Archives: Podcasts

Silverback Podcasts

Impact of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act

July 13, 2022


If this bill becomes law, it would have a major impact on digital marketing as we know it. Apple wouldn’t be able to pre-load applications on its devices. Amazon could not preference its in-house label products over third-party sellers’. Google could not surface its reviews over others in search results. 

  • Summary of the bill and its potential impact
  • How it would impact your search visibility on Google
  • How Amazon and Google may pivot to maintain their ecommerce margins
  • The impact on applications that on Apple’s App Marketplace
  • How companies can evolve digital marketing alongside regulatory changes

Recurring guests and SEO experts Kurt Lambert and Geoff Kerbis join the show to discuss how digital marketing could change as a result.

Read the full bill here, summarized by John in the episode.

Here is Rand Fishkin’s take on the new bill, referenced by Geoff.

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


Building a healthy remote culture, with Erika Khanna

June 29, 2022


Remote work has fundamentally transformed many different kinds of businesses and employees. But it’s made it difficult to build and maintain a healthy company culture. Erika Khanna joins the show to share her experience building a healthy remote culture, including practical tips you can put to work right away. In this episode we cover:

  • The difference between remote vs asynchronous work
  • General best practices for using Slack with colleagues
  • The benefits and drawbacks of “core work hours”
  • Balancing remote work and back to the office
  • Onboarding in a remote environment
  • Hiring for remote positions

Connect with Erika on LinkedIn and Twitter, and listen to her Looking for Work podcast.

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


Building in public on Twitter, with Kevon Cheung

June 15, 2022


Twitter can be a powerful platform for founders and entrepreneurs. But the road to success may not be what you think. If Twitter is an auditorium, you don’t need to be standing on the stage. Instead, network within the crowd. Kevon Cheung, founder at Public Lab, joins the show to share his perspective on how to build in public on Twitter. In this episode, we cover:

  • How to define Twitter success
  • The role of a Twitter profile page
  • Personal brand -vs- active presence
  • Framework for creating content every day
  • How to connect with more people and grow followers
  • Striking the right balance between personal and professional

Connect with Kevon on Twitter, sign up for his newsletter, or check out his book Find Joy in Chaos.

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


Cold email outreach, with Laura Lopuch

June 1, 2022


Laura Lopuch is on a mission  to make $200,000 in one year while working a max of 10 hours per week. She’ll be able to do this by fueling her business through cold email outreach. In this episode, she shares her experience and perspective. We talk about:

  • How she landed on her goal of $200k and 10 hours per week
  • Different types of cold email outreach other than a sales pitch
  • How other channels like LinkedIn and Twitter play with email
  • How to balance personalization with email volume
  • The key elements of a successful cold email
  • The gray area of GDPR and where cold email pitches fit in

Connect with Laura by subscribing to her email newsletter

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


Email marketing strategy, with Joe Portsmouth

May 25, 2022


If email doesn’t drive at least 20% of revenue, you have room to improve your email strategy. There are two big components: acquisition and retention. Unless you’re collecting a user’s email, they may not come back to your website. This first-party data is critical to continuing the conversation with new users and retaining loyal customers. Joe Portsmouth joins the show to share insight about how companies can level up their email marketing strategy. In this conversation we cover:

  • The role of email marketing in the modern marketing funnel
  • The importance of segmentation and personalization
  • Email tactics for retention, cross-sells, and customer feedback
  • How copywriting for email is like copywriting for Twitter threads
  • How to avoid spam traps and stand out in the inbox
  • How acquisition and retention teams can collaborate more effectively

Connect with Joe on LinkedIn and Twitter

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


Two-way business text messaging, with Aaron Weiche

May 18, 2022


Nearly 75% of consumers want to be able to text with a business. But many businesses don’t offer this mode of communication with their buyers. Aaron Weiche joins the show to talk about how businesses are using two-way text messaging to close more leads and generate conversations with buyers. In this episode, we cover:

  • Where texting fits in the modern marketing funnel
  • How two-way texting is different from LiveChat or other SMS tactics
  • What kind of businesses would benefit from texting with buyers
  • Results businesses can expect when adding texting as a communication channel
  • What kind of buyers prefer texting with business
  • The relationship between two-way texting and customer experience

Connect with Aaron on LinkedIn and Twitter

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


TikTok ads for lead generation, with Haley Nininger

May 11, 2022


TikTok is growing in popularity among marketerse as a platform with both great organic reach as well as advertising potential. Haley Nininger and her team have successfully generated leads and enrollments for an alternative education provider using TikTok. She joins the show to share her experience testing different approaches on the platform. In this episode, we cover:

  • Firsthand experience as a user on the platform
  • Experience testing TikTok ads for an alternative education provider
  • Where TikTok fits in the platform mix and the marketing funnel
  • Why you might soon see TikTok videos in Google search results
  • How TikTok compares to other platforms like SnapChat
  • Which industries may benefit from investing in TikTok ads

Connect with Haley on LinkedIn.

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


John Tyreman:  Hi, gang. Welcome to Episode 51, of the Digital Marketing Troop where we talk with marketing leaders and practitioners to help you learn more about digital marketing. I’m your host, John Tyreman. And I am joined today by Haley Nininger, Senior Paid Media Manager at Silverback Strategies. And we’re here to talk about TikTok ads. Haley, how are you doing?

Haley Nininger:  I’m doing awesome. Thanks for having me, John. 

John Tyreman:  Absolutely. It’s been a while – you’re a recurring guest. But it’s been a while since you’ve been on the podcast. So I’m really excited to chat with you.

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, I’m excited as well.  TikTok is going to be an exciting one. I’m very excited to kind of be an early adopter here and excited to chat with you about it today.

