Exploring the Marketing Landscape with Mitch Joel


It goes without saying the marketing landscape has dramatically changed over the past year. 

The disappearance of conferences (a go-to channel for B2B companies) has been a game-changer, forcing marketers to embrace virtual events, high-quality content, newsletters, and social media.

Who better to provide perspective on marketing today and where it’s heading (as well as how business is transforming) than Mitch Joel, an entrepreneur, investor, author, and trusted advisor.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Mitch and I discuss:

- The domination of the advertising landscape by Google and Facebook

- The growing importance of storytelling

- How and when in-person conferences will return

- The future of LinkedIn and Clubhouse.

By Mark Evans and welcome to marketsmark the podcast and for the insight marketers and entrepreneurs and the trenches mean twentyfive minutes more less. It goes with those saying the marketing landscape has dramaticallychanged over the past year. The disappearance of conferences, a go to channelfor beauty companies, has been a game changer for some marketers to embrace virtualevents, high quoting content, news letters and social media. WHO Better toprovide perspective on marketing today and where it's heading, as well as how businessis transforming the mix dual entrepreneur, investor, author and trust your devisor? Welcometo markets park. Get to hear from you. Market Nice to,quote unquote, see you. I get to see your face because of thepower of club house. Normally not much, but good to see you. Likewise, it's been a long time, especially in these covid times in whichwe're living, where seeing people as a real treat. Let's start by exploringthe state of digital marketing. As I said during the introduction, it's beena year of change, experimentation and adapting to the new landscape. A loadedquestion, but what's been your take on marketing over the past twelve months.You know, I don't know if it's so much twelve months as it isin general. And I want to separate the idea of marketing and advertising,because it's an easy trope to get into. So let's focus on the advertising sideof it and then maybe you can remind me and we can pull itback in or bat or zoom out to the broader world of digital marketing.But from an advertising perspective it's been pretty you know, I want to usethe word's sad. It's somewhat sad. We lived in a world, andyou were there early on, as I was, where it felt like wewould see a million flowers blossom and suddenly we are in this world that ProfessorScott Galloway so rightfully called to these unregulated monopolies. It's a place where ifyou are playing with two players, namely facebook and Google, and we coulddiscuss the debate the other ones because they have merit, but that'll basically coveryou. That'll basically get you the eyeballs and attention you need and because oftheir data and the accumulation of the platforms that fall within both of those majorbrands, what you have is a world where the publishers also maintain so muchdata and information that they know exactly, based off of keywords, intent,connections, etc. How much a keyword or key phrase or target audience isto any brand. They know more about the actual acquisition of a customer inthe lifetime value of the customer then probably the brand that's trying to do anysemblance of advertising, and that creates a massive financial opportunity for the publishers.It provides the brands with a really good insight into how they can target orretarget their advertising in their messaging, but it doesn't provide a lot of flexibility. And with that there's also the question of brand safety. What we've reallyseen in the past twelve months is a bit of a red herring. Inone instance. Brands have never been safe on social media. Their content hasconstantly been surrounded by however you want to describe the content. Is it political? Is it too left, is it to right, is it to center, or do we want our brands associated around these types of content, comments, user generated content, etc. But when it became the big banner thatbrands were floating everywhere brand safety, brand safety, we're going to be pullingback our advertising from facebook and Google. I felt like it's a bit ofa red herring, only because it fell at a time when the pandemic wasreally kicking off and getting hot and crazy and heavy for the world, andI felt like it was a good diversion from the reality that brands were probablygoing to start retracting marketing and advertising budgets, they were probably going to start oflaying people off and making pretty ugly announcements. But if they could yellvery loudly about brand safety, it could push the owners back onto the platformsagain, namely facebook and Google in this...

