The Virtual CMO

Understanding Target Audience and Driving User Engagement with Jason Sherman

May 10, 2021 Eric Dickmann, Jason Sherman Season 5 Episode 1
The Virtual CMO
Understanding Target Audience and Driving User Engagement with Jason Sherman
Show Notes Transcript

In episode 67, host Eric Dickmann interviews Jason Sherman. Jason is a successful entrepreneur, award-winning filmmaker, published author, tech startup expert, and journalist. He has been featured by several media outlets including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Verge, and ABC News. Jason is fluent in Spanish, is a classically trained violinist, and was a featured speaker on FOX’s Futurist TV Show: Xploration Earth 2050.

Jason runs a web and mobile dev shop and film studio from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He gives guest lectures at area universities, and regularly supports hackathons or tech events as a mentor and judge. His methodologies on entrepreneurship and data-driven decisions are his main source of education to those he helps all around the world.  His startup book Strap on your Boots is the culmination of his life’s work to help other entrepreneurs succeed and is the focus of a class he created called Startup Essentials. He originally taught the course as a guest lecturer at area universities, including the Wharton School of Business and now the course is available online for students on Udemy.

For show notes and a  list of resources mentioned in this episode, please visit: https://fiveechelon.com/understanding-target-audience-user-engagement-s5e1/

A fractional CMO can help build out a comprehensive marketing strategy and execute targeted campaigns designed to increase awareness and generate demand for your business...without the expense of a full-time hire.

The Five Echelon Group - Fractional CMO and strategic marketing advisory services designed for SMBs looking to grow. Learn more at: 

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Eric Dickmann:

Welcome to The Virtual CMO podcast. I'm your host, Eric Dickmann. In this podcast, we have conversations with marketing professionals who share the strategies, tactics, and mindset you can use to improve the effectiveness of your marketing activities and grow your business. Hey Jason, welcome to The Virtual CMO Podcast. I'm so glad you could join us today.

Jason Sherman:

Awesome dude. I appreciate it. And thanks for having me. This is awesome.

Eric Dickmann:

I'm excited about today's discussion. Although I will tell you I'm feeling a little bit guilty. I lived down here in Orlando, Florida. I'm looking out my window. The blossoms of the tree are falling and clogging up my swimming pool, which I'm really, you know, a little bit annoyed about. And yet I'm watching the news and millions of people are without power, there's this blizzard crossing. So I just thought I'd throw that out there.

Jason Sherman:

So remind me, there's a foot of snow out there in ice. I actually fell down the stairs the other day

Eric Dickmann:

Oh, no.

Jason Sherman:

walking my dog, and we're supposed to get hit with more snow. So let's just forget about that for now.

Eric Dickmann:

Oh, jeez, what a pain. Yeah, it's a crazy year. Anybody who thought 2021 was just going to like, you know go smoothly, really add some bad expectations in place.

Jason Sherman:

2020 was the trailer for the movie.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah, I think that's exactly right. Hey, Jason, as we get going today, I'd love it. If you could just give a quick, a bit of background about yourself for the audience and tell them a little bit about what you do and your podcast as well.

Jason Sherman:

Sure, I kind of dabble in a lot of different industries over the past say 20 years. I tried my hand that technology film, writing music, and I ended up you know, entangling all of them and working with all of them together. And I found that they are really all the industry's kind of tie in together. So what I ended up doing was working in all of them at the same time. And so what I do now is I work in technology and film and writing and sometimes music, but mostly content, man you know, content distribution, content creation, because that's where we're at with the pandemic is putting out as much content as possible to help people since we can no longer go in person to these different places to help people. So. I help people build mobile apps and websites. And I'm working on a documentary right now and I have my podcast and my book and my course, and I just finished my audio book, which just went live on ACX Audible. So I'm waiting for that to be actually live. They posted it on like the European channels, but not America for some reason. So any day now it'll be live. So yeah, I have a podcast called Strap On Your Boots, the book is also called Strap On Your Boots. The course is called Startup Essentials and that's on Udemy, and then the YouTube channel is also called Startup Essential. So I have kind of a nice package there to help people succeed in startups or running a business.

Eric Dickmann:

It's a lot of balls in the air at once. And it is certainly is an exciting time to be a content creator. And I think it's interesting that you have filmmaking as a background because, you know, I'm surprised at the quality of content, you know, that kids are posting on TikTok or Instagram or wherever it may be. You know, it used to be that you had to have a lot of professional gear, professional apps to be able to do this, and now the tools that most people are just carrying around in their pocket give you the ability to create some pretty engaging content. Do you find that it's at the level up your game as well?

