Digital Marketing Trainers Playbook

In this podcast Matt and audience favorite Michael Stebbins of OMCP get together and of course, talk training.

The passion to train and help organizations is clear as they share their behind-the-scenes stories as trainers.

Get a few tricks of the trade and hear how trainers can be effective – beyond their material.

Mike turns the tables about midway through and picks Matt’s brain, asking some very specific questions; How to train, what changes is he has made in his training sessions over the years and how he evaluates his audiences.

Get an inside look into the mind of a digital marketing trainer, and how they communicate practical success to audiences and businesses.  


Speaker: Welcome to endless coffee cup, a regular discussion of marketing news, culture and media for our Complex Digital Lifestyle. Join Matt Bailey as he engages in conversation to find insights beyond the latest headlines, and deeper understanding for those involved in marketing. Grab a cup of coffee, have a seat and thanks for joining.  

Matt: Welcome to another edition of the endless coffee cup podcast. And today, I’ve got another returning guest and one of the really kind of popular looking at past episodes, Michael Stebbins is back with us. And Mike’s got a new venture going on. So we’re going to talk a little bit about training. But Mike, I’m going to let you introduce yourself, and your new venture growing twice, because I love the concept.  

Mike: You know, it’s funny, I stole the name from a little holding company that we had for property investments. And I don’t know how happy Karen was about that. But I like the domain name because growing twice might represent the company growing and then growing based on digital marketing. But you know, John Marshall, my business partner from market motive, took a look at it after I’d put it up. And he said, “Mike, it’s, you’re doing a lot of we making it sound like a, you know, a big agency full of people. And I said, “You know, you’re right. And so before I launched and I went back and change it to Michael, the, this is what I’m going to do. This is going to help, the two areas that I help. One of them is and just digital marketing growth or company growth solid come alongside a CEO and the executive team or her executive team and walk through some of the things that I experienced the last three or four companies that helped us grow. But almost always it comes in from a positioning and digital marketing perspective, how to come up with customer driven acquisition, which is a process that I love to take people through, that sets out their calendars and their content. And then the other is usually agencies, but big marketing teams, set competencies, competencies that determine what the training should be, what the tests should be for people to perform at their best, which leads into a lot of what you do, right, and a lot of the training. So there’s a lot of parallels to what we do together.  

Matt: And honestly, so what you’re doing helps me because so many times when I’m brought in for a training, it’s checking a box, that we need to train our team. Very rarely do I have people say will, what will our team learn as a result? And how can we show movement? And it is happening less and less that people are asking that question. And so to come in and say, Hey, I can present you with a pre-test, we can do competencies we can do all these things, “Do you want this?” It really helps add to the experience that I’m not just going to come in and talk and give some best practices, I really want you to succeed. And developing these competencies is a real lack right now in a lot of companies because they can’t define what they want out of the training, much less what they need. And it’s a problem.  

Mike: How to measure it and how to track it back into employee performance and reviews. It’s something that folks struggle with and how do we measure? I mean, for those who might use my services, I’ll save you an hour right now until you listening this podcast. So many times, you know, I’m working with a larger agency and talking to them, and they’re like, “Man, we’re really having trouble getting people through the online training, they won’t finish it,” and of course, typically, I’ll say, Well, you know, bring in Matt Bailey from site logic. And, of course, the other staff who we’ve all worked with, you know, everybody’s got their thing that the rest of the market motive faculty are great resources for that too. But I’ll… 


Mike: typically look at them and say, why don’t you treat people like adults, and give them an exam? And then if they pass the exam, they met the requirement. Therefore, the people who pass it don’t need to go through the training. And the people who don’t pass it, now, training is considered a gift. Right? And I got to say, the wide eyed moments I experienced from agencies, and people with larger marketing staff is a bit disconcerting. That’s news to them, you know, and while training, required training is useful to spur, you know, new approaches to things. I think, if you have competency set and testing levels, then folks are self-motivated to go through it.  

Matt: Yes. Part of that, I think the resistance to it is a risk of exposure, that if I test my team, before training them, and tell them you pass this test, you don’t have to take the training, what happens if 80% of my staff doesn’t pass this test? Who’s that a reflection upon? Is a reflection on me a manager that I haven’t screened, I haven’t hired correctly. So I think there’s a lot of fear there, that it’s easier just to say I‘ve trained them, rather than they’ve tested to this knowledge level. Because it will expose what you’ve got and what areas you’re covering, and what areas are deficient in. Accountability’s tough and selling accountability is difficult.  

