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A good website grows your brand, lets you stand out and brings you new customers. But most websites suck—even if agencies charge thousands for them. If your website isn’t clear, persuasive and on-brand, you lose out on thousands of potential customers.

In this episode, website expert Ben LeDonni stops by. Today, he tells you about the mistakes amateur agencies make—and how to fix them so you don’t get burned.

Want to quit what doesn’t work and get results?

Listen now!

Show highlights include:

  • Why custom-coded websites can be horrible for your business (even though they cost 10x as much). (6:45)
  • If your agency asks you for these 5 things, hire them on the spot. (9:35)
  • How agencies “burn” business owners. (13:48)
  • Why a great website is cheaper than you think. (16:18)
  • Hidden marketing improvements Big Tech is hiding from you. (26:55)
  • What Big Tech doesn’t want you to know about marketing yourself. (26:55)
  • A good reason to fire your agency—even when they get results. (29:35)
  • An overlooked travel destination for your next well-earned vacation. (37:22)
  • The best beer for your next ski trip. (39:55)
  • A hidden marketing factor that makes craft beer geeks love a Miller High Life. (40:23)

If you enjoyed today’s show, make sure you head on over to www.tapsandtees.info and download your free report of ‘No BS,’ game-changing marketing tips and strategies that show you how to blow up your brand online.

Read Full Transcript

You are listening to the Taps and Tees Show, weekly conversations for people passionate about marketing, golf and craft beer. Marty is the cofounder of Bad Rhino, an award-winning digital marketing agency helping golf and craft beer brands get real results in social media marketing. Here is your host, Marty McDonald. [00:21.7]

Marty: All right, everybody, welcome to another episode of Taps and Tees, and we're continuing on here, interviewing people that I know like, and trust that are in the marketing world, kind of give you some insights into when you're hiring an agency, whether you're in the golf world, the craft beer world, or anything else, it doesn't really matter.

I like to always bring people on that know what they're doing, and I think it's a key when you hear these people speak, because whether you're hiring somebody like Bad Rhino or Creative MMS, who we're going to talk to here in a second, it's important to understand some of the nuances that go into marketing, whether you're looking at a new website, whether you're trying to launch a paid ad campaign. [01:00.7]

And these guys and girls that I have been bringing on are super smart and people I've worked with for the better part of almost a decade, and they know what they're doing. So, I trust them to talk about things that will help you make that decision.

Today I have somebody that's been in this game longer than I have almost and he doesn't show it in his age. He's super smart and he continues to be cutting edge. And Ben is the founder and CEO now of Creative MMS, and he's based out of Philadelphia, and they were founded over 15 years ago. And what they do is they create and deliver some of the best performing digital marketing solutions that I've seen.

I've pulled them into multiple clients. I’ve referred them to other people because I know the integrity that one brings through the actual work, but more importantly has a team of experts and people that can really bring your solution to life, whether you're looking at a large corporation where you have a lot of moving parts in a 100-page type website, or even something a little bit smaller where you need something that'll work for you now but you know it’s going to expand. [02:07.7]
More importantly, he works with everybody across the country and they're results-driven, so they have a very analytical approach, as well as a creative approach to delivering an actual digital marketing solution.
Without further ado, Ben, are you there?

Ben: I'm here. Thanks for that wonderful intro.

Marty: No problem, man. Do you want to expand on that a little bit just for everybody in your own words?

Ben: Yeah, absolutely. Like Marty said, founded Creative MMS as a web design company 15 years ago and it has evolved to a digital content strategy, marketing strategy, letting data guide our decisions for our clients. Website design is still a really good portion of what we do, but we've kind of expanded out to leverage websites as the backbone from really good campaigns and marketing. Yeah, so that's it. [02:55.6]

I mean, our mission statement, which I think is really important, especially as a business leader and team leader, is to make sure that everybody is rowing in the same direction with the same belief, but our mission statement is to partner with those seeking the most effective digital marketing solution. And as Marty said, we're really big on making sure we're results-driven, so everything has to be effective, meaning that it's cost effective, but also delivering results that are expected tied towards the goals.

And we use the term “partner” for people we work with because, like Marty said also, you could start off as a small client or a small shop that's building something now that may eventually evolve into something much bigger, so we want to be there for that growth and work with it.

Marty: Yeah, and I always appreciate your approach and I think when I think back to when we first met, which was actually on a golf course, if you remember -

Ben: I do.

Marty: - when we played in a golf event and it was really interesting because I had been searching for somebody forever. It felt like forever. I've been doing this, what I started off as a hobby in 2002, so now you fast-forward and we're almost in June 2020, 18 years, and I did all this stuff. [04:05.0]

I did all the coding. I used to set up my own websites and landing pages, and doing all that, and I know how much goes into it. And when you fast-forward through all that time, and I think we met in 2014, I had been searching for somebody that actually had an approach that was very similar in nature because I would run by everybody that was, for the lack of a better term, like a generalist type WordPress developer. And I'm not knocking them. They did good work, but they never thought past “I’ve got to set this five page website up,” right? They never thought past “What's the next thing?”