...instance, and I found that veryfrustrating from my own perspective. On the other hand, brands have never beenmore empowered, as you and I have known talked about for over a decade, to build their own platforms, to get more engaged in their newsletters,to get more engaged in their own content careertion and to think about things differently. So you have a tale of two cities, as we always have inthese situations. You have a you have the agnostic world of technology that isneither good nor bad, it just is, and you have many flare ups ofissues and challenges that make it somewhat challenging for big brands to play andeffectively and really troublesome for the smaller brands to even get on board. which, again, if you look at the smaller brands, then you can godown the larger view of digital marketing and look at an amazing opportunities and thingslike, for example, shopify, another, you know, Canadian success story thatI'm sure both of us are really proud of, but that enables andempowers anybody to become an entrepreneur. That has massive implications across the landscape aswell, because now you have younger startups who are thinking about building their ownplatform. They're engaged in the market place, they're adding APPS on to it,they're trying to build that DTC that direct a consumer relationship and that createsa very fortuitous time. But as they move up into the scale of timeto advertise on Google and facebook, it can be very, very limiting.And again, what happens while it lays? It lays a path for new startupslike clear bank, for example, again another Canadian company. I'm beingvery pro Canadian today, but how do they think about venture? Well,the vast majority to new businesses are coming in and looking for venture for marketing. Want to build a business like clear bank, which essentially doesn't take ownership, but off firs alone against specifically targeted advertising and facebook and Google with thepremium on top of it. That takes away from removing issues from the overallcap of the company and what they're looking at and provides a new venture andvenue to advertise and connect. So I can go down a million tropes here. If you want mark well, ask a simple question. You don't geta simple answer. I guess is the easy way to describe what there's alot of different ways we can go here. There are three words. They cameto mind when you were answering that question. One was flexibility, theother was creativity and the other was innovation. Flexibility when it comes to advertising channels, because you're absolutely right about the fact that there are two big playersin town and really, when it comes digital marketing, you either go withoption a or option be. Last year, when a lot of brands jumped offfacebook, they said they know would longer advertise on the platform. Youhad to believe it was more, you know, show than go that eventuallythey just couldn't resist the power and size of the facebook platform and they eventually, many of them came back. Now, a lot of them didn't publicize thefact that they'd come back, but it was it was what it was, and the same thing goes for Google. Google has so much data you haveto be everywhere, and that is just the advertising landscape. The otherthing comes down to creativity, and I am interested in, as a creative, getting your take on this. The fact that brands have to be socareful these days. You know, putting yourself out there, taking chances,embracing risk, doing things that may push the boundaries can put you offside prettyquickly, particularly in a world where we increase when you see the world inblack or white and wondering what your take is of the creative landscape when itcomes to marketing. You know, creatively, I really think we are seeing ahigh level of innovation, only because, again, I zoom out and lookbeyond banner advertising and retargeting, but the ability to tell a story ina compelling way that attracts an audience, and audience to potentially being a customer, first time customers. My friend Avanash...