John Tyreman:  It’s a hot topic among marketing circles. So I think our listeners will get a lot of value out of this. But before we get into that topic, I’m really impressed by the digital marketing program at James Madison University. Go Dukes, right? And I saw on LinkedIn a few weeks ago, you volunteered your time to help mentor students at JMU in a digital marketing networking event. Can you share a little bit about that event?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, absolutely. So that event was with Delta Mu Sigma, which is a JMU digital marketing honor society that actually had the pleasure to co-found with another group of students and faculties there. And we really just kind of aim to get increased recognition and visibility for some of the department’s top digital students who are really looking to pursue a career in digital. So I took some time to just chat with them about what I wish I had known, kind of going into the agency life and my experiences with interviewing and things like that. So it was just really an awesome experience. I love connecting with the students and it was a really great time just to give back to the department.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, that’s so awesome. I love giving back to my alma mater, and Radford too. So what do you think about… I’ve noticed that JMU seems to produce a lot of really talented digital marketers. What about that program do you think helps to do that?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, that program has been through a few iterations. And I think it’s so powerful, because it really gives probably the closest darn thing that you could get to a real life experience as a paid media analyst, or maybe even some inklings of SEO in there as well. You get to work in the platforms that I typically work in day to day, in my career, now. You get to work with clients directly, you get to kind of go through the whole gamut, while providing some guidance to make sure that you’re achieving those results. But I think because it’s so close to real life, and kind of what we’re doing on a day to day basis in the industry, it sets students up really well to have things to talk through either in interviews, and then when they get the job, things start clicking a lot faster. They’re able to kind of resonate with the concepts they learned and be able to share experiences that way.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, it seems like it’ll be less of a trial by fire once those students land a job.

Haley Nininger:  Exactly, exactly. They always say you do most of the learning on the job. But in this case, they set you up pretty nicely to come in with a successful background at least.

John Tyreman:  Well, that’s awesome. Go Dukes again. So well, let’s shift our focus to our topic at hand, Haley, TikTok. And before we get into the ads part of it – from different marketers that I’ve talked to, there seems to be this common thread that TikTok has massive potential, both from an ad standpoint, but also on the organic side. I’m curious, do you use the platform? I’d love to get your experience as a user.

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, honestly, I was a bit reluctant for a while, just honestly, because everybody I knew was completely addicted to it. But after a while, I decided to give in and you know, if I was going to be running ads for clients on the platform, I really wanted to be well acquainted with all of its capabilities, understand my way around, and how to really leverage it from an advertising standpoint. And so yeah, now I would say I’m definitely thinking probably like five hours a day on TikTok, so it’s pretty aggressive now. Yeah, so in terms of some of the things that I like about it:  I have a very short attention span, I like content that is really easy to consume, It doesn’t take a lot of brain power, something I can just kind of leisurely scroll through after work and something that gets to the point. And that’s essentially TikTok. That’s what TikTok revolves around. And that’s one side of it. The second side is that it’s been really kind of this amazing source of information. And it’s not that you necessarily want to write a research paper based off of TikTok sources or anything, but you can learn anything, you can go on there to learn about self care, new recipes, money saving tips, makeup, even ways to fold clothes, something like that. So there’s a lot of really interesting and new content to be found on there.

John Tyreman:  That’s really cool. Is there anything that you like, totally, don’t like about it?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, honestly, there’s also a lot of fluff content. So when I say fluff content, think about all of the, dare I say, kind of cringy dance videos or maybe lip syncers on the platform. I get like secondhand embarrassment about them. But when I see that type of content, I feel a little bit out of place as like a mid 20s, like working professional. I think that, you know, when I was a bit younger, I probably would have really liked participating in all of the newest trends. But now I kind of find myself like scrolling through most of it to kind of get to the informational side of things and get to kind of the other side of TikTok.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, I was looking at… HootSuite has a great blog post about TikTok advertising. And one of the stats that really jumped out at me was that about 40% of their user base on TikTok is between 18 and 24 years old. So in the future, once that demographic moves and has a little bit more purchasing power, which isn’t too far off, I mean, we’re talking about an audience that you can definitely advertise to.

Haley Nininger:  It’s even kind of going to be interesting to see how the content on TikTok shifts, you know, with that age group, as they kind of move into, you know, the 25, 34 range or maybe a little bit older, are we going to kind of see a difference in the content that’s there. So definitely some potential for for TikTok to shift a little bit in the targeting too.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, that’s really interesting. Well, you know, let’s talk about that a little bit. So Haley, you’ve been working with a client who’s been running ads on TikTok, I’d love to dig into your experience about that. So can you give our listeners an overview? Like what kind of business are you helping and what are their goals for the platform?

Haley Nininger:  The experience I’ve had so far with a business that is essentially an online schooling program, or kind of, maybe better classified as an alternative to traditional community college. So right now, we are really targeting either high school students, maybe gig workers, or we’ve also kind of experimented with students who maybe are attending school already, but could be looking to transfer from their current institution or, you know, the the kind of general theme across all of these targets would be somebody looking for a more cost effective option to go get an education through a program online. So currently, we’re leveraging TikTok, pretty much solely as a lead generation tool, we’re encouraging requests for information to reach out and learn more. But we’re actively working on building this out to be a bit more full funnel. So we’ve currently, you know, we’re testing in platform lead generation forms, we’re testing on site submissions, learning what works best from that kind of standpoint. And we’ve actually found a lot of success on both, but particularly the in platform lead generation forms. So we’ve seen a lot of success there. And we’re also experimenting with some of the different but unique targeting options that exist for audiences on Tiktok, such as, you know, creator categories, hashtag targeting, things like that. So I was honestly a little bit skeptical about running TikTok, especially for such a lead generation focused goal. But it turns out this channel is actually one of our top drivers of down funnel success. So when we have visibility down the line, TikTok is generating those leads in platform and they’re turning into actual enrollments on a very frequent basis. So that’s been really cool to see.

John Tyreman:  That is really cool to see. And, you know, I bet there’s a lot of skeptical marketers out there, that wouldn’t say that would be the case. And that is really cool to see. So you’ve seen empirically that TikTok is driving leads, that’s amazing.

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, actually, I think I’m right there with you. I’m one of the marketers that was pretty skeptical. And I was like, you know, we’re just, we’re not gonna see it. But TikTok is actually right behind Google in terms of the intent and in terms of, you know, down funnel success. So when you think of Google search, being obviously the ultimate driver of intent, and then TikTok to stack up second to that, that’s pretty impressive, from a down funnel success point.

John Tyreman:  And do you think that’s mostly because of the age demographics of the users on that platform?

