Marketing can be incredibly confusing. That's why we ask people to send us their hard questions when entering our biweekly giveaways. In this podcast, we answer 20 real marketing questions!
Listen in as we answer questions like:
Like what you hear? You can read more from us on https://marketingistheproduct.com.
Pierson: What's up, everybody? This is Pierson with Pangea Marketing, I'm here with Brandon.
Brandon: Hey there.
Pierson: And today, we are gonna be going over some of the fan questions that we've gotten in from a contest and kinda go over that and answer some of these questions from you guys from all over the world and see if we can clear up some questions you've got about business and marketing.
Brandon: That's right. Let's see, I think it was a copy of the board game Scythe that we had given away for these questions. Is that right?
Pierson: Yeah, so the Scythe board game.
Brandon: Now what we did is, as part of this giveaway, if you wrote in a response to a particular question, you got points in that giveaway, which made you more likely to win the game. And the question that we asked is, "What confuses you most about marketing?" And we got a lot of answers.
Pierson: Yeah, we did. And throughout these answers, we've compiled a list of about 20 questions that we are gonna try to answer to the best of our ability and hopefully bring you some more insight as to how we do what we do on the backend, and hopefully clear up some of these gray areas that you might have about marketing. So Brandon, you wanna jump into it?
Brandon: Yeah, sure. I can read off the first one now.
Pierson: Go for it.
Brandon: So, Keith from Nottingham, United Kingdom says, "Collection of data." That is to say he is most confused about how marketing collects data. So a lot of people, they see ads on like the banner of a website that they read or on Facebook, and they are so super specific to something they searched earlier that they wonder, "Well, how did that ad know exactly what I wanted?" Like for example, you search for a vet near you and then dog toys are being marketed to you like two hours later. A lot of people, I think, don't understand how that works. And so, I think one thing we can talk about is just exactly how social media sites and search engines find out so much about you. What do you think?
Pierson: Yeah, so the collection of data, I think it's pretty different regarding the sites that you are collecting it on, but the intent is the same, is trying to figure out how does this data... How are we getting the information that you guys are seeing on your end, I think is probably the best way to go about it, you think, Brandon?
Brandon: Yeah, I think what I'm gonna do to explain this question is probably just talk about how Google and Facebook figure out which ads to serve you, 'cause those are actually responsible for the majority of ads which people see online. So Google is actually relatively simple. Google will serve up ads based on what you have searched for. So like, if you type in specific keywords, the first three results that show up there are gonna be paid ads. It's not always obvious which ones are ads anymore, they've made it a little less obvious, which are paid results and which are organic results that is non-paid. But the way it is, if you type in say, fulfillment center near me, you are going to get a short list of fulfillment centers who can help you ship items for your e-commerce business. And this is actually something that I've helped a client with. So I've helped them to create those ads. Very effective, brings in a lot of money when you do that.
Brandon: Now, Google will also keep records of what you search for to try and get a sense of what your interests are, and you may feel uncomfortable with that, but that is the basic reality. This is how a lot of businesses advertise now. And when it gets a sense of what you search for, you might find yourself going to another site, and you'll see a banner ad along the side, and it's advertising this very same thing that you searched for like, three hours ago. That's because it's using Google's network to serve up ads, because Google has an ad network that different website owners can insert into their web pages to get like a 4/10s of a penny for every person who sees it, something like that. Facebook. Facebook is a little different. They will pay attention to what you interact with on their social media network, which pages do you like, which comments do you comment on. They'll look for stuff like that. And they will slowly, through technologies that I don't think anybody 100% understands, compile kinda like a dossier of your interests, that's the easiest way of looking at it.
Brandon: And then it broadly categorizes your interests into a handful of categories. I look up a lot of board game stuff, so they say, my interests... One of my interests is board gaming, and then they serve me up ads for that. They notice that I've talked about Kickstarter before, so I'll see a lot of Kickstarter projects on my page whenever I load Facebook up. If you talk to people who have dogs and you share dog pictures, it will serve up dog care [chuckle] products to you. It uses also demographic information, like your age, and your gender, your location, stuff like that as well. And how that works, individual businesses go to Facebook and then they take out an ad, which targets people based on their interests, their location, all this stuff, which Facebook had gathered. And that's how... That is a really, really, really high-level overview of how these sites collect your data and what they do with it.
Pierson: Yeah, so the next question is from Daniel in Halifax, Canada, and he said, "Strong differing opinions." So, let's just run with that and say, in the field of marketing, why are there so many varying opinions on what the right thing is to do? What's the right methodology in going about solving your particular problem? And that's something that we've talked about a lot on our blog, Marketing is the Product, and we've started to get into a little bit here on the podcast. But a lot of it is personal preference and you see a lot of marketing agencies advertising a variation of what seems like the same thing. There are a million different ways that you can choose to approach a problem and not one of them necessarily has to be the right way.
Brandon: It's a complex field, and it is not easy to measure success, so you're gonna get a bunch of different answers from everybody. I also think worth mentioning here is that there's a split between just generating leads and revenue and branding, and when people don't understand that difference, that causes a lot of disagreement where people would actually otherwise agree.
Pierson: Absolutely. I think that... And social media is another big reason as to why there are so many differing opinions. You have a lot of people that are putting content out, whether that be on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a lot of people take it that it's 100% truth. And I think that when you have that many people posting about how to do something, what the best way is to go about it, and you have outlets that people can put them out into in the forefront of all of our attention, it makes for a lot of opinions that you can see.
Brandon: Yup. And a lot of this is again like, marketing marketing itself. So content marketing is one of the biggest ways to market. It is basically the backbone of modern marketing. You have to have something worth saying. And so, everybody wants to or needs to write up an essay or make a YouTube video or start a podcast or do all this different stuff. So, you see a mix of uninformed opinions and also just really, really informed and niche opinions on really specific subjects, and it's not obvious which is which.
Pierson: Right, and I think that that's a much better and clearer way to explain what I was trying to get across. [chuckle] You wanna take the next question, Brandon?