Kaushak, who's this analytics guru andai person, a google like to say a customers be someone who buys foryou twice. So first on customer and then a real customer, someone's boughtfrom you twice. And I see this every single day and I love thatlevel of creativity. And where am I seeing it? While I am seeingit in places like in my newsletters, I am seeing it in the extensionfrom the newsletter, which may or may not be attached to it. Again, I'll point to the shop offy blog as an example. It's really hardto find a more aggregated, unique from diverse voices area to understand how tobe an entrepreneur in modern times. Beyond the shop offy blog, which soundscrazy to say, but they've done an excellent job at really pushing it forward. When I think about a company like hub spot, for example, veryrecently acquiring, I think they acquired the hustle, to me these are strongindicators of excellent thinking around creativity. You could extend it into physical creative andthink about what Patagonia has done with their movies and their youtube channels. Complexvery large media company. They launched this thing called complex land, which isI mean, I don't not explain it is it a video game? Isit an online learning? You go into this experience and you can shop andmeet different vendors and go attend content speeches. There has been a complete explosion ofthe ability to really build a brand in a creative way. You couldeven look at platforms like Cameo, which allows anybody to go in and geta celebrity to give a shout out to a friend for a birthday or whateverit might be. You could look at something like master class as another greatexample of creative ways to build a brand and tell your story. I'll evengo as far as I've a nerdy well, you know Mark Nosey. I havea many nerdy things, but one of my nerdy things is I've beentrying to do another podcast. My main podcast is called six pixels of separationand I've been doing it, I think it's the longest running business podcast inthe world, close to fifteen years. But I have another one that I'vebeen doing for about five or six years, which is a monthly show called growof the no trouble podcast, where I'm trying to slowly build the largestoral history of Bass players, because I love Bass and I used to bea player, but now I just love the music. And in that journeyI met this fantastic company called Scotts Bass lessons, which seems like, Oh, so you know. Scott Teaching Bass lessons, online learning great. Scottprobably has the largest online instructional for any instrument in the world. Guitars,drums, you name it, beyond I mean not including things like maybe BerkeleyCollege of music and things like that. And his if you look at hishis creativity as content, it's astounding. Even if he's retargeting you and adds, and by the way, I don't recommend typing an electric bass because youwill be unless you really want to be. You will be retargeted from Scott nonstop. But the what he does is he's not retargeting you with adsor promost to sign up or anything like that. It's always content and it'sreally good content. He'll do a video called the three times Jaco past storieswhen beast mode, Jaco Pastorius is a very famous electric bass player. Hewill take a very famous bass that some player used and do a history ofthat actual instrument with interviews. The content and creativity of what he's doing inseven, eight fifteen minute videos. That are essentially retargeted ads, is supercompelling and so I'm a massive believer that you can do very, very compellingthings with creativity beyond the idea of it being just great copy and and agreat picture of photo to go along with it. Now, where do Igo from there? We covered a lot of areas. We could talk aboutbass playing and in online education. One of the things that you mentioned thatobviously capture my attention is storytelling, because I've been a longtime storyteller as ajournalist and a blogger and doing videos and...

...newsletters, and there is a lotof talk about storytelling. If you did a search on Google, you yet, I don't hundred million results like within less than a second. Curious aboutwhat is actual brand storytelling when you really boil it down to and I thinka lot of people struggle with this, is that storytelling and concept makes sense, storytelling in the real world, actually doing it is a whole other thingcompletely. So maybe you can define what good brand storytelling is and provide someexamples of how it happens. You've already mentioned Patagonia as one example, andthere's brands like airbnb and go pro that also do a great job. Giveus your take on storytelling and and maybe even include why I go out ofcompany struggle with it. Well, I'll simplify, which is you live ina world, I live in a world, everybody listening lives in a world whereyou, as a brand or individual, can create content in text images,audio and video instantly. And what I mean by when I say forfree is the distribution channel is primarily free. I mean there's there's there's modalities tothat that we can discuss us. Now, you can do that alsoin long form or short form. Now, in the world we look, we'rerecording this on clubhouse. You can do it in the world where it'sprerecorded and edited or, like this, live. And so when we talkabout what do we mean by brand storytelling, I believe it's simply that, asa brand, you need to sit down and define who amongst US wantsto tell a story about our brand, our business, our story in textimages, audio, video, long form, short form, live, prerecorded.What's the right mix for us? What makes sense? So if youlook to me being a market of one, or me being the best example forme to use, because I know it's so well, I would arguethat my output is text, long form, audio long form. That's the coreof what I do. I write long articles, blog posts, thingslike that, and then I do my hourly podcast every week and my otherpodcast, and that's my main thing. That doesn't mean I don't do threeweekly national radio hits. It doesn't mean I don't tweet, it doesn't meanI don't post pictures of my walks on instagram. It just means at thecore, that's what I do. And by leveraging that understanding of what youdo and creating a path for it, an editorial calendar. How are wegoing to put this out? What does this look like? You start goingdown the path where you're no longer limited to the constraints of an ad andyou're thinking about your brand as a story, as a publishing entity. So whenI was running my agency, which I did for over fifty the yearsof my business partners, it was called twist image. That's where we started. Six pixels of separation, the blog. That's where we started six pixels ofseparation the podcast. From that that's what led to speaking events, whichI still do a lot of. That's what led to my book deal.So had two books that I put out, but we looked at it at ametal perspective. We said, okay, we are an agency twist image.It became mirrorm in the end, so let's call it Mirrum for consistency. mirrorm manages two other brands. We also manage this thing that we calledsix pixels of separation, which was our content container for all of those things, the blog, of the podcast, the speaking etc. And we're alsomanaging this brand called Mitch Joel. And I'm not going to talk about myselfin the third person like certain athletes do, but that was the attitude we broughtto it. What are we doing to improve and place this brand ofMitch Joel and the Storyteller, the face of it, the voice of it, into the Zeitgeist? And so to me that that's a construct of howwe create a storytelling environment. Now when we take it to the next level, what I think is really interesting about digital marketing and technology is we havethe split of storytelling brand building against direct response advertising. And if I saidto you, mark like mark, what do you think would be the propersplit for a start up or an established business in terms of the storytelling brandside versus the direct response advertising engine. You would probably logically say fifty withthat's what makes sense, but it's not.