Jason Sherman:

You know it's, that's a great question. And I gotta be honest with you it's blown me away how there's been this paradigm shift from, you know, DSLRs and expensive movie cameras that you had to have in order to be a filmmaker. Like one of my first movies I had to use these expensive, bulky, you know, thousands of dollars cameras and microphones and all sorts of equipment, and all these different things. And now, like you said, you can use an iPhone and shoot high quality movies that are being shown in film festivals. My current documentary, a lot of it, I shot with my iPhone, with lenses on it. So, you know, I believe what's happened is what was once meant for Hollywood and for high budget productions, and it was kind of an elite group of people that were allowed to make these movies and be considered professional and be considered artists are now being used by independent filmmakers. And now you're seeing a lot more content out there that's really well done with really good stories that don't follow the franchises and the tent pole movies that were you know, so commonly used by Hollywood to generate income. Now it's like, Oh, well now I can make, I can write a screenplay with a very simple script, two characters, one location use some smartphones or some, you know, DSLRs as well and shoot some really good content and still get distribution on Netflix and Amazon, because it's really well done. So, yeah, I mean, technology's incredible, man. The things you can do with smartphones nowadays is mind boggling.

Eric Dickmann:

I get comments all the time. People will say what you shot that on your iPhone. You know, it's just amazing the quality and you know it's only gonna get better over time. I think we're in this era where everybody can be a content creator of some type, but it doesn't change the basics, right? You still have to tell a story. And one of the things that I really wanted to get in with you today is really talking about companies, whether they're startup companies, whether they're just young companies or maybe existing companies that really have not taken that step to sort of build out their marketing program and take those early stages to building audience engagement. And I know your podcast and a lot of your work is focused on startups. So this is front and center for nearly every single one of them. But when you start to meet with companies and have these discussions about marketing, what do you see are some common pitfalls or problems that these companies are running into, in terms of launching their marketing programs and beginning to build that engagement with an audience?

Jason Sherman:

The number one mistake I find that entrepreneurs always, they fall into the trap is not defining a target market. They always seem to think that their market is everybody, it's just the way it is. They always they, you know, they have this pipe dream where they have $1 billion app or $1 billion product or $1 billion idea, and they don't seem to realize that's just not true. It's one in a billion that become unicorns. They they see the news where companies get funding $100 million in funding and exiting, and getting bought by Facebook and they think, Oh, well, I can do that. But they don't see the other 50,000 companies that failed and were not able to raise any money. So the number one thing is you have to find out who your actual customer is, your demographic, what's the age range, what are their genders? What are their religions even, what are they doing on the internet? What are they buying? What kind of interests do they have? Are they into sports? Are they into movies? Are they into yoga? What is it? You know? So, that's the number one thing they fall into .The second, number one, I'm sorry, number two mistake they make is, but it's still number one to me because it's the same thing, it's validating your product validating your platform. So, you know, finding your market has to do with validating, because if you can find your market and that's why you want to. They kind of go hand in hand, although validating your concept goes first, but let's say you have a platform and you're trying to figure out who likes it. While you're doing it, you're killing two birds with one stone. What you're doing is you're finding out who likes it and then you're finding out what they like about it, and you're cutting out all the fat. So like, if you think that your 20 features are going to be the best thing ever, and then you find your market, say it's 25 to 35 year olds in New York City, and that's what you figured out. Okay. Well then get 500 of those people and start asking them what of these 20 features do you want to use in my platform? You don't like these 15, I'm going to cut them out and I'm going to focus on these five. Okay. Now let's get down to these five. What about these five? Do you like, let's ask you some questions. You know, how much would you pay for one of these features? You know, what other features do you think I can do to make these five better, you know, ask the market what it is they want and then build what they want, not what you think is right. So that's the, that's another another big one.

Eric Dickmann:

No, I think that's so good that, you know, the first point you mentioned, I sometimes call it a founder FOMO, right? It's that fear of missing out by founders, that they think that any business is good business, and if they get too narrow, well, then they're just missing, huge market potential. But they don't really understand that if they can be successful in a very narrow niche, and then start to build from there, that's a far more efficient way to go, especially when you're talking about marketing and the amount of money that it costs to sort of put your brand out there. It's much easier to go after a very targeted a niche than it is to blanket the whole market.