Brandon: Nandu from Wageningen, Netherlands, nailed it, is most confused about how mobile ads try to gain players with quotes like, "Only 1% can reach level two." [laughter] I love this question.
Pierson: It sounds like there might be some pent up frustration there.
Brandon: It sounds like they're trying to watch YouTube videos, and they just keep getting all these people pushing some crappy mobile game. You know what I'm talking about, right?
Pierson: Yeah, and it's like you see them inbetween or sometimes during the video where they popup, and it's just enough of a clip to make you kinda question, "Is that fun? Do I wanna play that?" Just seeing that only 1% of people can reach level two, I think that that... In my opinion, I think that it's a marketing tactic that people are using to try to convince you, 'cause I know for myself, I see... I'm competitive, and when I see only 1% can reach level two, and I'm thinking, "Okay, well if this is level one, I know I can get to level two." And it's kinda playing into that competitive factor, you know?
Brandon: Oh, yeah. And I think there's actually something really deep going on, believe it not. So these mobile games, how do they make money? They make money on transactions. Who's the one who pays for those transactions, the goofy hats and to like, level up quickly? It's the super competitive people. How do you attract the super competitive people? You goad them. I think that's what that is. I don't know. I've never worked on a mobile game like that.
Pierson: Neither have I, and I think that that makes it a little bit hard to say the exact psychology behind why people say quotes that are, "Only 1% can reach level two." It definitely works on a lot of people. It's worked on me in the past. I can't say I won't do it again in the future, but you know, that's how it goes. They rope you in, and you're playing for a couple of weeks and then you never play them again.
Brandon: Yeah, dude. Goading people works. [chuckle] Yeah, I had something like that with Clash of Clans too. It was like, eight years ago or something. You play it for a few weeks and then it's... And then you don't care anymore. But yeah, goading people really works, and it's pretty much all of Back To The Future happened because somebody called [chuckle] Marty a chicken, so.
Pierson: Alright, so if you wanna go ahead and... We'll go ahead and jump into the next one. Julia from Lima, Peru said, they're creating a need thing. And so, I think what you're talking about, Julia, is when you have a product and you are trying to get it out to the market, or you've got an idea, the creating a need comes from... As the producer of the product, let's say I'm trying to get my new football out into the market. I need to create a need for that market to have that football. I have to try to sell them on why they need that.
Brandon: I was just reading this thinking like, "Creating a need, creating a need." I feel like if you have to create a need, then you're probably already losing. 'Cause like, what's the first law of marketing? Product/market fit.
Pierson: Well, true, yes. If you're having to really work to create a market, it might be better off to try to just pivot a little bit and go in a direction that might already have an established market. You might see a little bit more success than trying to create an entire need, and I think that that's saying... I feel like what it's going for is trying to say like, "Hey, I'm gonna try to create that need for what I'm making." And maybe that's best shown through not making a brand new market, but creating a need for your product within an established market.
Brandon: Yeah, I think a more apt analogy is just finding a need.
Brandon: And I will say that a lot of people think that marketing is about creating a need, because there was this brief period of time where you had mass media like TV and radio and complete domination over mass media in that way in newspapers and the like. And you could just pump a bunch of money into sending whatever message you wanted and yeah, you could make people think that they wanted something and sell them that. But even these days, like... I mean, does anybody remember Verizon launching go90? Yeah, it was their crowd mobile app. They tried to push it. It was really, really, really bad. But they put a ton of money into it, right?
Brandon: And it's because there was no need. There was literally no need that they were making... So even like a company with a massive war chest, like Verizon, and basically a captive audience couldn't even make a need. It's not possible anymore, I don't think.
Pierson: I think people are set in their ways, and those that aren't set in their ways aren't very likely to change that drastically, you know? I think people are who they are to a certain degree. Don't change what's not broken.
Brandon: Yeah, I agree with that. You can't really change people.
Brandon: Yeah, let's see, I can read off this next one. We've got Brent from Rogers, United States. Where is Rogers? I don't know. Yeah, I guess, we don't have the state on here. Well, that's okay. Actually, give me one second, I just got a text message. Funny enough, it's Verizon. [laughter] They just told me I paid my bill. That makes me a little nervous. The timing on that is uncanny. Anyway. [laughter] We're leaving that one in aren't we?
Pierson: Yeah, I'm not taking it out.
Brandon: Anyway, poor Brent and his question. How to make it less sales-y and more informational? Yeah, that's actually a really good point. How do you get the sales-y ness out of marketing? You wanna take this one?
Pierson: I think that taking the sales-y ness out of marketing also kind of answers another question on this list, and I'm gonna try to find it, 'cause it might be a little two for one. I think this also kinda ties into a question from Moe from Windsor, Canada asked, on how to separate real advice from the spam? And I think that this... They kinda go hand-in-hand for a couple of reasons. A lot of marketing approach trying to win your sale over by just shoving all of the information in your face, and they wanna pump it out rather than just trying to inform you about what your product is. And there are a couple of reasons for that. One, the intent of why you're doing what you're doing. If you're trying to make a sale, then someone's gonna be trying to sell it to you, rather than if you're trying to put out content on how to start a small business. How do I use Facebook marketing? Or it's going to be geared more towards an informational side of it.
Pierson: And I think that that also ties into the real advice from the spam. In marketing, there is a lot of sleaziness and that relates back to an article that we wrote a while back on marketing is the product for why is marketing so sleazy? And if you wanna check that out, we can throw a link down in the description below. But a lot of it is just trying to sift through, but what is backed up by facts? And a lot of marketing is throwing these claims out that aren't necessarily backed up by people, or by statistics, and by data, or they don't have the case studies to back up what they're claiming. And I think that that's a good sign to tell the real advice from the fake is if these places aren't doing anything to back it up, and they're just pumping out, trying to get more likes or more comments, that's not necessarily real advice from that fake stuff.