Haley Nininger:  I do, I do. I think that this is going to be kind of a game changer for this demographic. And just thinking of some of the things we’ve talked about, of just you know, how the age demographic might change and kind of the behavior of those individuals and how they interact with different content and media on different platforms. I definitely think that that could be something in our future for sure.

John Tyreman:  Yeah. And it sounds like the client that you’re working with is a little bit more of an alternative to higher education, but it seems like higher education institutions, just kind of in a broad sense, would really benefit from having a visible presence on TikTok.

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, absolutely. I think so. I think you know, especially when you think of like the early college years and you’re kind of feeling it out and deciding whether or not this is for you. That’s definitely you know, some people would like that in person experience at higher ed, some people you know, there’s definitely a lot of ways that you can play that but that age demographic in general, I think is a great money spot for TikTok.

John Tyreman:  It seems like you know, that’s just one channel, right? So ,you were talking about how Google is another channel that this client is using. And it seems that Google and TikTok are some of the leading platforms. What other platforms are they using in their mix? And what role does TikTok play in kind of the overall ecosystem?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, we actually have a nice presence, a rather robust presence across kind of the whole gamut. So we talked about Google and we talked about TikTok, we’ve also pursued a strategy on Facebook, we’ve also pursued a strategy on LinkedIn, as well as some of the additional channels within the Google ecosystem such as YouTube, display, things like that. And we also dabbled a little bit with Snapchat. But like I’ve mentioned, TikTok is really kind of proven on some of the, you know, down funnel analysis we’ve done, as one of the more successful marketing drivers. That being said, you know, it definitely, I think, plays its part in tandem with the remaining channels that we’re using in our mix. I think that we’re leveraging some cross channel strategies, we’re leveraging some remarketing to, you know, some of the other touch points that we’ve got in the strategy. So TikTok is super powerful for us. But I think it’s important to remember that it is one piece of the marketing mix. And there’s a lot of different levers that we can pull across kind of the whole gamut.

John Tyreman:  Well, while it’s one piece of the marketing mix, testing half a dozen channels and TikTok coming out on top, that’s pretty impressive. Yeah, it is. So obviously, TikTok is more of a video based platform. How are TikTok ads different than ad types on other platforms?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, I think one of the things we’ve noticed the most is that TikTok absolutely warrants its own creative. So we’re not going to be able to repurpose creative from Facebook or YouTube or maybe some of the other channels that we’ve tested. And that’s something maybe you could kind of get away with on some of the other channels. We’ve tested more brand focused creative on TikTok, and you know, something that you may more often see on Facebook or YouTube. And it just really didn’t stack up to genuine creator based, like one to one sort of interaction that we see. Like somebody speaking to an audience who looks like them, somebody who’s young, maybe ready to start a career, we’ve seen just much more success with kind of that genuine, authentic interaction.

John Tyreman:  So that tells me that companies who want to advertise on TikTok, they really need to understand their audience so that they can come up with a creative strategy that works well on the platform.

Haley Nininger:  Exactly. Right. Exactly. Right.

John Tyreman:  Yeah. And that’s, that’s hard to do. Without really, like I said, understanding your audience. So it sounds like companies will really need to go out and really talk to these 18 to 24 year olds, if that’s the demographic that they’re targeting on the platform, and understand, you know, what they’re doing and why they’re on there and what they’re looking for.

Haley Nininger:  Exactly, yeah, that’ll be a pivotal moment. And I think it’ll grow in importance with platforms like Tiktok, or some other channels that use kind of more of that… more creator based one to one interaction creative strategy.

John Tyreman:  Yeah. And it sounds like user generated content could be a really big tool in the marketers toolkit here.

Haley Nininger:  Absolutely. Yeah, I definitely see that as a big piece of our future with TikTok.

John Tyreman:  So you mentioned Google, as being a channel that you’re using for this one particular client as well as TikTok. And you know, it’s funny, I’ve heard stories of TikTok being a platform that people use to search. And, you know, it seems like it’s kind of competing with Google a little bit for like the younger demographic market share. And I’ve only recently downloaded the TikTok app and dabbled in it much like you, to just kind of get a feel for it. I can really see how people can go down rabbit holes. I like the search results feature. But I was curious, like, if I’m hearing these stories about users going there and searching, and how that’s such a big part of the platform, I didn’t see any ads in the search results feature. Am I missing something?

Haley Nininger:  No, actually, that is coming. It is in beta right now. So it’s been recently announced that TikTok will be rolling out search ads, search result ads, ads in the search results. So TikTok will be rolling out that kind of model where what will happen is in platform, you’ll go to the search bar to search for makeup tutorials, and then beauty products or merchandisers could run ads on that term. And then what will be really interesting for marketers specifically is that when that interaction happens, you’ll actually be able to pull the search term report for those ads just like you can on Google right now. Find out what ads or what terms converted and then use those search terms maybe later on, in like your headline, or your messaging on your TikTok ad to help improve performance there. So we’ll be able to get some messaging insights similarly to how we get them on Google right now.

John Tyreman:  Do you think, maybe I’m just… forgive me if I don’t know, but do you think that some of these TikTok videos could be indexed and show up on Google search results? Do you think that we’ll start to see that happen?

Haley Nininger:  I do. I think, you know, Google was actually in talks right now with Instagram and Tiktok, to get, you know, Instagram’s offering of reels, and TikToks, within search results. So I am, I like to talk about this bit, because it’s interesting to think, you know, is Google wanting to share in that growth? You know, if Google was in these kind of talks with Instagram and TikTok to index these videos, maybe, you know, are we gonna see a world where these TikTok creators or like, these videos are showing up in auction insight reports or search terms reports for us, you know, at some point, but on the other hand, I think it’s interesting that Google was wanting to get involved because, you know, it’s safe to have a little bit of healthy skepticism around the fact that Google, of course, owns YouTube, which competes for the same audience of short form video viewers, and it’s really understandable, you know, that maybe Instagram and Tiktok are a little bit more hesitant to kind of go that route with Google, given you know, they’re such a behemoth already, and I think it was by 2024. TikTok is set to either be at or greater in ad revenue than what YouTube ads is currently at.