It over indexes in a massive waytowards direct response, by by a bunch of ads on Google and facebookand target them. That's a better way to get sales and customer acquisition.But if you forego that brand, that storytelling, those components of it,you know, woe was you. It doesn't create the longevity you need,and so what happens in the current world is the brands that are struggling arethe ones that aren't paying enough attention to the brandon storytelling component. And whathappens on the other side is because they're putting that eighty percent, let's say, on direct response and advertising, is it becomes a more expensive game ofcustomer acquisition, which speaks exactly to what we had before in the large multinationalmedia universe of you know, it's eight o'clock on Thursday on MBC and ifyou're not advertising on Musty TV, the nation doesn't know you exist. Andthat became this game of spending and spending against these numbers, which is whatwe're essentially seeing on the direct response advertising side, with the one caveat beingyou can tweak it a little bit, you can see if it's actually converting, and that's the drug of it, and that's why I think so manybrands haven't been focused on storytelling, because it's almost too easy to do thedirect response side of it. Just to jump around a little bit match,because I know there's a lot of ground I want to cover. You havedone in the past a lot of public speaking. I suspect that you've probablydone your fair share of virtual speaking over the last twelve months trying to getyour thoughts and you're probably going to speculate as much as anybody these days aboutthe state of in person events and speaking. You have any sense from the peoplethat you talked to the bookings that you might be getting about when thatmight come back? And I would put this into context that in Canada werefar behind the vaccination curve than the US, so my perspective is a bit differentthan what might be happening stuff of the border. How do you feelwhat's going to happen with you when it comes in person speaking this year?I don't know. You know, similar to you, I don't think it'sgoing to work for me unless I have both vaccinations and things are reasonable here. I'm a family person, I'm a parent, happily, and we've gotyoung kids in Canada. Like you said, it's a bit different in that inthe states everything's open but the schools are closed. In Canada everything's closedbut the schools are open, and we could have a debate about whether that'sgood or bad. But I want my kids in school and anything that Ido that might have to have them removed from school from multiple weeks due toquarantine and things like that or off the table for me. So my myreaction is right now in the states it looks like there are some small andlocal events that are going forward. I've seen even evidence of large events thatare happening. Are Those international events? Probably not. Are they great ideas? That's, you know, not for me to judge or decide on.Have my own perspective, but I don't think it's a Germains of the conversation. But I can't see myself getting on a plane in particularly leaving the country, until I'm fully vaxed and I met the mercy of governments and decisions aboutboarders and how that works. That being said, my perspective about what's goingto happen is different, usually than most of my peers. Most of mypeers are in this head space of virtual, hybrid or physical events, and Ithink that that's the wrong perspective. What's happened, then, it's actuallyrelevant to what we're talking about in relation to marketing, is the world shutdown, let's call it mid March of last year, and every single business wentinto survival mode. And I believe that there are three says here. Sothat's the first SIS. Survival mode. Everything went virtual, we're all onzoom. That's life. In August of last year, I think we shiftedfrom survival mode into sustain mode. This is going to be a longer haul. We don't know. There's a lot of uncertainty. Second waves, thirdwaves. So how do we sustain? And I think when we talkd aboutsustain at a corporate level, it becomes...

