Episode 85: How to Make Marketing Technology Work for You

Episode 85: How to Make Marketing Technology Work for You

A marketing expert shares advice to help small businesses put more strategy behind their use of marketing technology, to drive results while freeing up time.


Running a small business is hard work. Especially when you’re just starting out, you have to be able to make smart decisions about your business plan, marketing, and sales—often without the background or strategy to execute all of your tactics effectively. In this episode, Kelly Garrett joins the podcast to talk marketing technology strategy for small business owners. Listen in to learn common mistakes some entrepreneurs make when delving into marketing, technology, and strategy for the first time, and how to avoid them.
Kelly Garrett is founder and master of marketing at Ekcetera Design & Marketing. She places herself in your customers’ shoes and helps companies create a cohesive customer journey to elevate fragmented, inconsistent marketing. She improves customer loyalty and retention by bringing together the right combination of technology, automation, design, and strategy to optimize your marketing impact.


Chris Davis: 00:24 Welcome to another episode of The ActiveCampaign Podcast. I’m your host, Chris Davis. On this episode I have Kelly Garrett of Ekcetera Design and Marketing. It’s a marketing agency that helps business owners, small business owners, with the transition or the intersection of strategy and technology. I’m glad to have Kelly on the podcast, because I can’t have too many digital marketers, people who help companies, businesses really leverage technology the right way, stress the importance of the strategy piece, along with the technology piece.

So, in this episode, we detail exactly how the strategy plays into the technology and what approach you should be taking. If you’ve taken the wrong approach in the past, don’t worry. From this point on, you are informed, and you will do better, because you know better, so enjoy the episode. Kelly, welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?

Kelly Garrett: 01:28 Thanks, Chris. I’m doing really good. I am so excited to be here. Thank you for having me, and I can’t wait to talk about marketing.

Chris Davis: 01:36 Yes. Yes. Marketing is always a fun topic for those who know and those who don’t know, so I’m equally excited, and a bonus for us is you are in my home state.

Kelly Garrett: 01:50 Yes. I am.

Chris Davis: 01:52 I love when I can connect with people in the space that are from the same state. For those of you who are listening, that’s Minnesota. Kelly, it’s not about me. It’s not about me. It is about you. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, your background, and your business?

Kelly Garrett: 02:10 Absolutely. I own a marketing agency called Ekcetera Design and Marketing. My background is … it goes way back to when I was a kid, in terms of what I’m doing for my career. I was just a huge design geek, back when we were on the first iteration of Macintosh computers, using the Print Shop with dot matrix printers. I just love designing things and had little entrepreneurial ventures as a kid. Then throughout school I just kind of kept along those lines, got some jobs doing some graphic design work, taught myself web design. I got an undergrad degree in IT and then went right into getting my masters degree, an MBA with an emphasis in marketing and entrepreneurship. I thought I was gonna kind of climb the corporate ladder and decided right when I was finishing up grad school that, “No. You know what? I need to start a business, because if I don’t do this now, I’m not gonna do it. Life is gonna get busy.” Thankfully at the time I was in a place where my husband was able to support us, so that I could really follow my dream. I started out freelancing and just grew pretty quickly. I had to hire someone right away, because I had too much work and just have kind of slowly grow since then. My business has ebbed and flowed with the life stages that I’ve been in and also just as I have been learning more and more, and deepening my skillset and sort of adapting my offerings to people and what I can help people with, as I grow personally and as a marketer.

Chris Davis: 03:51 Yeah. What you’ve done is more of a rarity than I’m realizing. You are a technical professional, a technical minded individual, and you were able to break free from the technology and understand the importance of learning how to market. What would you say was the single … if it was a single thing? I know its hard to pinpoint it to one thing, because it’s often a combination of events over time that lead up to what seems to be one thing. What was that event, that turning point for you and your business where you realized, “You know what? This technology’s important, but it really can’t do much if you don’t understand the marketing piece”?

Kelly Garrett: 04:29 Yeah. You’re right. It is kind of a combination of things over time, but generally speaking, the thing that really kind of caught my attention was stating out as a freelancer doing graphic and web design and realizing … and in talking to other freelancers and professionals in that area, realizing that other people that were doing those things were not thinking about the projects from a holistic perspective. I’ve always been so curious when I’m doing a website, how else are you marketing? How are people getting to your website in the first place? How does this fit into the entire strategy? Having that curiosity made me realize, oh, wow, when people hire a web developer, you mean they don’t go over their branding and all these other things with them?

So, I kind of discovered that I was unique in that aspect and that that was a really value added thing that I could provide for people is working with them on their strategy, you know, doing a lot of planning and seeing how their technical website, and graphic design, and those kinds of things fit into the rest of their marketing, because if you don’t do that, you’re not going to be nearly as effective as you could be.