And sometimes it's hard in digital marketing because things change, and Ben was one of the few people I've ever met that when they were building a site and he talked about his philosophy, I was like, Okay, dude, we might be able to work together because I completely understand that and I can respect where you're coming from because you don't want to repeat work for clients, number one. [05:01.3]

When they want to expand, you don't want to tell them that they have to scrap every single thing that they've done because to update it, you have to start all over. And when you start off with a philosophy of building it for the now and then in the future, it really works.

And just like Creative MMS stands for, it’s like having that analytical approach to creative, but then also looking to partner, and I think that's what separated you. And just full disclosure, Bad Rhino and Creative MMS had been working together for the past six years on small and large projects.

Ben: Yeah, I really appreciate that. And I think likewise from our side when we were talking about partnering up or even looking at, I think working together on one client was the first intro to the partnership. It was like… There are a lot of social media people out there that say, Oh, we can do social media strategy and execution and tactical. And I do remember a client bringing us together and saying, Hey, I wanted you guys to meet each other. [05:58.4]

Marty: Yeah.

Ben: And we both were kind of like, Okay, here we go. Here's another social media guy.

Marty: Yeah, exactly.

Ben: And we were like, Okay, here's another web guy. But, no, and I appreciate the way you look at it that way. My attitude is just very technical because I had a master's degree in computer science from Villanova and that brought me into doing things very technically the right way.

Also, raised by two teachers, educators that are like, If you know the answers to the question at any time, you should always be able to get a hundred percent. It was their philosophy.

Marty: Sounds familiar.

Ben: Nice. You carry that forward to an actual project. Then the clients usually are telling you what they need done. If you know the answers to those questions, you’ve got to do it right. Do it right the first time and be efficient. That's another thing. You don't reinvent the wheel. If there's a tool like we use WordPress a lot; we use HubSpot; we use some really good tools that empower the companies that we work with. If it exists already, don't build it. A lot of the web design agencies that we see, want to build everything from scratch and do a really good job of coding at custom, but there's a need for that in some cases, but in some cases it's more about marketing efficiency and marketing results. [07:09.8]

Marty: Yeah, and if you notice, folks, he dropped the Villanova thing in there very nonchalantly. We're not talking about basketball today, but Ben will gladly talk to you about it.

Yeah, no, I think I don’t know if you remember. This is the perfect way to describe it as like, Oh shit, here comes a new website guy. Here comes a new social media guy. Right? And I think that's a key point in time like 2014. That's where I really have a line drawn where the internet became social and social became the internet.

And as our company evolved, we knew we had to be more robust in digital strategies, more so than just focus, and that's where we really started growing as an agency and putting together full things that would work from everything within digital, not just one aspect. And I think that's important today because people are like, Oh, well, you're a generalist? I'm like, No, we kind of specialize in more results than anything. [08:03.6]

That's what you want to look for in an agency when they talk about those types of things rather than what they can do for you, because I see that often and I see clients or potential clients come in and talk to us, and they're like, We worked with an agency before and this is what they told us, and you can already hear it in their voice that they didn't believe it. I think a lot of things that creative does as well as what we do have been tying the results together.

Ben, within that, in the timeframe of, say, in the last half of 2019 going into 2020, what has you and your team been working on? And what has changed since you first started this thing that if you were looking back over that past eight months or so that you never thought you would be doing with your company or web design or UX or wherever you want to take this question?
Ben: Yeah, that's a great question. I mean, like I said, we started way more on the web design aspect, clients that would come to me that were originally friends saying, Hey, I need a website for my tile company. [09:03.2]

At that point, 15 years ago, even before that while I was in college, it was stitching together the domain with a hosting provider and installing, just putting HTML files up there with maybe some PHP code to render stuff. So, that was the early days and it was me, just myself. I mean, in the last year, now where we've grown that has been pretty awesome to watch. It's just we’re like a full-service marketing agency with a heavy slant towards digital and data.

We did that because in order to properly create a website. When we started hedging that way, five or six years ago, we needed to really dig into the audience, and the personas and the goals of the audience and customer journey type stuff, and figuring out exactly what needs to be on the various pages to be able to deliver an amazing user experience and website.
And from that, what we were able to do is say, If we're doing personas and customer journey, and we're able to run SEO campaigns and paid advertising campaigns, really the customer journey and all this stuff that we do for the website informs a lot of that direction as well. [10:07.0]

So, really, what I've been most proud of in the last year is our process to figure out, Who are we talking to? What do we need to say? Where do we need to say it? has been so refined with the last very few big partners that we’ve worked with that it applies to almost any industry, but the team that I've built around it can basically take the series of questions and the understanding of what it is that the partner needs, those goals, figure out the audience, figure out the content strategy and customer journey, and then be able to deploy it and execute on it.

