation. 

Check out Comet Fuel here: https://cometfuel.com/

Check out Jarod’s awesome and fun website here: https://jarodspiewak.com/

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

What’s happening? Eric Wright here. Host of DiscoPosse Podcast. Thank you for listening, subscribing, hopefully and doing all sorts of other things like that. Wow. This is really going to be a fun episode because I get introduced to somebody new and so do you. This is Jarod Spiewak. Jarod is the lead strategist and founder of Comet Fuel. He’s a really interesting character. And first of all, his approach to things, somebody who if you actually go to his website, jarodspiewak.com, it’s actually hilariously awesome how he puts his stuff together.

We talk about growth, we talk about automation, we talk about the human integration, with marketing. Really great stuff. So definitely you’re going to want to check out Common Fuel and much more. But in the meantime, speed of things you do want to check out. I am going to ask you a little favor, because if you have data out there, you’ve got systems, you’ve got anything. Make sure that you look at our amazing supporters, like the folks at Veeam Software who have you covered for everything you need for your data protection needs, whether it’s on premises, in the Cloud, whether it’s Cloud Native stuff.

Yeah. You thought it was Cloud Native, thereby it is safe. No, actually, it’s just a new way of deploying apps that are going to get ransomware to not go away. Not cool. But you know what’s cool ransomware getting fixed because you used Veeam software. So get on it. Go to vee.am/DiscoPosse. It’s literally that easy. Go check it out. And they’ve got some really great offerings. So whatever you got, they can back that SaaS out. Oh, that’s right, SaaS.

Don’t forget, Office 365 teams, all sorts of good stuff. And there’s more new stuff coming. Wink, wink.

All right, cool. Second piece. Speaking of protection, what about the data that’s flying around on your Wi-Fi when you’re sitting in a Starbucks or, sorry, I don’t mean to make a fun of Starbucks, just the first one that came to my head. But when you’re out there, do you really think that you’re safe in the wild on someone else’s Wi-Fi? I hope not, because you’re not. The best thing you can do is use super easy things like ExpressVPN.

I’m a user. I’m loving it. So if you want to check it out, go to tryexpressvpn.com/DiscoPosse. It’s just quick, easy. You get a little deal. And on top of that, you protect your data in-flight, protect your identity. All right. Oh, yeah. And go to diabolicalcoffee.com because I love the coffee. Oh, I’m the founder. There you go. Full disclosure.

All right, let’s get to the good stuff. This is Jarod Spiewak. Enjoy.

Hey, this is Jarod Spiewak. I’m the founder and lead strategist of Comet Fuel. And you’re listening to the DiscoPosse Podcast.

Jarod, this is really cool, because when I saw your name come up on the guest list, I did a bit of background, and I always love to dig in. You are prolific in a lot of ways, especially for somebody who you seem to have about three decades of business sense in you, even though you haven’t got three decades on the ground. So we’ve got a lot of really cool stuff we can cover. If you want to give a quick intro about yourself before we get started for folks that are new to you, that’d be great.

We’ll talk about Comet Fuel. We’ll talk about the problems you’re solving, and also this is super close to me because I’ve got more and more folks who are really often struggling with how do they make the jump into better engagement. How do they get conversion. And really what’s the science and the techniques that we can wrap into them that we’re kind of unlocking a lot of just regularly good old-fashioned human behavior. But for whatever reason, we fail at it all the time.

There’s a ton that we could talk about that I think would be really interesting. But for anybody that doesn’t know me, my name’s Jored Spiewak, as hopefully you know by now. When you say that I have a lot of experiences because I got my start when I was 14, I decided that I was going to graduate early. So I started college at 15, graduate high school at 16, went to college for my marketing degree. I finished my degree a month after I turned 18. I was working in a corporate marketing job at the time, about a year into the corporate job, I was like, all right, cool.

I’m done with this. Just really not for me. And I signed up for a website called Upwork, which is much smaller at the time. Just after their merger of oDesk and Elance started working for about $5 an hour with the goal of, hey, let’s find another job somewhere. Did a bunch of interviews. No one wanted to hire me even as I was building up a portfolio, so that obviously didn’t work out. But pretty soon after, I had essentially resigned to, well, this is going nowhere. I got a full time job offer from a marketing agency which kind of transitioned me into, okay, great time to take this seriously.

I started off as an on page SEO. Within a couple of months, I was promoted to the lead SEO strategist. Over time, I freelanced more and more, went from full time, part time to no time at that agency. And then I was sitting with all these clients. I was like, okay, great. What’s next for me? Started my agency, Blue Dog Media in 2018, February 2018, and then throughout 2019 and 2020, planned the rebrand over to Comet Fuel and then early 2021, publicly launched Comet Fuel.

Now this is the fun part of, when you talked about Upwork and coming through that, I love to actually tap into that the transition from going from gig work to then agency to then effectively being agency. Right. So now you’d think that this could be a natural transition, but I find a lot of people get jammed up at stage one, and they’re still kind of grinding it out at Upwork. Or maybe they’re not even sure how to market themselves. And this is probably why you made the rapid transition from phase one to two to founding your own team on this one.

So maybe talk about how you started with gig work. What was really cool about it, but then how you made that jump to kind of go beyond.

Yeah. So I think that there were a couple of things that gave me an advantage over perhaps some other people. One was that I had a lot of agency experience going into this, which is that I worked for an agency. I had corporate marketing experience as well. So I had the more corporate refinement type of structure that anyone that’s worked in corporate is kind of used to. So I had that as well. So I had that sort of business sense. But I was also when I was freelancing, working for a lot of other agencies at the same time.

So it’s taking a lot of effort observing as to how things were run so that I would have an idea of how things would need to look once I went on my own, whether that was only freelancing in a more business minded focus or if that was to start my own agency. So I took a lot of observations there. The other thing that I did was I made sure that I had as large of a nest egg as possible where I was pulling in as a freelancer, multiple five figures a month in revenue, which made it a much easier transition than being like, okay, great. I have one or two clients, now let’s make this work.

So I was very slow in that transition on one hand. And then once I decided, okay, great. I’m going to make a shift here. I went from full time at that agency down to part time. So I had that extra levy that not everybody may have where I was half and half essentially. And I could build that up, make sure. Okay, great. This is sustainable. Cut it down to a couple of hours, just providing support over at the agency where if I needed to, I could have been like, hey, actually, my bad. I need to come back full time.

And luckily, I had a good enough relationship there that it would have been possible that transition part was kind of slow. But then once I officially left the agency, I took about two months to figure out what exactly I wanted to do, whether I wanted to keep freelancing or if I wanted to start an agency. And then once I decided, okay, great. It’s going to be an agency. I had that background, experience and knowledge to go this is what it needs to look like to a certain degree.

And then once I had actually been in the saddle for about a year, I then said, okay, great. I’ve followed what I saw from other people. Now I feel comfortable. Let me now follow what I think I want to do in my own way. So I would say, because of my experience, it was an easier transition. I had the opportunity to make it a somewhat smooth transition that I know that not everybody would have that opportunity or an employer that was understanding enough to be like, hey, go do your own thing.

We understand. But I was lucky enough to be in that position.

Well, I think part of it is you set yourself up for that opportunity in a lot of ways. Quite often we hear about sort of the Tim Ferriss’s four hour work week and his approach and a lot of folks that have adopted that style. It is actually okay to go to your boss and say, hey, I’ve got this thing like look at this, I’ve literally got a row of coffee beans behind me because I have a coffee company that I run and I have a full time job and I have a podcast.

There’s a way in which you can go to your boss and say, hey, I do these other things. And then somebody say, and these other things are actually starting to generate revenue. I’m here and I like this. And then quite often they recognize that you are going to go anyways, the best thing they can do is keep you and sort of leverage your skills and strength while you’re there, and they’re kind of more prepared instead of just suddenly going, hey, all right. I hear Jarod just had started his own agency, and he’s leaving.

More and more people are really embracing the fact that the best thing you can do for your staff is to make them successful in life, not just in their job.

Yes, I would agree. Unfortunately, I don’t think every business agrees with that. So some people will be in that position. Other people. Unfortunately, there are some people that go, oh, you’re thinking about doing your own thing. Okay. Well, you’re fired, and we’ll just find somebody else.

And depending on what state you’re in, sometimes they can just fire you for no grounds just because you said that other States do have laws against that. But for some people, it will be easy for other people. Unfortunately, they’re in a much more difficult position, and it might be where what they have to do is.

Okay. Great. I’m putting in 100 hours a week because I need to make sure this other thing is sustainable while also making sure it doesn’t impact my job, because I know as soon as they think something is up, they’re going to be hiring my replacement.

Yeah. I guess if I think of the captive audience, I’m probably calling on a select group of people who have been successful in it. There’s actually probably a lot of folks who don’t have that opportunity, but opportunity being created is much more self directed. And like you at 14 years old, you are suddenly on a different path than most people at 14 years old. And I bet that’s actually not the start. I’m betting there is a lot of entrepreneurial spirit that you probably were heading into preschool and thinking about selling the other kids some good lunches. There’s got to be.

You’re not entirely wrong.

So going to your origins. Jarod, what got you started on the entrepreneurial path?

Yeah. So I think some of it was I was just born that way. To be completely honest, I’m not intelligent enough to talk about this in detail, but I was just learning about how just basically scientifically, how chromosomes work and how 99.9% of us is all exactly the same. But that 0.1% of us is designated by birth, and some of that makes us less prone to being injured in accidents or more prone to being better at sports or whatever it may be. And so I think I was just programmed in a way that I was just always fascinated by business and management and making money where I’ve always been a big gamer.

But some of the games that I enjoyed the most were around resource management or tycoon business games like the old flash games I used to play all the time, and I was always interested in wanting to work in some weird way where when I was in, I believe it was fifth grade, I was allowed to watch a lot of movies that people my age generally weren’t allowed to watch. So I was watching a lot of older horror movies with my dad, like the old Child’s Play movies, Cube, Saw.

I was really big in the Saw at the time, a bunch of other movies like that. And so what I would do is I would go into the school library and I would basically just copy the plot of the movie into one or two pages, but have the setting, be the school and have everybody who died be my friends and everybody wanted to know how they died. So I would get paid one dollar for every copy of the story that I gave them. And it would take like an hour, maybe two to turn this out.

There was no story building. It was just okay, great. We’re at the school. We’re in this classroom. This person died because of that, whatever it may be. And it was just the same exact deaths in the movie as I could remember it. And I just did that. And then on the way home from school every day, I would go in to the corner store, and I would just buy a swim gym for one dollar. And then my mom was like, Where is he getting this money?

Because we don’t get allowance. And I think at one point she was like, ‘Are you selling drugs or something?’, which we weren’t in an area that would really happen. So it’s kind of funny, but yeah, I just kind of had that kind of nagging. I was always interested in it for some weird way.

I guess the more and more and talk to folks too. And you hear this. It’s not often necessarily the business itself. Like, people are not born to be business people, but they’re born creative and they’re able to use that creativity towards things. I hear the great quote it was from Jordan Peterson. Love him, hate him, people are on either side of that. But what he did say is that creative people tend to create a lot of wealth, but rarely for themselves. And it was a funny thing to hear.

It’s true, because I think of a lot of people that they would go to a job and they would get a great job and people love them and they do amazing creative things. But they lack that next ability to kind of take it to doing it on their own and kind of owning their outcome. And that’s why I loved your origin story is pretty amazing, because that then sort of gets amplified as you go and you take on, you see Upwork and you don’t just see it as a way to get a salary.

You probably went into it seeing an amplification opportunity much more than just I can get X number of hours of work done. You were probably immediately thinking like, how can I get 5 hours of work done in 1 hour? Can I get seven clients at the same time? That creative mind then the sort of tycoon lifestyle comes together in a really beautiful way. Is there anything else do you think, Jarod, that kind of prepared you for that?

So for me, a lot of it is just learning a lot. I mean, other things that I did across the time was I also signed up to Craigslist and I was doing gig work on Craigslist. And so I was meeting strangers at, like, 14, 15, sometimes going into their house. And there were literally times where I was getting more often than not, we would agree on payment, but people wouldn’t pay is like, okay, great. Here’s my business idea. Come into my house and hear it out and pick it apart.

Or if someone needed a math tutor. I guess I’m a math tutor. If someone needed a writer, I just happened to know English so I can put some words on paper for you, whatever it may be. So I just had that sort of knack, but I wouldn’t say it was necessarily skilled nor intentional with a lot of it. I think honestly, a lot of it was just luck in the way of probability, where luck isn’t necessarily random chance. But it’s just statistics. If you roll the die six times statistically, you’re probably going to hit six at least once.

Maybe you need to roll ten times, whatever it may be. So I was just taking those opportunities. And I think over time I started to realize what I had, which was that when I got on Upwork, it was because I was just frustrated with my job. I started trying to work for $20 an hour. Nobody hired me. I lowered it to ten, nobody hired me. I lowered it to five. I started to get hired. Once I got that, I moved it up a little bit on the platform.

I was like, okay, great. Now I have a thing or two. What if I add this to a portfolio and I try to go get a job somewhere else? Okay, great. No one else wants to hire me. Maybe I’ll look at this Upwork thing a little bit more seriously, and then, oh, wow. This can actually be something. So a lot of it was kind of stumbling into it that I could make it sound like I knew exactly what I was doing. But I honestly didn’t. But what I have always done is absorbed knowledge, like a sponge.

And when I got into SEO, which was kind of what cemented me within the marketing world for sure, was I created a custom RSS feed for, like, two, three dozen different websites, and I read every new article that came out over a weekly period. I did it once a week, but I would also go back retrospectively and over time read back about everything that happened over the course of about two years, and I would join all the forms and I would get really engrossed with it.

So what I didn’t have naturally, I would try to learn from other people by just absorbing a disgusting amount of content.

I could ask you the question. I remember getting asked this one time by somebody and they looked as I did a lot of weird. I’m always looking for things. I’m always doing extra stuff, and it’s partly like, I really respect your approach. What can I do to learn to be better at this, to learn more about it, learn the background to it. I was always sort of just enthralled by the idea of not just knowing something but knowing how it worked and it can go into everything.

