The proliferation of digital information has created a new buying environment. Most buyers do their own research on companies consider...
Blake Emal: Welcome to the Yours in Marketing podcast. On this episode of the Yours in Marketing podcast, I speak with Ethan Beute, the VP of Marketing at bombbomb.com. Ethan’s on a mission to rehumanize communication through video, and really, BombBomb, which is the company where he’s the Vice President of Marketing, is striving to help customers and businesses connect with each other on a much more human level.
Video’s a really practical and personal way to do this, to create those long-lasting relationships. We talk about video strategy for companies, B2B, also just for thought leadership and for personal brands. We also talked about what it takes to get into a role that you love being in, if you feel like you’re really not making a difference where you’re at right now, and what it takes to make that leap.
Finally, we talk about his book, Rehumanize Your Business, and the importance of customer experience as a whole. He gives some really amazing insights as to how to run a business more effectively, how to communicate with your customers so that you keep them and retain them, but also as you’re accruing new customers, how to make them feel like they’re kind of part of the family. We also talk about scaling that effort, which might be kind of a difficult thing.
So, that’s what you’re going to get out of this episode. I hope that you’ll listen all the way through. At the end, we have a special interview with one of our employees here at Directive as well as part of the P2P, the peer to peer segment, so, please stick around.
Without further ado, here’s the interview with Ethan Beute.
Relationships Through Video
Blake Emal: Let’s start here because you’re heavy on the video side. That’s what BombBomb does. So, BombBomb’s the company you’re with. You’re the VP of Marketing, and it’s heavily emphasizing video and rehumanizing businesses through a video strategy.
So, take me through what video … Like, why is it so much more impactful than any other medium? Why did that start speaking to you, just video as a medium in general?
Ethan Beute: Yeah. I’ve been involved with the team for about 10 years. I’ve been here full-time for eight years, and so we were pretty early to this style of video in particular. We call it relationships through video. The reason we did that is because most people think, and I’m sure most of the people listening now, when they think about video in a business context, they either think about scripted, produced, lit, edited, et cetera, for a home page, right?
Their point of reference is a television commercial or a film trailer, so it needs to look really good. It needs to be very intentional. It needs to be very perfect or approach perfect, or the alternative is sometimes, we think about, you know, these personal branding plays. I think we all see it on LinkedIn, where, you know, some people are doing it a little bit more buttoned-up. I feel like, honestly, video on LinkedIn should be recommended for English as a second language learning, because there’s so many words flying around on the videos and all that.
So, we set relationships through video aside from marketing through video. Certainly, there’s a big area in between those two where there’s some bleed. But the main idea behind marketing through video, and the reason I’m so excited about it, and have stayed committed to this team and this concept, and this community that we have, is that it’s about replacing some of that plain, typed out text that you rely on every day. All of us do it, the same black text on the same white screen, that doesn’t build rapport. It doesn’t differentiate us. It doesn’t communicate as clearly as we do when we can look someone in the eye and just communicate face-to-face.
We see this simple, personal, casual, conversational, unscripted style of video as a huge opportunity for really anyone in any seat in the house. We have all kinds of people using it, obviously not just marketing. We can talk about some marketing strategies if we want to, but, you know, sales, inside sales, outside sales, customer support success and customer service, leadership management, recruiting, pats on the back, thank yous. Thank yous to customers, thank yous and good jobs to employs, like, anything you’re sending as a typed out text message, or not sending because you just don’t want to type it all up, responses to customer inquiries. There’s just so many opportunities to be more personal and more human in the way that you’re communicating with the people who matter most to your business every day. That’s what we’re all about.
Automation vs Personalization
Blake Emal: Automation has kind of become the name of the game in marketing, right? That’s what everybody’s shooting for is to have everything automated. We want our income to be passive. We want everything to be totally set up for us. We do the hard work now so that it’s all set up, and we could put it on autopilot later. But that doesn’t really fit with what you’re saying.
So, how can we marry those strategies together, being more human, being more deliberate in our approach, but then also taking and embracing the automated part in an appropriate way?
Ethan Beute: I love the question, and this is exactly the dilemma that we’re all facing. It’s not a dilemma. I guess it’s more of a nut to crack, or a problem to solve, or however you want to say that, because you can use video in an automated way, and we use video in an automated way.
Basically, when you move from one stage of relationship to another stage of relationship. For us, that’s being someone who we don’t know or isn’t in our database, or maybe we have an email address because you joined us on a webinar, or downloaded a guide or something, and you move into a two-week free trial.
Boom. You’re immediately moved to another stage, and we trigger a sequence. Not all of them are videos, but some of them are, and so, we have videos in some of those emails. You use video again to create a sense of relationship, to communicate something that is maybe not that fun or easy to communicate in text, or something that is easier to show than tell, like a screen recording video where you’re maybe doing a little bit of show and tell inside a platform, or a service, or an account. Here, I’m talking software, but really anyone can do this.
So, as people move through stages of relationship, you have opportunities to nurture, educate, train, activate, et cetera, et cetera, whatever phrases you want to put around that, and you can use video in those. What you’re talking about though is really about when do we personalize, and when do we get truly personal?
I think those words are used interchangeably. To me, personalized is when Netflix sends me that email that says, “Hey, Ethan. You enjoyed the first four years of the series. The fifth year is now available. Come check it out.” Right?
Blake Emal: Yep.
Ethan Beute: I know it has my name in it. It is about a show that I’ve watched four seasons of …
Blake Emal: But it’s an algorithm.
Ethan Beute: Correct, and that’s okay. It has its place. There’s no reason for someone from Netflix to pick up the phone and leave me a voicemail that says, “Hey man, check …”
That’s just silly.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Ethan Beute: But we do also need to pick our spots for when we want to be truly personal. Truly personal is, “Hey, Jeff. Congratulations. This is your fourth year with us. Thank you so much for renewing again. It has been such a pleasure to be a partner in your business. Man, you remember a year and a half ago when,” something happened, fill in the blank, blah, blah, blah, “and in the meantime, if you want to click that link down below, it’s just a little gift card, just our way of saying thanks. Take care. Have an awesome day.” Right?
That may or may not make sense for your business, depending on your price point and depending on how many people you have who are renewing for their fourth year. If it’s thousands and thousands of people, maybe it doesn’t make sense. But, you know, if you’re in a product or a service environment where that fourth-year renewal is a big deal, and it makes financial sense, certainly that is a better play than just automating an email or automating a piece of direct mail.
Again, this is this human connection piece, this, “I see you, I hear you, I understand you, I appreciate you. You matter to me,” and just like a handwritten note because time is the asset … We were chatting a little bit about Gary Vaynerchuk earlier. He’s one of many people who will explicitly say this. “Time is the asset.”
So, just as a handwritten note stands out to us and says, “Oh my gosh. She took the time to hand write this note for me,” it’s the same thing with a personal video. That’s just one application of the personal video, is to show that sincerity and gratitude, but there are a number of others like, save yourself time by talking instead of typing, explaining something more clearly, blending that show and tell, et cetera.
There’s a number of uses, but just to get back to the essence of the question here, it’s when are we using personalized messages and personalized touches that are automated, smartly automated, triggered when someone fits these four criteria. Boom, send this thing off, or send the sequence off, and then let an account manager know that they need to follow up with a phone call on day six or whatever the case may be, versus when do we get truly, truly personal.
Something, for example, our customer success team does is after a lengthy or complicated call that maybe started with a frustrated, confused, or potentially even angry customer … After the call, that rep will record a simple personal video. Sometimes it’ll be a screen recording. Sometimes it’ll just be a talking head, just reiterating, “Thank you so much for being a customer. I hope that you got everything you needed here. It was a pleasure to spend time with you,” and then you reiterate the couple things that got them excited. You overcome whatever the objection, or concern, or question was again, and it just reinforces everything that you’ve spent together, but you do it when it’s convenient for you.