Brandon: I've noticed one thing, actually on the subject of this that... So I've been working with a copywriter on a bigger project. It's part of a bigger marketing team, and her go-to copywriting advice to avoid the sales-y look, is to always be as specific as possible. If you say, we've served many, many clients. She will say, "How many? 1500?" Can we spell this out? Can we put a specific number on there? When you start giving specifics, numbers, data, facts, actual stories of clients that you've worked with, or people who have tried your product that has reviews, and you like back this up, it will look a lot less sales-y.
Pierson: For sure, and once again, much more eloquent than what I was saying, but what I was trying to get at, I know for me, I'm looking for specifics, and not just specifics, but facts. And like you said, you've served so many people. You have so many clients that are happy. How many? Where are they? You know, what did you do for them? What are the numbers that can back-up what you are claiming? And I think that that's what I was trying to get at. You just seem to be able to sum it up a lot more well-worded than I.
Brandon: It's probably from working with the copywriter. By the way, it is really, really difficult to get meaningful specifics on a website or on marketing material, because you have to be around for a little while to even have content to share with people. Like, whether you're doing some kinda blog or podcast like us, or whether you're doing client work and you need testimonials, it takes a while to actually get that. In fact, we're working on putting those up on our own website, because we're relatively recent ourselves. A lot of businesses will fail before they actually have the specific information they need [chuckle] that will make for a good pitch, you know?
Pierson: For sure. I'll go ahead and take this next question from Igor in Belgrade, Serbia. Igor said, "The thing that confuses me is the question, why in every contest like this winner is from USA and not from rest of the world? Other than that, marketing nowadays is on a very high level. Cheers."
Pierson: Well, thank you, Igor. Marketing has taken the very... It's taken some pretty big strides in the last few years, especially with social media and all of the different platforms that you're able to market on. To speak to the competition in the USA and for the rest of the world, I'm not sure as to why other companies or other contests might be that way. I know that for us, we have, like you, we have a lot of people from all over the world that enter our contests, and I'm not sure Brandon, have we had any international winners?
Brandon: I know we have at some point in the past. I will say this, we pick them completely at random, like through a software called Gleam. We don't touch that at all. What usually happens is I'll post it on my American Facebook page. From my American company and then I will boost it to an American audience because I know that American shipping is cheaper than international shipping. And for that reason 85, 90, 95% of the people who jump in our contests are based in the US. And that's all it really is. It's just a statistics and probability thing. Now that said, for people who do win from a country outside of the US, will actually order whatever item were given away from the closest Amazon to them. Like if you are in Portugal, will order from Amazon Spain, if you're in Germany will order from Amazon Germany and so on.
Pierson: So hopefully Igor that sheds some more light on why it seems like winners are only coming from the US, I don't think it's something that people are choosing. I think that, like Brandon you're saying, it's a complete random software that's determining the winner. Also, there is a geographic element to it that... Like what you're also saying, people are boosting it in to the areas that are a little bit more relevant for what they're trying to do. And if you're running a small business in Mobile, Alabama, you might not be pushing your posts as much in Sydney, Australia. It might not make the most sense. And while, someone from Sydney, Australia could stumble upon your website and be the most loyal customer you have, the odds of the majority of your clientele being from Mobile, are a little bit higher than them being from Sydney.
Brandon: And as for our own company, we only boost our content to the US, UK, Australia and Canada. Basically the four countries that are most likely to speak English and have a great level of cultural similarity to where we are. 'Cause we actually have no idea how much our content will apply internationally as well.
Brandon: Hopefully this clears up some questions about our contests. I can't really speak for other people.
Pierson: Right. That's a little bit of a gray area, but I know for us, that's what it is at least.
Brandon: Yeah. That was totally a question about why he hasn't won yet. [chuckle] Oh man. Okay. So how do you give me all the hard names? Okay. So this question's from Mathias from Västerås, and I did not look that up on Google translate, Sweden. And so Mathias is most confused about reaching the right target group. So there's a couple of different elements to this. I think one is just how to find your target audience in general and the second is how do you reach out to them? So I can let you take the first part of this Pierson.
Pierson: Right. So how to find your target audience, just going over that first. Yeah. So I think the first step in finding your target audience is understanding what your goals... Your long-term goals and your short term goals are for your company and what you're trying to accomplish. I think in order to really narrow in on who you want to push your product or service to, you have to understand where you want it to go. And through that understanding of what you see for your company, you are able to target those people that are most likely to buy it. It goes back to what I was saying a minute ago about trying to sell footballs. If I'm trying to sell footballs, I'm not gonna try to go sell them to a swim team. I've gotta try to find a market that's going to be receptive to what I'm selling or providing.
Brandon: Yeah. A lot of it comes down to either you find the market at first, or it's like you said, you have to go out and seek people who are actively interested in your product. And that... The first option, which is where you just pick a group that you wanna meet a need for, that comes from introspection. And if you've already made a product and you need to find people who are interested in that product that comes from trial and error, and by the way, that's a lot harder. Now as for how you actually market to them, the general principle is go where they are. I can tell you, go to Facebook, target by interests. And honestly, it's not bad advice because you can usually get ahold of people who like just about anything on Facebook. So for example, if you have written a young adult fiction book, you need to go to the blogs of people who review young adult fiction and you need to get your book in front of them so that they review it. If you have made a board game, you need to go to BoardGameGeek and you need to get to know people there, maybe participate in a few kickstarters, get to know people. Yeah. You just wanna find those niche communities and work your way into them as well.
Pierson: For sure. Well hopefully that answers that up for you Mathias and jumping into the next question. We'll go into Tim's question from Charikar, Afghanistan. And I hope I am not butchering the pronunciation of that. I'm sure that I am. His question is how to not waste money on poor marketing choices?
Brandon: Hire an agency. [chuckle]
Pierson: That might be the most straight forward way to do it. Another good way to start out is to just make sure you have a good plan of action for your business and for your products and trying to not get into something not knowing what the end outcome is gonna be. I think that that can lead to a lot of waste in investment and wasted time and energy and money in whatever you are doing when you don't exactly know the path that you are going to be taking with it.