Chris Davis: 05:54 Yeah. We share similar paths, as far as the migration from building websites into digital marketing and everything. I remember I was attending a local networking group when I was first getting started, and I labeled myself an anomaly. I was like, “Listen, everybody. An anomaly is before you, someone who understands technology and marketing.” I was just kind of saying those words back then, but as I’ve grown in my professional career, they have not rang more truer now than then, where you see it clear. There is literally no barrier of entry to technology, right? Anybody with fingers and toes can type on a computer, sign up software, and thing that their business is going. So, now business does not require a business plan, nor a marketing strategy. I know for you, as an agency, you get clients all the time that think that marketing strategy check box is checked, right?

Kelly Garrett: 07:00 Yup.

Chris Davis: 07:02 That could be a really rough conversation, depending on the business type. How do you go about having that conversation that, “Wait a minute. We need to take a few steps back”? Maybe even before that, how do you accurately assess if they have a marketing strategy or not?

Kelly Garrett: 07:19 Yeah. I just experienced this a couple days ago with a potential lead call that I was on. I see it most often when people … a lot of times where people are very creative or they’re very technology oriented. Usually when I’m on a call with them, they just have idea after idea after idea that they’re bouncing to, or they’re talking specifically about the mechanics or the tools. They either want to dive into, “Okay. Well, I tried this thing on WordPress. Then I added this plug-in, and now I’m trying to decide which landing page software I should use.”

They bounce all over to all these specific tech setups or, like I was saying, the flip side, the contrast to that is if they’re very creative and they just have ideas. “Well, I’m starting this foundation, and this is our mission. I’ve got this book that I’m launching, and I work with this set of people. There are all these different people I could serve. There’s really no one that I can’t serve.” That is a pretty telltale sign to me that there’s definitely something missing. They’re diving into the technology and the tactics too soon, or they’re stuck in ideation and creativity, and they’re not ready to dive forward with an action plan.

Chris Davis: 08:43 Yeah. In one of our previous podcasts, I talked about coachability and motivational drivers and talked about how certain motivational drivers will be higher in some people than other. What I found to be true with me, I’m very high order. I’m very process driven. It seems like you are too. So, it’s like when people come and they’re just all over the place, you’re like, “Okay. Wait a minute. Pump the brakes. Pause. What is first?” Right?

Kelly Garrett: 08:43 Yup.

Chris Davis: 09:16 If you’re doing this, for what end result? Right? Because I believe that oftentime most people who are high achievement, they just wanna go out and do stuff, and especially if they’re aspirational and they have some power as a driver, they want to go and get stuff done. So, they come to someone like yourself. They’ve got all of these ideas, and they’re all good, right?

Kelly Garrett: 09:37 Yeah.

Chris Davis: 09:37 They’re all great things, but the thing is we can’t do them all at once, so what are we gonna do first? What was kind of standing out to me, as you were talking, is not only your process oriented way of approaching things, but also like, okay, we can do all those things for what result? What are we trying to accomplish here?

Kelly Garrett: 10:02 Right. That’s usually how I kind of rein in a conversation that I’m having with someone. That’s the very first thing I ask. I say, “Okay. Those are all great ideas,” or, “Yes. I can help you figure out what technology to use to accomplish that, but let’s step back for a second. What is your goal? What are you trying to accomplish with all of these ideas that you have?” That’s the place to start, because that helps you immediately narrow down to what steps to take and to eventually figure out what technology you want to use to implement it.

Chris Davis: 10:36 Yes. Yes. Now, that process can be painful, or it could be really freeing. What I found is that most of the time it’s not as painful. I’ve come across a few people where it’s just like the realization of how much money they’ve been leaving on the table by not actually doing this, or they’ll learn the hard way and already have lost the money, and they’re coming to you battered, and bruised, and wounded, looking for immediate aid. It’s just like, you know, “I wish I would have known you five years ago.” You know? “I’ve wasted all of this money and X, Y, Z.” For you, when these people come to you, and they are receptive, they’re like, “Okay. I hear what you’re saying. I’m willing to embrace this,” where do you go from there, after you’re able to get them to buy in with the fact that we need to revisit their strategy and align it to a specific goal?

Kelly Garrett: 11:42 So, I have a method that I use. I did this for a long time by instinct, before I actually kind of put it down on paper and made it into a true process. So, my family is a big aviation family. My husband’s an aeronautical engineer, so we live and breath airplanes. I can’t help but kind of think of it in these terms, and that’s different elevations. So, when you are in an airplane and you’re taking off, you’re at 1,000 feet, and everything is pretty … you can see people walking. You can see all the details of what’s on the ground. Then as you get up higher and higher, the details become fuzzier, and you just see more general things.