That person might not open it up for five minutes, or five hours, or even five days, but there they are with a little moment of your day where they experience you as if you were across the table over coffee or lunch. It just leaves a different feeling.
Blake Emal: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Video is the closest thing to a human interaction in person, right? So, like, that’s why it’s so effective, but what do you say to the people that take the opposing side of that and say, “Sure, it’s great to be personalized to people. It’s great to reach out to them, but how do I scale that?”
Because, you know, a lot of companies, they’re really just about scale. If they think that their product’s good enough and they can scale, then that’s the most important thing. So, how do those fit together?
Ethan Beute: Yeah, it’s a great question too, and I think it’s a fair one. Again, it goes back to this where does it make economic sense for you to do this, right, because there is real time involved? So, I will validate that. I will say video may not be for you.
I do think prerecorded videos is part of whatever kind of engagement, and nurturing, and congratulating. So, for example, I have not done this yet, but I need to start a 100 video club. Right? As soon as someone hits 100 videos in their account, we need to trigger a video, and there are enough people hitting 100 videos in their accounts that maybe that will be an evergreen or prerecorded … It’s a little bit redundant to call a video prerecorded, but, you know, just to get a sense. Record it once. Use it over and over again as people hit that milestone.
But when I make a 1000 video club, we’ve only got about 1000 people there, and only a couple few people will hit it every day or every week, so, maybe that’s one where I personally or someone on my team personally gets it. Instead of having a canned video, because there aren’t a whole ton of people blazing through that turnstile, maybe we are truly personal there because it really matters. We say their name, and we talk about where they’re from, and the nature of the business that they’re in, and how awesome it is, and how fast they got there.
So, A, if you are all about scale and you are purely transactional, that the relationship and referral based play is almost exclusively in the product usage itself, then personal video may not be for you. The types of folks that are really winning with us are the types of people who A, have a price point or have a volume, or have a referral basis that makes sense for them to have someone feel like they know someone at the company.
I will caution anyone that wants to grow purely on scale and transaction. I’ve seen a number of pieces of research about Gen Z, the pivotal generation. Whatever you want to call them, it’s the newest entering the I have a credit card or I have a job group now.
Blake Emal: Right.
A More Connected Experience
Ethan Beute: They want a sense of relationship. That doesn’t mean you need to send all of them truly personal videos, but you need to look for spots to create a better, more connected experience. I think the more and more we grow and work in digital environments, the more and more we have a longing, and craving, and appreciation for what ultimately, deeply at our core, we’re all about, which is human connection, this need to be seen, and heard, and understood, and this social nature that we have at our core as humans.
Like, there’s a reason you and I have our video cameras turned on right now. It makes a better experience. Now, I think the podcast, because it’s on the go and we don’t expect people to sit down and watch this for 20, or 30, or 40 minutes or whatever, but you’ll notice a lot of podcasts are now releasing the full episode on YouTube as well.
There are a couple that I pay attention to that are doing that too, and so there’s this … We need to look for ways to create connection with our brand and with our people, especially with the younger consumer in particular, but everyone appreciates it. If you reach out to someone and congratulate them on a milestone they hit with you, and your product, and your service, or your company, it’s meaningful.
Blake Emal: Definitely. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I would say that the majority of businesses don’t utilize video strategy at all because they feel like it’s too time intensive, I would say. Most people, sure, they’ve got an ad strategy in place. They’ve got an SEO strategy in place, but then when we get into actual content creation as a means to connect with your audience and drive business, I think a lot of businesses see that as it’s too difficult. “I don’t have the time to do that.”
With you personally, how have you found the time to actually create content that’s meaningful for customers, and for yourself, and for the company?
Ethan Beute: Again, I’ll just restate this. Marketing through video is where most people go in their mind. That sounds expensive. That sounds time-consuming. I don’t have that in-house, so I’m going to have to hire it out of house. I’m either going to have to hire employees that do that, and I’ve never interviewed and hired these type of people. I don’t know what they look like, I don’t know what to pay them, et cetera. Right? So there’s that. Or I need to contract it out of house, and that all of a sudden look super expensive, and I worry about those things.
I would say, one, the good enough threshold is much lower than you think it is, in general. Two, we do have a video guy in-house. Now, we have about 120, 130 people on our team, and I would say 100 of us record video for some use in our position on a very regular basis.
We do have a guy who comes to us with a video production background, and so, when we want to do something that we know that thousands and thousands of our customers are going to see, we’ll put him on it. We’ll make sure we have the right person who’s going to deliver that message or do that demo or whatever, and he might edit it and that kind of a thing. So, I think it is smart to start thinking about what does it look like to have a video person in-house. I think there are more uses than you would imagine.
But I would also say I send a newsletter to about 80 to 90,000 people twice a month, and I have recorded many videos for those that are just simple, handheld, mobile videos, or even webcam shots like this one, where I’m just standing at my desk under fluorescent lights, with no special equipment. You know, it is a nice $100 webcam. It’s stepped up that way. It’s not the built-in, in my laptop.
But the trouble people find themselves in is they think they need to have a video that looks like a really nice homepage video on a $100 million revenue plus company’s homepage, or they think it needs to look as good as a television commercial, or they think that it needs to have comedy. Frankly, these are all … We’re lining up all the excuses to just delay the inevitable, which is if you want to be more effective at connecting with and nurturing and converting customers, and making them successful, video is going to be part of that at some time.
So, you should figure that out. You should look for those opportunities. You should be listening to shows like this where you’re bringing on a variety of people, who bring on a variety of perspectives about different ways to get things done, and find the one that makes sense for you and your business, and your business model, and where is the profit margin. Again, where do you go personal, and where do you go personalized? Where do you use an evergreen video versus where does a sales rep or customer service rep specifically reach out to someone personally?
When does the CEO send a personal video to someone that you’ve been recruiting at a mid to high level in the organization, and send a video to that person and his or her significant other, or spouse, to like, really get them excited to buy them into the organization, to show that the CEO of this company is so excited about you joining, that he took 90 seconds out of his day to greet you by name, talk about the opportunity, reassert some of the things that we know you’re excited about joining us, maybe overcome an objection, personally greet the other people that are important in his or her life to get their buy-in as well.
These are simple things that anyone can do, and it doesn’t require production. And so, I would say look at your processes for attracting, nurturing, converting, and retaining people, and you’re going to find spots where if I could explain this more … Like, where are you losing people? Where are the real problems? Where are the frequently asked questions? If you go to your inside sales team or whatever your sales organization looks like, you go to whoever’s doing sales on a regular basis and you say, “Hey, what are the three most common questions you got in the past week?” You’re going to have three of them right away.
Blake Emal: Mm-hmm.
Ethan Beute: “I always hear about this competitor, and they always wonder about this thing, and there’s always this pricing question.” Awesome. Maybe make videos about those things and have them at hand so any salesperson can reply with those prerecorded videos to address those if they come by email, or that you can include them in a nurturing campaign in some way. I tend not to acknowledge competitors or competing stuff in a nurture campaign, myself directly, but you might if it’s a common one. Like, if you’re a second or third place organization and you’re constantly getting like, “Well, why wouldn’t I go with the number one company,” or whatever.
Blake Emal: Right.
Ethan Beute: If that’s that common, take these things and answer them once, and use it over and over again, and then use the video opportunity to make that eye contact, to be more persuasive, to use your full nonverbal communication, to create some sense of human connection with what is otherwise an email signature and a webpage, and these other kind of flat elements. Just bring it to life.
So, we use a variety of our team members in a variety of ways. It’s not just the marketing team that does marketing videos. It’s not just the salespeople that send videos to our prospects. It’s not just the CS people that send videos to our customers. We mix it up, and we want people to feel like they know us. It’s important to us.