I used to take stuff apart all the time, and I remember one time a friend of mine, he asked me, what would you do if you were suddenly broke and homeless? Like, just like tomorrow something happens and that’s it. You lose your apartment, you’re out on the street. What do you do? And immediately I think, okay, well, I live out. I was in Toronto at the time, like, I’m not far. I can actually run or I can bike down to the Eaton Center. There’s buskers there. I want to have a guitar.

But if I spend the day, I actually know a few things I could do. And I got to make enough money. There’s a coffee time and it’s open 24 hours, and they’re okay with people staying there overnight. I just kind of went through this whole scene of, like, I’ll do that. And then I know this place that does second hand guitars. If I have to, I can just make enough to rent it. Whatever.

And in the end, he goes, that’s why you won’t be homeless tomorrow, because the moment you were thinking about it, you weren’t thinking shelter. You weren’t thinking, oh, goodness. What am I going to do? You immediately go into response mode of like, let’s start taking action. Let’s start thinking about things we can do. And that’s why I really dig your personality and your approach to stuff, because I think more people, it’s in them. But maybe they haven’t unlocked. And it doesn’t have to be, like, big, but there’s introducing adversity almost like an immunization, is something I think everybody needs.

We have this problem that people don’t prepare for it. But it seems to me like you are automatic, but you just think like, okay, what if it all went away right now? I had to start again right now. I bet in five minutes you’d be having a pretty solid plan.

Yeah, I could probably have one right now. Personally, what I would do is I would probably go down to the local library, get a library card, and I have access to the computer there for, I believe, an hour or two at a time, unless they changed it since the last time was there. I’d probably go back on the site like a worker similar Fiverr and over one to 2 hours a day or whenever I can get access to that, start working on that, find any sort of job that pays anything.

Just so I have some amount of money. So I don’t die from hunger or thirst. And then at the same time, we’ll try to find another place in which I can do either overnight work or some sort of office work where I don’t have a lot of supervision. So what I would do is, for example, let’s say a hotel clerk overnight, like, it’s the desk job where not a whole lot of people are coming in, not a whole lot of supervision. Maybe one or two other people there.

I’d find a way to make enough to have a laptop, and so I’d be working on both at the same time, building up the income on the other side of things to eventually make that job redunting because it would be for placing the income. So I’d essentially find a way to work on both at the same time while building up something where I’m more comfortable with, which would be the online stuff, but have something a little bit more stable to make sure that however long it takes on one front, I’ll be at least somewhat fine.

And that really is amazing to hear just that thought process that goes in another thing that I really like. And let’s take into Comet Fuel a bit. One of my favorite things about meeting and reading about an organization and about a team or a person, anybody, whether it’s just the fact that when you go there and you say this is what we do, okay, of course everybody has that, right? This is the stuff that I’d love for you to pay me to do. In effect, that’s what a lot of businesses have.

But you’re a rare treat in that. One of the most prominent things you have is this is what we don’t do and immediately going to the market saying this is literally my niche, and this is where we’re going to be fantastic for you. So it gets that out of the way. It probably saves a ton of, oh, Jarod, hey, now that we got you on the phone, can you do this? Can you do this? I like that approach.

Let’s talk about what Comet Fuel does and let’s dabble on that what we don’t do. I love that you’ve given good edges.

Yeah, sure. So in a nutshell, Comet Fuel is a boutique strategy first agency that helps exceptional businesses fuel growth through Google ads, PPC, as well as SEO. And I, at least, like to say without the typical agency but yes. In terms of what we don’t do, it’s something that I see as a bit of a moving target because it’s something that we find out more and more over time. But it’s very hard for the average consumer being a business owner marketing professional to look at an agency and know how are they different from everybody else.

Because a lot of the stuff sounds the same, especially if you don’t have hands on experience with that particular marketing channel. And so I’ve tried to, over time, understand what the greatest advantages as well as the greatest pitfalls are. And some of them are much harder to put into words than others. But I do try to make it as clear as possible, and whether that’s through content or whether that’s through a discovery call or through the proposal process of our style of doing things. It’s one of the reasons why I like going on podcast so much is because when people want to potentially work from, with us, I don’t say go look at our case studies.

Go look at our testimonials. Go look at whatever. I say, go listen to a couple of podcasts because that will give you a much greater understanding. You’ll be able to hear me. You’ll be able to see how we approach things. Do I talk technical? Am I talking about a bunch of stuff that you go, that’s all really basic. We’re way above that. Okay.

Maybe we’re not at the level that you need to go work with someone that’s at a higher level, or maybe look at you here. And you say, wow, I didn’t understand any of that. What are these metrics? What are these KPIs? What does that strategy even entail that I can’t even imagine how much that cost. Okay, then maybe we’re at a level that you’re not ready for it, it wouldn’t make sense for you to be for. So I try to push the content a lot, because no matter how much time and energy I put into what goes on the website, as much as it’s informative, there’s still always going to be some effect of like, hey, we’re pushing you to sign up to a discovery call, whereas on the content, it’s much softer and say, Listen, if you go, hey, I don’t like that guy.

Okay, great. Then don’t reach out and we’ve just saved each other a bunch of time and money.

I love that. It’s funny, too. Like a website is always like a resume like, you want to put everything in there, but then you realize you can’t because it won’t get read. And then it’s always this really intricate sort of balance of detail and specificity to making sure people know you’re not just kind of one thing, but another area as well. If we could talk about this is, who’s your ideal customer, like somebody that’s thinking? All right, I’m digging Jarod’s story. I’m digging your approach. Am I a good customer or a good client for you and the Comet Fuel team?

Yeah. So this is something that’s been a very interesting point of ours, which is that when I initially started, everyone talks about niche, usually in terms of here’s the industry that we work with, or here’s the one service that we provide. So they’re either the SEO company for whoever or they’re the dental marketing company or the dental SEO company, et cetera. And that’s how we kind of started off because my background was in law firm marketing. So I started off very specific with law firms at the time, contractors.

And then it kind of expanded to service based businesses. And then over time, what happened is we’re running into more and more instances where it’s like, okay, great. Here’s a national company, which now means we can’t even work in this industry anymore because we’re working with one business. So it doesn’t really necessarily make sense. And I would rather, in my opinion, work with one business that’s like, okay, great. Here’s $50,000 a month budget. We can be really aggressive. We don’t have to worry about this content writer cost $0.12 per instead of $0.10 per word.

Is that going to work? And we have much more ability in scale for growth compared to working with maybe 50 companies on the same industry at two grand a month, which would be double the amount. But the progress is much slower and the retention is lower, et cetera. So over time, what I started to look for was more of a personality. And what I forgot to just mention is also there’s a big difference between a small company industry and a large company in the industry in which they can’t really be compared.

So what we tend to look for is businesses who are usually at the seven figure or eight figure mark, or they’re below that. Usually they tend to be high margin, which their profit margins may be roughly the same as companies that do more money there. And usually they have an intermediate understanding of marketing and both business, so that if we go into a situation and we’re looking at the lifetime value of a customer and maybe where the lifetime value is $100 and it’s $10 a month, but it’s going to cost us $20 to acquire a customer, then we start to have discussions around gross margins, net margins, operating margins, burn rates, because if you’re taking a loss at first, how long are you actually going?

Do you have the cash flow to support this loss for how long? It would take six months to be profitable in this campaign. Can you actually afford that? Or did you just look at the lifetime number values and go, yeah, it’ll work out eventually. We’re able to have these discussions. It’s an indication that we’ll be able to move forward while also considering all aspects of the business, which is something that we like to do, because with my background of marketing, business and finance, I tend to bring that to the table.

And us being a boutique company, we only work with about 25 companies at a time, and so I’m still able to be very heavily involved, which I enjoy with the actual clients. So we can get on a call and we can talk at a very high level about the business as a whole, the numbers, et cetera. And so we can’t have those conversations, it tends not to really work out. So I’ve been making strides to be able to explain this in a much simpler way, but a lot of it comes down to, I can usually jump on a call with somebody and then understand through the mannerisms in their voice and through the way that they talk about their own business, whether or not there’s somebody who is what we’re looking for, and what we also try to look for is just companies that we actually want to see succeed, which is something I’m pretty big on.

If I don’t believe in the company, if I wouldn’t be a customer of the company, or if I’m not already a customer of the company, because sometimes that happens, then it’s just not somebody that I want to work with regardless of what their budget is.

It’s amazing in that discovery call when you really do walk through that and you get them to explore what’s your customer acquisition costs, what’s your current strategy? Because that’s often the biggest thing is just knowing where they are on their journey of taking on and you get to very quickly ask critical questions that they won’t ask themselves of, like, is this an area that is new to you? Are you comfortable? Do you feel like your YouTube spend is working out like, do you really need to go to seven networks?

Do you really think you need TikTok right now? You can ask questions like that that they are afraid to bring to their own team because they’re just sort of looking out at the world going, I need to unlock every channel I can. Meanwhile, it’s actually counter because they may be spending so much in each channel that CAC goes hugely high. And then long term value and customer long term value is sometimes not even measured correctly. It’s really cool when you can just come in and say, all right, where are you at right now?

Where do you need to be? What do you consider success at the end of this discussion today?

Yeah. There’s a couple of really core questions that really break it down. And one of those when you mention, how many marketing channels are on and whatnot. A really nice question I like to ask is, how are you tracking Omnichannel now? A lot of that is honestly built into Google Analytics. We can be very simple as. Okay, great. Someone clicked onto Google Ad converted on Facebook. And now depending on what sort of attribution model you’re using will depend on how much money actually gets attributed to each channel.

If I’m talking to someone that doesn’t understand that, then that can sometimes be a really big pain when we’re running through a Google campaign and it’s, hey, why is Google only made $20,000 in revenue this month?

And we’re looking at, yes, but your Facebook remarketing has recaptured the people from Google, which we can see through analytics or an Omnichannel, two of one is being used. And if you look at it from a first quick perspective, Google Ads has brought in 80,000 revenue. If you look at it from a last click perspective, it’s brought in 20. If we look at it from this perspective, et cetera. And then do you understand how to really model that and understand that and look at that and allocate budget accordingly?

Or is it just very binary with what I see in the Google Analytics dashboard or the Google Ads dashboard? Is it? And okay, great. Let’s turn it off and then not realize that how it’s going to affect the Facebook ads because the Facebook ads were making $60,000 a month in revenue because they were remarketing to the targeted Google audience.

Is there a common set of problems that maybe we can try to unpack for people because if they look into their own current strategy or their current tactical approach to stuff, there’s probably some really fast things that we could love to light people up and have them go like, oh, man, I’m totally doing that.

Yeah. So what’s kind of funny is a lot of what I see usually I can go into almost any account of any size of business, of any marketing sophistication and usually find one or two basic things that aren’t aligned. Not because people aren’t smart enough to notice that, but usually when you become used to something, you stop reanalyzing every little thing. But when someone new comes into it, they have to look at everything they need that full perspective of everything that’s going on. So there’s a couple of things that I’ll see.

One, very basic conversion tracking needs to be set up within Google Ads. A lot of people that are experienced marketers will have at least the basic set up. But SEO isn’t always tracked. Those goals aren’t always pulled back into Google Analytics, where you have a central dashboard tracking everything from every channel together. Also tracking various types of engagement. Okay, great. You’re an e-commerce store. Somebody bought. Well, what happened in that process? How many people that clicked on this keyword versus that keyword added the product to the cart, versus made it to part way through the checkout page or whatever it may be.

So you can see where that breakdown is and not just go, okay, people from this keyword convert at 2%. People from this keyword convert at 1%. Let’s turn off the 1% and spend more on the 2% where maybe you realize that the people that convert at 1%, a lot of them make it to the final checkout page, and then they stop because it turns out the coupon code that you’re promoting to your ads was no longer valid. About three months ago. People are really frustrated because they enjoyed the deal, and that’s why they’re not converting because they feel so that they’ve been cheated.

When they expected something to be $70, they get it to the end of the car and say, hey, coupon Invalid. Please pay us $100 or whatever it may be. So really tracking everything end to end, if possible, gives you much more clear perspective as to where the breakdown is and not just where do we make money? Where do we not? For lead generation businesses, what you’re able to do for most, I would assume most marketing channels, I can’t say for all, but I know for Google Ads you can. For SEO is a lot more difficult.

It’s just how search works. But for Google Ads, you can pull in offline conversion, and you can pull that and tie that into your actual funnel stages as well. And so what you’re able to see is not just who filled out our lead capture form, whether you’re a software company going after a demo or whether you’re a service based business, going after some sort of consultation or whatever it may be, is what percentage of these people actually showed up to the demo or consultation, what percentage of them actually made it to the next step?

And then paid us whatever your funnel looks like. We are able to do is use a hidden form field to capture URL parameters, such as the GCLID, which is the unique tracking code that Google uses. And then when someone makes it through your funnel, export that into a CSV, upload it back into Google Ads, and then retroactively, you can go, which of these clicks actually went to customers and go, okay, great. Keyword A converts at 12%, but only 1% of people actually convert to customers where keyword B converts at 2%, but 50% of people convert to customers.

Clearly, one of those is way better, but you would only know that by pulling everything in end to end. So that’s one thing on conversion tracking. The other thing that I’ll see a lot, which I find annoying as a consumer. And so it’s one of the biggest things I look for for anybody that is e-commerce or software related or online education related specifically is stop remarketing to existing customers, especially if you’re on some sort of retainer like a software. I can’t tell you how many times I am using a software, and then I get an ad to sign up for a free trial of things, something that I already pay monthly or yearly for.

Very easily, even if it’s on the back end. Whatever page people log into. If they make it to the back end, have your Google Analytics tag on there with same property, and then just add that as an exclusion to your remarketing list. So people who have logged in are no longer on that remarketing list. If it’s e-commerce and you sell a product. Depending on what you sell, it can be too complicated to do this if you sell a bunch of stuff that people might buy again the next day or like, if you’re Amazon, it’s impossible to do it.

