Duke of Digital

001 - Meet the Duke of Digital - Brian Meert

November 17, 2019 Brian Meert
Duke of Digital
001 - Meet the Duke of Digital - Brian Meert
Show Notes Transcript

Who is the Duke of Digital? Does Brian Meert really have royalty in his blood? In this first episode, the Duke of Digital host Brian Meert introduces himself, shares his background and discusses the podcast and three tips for every online business.

Brian Meert
https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianmeert

Duke of Digital
https://www.dukeofdigital.com/
https://www.instagram.com/dukeofdigital/

AdvertiseMint
https://www.advertisemint.com
https://business.facebook.com/advertisemint/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/advertisemint/
https://www.instagram.com/advertisemint

Brian Meert:

Hey guys, I am excited. It's our first show ever. And today I'm going to tell you my top three all time tips for running an online business

Host:

Presented by AdvertiseMint. The Duke of Digital will guide you through the rapidly changing landscape of digital marketing, social media and how to grow your business online. Here's your host, Brian Meert.

Brian Meert:

Well hello there all you Dukes and duchesses. I am Brian Meert, your host of the Duke of Digital. This is a brand new podcast where we are excited to be able to provide you guys with tips and strategies about being able to grow your online business. I know in today's market and you know, it feels like things change all the time. You know, I run an agency and we work with a lot of other startups and businesses and as we're going through the process I just hear a lot of the same struggles and questions again and again with people that are like, man, stuff is changing at what feels like an incredibly fast pace and it's difficult to know what to focus on or where to put my attention. And you know, when they, you guys are going through it, they get confused and they struggle and there's everyone yelling at them or suggesting to them that we need to be doing this method or that method or look at how much money I made over here. And a lot of times I see people really struggle with, man, where do I focus my attention because I only have so many resources. And so the entire focus of this podcast is going to be around trying to help you be able to navigate some of those questions. Those commonly asked questions in regards to how do I run my online business and how do I make it profitable and how do I focus my attention on the things that matter most. So we wanted to get started, run over a couple of, you know, kind of maybe housekeeping details in terms of the podcast and what it is and who's it for. And you know, and you know, the first question that I imagine a lot of you guys have , is where does the Duke of Digital come from? I'm a big game of thrones fan. And you know, there is an element , you know, in the Royal family, that they're , you know, this Kings is princes , those are generally in the family. And then a Duke is someone that a King assigns to oversee lands or territories. And to some extent it's kind of how I felt. You know, I'm not necessarily the King of Facebook or the King of Twitter . You know, there's a lot of, those are the founders of those companies that, you know, put them together. There's a lot of people that are close to that world. You know, I, we're an agency, which means I work directly with other business owners that are trying to be profitable in those lands. And you know, we've helped a lot of them navigate those waters and so it just felt like a fitting title in regards to, man, this is someone who, you know, my goal of this is to help you get through the process, to demystify a lot of the elements that go around online marketing or running an online business, especially with some of the new stuff that's, it's out there with Google ads and Facebook ads and eCommerce and you know, SEO, there's a lot of, of changes that are happening and an extremely fast paced and we wanted to be able to just chat about some of those and go through , tips and experts, speak with other experts and be able to help, you know, get you guys on a , a place where it's feeling much better and you're moving much smoother. You know, in regards to is there any rural blood in my family, I have heard a couple of times at family reunions, them tell stories , something that involves some Royal blood. On my dad's side, they're Dutch. On my mom's side , they're German. And on the Dutch side there's some rumors back. I've never actually looked into my family hierarchy to, to, you know, my family tree to figure out if it's true. I just kinda liked hearing the stories and being like, Oh yeah, it must be, it must be true. But the other thing was that I was like, man, you know, they're going to be like, well, how is this guy that Duke of digital, you know , is it official? Is it not? Uh , and so I actually went on in spirit of the internet, I , I went on to Fiverr and pay the guy 10 bucks to make me a certificate that says the internet, hereby declares that Brian Mert is now proclaimed the Duka digital. So it is official. I do have a certificate. I have it on my wall and posted. So that's exciting to be able to have, but I wanted to be able to run you guys through a little bit about me. I wanted to, you know, this is