We started operating in these three phases of strategy as phase one, production as phase two, and marketing and optimization as phase three, and insights kind of inform everything all along the way. But that has been kind of revolutionary for us and for our clients in terms of, again, the right way to do this. So, that has been awesome. [10:59.3]

In terms of what we're working on and type of clients, we've got a really awesome talent solutions company in Nashville that we work with. We do digital marketing strategy, ongoing UX design improvements, running their campaigns, similar work for a scientific company that's local here, a large real estate company in Delaware, a federal credit union that's local.

What else? We’ve got a large HVAC company that does commercial HVAC in New York City? And then even recently we signed on a client that's really innovating around cleaning office space and doing some kind of very innovative things around what they're seeing in the market right now.

All along that, we've got web design and development projects. Like you said, Marty, early on, we take on projects that are maybe just design and dev for with the knowledge that that could grow into something in the future. So, we've got a voice-activated health product, an architectural firm, and another construction company that we're working with that need the help in marketing strategy and need to start with a solid website foundation. [11:57.7]

Marty: Yeah. I mean, I think putting all those things out there, it illustrates how much things have changed over the years since you just take a random three- or four-page website and kind of slap it up. And it wasn’t…I mean, it feels like it wasn't all that long ago, but it was 12, 13 years ago. And even some of the big corporations, their websites were not what you would think they would have been, right?

And it's not like we were talking about 1985. We're talking about 2007. But so many things changed when things went mobile and things just kind of went…I almost like to call it went out of hand. Instant, things when mobile. Almost everybody's website was obsolete in a heartbeat and a lot of things changed. And what you illustrate there I think is the evolution of where design and working with a client or partner in helping them have their online brand imitate what they do in real life is not something that you can take lightly. [12:59.8]

This goes out to a lot of people that are in craft beer and the golf industry. And even when you think simple things, they're not as simple as they once were, because people have so many options to look at online and if you don't capture their attention and walk them through that customer journey, it can be a challenge to get conversions.

So, what has it been like? When you start with a new client, and you're partnering with them and you're developing a strategy, what's one or two of the big pushbacks that they give that you're giving them advice on that you know is what they need, but they're not quite sure? What are those one or two things that they're always bringing up?

Ben: Yeah, it's a great question. I think the challenge is one is always around budget and dollars, and I think as you said, there's always a lot of the clients that come to us maybe have had bad experiences with other agencies in the past that told them what to do and that “told them what to do” may not have been the right strategy. And so, they come in automatically not really trusting when somebody says we're an agency that that agency is not just out to take every last dollar and kind of spend it on the management strategy only. [14:11.1]

So, I would say, dollars in terms of where the budget should go is the number one thing to sort out I think first, and most of the best relationships we have, we're looking at marketing budgets with our clients and saying, You should do this. You shouldn't do that. We already know this about what works and what doesn't. There's a client that came to us with a $250,000 print budget that they were using for ads and said, “We want to move that online,” and what we were able to do with that, it was just tremendous.

So, I'd say one of the first pushbacks is just like, I want to hold my cards close to my chest and not show you that information because of the distrust, and that is a challenge for us to break through because with a lot of transparency, we can be equally transparent and get a heck of a lot done. That would be the first thing.

Then the second thing is just education. Like you said, so much has changed and evolved. When you take that mobile split as being like that first “Oh my gosh, my website doesn't render on mobile devices” thing and everybody now knows that that's the case, but not everybody knows that a couple of years ago Google made a split index and that your SEO rankings are different on mobile devices versus standard devices. [15:16.7]

I'm educating on the importance of that, and then not the importance of having experts that know that stuff and can accommodate for it, and design a site that accommodates for it and run campaigns that work differently on mobile, and are sectioned by time of day and segmented by audience time of day, location, all that type of stuff, that education component, I would say, is the second challenge or hurdle.

It's not really a pushback because in some cases some people think that they know it and in many cases they do, but in most cases that like, Here's what we believe about digital. Here's our approach and process to doing it, and here's what you need to know in order for you to trust us, is the number one hurdle for us to get over, I think with clients. [16:00.0]

Marty: Before I get to my next question, that's really interesting. When you get the fight on the dollars, it doesn't matter the amount of money cause everybody's going to have different budgets that's listening to this, but the one thing that I always see is a business owner might choke on the initial amount, but they're not thinking of it longer term. They're like, I need something right now. I'm not worried about five years from now.