Mike: You and I are so used to that being marketers and being accountable for everything we spend. Right that it is a good reminder that not everybody looks for that kind of exposure and accountability. There are some companies who have a policy against ranking any kind of performance. So it’s always a touchy thing when they’re bringing in like, OMCP certification or readiness testing to ease into that, and you know, it’s a private matter between them and their manager, the [inaudible 00:06:59] is fine. But in the end, you know, if you do have an 80% fail rate, then yeah, somebody set the bar too high. You know, or hired low. And it just indicates that if those truly are the competencies that they require for their team, then it is time for a reset. That’s part of where it’s interesting taking this approach, right, is coming in and helping see people set the competence because it’s different than being on the training side, back in the market motive days, you know, we just did really good training, and we would interview hiring managers say, what do you want your people to learn? And we translate that into good training, which you did and the rest of the team put together? But now, it’s a much pure sense, where I’m coming in upfront, and saying, “What is it that you want your people to do? And actually an interesting thing and we’re already off on a weird tangent? A weird thing is we’re so focused on hard skills, you know, from ’07-2016. And when I would ask hiring managers what they wanted in a candidate, they would always speak to soft skills, I want somebody who can communicate well, I want somebody who’s persuasive. I want somebody who works well with the rest of the team. And I keep saying, yeah, those are soft skills. And I brush them aside and say, you know, what hard skills do you want? You know, well, I want somebody who, you know, who is easy to work with and can run with a project. So finally, I just gave up and said, Okay, let’s capture those and soft skills. And there are ways to measure and test soft skills, and much easier and intuitive for, you know, people who have taught digital marketing for years to measure the hard skills. But now it’s a combination. And so wonder if I was working with, for example, they came up with organization, you know, organization is a very important skill as well. I said, I would put that a little bit more in soft skills. And we would measure organization by the absence of customer complaints. Right? Did the candidate attend all meetings as planned at the lowest level? Did they initiate organization tools, and use those to plan events like customer client meetings, were they on time and prepared, but even more so, were their net promoter scores from the client high? And then let’s do an interview with one manager who would endorse them for being organized. So now we have a criteria set for a competency of organized, right. And so that’s set, it’s measurable. And now we can use that as a criteria to move to another role. So that combination has been interesting to set with groups, and then to work backwards. And what’s the required training? How would you train somebody to be more organized? Well, there’s courses for that. Linda, LinkedIn, all kinds of places, Cornerstone, somebody could come in and give a talk on that. And bringing outside training and it’s really fun to do now, the setup from the top down, if you will. 


Mike: What are the requirements? How do we measure that? And then how do we train people who don’t make the requirements? Pretty simple.  

Matt: Yeah. I often refer to it as the Swiss cheese effect. Okay, that as you bring in new people, just like a slice of Swiss cheese, there’s holes. Do you know where all the holes are, because the worst thing that can happen is you start laying all these layers in, and you can see all the way through, which means you’ve got a big gap in skills and competencies that aren’t being addressed. And you don’t even know it. Yeah. And so to come up with a set of requirements and with digital marketing, granted we’re 20 some years into the industry, it’s still young, you know, I look at I’ve got a journalism background. But that prepared me to do this, because of the critical thinking skills, the writing skills, that those I would say, more analytical, but it goes into soft skills, but yet developed hard skills out of it. And you can have people coming into digital marketing from 20 different disciplines. Because we have copywriting, we have ad budgeting, we have all these things. And now, I could be hired because of my background in journalism. But now I’m running a paid search campaign. So I can translate that and maybe some headlines, but I’ve also got a budget. How does anyone know that I need training in that? And honestly, doing paid search at one position and then doing it at a second position at a different company may require completely different sets of skills. And that’s what’s so difficult about pegging the skill set required within a certain organization for certain digital marketing jobs.  

Mike: Yeah, if, for example, one of the groups that I’m working with right now needed a paid search expert. And begrudgingly I’m like, Well, I guess I can help out a little bit in that, but I’d rather help you set competencies, but let’s at least get that set up. Well, the whole exercise there is managing a multimillion dollar budget through an agency that takes people skills, you know, the agency knows what they’re doing. And it’s good enough to have what I would call associate or conceptual level understanding of paid search, to make sure that they’re tracking and up to date. But other than that, the detail and the depth of hard skills belongs to the agency in this case, and the requirements to manage ad agency are making sure that people stay on top of it, you go to a smaller group, and you know, you’re going to do paid search, were you under better understand day parting, you better understand how to manage your bids when to use machine learning, which display campaigns to use negative keywords, all that kind of stuff. So those are, it’s a different set. You know, it’s you mentioned that, and one of your larger clients, which I don’t know if we’re allowed to mention here, so but they came, and they use readiness testing from OMCP, to determine the gaps in those gaps, what they wanted was an industry standard, rather than their own internal standard. But what’s interesting is on the second phase, they had some of their own rules that they use, they said, Okay, well, we use the national standard, you know, for digital marketing, and we saw where the holes were. But now we have some internal competencies who we’re also going to supplement for and that combination worked really well. And I know they brought you in to help build out more custom training.  

Matt: One of the things, and this is probably one of my favorite projects, it’s teaching managers how to manage the agency relationship. And what I’m teaching them is when your agency is presenting the paid search data, which is we were joking about this earlier, pages and pages of bill you’re spending on this, this term went up, this term went down, we spent this much.  

Mike: And if you got any leads, how quickly do people glaze over?  

Matt: Exactly. And I tell them, the whole point of the meeting is to distract you. It’s like a magician. Don’t look at this hand. Look at all these PDFs. And there it is. And you’re left with, you know, are we doing better or worse? And meeting’s done? So when I’m working with them, and is here questions to ask. And then because of the experience, I can tell them know, your agency is either going to say A or B, if they say A, this is the next question. If they say B, this is the next one, you know, and really kind of developing this, this is how they’re going to react if you press them on this. And it’s going to go one of two ways. And so we’re building sort of this. And it’s really a fun project, because they’re coming back to me saying it was exactly like you said it would happen. No one can answer the question. And because I asked them how many, you know, simple question, how many ad groups are we running? Oh, I’ll want to get 


Matt: back to you on that. Yeah, I said, the simplest questions like that are not going to be able to be answered by the people presenting the information. You’re not running the campaign. And so it’s been an eye opening event. But it’s been a lot of fun. Because, you know, like you and I, we’ve kind of got that inside look, as we know, our agencies run. We know our big companies run. And there’s a lot of people in the position that you’re responsible for the paid campaign, which means nodding yes or nodding no when it’s presented to you.  