...two directions. Direction one is howdo we as a company engage our employees if we have to sustain this,as we have been and as we will for a little bit while longer,or maybe much longer. To is how do we engage our customers? AndI think the reaction from that is going to be because we're still in sustainmode, by the way. The Third S is strive. Strive is wherewe probably we were in December January of last year. I think that sustainedmode is going to create a different model, and so my gut tells me,my brain a little bit too, that there's going to be three paths. Path one is the CFO speaks the CEO and goes. Look, wedidn't do that three hundred person event down in Boston. We did it onlineand we had one fifteen hundred people come in or Fifteenzero people join. Nowwe have this content, we can keep reusing this content, pushing this contentout there. Why would we ever go physical if we could reach a largerbase in a virtual world? So I do think that there is this pushtowards much more virtual only types of events. I put events in air quotes.The next one is going back to this idea of how do we gageto our employees, how do we gage our customers? I think slowly whatthey're going to realize, because part of the workforce will remain remote, somepeople will have moved and changed around. They're going to do a lot morewhat I'll call local and smaller events, so more regionalized events with a higherlevel of frequency. Instead, even that big, big event will do twoor three in different parts of the country or in different countries and keep itreally, really tight and small. This way they're not falling off side interms of insurance and worried about gatherings that are too large and making people slowly, comfortably edge into this. And then the third one is what I typicallydo, which is I fly somewhere and I speak to an audience of anysize, from five to fifteen thousand people, and I think those are going tobe exceptionally popular. I think there's going to there is a pent updemand that people who complain though I got another conference in Las Vegas, aregoing to be like, how do I get on that plane faster than before? And so what I think is happening is too many people are thinking willwhich one will it be? In my answer is it will be all three, and so if you are a good speaker and a prepared speaker, yousuddenly have two new paths that you may not have had before in any mixup. So for me that you new paths would be virtual only, andthe more local, small regional ones on top of what I was typically doing. So I really believe if you're an event planner, if you're in thespeaking business, if you're a professional speaker in your well positioned what could happenis you could be busier than ever and have more and more opportunities to speakand grow that business. And this tends to be my overall feeling in generalabout digital which is this forced innovation that happened for businesses to survive, andthat first phase and then shift in to sustain have probably created a myriad ofnew business models and opportunities for businesses to pursue, and my hope is thatas we come out of this, and I'm you know, I think we'reall seeing some light here at the end of this tunnel, that they willsustain those and really push them into the drive mode. You know, youhave restaurants that were doing zoom lessons. They're suddenly in the online education spaceand that might be an entirely brilliant new part of business. So I getreally excited when I think about what happened through this. You know, whatI call this great compression of time to be very opportunistic when it comes tohow businesses can grow and expand beyond it. It would be remiss if I didn'task you about Linkedin and clubhouse. Over the past year I've doubled downon Linkedin. It has been a tremendous medium to connect with people. Haveprobably talked to more than a hundred people, probably a hundred fifty people directly asa result of linkedin connections, and it's really done my business a lotof good and my brand awareness is is through the roof clubhouse. I'm I'ma bivalent, to be honest with you.