And I'm like, Okay, I understand that. However, if we build it now, you're really looking at a five-year type payment on this, not that you can offer that, right? But at the same time, what you're looking at is that it costs for web design and development, and having a customer journey and the branding, and having it work online, you're really looking at, so you do it once and this thing pays off over time. And a lot of times they don't want to invest the money up front because they're like, I'm not really sure about this. I'm not really sure about that. [17:01.8]

I liken it to buying a car in a way, not to commoditize it, but it's a really good illustration. It’s that, yeah, you're looking at your car. You have something that’s falling apart all the time, doesn't work. And you're like, I’ve got to eliminate this. I'm going to buy a new car because I want to have it safe for my kids. I want it to be safe. Anywhere I'm driving, I want it to start and I want it to work for me, so I can do other things.

And that's kind of how I start to view the website process, because what you want to look at is, yeah, it might be a large number at first, but if you break those costs down over five years and then you break them down even monthly, and it's a main driver for your business, it is a huge, huge thing. And it's not that much money when you really look at it, and once you have that conversation, you have to think about that because a website should last you, other than some changes, a good amount of time. [17:58.6]

But I still think, and I want to get your opinion on this because I do think it stinks, people that have been in business for a while, that they remember from around 2008 to 2012, and things were changing so fast then in technology. They change fast now, but some of the infrastructure is kind of set. Social media is now embedded, so to speak, in everyday life. Cell phones are more and smartphones are embedded in everyday life. And those things don't change as much.

Until there's a new cell phone, I keep saying, your website's going to be good for quite a while, at least the structure. And I think the longer-term people are bitten by that where they're like, Yeah, every four years you guys are telling us we need a new website, we need a new this, we need a new that, but you're not looking at it as part of a business plan. You would purchase a piece of equipment like the car where you're leasing your kitchen equipment or you're leasing your brewing equipment, or you put a new addition into the clubhouse because you know it'll pay off because more patrons will come in. [19:00.2]

And I think websites and digital marketing really needs to be put in that category because we are in the here and now in 2020, and more things are moving digital. I mean, TV is essentially gone. Everything is driven through the web.

In that process, do you think you hear that from people that are looking at it as an investment or they just go, Oh yeah, we’ve got to get our stuff done and we’ve got to do this? What has that mood been over the past couple of years that you've seen?
Ben: Yeah. I mean, I think most people have it as a checklist item in the beginning of their year to say, We're going to do our website. It's outdated. The marketing director comes into the role, wants to revise the brand, wants to make sure the story updates. Business has changed over the last five years and the website doesn't reflect that. And so, they put it on the checklist and then that item on a checklist of “We need to redesign our website” starts to mean different things for a lot of different people and inside their organization. [19:59.5]

So, the CEO takes that to mean, Oh great, I can make it function as a sales tool. The marketing director sees it as, I can make this pretty amazing thing that differentiates us from our competitors. Salespeople want it integrated with the CRM. So, those requirements kind of shift and change over time, and they're made kind of exponentially complex because of what's available to everybody.

And so, like you said, that 2008 to maybe 2010 or 2012 where it was like, Okay, now we've got this mobile tool that we can reach people on, you started hearing things like, We need an app, we need an app, we need an app.

Marty: Yeah.

Ben: Yeah. And you're like, You need an app to do what? What is it going to do for you? And so, I think there's the race to get to what the market calls and what everybody else is doing alongside the “I need to keep up with my business and how it's changed and evolved.” But all of that in my mind centers around the way that the market and really the audience finds and consumes information. [21:01.9]

So, if you just think of it, think of the global landscape of what we all do, you and I both, it’s help people to get their audience to find and consume their information. And the thing that is changing constantly is the way by which people do that. So, mobile devices come out and people are mobile, finding and consuming info.

Now, like you said, the whole TV thing, you're finding my kids saying, Did you just search that up on YouTube? And you're like, That's the way they find their information. They don't even go Google. They start at YouTube. And I think that's what we do as we ride that wave. You and I both are riding that like, How are they finding it now? Things like voice tech and voice search.

So, I don't really… I mean, a website is important because that is the majority of the way that people find and consume their information now when it comes especially to business-to-business and eCommerce, so that is a backbone of that. But I think staying on that trend to finding consuming information over the next five or 10 years, that might shift and change. It’s all going to include digital. The “How do we deliver those results for companies?” might evolve and shift just like it does on a conference strategy sample. So, hopefully, that answers your question. [22:12.5]

Marty: No, but that's why I framed it that way.