Mike: So much knowledge is lost, you know, a little side note here, each year, I’ve been invited to be the judge for the Land awards that SMS puts out, okay. And it’s, I wish so wish that I could share the sample reports that these agencies are using, because they’re good. The agencies that make it through the awarding and get the votes of the judges have very simple reports that show something as Avinash Kaushik teaches. It’s very meaningful. It’s usually based on a ratio, and it’s tied to a decision point or one of the business goals. And typically, it’s one page with a very simple graphic, and maybe three or four numbers. And I can’t share these because they’re confidential. And I’m also the judge for the in house teams. And when they give a sample, the reporting, I’m like, this is perfect. And I’m wearing the black robe. I’m not allowed to go tell him that is perfect. That is Oh, man, these are so good.”   

Matt: You know, I similarly, I would judge the Direct Marketing Association for a couple years. And I was amazed at how many companies don’t send the analytics of the campaign. They would give you the creative. Here’s what we did. And especially early days of social was we got clicks. But there was a couple where they started sending the analytics of here’s the campaign. Here’s why we ran it. Here’s the adjustments we made. And they sent along the data. I’m voting for it. Yes, absolutely. And they didn’t win.. And so I asked him, like, Am I allowed to contact any of these agencies that submitted?. And he’s, like, sure. I’m like, because I’ve got questions. And I went right to him, and like, Can I use this data? Can I show people what you did? Because it’s right. And more people need to know this. And I’ll, you know, be more than happy. Put your name on it. Because I just love seeing. It’s like art appreciation. I love seeing it done right, done well and I want other people to see it.  

Mike: You want to share a beautiful thing? Now, I want to ask you, I, I know this is you’re supposed to, but you know I got you and I have known each other for certainly more than a decade or so. And I know that, you know, you’ve been in the agency role, and you’ve helped a lot of clients. And now you’re just doing so much more training worldwide, for very large organizations, and sometimes mid-size. I love your stories. When you go into these training things, a lot of times I know that you have to be careful with confidentiality and the like, but I just got to ask you. What just makes you feel like that was an awesome training session? And then what makes you feel like it just didn’t take?  

Matt: The best training sessions are when we don’t get through the slides? When they’re, they’re asking questions. And when they’re saying, Okay, this works great in practice, but with what I’m doing right now, how do I make this? And so we’re getting into how to deal with people, it automatically going right into the soft skills, how do I present this better? How do I in really getting into the practical, day to day, and I love it when then someone turns around to the rest of the group. It says, How do we change this? And so right away, the best ones are when I’m taking out, I am taken out of the equation. And they start having this internal and they’re solving problems, right there. That’s when I’m just I’m in heaven because it’s like, I facilitated this.  

Mike: I love that picture. Man, you just shut up and let them go. Yeah. Like a rock star holding his microphone out to the crowd.  

Matt: Exactly. Yeah, that’s what I know something cool is happening. Now something great is happening. Because I’ve given them enough information. I showed them how it worked. And now they’re asking the questions. And when they’re asking the questions, and they’re asking them internally, and they’re having a discussion, I have no problem with the let’s get…  


Matt: 20 slides, let’s get back. You’ve got what you need to know, let’s make this happen. And now it turns into on just now facilitating a whiteboard session. Okay, what does it look like if we were to do this? And how does that work? What resources do you need? Now it turns from training into strategy with everyone that needs to be there. Because most of the time, it’s very rare that everyone that’s in that training session is in a room together. And they’re actually talking about a problem. Usually they’re in meetings, talking about what needs to happen, or we approving or anything like that. Strategy is very rarely discussed among the key players in an organization. So when I have them in a room together, and they start talking and getting excited, that doesn’t happen. And so that’s what I just, you know, “Love it! Great!” And I, you know, I get stories that if we try this and all, you know, we’re cutting back, we’re saving so much time we’re saving budget where we made this and I get the great stories from that. Those are probably be those are my favorite. Yeah, my favorite when they just take over and just rock.  

Mike: It’s proof that it’s got some hooks. And it starts rolling. Alright, so not the opposite of that. But I’m curious. You know, when you’re given a session, what are some things? And let me ask it differently? What are some of the behaviors of the audience that show that it’s not connecting that you don’t have a match?  

Matt: Easy answer on that culture. I know by lunchtime, put it this way. I know before lunch, on a full day training. If anything I say, is going to go anywhere. Before lunch, I can usually detect the culture of an organization and know, are they just checking a box for bringing me in? Are they looking for actual real meaningful change? And the main reason is if there’s no questions, that if there are its resistance, we can’t do it that way. We don’t understand. And this gets to so this was one of my when I had the agency. I called it the three but rule. All right, if I’m talking to someone, and we’re discussing their business, their strategy, and I’m saying something and they come back with “Oh, yeah, but…” and then give me an objection. And then two minutes later, we’re talking and I’m sitting and I’m giving good, I’m not selling, I’m giving advice. “Yeah, but…” and all of a sudden, I’m like, okay, that’s two.. And as soon as the third Yes, but…” comes up, I stop selling, I don’t want your business. Because what that tells me and from experience as a, if you become my client, whatever I recommend will not be done. And invariably, it would happen that way. So the same thing happens in training, that if I’m giving best practices, if I’m giving examples, and I start getting this, “Yeah but…” Oh, boy, culture is not going to change. And the culture is resistant to change. Regardless of what I’m presenting, or examples or industry practices. The culture is the overriding factor of whether it’s going to work or not.  