John Tyreman:  Whoa, that’s a… I didn’t realize that. That’s impressive, because YouTube is just a giant. You know, it’s funny that we;’re having this conversation. And we landed here, coming from more of like an advertisement  line of thought. I was talking with Geoff Kerbis the other day about, like, the role of audio/video content and the future of SEO and the future of search. And it seems like we’re starting to come to this intersection of paid media and search engine optimization in terms of video. I think it was like in 2019, Google announced that they have the ability to index the spoken word. And so they can crawl your videos, listen to the… not just read a transcript, but listen to your voice and index it and search. It’s just so wild how this stuff is evolving.

Haley Nininger:  It is you know, and Google is, you know, taking the stance of, we want to make content as accessible as possible for anybody who is looking. Right? That is kind of the mission and stance that they’ve taken. Again, I think gets met with a bit of healthy skepticism around what that might look like, you know, when we get a little bit, our feet in the water there, but I think having all these different options, you know, there’s of course, the voice element, there’s obviously the search term element. There’s also imagery elements that are rolling out, most recently in a kind of hybrid form where you can search with text and imagery. So you know, if that continues to evolve, potentially, there’s something where you have a text search, that also is going to be combined with a TikTok. Or there’s something that wil,l you know, resonate to get you that answer on how to make dinner or whatever it is you’re looking for.

John Tyreman:  So fascinating to theorize about this, not only theorize it but to see it all in action and to see the evolution kind of firsthand. We’ve got a front row seat to this.

Haley Nininger:  Exactly, exactly. We’re riding the rocket ship

John Tyreman:  Riding the rocket ship. Yep. Exactly. Well, hey, Haley, there’s… I wanted to… there’s one more piece that I wanted to ask you about, in your experience with TikTok ads. You mentioned Snapchat as another platform that you’re testing. And maybe there’s… I’m just…it’s naive of me to think of this, but I think of Snapchat and Tiktok as very similar platforms. Can you just kind of give me a peek behind the curtain? What’s the difference between the ads that are run on TikTok versus Snapchat?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, absolutely. So we dabbled a little bit with TikTok and Snapchat at the very beginning. We kind of had an inkling that they’d perform rather similarly, that we would kind of see both of these channels really find their success at the top of funnel. What we found is very quickly, we were able to capitalize a lot more from you know, the lead generation space than we were thinking with Tiktok. That trend was not replicated with Snapchat. So we did see that Snapchat worked a little bit better at the top of the funnel. So it was interesting though, because with Snapchat, you know, you’re really building out that top of funnel presence and you’re really focusing more on like awareness and just getting people to engage with you, getting people to know more about you. Whereas Tiktok ,you’re able to find that success a little bit more down funnel. So I think that the two still work really well hand in hand as part of an overarching marketing strategy because In some cases, you’re kind of tapping into the same user, if from an audience standpoint. There’s a lot of the similar targeting options available in TikTok as well as Snapchat. So there’s some triggers that you can pull to kind of, you know, capture them on one platform, and then really get the intent on a different platform. So I would say like, we’ve still found the most success from Tiktok, we’re working on prioritizing a full funnel there so that we can work to nurture that flow even more than we have. But I would say Snapchat still has a great spot just a little bit higher up in the funnel.

John Tyreman:  Got it. Okay. Well, that’s an important difference. And it’s very interesting that you found that distinction of the role that each of those platforms play in the marketing funnel. We talked a little bit about the education space. I’m curious, from your perspective, are there any other industries that off the top of your head, you can think of that may benefit from TikTok ads?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, I think that there are several, you know, I think that there’s a big market for people who have, you know, either… anybody in e-commerce honestly. If you think about, like beauty products, or you know, people just go online to watch video vloggers about makeup, anybody who’s looking for like a tutorial service thing, you know, it could be a food delivery, it could be anything that you want to know more about. Those How To videos are the perfect kind of bread and butter environment to kind of spur into several other industries. So when you think of kind of the doubling down on the intent here, it’s important to consider, you know, who is your audience, and most was more specifically, their age range. If it skews a little bit younger, you’re probably going to be a little bit safer on TikTok. And then if you think about, you know, what is your product or service offering, and who are you trying to service with that? With the client that we were mentioning earlier, we’re looking at a perfect combination of people looking to maybe learn a little bit more about saving money, learning to kind of start their career, both of those things are great environments to learn a little bit more from others experiences, and people will post about that on TikTok. So when you think about influencers, and where those individuals primarily live in the beauty space, in the food space, and kind of, you know, figuring out what makes sense, I think figuring out those one to one connections, matching that with your audience, and just spanning that across a variety of industries, there’s a ton of power there in how you could go about your strategy.

John Tyreman:  It seems like the products and services that have a little bit more of a considered purchase decision, there’s a little bit more thought put into the purchase, kind of lend themselves a little bit to the more educational kind of content. But it also seems that some of the more transactional services benefit from more of like the entertainment side where you know, you can use humor, and some of your advertisements and that makes them a little bit more sticky.

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, absolutely. Like I get ads on my feed all the time about things that are looking to help you feel, you know, either more energized during the day, I’m a hu,ge coffee drinker. So they know that they, they look for anything that will come up on my feed to say, you know, look at look at this product, you know, we definitely can help you get a little bit more pep in your step for the day. So there’s definitely a wide array of products, services, industries, that could definitely find their niche on Tiktok.

John Tyreman:  Well, that’s, that’s awesome. I know that there’s, you know, a lot more to come with TikTok, and we’re gonna be monitoring this. I’m sure this won’t be the last time that we talk about TikTok on this podcast, Haley.

Haley Nininger:  Exactly, exactly. Part two coming.

John Tyreman:  Part two coming soon. Exactly. Well, if folks wanted to connect with you and learn more, where can they find you?

Haley Nininger:  Yeah, LinkedIn. Definitely connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m always excited to have a chat about TikTok or anything else as well. So you can find me at just Haley Nininger on LinkedIn.

John Tyreman:  Well, Haley, thank you so much for coming on the show, sharing your insights and I look forward to talking more about TikTok with you.

Haley Nininger:  Thanks, John. Appreciate it.