But if you sell a couple of products, let’s say you sell shampoo. How long does it take your average user to go through a bottle of shampoo? Let’s say it takes two weeks. Okay, great. If someone buys today, don’t remarket them for two weeks. If you want to remarket people over the course of two weeks include only people who have been to the website who have not purchased within the past two weeks. After that point, you can remarket to people to get them to try and buy again.

Simple things like this can save a lot of time and money. It can save money on clicks. It can save money on, especially if you’re doing any CPM bidding where you’re just paying per impression, it can save a lot of money there, but it just makes the data a lot cleaner. And I would say those are some of the easiest things to fix. But I also see in, like, 90% of the accounts that I look at.

I’m with you on this pet peeve, because every once in a while I’ll buy something, and it’s a very specific product from a very specific company that is not a repeat buy, and there’s no upsells beyond it. I did it. I literally am the perfect conversion. And then for two days after I’m getting ads for the thing that I literally bought, it just blows my mind. I’m like, sometimes just because I want to punish them a little bit more, I click the ad just like, I’m going to spend your CPMs then.

If you’re going to keep blowing up your own marketing budget because you failed to acknowledge that I completed the conversion. But it is easy, I guess, for folks to just think of it as like, we’re going to remarket and retarget. That’s not the goal. It’s like the quality of the retargeting because every penny spent becomes dollars. And then hundreds of dollars then thousands of dollars when you get to any kind of scale. When you go to a company and they’re ready to engage you, Jarod. How often do you go in?

And like you said, they think they’re doing okay, but they’re not questioning stuff like that. I would imagine it’s a pretty, it’s an easy hit. And people probably appreciate because they don’t have time to go get really good at this stuff. They’re just like, I’ve got Omnichannel marketing, I’m doing. I can’t know every single one through and through.

Yeah, I would say it’s probably 95% of the time, and we probably do it, too. I’m sure there’s tons of stuff within our processes that we just haven’t noticed that could be done better just because we’re used to the same thing and doing it the same way every time that it’s become automatic. A lot of it, in my opinion, is just having a new perspective kind of come in and take a look at things and go, why is this like this and someone go, oh, well, I never actually thought about that.

We set the remarketing list because we needed to get it done. So we just set it up and ran with it, and we saw that it was working. And so nothing in our tool said that, hey, this remarking list is performing under average, so we need to take a closer look at it. So it just kind of sat there. But one of the good things of the economies of scale is that if you’re spending a million dollars a month in ads, getting the same result while being able to lower your budget by 1% is quite significant.

That’s an additional employee that you could’ve hired by somebody potentially spending five minutes looking at your account. I was just looking at an account the other day that spends about $10,000 a day or so. Their goal is to kind of scale that to about ten times of what they’re doing now throughout Omnichannel, throughout Google Ads, probably about tripling what they’re doing now. And that was one of the things I saw was like, wow, you have such really sophisticated campaigns. There’s so much going on here a lot of this is functioning incredibly well to the point where I’m kind of jealous of it because I know internally that’s not their background.

And I’m like, how are you doing this? Well, in some of these areas without a background in this, like, this is really impressive. And then I go through and like, oh, here’s a really easy way that you can improve everything they’re doing, probably across not just one channel. But you probably use the same list across all these other channels because the list were created through Google Analytics, pulled in through Google Ads. And I have to assume most channels would also integrate with Google Analytics pretty well.

And so you’re probably using the same remarketing tactics. And if it doesn’t pull in, you’re kind of making them the same way, so that one observation could have saved a whole bunch of money across every channel, just kind of regardless of what’s just being seen in ads. So it’s quite common. And I don’t think it’s necessarily that someone intentionally overlooks on it. It becomes so automatic to see the same thing every day that a new perspective is going to question things. It’s going to take a little bit of closer look, because that understanding of how everything is set up, how everything works has to be built from the ground up.

Yeah. I think the new phrase we could always use is there’s no greater lie than one batch by Google Analytics. If you dig deep enough into those dashboards, you can put together some charts that always go up and to the right. But as you said, it’s the optimizations that especially at scale, they can really, really have a material effect, first of all, on just the cost. But just the efficiency, right? Conversion rates. And that’s one thing that people often forget is when we talk about conversion rates, we’re talking about 1% to 4%.

So if you’re spending money on 96% that aren’t going to convert, that 4% has got to count. And if you have to scale to continue to reach that four to five, like, there’s no way to get to 20% conversion. You just have to get really good at optimizing to scale to get to 4% with a larger push, right?

Within certain industries. And it also depends on what your offer is. For e-commerce direct transaction, Yes. For service based or lead generation, generally looking for 10 to 20%. Some of the accounts we’re working on will push 50-60% just because it’s been refined over such a long period of time. But what you’re looking for is not only a conversion rate, but anything that’s a percentage based is going to always be a very misleading metric. Anything that is an average or a percentage needs way more context for it to be valuable to you, because we’re not just looking for conversions.

We’re looking for quality conversions. Now, obviously, with something like e-commerce, you’re going to be able to see what the revenue was made or revenue wasn’t made. For lead gen, this is one of the big pitfalls is, okay, great. A conversion happened.

Let’s spend more money here because that’s not necessarily a quality conversion or one that’s going to be more profitable. And so looking at the bigger picture in those instances, such as okay, great. It’s a construction business, and they have a higher conversion rate in this area. But that area is 50 miles north. And so what happens is they’re going to have to increase their bids to account for travel time. They’re going to be able to do less jobs in a day because they’re further away from where most of their jobs are.

And not only that, but they’re probably going to be bidding higher than their local competitors who don’t have to factor in the travel costs nearly as much. They’re less likely to win those jobs in the first place. So even though Location B has a 15% higher cost per conversion, it’s actually more profitable to spend more money here because the bids are going to be lower. It’s going to be faster and easier for them to get there. So it’s less resources on their end. They’re more well known in this local area.

This is where the corporate headquarters are, et cetera.

If anybody doesn’t hire you on the spot from just your explanation of that, then they’re really not thinking about their priorities, right? Because again, I love this. The thought process that goes into the approach is really important. I work with a lot of folks that you can’t see outside of, I just need to create a chart so that every Monday, I’ve got something that goes up and to the right, and we fall victim to that. That becomes the thing you measure. And it’s really tough because like having gone through work with ads and I’ve used Facebook Ads as my primary channel for my coffee company.

And if you don’t measure it right, I’ll say I’ll spend $400 on an ad which is very simple small thing. Like first thing, I spent my 1st $400 on an ad and conversion rate was really cool. And I made all of my money back with no problem at all. And then you go and you toss another $400 at that with the same ad and then you get like, 3% conversion. I’m like, okay, so if I were to look at one versus the other, it’s not going to be a good sampling.

If I take the average, it’s really going to water it all down. But then like you said, what if I took the existing customers and then I did stuff like retargeting close to the cart customers and I did retargeting. And then I see that. And then customers that buy. I send a follow up three weeks later because I know they’re going to run out of coffee and give them a coupon that shows up in their mailbox three weeks after they buy and the conversion rates are incredible.

There’s like, that approach now that I tested them like, okay, this is where I know if I can get them to the checkout and get them to click buy. I know I’ve got good follow on and I’ve got good other things, and there’s physical retargeting. Actually, I’d actually love to get your thoughts on that one. When does physical remarketing and retargeting come into play with companies?

So to what extent if you can define that a little bit more?

Yeah. So like, sort of the postcards like a real material follow up because I get it when I shoot a recent guest on. She was fantastic. Michelle Seiler Tucker, and I have her book on my shelf here because I just read it and she sends, like, a postcard, a handwritten postcard. And I’m like, this is awesome. Even if somebody gets a service to write the handwritten postcard, it doesn’t sends me to then go back and double check your website and find out when the next book is coming out or find it when the next thing is coming.

Where do you get involved in that? I guess first I should ask Jarod, and where do you find that being effective?

Yeah. So difficult question to answer for that do we get involved. Because I try to be very specific about what we do, but at the same time, try to be as much of an asset as possible with clients. So in terms of do we provide that service? No.

But we consult with clients about a ton of different marketing channels and give our feedback where we can. So for something like that, I would look at it from a couple of different perspectives. One would be retention because there are some things that you just can’t measure, and those tend to be some of the most profitable things out there. The reason being is that everybody is way too focused on being data driven to the point where it’s causing a lot more harm than good. And so, in my opinion, it’s much better to be data informed, which is more complicated.

There’s more pushback. It’s harder to prove things, but in terms of being people, I think it performs better. Now on the matter of being more data informed, I know that if I take a more personalized approach, it’s going to drive a better experience, even if people don’t outright tell me that. For example, we were working with a company that we’re no longer working with, and they were an e-commerce company, and we kept finding various small issues, sometimes major issues with various aspects of the business that we were genuinely concerned about.

I’ll do this for some clients, but I never tell them that I do. So I went to their site and I ordered one of their products. So now I’m on their actual post sale process, and I get to see everything end to end. So the email marketing, very generic, and this is a product that is something where there’s not a whole lot of, a lot of the people buying are not generally informed about it and are kind of hesitant to try it. And so there wasn’t a whole lot of education happening in the email or anything special for being a new customer.

The SMS messaging was very boring and kind of generic. As a new customer, I didn’t feel any different than somebody who has bought a thousand times before. I didn’t feel as though there’s anything really standing out about this. And then I got the package in the mail and it was a general, like, flat rate envelope. I completely forgot what I ordered at the time. So I was like, what is this? I opened it up and the products inside. There’s no box, there’s no branding. There’s not only that, but the way that the product was described on the website didn’t really seem to be aligned with what I got.

And also the one that I ordered was the wrong time, but with the right label on it. And so from end to end, it was just a completely poor experience where it’s one of the big things as to why we no longer work with them is that I would never buy from that company again. It was just such a poor experience, and they’re not necessarily going to get that feedback from people because it’s just easier to go. Okay, great. That’s $20, whatever. That was a waste. I just won’t order from here again.

And so just by sending something like a handmade postcard, you won’t necessarily be able to track like people are. I mean, you can put tracking codes like oh, they’re ordering more. Maybe you A/B test, like, do people order more? We send this versus we don’t. And that’s all fine. But I know that long term way pass being able to easily measure this over the course of several years. People are probably more likely to tell their friends about me. If I’m sending out handwritten postcards, people are more likely to probably order for longer periods of time, which is harder to track, especially when you have so many different touch points happening and so many different.

Was it the emails? Was it the events that we’re doing? Was it the TV et cetera? And so for something like that, I would know it would probably work out in the long term. But for smaller businesses that have to be much more careful with every dollar that they spend, it’s something that would be very cost conscientious about because it’s something that maybe it helps over the course of three to five years, a lot. But maybe it slightly increases orders over the course of, like a year or two where it’s very hard to measure what’s happening.

So be a little bit careful there. But I always like to see how things can be tracked as much as possible, such as. Okay, great. We can track from a data perspective, when was this sent out? Roughly when they would have received it? And when was their next order compared to people that haven’t sent to sell? If you have enough customers, you can do an actual split test, make sure you’re actually running the test properly and you have enough that you can actually get a real sample size. Otherwise it’s just going to be data that doesn’t really mean anything.

But also, if you put a special coupon code, maybe on that, put a special maybe a website link, so you can track how many people actually visit from that website, or if you have a customer support number where it’s like, oh, thanks so much for your first ever order. We’d love if you would call us directly and even we’re not available, leave us a voicemail. Let us know what you felt about it. Or here’s an email that you can respond to, et cetera.

How many people actually contact that specific email or call that specific number? CallRail will cost you an extra dollar a month or Twilio, if you have a more technical background, it will be a lot cheaper. So I think it’s a good idea. I think it’s one of those things really difficult to track in the long term. And because of that, it’s probably incredibly profitable. But for a lot of businesses, that’s where it also becomes very scary when they go, okay, great. This is a very limited marketing budget.

How do I explain to myself or how do I explain to my boss that this is working? Sometimes you can’t. And a lot of that comes down to the data-informed side of things, which is that reasonably of the ten different coffee brands that maybe they’ve tried within the past year, how many of them have personally reached out to them?

Yeah, it’s funny. And it becomes a thing of measure what matters. And also, like you said, there’s the personalization. There’s the period of time over which it would be effective. I just need to get people and get that first customers and then work on the customer delight experience from that point forward’ there’s no point in like I said, thinking about how do I retain an 18 month customer when I have zero customers or 20 customers? I’m like, I just need to get to 100 customers, and then we can begin to backfill and do some of that post sales delighting type of thing.

And again, using data and anecdotal information to be able to inform that like you said, it’s data driven. It’s just been washed out as a phrase because people say, oh, we’re data driven, like, I can take any set of data and make it tell the story that I want to. But are you actually merging it with true anecdotal experience? And then, like I said, data informed as a much better thing. On the Google side of things, and I guess in general, Google is a moving target.

Everything is. We all saw the introduction of the Core Web Vitals in around July timeframe that kicked in leading up to it. Everybody was freaking out because they’re like, I’m going to get punished for my web speed and it’s going to affect my search ranking results. Is this going to affect my SEO and my ability to do CPMs? The irony was the blog from Google about Core Web Vitals fails Core Web Vitals, like the actual product blog from Google doesn’t pass their own test. So number one, is it real as a worry?

And number two, how do you stay on top of things like that? I would assume, Jarod, that nothing is done in your world. We have to keep revisiting. Am I right on that assumption?

Yeah, you’re absolutely correct. So for a little bit of context in 2018, maybe 2019. Don’t quote me on that. Google announced, I believe again, don’t quote me on this. It was the only time they’ve announced how many updates they’ve made to their search algorithms over the course of a year. And it was over 3500 changes over the course of a year. Most of these changes will go completely unnoticed. If you were to use a range tracking tool, which if you use a phone and we don’t, nowadays. It’s not going to be the end of the world.