Mike: You know, it’s and sometimes it’s not the people’s choice. It’s a big organization. There’s a web team, there’s a creative team, there’s a ops team and in the coordination and structure that they’ve set up and makes it very difficult to make some of the changes that we’re recommending. I was telling you about my latest training session that I did, it was SEO for writers is very early, you know, short session, just covering a couple of points of where you can signal to the search engines, what you want to rank for in terms of a writer. And I had included somebody who I really appreciate on the web team in could emit ahead of time what I’d be talking about and made sure that I wasn’t going to, you know, call them out or something that was impossible to do ahead of time that way, it was a little smoother, right. And you affirmed that saying that there were several methods that you used in your training to make sure to be inclusive, or to validate technique was a word that you use, tell me a little more about that.  

Matt: So if I’m going to an agency or a mid-sized company, I can figure out who the IT people are very quickly, because they’re the ones in the back with their arms folded.  


Matt: I can always tell who they are. Because by the first break, they’re coming up to me saying, you know, I’ve been saying this for years. No one’s listening to me. And I had to say, you know what, thank you for letting me know because I understand. I’m the expert with the briefcase coming in from 50 miles away. You know, or 100 miles away or wherever. I said, I don’t have to do the day to day like you do. But I understand what you’re going through. And so I’m going to ask you to help me out that if there’s something that we’re running into something you’ve been advocating, give me a sign. And I want you to, this is your form. I said, obviously you know what you’re doing. And so I want to help you get what you have been trying to move in this company. I want that to happen. Because obviously, if it doesn’t happen after I’ve been here, it’ll never happen. So it’s validating Yes, you are the expert within this company. I’m not you know, your systems, you know, your side. I want to help you get there.. And so when I’ve done that, I’ve got a best friend.. And they’ll help me you know, during lunch break, we’ll talk a little bit more about what’s going on what are some of the dynamics there the line, and I get the inside information about what’s going on. So the afternoon session takes on a little bit more of a focused presentation. But it’s really the IT guys because I know they get dumped on. I mean, believe me, and I can. And I also know some of the secrets of the IT side as well. So I could kind of play both sides. But I know that the IT guys, marketing goes to a seminar on SEO, they come back they go, okay, we need to do this, this, this, this and this and this.. And then they walk out of the room. And I know that IT guys are just sitting there going. They didn’t even know what they asked for. They just know some terms. And so yeah, they’re tasked with doing a ton of stuff that they know that people were asking for it don‘t know what they’re asking for. So they got a place in my heart. Absolutely. So those that’s some of the thing I look for is who’s the expert in the room? Who’s you know, who can I use? But who can I team up with? Who can I validate that? Yeah, I understand, you know this stuff. You just have to be here. So what can I do to make your day better?  

Mike: It’s very similar to an in house SEO role, you know, and Jessica Bowman teaches less as well as some other in house SEOs. And, and I think one of the wake ups that a lot of SEO consultants have to get in their head or somebody who’s training as these folks are smart, usually. And they care, usually. And they’re inhibited by something that you might not expect. Right? I’ll give an example, real example. Actually, one of the groups that I was working with, their page load times were abysmal. And it was my judgment that that was a factor in keeping them from ranking, because people were not staying on the page long enough for to load. So instead of going to the IT team and saying, you know, how foolish are you for this? You know, I went and I said, you may be aware that this is a factor. I didn’t overstate it, which I was tempted to do. And I said, this is a factor in ranking. And this is very painful. And they said, oh, we’re well aware. And I said, so, you know, there clearly is a whole bunch of JavaScript loading on the site that it doesn’t appear that you’re using what’s up with that? And they looked at me, and they said, the company that acquired ours, controls that, and, the only control that we have is either turn it off, which would lose us all of our tracking, or leave it on. And that’s our only control. And there’s nothing we can do about that. So page load times are what they are. And it was just so good to have that because I was able to be sensitive in the training sessions, not to harp on IT for load times. Now I did teach that load times were important. But I also was able to say, and oftentimes your load times are based on JavaScript that you can’t control. But here’s what you can control the image size.  

Matt: It’s so smart to do because I’ve seen trainers go into a company and ridicule rather than learn. They just start ridicule. And IT is the punching bag because a lot of your technical stuff comes from there. And so when you take the time to learn, it’s not that they’re idiots. And don’t call them idiots. It’s not going to make you any friends. It’s just there’s usually a reason because these guys know. No, I will say occasionally, you run into someone who thinks they know more than anybody else. And they have their own creative solution which actually creates more issues. 


Matt: But you just can’t go in and ridicule a company. That is the wrong approach to take. And you won’t get us back.  

Mike: So you talked about your training sessions where there is, you know, you get Yes, but…” which is the ultimate eraser, right? When you finish the session, beyond them speaking among themselves, and planning, what are other signs that there was good reception?  