Highlights From One Year of Digital Marketing Troop

May 4, 2022


This episode marks a milestone for Digital Marketing Troop. After one year, we look back on some of our favorite soundbites from some incredible guests:

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


Personal branding and evangelism on LinkedIn, with Nick Bennett

April 26, 2022


Nick Bennett has built an impressive social media presence on LinkedIn, and hosts the Rep Your Brand podcast where he captures stories about how to overcome the challenges marketers face with growing their personal brand. On this episode, Nick shares his perspective on personal branding and how it can be a major force for professionals of all stripes. In this conversation, we cover:

  • overview of personal branding, evangelism, and customer marketing
  • how to get started with a personal branding program internally
  • the power of niching down, and how Nick was challenged to focus on “field marketing” in his posts
  • different ways to stay consistent with a posting routine
  • Nick’s experience at Alyce and how personal gifting can be a secret weapon in your marketing strategy

Connect with John on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!


John Tyreman:  Hi, gang. Welcome to Episode 49 of the Digital Marketing Troop where we talk with marketing leaders and practitioners to help you learn more about digital marketing. I’m your host, John Tyreman. And today I have the pleasure of speaking with Nick Bennett, Director of Evangelism and Customer Marketing at Alyce. And he is also the host of the Rep Your Brand Podcast. Folks who are listening to this show should definitely check out Nick’s show. And we are here today to talk about personal branding and evangelism on LinkedIn. Nick, how are you doing today?

Nick Bennett:  I’m good, man, how are you doing? I appreciate you having me on. This is exciting.

John Tyreman:  Absolutely. Ya know, I’m a fan of your show. And I’m really excited to talk to you. You’re a great follow on LinkedIn. But before we dive into our topic today, you’re a baseball fan, right?

Nick Bennett:  I am a huge baseball fan. I actually have a Red Sox shirt on right now.

John Tyreman:  Very cool. I’m a Nationals fan myself. I’ve got the Dodgers cap on because I’m coaching my son’s baseball team and they’re the Dodgers. But I’ve got a quick question for you. I know it’s controversial. Do you think Major League Baseball should automate the strike zone?

Nick Bennett:  I don’t think so. I think there’s other ways to shorten the game. I do agree that the game is getting out of hand with how long these games are. But I don’t think you have to automate the strike zone to make that happen.

John Tyreman:  I agree. I like the human element of the umps and everything that’s involved with that. Well, let’s get into our topic at hand today, Nick. So you recently changed roles within Alyce, from Director of Field Community and Partner Marketing, to Director of Evangelism and Customer Marketing. For listeners who might not understand the difference, Can you explain what brand evangelism is and why it’s important?

Nick Bennett:  Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, it was something that the more and more I thought about, what do I actually want to do with my career, I feel like everything was around being like a subject matter expert, like I was already doing a lot of these things of being on customer calls, being on prospect calls, like doing events on behalf of Alyce, and I was just like, I knew there was a gap on the customer marketing side. And so I approached my boss, and I was just like, “Hey, like, you know, I know there’s a gap on the customer marketing side, if you want me to do that, I’m happy to do it, but I also want this evangelism piece and I’ll tell you why it’s important to me”. I said, “In martech, and sales tech, I feel like only executives have that type of role. Think of like, you know, Randy from Uberflip or Ethan from BombBomb or Sangram from Terminus, like, every time you think of like an evangelist type role, you think of like an executive. And I’m trying to pave the path for what it looks like for non executives in sales tech, or martech to have a role like this. And it’s funny, because I’ve had so many people DM me, that was like, I want to do exactly what you’re doing, like, how do you do that? And like, I really should write like a blog post or something around it. I just haven’t. I’ve done LinkedIn posts a little bit, but I really need to, like solidify it. But now I just get paid to create content and like, go meet with our customers meet with our prospects, like be that person when someone says, “How do I do XYZ within Alyce?” Like, hey, reach out to Nick, he’ll help you, he’ll hop on a call.

John Tyreman:  Yeah. So you mentioned that you saw a gap on the customer marketing side of things. Can we explore that a little bit? Like, what are some customer marketing activities that you’re doing now that maybe you weren’t doing before?

Nick Bennett:  Yes, so we actually haven’t really had a customer marketer at Alyce, since probably like last fall, I believe. And so there was such a need for like the case studies, the G2 reviews and other review sites, like making sure that you have customer comms in place so it’s not just all on CSs’ basically, plate to do all these things. And it’s tough. I mean, you really want to create that brand advocacy program, how do you create referrals where customers are just basically, you know, using word of mouth and referring you to other people, and I was just like, I can do all of this stuff. I already know what our customers want, because I was a previous customer of Alyce, like years ago. And so I am the ICP of a product like this, I’ve purchased gifting platforms for the last six years. So like, it just made a lot of sense. And they were like, alright, let’s create a new role for you. Let’s figure it out. And I mapped it out – what I saw on like, the evangelism side, what I saw on the customer marketing side, and I presented it to our leadership team, and they were like, “Yeah, this makes perfect sense. I see the vision, I see the goals, I see how it all aligns the business, let’s make this happen”. And here we are.

John Tyreman:  It’s so important. And, you know, if you’re not talking to your customers, then your marketing strategy is set up to fail.

Nick Bennett:  It’s so interesting that you say that, too, because it’s like, I talked to a lot of marketers and they’re just like, “Oh, I don’t, you know, I don’t talk to customers. I’m not in customer marketing”. But I’m like your whole marketing strategy is dependent upon not just talking to your customers, but involving them in your conversations. Like, why are you just going to assume this is what they want on the roadmap or the messaging or the positioning or the website. And to not involve them in those conversations or get their input is a huge miss to me.

John Tyreman:  Well, especially because you know, you don’t know everything right? You don’t know everyone’s situation or the background or why they’re buying in the first place. And that’s the critical piece. Nick, let me ask you, like, if companies wanted to start a brand evangelism program, let’s just say, or if they want to just get more folks involved in posting to platforms like LinkedIn, like, how do you think they should get started?