the first episode and do introductions where I'm like, you know, you're wondering who is this guy and , and what's, what's his story? What's, what's going on? So I wanted to give you a little bit of my background , and why I think it's , it'll be worth your while to , to check out this podcast. You know, I've got almost, it's, it's crazy now to think about it, but almost 20 years of experience doing nothing but digital marketing. I'd say for most of that time I've generally held two jobs. You know, one job a lot of times where I'm paying the bills and , and holding things down. Another job where I am in the process of starting another company or a side hustle that eventually grew into something , that became much bigger. And I eventually sold. You know, the first company that ever sold was one that was in the entertainment industry. It was a ticketing service for movie screening tickets. And this is something that after I graduated with my MBA in marketing, I wanted to get into entertainment. Uh, I moved out to, to LA and to Hollywood and was looking anywhere I could to be able to get a job in marketing. I eventually, you know, found an internship at a company that did movie screening tickets. And my job for eight hours a day was to stuff, you know, tickets , uh, these printed tickets for movie screenings, which are before a movie comes out, they'll show it a lot of times in the Los Angeles area and some other areas around the country. It's becoming more popular now, but then they'll show it to a core groups of audience. So if it's like a movie about, you know, a soccer movie, they'll go and find soccer clubs or soccer moms or coaches and ask them to come and see the movie. And what happens is people see it and they tell their friends, Hey, this is really good movie coming out. So it's a, it's a word of mouth type of promotions. But my job was to , to put envelopes , tickets into an envelope for eight hours a day in a back room. You know, they just put me back there and be like, Hey, go and do this, you know, as an unpaid internship. But I was in entertainment and it was from there. I was doing this. And I realized, man, I think there's a better way, like I can get on a , you know, Southwest airlines fly and use an E ticket. So I went and , and talk to the CEO. He was walking around one time, like in the lunch room, and I was like, Hey, I think we could probably do this online. I'm going , he was like, man, it's the dumbest idea ever. This is how the studios want it done. It's how it's always been done. I'm just let it be that way. And so, you know , that was my first experience of it , you know, maybe trying , to, to step out. And eventually I , I left and got another job and I started that business with a friend of mine who was a programmer. It was someone that could code and we started working nights and weekends to put that together. And eventually two years later, the company came back and wanted to acquire it. So that ended up turning out very well. But it was crazy because a lot of people would have taken that first , step as a no , like that's a dead end. It was just something that I kept going and be like, no, I think there's really something here. After that, you know, I actually built and failed another company. Man, this was a crazy one. It was a in the designer handbag industry. It was like a big marketplace . So kinda like Etsy, but for designer handbags, I'm , I didn't know anything about handbags when I started. This one failed tremendously. You know, we had a lot of moving parts. We thought I thought I was invincible and I could run with guys that had a hundred times more money with me than me , to be able to make it work. And it was something that we just couldn't keep up with other people that were trying to compete with because we just didn't have enough money , and weren't able to raise it in the time before, you know, money burned out. But that one actually took me a good, I went all the way to the ground with that one and it took me several years to be able to recover from everything that happened and went wrong during that business. And that's something that, you know, a lot of times, especially in the online world, people are talking about things that are , you know, it's all about, Oh, look at me. I just made $1 billion yesterday and look at my conversion rates are 100%. And everyone always highlights the best parts of what they're doing. And a lot of times they leave out the bad parts. And I think, you know, running through that failed experience where, you know, I believed in myself, I put everything into it. I went as far as I could. I literally went until there was no more moves to make on the, on the board of the business. And I was like, man, this is it. It's officially shutting down. I think the last moment on that one was , the, the hosting company , he shut it down because the , the credit card hadn't been paid or it wasn't going through for the website. And that was literally the final moment of like, I have no more money to be able to move this business forward. But, you know, so my man, it's crazy because I've learned a lot from , a successful business and I've learned a lot from a failed business. And I think a lot of people, you know, just by running a business in general, the odds are against you , uh, at a , I