Brandon: Yeah. I mean, if you go in with a clear plan and you know why your product is worth somebody's time and you know who you're selling to, that'll save you a lot of pain and misery and a lot of bills. Now I joked about hiring an agency and to some extent that's true, but you also don't wanna go hiring people unless you're very, very, very sure that you need the help and you need to do your homework before you hire employees or agencies to do any the work for you. It's a lot better to like try and fail at doing it first for like a month or two marketing on your own. That is to get deeply into relationship with a company or a person that you can't work with.
Brandon: So stay away from lack of clarity around your product or your company's value ad and stay away from getting into long-term relationships with businesses or individuals that you haven't vetted well. And if you do just those two things, you will save yourself a ton of money. Also, be really, really careful with Google Ads too. They tend to run for a higher budget than what you would think, because there are some conditions under which they're allowed to spend twice what you allocate for 'em. I'm not making that up, it's a real thing. You say spend $250 a day and they can spend up to $500.
Brandon: Yeah. It's a real thing. Now, it will average to $250 a day, but a lot of people, they'll try it, they'll just kind of flirt with Google Ads and they'll turn 'em on for two hours and they'll spend the entire day's budget within 15 minutes, and then it'll start running over in some cases. And there's a whole machine learning thing going on behind the scenes. It's still a very good system, but that's also a great way to lose money quickly.
Pierson: Well, definitely something to have to watch out for if you're pumping money into ads.
Brandon: Pangea, learning the hard way so you don't have to. Actually, that's kind of true.
Pierson: That might... Have we just found our new slogan?
Brandon: I don't know. Is that gonna... Will that fit on board press? Will that exceed our character limit?
Pierson: It very well might exceed the character limit.
Brandon: All right, so Mark from Ambridge, United States says, "A lot of marketing seems to try to associate a product with an unrelated feel good item or situation instead of focusing on a problem that that product can fix. I interpret this to be an admission that there is no compelling reason to buy the product." That is more eloquent than any answer we're about to give. Well done, Mark. You want me to jump in on this one?
Pierson: Yeah. Go for it. I'm still trying to think of the best way to answer it, I'm rereading that.
Brandon: Yeah. That's a lot to digest, but I actually get what he's going for, 'cause all right, let's take a beer commercial, for example, like an early 2000s beer commercial. I think you're old enough to remember the type that I'm talking about. So a guy, he's a real putz, he hasn't got things working well for him. And then he gets a Coors or a Bud Light and all of a sudden attractive women are around him, and he's cool, and he's dressed well, and it's all because he drank this like $0.90 cent beer that's actually really bad.
Brandon: It's not that bad, [chuckle] but... Yeah. And you think, "What the hell, this has nothing to do with any of the qualities that the beer has." And that's because they are specifically trying to sell feelings instead of actually selling the product, 'cause ultimately, it is a studied truth that people don't make decisions based off of a rational calculation of what is going to be best for them in the long run. And honestly, you can see examples of this every single day. People don't save enough for retirement, people don't wear a mask, even though the science says that that's a good thing to do when you're going out of the house right now. People don't make rational decisions, 'cause that's not necessarily how our brains are built. Our brains are built to make quick snappy decisions based off of something called like heuristics, and this is because this is what got us out of the caves, this is what our ancestors used to survive, and we're kind of stuck with it for better or worse. Marketers know this. So they market to your feelings, they market to your desires instead of actually selling you on the product.
Brandon: And this can be good or evil. It sounds like it's pure evil, and it can certainly be used in an evil way, but it can also be used to get people to do something that they wouldn't normally do by tying it to messages that says it's that's good for you. If you can make an attractive case for how somebody's life will be better if they save up their money, you can get them to use your investment platform. And that would actually be a net positive for them, like that wouldn't... That would be better for the world. But yeah. That's pretty much why I think marketing, they go for the feel good or an emotional appeal instead of a rational one. They do it 'cause it works, irrespective of whether the product is actually good or not.
Pierson: Right. And Brandon, like you were saying, people make decisions based on emotion. Regardless of in business or in life in general. People make a lot of decisions based on how they feel, not necessarily what might be the most objective or the most rational thing to do.
Brandon: And it's not really necessarily a bad thing. This is actually, this allows us to, I think, pursue meaning in our lives too, because we're not rational creatures, but it's [chuckle] complicated sometimes. It can cause some funny effects. Down in the description, I think what we should do is we should link the Consumer Behavior Post. It's like the second post we ever did for marketing as a product, and it's one of my favorite ones.
Pierson: Yeah. We'll go ahead and throw that link down there. So Jason from Crescent City, United States asked, "How to reach and create interest outside of a targeted demographic?" And this is a pretty hard thing to do, Brandon. Your market that you've created or not even created, but you found yourself within is more than likely there for a reason, and you're more than likely marketing to those people because they're the most likely to buy your product or service. And getting interest beyond that is one of the hardest things that you could do as a small business. And there are ways to do that, and I think that, Brandon, you might be able to go a little bit deeper into some of those ways.
Brandon: Yeah. It's definitely difficult to reach outside of the target audience. And a lot of times you don't really want to. You want to just make sure that you serve your audience really well. But there are definite benefits to reaching outside of your targeted demographic. For example, if you get stuck serving one particular group of people, it can seriously limit the amount of revenue that you can pull in, depending on how niche your business is. So you might wanna work your way out of that. So if you're gonna do that, there's a few different ways you can do this. You can launch a new product, and that will appeal to similar but different people. That's one way of broadening the scope of what your business does and has to offer. You can re-brand your business. Actually, I'm gonna circle back for a second. So as an example of launching a new product, I have seen.
Brandon: You see this all the time with a lot of different companies like, Apple knew that they didn't wanna just stop with phones, they wanted to create tablet computers and reach a group of people who are not necessarily interested in their phones. There was competition in the phone market, but not as much in tablet. So they released the tablet to try and pick up people who just could not find anything good in that market yet. And that's why they succeeded in getting out of just iPods and iPhones at the time.