Hey, if you're enjoying what you're hearing on the show and want more, head on over to TapsAndTees.info and get our free report with game-changing tips and strategies straight to your inbox. Just enter your info and stop being stuck with no marketing plan. [22:28.7]

Marty: Everybody that’s listening, I know when you get the pushback, or you're thinking about hiring an agency or redeveloping your site, your strategies and all that, you look at it and you're like, Oh, this cost, and you know it's going to be there, but it's like a framework of thinking about it as a little bit different. And if you hire the right people, like what Ben just said, and I think it's perfect because I do remember when all the apps came out. It was like, App this, app this. Websites are dead. This is going to die and we're just going to have apps, right? [23:02.8]

And a lot of people got burned by spending 15, 20 grand on an app, and even more in some cases and sometimes less, but they would just be like, Well, that didn't do us anything, right? Nobody's downloading the app. You still need the marketing engine.

As Ben just said, kids search for YouTube. And for different things that are an outlet for content, you're seeing so many changes happen so fast with Spotify gobbling up podcasts and HBO launching a whole new thing where they're buying up properties to compete with Netflix. You still have Amazon Prime. All these things. When was the last time you said, Oh, I'm going to watch this tonight at nine o'clock. It's on Tuesdays at nine? You just don't say that anymore. You watch it when you want to watch it. So, the same thing, when they want to find your service, you have to be there because they want it on demand.
And then, it's really interesting and it's a fascinating way to kind of bring all these things out, because when you look at it as an investment, you look at it a little bit differently, like how people are finding your brewery, how people are finding your golf course that may have never been there before. Those are the types of things you have to put yourself into. [24:10.6]

And that website journey and that digital search journey, the Google Search, however you want to phrase it, is much different in 2020 than it was even two years ago. You do have the voice stuff. You do have other things. And if you're not optimized to capture that, you're going to be missing out some things that you probably should be getting pretty easily if you're the local golf course or the local brewery, and it's important to know.

So, it is an investment to have it done and it is an investment to do it right, but you want to make sure you're covering your bases because it is huge and it's going to get even bigger as we move forward, and this train feels like it's going a thousand miles an hour, not just a hundred miles an hour anymore.

Ben: Yeah, and you know what? David on my team—who has an amazing SEO group, but also he's the digital optimization specialist because he knows how to read data and apply it—he served in the army and his statement to me once was “We're like the forward observer for our clients.” [25:09.2]

Marty: Yeah.

Ben: And I said, “What do you mean by that?” And said, “Well, in the army, they would send somebody out to be the forward observer to see what the land looked like ahead of us, and that person would come back and report back. And we are the forward observers for our partners and our clients, looking at what is coming next. What should you try? What should you not try? Don't step over there.”

And in some ways it’s hard for them to, I would say, relinquished that role. A marketing director that wants to stay on the cutting edge of that is going to want to be there, but the attitude is if we're doing it alongside you and working together on it and showing like, Hey, should you start up a TikTok right now or not? Those types of questions could be easily answered if you understand the goals and have a strategy behind it.

Marty: Yeah, and I think the other part of it, the tail end of that, is being that forward thinkers where if you have a marketing person, they like that. That's their job. So, they feel a little threatened when there's another person coming in. [26:05.3]

But I've talked to so many directors as I'm sure you have, director-level marketing manager or people just doing the work, and they're exhausted by it. They want another set of eyes on it. They want another group of people to give them more ideas because they feel like they're not only overwhelmed, but they're missing out for your company or your service to actually get all the word out there.

And sometimes it's the little things like just making sure your Google My Business page is set up correctly. And there's little things, these companies, not to belittle them, like Google and Facebook. There are some little tiny things that if you're not ticking off those boxes, you might be losing out, but you think it's set up correctly. And it's really amazing how complex they've gotten over the years compared to what they used to be. It used to be set it up. Here you go. You're all good. And now they kind of bury some things. And it's interesting. [27:01.3]
So, a couple of quick questions for you, Ben. How did you get started in this business?

Ben: Like I said, I went to Villanova and got a computer science degree.

Marty: There's the Villanova thing again.

Ben: Yeah, it's always going to be there, and my dog's name is Nova. I mean, come on. I live and breathe it. Yeah, so went to Villanova, got a computer science degree. And while I was actually in the senior year of my bachelor's degree, somebody in my fraternity graduated earlier than I did and he went back to his business. He was like, Hey, you know tech. Could you create a website?

And I ended up staying for my master's degree, and I did a site for him and a site for a DJ company I used to work for in New York. And those two kick-started like, Hey, I could actually make money doing this. And it was probably a couple hundred dollars that I charged them back then and the sites probably looked very mediocre relative to what anybody would expect now. But that was a passion for me. [27:57.4]

I mean, honestly, the foray into it from way before that was AOL profiles. I used to love like making an AOL profile look great and that was the website for each individual. That's how you represented your individual brand to all your friends online.
Anyway, so I had a passion for it all back then. I actually started the business. When I got out of my master's degree, I worked for Lockheed Martin, and I started the business while I was there. I was working four days, 10 hours a day, 40-hour weeks, a Monday through Thursday, and then Friday was working on the business. And then just over that time period hired people that were better than me at all the things I needed to do. I needed design. I needed development. I needed eventually SEO and paid media management, and marketing strategy and social stuff. And all those different pieces combined really became team members that we built a process around and delivered for our clients on, and so it's been awesome.