But if you look and you see that fluctuation, we go from anywhere from five to three, depending on the day. You’re not going to be able to look at that normal fluctuation go, what happened? Where? Oh, maybe that was a Google update. And that’s why we’re now four more often than we were five. Or maybe it was just that you did something and then the way that Google’s indexes work is that they can come and crawl your website and then they render different parts of the website at different times.

It takes anyone with a technical background knows it’s much easier to parse HTML than is JavaScript. It’s going to take a lot longer with how much code is on websites nowadays. It’s going to take Google a long time to understand that long time in terms of Google. They just crawled half the way. It takes time to do that. And when you look at tiered indexes and when you look at ranking and reranking, look at all the sophistication that’s built in. It’s really hard to understand exactly what every little nuance is and what did or did not affect you.

What I’ve learned over the past ten years is that there have been very few updates that I have been worried with for the types of businesses that we work with, which is not something that are in very dangerous niches. And what I mean by that is your money, your life type stuff like if you’re in weight loss, if you’re in a very, if you provide a lot of financial information, especially on the more sketchier side of things like crypto, penny stock stuff that tends to be pump-and-dump happening all the time. And that kind of stuff like you’re, a lot of medical advice, things like that are very scrutinized.

Those tend to see the biggest fluctuations also on the affiliate marketing side of stuff which I have various sites in that those are always wildly fluctuating. But the average business I see barely move unless something has been done wrong over a long period of time. In which case then we’ll get a little bit nervous where sometimes we’ll be working with a client that has done some sketchy stuff in the past for links, and every time that there’s a core algorithm update, it’s like, well, this tank, who knows it’s possible?

Stuff that you did years ago can really come back to bite you. Which is why I usually recommend people be very careful with SEO much more than any other marketing channel, because literally stuff that you did five or six years ago could come back and punish you tomorrow. So when it comes to specifically Core Web Vitals. We all know that we need fast websites. It’s not rocket size. If your website takes 20 seconds to load, nobody wants to buy from you. This has been known for years.

I think 2014 or 2015. A study was done that showed the average person like 40% of people bounce if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load on a mobile. Page speed has been important for UX for a long time. In terms of getting past Google scores. It’s something I haven’t really worried about too much like it’s something where it’s like we do want to try as best as possible. Now that Google has officially made it a ranking factor, is trying to be in the good zone as much as possible, but also page speed is a very complex topic where it also depends on the connection that people are using the browser that they’re using.

How it’s actually being rendered will affect the user apart from how it looks at Google. And there was a point in time where it was just page speed insights. I took a flat HTML site that I built that was very clean code that loaded in .2 seconds based on every test you’d ever run. If you load it in mobile or your desktop, it would always load instantly, and it had like a 12 out of 100 and then a much slower version of that site. Objectively like you try to visit, it would take about a second and a second and a half to load, would have like an 80.

When it comes to speed, I focus much more on the UX side of things than I focus on the Google side of things. And realistically, if everybody else in your industry that is also ranking for the same terms as you loads in 4 seconds and you load in three. And Google says that your scores are bad. Chances are there’s a worse. So in terms of that factor, you’re winning. How much of an impact of that factor is how heavily weighted it is.

If you want to dive into the algorithm side of things, it’s always a question how much it affects on a ranking versus a reranking basis. There’s always questions in there. Maybe there’s a little bit more detail in the patents. Or if you look at Stanford, has a lot of documents that will detail how algorithms can work just because that’s how they can work doesn’t mean they’re necessarily in use. But for something like Core Web Vitals specifically, it’s something I went, okay, cool. That’s interesting. And then just carry it on about my day and then look at the stores when they come into search console.

But aside from that, I didn’t really worry about that. The only things that I’ve really ever have to worry about with Google is when Penguin 4.0 came out in 2018. I believe that was something that had been anticipated for quite a few years, and so I was very interested to see what was going to happen with that, because Google went from punishing you for bad links to being able to ignore bad links, which made things both more difficult and easier at the same time.


And then where I’m much more concerned right now is on the Data Privacy things.

We just saw Facebook. It absolutely destroyed with iOS 14, where you might be getting the same result. But now you’re only being able to track, like, 70% or 80% of the conversions, right? Google was originally going to get rid of third party cookies in 2022. They now push that off to mid 2023. And with that, the question is, well, if they don’t find out a solution why remarketing has gone because they haven’t found a solution for that, FLOC or the Federated learning of Cohorts is heavily disputed.

WordPress is saying they’re going to block it by default. Google has a lot of stuff that they need to do right now. There’s very little insight as to what the advertising world will look like in terms of digital. Come here, mid 2023, assuming that the deadline doesn’t move again. And out of everything that’s happened within the past couple of years, that’s the only one that I’m genuinely nervous and hesitant about, because I think that one’s going to be tough for the advertising world, but also even tougher for the people who are paying advertisers who aren’t marketers themselves.

They don’t necessarily have the acumen to understand that you might be getting the same result, even though we can only make a report on 80% to 90 of what it was before, especially for those accounts that are just barely making it through where they need to be. That may now show that they’re underperforming below their baseline, even though that’s the same. In short, Core Web Vitals, whatever like it’s something, not really too worried about it. I’m more concerned about the Data Privacy changes we’re seeing right now.

Yeah. It’s amazing that you think about that. When I saw what’s potentially and it could happen both quickly and slowly in weird ways. And Google, if there’s legislative stuff that comes down, you can see very rapid, strange changes, because part of the problem is that they’re effectively the only game in town as far as the major game in town. Facebook obviously same story. They’ve got a significant presence. These are the champions of ad media. It used to be the signs you drive by on the highway, and it’s long gone now, right?

No one does TV advertising the same way anymore. If we see this some shift, the trick is what’s on the other side of it, we went from print media to television media and radio media like you got what the change would mean. You got how you could measure it. This is the first potential change where we have no idea what’s on the other side of it. We are almost taking it back to the billboards where you’re just saying, hey, I see 20,000 cars drive by this an hour.

I can’t tell you what the cars are, what the demographics are, the people driving them. But I can tell you that 20,000 cars drive by it every hour. That’s all we’re going to be that level of lack of knowledge on the digital front, which is kind of weird.

Yeah. There’s a big consumer movement towards massively limiting data to the point where some of the more, I would say extreme groups want there essentially to be no data, no tracking like you shouldn’t know who does or does not purchase from your own website, even first party tracking, let alone third party tracking. And what makes it quite challenging is things like view through and click through conversions, in which case, you might find that a YouTube video that you’re running doesn’t convince anybody to convert. But what it does do is help educate people of your brand.

And when you look over a 90-day period, you can see that people who viewed this ad ended up more likely in a different segment that you’re tracking? Or are they more likely to engage with your ads on another platform? And then without that, you might just assume, okay, well, YouTube doesn’t work. So let me turn that off completely. So on one hand, allegedly, by the way, before, I don’t want to stand alone bills for everybody. But allegedly, from the last I’ve heard Google saying that FLOC would have about 95% of the same performance as of right now.

But what people are nervous about is that you don’t really know until you know, and if you were to know it was only going to be 60% the same, you definitely wouldn’t say that, because then everybody would freak out. And Google makes about $140,000,000,000 a year from just ads, I believe. So, there’s a very heavy incentive for them to get this as right as possible. But what we might see is that ad costs may actually go down because the tracking is less there. So people are going to be less likely to spend as much money.

And so that’s also the potential counterpoint to that. Which is that, okay, great. Well, if you can only track things 90% as well, we want to only spend 90% as much as we were per click or per impression as we were beforehand to kind of try and even that out. I think it’s a bit of a good time. Some of the changes are needed. Data is kind of like the Wild Wild West right now, but I am fearful that we might go from very far in one direction, which is collect any sort of data you want.

Like, no one is really going to know how it works unless they really dive into it. No one knows what you’re collecting. Some of it’s pretty shady. Like is my smart home device, like listening to me right now and transmitting that to a humans reading that is potentially personal information, et cetera. To the other side of things, which may be very little data, in which case, honestly, it’ll hurt the smaller businesses out of anyone. Target can afford to spend $100 million on an advertising campaign and go, you know what people know our name.

They’re going to buy from us, a small company that no one’s ever heard of needs a lot more data in order to know that this is actually working for them to use that money effectively. So in my opinion, is going to hurt the smaller businesses and the smaller advertisers more. Unfortunately, which is something that I don’t see being talked about a whole lot.

Yes, that’s a tough one. And it’s funny, like the assistants listening to us. People, often, I want to do just a podcast with nothing. Just every ten minutes, just say, Xbox turn off, Amazon order, you squeeze those things in. And that’s the stuff that I dislike. I don’t mind retargeting for ads. I kind of know what’s going on if I need, I use VPNs for a variety of just like, for web testing and for just general safety as I move around in strange Wi-Fi. I do stuff like that. And I know it will lock down some of that, but I accept that retargeting is a thing and cookie tracking is a thing and it will occur.

I know how the machine works, so I don’t mind. Like I said, there’s no listening assistance in my entire house for a reason. I don’t like that part of it, but yeah, I’m with you. This is kind of a wild time that’s ahead. And look for folks that are listening now, it reminds you that very few people are going to care as much about this as what you and folks like you are doing, Jarod. This is why it’s good to reach out to folks that do this.

That’s your focus, because my internal team, I can’t afford to have them care this hard about it. I need them to be good at knowing my business and then taking it to this is why comment feels important. And I think people got to head there. All, of course, have links to the website, and people should definitely reach out because this is the time now to leverage this capability. We’re still in a very weird spot as far as human movement in the world. So all of the traditional media, all of the traditional approaches, they got wiped off the map 18 months ago, and they are not coming back.

And this is the digital forefront. We thought the digital forefront happened already, but this is a chance more people don’t have to go back to work. They can start their own side hustle, they can use you and use the techniques that you’ve got, and they can unlock a really cool new feature for themselves and their families and their organizations. I’m excited in a weird way of like how strange it’s been because I want to find the good in all the craziness that’s happened. It’s out there.

It’s out there somewhere. Obviously, I would trade every positive outcome to not have to have the world go through what we’ve gone through. But, it’s happened. Like, let’s try and find something good out of it.

Yeah. And I mean, luckily, what it has done on the good side is, as you mentioned, from the technology side, it has pushed a lot of people to embrace technology. And not only that, realize how inexpensive a lot of it is. Go back 15, 20 years and okay, great. You want a basic website? Every tiny, every character had to be coded from scratch on more archaic systems, with a lot less automations and automatic press tab. And it finishes the line of code for you, et cetera.

So, okay, great. You want a really basic website, please pay me $15,000, $20,000. And now that same really basic website, you can just sign up to WordPress, which is free and open source, and then you select a theme or Squarespace, Wix, et cetera. Where if you’re looking for something basic, great, that cost is gone. So many businesses throughout the past year, almost two now have developed like, apps. I got contacted by a laundry mat, and they were like, hey, we just developed this app. And so now set people coming to our laundry mat.

We now have TaskRabbit like contractors especially. Basically the Uber of laundry. Locally, we just go to their house, we pick it up, and then they bring it to the laundry mat. They put in the machine, and then it runs its cycle. And when it’s done, somebody else comes and they bring it back there’s like a butcher shop in New York City that I can’t remember the name, but they absolutely exploded in growth, and they had to develop, like, an online ordering system and so many restaurants around me.

I’m in New Hampshire, which is not the most tech friendly place in the world. There was like, ten places that we would order from, because these are places that we can order online from.

Great. Aside from Uber Eats and DoorDash and whatnot. And almost everybody has their online ordering figured out. They realized that, oh, this isn’t this thing that has to be built from scratch. It’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars, like it did when we looked into it ten years ago. But now our hand is being forced. Now we have to find a way to do it and a way to do it cost effectively. And, oh, we don’t have to build this from scratch. There’s literally an API that cost $5 a month that has already built the technology for us.

We just need someone to build us a nice looking interface for it.

It’s an amazing thing to watch occur, so it’s not slowing down. There will be more changes like this. And this is why, as I said, go to the experts. So there you go, Jarod Spiewak. What’s the best way if folks want to reach you? Of course they can go to cometfuel.com, if they could find out about you and the team if they wanted to reach out personally, what’s the top way to find you?

Yeah. So if you want to reach out personally, I’d recommend connecting with me on LinkedIn. And what I’m trying to do is slowly over time. When I have time is build up my YouTube channel. So if you just look up Jarod Spiewak on YouTube, there’s not much on there right now, but I am trying to make a much bigger push for it, so I’d really appreciate anybody engaging with me there.

I like your agency is Devon. That was really. But your contact is really cool. Like you said, we can look at websites all we want. Just spend some time with the person. And it’s been a real pleasure to learn from you today. And folks, inevitably, they should lean in because this is the kind of stuff. That’s why I love podcasting so much more than just like, even going long form too. Everybody said to me, like, don’t go long form. Like people don’t have the attention for over 30 minutes.

The data has not proven that out. I can tell you without a doubt that being longer for number one, list ability is higher. And number two, every single person has a can set of responses for the first 20 to 30 minutes. And after that, you’re actually having a real personal discussion with somebody. And it’s cool because they get to hear your nuances. Your character comes out, and it’s so much more effective than just like, here’s the three things that we do really well, I’m like they could go to your website and find that out.

This is why I love going longer. Well, if I’m lucky, I’ll be a client as well someday soon. So with that, Jarod Spiewak, thanks very much.

Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

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Emily Omier is a Positioning Consultant who helps companies confidently give their product a label and focus their marketing and sales on the types of companies and engineers that will value it most.  

Emily’s knowledge and experience in successful positioning and product market fit for open source platforms is something that makes this a real must-listen as we explore so much of the world of product management, product marketing, and much more. 

Follow Emily here at her website:  https://www.emilyomier.com/

Listen to Emily at the Business of Open Source podcast here:  https://www.emilyomier.com/podcast

TRANSCRIPT: Episode 161 – Emily Omier

Hey, everybody, this is Eric Wright, the host of your podcast, and this is a really, really great episode, talking about the value and business of open source and in fact, it talks about product management.