Brandon: Yeah. So another thing you could try doing is you could try rebranding your business, and that can potentially pull more people in. I think MailChimp actually is a good example of a company that's doing this. They have radically rebranded their business in the last couple of years, going from being, "We're the email marketing tool," to being, "We are a customer relationship management tool for creatives," like this is their whole branding now. And they actually sell a lot more feature... They have a lot more different features that they give their people, because they didn't want to just get stuck in email marketing. Incidentally, I think this has actually made them worse at the email marketing part of it, so this is one thing to look out out for.
Brandon: We actually advocate for ActiveCampaign, I guess that's neither here nor there. Reaching outside of a targeted demographic, yeah. Pretty much releasing products and rebranding are some of the best ways of doing it. You can also try advertising or promoting your very same product to a new demographic for like an alternate use of your product, but that's harder and I can't really think of good examples of that right now.
Pierson: No, I think you've done a pretty good job of explaining some different ways to go into different markets.
Brandon: Yeah. Let's see, so we've got Matt from Ajax, Canada. Oh my God, Ajax, really? That's awesome. That's an awesome name for a town. [chuckle] Bad name for a villain according to Deadpool, but an awesome name for a town. So Matt from Ajax... [laughter] Matt from Ajax, Canada asks, "Is there a line that can't/shouldn't be crossed regarding hyperbolic marketing campaigns?" Well, that's a very serious question to follow my jest.
Pierson: So I'll give you a very straight forward answer, just don't lie.
Brandon: Yeah. Pretty much.
Pierson: It's like a pretty just easy rule to live by, and it goes for marketing too. Just don't lie about shit. If you can't do it, don't say you can.
Brandon: Well, I'm gonna take this one step deeper and say what is truth? No, don't lie. Just don't lie. [laughter] But seriously, don't make claims that you can't back up.
Pierson: That's the biggest way, in my opinion, to get somebody to not pay attention to you.
Brandon: Yeah. Don't say that you're the best in the world, because what is the best? What's the number one? Pick a really specific superlative and go for that. The most general thing that I think that you can get away with calling yourself is the most trusted name in industry, and even that is kind of pushing it, in my opinion.
Pierson: And you know, the best example in my opinion is you can go into literally any city in the nation, and you're gonna see the best coffee in the nation at 19 different places. They're all gonna have it. They're all gonna have the best coffee you've ever seen. They're all gonna claim to have it.
Brandon: Yeah. It's so true. And I tell you, as much as I love this town, I guarantee you the best coffee in the nation is not in Chattanooga. [chuckle] It's probably in Hawaii where they grow it fresh, but...
Pierson: I have never been to Hawaii, and I don't think Chattanooga has the best, so we [chuckle] can leave it at that.
Brandon: When we get podcast sponsors, sellout, and irritate our audience, I'll buy you some plane tickets under the guise of a business trip.
Brandon: So, Vlad from Bucharest, Romania, and once again, hopefully I'm not butchering it, probably am. "Trying to appeal to the audience and making changes according to them," that's pretty tricky because you wanna be receptive to your audience and you wanna listen to the vibe that they're giving out to you as a community, but you also don't wanna compromise your own beliefs and your own goals for your business and the direction that you wanna take with that. So I think that a good balance is trying to find content or a product or service that you are producing that not only is resonating with what your clients are going for and what your audience is going for, but also what you want for your business, because that's what's ultimately important is if you're not doing something that makes you happy, then you're not really gonna do something that you're enjoying.
Brandon: Yeah, and if you cave to every single demand and stop doing things that you enjoy, you'll just get really sick of it and then it won't be worth it anymore.
Brandon: I think when taking customer feedback, there's a few things that I like to keep in mind. One: Define your brand guidelines, like know what your business is for, and make sure you always live up to that as much as you possibly can and never, never break those brand guidelines.
Pierson: If you couldn't tell, we like to plan. And we think that having a good plan is probably the best backbone that you can have for your business.
Brandon: Yeah, pretty much. And it doesn't even have to be all spelled out, like just even a few notes on a piece of paper that you write down and really actually follow, that's all you need. I mean even the great religions only have a handful of rules that they really try and get you to memorize. It doesn't have to be complicated.
Pierson: Yeah. I think that where it gets complicated is when people try to make things into something that they're not and to spin it. And that also gets into the opinion aspect of marketing and trying to market things that aren't factual or aren't statistics, but are rather just opinions from that person. And that's just something to look out for in marketing is if you're getting a very highly opinionated marketer that is only set on doing things their way, then maybe take a step back and evaluate.
Brandon: Yeah, 'cause honestly, you really can't get stuck in the mud when it comes to marketing. If like a marketer is working for you, they have to listen to you as a client. If they say, "Let's do ads" and you say, "Let's pursue strategic partnerships.", neither one of those is necessarily a bad answer, one might get you more money than another, but if you want partners then the person doing the work on your behalf is obligated to go find them for you, unless it's like a complete failure to actually complete marketing functions. I wanted to get back to the question again. I think the second thing you'd wanna look out for, don't make changes you can't afford to make. Pretty much just like do a cost analysis, and if it's not financially feasible, don't do it. There's also... Number three and it's like some advice I picked up from, I wanna get the book right, 'cause I think this will be good for people to read, Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. I was reading it sideways, 'cause I was looking at the spine on my bookshelf there. They basically said, "Don't just change your product because one person asked for it. Wait for a bunch of people to ask for something, and if a lot of people ask you to do something for a particular product, then do it because you know that there's an audience."
Brandon: I'll tell you... Change management... Forget marketing for a minute, change management, if you were gonna do any kind of consulting or any kind of analysis related work in business, any kind of executive level work, you have to know how to get people to... You have to know what to change and what not to change, and that's so... That's such a difficult... That's such a difficult skill set to master, but it's one of those things that you have to deeply understand in order to succeed. Let's see, so we should probably go to Solange from Croydon, United Kingdom, asks, "Where does marketing begin and end?" You wanna take this one?