Matt: I look for the light bulb moments that, Aha, that’s what I’m looking for.” So, I’ve probably been doing training now, in some fashion or another for well over 30 years, and digital marketing in the past 20. And I’m always looking for that light bulb moment of when something connects. And now there’s a deeper level of understanding. My goal is not so much to teach people how to set up a paid search campaign; you can read any set of instructions for that. What my goal is for you to understand what goes into it and knowing the why. What am I trying to accomplish? And how does this accomplish that, and really understanding the critical thinking that goes into developing it, because if you develop the critical thinking, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, it will apply. As I said earlier, I have a journalism degree pre internet. But what it taught me was critical thinking. So as I learned about the internet, I have a framework through which to approach it. And immediately I’m like, Oh, that makes sense. And it got to the point where my guessing was ultimately validated when I would see someone’s answer. And so like, okay, I feel good guessing about things because I’m, I’m coming from this framework, I’m coming from this understanding, and it’s paying off, right. And so that’s my goals, when someone understands not so much the how to but the why. And they connect it, and now they get excited. And that’s usually what I know, because they’re telling me, you know, my job, not just my job, but this and that. And that’s when it’s pulling together. And so because of that, I mean, I if I’m doing a full day training, I’m not talking all day, I have now what am i training clients now, I usually will go 20 minute lecture 20 minute activity, 10 minute break on a 20 minute lecture 20 minute activity talk, you know, it keeps the day moving. But it also gives them a sense of accomplishment, and they’re actually doing it. And they’re working on problems within the organization within their marketing or creating a campaign. And, you know, one of my favorite one is a two day advanced workshop where they have a work product at the end. And when the marketing department comes down and says, Okay, this is better than what we’re doing. And we did in two days. That’s when I’m jazzed. And they’re excited, though, the attendees, when I see that excitement that we can do this, it’s a reality. It’s, I understand it now. I can’t sleep at night when that happens. Because it’s just like it’s working. It’s alive.  

Mike: It’s a...take note, up and coming trainers, that this is a validation technique that you can use, if you are good at what you’re doing, you will be able to show people how to get results right then and there. And the sign of somebody who is perhaps newer at developing trainers, that they come in, they regurgitate or spew I’ll even say, good facts for an hour or two or whatever. And then they leave. And I think, you know, Matt, with your experience, you’re putting it on the line. And I mean, you can imagine that it would be a sign that something needed improvement in every workshop, people fail to even accomplish what you taught, right? So in many ways, it’s that accountability thing coming back around, saying I’m accountable enough to train and prove it right here, like a magician pulling off a trick, right? That if I fail, it’s going to be painfully obvious that I come off the high wire, whatever analogy, you know, is a very visual failure. And, and you’re willing to accept that. And because of that, I think you’ve developed that success track record that you have, but I’m going to show you how to do this. And I’m going to prove to you that you can do it. And then we’ll go to the next module.  

Matt: It also helps bringing people into teams and giving them a project to work on because I can tell if they come into a room and they sit together in their own little groups. 


Matt: They’re usually among like groups. And what’s interesting is, in one company, they’re sending everybody for the training, saw the team of accountants at one table, teaching them marketing. But putting them into teams and making them work on something, it gives me time to focus on them. Yeah. And I can work with them. Okay, here’s what I want you to do next. And here’s how we’re going to do this. And I try and lead them through the thinking process. Whereas my team for marketers, usually what I’ll do is find one or two, like, Can you help me out? You know, you obviously know what you’re doing? Can you go around? And help everybody else? And by the way, help the accountants. Maybe three of you go to that table. So that helps, because it enables you to spend a little more time with those who need it. Yeah, it also helps me learn from what organizationally they’ve got going on. The one of the more fun things that I’ve been doing lately is customer journey workshops. And I’ve seen a lot of younger trainers trying to do that. And I’m always kind of curious as to what I’d love to sit in on it. Because to me, I go into a customer journey workshop, probably with 50 slides, if that. And we’ll get through them all. And it’s supposed to be a long day, it’s a day or two days. And what I’m relying on that is, as I learned more about your company, and this, this journey, I’m able to pull from experiences of other companies and other I’ve got 30 years of experience, you’ve got a unique vision. And part of that was that agency experience pre internet, of working with business to business companies, and learning what how do they make money? There was I don’t know what it is. But there’s always been this drive inside of me to know how people make money. And so a lot of so, I’m in the Midwest, heavy steel industry. And one of the agencies I worked for had six steel clients, but they weren’t competitors. It was if you want the steel flat, you send it there. If you want it glossy, you send it there if you want it. So somehow I’ve got to help market, each of these different things that you do is steal, how they make money doing? What is this? And so when I do these journey workshops, I’m able to get to how do you make money with that? How do we make more money? And what I’m able to see these connections from working with hundreds of other businesses and applying it here. And to me if I went in with a stock 300 slides, and we’re going to follow this procedure and you know, buy the book, now we do this, now we do this, I would completely miss what’s going on. And if anything I find now in my training, I’m using less and less slides, more whiteboard, more interaction, more projects. It’s people are tired of the lectures, and they’re tired of the slide ware and what they want is teach me how. Give me the framework and let’s do it with our stuff. Don’t give me what you did with this client two years ago. The story is good. How do I apply it? In that it’s more challenging for me to be able to show up and go, but I love it. I love that challenge. And it works. Because I’m not coming in saying this is how we have to do it. It’s let’s figure out how it works for you where you’re at, how do we make it better? 