Good golly, there’s actually so many incredible lessons in here. So hang tight. But before we get started, I want to make sure I give a big thanks to our fine friends and the sponsors of this episode, which include our Friends at Veeam Software. So everything you need for your data protection and disaster recovery needs to vee.am/discoposse

They got a really good deal that they’re able to get you set up with. Most importantly, you can actually either just grab it on the spot or get connected with them and let them know that you came from here. They’re longtime friends. So whether it’s your data on premises, whether stays in the cloud, whether it’s virtualization, physical servers and even your cloud native with the Kasten solution, very, very cool.

Wants to check it out to go get our vee.am/discoposse. All right. Next up.

Oh, I love coffee. Did I mention that I love coffee? In fact, I love coffee so much that I bought a coffee company. So if you want to go and check out the coffee brand that’s going to take over the coffee world or at least play a major part in it. You can go to diabolical coffee dotcom the sponsors, because, hey, I want to make sure that I share really, really neat stuff for doing so when you actually buy coffee through diabolical coffee, dotcom coffee and we got really cool swag, wicked great T-shirts, they’re devilishly good proceeds from the profits do go to giving back to our community.

And we’re going to help to create education shares and make sure that people get access to resources that they don’t have today. So please, if you want to support that, go to diabolical coffee dotcom. Also, quick shout out.

Make sure if you want to learn how to give better software demos, go check out the 4-step guide to delivering extraordinary software demos. You can easily find that at velocity closing dotcom. That’s right. It’s a three sponsor day. And with that, let’s jump in. Emily Omier is going to join me for this.

Emily is also a podcaster. She’s a consultant. She’s doing something that’s really a tough nut to crack and she’s doing it well.

So she has the business of Cloud Native podcast, and she’s got a lot more that she’s doing up around speed in the sales and finding might, you know, market category and product market fit, especially in Kubernetes and open source.

So go check it out. Here’s Emily Omier. Hi, everyone, I’m Emily Omier. I am a positioning consultant who works with companies in the cloud native ecosystem, particularly those built around or related to open source projects. And you are listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.

Emily, thank you very much for for joining us. I was excited to get connected so I can and for folks that don’t already know, you will get into your intro. But I got to give a big shout out to Chris Psaltis, who connected us together.

And Chris, he’s so fantastic. I had such a great chat with him. And and so he got to break the video barrier here on the podcast, which was kind of fun. And then immediately after we talked, he says, you’ve got to talk to Emily Omeir. She’s amazing.

And, you know, so I was like, you had me at a recommendation and here we are.

So, Emily, if you want to introduce yourself for folks that don’t already know you and we’ll talk about the open source positioning challenge and a lot more, actually.

Yeah. So the first thing is there’s there’s probably a non-zero number of listeners who are like, I wonder what a positioning consultant is and I wonder what positioning is. So let me start there. Most. People who are non marketers might not have heard of positioning, even marketers often have sort of a distorted idea about what positioning is. Some people think that positioning some marketers, I should say, think about positioning as like a positioning statement that you that you write out and honestly is just kind of like an exercise that doesn’t end up often being super useful.

But what positioning really is, is about creating the correct assumptions in the mind of everybody. So ultimately, the most important is in the mind of your prospects. But it’s. You don’t want to just think about in the mind of your prospects, because those aren’t the only people that matter. You also care about like what journalists who work in the industry think about your product and how they’re going to write about it. You care, if you get venture funding, you’re going to care what investors think about your company.

If you have an open source project, you care about what the community thinks about your project, so positioning is about creating the right assumptions and it comes down to how do you describe your product? What market are you targeting? So how how do you segment your market, which is how do you determine what are the characteristics of your ideal customers? And that that’s oh, and then there’s a last thing, which is like what are the the values that the unique value that you provide and that.

So that’s what I help companies figure out basically is what’s the best way to describe what our product is? That seems sort of basic, but a lot of founders actually find it really challenging. And who who should we market to who’s going to find this most useful?

Yeah, this is we’re going to get into some of the neat, dirty behind the scenes work, which I often cringe even when I have to use these phrases, because one of the things that that you do particularly well is really create a human connection through the use of words that ties technology to value and human value. And ultimately through human value, we get business value as well.

And it’s we often forget that that takes a lot of work. Right, as the old ways of the Mark Twain thing.

Right. If I had a if I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. We we it’s very easy for us to go on, you know, write about our story. And I’ve often done that. Right. Like, it’s you’re trying to give your elevator pitch. If it takes a hundred and twenty floor building to give you your elevator pitch, then it’s not an elevator pitch.

You need to really be able to, you know, sort of quickly tell, hey, you know, this is this is a real problem that people have.

You may have experienced yourself. So actually, what my company does is we solve that in a way that’s that’s actually never been done before, which allows you to be able to do this and this and this. And then as a result, then this is actually now you can get on to doing better things.

And it’s like it seems so fundamentally simple, but it’s really difficult to do.

And then on top of that, we then have to bring in.

I’ll say kind of like mechanized language around it, and even you used a word that makes me gnash my teeth and I use it, I don’t even use it myself because I’ve got an allergy is the word prospekt, because I very much like I know that it’s a it’s a term it’s a sales term.

We use it and I still fight it.

And generally I say like prospective customer, because I know if I’ve I’ve actually had folks that are really good technical sellers and they’ll say, hey, I was talking to a prospect to that.

And I was like, oh, that hurts just here, because I’m now I know I’m a prospect versus like I’ll say like, you know, you should say I was talking to somebody else who’s similar function in a similar role. Is you over another company or like somebody else in the community. And I get them to kind of soften the language.

But the truth is, behind the scenes, we have to you know, we talk about prospects and and value statements and positive business outcomes and all this stuff like this. But how did you get to do this, Emily?

Like, this is No one. No one thinks that this is a fun idea to take on, because this is a lesson in an exercise in in frustration building this stuff.

I’m not sure that’s true that nobody thinks it’s fun to take on. There we go.

I was just going to say that I was actually writing a blog post this morning. I found myself writing like buya no, I deleted it, but I deleted it.

And then but it’s like I do think so. I used to be a journalist and aside and I’m also like I’m a language person. I really I also speak a couple of foreign languages. So I really think word choice is very important and. Yeah, to the point about Prospekt versus versus prospective customers versus buyers or whatever, like ultimately there is a difference between saying your buyer and your prospect anyway. So it can be really hard to make sure that you’re using the right the right words, especially when some of them are kind of cringe worthy.

Yeah, because you have to talk about your EEB, your economic buya, you know, your technical champion. And we like there is at least sort of common phrasing. I always just it it hurts me when leaks out, you know, it’s kind of like when an internal email makes it to the outside world.

You like, look, we know how that happens behind the scene, but then it becomes like if you’ve ever watched a rather famous bit by Bill Hicks on on marketing and he it’s a fantastic thing to listen to, not if you’re in marketing in our soft at heart, because he kind of rips that all apart. And the whole thing, he’s like, oh, yeah, this is you.

You’re basically snakes and and demons in what you’re doing.

But the truth is, in technical marketing and in marketing in general, it is very much about creating a connection between, you know, people value that.

You can bring them what you can give back to them and ultimately, you know, run a sustainable organization and a business commercially through doing so. And what’s particularly interesting about your ability and your success is in doing it so far and in future, which I’m sure will be a lot of. Is doing this in open source. Very much changes because it’s much it’s a different you know, there’s a different commercial side, there’s a different value side.

So I guess that’s the real thing, right? Getting into messaging and positioning fantastically, it is enjoyable, as neat and as challenging and then adding this like what we’re going to do to an open source.

Projects like most would be like, all right, I’m OK, because this is a tough world to be in. Right.

Well, so the first thing to acknowledge is that most engineers, most developers find themselves really allergic to the word marketing. I think for all of the reasons that you just mentioned, that it sort of sounds slightly dirty, and particularly if we’re talking about open source, like open source, it’s not about making money.

So what of course, I’ll just put a caveat that that’s not entirely true. I don’t think that all open source is like completely divorced from money, but a primary function of it is not to do it, however, in order to sustain it.

I know where you’re where you’re at with that one.

So, yeah, I appreciate that you sort of laid that that caveat there, right?

Yeah. So, you know, particularly with companies that I work with, they they’re related often to an open source project, but they also have venture funding. They’re also like their end goal is to build a company, not just to be, you know. Technical hippies. But so I think that’s one of the challenges when we talk about marketing but positioning. So first of all, I should actually step back. One of the misconceptions about positioning is actually that it’s part of marketing and it’s really like it’s a higher level business function.

So, like, if, uh, if a prospect came to me and it was their head of marketing and they said, look, we really need help with positioning, I would say great. Is the CEO on board? Are the founders on board? Are they going to be part of this discussion? And if that marketing person says, no, this is not a project I’m going to take on because it’s going to fail and because positioning is it has implications for your product roadmap.

It has profound implications for your sales strategy. You might end up changing your price point based on your positioning, because if you’re going to sell something, let’s just say you’re going to sell something for financial services. It should be expensive. And if you have if you’re trying to sell something cheap and you’re selling it to a market that expects things for them to be expensive, that’s a problem. So it has all of these implications throughout the business. It’s really not just marketing.

Yeah. And it’s in fact, when you say positioning, it’s not just like we’re positioning and it is truly full market positioning.

And it’s goes, as you said, beyond just like the the thing that does little type head on the website.

When you go to the homepage and you see a little slider like that, that’s reflective of positioning, but that in itself is not positioning.

Yes, that is exactly right. I also have some people that will, like, send me a website and they’re like, can you tell me if this company has great positioning? And I’m like, I don’t know. I mean, you can tell. So if yes, you can usually tell by the website if but if the website if you don’t think that there’s great positioning reflected on the website, that could be a website problem. It could be a copywriting problem.

It’s it could be a positioning problem. But you can’t you can’t really know for sure.

Yeah. Actually there was somebody I spoke with the other day and it was he was telling me about the story of his company. He’s a single engineer with a with a co-founder.

And they’re they’re doing really neat stuff. And so I took a look at the website because he sends me the email address. And so we met just through a friend. I was helping him out and to help him with a technical problem. And so I talk with him.

And I was like, oh, actually, tell me about what your what your platforms do.

And I’m actually very interested in what the problem is you’re solving.

And he said something for like in two minutes he gave me this incredibly profound statement of like, you know, how we have this problem that goes on, like we want to make this not suck for people. So we took on this task because we realized there’s a better way to do it.

And he goes through this thing that was like, Allen, you just totally nailed this. I went to your website.

No idea that this is what you do. Right. You can you need to connect those two things together, because the story you just told me is incredibly compelling. And it made me say, OK, well, how do you do that? Like, it’s it did all the right things. And it was so funny that there can be this weird like sometimes the market, the marketing of the message in the in the website, like said, can really be good.

But, you know, what’s the churn rate, what’s the attach rate? What’s the growth rate like?

There’s other things that you said about positioning is much more than just, oh, that’s really neat. I know what you guys do now. Well, that’s sort of the fundamental, though, about positioning is it’s about making your prospects. Oh, I’m using that word again. That’s all right.

I know I’m going to make you overthink that every day. I know.

So it’s about making everybody not even just prospects. So customers, your current customers, you also don’t want them to be confused. So it’s about reducing confusion. And part of the goal is you want you know, when somebody comes to your Web site, they you want them to immediately understand what problem you’re solving. And how you solve it and is is your solution right for them or not? I know you always remind people like you’re you’re not going to boil the ocean.

You’re a startup with a million dollars or ten million dollars or whatever. You’re you’re not going to you’re not going to be Facebook tomorrow or next quarter. And, you know, you need to focus on some sort of specific market. And so having somebody come to your website and say, oh, I understand what this is and it’s not for me, that is also a good outcome, because now you have not wasted, you know, hours of your marketing and sales team’s time.

On somebody who is never going to buy your your product, that’s so that’s something that people don’t even realize. It’s not as deep positioning.

Your your audience is the most important one of the most important things that you can do. And I forget that sometimes, too, and like you need to immediately.

So when someone gets there, they’re like, yeah, really cool. Not for me. You know, I’m not going to waste this person’s sales cycle time by calling them and saying, hey, I’m curious how this this may work to my use case or whatever. Tell me about the thing you do. And then you spend an hour and they go, yeah, it’s not going to be a fit.

Yep. It’s saving everybody time, you know, it’s saving the prospect time. It’s saving your sales team time. And so that’s a good outcome. If somebody says, no, this isn’t for me, but you want that to be clear as soon as possible in the in the sales cycle or really in the marketing cycle. So it gives you the ability to to focus a lot more. But it also increases the chances that those people that are a good fit are going to understand that immediately.

And so then that that makes them more likely to reach out and so you get this at the same time you have those that are not a good fit leaving. That’s great.

Those that are a good fit, more likely to understand that. Now, this definitely doesn’t come from I think I’m going to be good at this like you, you’ve obviously got some some road time or some, you know, some you’ve got history that allowed you to be able to connect these things together, like there’s certain certain fundamentals of it that are actually based out of like cognitive psychology and behavioral psychology and a lot of neat stuff there.

But you generally can’t go and read a bunch of that and then come forward and say, all right, perfect, OK, I can nail the story for you.

So, Emily, how did you come to choose this as a as a path for your own choice?

That’s a really good question, so I never know where to start in my story yet, but I think I’m going to start sort of way back when, which is, you know, I spent my 20s doing a bunch of random stuff and including starting two companies that never had any any revenue. Like, I think just my mom knew that they existed.

And, um, and then I went to journalism school and then I was a tech journalist for a while. And then I moved into content marketing, and that was really sort of the catalyst for when I started to think a lot more about positioning because, oh, and I should mention that I was always self-employed, so I was always working as a consultant, freelancer. And so that’s kind of just my personality. But anyway, so you’ve always had skin in the game like you.

You’ve you’ve always chosen that I am responsible for the the outcome here, which is it’s a brave thing to do right out of the gate.