Nick Bennett:  Yes, so I actually… It was probably about a week ago now. But I led a company wide event on social advocacy from an internal standpoint. Myself and Aleksey, who’s on our sales side, we both have been posting on LinkedIn for a while – her from like the sales aspect, me from the marketing aspect. And so we said, if we could create even a small subset of employees that are posting their own content, not even Alyce content, we don’t want people to just self promote, we want people to talk about things they’re passionate about – if we could get 20 or 30 people within the company to talk and do their own thing, think about how many views that could drive and how many impressions. I mean, that could easily drive 15, 20, 30, 50 million impressions in a year. And then think about what you would pay on ad spend to run those same amount of impressions yet, you’re doing it all organically. So we held this session, and we actually had over 100 people show up to it and ask so many good questions. So we created a Slack channel to, you know, people were just like, I’m afraid to put myself out there or like, what are the mental barriers? Like, you know, I feel like I have impostor syndrome, things like that. And we just, we now have open communication where even our executive team is in there. They’re asking these questions like, “How do I frame something without making it seem like I don’t want to burn bridges or something from past life?” And it’s honestly been really fun collaborating on those types of things. And I’m now measuring it from an analytical standpoint, how many views and impressions and you know, everything that goes along with it, are we driving collectively as a company, so that I can report back and show, even from a self-attribution standpoint, hey, this is actually what’s coming from this.

John Tyreman:  I really like the idea of having that conversation and extending it to a Slack channel. And, you know, that was kind of the first thing that popped into my mind is if you’re trying to not necessarily get other people to start posting, but to encourage other people to take that leap of faith, that impostor syndrome, those mental barriers are really big. And so let me ask you, like, how did you get over those? Is it just a matter of just having a conversation? Just showing them that it’s not as hard as maybe they think it is?

Nick Bennett:  Yeah, yeah, a little bit of that. Honestly, the whole reason that I started posting back in March of 2020, was because my boss at the time, who was Kyle Coleman, from Clari, who’s very well known on like the SPR and sales side of things, he was like, you should talk about field marketing, like no one talks about that on LinkedIn, like, it would be a no brainer. And I was like, alright, and so he put out a challenge to a few of his team members that said, “Hey, this is the success that I’m seeing, these are the things you’re going to run into, there’s going to be things that you know, you may not like or things may not go your way, but just trust me, consistency pays off”. And so I just stuck with it. And for six months, I had like no engagement, literally, like I would get probably 1,000 views on a post or something like that. And after the six months, it started to slowly trickle up. But I mean, I tell people all the time, you’re going to… as soon as you hit publish on a blog or a social media post, there’s going to be people who don’t like what you say, and that’s fine. Like, my content is not for everyone. And I get that. I can’t please everyone. And I don’t think anyone focuses on that aspect of it. But I think you just have to have that mindset that there’s always going to be people that disagree with you. They may not say it publicly, but they do disagree with you. And they may be people that just, you know, try to challenge you on different aspects of it. But just power through it if you can, and realize that everyone including myself has that impostor syndrome like there’s still days today where like I posted I’m just like, “Hmm, I don’t know if this is gonna go over well. I don’t want to offend anyone”. I’m such a people pleaser where if someone that has been liking my content for so long, just goes missing for  weeks, I’m just like, “Did I offend that person?” Like, I know the regular people that like my stuff. And like, when they just go missing it’s like, “Huh, like, Did I do something wrong?” and like that just runs through your head. But for me, the biggest thing was don’t spend more than five minutes crafting your content. I would much rather engage with the community of LinkedIn and like the people that comment versus spending time over analyzing a LinkedIn post. Just send it, try to make it as something of value and then engage with all of the comments, because that’s honestly the best part of LinkedIn is the comment section.

John Tyreman:  I totally agree. And, you know, I find that challenging myself to kind of scroll through the feed and find the posts that I want to engage with. There’s a ton of posts in my feed that it doesn’t really make sense to engage with, but like, Twitter has lists, and I use that. And that’s really like an awesome feature on Twitter. But LinkedIn doesn’t really have that. Like, do you have any tips or tricks to share with like how you know which posts to go to?

Nick Bennett:  Yes. So I agree, I honestly, I do wish that feature would come over to LinkedIn, because it would be so much easier. For me, like when I turned on creator mode, probably about I think it was probably about a year or so ago now, like I went off and on, is it a good feature to turn on? Is it killing my reach? And then I just kept it on. And so it immediately makes your connect button, a follow button. And I realized, the people that were connecting with me, like I’m only accepting connections if it’s someone that is a marketer, or a salesperson or rev ops or someone that I think could add value to my feed, versus just all these random people that I know I will never engage with. That’s why that follow button’s there. And for me, the people that I really, really want to follow is, I’ll go and like check that bell icon on their profile so that I get notified each time that they post. Or what I’ll do is I’ll just start to unfollow people not remove the connection, but just unfollow them if their content has no relevance to me, and it does do a decent job at like cleaning up the feed. But when you have that many connections or that many followers too, it’s tough to make it exactly what you want without a list feature.

John Tyreman:  Those are some really good tips. I like the bell icon, especially for accounts, you know you want to follow. You mentioned like, spend no more than five minutes creating a piece of content. I’ve been in that position where, I think it was like the start of 2020. I challenged myself to post every single day for 90 days. And I got into a groove where it was taking like 5, 10 minutes to write a post, right? But it gets hard to kind of get to that level. How do you stay consistent with posting if someone’s just starting out? What would you recommend they do? Maybe they get like a head start on that level of consistency?

Nick Bennett:  Yeah, I mean, I don’t think anyone should… like you should find out what’s best for you and experiment. Like, the five minute thing works for me. And I actually don’t write anything down. I don’t pre write anything. I don’t batch anything. It’s literally the morning of I will think of what to write and if it’s something that I think, “Alright, cool, let’s let’s go with this. Let’s see what happens”. I’ll put it out there. But there are lots of people that, you know, take Justin Welsh, for example, like he’ll sit down on a Saturday for like an hour or two. And he’ll write out like a month’s worth of content for LinkedIn. And that’s just not me, I just don’t have the ability to do it. I’m much more of an on the fly type of person. But I think you have to experiment and see what’s best for you and see how that can evolve over time. At first, I was talking to someone the other day, and they were like, “Yeah, it takes me 45 minutes to write one LinkedIn post.” And I was like, “45 minutes? Are you serious?” And he was like, “Yeah, I just I overanalyze everything. I write it, I look at it, I hit the back button, delete, delete, delete, and then I write it again. And then I’m like, ‘What will people think of this?'” And he’s like, “Before I know it, like 45 minutes have passed. And then I just basically get rid of it, because I’m too overwhelmed”. And I’m like, “Yeah, five minutes may not work. But like 10 or 15 minutes, honestly, for one LinkedIn post, I think is a good amount of time”. What you could do, and I think a lot of people do do this, is just keep like running topics, either in like a Google Doc, or like, you know, a note section or Notion or whatever. And just be like, these are the things that I want to talk about. And then you can add the filler information, you have the hook, but like, what’s the filler information of how to tell that story?