Jason Sherman:

And that's actually the third point. The third mistake is they don't do enough AB testing and they don't do enough small marketing. So one of the things I tell people when they, and I've had this happen many times. Entrepreneurs come to me, they say, I'm going to spend $10,000 on this influencer, or I'm going to spend $10,000 on this, you know, this ad agency or whatever it is, right? And I say that's the wrong move, right? Because what's going to happen is you might get an initial bump, but it's going to fall off. The turn rate is going to be horrible. So instead take that 10,000 hours, take out 500 of it, just 500 of it, right? and do 10 different ads for 50 bucks. And figure out which one of those and, you know, do different landing pages, do AB testing through different Facebook ads, do some Instagram ads, 50 bucks per ad, do 10 of them and figure out which one of them did the best. And that's the one you can now double down on, put 1000 bucks on that and then see that one just take off. And now you spend 1500 bucks instead of 10,000 and you have actionable results, versus the $10,000 you spend and you get maybe an uptick one day and then it falls off. And it happens every time it's never failed.

Eric Dickmann:

I think that's very interesting. I just finished an episode where we were talking about building out your marketing budget. And one of the things that I've seen with many companies is that their marketing plan is actually their marketing budget. You know, they work off a spreadsheet and they work off the dollar figures that are allocated to each particular bucket. And one of the dangers that I see there is that it's very easy to get into this rinse and repeat mode, right? Oh, we did that last quarter so we're going to do it again this quarter. Okay, spend another $5,000 on ad-words, okay, great. But what's missing there is all the experimentation. Have you tried something else to see if you get better results from that? Have you modified your programs? And many times they don't, they just get into the cycle of repeating the same things oftentimes year to year.

Jason Sherman:

Plus you have to look at trending topics, you have to look at the market and how it changes. What might be hot six months ago might be completely dead today. So just dumping more money into the same campaigns doesn't make any sense, you know? I've seen it happen a million times. They say, Oh, we're just gonna keep dumped. Like you said, Google ad words is a culprit. They keep dumping it in there, but maybe now it's like, well, Valentine's day just passed, why not do a Valentine's marketing thing? or you know, if there's wildfires or something and you want to save the koalas, do something for that. Or you know, always look at the trending topics and what's in the news and see how you can kind of get in there and navigate through it and use it to your advantage.

Eric Dickmann:

You know, speaking of which this just came across my radar the other day, maybe you already know about it, but have you seen the website ask the public

Jason Sherman:

I've heard of it, but I haven't looked into it yet, but I, people have been talking about it.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah, it's really interesting. So you basically just post a question on a specific topic area and it will show you all the permutations of different questions that people are asking on that topic. It doesn't necessarily give you sort of keywords statistics and say this is the most popular or not, but it gives you some ideas. I couldn't believe what a valuable resource it could be when you're writing blog articles or pushing out content to be able to see what are the questions that people are asking or around a certain topic. So you're absolutely right, especially if you get stuck in these routines where you're doing the same thing all the time, and oftentimes what that is it's just talking about your product, right? It's not talking about how it's adding value, how it's solving a problem. It's just talking about what it does.

Jason Sherman:

In any startup or any business iteration is key. If you don't iterate, you die. And people don't understand that they think that they don't have to, a lot of entrepreneurs think they're above that. Like they don't need to follow the steps. I've been told that I don't need to follow the steps, I can skip all this, I can just go right to the thing. And I'm like, the steps are there for a reason, you know, when you go up the stairs, You know, you have to go up each step, you can't skip them. You know, so people just don't, they don't want it there, they know everything, right? They know it all. So that's just how.

Eric Dickmann:

So, you know, when you're a new brand, when you're on unknown commodity out there in the marketplace, and you really want to start generating interest, not only in your brand, but in the products and services underneath that brand, you know? You need to build trust, you need to build awareness, so, what are the, some of the steps that you really encourage companies who might not have a huge marketing budget, but need to start that process of engaging with their target audience about their brand? What are some things that you recommend that they do?