Well, you know, I think if somebody when I was in college, when I was like 18, had had told me that I could have a career in sales, I would have changed my life. But it didn’t really even occur to me that, like, there are people that make a living selling stuff. So I enjoy the hustle of of like meeting new clients. And you know that all of the things that are associated with with being a consultant and not having a job I enjoy.

And including not having a boss. Yeah, I think a lot of people I’ve especially here, of course, I’m lucky enough.

I talk to amazing folks like yourself all the time who’ve, like, walked these unique paths and on their own.

And my favorite thing is almost all of them would describe themselves as unemployable because it’s like I am not going to they’re not going to look at the mission on the back of the wall behind the front desk and say, like, this is for me. I’m like, I’ve got my own mission. I got to complete.

Yeah. I mean, I’m not going to say that I would never, ever take a job, but like I would say that my circumstances would have to be pretty dire in order for that to to happen.

But I would find even even in doing so, you would become as we called I describe myself as an intrapreneur in that you create you that drive in that methodology is baked into you.

And so even when you’re in an internal team, you will you will very much go outside the lines as a founder of a function inside a company. So there’s even if you were to go, there would probably be a temporary stint until you got back out again.

Well, fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that. That’s even better. Even better.

Yeah, but actually, so the fact that I was that I was working for a lot of different companies and I started to really focus on the cloud native ecosystem. And technology companies, and so the fact that I was working working as a marketing writer for these these companies is really relevant because first of all, marketing is often the first department that feels the pain of bad positioning. And second of all, when you’re outside of a company working as an external consultant, you see it really well.

Because I think what happens is when you’re when you’re working inside of the company, you can you kind of start drinking the Kool-Aid and it’s like everything kind of makes sense to you because, you know, you’re really like you’re really immersed in everything. And but when you’re looking at it from outside.

And you’re trying to get some direction on this piece of marketing writing, and you’re like, who are we writing this for?

And they’re like, well, you know, our audience is sarees and platform engineers and developers and also VPs of development.

And you’re like, whoa, those people care about very different things, like, how am I going to write this? And so it actually got pretty frustrating because this was so prevalent that people were just not really capable of giving me clear direction, which when it happened, basically meant that my project was not going to be successful and I knew that.

So that’s when I started to think, you know, I can see that this is a problem. I tend to be actually a really big picture person. I think this is why I didn’t do such a great job when I when I was employed and in my very early 20s. I’m not super detail oriented.

So and this is the interesting thing.

And I actually heard a great interview the other day and it talked about the sort of the creative mind and the the process of of being a creative person. They sit.

And when the fellow said, unfortunately, these creative people tend to make a lot of money for other people and not for themselves until it’s far too late for them to enjoy it.

And it’s I’ve I suffered the same sort of challenge of, you know, every year it gets to my annual review and they’re like, hey, you know, be great. Like I’ve got I’m a I work in a startup and they give me a lot of autonomy and they’re fantastic team. And so when it comes to interview time, it’s not like when I worked at a big financial company, they’re like, OK, according to this year, the nine box or the seven boxes, they get all these crazy things.

And then but it would be like every year I’d say, hey, look, it’s that time of year where we say it would be great if you were better at project management and detail oriented, long view, you know, content. I’m like, I’m never going to be that. I’m like, just going to lay that out there right now. I’m never going to be good at this stuff and I’m going to be fantastic what I do. But they’re like, we want to put you in a box.

And like, I’m like, no, no, I don’t want to be there.

You know, it actually, I think makes me fit really well with this industry because a lot of engineers are detailed oriented. Yeah. And so what they at the the ability to step back is really what they’re missing. And most of the founders that I work with, they’re they’re engineers and they’ve now founded a company and they’re really good at like making sure their code is not missing a punctuation mark or something like that. And, uh. I would suck at that.

Yeah, it is a beautiful thing of the merger of those styles because you have you have a technical you understand the technical audience and sort of the buyer audience as well as the consumer audience, you know, or they as they say, you know, the users.

Another word I often cringe that we say, but the users and the buyers.

Yeah, but the it is a really good mix that like you want the technical founder to be a technical founder, not a big picture market maker, like you want them to be fantastic.

What they do and you will be fantastic what you do to allow them to continue to build product and think about what’s next. Yeah, and, you know, honestly, a lot of the founders that I work with, like they they’re not just engineers. They’re very, very good engineers. And these are you know, there are people that have actually and then I’ll go into a caveat sometimes that is also the challenge is that there are very, very good engineers.

And so and they’ve often worked at companies that are very tech forward. They’re very, very far on maturity curves. And so it can be a big challenge. In fact, I think this is a big challenge for the industry in general.

Is it sort of connecting to the real world experience of a mediocre engineer who works at a mediocre or works in, you know, a mediocre technology organization and, you know, mediocre? We often use that word to mean, like, look terrible, but I’m more meaning and sort of an average term. Right.

Radeon a median on a curve, not a mediocre as in they’re not really that good. Which is right. Exactly.

I mean and the honest truth is like that’s somewhere around the medium is is that’s where most people are going to fall. That’s where most users are going to fall. It’s where most buyers are going to fall. Even if we’re like, you know, directors of development or VPs or whatever. Not every one of those VPs isn’t is an amazing VP at his or her job. And not everyone is inside an organization that’s an amazing technology organization. And that’s OK.

I’m I don’t think there’s a problem with that. It’s just that that I think the the ecosystem and the the founders of these amazing startups need to sometimes need to do a better job at sort of stepping back and thinking, OK, where where is the market like where is the market actually at?

Where are the the people that I can help?

Where are they? How do I meet them, where they are and how do I use terms that are going to resonate with them, and what problems are they actually experiencing? Oh, yeah, sorry, go ahead. Oh, I was going to say and then there’s one other thing, which is like what do they actually perceive as being an alternative to my product? So that’s a big part of positioning is what are the competitive alternatives? And the common thing is you ask somebody, what are your competitors?

And they will name another company if you actually drill into it and say, what are the competitive alternatives? The competitive alternatives are doing nothing right? So I know it hurts me to say it, because I know it’s it’s it’s an easy answer, but it is true in that, you know, our biggest competitor is status quo.

You know, it’s so too true. You know, in so many cases, it’s it seems like a like a gimme if you say it. But like, no, it’s most people struggle from just like, hey, this is good enough.

I mean, it’s it’s both both for business buyers, but also for consumers. I mean, I was looking at cars last month and that if you ask a car company like, what’s your competitor, they’ll talk about some other car. I didn’t buy a car. I’m not going to buy a car. And that’s what probably what like most of the people that enter their funnel, so to speak, are going to end up not buying a car. They’re going to do nothing.

Yeah, yeah.

That’s and when it comes to the the technical buyer and the technical economic lead buyer, you know, so like a CIO, CTO, somebody is an organization they’re uniquely challenging to market towards because they are generally, you know, technical.

So they ask harder questions. Well, to use your car example, your more people are going to go to buy a car because they need to get somewhere and they kind of don’t care what’s inside the car. They just want it to be the right price. They’ve got a certain set of criteria.

The ineffective alternatives are the bus not having a car.

There’s it’s but the buyer is most often not technical. And in fact, when we get into the technical marketing piece and technical competence, you know, positioning is the worst case scenario of super technical people.

They’re like, what does it do here?

You know, it’s that whole thing of I don’t want to dwell on speeds and feeds, but we’re going to dwell for 45 minutes on speeds and feeds, you know, and all these little, you know, knobs and dials on on what it can do.

Yeah. So to go back to the car example, that’s actually really good. So when you’re doing technical marketing, one of your biggest competitors is built to build it yourself DIY. So instead of buying your thing, we’re going to build a platform. And ourselves, if you’re buying a car, like quite frankly, I do not think that one of your competitors is like like I wasn’t even thinking like, oh, well, you know, I’ll just build a car myself.

I say, and I don’t think that that’s like a real realistic competitor for most people. Yeah.

But it is in the technical marketing that that’s a really big, major competitive alternative. Yeah.

And we we run into that problem, too, of especially when you’ve got a really good engineering organization and we it’s the problem we call nature not invented here. Right. When you go do you pitch a product then they’re like.

You know, they just like you can see them sort of squinting as they’re listening to your discussion and they look at the ingenuity and said. Can we do something pretty close to this ourselves, like, oh, no, like that that is a real unfortunate confidence in the ability to throw people at it. And I’m like, if you’ve not heard of the mythical man month, this is going to end poorly for you.

Yep. And, you know, it’s that’s also the the user user buyer discussion, because sometimes this like whatever it is that you’re selling like that looks like a really interesting problem to solve. And if you’re if you’re targeting the wrong level in an organization, you you know, you’re just going to be giving them an idea and they’re going to think, gosh, I would rather spend the next six months working on replicating your product internally than doing whatever it is that I’m that I’m doing.

That’s usually when you’re you’re marketing too low, because most likely once you’re once you’re getting to the people that have more of like a more business metrics that they care about. And they’re they’re managing people. They do not want the people on their team building that platform that is not in their best interest, but the people that the engineers themselves. Oh, yeah. That that’s a big problem. They want to spend some time building that.

It it’s funny. You can you often find out it’s like going to family therapy when you’re in these discussions with folks. And I get I’m lucky to be very close to the customer experience all the time. And it’s like I was a user.

I sat in the desk as a systems architect for a couple of decades, so I know the pain directly. It’s easier for me to relate it when I talk about product and outcomes and what we get.

And it’s funny that you can get a lot of folks that are really strong technical champions and they have a genuine day to day problem that maybe their boss doesn’t know about.

And that gets uncovered like beautifully in the right conversation because and you need that as to do proper positioning and selling and renewing, because if you only give value to the user of the consumer, the product, and they don’t see the KPIs being effective, affected at the top, then they’re like, you know, I don’t I don’t know that I’m getting value from this thing I just saw a renewal for.

And it’s like you said, positioning isn’t just about prospects, it’s about your existing customers.

You got to keep reminding them that you’ve got value or even adding more value and more capabilities. And how do you relate those?

Yeah, and, you know, part of positioning it, some of the things that that we work on narrowing down is who is the right buyer? So, again, when you think of an engineering organization, it’s not like homogenous. There’s going to be the salary teams. We like to talk about breaking down silos. And in reality, there’s still silos in most places. So, you know, unless unless you’re selling to like the CTO who’s responsible for the whole thing, there’s going to be silos.

And and most of my clients are not going quite that high level. Yeah.

And and this is the funny part is as much as I see that silo slide on everybody’s sales deck, guilty as charged, we know the truth is that there’s just no way to really break those things down. The reason why we had to start calling it like dev spec ops, they’re like, why do you need to explicitly say second line? Because no one invited security to the party and it wasn’t pervasive to the flow of of code. And they’re like, oh, OK.

You know, Nelson, someone described the other day, they called it biz dev sec ups. And like, we’ve officially figured it out that we forgot to include the business people in the discussion.

I have not heard that one yet and I love it.

So now eventually it’s going to become this like biz dev sec, you know, like there’ll be like three or six trade offs.

But so, yeah, in practice now this is just like you talked about positioning.

It’s important to know who not to position for into position the the the unimportant or the the the not valuable prospect.

In your experience of doing this stuff. Most of your success in knowing what to do probably comes from seeing a lot of what not to do and and seeing metrics that showed that that was the case.

I’m curious, Emily. When did you start to tie in? How do I measure the effectiveness of positioning and marketing and like where this comes together? Yeah, that’s that’s a really good question of how it’s measured. So the first thing. Yeah. Position is interesting to measure. So you’re not going to feel like you’re not going to improve your positioning and then tomorrow you’re going to fix these things. So often we’re talking about like a fairly fundamental shift in how the company is.

Talking about itself and operating, so we’re not going to see, like a change tomorrow, but there are there are some things that will change immediately and then there are metrics that you should see improvement on if, in fact, your your positioning has been improved.

So that the first result is this is a human one, is that I find founders have more confidence because often the pain point that they come to me with is that they don’t know how to talk about their their company. They don’t know how to talk about their product. And it’s frustrating. And they. And they feel like they’re their sales calls are kind of they feel like they’re not going great.

Basically, they feel like the first 15 minutes, the prospects are confused and and it’s really frustrating. So that does change immediately is there’s there’s often a shift in sort of how the confident the founder or founders feels and sort of having a discussion or or describing. So after positioning, you should be able to describe your your product in like less than a sentence, like five words. Yeah. And so that’s the first change. And then the second thing this gets into, like, what are the signs that you’re positioning kind of sucks.

And then then obviously if your positioning is better, it’s going to you’re going to see improvement on those metrics. So one of them is high churn at like everywhere on the funnel. And so if you have a lot of people coming to your website, but like every every part of your funnel, there’s it’s just incredibly leaky. That’s probably a positioning issue. If you have a lot of churn in your customers, that’s probably a sign that the customers maybe thought they were going to get something else.

And then they signed up and they were like, oh, whoops, this is not actually what I was expecting. I don’t actually need it. That’s a positioning problem. Right? You want people to, like, actually get the thing that they thought they were getting. So basically, you should be improving your your conversion rates at all. All spaces on the funnel, the marketing sales funnel, you should see lower customer churn. And those are what I would say, I mean, and ultimately, right, those are going to lead to better revenue numbers, et cetera, but those those are the really bottom line positions and metrics that I would look at.

And here we have like the sort of problem is that those are marketing metrics and that’s why people think that positioning is a marketing problem. Right. And but right. If you have a high customer churn, maybe your product sucks.

Oh, yeah.

It could be a problem or it sucks for the people who actually end up buying it. And so it really isn’t just marketing, it’s really high level. Another thing that I also see with the win positioning projects are really successful is that it’s easier to get. It’s the PR is easier. It’s easier to get it in the press. Because the you know, whether you’re doing PR yourself, whether you’ve hired a team, it’s it’s easier for them to communicate with other people in the industry about what you do and and that that makes it easier for them to write about in the the challenges as people, as humans, especially in technical.

You know, we’ve got a lot of strong technical founders.

Like you said.

It’s it’s a tough it’s not in their brain to like they’re not built to be able to tell the story in. That’s why we always talk about jobs and Bosniac and people get really irked and angry like jobs wasn’t technical and it was just a marketing guy and like, well, it was technical. It didn’t necessarily write the code.