You know, our price point isn’t crazy. We’re anywhere from 30 to 70 bucks a month, and we have 45,000 customers. We’ve found spots where video works.
Blake Emal: Definitely. Well, my key takeaway there is like, we create these obstacles for ourselves, whether it’s personally … So, I’ve been through this personally, when I wanted to try to create more content about marketing myself, and put out videos, and podcasts, and blogs, I started making excuses for why things shouldn’t go live, because I didn’t think that they were perfect. Then I realized yeah, but zero is way worse than one, so, if I did something, just a fraction of something, that’s way better than trying to do 100 things but never getting any of it done because I was too overwhelmed or too focused on making it perfect. There’s definitely a lot of people listening here that can relate to that as well.
I want to take a step back because I notice that in your background, you’ve got some TV in your background.
From Television to Video Strategy
Blake Emal: So, I wanted to talk about that, and kind of how that experience has influenced where you ended up going in your career.
Ethan Beute: So, for me … And this is a common thing. I’ve seen this theme come up over and over again, and it’s kind of like, do you need content marketing? Hire a journalist. So, I did come up in local television. I came up writing, producing, and editing spots, and campaigns, and, you know, cross-platform campaigns, and then started running teams of people doing the same thing.
And so, I did that for about 13 years, and it was fun. I enjoyed it. I was kind of exhausted of it. One, you know, the product itself … I don’t need to go down that road, but the product itself is no longer like, stimulating to me. I think if you’re in sales or marketing and you’re not 100% bought into the value that you deliver to people every day, that you’re either dying inside or you’re just disingenuous, and I don’t like to feel either one of those things.
Blake Emal: Definitely.
Ethan Beute: Anyway, I was looking at other things to do, and the only thing I had done professionally was write, produce, and edit TV, and radio, and cable, and social, and other online ads, and things, and campaigns. So, fortunately for me, this is now like, 2007, 2008. I was working on an MBA, which I finished, and I was also starting to do a lot of project work with other people. Fortunately for me, I met Darren Dawson and Conor McCluskey, our two co-founders.
Darren was running internet sales at the NBC affiliate that I was at out here in Colorado Springs. We met on the job, and then I met Conor, essentially his best friend … met him shortly there afterwards. So, I knew them. I didn’t know that they were working on BombBomb at the time. He founded the company in 2006. But I was doing landing pages, and videos, and email campaigns for them, writing a bunch of Google Ads and landing pages for another guy. I did some video work for another company that was their HubSpot shop. They were doing work on behalf of their clients, so I did some video work for some of their clients.
I was just doing all that to figure out what I really wanted to do. Immediately, that combination of work combined with the rise of social … I immediately knew where my spot was going to be because I was very comfortable with video, obviously. I had shot and edited, most importantly edited and produced, a ton of video, Like, I have no idea how many, but hundreds and hundreds of spots, you know, 30 second, and 60 second, and 20 second, and 15 second spots, and a ton of short format writing.
I had always been writing. I had started a personal blog, and I had always shot a ton of photos. I just always enjoyed shooting photos. So, for me, social was perfect because I was comfortable with words, I was comfortable with photos, and I was comfortable with video. That’s how I kind of transitioned into content. So, when they reached out to me and said, “Hey, are you ready to do this full-time,” because the company was at a point where they could make a somewhat competitive offer.
I mean, I left a lot on the table, you know, leaving a sixty-year-old company that still enjoys a 30% profit margin, and still had a pension plan. I mean, my goodness. A company where the healthcare benefit at the time was terrible. I mean, now they’re amazing, but at the time I joined, I mean, it was just … It was really weak.
So, made some sacrifices there, but I knew it was the right thing, and I knew it’d be fun. So, my immediate thing that I did was lit up all the social channels, got active in the blog, and lit up a video newsletter. It was that process of just, as soon as I got into the cycle of, “Okay, I’m going to keep producing things. Some of it’s going to be product based, but like, who are the customers? Who’s succeeding? What stories can I share? What does a video email actually look like?” By that, I don’t mean what does it look like in an inbox, per se. I mean what are people saying, when are they using it, et cetera, et cetera.
I did that … Gosh, I probably wrote 500 blog posts and did a bunch of webinars and stage presentations over the course of four years as a solo marketing person. There was no team, and then the second four years of my time here so far, we brought on our CMO, Steve, who’s amazing, started building out the team. I started turning some of these things into formal processes that I could hand over to other people.
So, for me, television was helpful, and that I was comfortable with video, and I had done just a ton of short format and cross-platform writing. So, I could take what’s going to be a three-minute news piece, figure out the essence of it, knock it down into a 30 second spot where I have the best clips, I have the best sound, the best images, pick some music that characterizes it, and you edit it all together. It’s an art form. It was really fun for me. I loved it.
And so, this process of distilling down the best, most interesting, most salient thing lent itself to writing better subject lines, lent itself to doing just good teaching and training, and also attracting people into that teaching and training. It was great for email campaigns. It was not difficult to become an email marketer. I’ve since sent millions of emails, and if you had told me that you were hiring me to be an email marketing guy, I would have been like, “I don’t know anything about email.”
But the skills were all there. So, I would say anyone that’s listening that’s been doing the same thing for a while and wants to make a change and doesn’t quite know how to do it, I just want to encourage you, you have transferable skills that you may not recognize. So, as you’re looking at job postings that look interesting to you, and you’re like, “Ah, I don’t have that qualification. I don’t have that ‘experience,'” your skills are probably more transferable than you give yourself credit for, and that job description is a wish list more than it is anything else.
If the company can get all those things they’re asking for, congratulations. I wouldn’t be intimidated to open up conversations. I would also say just another use case for simple personal videos, we see it work on both sides. I already talked kind of a recruiting use case with that mock CEO, to the highly desirable candidate and his or her family or significant other or whatever. But on the employee side, or the potential hire side, sending a video into whoever’s recruiting or the hiring manager, should you have that opportunity or privilege, is a huge winning play.
You’re going to separate your self from the stack of other people and be able to sell with your very best sales asset, which is you. No matter what you’re doing, no matter what seat the job is in, no matter what you’re trying to advance, when you’re trying to influence and persuade someone, move someone from one position to another, and in this case it’s moving someone from not interviewing you to choosing to bring you in for an interview, and you are your own best sales asset in that process, because who you are is significant to what you’ve achieved.
Blake Emal: That’s really powerful because it doesn’t just apply to even what you were just saying, but like, in any instance in life, if you’re trying to separate yourself, using video strategy can be a huge way to do that because not many people are willing to just make the effort to do that. But that example you gave of if you’re a potential hire, sending a video to the interviewer, I’ve never seen anybody do that, personally, so, obviously that would stand out, right?
Like, if I’ve never seen it, if I’ve never really heard of that happening in my company, then doing something like that clearly will help you stand out. And then what’s the harm in doing that? You’re not going to hurt yourself by putting in that extra effort.
To piggyback off what you said a little bit, if anybody’s listening here that maybe wants to transfer into something just a little bit different but you don’t think that it really fits, you gave an example there of kind of how you got into content. For me, when I got into SEO about four years ago, the only thing I knew was how to speak French. I knew how to speak French, and it helped me get at a company called Boostability, and I had an entry-level position on the French team with French-Canadian clients doing SEO.
I didn’t know anything about SEO. I was not qualified for that job at all. I required a lot of training, but just having the one skill allowed me to get my foot in the door, and then I was able to prove my mettle from there. That’s really sometimes what it takes. So, if you are looking to get into something different, if you’re not satisfied with where you’re at, video’s a great way to stand out along your way, and then also, just look at those skills that you do have. Those can transfer in some way, like you mentioned.