Mike: I think, a good goal for anybody who’s doing training to be able to think on their feet and apply on the fly. And something I remember you been teaching for years. It’s I don’t critique it in that Matt, I don’t think it’s the most popular way to position something. But it’s the truth. You know, when you’re going into this, I don’t know. I mean, I like it. It’s true is that a lot of the marketing problems and challenges occur, you know, outside of the marketing department, you know, in its business strategy, business decision. You and I were talking last night, and I mentioned that the customer driven acquisition process that I teach terms of coming up with messaging that goes out, 


Mike: If a company doesn’t have a strong Simon cynic why, you know, why do we exist? Then it makes it all the tougher. We go through the process anyway? Right? Because oftentimes, that teases that out of the CEO or the management, the executive management as to you know, what is our Why? Why do we exist? Why will people know what our messages but that’s, it’s, it’s not a marketing thing. Right? What motivated you to do this? What makes you smile? I remember at market motive, we were changing lives. Yes. And we did. And it was really exciting to see that in the letters that we got, and the calls, you know, I get all choked up, because somebody would give a how it affected them personally, and their lives with their kids and their spouse, and it was just, it was really moving. And so this is what I try to extract. So I’m doing what you’ve been teaching for years now. It’s like, I try to extract that from the founders. You know, it’s like, what gets you choked up? You know, you want to make money? And that’s okay. You know, that’s, that’s a good thing. Profit, that’s fine. But why? Why did you choose this? You know, well, I wanted to help people get better these, what happens if you do? Right, you know, and then that started growing the, what’s the reason behind our messaging? You know, and then we pulled in all the rest. So I just, you know, kudos to you for pointing that out years ago. Again, I don’t lead with that. Because it oftentimes doesn’t get the contract right. Folks are like, you don’t get to come in teach me how to found and grow my company. You teach us marketing. But it teases it out through the process.  

Matt: I thought you were going to get on me for my cynicism 

Mike: Do you want to do that? Maybe in another podcast. 

Matt: Yeah, it’s my favorite conversation is where he called me a contrarian. And my reply was no I’m not. Well, part of it is, I am so resistant to teaching what’s popular today. Because I don’t want to teach you... You know, five years ago, I got hate mail and I love it. I have framed some of it. Because someone came back and he said, My client went to one of your seminars. And after he came back, he canceled his social media campaign, because you said it wasn’t worth doing. And it just went into this, like a three page when I put it off. And I posted it in my office and I framed it. 

Mike: For you listeners, they’re going to want you to understand that in the peak of social media marketing, when everybody wanted training on social media marketing, Matt’s approach, and I’m not exaggerating was why you don’t need to do social media marketing. And I’m like, I’m sorry, man, I can’t sell that. Because he get people into these classes. And he’d start by saying, you know, this is why you don’t need to do this. And I’m like, stop, stop the cameras.  

Matt: And part of it is when the whole Facebook thing shook out. Now, within months of them, stopping organic coverage of posts. It was hard, I just, I’m sitting there in my office going, I told you so. Social media is a platform you don’t own you don’t own the audience. You don’t own the coverage, you don’t control it. And all you’re doing is funding somebody else. And I’m sitting there like, all this cynicism is being validated and look at the data that Facebook let go and yes, yes, ah, but here‘s the thing. What my drive is, I want to teach people how to make money. That is number one, I want to teach you how to build a business, how to build a better life, I want to teach you how to support a family out of you know, when you are a business owner, and you’re responsible for the 20 people working for you getting a paycheck every two weeks, that changes you. And you look at life the same after that. My goal is to teach people how to make money, how to spend it wisely in their business, and how to have something left over and live comfortably and allow other people to live comfortably. That’s my drive. If that’s my drive, I’m not going to teach you how to do something that’s only going to last for a little while, and then only teach you how to do it. What I want to do is give you sustainable, long term growth tactics as well as an understanding of why you’re doing it and a framework to evaluate. Youre laughing. 

Mike: I’m laughing because you just reminded me of when I was looking for hard skill measurement questions to put in an exam. I asked you for one, I think it might have been for SEO or one of the disciplines. Do you remember what you did?   


Mike: Your exam item that you sent to me was why? You’re right, but I can’t put that into multiple choice exam.  

Matt: Because I said I want them to write an essay. I want an essay question. Why?  

Mike: Which is true, you’re absolutely right. I do give you credit for that. But it didn’t fit into the mechanism, which is kind of what we’re talking about. That’s why we’re laughing is that you know, the vehicle for delivery. If you go out and say, Look, I can teach you how to make money.” It’s not credible but you being a man of integrity and of knowledge and experience. That’s what you end up doing. You know, even though it may be couched initially as marketing training, right, or how to train your team of digital marketing or the like, then you come in and I’m doing similar things and sense that we want to root out what might be inhibiting the marketing in the first place. And then and then through experience, and you as a successful business owner in the past, and now it’s, you’re able to impart that, as a voice from the outside, you know, doesn’t mean you’re any better than the person who is in the driver’s seat. But you’re able to give a credible voice from the outside. But yeah, I do have chuckles when I remember, you know, Matt, I need to put together exams and measure hard skills and why. Thanks a lot, Matt. 

Matt: And that was always my vision is I’d love to take a group of people. Because this is what I did at the company is start a blog, start a website. Okay, week two, you built the website. Now let’s make money with it. I’d love to do it with the university class. Yeah, that first semester and I’m going to grade you on how much money you make. And I’m also going to grade you on the creativity with which you made it. That is this a sustainable model? How would it grow? How would you leverage it into additional websites or things like that? Because now I’m teaching people the strategic thinking, how do I go about doing it? And when you approach it that way, you think differently, you analyze it differently? I’m not just posting the Facebook, why am I doing it? What am I going to get? If the goal is making money, which, tell me a business, where honestly, that isn‘t the goal. There’s very few people that get rewarded for losing money.  

Mike: Government. We won’t get into that, right. But, you know, back to your point, though, I love this trend that you have, it’s a habit that you have of getting people hands on to something that matters. And I think that is consistent, you’re consistent, you know, enablement of people to try it out, to discuss it to test it, as I think with part of what’s made you an in demand trainer, is that you’re willing to take that risk, show people how to do it right here on the spot. And if you run into something, well, we’ll figure it out together. And you did it with your staff, you do it with your clients, you do it with the people who attend your training sessions. And I think that’s part of the reason that it that it’s got traction.  