But, you know, he had the ability to take the technology and relate the story and and he even attributes he says. The ability to do so wasn’t just from fantastic storytelling, which he was particularly good at, but he has this book and I actually have it on my shelf.

I had to hunt it down around the world called the business value of computers.

And it was effectively an accounting guide into how to actually measure the effectiveness of using computer systems in large organizations.

This is like mainframe type of of adoption. But he said if you can’t. Show them that there’s metrics that they’re going to that are going to matter to them and then a human side to that story. Then, you know, technology is going to save you from a bad sales problem, which is which.

And as technology founders said, so you come in there and do a lot of amazing technologies, probably wouldn’t pass a Turing test.

There’s nothing wrong with them having an incredible amount of skill. So let’s put somebody beside them who gets why they’re doing it and what they’re doing it, and then can make that a storytelling exercise, which then ultimately becomes. Based on the foundation of positioning, like you said, it’s it has to come from there. This is the the core and then everything should always go back to like, ah, OK, here’s your value drivers or whatever you call them.

But like, it’s it’s in the founders. There’s a great book actually called The Founders Mentality. And and it’s a it’s actually by being in company, they’re a marketing and advisory firm in in Boston.

Not to be confused with Bain Capital, which is always funny because I my company, as well as one of one of the Bain Capital companies. But it’s very, very cool that they talk about this idea of like the founder can get frustrated because they see the selling position moving away from what the product was meant to do, and then they lose track of it and then the numbers start to go home.

And what’s worse is that it doesn’t get felt like you said, you know, you change your positioning and you do it right today. You don’t notice it tomorrow, the metrics are going to play out over time. Yeah, and it can be pretty quick and then the other thing, so there’s there’s a couple comments here.

It’s a first of all, it can be a pretty quick I mean, if you actually implement your positioning, you can feel it pretty quickly, but it’s not going to Beechboro. And the the other thing is that almost always the the best positioning for your product isn’t necessarily be it the positioning that you had in mind when you created it. And that that is why actually that’s part of why founders have to be involved when we do a positioning exercise, because it can involve almost like shifting, shifting the identity of the company.

And if it’s that could mean shifting the identity of the founders. And so that’s the most challenging part actually of of positioning is is like having everybody sort of let go of what they thought they were creating and then figuring out like what is the thing that actually is here that was created and how do we highlight its strengths in a way that that that’s that’s going to get customers really excited about it.

And positioning it can change over time, it’s not something you want to change like every month, but you should sort of check in to check in with it like once a year, once every six months to see if it’s still working. And, you know, one of the the other thing is like if there’s a big market shift. So, for example, covid-19, there was and everyone’s working from home that can present certain challenges to to organizations. And maybe, you know, maybe you want to reposition your thing some maybe the competitive alternative to your product is walking over to your colleagues office.

Well, that’s not an option anymore. And so you need to be able to to sort of capture that.

Oh, there’s a last thing I wanted to say, which is that actually Apple is a really good example of good positioning and there’s a lot I can think of a lot of ways. First of all, when in the early days of Apple computers, it was not a general purpose, personal computer. It was for creatives. Right. And this and that ultimately is how Apple computers became like the cool version. Right. Like, if you were an accountant, you got a you didn’t get an apple.

If you were like a graphic designer, you definitely got an Apple computer. And that had ramifications, obviously, not just for their marketing, but but it was their product was also different. And it had to focus on different types of functionality. And then when the iPhone launched. So think about the name of iPhone. An iPhone is actually not really a phone like it does have phone functionality, but that’s like a tiny little bit of of its functionality.

But at the time that it launched that like that was what the company and Steve Jobs decided to accentuate, because that was something that that people associated with, like putting in their pocket and taking places.

Imagine if they had called it like the eye pocket computer or something crappy. Yeah.

And and in fact, actually, if you watch the iPhone launch video, like. Tobes, does all this like talking about voicemail and like call for, like all this stuff that’s phone functionality that like nobody uses now and probably nobody even used then, but it reinforced this position of this is a phone. And so it makes sense. It makes sense as a product to to me. Yeah.

It becomes the what’s the what’s the comparative that will make sense to people then they can they can map it over.

And this I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. The words and in that we use are interesting. And I get lessons in this all the time.

So, you know, the founder of my organization, he used to like super technical.

He’s like really, really able to do incredible things but knows the business, you know, third time founder, like, really, really got a good sense of how things go and people kind of forget how strong is the business side of it.

And so you get people know, like he’s like this is what we do. And this is, you know, you go through the whole thing.

But in the end, we as humans try and find differentiating words to make it easier to explain or sell.

And so people always say, like, we solved this problem in a unique way. And he he stops. He goes and he asks his name was my favorite thing to hear. He goes, Can I ask you? Where did you have a lot of friends when you were a kid and so like, yeah, yeah, I was I was fairly fairly popular, whatever, like, OK, and so high school, you know, throughout changes in your life.


OK, what were you unique? And you’re like, what do you mean? He goes, exactly? You were not popular because you were unique, you were not smarter because you were unique, unique isn’t a word that you want to use to describe your problem is a differentiating feature is like it may be unique in the way that it solves the problem, but the product is not unique.

Like don’t use words like that because they’re going to pull you down a trap and they’ll say everybody says the unique. Everyone says they’re the first to market. Everyone says they’re industry leading. It’s like these are these are not important words when it comes to what we’re actually doing.

So. Why do we get caught up in those lovely words, Emily, because they sound fine, like it’s easy to go to. Yeah, I think that you’re right, you know, it’s part of it is that we we want to be unique and I think people like to think of their product as being totally unique. And it is it’s usually there’s there’s not something that is exactly like that thing anywhere. Of course, nobody cares if you solve their problem in a unique way.

They just want it solved. They don’t care how you do it. That’s right.

And if you solve it in a way that’s totally non-unique, it’s still solved. And the other thing I was going to say, actually, is that this is relevant to the discussion of developer marketing because developers, engineers, they tend to have a lower bullshit tolerance than a lot of other markets. And so I think you’re probably more likely to get that pushback when you’re like we have a you know, we have a unique way of solving this problem. I think there that’s going to sound like bullshit.

That’s going to pop out as bullshit for I can already hear the person they were going like, you know, like make like shirts, unique, whatever.

I mean, then they’re going to they’re going to look through the like eight million open source projects on GitHub. And they’re going to say like, no, no, I found this other this project that has like two contributors and it’s actually exactly the same as yours.

So even patented is a tough one because like, well, it is a very different thing, a very specific thing about the way and you solve the problem, like just saying patented.

I’ve even found that in competitive.

It’s like use this like we have 17 patents in as a competitive alternative. Like, you know, the company you’re competing with has 2000 patents. They were like, that is not a that’s not a business differentiator. You know, it shows your longevity. It shows your uniqueness in a way. But like IBM has more patents. And what’s the old joke? Right. Like how many the most patents in the world are for the most trappe go to the hardware store.

Yeah, most trap’s a piece of wood with a spring on it.

I don’t care how many patents there are, I just need to catch a bloody mouse, you know?

And sometimes, like, you know, I think it’s important to keep in mind that you are ultimately selling an outcome. You’re you’re solving the problem. And, you know, if you if you get a taxi and you want to go to your house from you know, your work sets a route that you go all the time, you get a taxi and the taxi driver says, hey, look, I’m going to take you a totally unique way to get to your house.

You’re going to be like, whoa, that does not sound good.

Has actually. Now, the other thing that’s important. In what you’ve described in like positioning, and it ultimately is a question for you, you know, it’s choosing your market, attacking a niche that, you know, you can be effective in and you know how to market towards you as well as, you know, really lived strongly in initiative of companies in this cloud native marketplace, which is going to become huge.

You know, I mean, already is huge. But what drew you to. How that is an effective place for you to be able to market towards and position towards, yeah, this is a great question also because I wanted to talk a little bit about how it’s not just products that are positioned and it’s not even just consultants who are positioned. It’s even if you have a job, you it’s it’s still a good idea to be known for something and to be a specialist in something.

And even if you are a developer. Right, maybe you’re a specialist in a particular language, maybe you’re a specialist in a particular type of business. So I think that it’s really important for for everybody to to try to specialize to a certain extent. And when I think about what what a consultant or even somebody who’s going to be an employee should or should think should think about as they’re positioning themselves is where the overlap is between things that they are good at, things that they enjoy and things that people are willing to pay money for.

And the same goes with industry. Right. You could apply that to what you do or you could apply it to the industry that you’re going to work in. And for me, obviously, like I have tons of interests. And either that being a positioning consultant is not the only thing that I think I’m pretty good at.

But and but there’s this this sort of overlap here where working in this industry and it helps that I started obviously I started as a marketing writer in this industry, there’s sort of an overlap of people that actually need this and are willing to pay money for it and that I’m that I’m good at it in terms of why I think I’ll go back to the discussion of not being very detail oriented. So I was actually interested in like Web development, and I played around with Drupal for a while in my in my 20s.

I don’t know if you know Drupal, but it’s like we’re spending a little time in that.

It was it was the the it was the Beda to WordPress VHS. It was technically better, but unfortunately not marketed well enough to to make a big landing. I actually don’t think that’s true, I think one of the most successful open source projects out there in Aquia that was Akwe is that was founded by the open source maintainer. It was sold, I don’t know to who, but for like two billion dollars, like a totally insane amount of money.

So actually, Drew is an open space, open source success story and a lot of ways because all sides huge community.

Anyway, my point being, it’s not like an entry level web development platform. It’s quite complicated. It’s very it’s very powerful. But it’s a you really need to be like getting your hands in the code in order to be successful with it. So I like, you know, I taught my self how to do some stuff, but I ultimately like I I’d miss a period somewhere and it wouldn’t work. And I just get really frustrated and yeah. That it just wasn’t for me I couldn’t deal with, like, I, you know, I missed a piece of punctuation and my work is a total failure.

And I think but I sort of remained interested in this, this sort of the technology field in general and what we can do with with software.

And and then I think there’s like there’s a little bit of a cultural fit. Even if I’m not I’m not the detail oriented engineer. I think there’s a there’s a cultural fit between the, um, sort of like it’s really hard for me to put my finger on what the cultural fit is.

Um, let me think about this for a minute.

I think I just I feel like it’s really easy for me to empathize with the sort of developer problem or the developer personality of, like, liking to work alone consultant, freelancer, being, you know, really interested in like finishing projects, being a little bit type A. And so I think that there was that as well, sort of being interested in the technology and then just feeling like like it’s a cultural fit. Yeah, like when I went to Cube Khan there was Cube Khan and then there was like an accounting conference that was in the same location.

And I just like you looked at all the accountants and I was like, whoa, those are not my people. I do not know there.

It’s so funny that I’ve I’ve always enjoyed when you go to especially a conference center and there’s like multiple things and, you know, like, you know, we’re sitting here and we’re making nerd jokes about technology, then, you know, in the room next door, they’re like, so this idiot filled out a ten, twenty nine instead of a four to twenty eight, like, holy moly, where did this guy from Mars, like in totally meaningful, hilarious anecdotal humor over there.

But it’s like every, every industry, every thing has a community and has its own nuances and isms about it.

But what actually I want to pull on the string that, you know, you hit something really neat. So my perception in general awareness is that WordPress has been, I’ll say, most known to be successful relative to Drupal.

And it comes from two factors. One, I didn’t track the growth or ultimately the the the trajectory of Drupal. I knew about it.

But because I go everywhere and I see WordPress, I have a perceived understanding that it is more successful, even though it may not be in this. I bump into in Carbonetti folks all the time. They’re like, this is incredible. It’s like winning the container war. So that’s well, how big is that war? Right.

You know, relative to virtualization and cloud and everything else. So. How? How do you deal with that situation when someone says like, no, like this is the the metric that matters to me or this is my opinion of a metric and you’re like. Well, we actually have to look at the real metric that matters. I mean, ultimately, like you do get to decide if so if you’re the CEO of a company and you decide that X metrics matters to you.

I mean, maybe that’s the most important metric, I mean, maybe I don’t agree with it, maybe your investors don’t agree with it, but that that is one of one of the advantages of being CEO, is you get to focus on the metrics that you think matter to you and does it. But, you know, some some companies might get really hung up on like we have the biggest number of users and GitHub stars, are we?

We have to get them stars and like those GitHub stars, they’re free. So, you know, what do I think that a company should probably have like some hard dollars as a as a metric? Yeah, definitely. But, um, if if you think, you know, if you are the CEO and you’re getting really hung up on some other metric, like, that’s OK. You know, I think the thing that that people should take out of this this discussion about WordPress and Drupal is.

That just because you are not necessarily a household name or you’re not like, you know, a household name for four, Technologist’s doesn’t mean that you don’t have a successful company, that you can have a very successful company.

You can you could go public. You could, you know, have a giant exit or you could just run your very successful company.

You can make tons of money and people could think, oh, Drupal is just, you know, it’s a a failed competitor to WordPress and ultimately, like, it doesn’t it doesn’t really matter.

Like, maybe you were never in a position where a Drupal word Drupal made sense. And so you might think that this is why I started using Drupal, because I erroneously thought it would be a good idea for for just a random person setting up a website. It’s not WordPress is the best option for that. If you have a really complicated Web site, that’s where Drupal is appropriate.

And so that’s why you see like like university Web sites are like big organizations like the U.S. government, Web sites, places like that. Those are the ones that use Drupal. And so and, you know, they have like all this super complex functionality. But that means ultimately that they don’t become a household name because they are only they have a relatively they have a niche, but it’s huge, right?

It can still let them be acquired for two billion dollars. I think it was two billion dollars. That might be wrong about that. It was huge.

Yeah, but it’s and it’s interesting, too. Yeah.

Like you, we I see this positioning in marketing as well as like the careful thing of, you know, what is it if you say it’s for creating websites like you’re going to have a real tough road. You know, if you say it’s it’s an enterprise grade CMW based on the most widely adopted and broad open source ecosystem, we’re like, oh, OK, cool.