I start with a 30,000 foot view of whatever task it is that we’re trying to go after, whether it’s your entire marketing or a specific project that we’re working on. We look at the 30,000 foot view. The first thing we ask is, “What’s your goal? What are you trying to accomplish? Generally speaking, how are we going to accomplish that?” Once we’ve figured out that 30,000 foot view … Remember, that’s the highest view, so the least amount of detail and just the big picture.

Then we move to the 15,000 foot view, and that’s kind of in between. That’s where you can start to see some of the detail coming together. We can maybe start to talk about technology and how we’re gonna implement it, but generally, at the 15,000 foot view we are looking at steps. What are the broad steps that we’re gonna take to accomplish the goal and the vision that we had in the 30,000 foot view? Then we’re mapping out, okay, in order to do that, first, we need to identify who we want to sell this to, what the product is gonna look like? You know, what are the different features it’s gonna have? What’s the package gonna look like? How are we gonna deliver that product, and how are we gonna spread the word to people about that product to sell it?

Then after we have kind of the steps outlined in our 15,000 foot view, then we dive into the 1,000 foot view. Those are the finite details, so what software are we gonna use to take people from our homepage to opt-in to start getting our email newsletters? What is the content of those email newsletters gonna look like? What’s gonna be the follow up sequence that we use, after they’ve opted in, to get them to our sales page? What software are we gonna use for the sales page? All of those, you know, really small details that we often tend to jump into first, when in the process that I use, that’s actually the last thing we look at, because those other elevations, those higher levels have been determined already, so it makes those decisions a lot easier.

Chris Davis: 14:31 Oh. I love it. First off, I love the analogy. It’s almost like I felt like I was flying with you, and we were getting closer and closer to the ground, so I had to kind of come back to the podcast, because I was in space with you, just coming closer and closer to the trees. But I love that approach, and I love how you break it down, because none of the details matter if you don’t get the big picture, right?

If I could couple that with an analogy of my own, as an artist, I used to paint all the time, and one of my biggest issues with paintings is I would get so close. I would get so close to the painting or the drawing, and then when I backed up and was like, “Okay. I’m finished,” I would look at it, and either the face would be lopsided, or it wouldn’t be symmetrical at all. My color would be a little off. When I got mentorship, my mentor showed me how to start painting in those broad strokes. Get the overall shape down. Then you start going to a smaller and smaller brush as you start to define.

That’s really what we’re doing, right? The broad stroke in business is, you know, like what are you trying to achieve? Then once you understand that, go in a little further. Let’s talk about the how. That turns into the strategy. Then we get to what you talked … You actually mentioned this before our podcast. You were saying the intersection of marketing, your marketing strategy and technology, this is the most critical intersection in businesses that want to leverage what online has for them, for their business effectively. That intersection, it has to be dealt with correctly.

The first step is, as you mentioned, get your strategy down. Okay? What are some other considerations that people need to be taking at this intersection? because I know a lot of people get shiny object syndrome. A lot of people are influenced by friends or other figures that are using particular technologies, and even though they have a similar business, they just automatically assume that it will work for them. How can they handle that intersection better?

Kelly Garrett: 16:41 Yeah. I mean, going back to the elevation example, you know, you think about a flight that you’re on. Your pilot is constantly changing different altitudes. I think it’s important to, yes, start at 30,000 feet, go to 15,000, then down to 1,000, but don’t stop there. Sometimes you have to back up to 15,000, because a detail at 1,000 feet doesn’t make sense. Don’t stay at one spot. Kind of move back and forth and recheck yourself. Okay. Does this match with our 30,000 foot, big vision, or does our vision need to change, because of a small detail that we’re coming across. Then in terms of one thing that I always kind of talk about, and this might segue a little bit to a different topic, but that’s bringing humanity back to what we’re doing in our marketing. It might sound strange at the moment, but I’ll get there.

In terms of the intersection of strategy and technology, we get so caught up in the tech, and the details, and even the strategy, the plan of this hot newest trend that someone’s doing. Here’s exactly how you have to set up your Facebook ads. We forget to step back and say, “These are just people, and our business, and the things that we’re doing, the message that were conveying to people is all focused around humans, so at the end of the day, are we speaking to another human being, or are we putting that screen up, putting that technology up as a wall between us and that other person?” I think that focus helps also. It helps drive a lot of the strategy decisions and a lot of the technology decisions by remembering that at the end of the day, we’re in the business of relationships.

Chris Davis: 18:43 Yeah. The technology should aid you in becoming more personal, right?

Kelly Garrett: 18:43 Yes.

Chris Davis: 18:50 It should aid you. It’s a supplement. It’s not the solution. It’s the supplement, right?

Kelly Garrett: 18:58 Exactly.

Chris Davis: 18:58 You’re trying to do something. It’s almost like technology’s saying, “How can I help you?” But the problem is most people are going to technology saying, “Hey. How can you help me? It looks like from your benefits I could be doing all of this. Okay. I’ll just purchase it,” and it doesn’t work.