Ethan Beute: Yeah, and I’ll give one more example. When we were looking to hire someone to manage our trade shows … We do a ton of trade shows and conferences. We were looking to bring someone in full-time to do it directly because it was like, a shared responsibility across a variety of us. It requires a really specific like, organized, attention to detail mindset. I am an organized person, but that level of detail is just … Man, it’s a lot.
So, anyway, we narrowed it down to two candidates, and one of them had done a variety of trade show type work, had produced events, and had managed multiple vendors, and people inbound and outbound in and out of the venue, and all these other like, all the logistical details this candidate had done many times over. The other person was a licensed therapist. She had a master’s degree in counseling and therapy, but, you know, you meet both of them in person, and we just recognized enough … Like, what would possess someone with a counseling to agree to say, “You know what? I’m going to go do this thing?”
She’s up against other people with the exact qualifications were looking for, and yet there’s something about that in-person, who she is, how she presents herself, how she carries herself, the feeling you get when you ask her questions and get responses. These are the intangibles where I knew intuitively … I just knew that she was going to be the better person on the job, and she has been. It’s amazing. This was like a year and a half, two years ago, and she was one of the best hires that we’ve ever made into our team.
Anyway, I just thought that occurred to me as you were giving further encouragement to people to explore possibilities. There is just another one, and that’s just immediate. That person is 10 yards out my door right now.
Blake Emal: That’s fantastic, and I think that’s the power of podcasting as well, is somebody can hear this, and that could change their whole life, just that little snippet. So, that’s fantastic.
I want to ask you a question about blogging, because you’ve talked about how you’ve written tons and tons of blog content. You also have your own podcast. You also do video. You’ve got all these different things that you’re a part of, that your company’s a part of. But obviously, video strategy is just a more human way of communicating. So, how can we make blogging more effective, given that some of that emotion, or the personality, is inherently taken out of that content?
How to Bring Your Blog to Life
Ethan Beute: Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, you come from an SEO background, so you understand how important it is to blog and to do it with words that Google can understand, and to put in the proper structure and hierarchy so that the bots, when they come and start looking at what’s here, how good is it, and of course, there are a number of other signs including if people come to it out of a search that they stay on the post and hang around. There are all these things … People that are in SEO understand these things.
What I would do as a habit all the time was write a full and proper blog post. I did this both ways. I don’t really have a preferred way to do it. Sometimes, I just had a nugget of an idea, or a cool story, or a great pro tip or something, and I would often times write the entire blog post, and then just record a video just to bring it to life. It’d be … Essentially, one way to describe it would be if you don’t take anything else away from it, take this away, right? So, I wrote this thing, you know that I know what I’m talking about. This wasn’t written by a bot, or some, you know, contract agency, or some anonymous people. I wrote this, and I’m speaking about it somewhat extemporaneously. I would not script those videos. I would know what I wanted to do. Here’s just a video pro tip.
If you want to do a single pass video for an email, or a blog post, or whatever, but it’s complicated, and you have a number of points, go ahead and make an outline. Do not script it, but go ahead and make an outline, and then at the beginning of the video, if it’s eventually going to wind up out of frame, don’t act like you’re not working off an outline. Hold it in your hand, or include it in the shot or whatever, and introduce it.
“Hey, I’m about to explain to you three really important things that you need to know about,” fill in the blank, right? And then, if you set it down, and it goes out of the shot, no problem. They’ve already seen it, and so when you look off to pick up point number two or to remind yourself of point number three, it’s not weird. People aren’t wondering what you’re looking off at. You don’t have to act like you’re perfect.
You give yourself permission to lean on a necessary and appropriate crutch, right, and it’s okay. It’s just weird when you act like you don’t have one. So, anyway, I would know where I wanted to go with these videos and the one, or two, or three, or four points I wanted to hit, and I would just speak to it. So, by the time you get done researching and writing the post, you should be very well equipped to explain why you wrote the post, and what are the one or two most important things that someone should take away from it, and or add a level of nuance or detail that is hard to write to, or, you know, all these other benefits that video has.
But I think above all, as someone who is blogging, you know, you’re doing it to help people. You’re doing it for SEO. You’re doing it to create a sense of authority potentially, any of a variety of things, but I think as that last step of recording a simple, not overproduced video that brings it to life and humanizes you as the author of it, it further cements the authority play. Not everyone’s going to watch the video, but some people will.
I would also say another tactic around this is … I haven’t thought about this in a while, so your question is very provocative for me.
Blake Emal: Good.
Ethan Beute: So, another thing I would do in an email and in a blog post is give someone a reason to play the video. Do not use the video to completely reiterate what is already in the email body or is already in the blog post. Use some text around the video to tell people why they should watch the video, and it should have some unique value in and of itself. The video and the text should be complementary to one another. It’s just a few thoughts about video in a blog post. In some cases, you’re actually going to want that to illustrate something you’re talking about.
So, when we talk about a video use case, for example, in a blog post on our blog, we might either create a video like that ourselves, or we’ll find a customer example to share in there. That’s another thing that we do is like, we’ll use a customer testimonial video, or a customer success story where they send us a video about how, and why, and when they’re using BombBomb and using video, and how awesome it is. Of course, that’s a benefit to us, but it also teaches people, and then we’ll get their permission to share a couple of their video examples.
So, “Hey, Tom. Thanks so much for sending me that video. Hey, in that video, you talked about using video in this way and in that way. Do you have a couple examples you could share with me?” Then, we’ll drop in the exact videos that he used. It just brings it to life.
It’s funny. We just had our book released. It released … We’re in mid-April. I’m not sure when this is going to air, so … We wrote a book on how, when, and why to use simple videos in your business, and it’s called Rehumanize Your Business. It’s funny because this is exactly that same dilemma is, okay, just like a blog post, the book is a great way to advance this mission, advance this movement, advance these ideas, and philosophies, and practices. We took all the things we’ve learned over the past several years, and put them in a logical, sensible flow, packaged up in a convenient format, whether you want it tangibly or whether you want the digital version of it, the E-book version of it. It’s just a convenient package to take all this content that we’ve produced.
You’d have to watch a webinar and a blog post, this, that, and the other thing, but then there’s this irony of well, you’re teaching people about video, but you’re doing it with plain, black, typed out text on a plain white page, and it’s the same thing in a blog post. If what you’re teaching … For us, of course, video should be seen and heard and felt, not just read about. So, we built an entire companion website. So, if you read the book, there are a number of call outs that say to, you know, “Go to the book companion website with the URL to see him explain this himself,” or to see an example of her doing this.
We do the same thing in our blog posts. If there’s a show and tell element to what you’re teaching about, whether it’s a software feature, or whether it is a how to get something done, how to connect one thing to another. You know, if you’re writing a plumbing blog for example, don’t just write about it for attracting people to your … I guess that’d be a parts and supplies blog more than a plumbing blog about how to connect things, but, you know, show how it’s done, and then give people a reason to watch the video.
In some cases, the reason to watch the video is going to be inherent. “Hey, if you want to see this done, click play.” In other cases, you know, if it’s a talking head teaching thing, if I’m teaching of the whiteboard, or I’m just a talking head, you need to give a compelling reason around the video to actually click play on the video.
Blake Emal: One of the things that really bothers me when I’m looking at LinkedIn content or whatever is there are a lot of people that are trying to get into thought leadership, which I think is great to expand the knowledge of other people, give it away for free. I love that mentality, but I see people just being kind of fake in a way, and providing information that’s really obvious, that everybody already knows. Like, how many LinkedIn posts have I seen that it’s just like, “You can do it. Just work harder, and you’ll get there.” It’s like, yeah, okay, but that’s obvious.