And, honestly, like the other thing like, too, you hinted at this before, but having partners like you guys for social and others that we work with from time to time, it's just the way that you're able to grow and scale an agency in ways that if people believe in the same things that you do, you can do a lot more for your clients. [29:12.2]

Alongside that, I think the other thing we've done is, you mentioned there, marketing directors, the trust around that and making sure how important that is. But we are very big into let's just accomplish their goals. If this company comes to us, we work with them and we work with them for three years, and eventually they hire an agency inside. They build an agency inside their company. But we've taught them how to do what we do and got them there.

That's a huge success for us. We've done that with two companies already in the last four years. It's hard because then they're like, Guess what, guys? We don't need you anymore. But at the same time, it's like, man, we really grew this seed into something that's an amazing plant that's producing, and that's kind of cool to watch. [29:57.7]

Yeah, it's been 15 years now. It’s in 2001, I was starting to build stuff for friends and family. Incorporated in 2005, and 15 years later, here we are.

Marty: Cool. Yeah, it's always interesting. I know we do the same thing. I mean, our whole business plan initially was we thought 10 years ago we would be building social media plans and creating long-term client-type calendars, and since it was growing so fast at the time that we would be turning all that over. So, we wrote our initial business plan as the majority of these engagements would be six to eight months, year, 18 months at the absolute max, where we were then training people to do what we knew.

And we were very wrong where we then started doing all the work, and they kept us on and kept us on and kept us on, and they never hired somebody full time. But then, as those other things have come on where we've done the same exact thing, they've been actually some of the more fun engagements that we've been on, where we're just an add-on to their team. And from a group standpoint and the entire company, I think we all enjoy those a lot because you get to see it grow really fast. And it's fun that way. [31:10.7]

The last quick one here. We'll get into something else. What drives you nuts about this industry that you're in?

Ben: We talked about it a little bit, but it's the trust. There's a lot of fake it till you make it. There's a lot of freelancers that say they can do more than they truly can and then that creates a lot of distrust in the people that they've worked with in the past. And so, it's created this kind of, call it marketing directors, CMOs not really knowing what it should cost, not being open about what it is that they're trying to accomplish for how much they have to spend. And that's hard.

I mean, we're forced to literally demonstrate ourselves and show ourselves, and prove that we're being honest. I’ve met a sea of people that maybe don't trust everything that we were saying. Granted, there's ways that we use. We practice what we preach and use our own tools for reviews, and making sure that we're showing the testimonials and things of how awesome we are in 15 years of business, and highlighting our team and all those different things, which is great. [32:08.0]

But in terms of the thing about the industry that I hate, it's not like selling a widget where you can see the widget, touch the widget, feel it, know how much it costs, shop it against other things. There is no, call it, marketplace to understand exactly what it should cost you to build a marketing campaign and so on.

But in the same token, that's also what separates us, because then as soon as we start doing a great job, which is usually really quickly, we're able to build up the relationship with that company. And I mentioned one of the companies that we work with and they've brought us into four of their acquisition partners that they brought on board, and that continues to do an amazing job.

When they're shopping for somebody else, maybe that acquisition partner that they’ve brought on has a CEO that wants to work with somebody else. Our clients are like, That doesn't make any sense. Why would we test it out again? We already know this works. So, yeah, top of mind right there, but that is definitely one of the hardest things in the industry. [33:03.2]

Marty: Yeah. No, I think doing these interviews and talking to people I've worked with for many years and trust, and are friends of mine, I hear the same thing. I think all the people that I’ve brought on fight against that every day because of, like you said, the trust factor.

And I'm not knocking people that could just get started. I mean, we were both there, right? At some point, you just kind of jump in and you make your mistakes. But it's not so much that. It's just the outright…I don't want to call it lying. It's not really they're lying. They just don't know any better of how difficult running complex, say, Facebook paid ads can be when you have a $100,000 a month in ad spend, and you're trying to make it work and you're utilizing a whole bunch of other things. And it creates a little bit of distrust when people say they can do something and they can't for sure. So, it'd be remiss if I didn't talk about it and it's one of the reasons I've been bringing all these people on, talking about marketing in their businesses. [34:02.5]

We're in the middle of this, hopefully at the end of it now. I keep saying in the middle. But we're at the end of this little pandemic here. I'm sitting here in June 2020. What impact has it had on your business? And when do you kind of see the positive and the negative changes coming out of it?