Pierson: I would say that marketing begins at the point of conception of an idea that you want to make into reality. And I think that you can start marketing as soon as you have that idea and the marketing process continues until that product reaches its customer's hands. Brandon, what do you think?
Brandon: Yeah, that's pretty much a perfect answer. Marketing is inseparable from the actual work you do. Everything about the product, everything about the messaging you create around the product, that is the product. When we say Marketing Is The Product, we literally mean it.
Pierson: So that's where our name comes from.
Brandon: Did you just... [chuckle] Did you just now realize this? [chuckle]
Brandon: It was always meant to be... Hopefully, God. I was like, "Holy smokes, where did I go wrong as a manager here?" Don't answer that, not on the air anyway. [chuckle] Next time 360 evals go around. But yeah, our name in my mind, I always imagined it after I stole it from Sean Fallon [chuckle] I always imagined it as being read in like a Neo kind of voice. Marketing Is The Product.
Pierson: I'm sad at how decent that Neo impression was, it sounds like you've practiced that before.
Brandon: I actually thought it was gonna come out worse because every impression I do is typically terrible and I was...
Pierson: Is Neo on your list of impressions?
Brandon: No... Well, at least not until today.
Pierson: Who's on your list of impressions, then?
Brandon: Oh God, I don't know. [chuckle] We don't wanna start this.
Pierson: That one's a pretty straight forward question... I think, "Where does marketing begin and end?" It begins when your idea begins, and it ends when that product reaches your customer's hands. And it's a process that is very intertwined and goes throughout the entire thing. Keep it short and sweet. So Miller from Tysons Corner, United States, asks, "How, with all of the research marketing firms do they can still manage to fail to resonate with young people?" That's a great question.
Brandon: That's because they're banning TikTok, that's why.
Pierson: I think there's a lot that goes into that. I think that that's a very deep question, and we could sit and talk about that question by itself for probably an entire episode, Brandon, but...
Brandon: Yeah, it really could be.
Pierson: And I think that to keep it simple, I think people fail to resonate with young people because there's a line where people rely on data rather than listening. And it goes back to trying to listen to your audience and make changes according to them. I think that there's a line that sometimes gets blurred for a lot of businesses where they are relying too heavily on the data and not as much on what your audience is actually thinking and saying about your company, or if you're meeting the needs of the people that you're trying to meet... Or if you're resonating with young people, in this case. I think that they fail to resonate with them because they're stuck in their ways in a lot of way. It's kind of hard to speak to why other companies fail to resonate with other people. I think that that's... There's also an element to it that's just... Who knows, who knows why some people gravitate towards certain things and not others.
Brandon: Yeah, I'm gonna start by saying, I honestly do not know, but I have a few pet theories. For one, when you're in your teens, when you're in your early 20s, it's your nature to just kinda rebel. You don't want a corporation selling you stuff for the most part. It's just... It's... There's a fundamental mismatch, first of all. Second of all, I don't think that people under, let's say 25 have that much income, really. So if you wanna make real serious money, you go after people who are older, like that... A lot of... Most of our clients, I can promise you this, are gonna be like in their 40s, 50s, 60s, simply because they're the ones who are running the vast majority of businesses that you know about. There are people who are like me and who are younger and run businesses, but that's relatively uncommon. So a lot... Your business to business marketing, and a lot of your business-to-consumer marketing, they go for older people because they've got money. And then of course, you don't have as much data on how to appeal to, let's say Generation Z. Marketing companies don't get a chance to learn, they can't find good literature, and so what you have left is experimentation... Awkward, messy experimentation, which can often backfire very badly and seem really out of touch. You never know...
Brandon: Like Old Spice, going into the Old Spice man commercials in 2010, they could not have known that that was gonna blow up. I'm sure they tested it, I'm sure they took a risk, but it could have backfired very easily.
Pierson: And there are a ton of examples with commercials like that, Flo, the Progressive lady. Who knew that that was gonna still be a thing to this day.
Brandon: Yeah, and it shouldn't have worked like that... The GEICO Gecko shouldn't have worked. There's a lot of stuff like that that should... Or Mayhem... You know... [chuckle]
Pierson: They've done a good job of creating these characters within ads that they can revert back to over the years that we have come to recognize and say, "Oh, yeah. I know Jake from State Farm." And even talking about it right now plays into what their goal was, of creating a character that people would remember and associate with their company.
Brandon: Yeah, and for every one that you absolutely nail, you're gonna screw up 10 more.
Brandon: There have been so many bad attempts to make something that looks cool for the kids and you just... You don't know what's gonna catch on, you have no idea. God, and another thing is, you never know what's gonna become nostalgic either.
Pierson: It's like trying to predict the future.
Pierson: You don't know necessarily when you've found a real gem until you look back and you see how well-received it was after the fact.
Brandon: Yeah, like a good example, I saw Supermarket Sweep pop up on Netflix. And I don't know, Pierson, actually, if you're even old enough to remember this, but it was on TV. I saw reruns when I was a kid. They'd show it at like 5 o'clock in the morning, so if you wake up too early or something. It's basically a show in which people run around grocery stores and they pick up items, like that's the whole concept of the store, it's a game show... The show, it's a game show. And you never know what's gonna become nostalgic, and it's so consumerist. They're pitching products the entire time. You're watching a 22-minute commercial with eight minutes of commercials interspersed between it. [chuckle] But you never know, who could have known that that was what people were gonna get nostalgic for. You have no idea.
Brandon: To answer your question, Miller, I've honestly... I have guesses, but I have no idea.
Pierson: That's a... "You've stumped us."
Brandon: Yeah, let's see. Mo from Windsor, Canada. Hey, that's where Sam's from, right?
Pierson: Yeah, it is actually.
Brandon: Yeah, she called it the armpit of Canada, [chuckle] which I shouldn't have repeated in this context. Good God, everybody like, comment and subscribe, click ring the bell, leave us a 5- star review on [chuckle] Apple podcast. Okay, Moses, How to separate real advice from spam... Well, I guess we touched on this a little bit earlier, and I suppose it bears repeating, look for specifics, and make sure that... Let's say, when it comes to advice, and not just like marketing copy, specifics go a long way. It really, really does. But also, God, there's so much bad marketing advice, and there's no real categorical rule on how to avoid it either.