So, I like your approach of yeah, we can do thought leadership, we can make a book, we can do videos, we can do these things, but how can we make it connect with people? How can we make it innovative and unique, so that it actually stands out? That’s kind of the common theme that I’m getting here throughout talking with you so far, is being more human in business, sometimes it just boils down to standing out a little bit more to be able to do it effectively. But ultimately, it’s just a really simple process. Don’t speak down to people. Don’t make them feel dumb. Don’t be too obvious.
What are your thoughts on your approach to thought leadership, and how people can do it in a way that actually provides value?
Ethan Beute: You know, I think a conscious approach to thought leadership or a conscious approach to a personal brand … I just can’t get excited about it because it’s so easy, because it’s a construction, right? Like, if you stop, and you carve some time out of your day, and you go on a retreat for yourself or with some of your other people, and you brainstorm how you’re going to establish thought leadership and develop your personal brand, there’s probably something useful there, and I’m probably being too dismissive of it.
But for me, my approach has been do work that is fun, and interesting, and challenging. Do it with people you like and respect, and do it for people you like and respect, and you’re going to inherently learn things along the way, and you teach those things. Right? Like, I’m not necessarily a pure adherent of the document everything you’re doing, Gary Vaynerchuk style either, but essentially that’s what the … My participation in the blog, which slowed down when I committed to start writing the book last summer, fall, I’m not in there as actively, but my approach has always been as I learn things that I think, that I know are useful to our prospects and our customers, find a way to organize it, make it interesting and fun to read, and just share it. The truth is somewhere in between, as it is with everything.
I think you probably do know some things that you feel like everybody knows that everyone doesn’t know. I teach this all the time to like, real estate agents, right? We do a ton of business in real estate, and mortgage, and financial advisory, and automotive, and insurance, and a number of these other businesses where the product itself is a little bit commodity. So, who you are and how you deliver the service is super important. When they’re looking for video content, that’s why I always go to frequently asked questions. What do people ask about all the time? You know the answers to these, and because people ask you about them, most other people probably wonder the same thing, or don’t know, or the question has never even occurred to them.
So, I think as you run into something often in your role or in your position, where people tend to ask you the same questions over and over again, or you actually take a new approach to a problem you’ve faced and overcome for the past two or three years in your role, but you found a new way to do it that’s better. These are all opportunities to do a quick video or to write up a quick social post and actually share something that is relatively new or novel to you, or you’re wondering about something. You have a problem that you haven’t been able to overcome, and you just want to ask about it. You can ask about that in a LinkedIn post or even in a video where you characterize it.
So, to me, I’m with you on I think it’s just a lot more … I don’t want this to feel pejorative to the other side of it, but it just feels more authentic and honest, and approachable when you’re just being who you are, and just having enough confidence that you are a competent professional. You would not be in the seat you’re in if you did not deserve to be there, and if you don’t deserve to be there, you should find another seat because the situation will work itself out, not to your favor eventually.
You need to have enough confidence that you are doing the right thing, and the people around you trust you enough to do it, and the people who are choosing to work with you see enough value in what you’re providing that you are a competent individual. So, therefore, you should have some confidence about how you’re doing what you’re doing and why you’re doing what you’re doing, and let people in on that a little bit.
I don’t like, “Okay, how are we going to become thought leaders?” I think you are a thought leader, or you aren’t, or you could be a thought leader, and you’re just not taking the time to organize your thoughts and publish them in words, or pictures, or videos. And so, you may be undervaluing the fact that you potentially are a thought leader and not publishing on it because you don’t have the confidence. That’s why I kind of went down that alley. But I just, I don’t like the manufactured look. I think we can sniff it out.
That would be my caution about video in general, and I’ll double back on my departure from television to something I was more personally passionate about. If you are not sincere, and excited, and motivated by the opportunity you’re presenting to people, and the value that they’re going to get from it, and the benefits that they’re going to get from it, if you’re not truly sincere, and you are deeply transactionally-minded, and you’re just looking to hit quota, video may not be for you because it’s not going to be a winning look. We can sense insincerity.
So, just as much as you’re going to win by being honest, and sincere, and direct, and forthcoming, and being who you are and being comfortable in your own skin … By the way, even if you have a blemish on your face or messed up hair, or you have five more pounds than you want to have on your body, and so you’re kind of caught up on that, the confidence that you have in your own skin is fundamentally attractive. What makes you an attractive person is not just the way you look. It’s the confidence that you carry yourself with. So, comfort in your own skin is a winning play. It puts you in authority position, and when you can take the time to organize your thoughts and experiences, or even questions, into words and videos, and maybe even into some images or pictures, you are in a great position to win natural authority in an honest and meaningful way.
Blake Emal: Let’s talk about the book for just a second, because that’s not something that a lot of people have done, is actually gone through the effort of putting together an entire book, especially one that is helpful and meaningful.
So, Rehumanize Your Business … Let’s talk about how many hours did you put into writing that? How long did that take you and Stephen? How many late nights went into that? You mentioned you started last year, right?
Ethan Beute: I got really excited … I knew I was going to write a book, and it’s not because I’ve ever written a book before. I haven’t. My first thought was it’s going to be kind of the story of the company, because it’s been so interesting and challenging. There were times that like … I mean, every milestone we hit, we defied the odds.
But then, I thought about that more and more, and I thought like, “Okay, who’s the audience? Is it like, young and up-and-coming entrepreneurs? And who are we?” We haven’t arrived. I mean, we’ve … You know, we’re an awkward teenager, right? We’re not an infant. We’ve made it to teenage years, but we’re still a little bit gangly.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
“This Didn’t Just Change My Business. This Changed My Life”
Ethan Beute: We have some confidence and were capable, and we’re like … so, it’s like … It is a little presumptuous. So, I kind of set that off on the side, and then when I hit my six-year full-time anniversary, I started getting really excited about what we’ve done. I sincerely feel like we have built with, through, and for our customers, the most healthy and accomplished community around this style of video. We have 1,000 people who have sent 1,000 videos or more. We have a ton of people who sent more than 5,000 videos, and you don’t send 5,000 videos if the 4,999 before it were not a better and more effective way to communicate, and you don’t send 5,000 videos if it’s not quick and easy to do.
So, I think we have something special here. I love our customers. I love learning from my customers. I love teaching customers, and so, I just got super jacked about how far we had come, just in the six years that I had been participating full-time, and all the stories, and all the peoples. Almost all the customers I meet in person, I’m kind of a hugger, I’m not a big, big hugger, but I have hugged so many customers because we feel like we know each other before we ever meet each other. It was just really cool. I am just so jacked about what we’re doing.
When you get that video back from your customer that says … And this is going to sound over-the-top, but I’ve heard it a dozen times or more. “Man, this didn’t just change my business. This changed my life. Like, this ability to be more of who I am, to be more personal in my touches, and to get the more replies, but also warmer replies.” So, that’s what got me excited.
I was like, “Okay, we need to write the definitive guide to a better way to connect, and communicate, and convert every single day.” I didn’t tell anyone about it. I verbally committed to it to my wife, and she was like, “You should do it!” She’s so encouraging all the time, and she was very encouraging when I left a well-paying job to join a company that almost had no customers, and in theory, could have been wiped out by Mailchimp, or Google, or someone else, miles back if they moved on to the same idea.
Mercifully here, they haven’t. It’s shocking. So, she was encouraging, so I started writing it from 5:00 to 6:00 in the morning, and, you know, maybe the better part of a Saturday or a Sunday, most weekends. I did that for a little while. I got to about five, six, 7,000 words. I had a full outline for it, and then I started sharing it with Steve, who is our Chief Marketing Officer. We work together every day. Even though he’s in Philadelphia, we work by Zoom.