Jason Sherman:

I can give you a couple just off the top of my head that I think are very important instead of giving a long list. I think the most important one would be engaging with your customer, which is tough during the pandemic, but still, you can talk to people who let's say, for example, you're inventing a new bicycle helmet and you want to save lives because, first of all, bicycle helmets are clunky and you want to build one that's strong, but foldable, okay. I had a friend of mine who was building one like that. Well, she would go to bicycle people who rode bicycles and ask them questions about their helmets and you know, how could I improve it? So boots on the ground, get out there and start talking to people about your product, because you don't have to spend any money to do that. You can just talk to people about your website or your product just by asking questions, so definitely reach out to people. The second thing, and probably the most important thing is to become an expert in your industry or in the market that you're in. So if you're building some website or a mobile app, that does a certain thing, become an expert in that learn the history of that concept or the history of that industry. Read the data and the statistics over the past 10 years of that industry or market. So becoming an expert in something means really learning the ins and outs of it. So that say an investor asks you a question about this industry or this market, you can just spit out numbers really quickly because you know them all. So not only knowing the industry and the market and the data's statistics is important, but it'll help you learn how to not only craft a better story. So when you're building your website, you'll know like, well, I know what worked in the past and what didn't work in the past. So that use it to your advantage, learn from people's mistakes, right? And I'd say the third thing you can do to really bolster your brand in the beginning without spending any money is building a simple website with a WordPress blog and creating content that people can learn from. A lot of people who create blog posts and other content on medium or whatnot, they always fall into a trap of talking about their company or their product in the articles every single time. Like for example, maybe someone's building a website to help construction workers, and they start talking about well, if you look at this construction site, our company would fix this problem because blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. That's not the way to do it; because a blog post is not a news article. A blog post is an informational piece, which means you need to give people information they can learn from. And what happens when they learn from your articles, because you're an expert in this topic now is there going to subscribe to you and follow you and probably download your app because, Hey, I just learned something new that I didn't know today and Google wasn't serving it to me because that's static content. This is a new post it's dynamic, it's changing and I'm learning something. So, the audience will follow if they're learning from you, it's just like any other, say you watch a show on TV and you learn something from it, you're going to add it to your list and want to watch the rest of the episodes. Same thing. So I'd say that's probably. But all three of them are big, to be honest with you.

Eric Dickmann:

I think that's such an important point that you made because I see that same mistake happening all the time as well, is that companies want to sell, and so they're always inserting those sales messages or information about the company within a blog post without getting into all the technicalities. You know one of the things that you really want to do is you want to get backlinks. You want to get people who will reference that article, that'll increase the authority of your website and help you drive more organic traffic. But nobody's going to link to a sales page that just is not going to be something that they do. And I had somebody reach out to me the other day, wanting me to a link to one of their pages on their website, and I looked at it and it was just a sales page for their product. I'm not linking to that, there's no value add. If you deliver value, you don't have to be afraid of not asking for a sale. And I think I see this all the time with website design as well, especially in some pretty simplistic websites is all over that front page, they will have contact us, you know, buy now, subscribe, you know, all these calls to action, which you haven't really done anything yet. You haven't given them anything of value, and all of a sudden you're wanting this potential customer to take an immediate action that's to your benefit. You've got to get in this mindset of what benefit can I offer my potential customer before you start seeking benefit from them?

Jason Sherman:

Absolutely. I agree 100%.

Eric Dickmann:

Yeah, this is just a common topic. And, you know, we harp on this all the time on this podcast, but it's amazing how many times people stumble on this. And I also love the idea of, you know, on TV, I think CNBC, they've got this show called Undercover Boss, where the boss goes undercover to see what's really going on in the company. And you sorta talked about, you know, having people look at your product or service and give some feedback, and I think that's so important, especially for young companies because you can get so blinded by all the work and effort that you're putting into the product and be so excited about little things that may be meaningful to you, but might not be meaningful at all to the ultimate end user. You have to sort of give it to people, let them play around with it, and see if the things that are meaningful to you are also meaningful to them.

Jason Sherman:

Absolutely. It's so important. And I think that goes back to the point of iteration. A lot of these big companies and the number one question investors will ask a startup is, well, why can't Facebook or why can't Google just build the same product you just built and crush you? And you know, Mr. Wonderful on shark tanks always says the same thing. Why can't I just crush you like the cockroach that you are? Well, it's simple. We're nimble, we can iterate. These big companies, they can't change quickly. They have like levels of administration and managers, and you know, CEOs and they gotta make decisions through like multiple departments. The advantage that entrepreneurs should take, they should be able to do this is take the feedback you get and iterate quickly, make those changes quickly. Don't be so enamored with your product, like you said, people love their product. Don't love your product that much, be passionate about it. There's a big difference between being passionate about the goal that you're trying to reach, you know if you're trying to change the world in some way, or if you have a vision for what your product can do and society. Those things are great, you should definitely tackle that. But when it comes to the actual product, do not love your product you know. Just be prepared to change it as often as possible, tweak it as much as you can based on the feedback you're getting from the people who are using it because ultimately, they're the ones who matter, not you. You're just the vessel, you know? You're taking in their feedback and you're pushing it out for them.