Pierson: Just trust us. We know what we're talking about.
Brandon: Yeah, just trust us. Well, we actually do put a lot of effort into sourcing and citing. We wanna make sure that we're putting high quality information on the internet 'cause we got sick of the garbage too. But as a general rule of thumb, look for specifics, look for statistics and look for specific examples. And if you look for these three things, it's not a guarantee that you're gonna get the garbage advice out of the way, but what will be left will be a much higher signal-to-noise ratio, and it's something that's actually worth testing yourself.
Pierson: So since we touched on that one earlier, I think we've... Just touching on it again. I think we've pretty much covered how to separate real advice from the spam as best as we know how to.
Pierson: So getting into the next question, Pete from Minneapolis, United States says, "How do you know that your sales increases are a result of a certain marketing campaign as opposed to outside factors?" That's a great question, Pete.
Brandon: Yeah. If you can actually answer that solidly, you will make a lot of marketers' days.
Brandon: I'll tell you, that's actually called conversion tracking, there's a name for that. And conversion tracking is really difficult to do right. So there are tools that Facebook and all the major social media will use to help you with this. And Google has tools like Google Analytics that will help you figure out which campaigns are leading to certain increases in sales, but this is just for digital marketing. You can't... There's no telling which poster is leading people to buy a particular product. There's no telling which radio ad got people to buy a particular product, but I'll tell you this, you can push people online, and really, we gotta talk about online, because if you try and do this offline, there's not really a good way of measuring this precisely. But online, if you're listening to a podcast, they might give you a special link, like a discount code? They'll tell you to go to whatever.com/marketingistheproduct for your discount code.
Brandon: And if you land on that page, they can count up the number of people who ended up making a purchase from that page, and they can tell whether the ad on that podcast is working, whether that ad campaign that they did somewhere else to push people to that campaign is working. But beyond just properly setting up conversion tracking for social media and making special landing pages like what I described, the only real way to to know, for certain, that doesn't involve really complicated analytics available only to large companies is, I guess, just don't try to do too many things different at a time. If you're gonna change your marketing approach, change it... Try something, wait a couple of weeks, see what happens. Try something, wait a couple of weeks, see what happens. That's the only... That's the best that you can do in most cases.
Pierson: That's a fantastic answer, and I think I'm gonna leave it at that because it was a question that had me stumped, and I honestly don't know how to track certain stuff like that, it's... Outside of online...
Brandon: I wanna actually give them a search term that they can look up... To... Pete, if you are listening to this podcast and you got this far and you want to know more, go to Google and type in "Marketing lift," L-I-F-T, lift. And that's what they call it when you want to, in Google's words, measure an increase in sales in response to some form of advertising or promotion, you look up those two words and you'll find specific techniques for whatever it is that you're trying to do. And that should be able to help you more than broad principles that we can talk about during people's commutes or workouts, whatever. Whatever inspires you to go the extra mile, don't stop, you can lift that weight.
Pierson: Shout out to Jocko.
Brandon: Shout out to Jocko. [chuckle] What is it he says? What it is he says, "Get after it." I tell you I listened to him for five minutes, I don't even remember who he was on a show with. I listened to his podcast for five minutes and I started waking up at a quarter to six and I started eating eggs instead of pancakes. I am not joking. This guy scared me straight.
Pierson: You know who's another one that'll do that to you is David Goggins. You seen one Dave...
Brandon: I haven't actually watched him. I've heard of him though.
Pierson: If you watch David Goggins, you're familiar that man has done some of the craziest shit I've ever heard in my entire life.
Brandon: No kidding.
Pierson: Just look it up. That's all I've gotta say to it... [chuckle]
Brandon: I'm gonna have to look this up now.
Pierson: Yeah, it's gonna make your workouts feel like they're nothing. It's kinda... [chuckle] Goggins is a different breed.
Brandon: Yeah. I'm certainly gonna have to look that up.
Pierson: Yeah. Check out David Goggins.
Brandon: Let's see. So we've got a... We've got... Oh, I just saw this name. Not to worry. I'm gonna just pop that into Google and look up the translation or the pronunciation.
Pierson: You don't wanna give that a go on your own?
Brandon: Oh boy. Yeah. You know what? I'm just gonna give it a try. I'm not gonna try and find it. Dave, from Nangwarry, Australia says just social media targeting, social media targeting. Yeah. So this actually ties into the very first question that we answered, how data collection works. Essentially social media target... Targeting works just a recap, social media networks and search engines pay attention to what you do when you're on their websites and it compiles dossiers of your interests, as well as certain demographic information. This can then be used by advertisers to target people who fall within certain categories. And I think that's about as deep as I wanna go with that 'cause we answered it pretty well on the first question.
Pierson: Yeah. And it also gets into a little bit of privacy rights stuff, which you can't really speak to.
Brandon: Yeah, privacy rights. Well, you know what? Actually let's cover that 'cause we kinda glossed over that initially. Marketers these days, digital marketers basically depend on tools like Facebook and Google and others like them in order to reach their audience. And so in a lot of ways, the actual leaders in the industry, when it comes to privacy rights are these mega corporations and whatever they are doing at a particular moment. Individual marketers... You can't really avoid using these sites if you're very serious about the business, but what you can do is make sure that any websites that you set up are secure, don't give people passwords, make sure that people opt into your mailing list and you don't just sign them up. You can do stuff like this and that's respectful of privacy and you are doing your part when you do that. Yeah, this is actually one I wanna be very careful about because privacy laws get really complicated, really fast.
Pierson: Well, we can just end it with that and move onto the next question if you like. Yeah. So Stefan from Perth, Australia says they assume customers are stupid. I can't speak, once again, I can't speak to other companies. I can speak to us and know that we don't approach it in that manner at all. But I definitely do know what you're talking about Stefan, where companies almost make it seem like you have zero idea that this exists, how something works, what something does or just overall, they downplay your own intelligence about it. And I don't understand why that's the case. I don't necessarily even think it's an effective strategy. Brandon, do you?