Just to get a sense of internal buy-in, another big thing that I did was I reread books written by people I knew, and then reached out to them and asked them if they would give me some time. I talked with six different people I knew who had written books, some had self-published, and they were like, that really lightweight, more pamphlet style, and some people had been published by, you know, name brand publishers. I talked about the two tracks.
How Do You Actually Write a Book?
One of them is, how do you actually write a book? I talked to a guy who closed himself in a room and wrote for 12 hours a day, and knocked it out in nine days. I talked with another guy who took two years to do it, including like, you know, a month sabbatical. He’s an independent contractor type of guy, so he can set his own schedule [crosstalk 00:47:50] so he just like, forwent any projects for a while and like, used that time, and then just kind of chipped away at it.
I tried to figure out how it would work best for me, and then how do you get published? How do you self publish, and how do you get a deal with a publisher? So, went down those roads, kept going, got buy-in from Steve, got internal buy-in, because there was a question of whether it was going to be my book or whether it was going to be, you know, a BombBomb endorsed project. The company was super excited about the opportunity, especially because it’s structured like a, you know, what is relationships through video, why does it matter from a human connection standpoint? When do I actually send video versus sending text?
Who is actually doing this? What does this look like in the field, and how are people using it? How do I actually do this? How do I record video? How do I send video in email, and text message, and social media, and then some advanced strategies on how to get more email opens, how to get more video plays. What do I do if someone opens my email but doesn’t play my video? How do I follow up if I do that for one person, or how do I do that if I send it to a list of people and my video play rate’s 20%? How do I get to the other 80%?
So, we go top to bottom, and so, it’s just this thoughtful structure. It took me about two and a half months to write in total once I had kind of the outline down. I did spend some time at my parents’ place in West Michigan, where I still jumped in on a few meetings, was involved a little bit in operations, but kind of pulled the plug a little bit and was about 70% book, 30% operations in the rest of my job. So, I did get some grace and help from some of my team members, so that was a little bit of a privilege, and then just kept going.
The crazy thing is writing the manuscript and submitting it to Wiley, like, that was exciting, but that was just the start. You know, here I am now. He said, “If you give me a manuscript before Thanksgiving, I can give you a book before April is out.” And we’re doing our first ever live conference in the first full week of May, so we were like, “That’s perfect.” It’s just different phases of the same project over and over. I’m not done. It’s almost not real. I’m standing here with a book right next to me, and it still doesn’t feel like I have a book that I’ve written with Steve, to celebrate everything we’ve learned with and for our customers, because there’s just still so much work to do around it.
So, it’s like, I need to find better ways to stop and celebrate the moments.
Blake Emal: The book is called Rehumanize Your Business: How Personal Videos Accelerate Sales and Improve Customer Experience. It was written by Ethan and Stephen. So, Ethan’s the VP of Marketing, Stephen’s the CMO.
I’m going to get my hands on a copy. I saw that James Carberry got his copy. I was planning on ordering it today. So, I’m going to go get it. I’m really excited to read that.
Then, you are with bombbomb.com. So, if you own a business, and you’re looking to kind of diversify a little bit, get a little more personal with your customers through email, this is a great way to do that, and hopefully you’ve been able to get some amazing insights from Ethan about how to rehumanize your business. Do that thing exactly that the book is trying to teach you, right there.
Ethan, before you go, I have some rapid fire questions for you …
Rapid Fire Questions With Ethan Beute
Ethan Beute: Awesome.
Blake Emal: That will be a little more obnoxious, and …
Ethan Beute: Cool.
Blake Emal: Well, we’ll see what we get. The point is just to, you know, ease it up a little bit. We’ve gone really heavy on video, and customer experience, and now it’s time to just take a breather for a second.
Ethan Beute: Okay. Let’s do this.
Blake Emal: Here’s the rapid fire round. Texting or phone call?
Ethan Beute: Texting.
Blake Emal: That surprises me. Okay. Favorite day of the week.
Ethan Beute Probably Saturday.
Blake Emal: That makes sense. Favorite city in the United States besides any that you’ve ever lived in?
Ethan Beute: Ooh. That takes Chicago off the list. I was going to go to Chicago. I lived there for a few years. It’s my favorite city.
My favorite city to travel to … Shockingly, I hate almost everything about Las Vegas, but I like that it’s walkable and there’s good food there. I love the Pacific Northwest. I love California. Yeah. It’s hard to pick one.
Blake Emal: You’re in Colorado Springs, right?
Ethan Beute: Correct.
Blake Emal: Awesome.
Ethan Beute: I was going to … As soon as you asked the question I was like, “Chicago, all in.”
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Ethan Beute: But then you said, “that you haven’t lived in.”
Blake Emal: Yeah. What was the last song you listened to?
Ethan Beute: It’s a song called Grounded by a band called Pavement. I think it’s their second album, but it’s the rerelease of it, and so, it’s got like, that second disk with all the outtakes and bonus tracks, and things. It was actually a song that was released on the album that came after that one, but it still was like a demo version of it.
Yeah. I have an extensive CD collection and a very old car. So, I still listen to a lot of music on compact discs. It’s actually fun just to like … You know, I have them in this cube. I just spin it, pull one out, and I just ride with it for a couple days or, you know, maybe even just a day, sometimes even a week. So, I’m in my second pass on this two disc set from Pavement, which is a really great American band.
Blake Emal: That’s awesome. Would you rather be able to speak every language in the world or be able to talk to animals?
Ethan Beute: Ooh. I’ll say animals.
Blake Emal: What would be your ideal number one animal you’d want to talk to, that you think would be the most interesting?
Ethan Beute: I’m just going to say things that are accessible to me, probably deer or birds. Like, we have a ton of deer in my neighborhood, like, mule deer, and they just kind of cruise around the neighborhood, and they seem interesting and fun. Birds, of course, just have a really cool perspective, but I don’t know that their lives are that interesting.
But, you know, to me it’s like, there’s so many translation services. My son just went to Europe on a school trip, and a buddy of his showed him a Google app that he could get where he could just hold up his phone, and he could look at a billboard, or a menu, or a magazine, or whatever, and it would do the translation live on his screen.
So, it would be cool to speak more languages. I think there’s a lot to understanding cultures and personalities through human language, but animals are a little more interesting. I think it would be a more unique skill.
Blake Emal: I agree. Finally, would you rather have invisibility or super strength?
Ethan Beute: I think invisibility. Gosh, that’s a tough one. My gut is invisibility. I don’t know why. I don’t really want to hide from anything, but again, there’s kind of a novelty play there.
I mean, there are people that are probably truly, I mean, literally, physically, 10 to 20 times stronger than me, maybe more. So, invisibility. I don’t know anyone who’s invisible.
Blake Emal: All right. That’s all for those rapid fire questions. It was awesome talking to you.
Ethan Beute: Cool, man. Thank you so much.
P2P Interview with Jonathan Verstegen
Blake Emal: And now it’s time to switch from a B2B mindset to P2P. That is peer to peer. I’m going to be interviewing people here at Directive Consulting, my peers, my colleagues, to try to find out what makes them tick, to see where they come from, what their goals are professionally, and give you an idea of what the culture is like here at Directive.
It’s going to be a really interesting opportunity, and maybe you’ll even find people that have your exact same job title, your same position, or your same goals, or maybe they just like the same music as you.
So, I’ve got Jonathan Verstegen here. How are you, Jonathan?
Jonathan Verstegen: Going well, Blake. How are you?
Blake Emal: I am … I’m great.
Jonathan Verstegen: All right.
Blake Emal: Thank you.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: So, I want to start off by asking you about your story, and how you ended up at Directive. So, not like, when you were born. We’ll skip forward a little bit. How did you get your start in sales and marketing, and then how did you end up Directive?