Eric Dickmann:

It's so true. And especially because many products out in the marketplace truly don't have the differentiators that I think many of their managers, their founders think they do. They may have come up with something interesting or a different spin on it, but we say it all the time on the show, there are very few truly revolutionary products out there. You know over the past couple of weeks, all I hear about is Clubhouse. Everybody's talking about Clubhouse, about getting on Clubhouse, and doing it. And it's a pretty cool app, it's fun to get on there, and chat with people from all over the world about various topics. But one of the things that I've been reading lately is Facebook has certainly taken notice. They've got their guns pointed directly at Clubhouse, and now they've got some skunkworks projects internally to build out a Clubhouse competitor. And if you think about that app, what ultimately is so unique about it? What are they doing that is truly revolutionary? It's audio chat rooms, right? And if you look at somebody like Facebook, they've already got the customer base. They've already got their group meeting capabilities within Messenger. It wouldn't be that hard for somebody like that to come along and completely replicate what these guys have been so successful founding.

Jason Sherman:

There's a fatal flaw in that though, Facebook has tried many times to replicate a successful. Look, they offered three point something billion dollars to Snapchat. And Evan Spiegel turned it down. What did they do after that? They tried to build a Snapchat and then they shut it down because nobody wanted to use it, you know. They tried to build a, there was a TikTok, right? They built a TikTok clone, and nobody wanted to use it, and Facebook has done this. If you look at their history, they've done this how many times? I maybe five times they've built these major, so they bought WhatsApp and they bought Instagram. Because they were like, well, we can't keep building these platforms. And I think that's another thing that people should look at when they're building a platform. Sure, Clubhouse is not unique, there's a million other audio chat platforms out there, and this has been going on for years, these different you know, chat roulettes and things like that. So it's and even airtime was huge for a little while there, but it just never took off, you know? It just never, you know, Sean Parker, it just never took off. I was part of that beta. And what you'll find is the big behemoth companies, the unicorns, the Facebooks, Googles, and all these big companies, they seem to never come out with their own ideas. I almost feel like, and I might be, I'm criticized for saying this one day, but the big companies seem to be one hit wonders to me. They came out with one idea in the early two thousands that became billion dollar companies and you never see them come out with something new. They're just always copying and trying to replicate what's already out there. And I think that it's something to be said about what you mentioned earlier about not enough unique companies coming out, not enough unique platforms coming out. Because to create something revolutionary, you have to really dig deep in the market and find a gap. What is a real pain point that we're facing? You know, for example, you know, I've been working with this company called ScPricme that is helping cloud storage, right? And the reason why I think they're revolutionary is because Amazon has outages. Amazon is expensive, Google cloud is expensive, Microsoft is expensive. All these big companies are expensive and they're also not safe. So when you see Game of Thrones getting hacked, right? HBO's scripts getting hacked, and like all these hospitals getting hacked or data is being leaked, universities being held ransom for their information and whatnot. That's where a company like ScPrime comes in and says, well, it's decentralized or distributed storage, so you can't get hacked, right? So that's a pain point. That's a, that's an example of a pain point in the market. So if you're an entrepreneur and you're coming up with an idea, you need to identify a pain point in the market. Maybe something that you yourself are facing like everyday, like this keeps happening to me, there's no app or product that's going to solve this problem. That's what you should build, right? But before you build it, do your research. Make sure there's not something already out there, make sure that what you're building is possible, make sure that you know, people need what it is. You're like find out who else has the pain point. And I think that's a great point is what you said. It's very far and few between to find a revolutionary products say like the iPhone, you know? It's very difficult to find something like that, so you have to really dig deep.