Brandon: I think customers are irrational, but they are smart. Thing is... Because... People, we make decisions based on our emotions. This is a proven fact. You can look up, what's his name? He wrote Thinking, Fast and Slow. I think it's Daniel Kahneman. That's probably not the right pronunciation. Anyway, point is we have science that tells us that people are not rational, but they are reasonably intelligent. And a lot of what you see when marketers or companies talk down to customers is they're going for those emotional appeals and ignoring the rational stuff. That to me... That can be frustrating, but I see why it happens. And then there are companies that push bad products and hope that people won't find out. I think there's only two reasons why a company would do that. Well, in both cases, they just have a bad product and they're trying to sell something that's not all that good.
Brandon: First reason they would do that is because the marketers themselves are actually stupid. [chuckle] They treat people like they don't have agency or the ability to make decisions. And I can tell you that's not true 'cause people do make decisions like, the timing, these changes in marketing campaigns make people behave in different ways because they say, "I don't like the way this is going." And the second reason that a company would assume that customers are stupid is if they've got too much market power and they know you're gonna buy no matter what. And so it becomes slightly codependent in a way. You take a cell phone company, they bury all their details in their contracts. They charge you a lot of money. They talk down to you about how the plan is gonna be particularly good when you know you're not actually getting a good plan. They do that because they can get away with it. Nobody will challenge them. Nobody can challenge them. But the minute an actual solid competitor came in there, it would kick off a series of events where two or three years from then they start treating you like you're smarter.
Pierson: Yeah, for sure. I mean, you just hit the nail on the head.
Brandon: I feel like to some extent this has kinda happened to the auto industry, 'cause that was getting pretty stale. Tesla came along, made something that was good and innovative and that people had not seen in a long time and all these car companies go, "Shit." And they have to start actually treating customers like they're smarter, they have to start making these better cars.
Pierson: Same thing happens with beer. White Claw came out and then you see every other beer company in the world coming out with their version of seltzer water.
Brandon: Oh, and none of them are good.
Pierson: Do you wanna take the next one?
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. So we've got Debbie from Medicine Hat, Canada. Medicine Hat.
Brandon: Alright. Alright. So how to [chuckle] How to stand out among so much competition? That's a great question actually. Pierson, do you wanna take this one?
Pierson: Yeah, I'll start off by saying, Check out Marketing Is The Product Debbie, we have written that exact post.
Brandon: Yeah, actually.
Pierson: We've written that exact same post, so without spoiling too much from it, to stand out among competition, be different, do something that separates yourself from what everybody else in your field is doing. You more than likely have a direct competitor, someone that's doing something similar to what you are doing through research and through understanding of your long-term and short-term goals, but also what you see trending in your own customer base and customers from your competition. You can oftentimes find ways to stand out by looking at what your competitors are doing right. You can look at where you wanna be going in the future and think, "How can I do this differently and how can I stand out doing that?"
Brandon: Yeah, I would say narrow your focus as much as you can, 'cause that'll make it so much easier to stand out as well, like so Pangea is a marketing agency, so what? There's thousands of them, maybe tens of thousands. What makes us so special? Our deal is that we focus on education, that's what we actually live and breathe. This is what we really care about, we're a marketing education company. But we're not just a marketing education company, we're a marketing education company for small businesses, but we're not just a marketing education company for small businesses, we are a marketing education company for small businesses that focuses on helping you get started for the first time. That's a really, really, really specific niche that we're trying to go for, but we know that there are a lot of people in it, too.
Pierson: And so through having specifics to that degree, it allows us to stand out among just a "marketing agency" with a catchall term.
Brandon: And I will say that just because you find a niche doesn't mean that you are 100% stuck, 'cause even though we... Even though our outreach is focused on people who are learning for the first time, the stuff that we write, and the stuff that we say is discovered by people who run larger and more revenue-heavy businesses, and they reach out to us for consulting, and that's how we make a lot of our money, we make it from consulting, as well as a little bit of product sales and then advertisement as well.
Pierson: Exactly, so I think that's probably the clearest answer on how to stand out, and that's kind of the guidelines that we try to live by on how we stand out. I don't have anything else to say about that, Brandon. Do you?
Brandon: No. Our last question.
Pierson: Yeah, getting onto this last question from Blake from Unley Park, Australia. And he said where to start? Just start with us.
Brandon: [chuckle] Start with us. We're writing... We're writing an entire series of articles that are specifically tailored to that question and it's called; Start To Finish: Market Your Business For The First Time.
Pierson: Check those out for starters, and also just a quick overview of that is where to start in marketing? We've said it time and time again, having a plan. Having a good, solid business plan and a plan of action for where you see your business, your product going, allows you to make really smart, educated decisions on what to do next.
Brandon: You only have to do a handful of things right. Find an audience that you care about, make a product that meets their needs and communicate that you are meeting their needs. And if you can do those three things, and there's an actual way to make money in there, that's marketing, that is the core engine of your marketing. Everything else you do after that, the advertisement, the events, the branding is all just extra. If you get those three basic things right.
Pierson: Well, there you have it. We've gone through 20 of your questions that you've sent us from the Scythe board game, and hopefully that we were able to bring a little bit more insight to some of these grey areas for you. Brandon, you wanna send us off?
Brandon: Yeah, sure. Let's see, this wouldn't be a marketing podcast if we didn't leave with a call to action, so here's yours. Go to Apple Podcast, give us a high review, five stars would be tremendous. Thank you very much. You can read our articles on marketingistheproduct.com. This podcast is sponsored by the Pangea Marketing Agency, and you can subscribe to us by going to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, and... Let's see, Alexa TuneIn, and probably some others as well. And that's all we've got for today. Thank you for listening.
Pierson: See yeah.
Brandon: Alright, I guess I'm gonna hit the "Stop Recording" button.