Jonathan Verstegen: I went to school for healthcare. I was an occupational therapy assistant, practicing in a few different areas. Started off in pediatrics, then went to a skill nursing facility, working with older adults. I actually grew up with Garrett Mehrguth. So, I’ve known him since I was in first grade. We homeschooled together.
Later on down the line in high school, I met Tanner. We actually became roommates for a short while there, and became pretty close. So, I’d always been keeping pretty close tabs on Directive, and obviously, Garrett and Tanner were heavily involved in my life.
So, I came to a point where occupational therapy … I was getting a lot of fulfillment out of it, but wasn’t getting a lot of hours from the particular job I had. Garrett reached out to me and said, “Hey, I know you’re getting married soon. I can, you know, attest to the type of person you are since we’ve known you for a while. Would love to offer you a position at Directive.” Since I had seen the type of explosive growth Directive has been going through, and I know, you know, how much pride Garrett and Tanner both take in not only Directive’s success as a company, but also the success of each individual within their company, it was a no brainer for me.
So, I was able to hop on board.
Blake Emal: So, you had no sales experience at all?
Jonathan Verstegen: No sales experience. Well, I was saving up for a bicycle when I was about 12 years old. My brother and I would go to Costco and buy bulk packages of popsicles, and then get on our roller blades and sell them in the rich neighborhoods next door.
So, other than that, yeah, no experience.
Blake Emal: So, if you were to stick in medicine, what did you want to do long term? Did you want to stick with that … what you were already doing, or did you want to get more education?
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. So, I was an assistant, which is just an entry-level degree. The plan was to essentially test out a few different practice settings and see which one I liked the best, and then from there, go ahead and get my master’s degree and become a full-fledged occupational therapist, rather than an assistant.
I had some sights set on maybe owning a home health practice, or working specifically for fall prevention with older adults, working on balance training and home safety assessments, but I realized that I am the type of person that really needs to follow under a structure, rather than setting a structure for myself.
You know, there’s business owner personalities and then there’s people that perform really well within a company. I just was kind of faced with my reality that I’m probably going to be more successful as part of an organization, and obviously, Garrett takes his leadership with fierce enthusiasm. So, I knew that he was the kind of person I could definitely get behind.
Blake Emal: Going forward, do you see yourself ever going back to that, or do you think this is what you want to do now?
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah, no, and that’s definitely a good question. I love what I do now, and I definitely see myself being here for a number of years. With that being said, maybe there’s some potential for me to get back into that kind of on the side. I do have a definite heart for helping people.
I know that’s something that you would express too, during some of the earlier stages of your career, trying to figure out how you can rationalize, “Okay, I’m actually helping people. People need to make money. I’m making an impact on their lives.” I know from the first podcast. So, I know it’s something you care about as well.
It’s definitely something that weighs pretty heavily on my heart, as far as wanting to help people in real life and wanting to make sure I make an impact. So, I can definitely see myself getting back into that, as sort of maybe a side project or something I do on a one-by-one basis, rather than actually having a formal structure around it.
But it’ll be interesting to see.
Blake Emal: Yeah. Life will take you where it’ll take you, I guess.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah, exactly.
Blake Emal: But what would your dream job or like, your end goal look like? If you could have your career and the perfect way for you, what does that look like?
Jonathan Verstegen: Oh, man. If I had the answer to that, I would be going forward at full sprint. Something that involves helping people and also getting the option to golf a fair amount.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. I think it would be … I would love to take sales, you know, as far as I can take it, but also I would maybe like to use some of this experience to go ahead and get more of a business mind, if I do actually want to be profitable for something within the therapy realm, or within just helping people.
Ideally, I’m the kind of person though, money’s always going to be kind of on the backend. Right? Money’s just going to be kind of a means to an end, and what I’d really like to do is just to be able to have a sustainable lifestyle, while still being able to invest my time into helping people. Right? I don’t want to make my career be such a solid investment or such a huge percentage of the amount of time that I have in my life, that I forget to focus on other areas or forget to prioritize other areas.
So, I mean, it sounds like a dream. It’s something that maybe sounds very millennial of me, but I would love to be able to have a lifestyle supported where I can just help people. Now, what avenue that’s actually going to come from is yet to be determined.
Blake Emal: You’re flexible.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. I’m flexible. Exactly.
Blake Emal: All right. Let’s go back to golf. Since the Masters were on this past weekend, be real. Did you cry?
Jonathan Verstegen: Absolutely, I cried.
Blake Emal: You cried.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. I was taking a video because I wanted to show the world my enthusiasm, and then I realized that’s not a normal person thing to do. Most people don’t take a video of themselves crying at Tiger’s victory, but I definitely did shed some tears.
Blake Emal: Is he your golfer, or do you follow somebody else closer than him?
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah, so, DJ, Dustin Johnson, is my number one favorite, but I think everybody, even DJ himself, was pulling for Tiger that day. I didn’t start golfing until three years ago. So, I obviously knew of Tiger growing up, but didn’t follow him super closely.
Since his return, definitely, have been following him. It’s just a cool sports story, man, a cool human story.
Blake Emal: Definitely.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: Yeah, it’s like, one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen.
Jonathan Verstegen: It’s amazing.
Blake Emal: He hasn’t won since 2008?
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. It’s been 11 years since his last major. I’m not sure how many … Well, he won the Tour Championship, as his last just regular victory, last year, but his last major, yeah, it’s been 11 years.
Blake Emal: Crazy.
Jonathan Verstegen: It’s crazy. Do you follow pretty closely as well?
Blake Emal: No, but I mean, how can you not follow Tiger? I mean, he like, transcends the sport.
Jonathan Verstegen: Absolutely.
Blake Emal: So, like, growing up then, if we’re talking about the people that influenced you or that inspired you, are there any golfers that would fit into that category, or are there other people that, outside of your family … It’s easy to say your mom and your dad inspire you, whatever.
Jonathan Verstegen: Oh, you called me out. I was going to say that.
Blake Emal: But like, is there anybody else that inspired you or motivated you to get on this path?
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. I was growing up homeschooled, so I did have a lot of immediate influence from my family. Aside from that, I really wanted to be a professional hockey player when I was first growing up. I grew up playing hockey. I still play occasionally in good old Southern California. Ice hockey is pretty expensive, and not as popular, so I do play mostly roller.
That’s what I really wanted to be. Mike Modano was my original kind of sports idol. Not sure that he influenced the path that I’m on today, but if we’re talking kind of loosely correlated to sports idols, Mike Modano was my guy. Yeah. The Dallas Stars, and I just … I love the guy. He’s just everything I wanted to be, right? He was number nine, I was number 19. So, a little bit of similarity there.
My uncle actually lived in Dallas, and he was a pilot for Delta. Mike Modano just happened to have a spare house on his street as well, so I would always try to catch him, but I never did. But yeah. He was my original kind of sports idol.
Blake Emal: All right. So, let’s shift gears a little bit. If I’m going around asking your coworkers, the people that know you the best here at Directive …
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: And I take a poll … What are they going to say is your spirit animal? I’m not asking you what you think your spirit animal is.
Jonathan Verstegen: What are they going to say? All right. Oh man. I definitely think they see me as just like, a happy go lucky … I don’t know, like, a rabbit, because they’re a little bit too scared, but yeah, something like that. Let’s see. Spirit animal. Maybe a rabbit or like, a kangaroo. I don’t know.
Blake Emal: Yeah, I could see that. Yeah.
Jonathan Verstegen: Like, I’ve got a little bit of hop to me, right?
Blake Emal: Definitely. I think that’s fair. But what would you say?
Jonathan Verstegen: So, I do have a theory on this, that I have two spirit animals. One is like, kind of the elk personality, and that’s my when I stand up for myself and stand up for morality, and choose to be, you know, strong in what I believe in. That’s something that I definitely, you know, kind of the standard that I like to hold myself to. I feel like an elk is a symbol of like, power for good.