forget, I've heard so many stats, but it's like nine out of 10 or eight out of 10 businesses will fail. Almond is really true. You , you've got to do thousands of things correctly. There's only, you know , one thing could come through and it could completely, you know, destroy a business or one mistake. So you've gotta be very careful with, with what's going on. Yeah. You know, I've, I've, you know, since then I've, you know, managed , probably hundreds, you know , in my career, hundreds of millions of dollars in paid media spend online. So this is anywhere everything I've done is , is been in the digital world. So this is Google ads, YouTube ads, Facebook ads , you know, Twitter, Pinterest, anything else in terms of online marketing, online ad spend. I've done a lot of that for some of the clients I've worked for. I've done that for my own businesses and I've done that for the clients that they represent now as an agency. So I want to help bring some of those tips of the things that we're seeing , across the board. And, and that's one of, I think the most fascinating things about working at an agency is the fact that we get to see inside a wide range of scope of businesses. I'm continually amazed at businesses that I would think would be crushing it, that are struggling incredibly because of bad decisions or bad teams. And there's other ones that I'm like, Oh man, I don't think this will really be a good business at all, but they have the core elements lined up or some of the real key components in place and they know their market and they nothing else, you know, takes them away from their focus and they're extremely successful. And so we get to see a wide range of this from startups to establish fortune 500 companies. It's just fascinating, I guess from my element. And that's the one thing that I think I want to be able to bring back through this podcast is to be able to talk to people and explain to them the flip side of the story. Because a lot of times they only see that one side of, you know, the , the process or the problem that they're trying to solve. And there's multiple options to be able to , To go through that. Then lastly, I'd say you, you know, since I've had a couple of startups and things like that, I eventually about the launch of when Facebook came out with , you know, ads manager and they first started to put ads in the newsfeed. I was working at a financial company running their entire marketing division. And I realized from day one, this was going to be huge in terms of where I thought it could go. And so I actually left that job and started a company called AdvertiseMine, which is an agency that specializes in , Facebook advertising. And we've grown well beyond that now to where we all kind of, we work with, with all platforms. But you know, I was really, I dove into that before anyone cared about it and was really paying attention. And it's just been incredible through the last five to six years to see how much has transpired and even more so where I think it's going to go over the next five to six years. So I think in future conversations we're going to be able to talk a lot about that and be able to look more, more into some of the tips and , and things of what you should be able to do with Facebook ads in terms of, you know, being able to help you grow your business. Let's see what else. So I wanted to, you know, to a couple of quick things and then I, I want to tell some , some stories about my life, but , you know, my personal life , you know, I'm two months away from being a first time dad , which I'm incredibly excited about. My wife is eight months pregnant. We've just been so grateful and blessed through this process. It's exciting to be like, Hey, this is a, I'm now going from a business owner to, to, you know, a dad and all the challenges and excitements that they'd come through that. So I'm really excited , when I'm not doing business or , running around and doing podcast. I love doing mud runs. Uh, these are things like Spartan races or tough Mudders. If you've never done one of them, I really think, you know, a lot of times I'll give talks at conventions and things like that and people come up to me and you know, ask for advice on, well how do I start? Or things like that. And I'm always like, man, I go do a tough Mudder. Especially when it comes to business partnerships, like if you have a partner and you're trying to figure out who can I work with, I'm like, sign up with them, go to a tough monitor , go do the longest Spartan race you can find and go through that process together. And I think that is the perfect , kind of example of how businesses work. There's a million things are going gonna go wrong. There's challenges around every corner and you just have to keep moving. So it's something that I really love and then I love doing anything in the water. So I love wakeboarding, surfing, when I get a chance to a scuba diving or swimming or things like that. Anytime I can, I can jump into the water and get around. I'm always a fan of that, so that's really good. But I wanted to share with you guys today , three kinds of stories. It kind of go into three tips of things that I've, and these, these would be my all time, probably best three , uh , in terms of starting an online business or running an online business , uh, in