Matt: A part of it is being aware. When I went to conferences, nothing drove me up a wall more than seeing the same speaker do the same presentation that they did five years in a row. That tells me number one, you’re not aware of the people that are in, in there, you’re not aware of how they’re reacting to it. So when I’m training, I usually have an internal dialogue going on in my head. And I watch how people respond to the content that I’m delivering. And if I get reactions, okay, good. They’re with me, there’s been numerous times where I will try, it’s like a comedian. Um, one of the best things I did was take a class on Improv, and comedy and delivery, because it’s reading the room, I will add new content and present it and then figure out will Oh, okay, I need to make that simpler. I need to tell a better story. And so I’m looking at how did that deliver, and I will change. So for one company, I’ve been doing training for them for the past three years. The deck looks nothing like it did on day one. I have probably to this point changed 80% of the deck. And every time I present, I’m probably changing 2-5% of the deck. Because I’m like that could be done better. That can be done that can be I can condense these five into one. It’s constantly challenging myself to say it better. 


Matt: Say it cleaner, use less slides, make the slide better. So there’s this constant self-evaluation of my own content, watching people how they react to it. That is to me as a trainer, that is a skill that you have to develop. Otherwise, you’re just doing the same stale, boring presentation. And if you aren’t aware of how it’s being received, that I’m showing up, and I’m doing it, you’ve got to have that inner dialogue of Ooh, that didn’t work. Did they get this? Do they not?” And it’s tough to do, because you’ve got to criticize yourself 

Mike: Watch the audience or same thing for musician. You know, they ate that solo up. That one didn’t leave them so happy. You’re constantly morphing your act. And I do remember from the speaking circuit, watching people change it watching people shoot from the cuff. One of my favorite sessions that all the marketing conferences were live on it. And, by the way, just as a tactic that I used recently on an in house training session for SEO. The staff were telling me, Mike, you won’t have anybody attend, they don’t like this stuff. And I said, “Tell them that we’re going to be auditing pages. And that they can submit their page and a competitor’s page, and we’ll take those pages apart and say what they did well, and what they didn’t do,” had record attendance. Because people were saying, What if they audit my site? Right?  

Matt: I’m going to tell you what, fear is the biggest motivator.  

Mike: It is, yeah, sadly. And it was it was, you know, like you, when I’m doing an online session, I will encourage everybody with the mics open. And, you know, looking for professional quality. And, you know, this is a session, right? You know, I’ll say up front, if you’ve got, you know, kids in the background or something like that, all the better. You know, instead of something gets to out right here, heavy breathing, you know, the assistant will mute you. But, you know, I largely I want you guys to I want to hear you laugh. I want to hear you clear your throat. I want to hear you, you know, exclaim or say, you know, why did you do that? And they said, the more gregarious you all are as attendees, the more we’re going to enjoy this. And I was telling you earlier that we were auditing some pages, and there was some room for improvement for those pages. And I think we had learned I had somebody co presenting with me, and we had learned in told each other ahead of time that we would not be especially harsh to our own pages, we would use positive terms like room for improvement. And there was a clearing of a throat somewhere in the background. And we pause for a second and this voice comes on and goes up. Yeah, those are my pages. We said, Great. Let’s work through together, what would you think about breaking it up with some, you know, some headlines, you know, that draw the user into the content? And maybe we could even pose a question.” You know, if we do that, you know, it might break it up and address searcher intense, a little bit better. And the person was quite grateful for that. But I had great engagement with a bunch of people live, just by putting out this is going to be off the cuff. Who knows what we’re going to run into? When people shoot pages at us, we might run into a competitor two pages perfect. And frankly, we did, you know, and it everybody walked away from that at least the majority of the people gave us feedback. So that was the most useful thing that we’ve had, because we were actually able to see you pull apart the six areas to the decades, we chose those to assess what they’re trying to rank for what’s other pages of content, how they’re drawing people down how they’re dressing searcher into and we’ve already seen differences, right? Because we left it open for interaction, and everybody wanted to see something like, so it wasn’t the regurgitate and drone on, you know, here’s what to do. It’s like, let’s do it together, get a lot of fun. He kind of brought me back because I haven’t done training for a long time. Just recently, and it’s brought back the old memories of seeing the light go on and having people respond afterwards and say, Hey, we want to do this, right, you know, to have the creative team come and say set our template for everything that goes out is just to me a wonderful endorsement. Right, that it actually worked.  

Matt: And that’s when you see people get excited. I mean, that’s the content marketing. I did a two day advanced course on content marketing. Right? It was great, because they had to take the essentials course to get to the advanced test, pass a test. And they would ask me, well, what’s the advanced course? So the advanced course is basically the same content, but you do all the work? That’s we’re going to put together work product. And so I put them into teams. 