Eric Dickmann:

Hey, it's Eric here and we'll be right back to the podcast. But first, are you ready to grow, scale, and take your marketing to the next level? If so, The Five Echelon Group's Virtual CMO consulting service may be a great fit for you. We can help build a strategic marketing plan for your business and manage its execution, step-by-step. We'll focus on areas like how to attract more leads. How to create compelling messaging that resonates with your ideal customers. How to strategically package and position your products and services. How to increase lead conversion, improve your margins, and scale your business. To find out more about our consulting offerings and schedule a consultation, go to fiveechelon.com and click on Services. Now back to the podcast. Well, and I think they, you know, I just add to your points there, when you talk about people copying functionality or coming out with a product that basically does something similar, it sort of makes our point that it's not really the features that matter. There's a lot of other things that are in play. There's, you know, there's the mojo, there's the coolness factor, there's the user interface there's perceived exclusivity or being associated with a certain brand. You know in the case of this Clubhouse launched, you know they're doing a private beta if you will, where you have to sort of be invited to join the platform, it's not available to grandma, you know? You have to be able to get that invitation, and they're slowly building word of mouth and momentum and yeah, maybe somebody like a Facebook can come along and duplicate that functionality, but maybe because of their brand image or because of the user interface or how it's rolled out, it'll just never have the cachet that something else does. So it's a great argument in favor of features don't win the day, there's a lot of other things to your marketing that have to come into play. And I think understanding customers' perceptions of your product is just as important to the reality of the product.

Jason Sherman:

Yeah, that's a great point. Is the image factor, right? Facebook has been targeted with privacy concerns for God knows how long now. I mean, there've been documentaries about how our privacy, our data, we are the product now, we're being sold to companies. So people don't really, people delete Facebook, people delete Messenger, people delete WhatsApp. They don't really want to use another Facebook product, so they can keep building all the copies they want and they're just not going to get any customers. And when you have people like Elon Musk tweeting about Clubhouse, obviously everyone now is it's on their radar, right? What's Clubhouse? I need to figure out what Clubhouse is, because Elon Musk is tweeting about it and other celebrities, When you have a celebrity on board with your product, that's all the marketing you need. You don't have to pay for anything. You have 50 million Twitter followers or whatever, seeing your tweet that's, that's amazing. You know, any company, any startup who gets a tweet like that won the lottery.

Eric Dickmann:

Oh for sure, yeah. Being able to have influence that way and be able to draw people in, you know, talking about a coolness factor or a place you want to be, obviously that goes a long way to you know, making that a reality. But it's a double-edged sword too, right? Look at what happened to Jeep and the Bruce Springsteen incident at the Superbowl, right? There's dangers to having celebrity endorsement as well.

Jason Sherman:

That's true. We can go either way. I would love to see the server statistics on Clubhouse. Did Elon tweeted about it.

Eric Dickmann:

know. I know.

Jason Sherman:

They must have got hit hard, man.

Eric Dickmann:

Well, it's crazy. You know, that the platform really has been growing and you can see just in the size of the rooms and whatever that it's getting pretty big. So it's an exciting time and, you know, were gradually coming out of COVID here, the economy is set to get a huge infusion of government money, of stimulus money. There are a lot of people that are thinking that you know, the analogy is the roaring twenties, right? That people may come out of this, they're tired of being cooped up in their homes, not taking vacations, business travel, going out to eat, you name it. And I wonder if the same is going to happen in marketing, because a lot of people have pulled back a little bit uncertain of where the economy is going to go, uncertain of what their future is, especially in certain segments. As you look forward to this 2021 and beyond, what are you seeing from your clients and what are you seeing sort of in the startup world in terms of how excited people are to really, again, engage with their marketing activities?

Jason Sherman:

That's a fantastic question. And we're still right in the middle of this, really, so it's hard to really predict what's going to happen. What I've noticed from my end in particular has been a lot of pullback, right? A lot of startups and entrepreneurs have either halted production, they've either stopped building features or they did not begin a project like they were going to start a project and they decided not to. I've found that marketing has shifted a lot instead of a lot of paid a placement. It's more about trying to create content, to get people, to look at what you're doing. A lot of Instagram I've noticed, so people are posting a lot of videos and stories to get people engaged. And at least from my viewpoint, I think a lot of people have pulled away from paid ads, like a lot of people have. It's not worth it unless you have a product. If you have a physical product that you're selling, that has ramped up actually because people have been doing a lot of dropshipping or they've been doing a lot of Amazon FBA, or they've been doing a lot of sales on Etsy or whatnot. So there's some markets that kind of took off, and then others that kind of went down and I think the future is going to be a mix of both. It's going to be eventually right, eventually you're going to have to, you're going to start paying for marketing again, but I think it's going to be a shift. You're going to see a lot of content generation and distribution, and then on some paid ads, and then see how they kind of both work together and enhance. I don't think it's going to be one or the other. I think it's going to be a mix of both. At least that's what I've been doing, I've been doing a mix of both. So I feel like other people are going to be doing the same thing, and getting a celebrity on board is always gonna help.