I'm not quite sure, although I'msure you have a different perspective, because you're quite active and it lookslike you've brought your tribe with you. Give me some perspective on the waythat Linkedin is a vault and and what you think of clubhouse is potential,because I think that's kind of like the big wild card right now for alot of individuals in terms of people who are influencers and brands. Yeah,it's an interesting question too, because we're talking about this in the middle ofthis other thing that's sitting out there, which is rumors, that discord,which I would say is the grandfather of what we're seeing here on clubhouse interms of social audio, is potentially being sold to Microsoft for ten billion dollars. This room you never know anything like this, but Microsoft clearly owns linkedinand so the connections there are very curious and interesting to me. If Microsoftwanted some kind of clubhouse competitor or asset, this would be in interesting in theintegration of it into a linkedin coupled with the fact that they own office, could be a very compelling asset for them to have in that portfolio ofcompanies. Linkedin is a challenge for me because I was in there so earlyand I basically allowed or connected with everybody thinking that will let's just use thisas my open space and any time my blog or podcast I'll just pump itin there and that I'll push it out the thousands and thousands of people.Well, now you've passed forward well over a decade and it's a hot messfor me. So my feed is not clean, it's not clear. It'svery problematic for me. I get a lot of inbox spam from people wantingto have fifteen minutes phone call with me to sell me some SASS service thatI've no interest in. So my linkedin experience isn't as powerful as yours is. I'll caveat that now by saying that my peers, people like you andother friends and interest in general, anecdote and usage, are loving it moreand more every day and I can see why. It is a great placeto be that professional and to share content and have it be really relegated tobusiness. And when I looked look at linkedin now, it feels like thisweird hybrid of like business, to point out, Fast Company, wired magazinein one which, if that's the space you walk occupying, a lot ofus do, it's really, really compelling. In terms of clubhouse, it's abit of a different thing and it's I think it. I think it'swhat you bring to clubhouse. Like I have many thoughts about what clubhouse iswhich stand outside of what it satiates for me. So what a clubhouse say? CLUBHOUSE satiate for me? Well, I do three national or international radiohits every Monday morning, one after the other, and I find it reallyhard to be, quote unquote, hot on the mic and really good live, like out of the box, especially on a Monday morning, and Idon't really practice the rest of the week. To be live, but now Ido so when you contacted me for this podcast. My desire to doit here is it's forcing me to act and be who I am, butwho I am when it's live in front of an audience, and that providesme a place to practice. So clubhouse for me is a place to getmy reps it. The next thing I love about it is that it's liveand I do love the energy of lives. So how often have I thought I'dlove to do one of my shows and a beautiful theater with a greataudience then after we all get to hang out. Be so much fun?But I get nervous and I would never pull the trigger on that because Iworry that nobody would show up. But now I can do that and I'vedone it multiple times and we're doing it again here on clubhouse, which Ireally, really like. That ability to create the live interaction and bring peopleand have questions and I just like that energy. So there's that. Andthen the third is it's the business that I'm in. My job is Ihelp people deco the future. I look at what's happening, where's the worldgoing work? What can I play with? And so when clubhouse came along.I recognize that the discord platform wasn't for me because I'm not while Iunderstand the gaming world, I'm not much of a Gamer. This felt likethe Non Gamer version of that. I...

...was slow to adopt it. Imean, I was given an invite on the think October, but it's onlybeen really a couple months that I've come on here to be active and II like that part of it. I like bringing that energy to it,that I can have these different types of conversations. I've also met some reallyincredible people here. I find the platform much more diverse in terms of genderand terms of race, in terms of where I live, in terms ofhow I think, and I welcome those voices. It's nice to see roomsthat have that diverse or diversity. I worry that it's going to get moreand more homogeneous as it grows and I worried that the tech infrastructure beneath itwill will push it in another direction. But I'm hopeful that I can stillfind those different rooms that add to my ability to learn more and more aboutnot just diversity but my desire to understand others better. And I've learned alot over the past couple years. I mean I used to be the personwho said, Oh, I'm not racist, I've got friends from all though.I wrote fur the hour, the alternative weekly, for years. Iwas, I've been a all true. But the other part is the systemicpart. In the sytemic part is me being able to acknowledge that, asas someone who I self declare as male, Pale and stale, right in themiddle aged white guy with a ton of privilege, that I've had thatprivilege, that the system is set up so that I do have a certainlevel of privilege that I that I took advantage of, of course, andso my perspective changes and it's changed the law because the conversations that happen herein clubhouse. So that's the third part of it. Your reason might bereally different. You might be I just want to hang out in cool techrooms and meet interesting people and speak to other marketers. Fantastic. So that'swhat makes the social network powerful, is finding what your reason for being herewould be. We've covered a lot of ground in thirty minutes and I wantto thank everybody for listening to another episode of marking spark. If you enjoyedthe conversation, leave a review and subscribe by I botify favorite PODCAST APP.

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