John Tyreman:  Yeah, I was gonna ask you about topics. You mentioned, field marketing was what Kyle challenged you to create around. And you just mentioned running topics in a Google Doc. I guess, like, how important is it to have a core topic of focus versus many different topics that you can talk about? How does one balance that?

Nick Bennett:  I think, you know, especially with how noisy LinkedIn is today, I think it’s important if you can like niche down into something and for me, it was the field marketing aspect. And so being able to say like, alright, for the first six months, like that’s really all I talked about, just you know, the misconceptions how it plays into a revenue organization. What does a field marketer do in B2B? Because a lot of people just thought I was an event planner, and like, there were so many people that would reach out to me, like, “I want to learn more, like what is this? I see this role everywhere, but I have no clue what it is”. It was really easy to talk about that because that’s what I did for the last nine years and it was just like, “Alright, yeah, like I know that inside and out. I can talk about it”. I definitely then started to branch into like account based marketing, I branched into like the personal branding aspect, I branched into just more of like, even like general life advice or like marketing advice. And now I talk about, you know, I would say that the top thing that I talked about now is probably personal branding. I did a field marketing post last night actually, like, it’s funny, because when I talk about non marketing things, it actually does a lot better than when I talk about marketing specifically.

John Tyreman:  Funny how that works, right?

Nick Bennett:  It’s so bizarre, like, I literally only have like, 40 people that liked my post. And I was like, this is like value. I was talking about metrics that field marketers should look at when you’re developing your programs. And then I post something like, my mute and unmute game is like, on point, and I have like, 70,000 views of something that is so silly to me. But like, I don’t know, it’s just so interesting. And like I talk about podcasting, a good amount, like, I’m not, you know, I’m not like a Chris Walker, where I’m getting like, all these views, but I still drive a decent amount of views. And I just talk about what that journey has been like for me. And honestly, I just really talk about whatever comes top of mind, now. I have a decent sized audience where they follow me, for me as a person versus me for specific content.

John Tyreman:  They call it social media for a reason, right? You got to be social on these platforms. 

Nick Bennett:  Exactly. 

John Tyreman:  Yeah. Well, we talked about the importance of engagement. We talked about some posting tips and tricks. How about sending connection requests and growing your network? How important is that as a factor to a personal branding strategy?

Nick Bennett:  Yeah, I think it’s definitely important, I can say that I don’t do a great job of it anymore. Like I probably… like you’re limited to, I believe, 100 connection requests per week, right now. I think they implemented that not too long ago. And before, you could just send as many as you wanted and just spam the world. But like, you have to be strategic how you’re going to use those. And I probably use like five connection requests a week now. I don’t do a great job with it, because I’m so engaged with just talking to like the other people that have followed me and like a few like, content creators where like, I just really enjoy their stuff. And I try not to spend as much time on LinkedIn anymore. Like I’m spending like, I would say, an hour to an hour and a half a day in a 24 hour block on there, mostly on my mobile phone, so I can track all of that, and shut me off if I go over. But it’s important… I think the way that you could honestly get started in figuring out how you’re going to target your specific ICP, or whatever your audience is, is finding 10 to 15 other like minded marketers or salespeople or whatever, and clicking that bell icon and like being one of the first people that comment on their stuff every single time they post. And adding something of value, because what’s gonna happen is, say you go post on like, Justin’s stuff, or Chris Walker’s stuff, or Digi or whoever, like, they’re gonna get, like, hundreds of 1000s of views on that. And if you’re one of those first people, so many people are gonna be like, “Oh, John, you know, that was an awesome comment. Let me go see what John does”. They’re gonna click your profile, they’re either going to follow you or send a connection request. And so you’re building kind of like a self-built audience without actually having to post content yourself.

John Tyreman:  I’ve experienced that, being among some of those early comments, like I like to call that comment sniping. But yeah, and you know what, honestly, like in, practicing, going through and commenting on posts, a lot of the times gives me some inspiration for some new posts that I want to do. So there’s sort of like this, like little flywheel that happens kind of organically, where you’re going through and commenting. And that provides a little clarity in your own mind for future posts and things like that.

Nick Bennett:  Exactly. Yeah. I mean, that’s happened to me a bunch, too. You’re like, you’re engaged in a really good conversation, like people might, like have a different point of view than you and that’s okay. But it opens up your eyes into a way that you could see something that maybe you didn’t see it before, maybe you can talk about it, like that’s a great post. People love stories. Talk about… I’m not saying personal stories aren’t good, but like just stories: How did you do XYZ? What were your failures? What were your wins?  Talk about that so that other people can either avoid those things if they were failures, or try to somehow, you know, manipulate them if they were positive so that they could also see if they could have success.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, it’s really important to share experiences like that, especially as marketers where, you know, these platforms are changing like every single day, week, month and so some of the tactics that you used maybe last year aren’t working anymore. And so you really need to rely on the networks that you build to be able to know how peers are doing, and what you can swipe from them to help apply it to your craft, too.

Nick Bennett:  Yep, exactly. I mean, there was, I mean, to be honest with you, like, there’s a lot of stuff that like the Refine Labs team talks about, and like, I’ve taken like, a lot of those things.  One of the things that they always talk about is the demo form, like, get rid of the drop down, go with the open text box for like, how did you hear about us, make it a required question. And we implemented that back in November. And like, literally, the insights have been amazing. It tells us where we should be doubling down. If it’s like community, honestly, organic, LinkedIn, and like calling specific people out has been like, huge, we see all of those things. And so we now know where to double down and like spend our money. And like if I wasn’t following them, like, I mean, I might have figured it out on my own. And other people, I’m sure we’re doing it, but like, I just follow a lot of the people that work there, and like I was just like, oh, that’s really interesting. Let’s see if we can do that. And it was a game changer.