Ben: I mean, there's definitely a ton more negative right now for most businesses, obviously in terms of just the full market, specifically for us in digital marketing. I mean, any changes in the market really forced people into marketing. In other words, if there's a lot of businesses going out of business, then other people are trying to take that market share and compete with it. But also, the biggest one that I see in terms of opportunities is just the innovation.

We have a client that came to us that sells a cleaning product, and they normally sell a cleaning product to businesses that are open and able to clean their facilities like in our marker or a big company like that. And they can't. Those companies are not open and operational. So, they innovated recently to basically build a training business around how to train office space to be appropriate for when people come back to work. [35:11.9]

And that's one of a couple of different innovations that have come to us and said, Hey, we need to do something. Our business is to innovate. But it's a great example of like, That's what's happening now. It’s that people are seeing new opportunities. Mask sales are through the roof. Who would ever start a mask business ever before? It'd be pointless, right? So, things change. Because of that change, there's opportunity. That opportunity presents opportunities for us to help accommodate in the marketplace.

At the same time, there has been the restaurant industry that's forced to shut down and some hospitality that's taken a huge hit, so there's a lot of negative there as much as there has been positive, too, probably even more so, like I said. But, yeah, we're seeing the opportunity to grow in that role, so big into market around these turns. [36:01.4]

The analogy that I heard once is like something like this is almost like you have to make a sharp turn and you want to be able to accelerate out of the turn. So, how do you properly slow down your marketing so that you can accelerate it at the right time? And so, in some cases we're telling people to spend more in different positions and spend less in other positions, but make sure that you're ready to be there when all this comes back at a faster pace, and we're even doing that with ourselves.

So, actually, I'm pretty bullish on where we are right now, what we can be doing. But at the same time, I'm not unrealistic to say that this is going to have some major impact that nobody can predict.

Marty: Yeah. No, I think it's been interesting. I think actually last week, or it was around Memorial Day, and I was like, All right, let me talk to a couple people and just in business in general, and we were all chatting about it and everyone thinks like, Hey, I thought things were moving fast before. I think it's going to get faster in terms of digital. And they're not in marketing, but they are executives and high level managers at large companies that were like, We have some problems in terms of sales and delivery that we have to address through digital means. So, it has been interesting, for sure. [37:12.4]
Before we get in and close this thing out, the next question is where's the best place that you've ever traveled to?

Ben: Before we had kids, it was probably 2009, my wife and I went to South Africa.

Marty: Cool.

Ben: Man, it was awesome. We only did two weeks. I think my brother was there for six weeks. He was there for a week and he called me and he said, “Book a flight. Bring Kelly.” And he was like, It's just amazing here. He was in Cape Town, so we actually stayed in Cape Town for a week, and then we did a safari for a week, Lion Sands Resort. It was amazing.

Cape Town by itself is just beautiful. There are places to go out and all that stuff. But just in terms of being there and the beach cool air, but still a nice warm—obviously it's Africa—but cool fresh air off the ocean was amazing. And then, the safari and seeing animals, and literally being in a car with a lion walking around you is just insane. [38:11.0]

Both my wife and I are big kind of nature enthusiasts and love the planet earth type stuff, so we were just like little kids. And, of course, spending time with my brother and his girlfriend at the time, and we kind of did a double date for that whole one-week time period while we were on the safari. It was awesome.

Marty: That sounds awesome. Yeah, so bringing these people on, my whole focus here is to bring people on that can help you, and these give you ideas if you're looking for an agency. And we normally talk and I have a bunch of these interviews coming out with brewers and some golfers, and we talk more about the beer and golf part, not so much just droning on about marketing.

But I know you drink beer, Ben. We've had a few from time to time. I think you like the really high-octane ones, but I won't mention that incident. It wasn't really an incident. It was just a very interesting thing. But if you had to pick a beer, what would you choose? [39:05.6]

Ben: Just a beer? Like I'm only allowed to have one?

Marty: No, I mean one style, like whatever.

Ben: Somebody recently told me that that’s not okay if there’s somebody with one beer.

Marty: Yeah, so we’ll elaborate on that real quick. If Ben brought me one beer out of the clubhouse when we played golf the last time and he just brought one, almost like, Dude, I don't think anyone's coming out of the clubhouse and just handing me one beer for nine holes. But, anyway, no, just one style, one thing, that kind of stands out recently or that you like to drink regularly?

Ben: All right. Nobody can get to this with only one, but I don't think anyway. I would say, my favorite beer I ever had that was the purest, truest, most amazing-tasting, loved it, “Wow, I can't believe this. I should have this every time” was a Heady Topper by Alchemist and that's just amazing.

But, recently, I was on a ski trip with a bunch of buddies and we were out in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we had Breckenridge’s Amber Ale. Oh man, that was so, so good. I just don't know if it was so good because we had it at lunchtime. I was with a group of guys and we were skiing, and it was cold and cold beer, but - [40:12.2]

Marty: No, that’s good.