terms of what you should know are , are my tips for getting started. You know, the very, the very simple and core elements that come kind of as the foundation for running a business. The first one was, you know, growing up I didn't really have a lot of business background. You know, both my parents were nurses. So the advice I got growing up as a kid was always to , Brian, you need to work hard and you need to do a good job so your boss is happy. You know, that was what they were always like you, you always do your job, you always show up on time. You work , you know, do the job better than what they expected, which is great advice. But never really as a kid did I get advice of, Hey, go start your own thing or try to do, you know , be creative or come up with something that didn't exist. It was very much around just working hard and getting a good job. So I mean that was interesting. I didn't have any business background , growing up. The only thing I'd ever done that was remotely business related was my mom growing up, had a little bit of a sweet tooth and there was a time when I was a kid that was before like Costco or like these big Walmart stores. Then I remember, I don't remember what grade I was in, but they started to show up and my mom was like, sweet, I can go buy , you know, instead of like a candy bar, I can buy like a 10 pound bag of candy and keep it and it's way cheaper and I can use it forever and ever. So what would happen was my mom would get these little Smarties, which they're these little kind of candies that come wrapped and there's like, I don't know , 10 little circley things that you can chew on. And it's kinda like powdered sugary kind of tastes and things. But I, when my parents would make me make my own lunch every morning before I went to school, so what I would do is I remember being like, man, it takes a long time to create a lunch. Let me go. I will just, instead of making a lunch, I will grab a ton of these Smarties, like two handfuls, throw them into a lunch bag. And my parents thought I was taking a lunch to school and I would get to school and I would open it up and I just had a bag full of candy and I would trade it to other kids being like, Hey, I'll trade you 10 of these for your sandwich. And they're like, yeah. And I'd be like, Oh, I'll trade you five of these for an Apple. And they're like, sweet. And I'd be able to get a lunch of whatever I wanted because I was able to , to transfer these out. Now eventually the giant bags of candy ran out. And then I was like, Oh, I gotta go back to making my own. But that was the only thing I'd ever really done , that I look back and I was like, yeah , it was actually the beginnings of business. But besides that, there wasn't much I'd ever really done except for, you know, working hard until I got to MBA school. And, you know, I went to to college to be a teacher. I had one friend that was saying, I think I'm going to go and do my MBA afterwards because I will have the ability to, I think it's a better option for me when I'm done, I could get more jobs. I was like, man, it's actually not a bad idea. Meaning if something didn't work out or eventually down the road, you could work your way up into management. It was a good kind something to have in the back pocket. So I looked into a bunch of different schools and eventually applied and had to do a lot of summer schools. But I got into you and MBA school have very little business background and I remember the Dean of business was big on entrepreneurship and I just had never had anyone in my life that was like, you should, you know, go out and try your own things. And so, you know, in one of the first couple classes we had, or as we were talking with him, he would just come up to me and be like, man, like you, you really have the elements of an entrepreneur. And I was like, yeah , yeah, sure you said that to all the kids. And he was like, no, like you're creative and you're outgoing and you're funny and you're people are drawn to you. And he was like, you should try to start a business. And I, up until that moment, I had always thought that people who started businesses had some secret ability, like Steve Jobs or Walt Disney, that there was like , like Michael Jordan versus me. Right. Like there's some differences there in terms of, you know, he's taller than me. He's probably a lot faster than me. Like I just kinda felt it was the same thing, that there was an element that these people just had something that I was never born with. He was like, no, and this is where his first advice came is he was like, you have got to get started. Just try. And it was the first time ever that someone had given me permission to try. He didn't say build a million dollar business. He didn't say, you know, become the next Steve jobs or Walt Disney. He said, just go try. It was crazy because I was like, eh, like what's the worst that could happen? Like I've never even tried before. And , and from there, you know, I went out and found a couple of friends. We started , our first business and I did, I started going through the process of just trying. And I think that's something that I see happen so many times with the people who I know are my friends or people that I talk with. You know, they'll have the best idea in the world, but they never will actually