John Tyreman:  Yeah, that is a game changer. We recently put that on our contact form. And it’s so cool to look at what they say, what these leads say, versus like their engagement history in Pardot, right? And like what they actually clicked on. And the discrepancy between the two is really interesting. You get to see, like, inside the buyer’s brain, like, “Okay, how did they articulate where they heard about you?” That’s just so fascinating to me.

Nick Bennett:  Exactly. Like it was really cool. Like, I saw one come through, I believe yesterday, and it was like, “Went to an event came across…” actually my podcast. And so even though on my podcast has nothing to do with Alyce, they just put two and two together that I work there. And then it was actually like, “Got a gift from another company”, (one of our customers that gifted them) and they were like, “interested in learning more”. And now that’s actually like a really…  like, it’s a deal that honestly will probably close quicker than I would imagine are typical deals likely would be.

John Tyreman:  Velocity. That’s the benefit of personal branding, for sure. Well, Nick, I want to shift gears just a little bit. And you mentioned personal gifting. And I’m really curious about that. So like, it’s clear that companies need to stand out in their sales and marketing today. And personally, my inbox is so cluttered that it all just blends together. Right?. And Alyce helps companies use personal gifting to build pipeline, extend customer value, increased return on marketing spend. Can you share an example of how your customers use personal gifting and their sales and marketing strategies?

Nick Bennett:  Yeah, there’s actually you know, it’s kind of interesting, because a lot of people will think gifting, they’ll think it’s just a way to book meetings. SDR teams, or like sales teams will use it to book meetings. That’s absolutely one of the ways that a lot of people use it. But it shouldn’t be the only way. There’s actually 17 different unique gifting moments across the entire buyer’s journey where you could use gifting to make a difference. And so that’s, you know, the cold opener is definitely one, event is a huge piece… content. So say someone downloads a white paper, if you gate your content, which is another whole story. But like say you do gate content and like someone downloads a white paper or something and like you’re using gifting as a way to kind of get them to say thank you. And you could also use it as a time sensitive thing. Like someone’s looking at downloading a piece of content, you incentivize them with a gift to download that piece of content. So that’s another way. You could use it for like wake the dead type campaigns are like last ops that kind of just went dark, like what can you do to reengage those. And then you’ve got like, the whole customer side of it. Like customer celebrations, churn prevention, like you got the HR side of it. There’s literally so many different use cases. And it’s just, I think people are just starting to touch the iceberg of like, what you can actually do. People only really focus on like, I would say, one to three use cases right now, but there’s so much more. And I think one of the interesting things is you think of gifting as like a nice to have, but it’s not a must have in a lot of people’s eyes. But if you combine that with outbound marketing, everyone does outbound marketing. So how can you take outbound marketing and make role gifting under that so it’s a must have in your outbound marketing strategy? That’s what we’re looking to achieve.

John Tyreman:  I can see how that can be really challenging especially with like… so, company physical addresses are readily available, but so many people still work from home, especially within these last few years. I’m curious, that must have been a challenge, right? Are you able to deliver gifts to home addresses? How does Alyce solve for this?

Nick Bennett:  Yes, so we’re actually a recipient first platform. So we don’t ask anyone for their address. What we do is we’ll either send a link via email, or you could just create a link, or you can send it out of like Outreach or Salesloft, or Eloqua, or HubSpot, or whatever. And it will basically show someone that you’re looking to send them a gift.  What they can do is then have the power of choice to either accept the gift, they can donate the gift to a charity of their choice, or they can exchange the gift for something that they want. No one’s going to want to give like, if you send me another Yeti mug, like it’s just going to go in the trash. But if you send someone a Yeti mug with the option to exchange it for something they want, or donate to a charity of their choice, it makes sense. So then they opt in for one, to receive the gift, they fill out their address on the back end. And then we basically just deliver it. So we never see their address. It’s all just, you know, done on the back end, goes to our vendor, vendor delivers on that. And yeah, it’s honestly been super easy. We actually did a lot better in COVID than people would probably think.

John Tyreman:  Well, yeah, I mean, it sounds like it, especially… I love that model, the opt in model and the ability to exchange. That’s really cool. And it’s funny that you mentioned a Yeti mug, because we just, you know, we have that self-attributed field on our form that we just talked about, right? And one of the stories that just recently came through was, “Hey, we got your Yeti mug at this event that was like three years ago”, right? So it’s, it just shows you the power of gifting. And how that etches this, like… there’s a memory in these prospects’ minds and it stands out enough, even three years later.

Nick Bennett:  Exactly. And that’s why I think the personalization aspect comes in. One of the good things about us is, what we do is we scrape social profiles that are public facing. So like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, blog sites, and so we pull that information into the platform. And then we actually have a human research team that will recommend gifts based on that research that’s done. So as a marketer, or as a sales rep or SDR or BDR. You can then take that information, custom tailor a video or a message to something that you know they already like.

John Tyreman:  Wow, that’s really cool. Right on. Well, Nick, I know that we’re coming up on our time, now. This has been really insightful. I took away a bunch of notes on personal branding. I love the personal gifting aspect. I can see how that can be really helpful, especially if you’re combining that with your outbound sales motions. If folks listening to this podcast wanted to connect with you, where should they go?

Nick Bennett:  Yeah, absolutely. LinkedIn is probably the best spot. You know, shoot me a DM, shoot me a connection request. I try to reply to every DM that comes in as well. You can also now find me on TikTok. I’ve been trying to dabble in like the B2bB side of TikTok and it’s been interesting for sure. But you know, find me – either place and drop by and say hello.

John Tyreman:  Very cool. All right. Well, folks listening to this definitely connect with Nick. Nick, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Nick Bennett:  Thanks for having me.

Sales enablement vs revenue enablement, with John Moore

April 20, 2022


John Moore, Strategic Consultant, Speaker, Writer, and Founder of Trust Enablement, discusses the difference between sales enablement and revenue enablement. In this episode, we cover:

  • What is enablement?
  • Revenue enablement fundamentals
  • The leap to un-gating content
  • The role of enablement professionals
  • How to use systems like

Connect with John on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Please listen, subscribe, and leave a rating and review!