Ben: - it was really good.

Marty: I've never had it, but, no, I've had a Miller High Life at the end of a day and I was like, Man, this is the best beer I've ever had. And I think that's one of the unique things about beer. I've talked to wine people about that, like to say, Oh, the best glass of wine, and then they'll say, I don't even know if it was the best wine, but I was sitting here and I was doing this. It was just a unique thing and I always buy that brand or from that vineyard or whatever. So, it is interesting because you have to take everything into account there. But you have one that's local to you. It's just Warwick, right, that just opened, Warwick Farm?

Ben: I haven't had that.

Marty: I've finally got some even during this time and it's really good. You should swing by and pick up some. And then, I know you golf. We've already said that. What kind of got you into golf? [40:59.5]

Ben: Man, honestly, I really do think it was just business in general. My father-in-law played. He had a big attitude towards it like, You do business on a golf course. You're going to have to learn how to play. But I was like, Yeah, I don't know. We'll see. And I went out and played, and I showed up in cargo shorts and he was like, No, this isn't how you do it. Before that I had played pitching probably in Brooklyn because that's where I grew up and we didn't have much really great golf courses that most of the kids were on. So, before that, it was only small, 100-yard shots here and there.

But, no, more than that, it was just business and business partners like yourself where we're able to go out and spend time on the course. And then as I do that, I just love being outside and being with friends. Getting into those deep conversations and being outside like that to me has made me like it more. The game sucks. It's impossible. Nobody's good at it. I don't understand why anybody plays. But that's why I play. Because it's so challenging. [42:01.8]

Marty: Exactly.

Ben: And there are these little glimmers of hope that you get every so often where you're like, Oh man, that shot was amazing. I can do this.

Marty: Yeah, I've always said…I mean, I've been playing since I was 12 and it doesn't look like that at all. But at the same time, what I find is it's like a metaphor for life. It’s the whole 18 holes. It really is. It's just like you have a challenging thing. You’ve got to get through it. And then you're like, Is the world going to end? And then you're like, It’s a shot. And you're like, No, the world is not ending. I'm back. Let's go. And then, the next thing you know, you’ve missed three putts and then you're like, What the heck just happened?

But it's like that balance sometimes. I can find it when I'm out on the golf course. I can find like, Oh, I feel good about things and feel good about it, and it's a little therapeutic. And then, like you said, you can do business out there and you can talk about things, and it gets you outside.

Ben: You know what? I agree about that so much about the life analogy and it's really relevant now, too. It’s just that you never play good golf when you think you're not going to play good golf. [43:03.4]

You have to be confident and you have to not be afraid of hitting the ball the way you can hit it. Yeah, sometimes you need to slow your swing down and slow down and do it right. But I think relevant now is nothing good comes out of acting in fear, so if you're afraid of the ball and afraid of your swing, you're never going to hit it good. And that for me is the biggest metaphor for life and in business, too. It's just you can't be afraid. You have to flex when you need to flex and approach those big challenging shots, just like you would anything else.

Marty: Yeah, and the last thing I'll say about that, because that's interesting you bring it up is people are like, It's not physically demanding. What are you going to go play golf? And I was like, Exactly what you just said. Your brain and your mental part have to control your body, so that you can make the shot. And if you don't think that's physical, then you're just too afraid to actually go out on a golf course and try that. [43:56.0]

Yeah, we're not sitting there running 26 miles or you're not sitting there hitting people like in a football game, but the mental and the physical part, if you're not paying attention, you can't really hit the ball. If you're tired, you're going to do the other things that you're physically there. So, both sides of it come into play and it has always been fascinating to me.
So, Ben, where can people find you online?

Ben: Creative MMS. Creative, M as in Mary, M as in Mary, S as in Sam, [dot] com is our website. You can email me at Ben@CreativeMMS.com and, yeah, that's probably the best way to get in touch with me. Of course, can find me on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and all those wonderful things, but if anybody wants to get in touch, send me an email or find out more about the business. Those are the best ways. It’s Creative MMS, M as in Mary, M as in Mary, S as in Sam, [dot] com.

Marty: All right, thanks, man. I appreciate it. And as I said, everybody that I'm bringing on, these are just people I've worked with in the past that I trust, and they’re people that you can go to and look at if you need, whatever it is that they're industry-savvy on. [44:58.4]

And most of them know a lot of things about marketing and how it all ties together, and then super important because I know a lot of you listening are going to be looking at where the next step is in your business.

And after this one, we get back to some fun things. We've got some brewers coming on and we’ve got some golf professionals coming on, and we'll get into a little bit more lighthearted and not drone on with this technical marketing stuff. But I look forward to speaking with you on the next episode and listening, and doing all the fun things that you do online. Till then, stay safe, and we'll see you soon. [45:28.5]

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