try. They'll talk about it all day long, but they won't ever get out there and, and just take a shot, take a swing , at moving something forward. And the truth is it's hard. There's a lot of things you're going to have to do. It's , it's like climbing Mount Everest. You know, it seems like a daunting task, but you're never going to get any closer if you don't take that first step. So that's my first tip for you. If you guys are running a business or you've got something that you want to be able to keep moving for you , you need to get started and you need to try , to move forward. The next one , that I kinda have was , the movie screening business. And this is what I would say is it's kinda like , the tip here is you've got to find a way as you're moving forward to make magic happen. What happened was when we first started , you know, the ticketing system that we were trying to sell back to the studios to get them to use, you know, it was tough. We didn't have a lot of business, we didn't have people that were giving us opportunities. We were kind of the outsiders. We were trying to sell something that didn't exist before. And , and like I said earlier, that the president was like, or the CEO was like, it's always been done with printed tickets, like don't know and does it with electronic tickets, so you're just wasting your time. We eventually got a first client and I'm trying to think if I can remember. It was for the movie Wedding Crashers, so that tells you how long ago it was. So I think it was New Line Cinema and they said we will let you do one screening for wedding Crashers, but they gave it to us in Redlands, California. So if anyone doesn't know, Redlands, California is probably about 70 miles to the East of Hollywood, are really far away. Most of the screenings happen right around the studios or in kind of the core of LA. So they were expecting us to fail at this, meaning this was one that they didn't care about. They didn't think it was going to sell out or that people would show up at all. So they either were like, yeah, we'll give you this little scrap over here. So what happened was we were trying to build this database of, of people that wanted to go see movie screenings that we could get to come back again and again. And so we had zero people in Redlands that we could get to go, but we told him , yeah, we'll do it. So what happened was we actually went out and paid our own money and printed out flyers and we went to the theater, what was going to be screened a week before. And we went and hid at night in the , in the theater parking lot. There was this little security guard that would drive around and we would hide behind cars and he would pass by and then we'd go try to put flyers on every car that was at the movie theater. And we did this for multiple days leading up to the screening. And what happened was the screening came and I don't think we sold it out, but I think it was like 80% full. And, and the studio was like, how did this happen? Because they were expecting like 10 people to show up are very low, low turnout. And that was the first shot was we , we had a shot and we meet to some extent made magic happen. That's where I think, you know, when it comes to starting your online business, there are ways that you can be creative and resourceful and there's a million other options that don't necessarily involve being wealthy or having an unlimited bank account of how to be able to connect the dots to help grow your business. That's my second tip is you'll find a way to make magic happen, find , you know, focus on the things that really, really matter that are gonna drive the end outcomes. And because of that, because of that one day , they started talking to other people. And like a later we had Disney that was reaching out to us and we had all the New Line Cinema films after that moving forward that they're like, whatever these guys are doing, they're crushing it. We want more of them. We want their help on everything else. That was really, it was crazy because that was the first kind of turning point where they didn't think we had much. We found a way to be able to make it happen. Then the last thing I would say, this is my last tip, is you've always got to know your market. I mean, you've got to know who you're going after. And the truth is, any element of, of making money, there's so many options on planet earth , for you to be able to make money , to be successful, especially with the internet and how much has changed in the last 20 years. It's incredible that you now have the ability in so many new ways to connect dots and connect communities or find customers , where you , you don't have to necessarily be, you know, the big mega stores. You can serve one very small niche and you know, do tremendously well. And that's something that is incredible. So, you know, my, my tip here is to always know your market and to know your customers. You know, it's really it people, people support whatever they want. They vote with their money. Uh, if they like something, they're going to give money to it. If they don't like something they don't. That's it. And then in the market will determine whether you are successful or not. That's it. You've gotta be able to listen to your market. You know, I told you guys that I ran, you know, an on Bag , an online handbag marketplace. This one was one of the ones that failed. But when we first started, you know, I didn't know anything about handbags, but I knew that there wasn't a site like this that did it. I knew that handbags had big margins. I knew that women loved handbags. And so we started by reaching out and talking to the handbag designers that were in our area in Los Angeles. And there's, you know, the big kind of area would be New York, but we are located in LA. And so we started to call these handbag designers and be like, what do you need? What would help you? And the one area that we found was, you know , that they were saying, we want to be able to sell more online. Like we're struggling with our online sales. And that's really where the idea came from, is hearing what they wanted. You know, there were some elements that they wanted to control over. At the same time, they're like, we really, really want help with, with people that can help drive sales. It was something that, you know, was also very closed. You know, it surprised me as much as they wanted help. It was an industry where they didn't necessarily ask for help a lot. Because it's fashion , it's beauty, it's high end. Everyone's expected to be living that ultra glamour life and have everything perfect and a huge product line while they're building their businesses. And this was an element that I found surprising, but we actually got a lot of closed doors or people were very closed off because they didn't want to necessarily admit we need help with our business. So one of the things that we did when we started was just go and offer to help. And, and one of the things that you, this was right about the time when, you know, YouTube came out and we were trying, we said , Hey, we'll come. I don't know if anyone's ever been to a sample sale. It was something I didn't know they existed at all. But a lot of designers are in the fashion world. They have them all the time. You know, a lot of times they have excess inventory and they'll do little small a secret. They kind of, these sale sample sales , and women will come and line up and it is, it's like, I didn't think there'd be like a UFC event for women, but sample sales would be the closest thing. Cause I've seen women push each other over and run. And I mean it's basically designer clothing at like, I don't know, 50 to 80% off. So you know, women get a little nuts if it's a brand that they like and they're like, I can pick up a ton of stuff. But yeah, it was just, it's a crazy experience. But we would go and be like, Hey, we'll film your sample sales, we'll interview your customers, we'll get you some, some video footage back, no cost, but just let us get in there. And what happens is once we were able to kind of do something nice for the designers, they were like, we want to , what can we do? And how do we work with you? And that opened the door to where people are like, Hey, we have all this extra inventory. We'd be willing to give you first shot to sell it , over someone else. And that was just an incredible thing that, you know, to some extent it comes back to kind of knowing your market, knowing your marketplace, knowing who you're talking about. But that's, I don't know , just some , a couple of tips that I wanted to , to share with you guys today, but I'm really excited about this podcast and being able to move forward. I mean, to some extent, even this podcast was, you know, it's four years in the making. I was looking back through some files on my computer and I had done an intro almost four years ago. I wanted to get this started and I think that right when we're about to start, we had an issue with , an employee that , did a couple things and it caused us to lose a couple of clients. And it was a little bit of a red alert at the time. And it was something that I had everything set up, was ready to go and I had to instant, I had to stop to focus on solving the problems that had happened from this situation. And you know, from that, I just had never gotten the time to where I was like, I want to do everything right. I want things to be perfect. But to some extent I just needed to get started. And so this is now, you know, the beginning of what was started four years ago. And so I guess I'd say my last tip is it's never too late to take another step and keep moving. And that's my goal with , with the Duke of Digital is to help give you guys, you know, tangible, valuable tips that you guys can be able to move forward. I'm excited about sharing this journey with you to hopefully bring you some amazing guests that can get more information and knowledge , and that we, you know, have a good time and enjoy the journey as we go along together. But , thank you again for hanging out with me and I will see you guys on the next one. This is Brian Meert, peace out.

Host:

Thank you for listening to the Duke of Digital podcast with Brian Meert. To submit a question for the show, text (323) 821-2044 or visit Dukeofdigital.com to network with other business owners. Join our exclusive group at facebook.com/groups/ dukeofdigital. Fancy the Duke? Leave a five star review on your favorite podcast app and you could be mentioned on the show. The Duke of Digital was produced by AdvertiseMint and recorded in Hollywood, California. All rights reserved.