Eric Dickmann:

Always going to help, right. Well, it's been a great time you know, especially with people cooped up to really focus on some of that content, delivering new things, whether it's writing a blog post or putting together some sort of an asset. Hopefully people have taken advantage of this time, there's still probably a few months left before things really get crazy. But that kind of effort will generate returns in the long run. And I agree with you, I think, you know, advertising has pulled back a little bit, we'll see if it starts to take a spike up because there obviously is pent up demand, it's just whether companies are going to open up the purse strings and allow money to be spent on marketing in the way that maybe it was before.

Jason Sherman:

You know, and to your point about people being cooped up and not being able to take vacations and whatnot, and sure. I think there's going to be a day when everyone's running around the streets naked one of these days, I'm sure that'll happen. But the fact is what I noticed at least on my end, during the pandemic is that people were, so I guess disheartened and depressed, and morose and just, you know, not being able to do their normal stuff that they didn't want to do all the things we just talked about. They didn't want to create content, they didn't want to do a blog post, they didn't want to create a podcast, they didn't want to write a book, you know. They had the desire to do those things, but they didn't have the motivation because they were just so tired and depressed, and I've saw it everywhere. So many people I've found that instead of getting healthy, they got unhealthy. Instead of losing weight, they gain weight. Instead of starting that business, they just fell into a trap of binge-watching, you know, endless amounts of Netflix and I feel like there's, there was a healthy balance that you and I, and a lot of other people followed, which was it's. It's okay to binge watch those shows now because we have a little extra time, but there's also a cutoff period where you need to get up and exercise and need to get up and create a podcast episode. You need to get up and do some research to write a blog post, and you need to keep working and iterating on your product no matter what they are. This was the time to create something, this was the time to update what you already had, this was the time to look through all the things in your businesses that had holes and start patching them up and fixing them. This was the time to maintain everything you had and push it up to the next level. And unfortunately, a lot of people didn't do that and I feel bad for them. But like you said, there's still some time left and it's never too late to do these things. So just tell yourself to get up off the sofa, put down the bag of chips, and create something, anything because when you come out of this whole situation, you'll have created something that people can now enjoy, and you'll feel better knowing that you did something productive.

Eric Dickmann:

I totally agree with that. And I would just add to that, that with so many people in that kind of situation, you have a great opportunity as a marketer to really show empathy towards others who are in similar situations. It's probably not the time to pretend like everything is perfect, because it isn't. But if you can show empathy and people can relate to you as a company, you can build trust and that trust is going to serve you well in the long-term. So, yeah, I think that's a great way to sort of wrap up our conversation today. Jason, I'd love it if you could just kind of repeat a little bit about where people can find your book, where they can find your podcast, and where they can find you online as well.

Jason Sherman:

Absolutely the easiest way to get in touch with me or see my offerings is on my website, which is jasonsherman.org. Right there, front and center, you'll have access to my podcast. Strap On Your Boots with the book of the same name, Strap On Your Boots on Amazon. My course, which I taught at area universities is called Startup Essentials, it's on Udemy. And you can also find that on SkillShare. The YouTube channel is also called Startup Essentials, which has some tutorials as well as my blog. And I'm always available for people to reach out for any kind of pitches or if they need any help with their startup, I'm always available for that as well.

Eric Dickmann:

Jason. That was great. I will make sure that we have all those linked up in the show notes so that people can find you. And I really enjoyed this conversation. I think you've got a fascinating background. I love talking about the things that can be done to help startups and young companies around marketing because you know, this is where a lot of the great ideas in our culture are coming from, from these young companies and you know, we want to do everything we can to make sure that they're successful. So thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it.

Jason Sherman:

Alright appreciate, it was a pleasure. I really enjoyed this, and I think that, like you said, we hit a lot of great topics.

Eric Dickmann:

Thank you for joining us on this episode of The Virtual CMO podcast. For more episodes, go to fiveechelon.com/podcast to subscribe through your podcast player of choice. And if you'd like to develop consistent lead flow and a highly effective marketing strategy, visit fiveechelon.com to learn more about our Virtual CMO consulting services.