Matt: They selected their work products, one selected a fitness band. And as an example, and it was great, because we we’ve got 10 teams of three to five people working on individual products of the company. And we walked through, okay, what’s your product? Who are the three top personas that we’re going to target? And then what is the call to action? Or what’s the emotional draw for each persona? How do we describe that? How would be the specific points that they would be drawn to the emotional triggers? And then we get into, okay, now, what is a content asset is what I call her anchor product, like a user guide, the user guide for fitness band, what do you need to put together a user guide, you need pictures, you need explanations, also related products, you know, upgrade the band, upgrade these things. And by the way, you can control a home security system, you can control, you know, all these things. And then we also get, what about video? Would you rather show someone how to do it with video rather than a series of six pictures and instructions? So all of a sudden, we’re starting to develop this plan. And now it turns into much more than a user guide. It’s when we need these images, these videos, this content, and now it’s a map. And a matrix of I can pull this and this and create something else a small bit something to put on social, I can put that on Facebook, using this picture and this explanation, point them back to download this asset. And now all of a sudden, my social media campaign becomes not one of posting stuff. Now I’m using the asset to promote the asset. And now I’m driving people to decision points, driving people to a primary content asset that they have to register. So you know, how it builds, at the end of the two days. I mean, we have massive amounts of paper, sticky notes. It’s incredible. And they’re just starting to put it all together. And then at the end, I’m like, okay, you have five minutes to write five blog headlines about the product, they’ll go. And they did it. They were done early. They’re like, okay, now I want three YouTube videos that you created this, just give me the headline, and sketch of the video. Go, done in minutes. Give me three pages of content you would put on the site and give me a headline in a page title. Done. Because now they’re in the framework. They’re in the context. And they’re realizing, oh, this is easy, that once we got this put together, it’s easy. And they’re realizing it’s no longer Oh, it’s Taco Tuesday, I’ve got to come up.” No, look at this. And the contents there. I just needed to answer questions. 

Mike: I remember who same session that I’m thinking of, they came later and told you our marketing team in a long period of time now it’s minutes.  

Matt: They left excited. They put it together, and you could see it coming together. And what was even more is, so I ended the day early at, like, 4:15. Or, you know, it was it was around four o’clock. Half of them stayed in the room to continue working on it. Because it was their team. It was their product. And that to me was like, do I close up shot, it was so exciting. It’s like, wow, they don’t they’re getting it, they put it together. And it’s now this content, and especially I find in the content marketing. Nobody knows what that means. There’s no definition. And the way we just went through it over this two day workshop. Now they know what it is. Because I don’t find any easy definition of content marketing that’s satisfying.  

Mike: It’s the exam we struggle with the most at OMCP.  

Matt: I can imagine because there’s no one way of doing it. It’s a lifestyle.  

Mike: In the defense of the exam, there are common general and best practices. But yes, it genuinely is, you know, the mechanism for delivery of testing somebody’s knowledge is more challenging for that one than it is for others, because it is, it’s still being shaped in the industry. You know, whereas before, I remember, 


Mike: I don’t know, eight years ago, or six years ago, we worked at it was more about defining how it was different than SEO and different than social media. And, and we had to clear out those questions out of the exams, because it’s more now about use of a content calendar, the definition of repurpose email, you know, what channels might be, you know, applied to certain mediums and things like that. And so testing for knowledge at that seems to work as a baseline, but the actual practice, it’s definitely much more of a lifestyle and a choice. It sounds like you’re given frameworks for people to do that. And it’s working well.  

Matt: Well, and that’s the thing is, and this is where probably the exams gonna have to go is how does it fit in your CRM? How does it fit in your drip campaign? How does it fit? You know, are you using this, you know, for your acquisitions? And how you measure? Yeah, you know, so it’s funny, because one of my employees called me the other day, former employee, she worked for me for the entire time, I had the agency, she was my first hire, and now she’s working at the agency that I sold to she’s still there. She calls me up. She’s, you know, all this content, marketing, all this stuff that’s going on. She goes, this is what you taught me from day one. Just write good, valuable stuff. And people will respond. And it was it was nice laugh. That’s what the journalism background that I was taught of engaging content. There has to be a purpose of framework of developing the art of it, and how do you use it, repurpose it. And those were early journalism ideas that I brought. And so to me, content marketing is not so much a discipline as it is, its marketing. Its marketing, just doing it digitally and electronically, allows us to repurpose it in so many different ways, and push it out in so many different ways. Wow, we have covered a lot of ground.  

Mike: Yeah, we covered competencies, setting competencies, testing, that results in training, good training, great, what makes good training, and then we kind of branched off into a little bit of the core behind marketing, you know, that it, it starts at other areas of the companies. And then for some reason, we just branched off with content marketing.  

Matt: It’s one of those things that you know, right now, it’s the demand. The demand of teachers content marketing teachers, this, you can see trends of demand coming and going. So that seems to be one of them. But I’m running into that and customer journey are right now, or are the top in demand.  

Mike: Digital transformation. That’s a big thing. You know, in some ways, I feel like I’ve lured some of you into my camp, in the sense that if you respond to what people are looking for, when we want a digital transformation, absolutely. We want customer journey, you come in to deliver that. But that gives you your platform to start looking at other areas of the company. And the why behind that.    

Matt: I have stopped being so cynical. I have because, you know, honestly, SEO, digital transformation. They’re all asking for the same thing that they are. They’re all asking how do we make more money? How do we spend less and make more? That’s what customer journey is. That’s what digital transformation is. It’s how do we spend less, make more, make better use of our time?  

Mike: And once you’re inside, you can show them up.  

Matt: Mike, thanks for being here. Listener, you got to know I’m in Mike’s house. So it’s hard for me, to I it’s a cognitive dissonance of it’s my podcast, but it‘s his house and his equipment. So thanks for joining me on my podcast in your house.

Featured Guest:

Michael Stebbins

Marketer | Inventor | Entrepreneur

LinkedIn profile: Michael Stebbins | LinkedIn

Twitter: Michael Stebbins | Twitter

Listen to Michael Stebbins In An Earlier Episode:

Entrepreneurial Analysis