So a legitimate CM’s now I know it’s a different use case and they start to then map the use cases in their mind of like oh versus yeah I want to go set up so I don’t want to go to Wick’s and set up my website, you know, let WordPress looks like it may work for me.

OK, yeah. Drupal is not the thing that you just like set up on Blue Host and start your personal blog on the thing. But yeah, for the the more complex setups that it is. And so in the startups that I often work out there, they also get really hung up on this. And then you ask like, so how many, how many customers do you want to sign this quarter?

And they’re like five. And you’re like so far, like, that’s not very many. I mean, you don’t have to go after a huge market in order to to sign five.

Yeah, this is not time to be buying mailing lists. You’ve you’ve got a fairly niche area. What’s the with the flow is going to be much different.

Right. And you’ll end up being much more likely to hit that five if you’re going after a market that only has five hundred people in it because you can speak directly to them and they’re going to listen. Whereas if you know you’re going after like a five million people, I mean, how do you even like.

No, you don’t. You’re not people are going to ignore you.

That’s that’s when they think that you’re a spammer. But if you speak directly to their their needs and, you know, like.

Salaries and financial services institutions like you. Oh, OK, yeah, that’s me.

Now this will be interesting, too, because you’ve got a good background in you. You you came from tech journalism and you’ve you’ve obviously got some really good strength and you’re fantastic writer. By the way, I read a disturbing amount of your content in preparation for our discussion and listening to a lot of your podcasts.

So I had the easiest job of coming into this hour. I was like, Emily is going to be able to run on anything. This is fantastic.

But I’m curious on your thought on what the role is of journalism, you know, literally today relative to when you were in it versus like it was very different in like PR went to certain, you know, key journals.

And then you got I think now it’s I just find so different. I’m curious, as somebody who lived in the inside, what’s your sense of the place of tech journalism today? Right, oh, I was about journalism in general, I was going to say I’m super cynical, as most journalists probably are.

Yeah, but I’m actually less cynical about tech journalism. So I actually have two degrees in journalism from Columbia, another one from a university in France and a journalist I approached very differently in Europe because I’m talking about sort of general interest journalism, because in general, in the US journalism journalists are encouraged to like claim to be totally neutral on everything, which I happen to think is bogus because we’re all human beings and we all have opinions. Yeah, in Europe, that is not how journalists operate.

It’s not how news organizations operate. So you would have like a newspaper and this is the newspaper of the left or this is the newspaper of the Catholic Church. And they they don’t pretend that they’re totally neutral.

So this relates to tech journalism, because I think my my less cynical ness about tech journalism is that in general, I think tech journalists are more like that.

So they’re more they’re a little bit more open about, you know, where we take money from these companies, for example, these are advertisers.

It’s it’s very it’s very clear. And I think what I do want to say about about tech journalism in general, and I’m not actually totally out of tech journalism, so I write for the new stack and I do so in a in a journalist capacity.

And one of the reasons that I do is because it I learn so much.

And I think the biggest misunderstanding among founders about tech journalism is that that the journalists who cover technology and who who cover particularly like opensource cloud, native stuff like that, they are really knowledgeable and they understand the ecosystem. Honestly, I think that they understand it better than anybody else because this is their their job is to talk to people from everywhere, to talk to end users, to talk to all the different vendors, to talk to the super big guys, to talk to the super little guys, to talk to investors.

So they are they are really knowledgeable and yeah, speaking of like the no bullshit theme, journalists also tend to be like pretty no bullshit. But definitely when you talk to a tech journalist, like they they’re able to spot the bullshit like really easily. And the not just they might not spot like if you if there’s, like, something in your technology that doesn’t work, like they’re not generally engineers themselves, they won’t get that. But if there’s something about your business or your messaging that doesn’t make sense, they will definitely pick up on that.

I as somebody who’s had to do the dance of, you know, going into PR and like going out and doing launches and interviews, it’s so funny because I’ve and one fellow I always enjoyed chatting with and it was painful every time Simon Sharwood, he worked for the register or he wrote for the rest of these independents as well.

And yeah, I remember going to one time and we changed the version number of the product and it was like this.

It’s like a fairly small thing, but it went from like five nine to six zero.

And, you know, he says, so why is the six to eight zero? And I didn’t really know the right way to tell them because five, we ran out of numbers and like, this must be what I’m like.

I knew the implication of a major no change. I was like, oh, Sirene, you’re going to make me say this stuff that it just happened, that we ran out, that we couldn’t be five. But and my engineering team were like, we’ll make it five, ten. And like, you know, that’s five one five one zero five times, not five, ten.

There’s no five. Ten.

But that was that, you know, Simon just said it’s he’s like, I’m I want to get right to this. What matters? Why is this a zero? And I was like, oh, cool. You know, so he picked up that as a customer. They’re going to see like, oh, this is a major release. This is going to be a significant change. Tell me why. And it was neat. And Alex and the team from the new stack up and a huge fan of that of the whole organization from the start.

So it was like a glory day when I went to I presented on Carbonetti at the Open Stack conference in Boston. And and there was a fellow just like chuckling away in the front during my presentation, I was like, all right, I feel like I’m doing good. Like I’m engaging the audience. And then I saw the ad, the article the next day in the new stack and I was in there.

I’m like, yeah, I feel like I hear that I made the news.

But Alex has done a fantastic job of going from purely independent writers, talking about technology in an ecosystem that he and his team cared about to be able to cross the chasm to being commercially viable, but maintaining journalistic, you know, integrity. So it’s very clear this is a sponsored post, but maintains that very good content in a sponsored post. He doesn’t let it become a commercial. And I think that’s where, like you said, there’s a no B.S. factor of like I’m not just going to let you come in and say, you know, what would make this drink better if it was built by this company, you know, on this technology, like, there’s no room for that.

And Alex and his and the new stack are a great example of folks that. Make sure they keep that nice hard line. Yeah, definitely, and you’re right on, I think, you know, tech journalists, they and this is where positioning comes in. I mean, that you really want to, like, tell them what the value is like. Why does this matter? And it’s you know, unfortunately, it’s a thing that I think a lot of companies get wrong because they they’ll send an email.

We’re releasing a new version and its version, you know, six point one point three point five. And it’s I’m like, I don’t care why I should care.

And the fun part is, of course, because you have to pass out an hour conversation or a 20 minute conversation and then get it to a few meaningful bytes that matter.

And I remember it also. It’s fun. Beth Parisotto, she’s also a great writer. And and I talked with her for like an hour on Carbonetti stuff. And we go through this whole thing into the end.

The quote that comes in the article was like, Carbonetti is on virtual machines is like a gateway drug to Cubanos on bare metal.

I like you say it almost as a throwaway, but you’ve got to remember when microphones are on, everything’s live and everything’s on the record. And it was it was fine. Like I said it for a reason. It was it wasn’t meant to be like, I hope she doesn’t write this, but every once in a while I’ll say something.

And then my my PR team, you see their eyes go their eyes wide, not be like, oh, did I just say something that like hopefully they don’t catch that quote in there.

But in journalism school, when I took classes in radio, they would say, like, you never turn off your mic. You would say, like, OK, we’re done.

You’d like take off your headphones, but you would keep your mike because people would always say, like the the interesting or sometimes incriminating thing when they erroneously assume that your mic was your recorder was not running.

Yeah, I tell you, that’s and I’ve always got an incredible respect for the true art of journalism, you know, and in that thing of like, yo, are we off the record?

And it’s the whole like when I read more and like like delved into how that works and the idea of deep background and how it’s like there’s so much to real journalism that unfortunately is is just shaded by what we call media and that it’s really been broken.

But the real true journalists, you know, the journalists out there and the principles and practice of it are are fantastic and so necessary.

But, you know, the world has kind of shifted in a weird way of, you know, it becomes, you know, see the twenty three things that his gym trainer would doesn’t want you to hear about AB exercises or whatever.

Like it becomes this weird Outbrain articles that are on mainstream media sites and it gets really lost in the power and importance of that journalism.

And I think possibly another reason why I’m so interested in positioning, actually, is that journalists specialize. And this to an extent that, for example, developers generally don’t like developer developers, I think often make the mistake of thinking I’m a developer and I write software and I could work at any company and it doesn’t matter what industry and whatever.

So journalists almost always specialize in something. And you want this because their job is to explain, to know what’s important and what isn’t and to really understand, you know, a particular subject. So, yeah. So I have always thought that it’s really important to to really be a specialist and in something and and that applies to products too.

Yeah. It’s and it’s funny if you look at it, I mean it’s positioning, it’s positioning in every way. Right.

Are you going to write for illusional or lemonde like which is the one you very distinct audiences, very specific demographics if you’re not aware and then same as developer like sure, you can be a you know, a journey person developer who can do write fantastic code and do all that stuff.

But if you’re if you want to be specialized, if you want to really succeed, it’s about knowing how to map it to business requirements, how to relate it.

How do you engage with customers as you’re building features and exploring stuff and user experience?

There is much more that requires that knowing your customer and you know, it’s effectively positioning of everything.

Yep, exactly.

Oh, this is I could talk to you all day and this has been fantastic. And I want to thank you very much.

And for folks that do want to connect with you through various means, of course, I’ll all have the link to your website. You can go to Emily Omeir dot com and what’s the best way if they want to do engage with you on on social media and also plus, go check out Emily’s podcast and and your blog said.

Great writer, if you just if you search for Emily Omeir, there’s a wealth of content that comes up on Google because you’re a very prolific creator and it shows in in how well you approach this. You’re everything you do.

Yeah. So let’s see. So my podcast is called The Business of Collaborative. And the goal is to sort of interrogate why companies use cloud native technology, what end users say, what people in the ecosystem say, etc. And you can go to the business of cloud native dotcom and actually redirect you to my website. But it’s if you have trouble spelling my last name and also my blog positioning open source, you can go to positioning open source dotcom that will send you in the right direction.

I am pretty active on LinkedIn and unless you send me like a spammy connection request, I will probably accept it. And so, yeah, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. One of my goals for this year is to set up and be active on Twitter. I think I have an account, but I am not sure.

So yeah, but my, my LinkedIn, I always, I always enjoy when somebody because I have an open policy I set up on LinkedIn because I also I use it as a broadcast channel. So a lot of stuff goes out in there. So I’m like, you feel bad. I’m like, hey by the way, I’m accepting your connection, but you just became my audience and but you know somebody you’ll get that inbound.

And I just look at the like the title or, you know, what the company is. I’m like, guys, I know what’s coming. You hit accept. And then like nine minutes later, you know, hey, thanks for connecting.

You know, one of the challenges that people face is being able to write good whiteboard videos on their product and we solve that problem.

And I’m like, OK, I’m going to make a whiteboard video to reply to these people on how to do better prospecting.

Yeah, a lot of people make the a lot of the spammy types. I think they make the assumption that I, like, work inside a company. And so they’ll talk to me about, like managing my team or something that I might do. This is this is not this is actually not a problem that I have as an expert operating cloud native environments.

You clearly know. Exactly. Exactly.

And I know you probably get this thing if you’ve ever seen the movie Boiler Room, it’s it’s one of the scenes this fellows like this crazy, you know, aggressive sales person, he learns these techniques and someone calls from The New York Times like, how can I would you like a subscription to The New York Times?

And he’s like, No, thanks, I’m good.

I get the post, whatever. And they’re like, OK, thank you for your day.

And he goes, well, that’s it. And and he then goes for like twenty minutes, like schooling them. Like you got to go for the clothes, like ask for their business, you got to do this like entice them. What do they really want. Do you want the post. You want this. Do you, what do you want to light up your days like. And the guy gets all fired up. He goes excellent. He goes so it’s like a script, you know.

But when someone pitches you, you almost want to reply like, OK, do I need to coach you how to do this?

Like we can. You can do better. I’m disappointed. Yeah.

So to go on a personal tangent, I’m getting certified to be a foster parent and the as like a marketer or I guess I’m not really a marketer anymore. But anyway, there’s this like it’s a bazillion step process, but I’m always like, oh, you guys need to work on your funnel and no wonder you have no foster parents like, oh my God, it is it’s really wild.

And and thank you for doing that. That’s a really noble thing.

You know, it’s something that we it’s a it’s not often understood the impact it can have and and how difficult it is to start the process.

You know, people just think like, oh, you just, you know, go sign a form and do it like, no, this is not an easy thing. There’s no license to have kids. Fact. It’s it it happens far more accidentally than it does on purpose. And then when you want to go out and specifically, you know, bring a bring a child into a family, you know, it’s it’s not an easy process for many good reasons, of course.

But it’s at the same time you’re you’re like, what?

Can I not shorten the cycle on this here? I’m a I’m a good I’m a qualified lead. Right.

Exactly. Exactly. I do it. That’s exactly what I want to say. Like, hey, I’m a qualified lead. Like, let’s let’s let’s move move through this process a little bit. No, in all seriousness, it is it is quite a process. So they’re coming to my house next week. Well, well, good luck.

And on that. And I hope it goes as smoothly as it can go. I’ve got a few friends that also foster and it’s yeah. Not not a simple process which shows the intent and how strong it is that. You do have to go out of your way to make this happen, so it’ll, you know, the results will show and what it is. But yeah, here here you go. Was like, okay, look, I’m a qualified lead.

You’ve got access to the EB. I’m your technical champion.

I got everything. You know, I am the decision maker.

We know the required capabilities. We know the ineffective alternatives. We’ve got it all right here.

But making for Fosters, it’s is something we need. But I hope that people really do learn that there’s so much that’s important in what you do and what we all can do to just understand why this stuff works.

And it happens at many layers in life and business.

Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for having me on the podcast. This is a great discussion.

Yeah, thanks very much. And shout out again to Chris over at mist.io for putting us together. Big shadow to Alex in the new stack and all the folks over there who I’m a longtime fan of their content. And yeah, like I said, people can go to do a quick search for Emily Omeir. You’ll see the new stack pop up and do check it out as well as your blog. Thank you.