I also have this other side of me that’s like, a black jaguar, right? That maybe I don’t always make the best choices, but it sure is fun. So, I have those two kind of conflicting sides, and they sure are fun to both kind of pursue.
Blake Emal: Who would win in a fight between an elk and a jaguar?
Jonathan Verstegen: Well …
Blake Emal: Hold on. Let’s rephrase that. 10 elk …
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah, there we go.
Blake Emal: And one jaguar.
Jonathan Verstegen: 10 elk. It all comes down … Let me see. Which one do you feed more, right? But I think just head-to-head, one-on-one, definitely the jaguar. I think maybe four … maybe three elk could take on a jaguar though. I always forget which one’s bigger, between a jaguar and a panther. One of them’s a lot … I don’t know. I should have come prepared with these answered.
Blake Emal: They’re all scary.
Jonathan Verstegen: They’re so scary. They’re really scary. I think it would take minimum two elk to defeat a jaguar.
Blake Emal: I agree with that. Yeah. If I was going to ask you … I’m not looking for like … It’s not an interview question of like, what’s your biggest weakness, but rather if I asked you what’s something you’re really trying to improve upon? It could be in your life, could be in your career.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: Just the biggest thing that you think you want to improve on.
Jonathan Verstegen: Definitely. I think setting standards for myself and setting goals for myself because of myself, not because I’ve been told to do it, just because I know it’s the right thing or because I know it’s going to help me advance, or because I know it’s going to ultimately make me happy, and having the courage to go ahead and move forward with that and prioritize that.
Something that I’ve definitely always been working on. I grew up … My father’s in the military. It was pretty strict. Absolutely loving. I love my dad more than, you know … I love my dad so much. I love my parents. But we grew up in a very strict kind of house, where I was always more of, “Okay, this is what I need to do because I was told, so I need to do it.”
So, just learning how to kind of, you know, transcend that and really understand what makes me happy for myself and what’s going to ultimately lead to the greatest good in my life. Whether it’s something big like that or just at work. Okay, here’s the task I need to do because they’re on my calendar, but really what’s going to move the needle from a sales perspective, and if I need to go ahead and assign myself things outside of my normal day-to-day, how do I go and start doing that and prioritizing that above just the menial tasks?
Blake Emal: Awesome. Love it.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: All right. How good are you at hot potato?
Jonathan Verstegen: Hot potato? My goodness. I don’t even remember.
Blake Emal: Are you ready for rapid fire?
Jonathan Verstegen: Oh, rapid fire. This one! I thought you meant the old school hot potato.
Blake Emal: Well, it’s like, verbal and mental hot potato.
Jonathan Verstegen: Let’s go for it. I talk pretty fast as it is, so I should be good at it.
Blake Emal: Okay. I’ll go through what I have. If I think of anything else, I’ll throw it in there to throw you off.
Jonathan Verstegen: Okay.
Blake Emal: Here we go.
Jonathan Verstegen: All right.
Blake Emal: Texting or phone call?
Jonathan Verstegen: Phone call.
Blake Emal: Favorite day of the week?
Jonathan Verstegen: Saturday.
Blake Emal: Why?
Jonathan Verstegen: Because golf and because it’s for the boys, but also I could spend a little time with the wife, as well. Got to throw her in there.
Blake Emal: Favorite city in the United States besides the one you currently live in.
Jonathan Verstegen: United States, ooh. San Antonio. Extended family lives there, I have a lot of good memories.
Blake Emal: Nice. I’m moving to Austin.
Jonathan Verstegen: There we go.
Blake Emal: Yeah. What was the last song you listened to?
Jonathan Verstegen: Last song I listened to. Okay, I’m allowed to pull out my phone for the answer to this one?
Blake Emal: No, no. Come on.
Jonathan Verstegen: Last song I listened to … oh my goodness. I listened to … You know what it was? It was Kings Kaleidoscope. They’re a Christian worship band, but they don’t sound like a typical Christian worship band because I can’t stand typical Christian worship bands. I believe it was called 139, was the name of the song.
Blake Emal: Very good.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: Would you rather be able to speak every language in the world or be able to talk to animals?
Jonathan Verstegen: Oh my goodness. I’ve got to say animals. I mean, right? Because I could theoretically learn every language. That’s possible, but animals is impossible, so I’m going to take that if I get the opportunity.
Blake Emal: If you could learn any language for fun, what would it be?
Jonathan Verstegen: Spanish. Most practical.
Blake Emal: Not practical. Let’s do fun.
Jonathan Verstegen: Let’s do fun? Okay.
Blake Emal: Let’s go crazy.
Jonathan Verstegen: I like that. Just probably the most … Whatever has the fewest people that actually speak it, some random island in the middle of nowhere, just in case I actually get thrown there. I think that would be really surprising to those people, that I could speak their language.
Blake Emal: Invisibility or super strength?
Jonathan Verstegen: Invisibility.
Blake Emal: Favorite Avenger?
Jonathan Verstegen: You’re not going to like me very much. Don’t watch The Avengers.
Blake Emal: Ooh. That’s fine.
Jonathan Verstegen: I don’t watch.
Blake Emal: No, that’s fine.
Jonathan Verstegen: Is Captain America one of them?
Blake Emal: Yeah. That’s fine.
Jonathan Verstegen: Okay.
Blake Emal: It’s all good. What do you watch? We’ll make it relevant to you.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. I like … Shawshank Redemption is a great movie. I’m not a big action movie guy, to be completely honest. I like comedies. I like thought-provoking movies. I like more of that type of stuff.
Blake Emal: All right, so what’s your go-to comedy? Best of all time?
Jonathan Verstegen: Dumb and Dumber is definitely up there for classics. Step Brothers. Anchorman. I feel like those were all part of the … Anchorman, Step Brothers were all part of kind of the last generation of great comedies. It’s gone a little bit downhill since then. But yeah. Step Brothers, Anchorman, and Dumb and Dumber. Monty Python as well.
Blake Emal: Monty Python’s great.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah.
Blake Emal: Yeah, comedy’s kind of in a weird place because like, political correctness has made it so that it’s hard to stretch the boundaries a little bit.
Jonathan Verstegen: Yeah. It’s kind of an interesting space. Then you have the far opposite of people that are going shock value just for shock value sake with no actual thought process behind it.
Blake Emal: Yeah.
Jonathan Verstegen: I can’t get behind that either.
Blake Emal: Cool, man. That was Jonathan. He’s in the sales … So, what’s your exact title?
Jonathan Verstegen: Account Executive.
Blake Emal: Account Executive. He is really just like, a nice guy. That’s the only way I would just like … He’s just always smiling and super happy. Jonathan, thanks for coming on.
Jonathan Verstegen: Of course, Blake.
Blake Emal: It was a pleasure. Have a good one.
Jonathan Verstegen: Pleasure was mine. Thanks. Appreciate it, Blake.
Blake Emal: Just a reminder to please go check out Ethan on LinkedIn at Ethan Beute, also on Twitter @ethanbeute. Go check out bombbomb.com, as well as go to Amazon and look for this book. It’s called Rehumanize Your Business. It’s about creating personalized videos. It’s really cool. I’m ordering my copy. I encourage you to go do that as well.
Finally, please listen to The Customer Experience Podcast, also hosted by Ethan Beute.
Thank you for listening to Yours in Marketing. I’m Blake Emal. If you would please do us the favor of subscribing to the podcast, if you found value in this, and tell your friends. Tell other B2B leaders. Tell people that need to hear about this. If you have a website, if you are in marketing or out of marketing, if you just want to learn how to build your website, how to build your business online, or if you just want to learn more about interesting people in general, in the B2B space, please subscribe to this podcast.
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