Kelly Garrett: 19:17 Right. Yup. It’s a crutch. It’s a crutch to a lot of people, and they look at trying to mold their business around the technology, rather than vice versa. Yeah. Just like you said, use it as something to help you. The technology is simply something to help facilitate that communication and keeping that human side of it first and foremost.

Chris Davis: 19:48 Yeah. That word is huge. I was just on a recent training. I can’t remember the … for the community. But we were talking about email open rates. I was talking about how, you know, we know how to do this stuff, when it comes to being personal with other people, having a conversation, right? We all know how to do it naturally, but when you include technology, it adds this barrier of complication. How I was telling them is like me, I’ve paid basketball all my life. I know how to dribble. I know how to shoot. However, you put a controller in my hand for a basketball game, and all of a sudden I need to learn how to do it, right? The same fundamentals apply. I played a video game. I should play the video game the same way I do in real life, you know, the fundamentals, pass to the open man, shoot the best shot, X, Y, Z, but that introduction of technology, it throws me off.

That’s what happens. What I’ve seen a lot of business owners … and really they down themselves for something that they really shouldn’t. It’s just the fact that, listen, you know how to do this stuff. You know how to talk to people, how to be personal, for the most part. Most businesses do. It’s just a matter of, okay, how do I translate that? In translating that, Kelly, can you talk about some of the channels that you can translate some of your personalized marketing through digitally that you’ve worked with with success.

Kelly Garrett: 21:16 Yeah. Absolutely. Okay. I’m getting excited, because I’m really into Facebook Messenger bots right now. I think that that is one channel that is very misunderstood right now, and hopefully that will get better as time goes on. They’re pretty new still. I like to think of it this way. I think everybody is so used to email marketing, and funnels, and building funnels. I’m not saying anything bad againt email marketing. You know, we’re on the ActiveCampaign Podcast. I’m an ActiveCampaign certified consultant. I love, I live and breathe email marketing.

Like we were saying, bots are just another channel to deliver a different kind of message to people in a different way, when they need it, in a different fashion. There’s absolutely a time and place for email and absolutely a time and place for bots. But what I see happening a lot is that people are like, “Oh. Okay. I’m gonna take this email funnel that I have and just copy it into the bot.” They’re using the same length of text. Maybe they reduce the text down a little bit, but it’s still, generally speaking, it’s the same flow. Let’s push out this information to you, get you to click on some stuff, and then take you to a sales page elsewhere. That is just a completely, you know, wrong approach to how to use bots.

A messenger bot is, for those of you that don’t know, basically it’s a way to automate and facilitate conversation inside of Facebook Messenger. The way that we use messenger, take away the bot, take away the marketing aspect of it, is the way that we use it is to just send a quick message to a friend or an acquaintance, or to gather information, or just have conversations. So, we use it very similarly to the way we use text messaging. I’m likely to contact a friend and say, “Hey. I’ve been thinking about this new activity that I want to try. Do you want to hop on the phone and talk about it?” I’m not gonna have this long, drawn out conversation with my friend over a text message or over Facebook Messenger. I’m gonna say, “Can we take this conversation somewhere else? Can we meet in person, or can we talk about it in email? Can we talk on the phone?”

When you are using a messenger bot to communicate with people, that’s how you want to communicate. You don’t want to send out these long messages telling them to watch this, click on that. You want to say, “Hey. I had this thought. You want to hear more about it? Hey. Great. I’m doing a Facebook Live. Why don’t you hop on over to the Facebook Live, and we’ll talk more.” You want to just really alter the message that you are conveying, based on the channel that you’re using, and understand what that channel is good for. Don’t just take one strategy or tactic that’s really popular that we’ve been having success with, such as email marketing, and just copy that over to a different channel. It has a different purpose, so learn about that purpose, and use it for that purpose.

Chris Davis: 24:32 Yeah. It’s almost like using the Facebook bot to qualify the lead, right? It’s like instead of trying to … which you actually bring up a good point. It would be very easy to over automate in that instance, like, “Hey. I’ve got this bot set up. It’s got 1,000 variations, and it’s just talking to people. It’s just talking to people, sending them to my landing page, and I’m making cash money.” That’s what I feel like somebody would see on an ad on Facebook or in a webinar or something, but for you, I mean, I love this use case, because it’s like, okay, I know I’m more effective if I can talk to somebody on the phone. However, I don’t have time to talk to everybody, so I need a system up front that helps qualify these leads more effectively for me, so that when an appointment does come up or my phone does ring, I’m not afraid or I’m not hesitant to pick it up, because I’m wondering if it’s waste of time. I know that there’s a good probability that this is going to result in a closed deal.

Kelly Garrett: 25:35 Yeah. Absolutely. Usually with any marketing funnel I’m building I will recommend a lot of times, depending on the business, but I will recommend that it leads to a phone call, because for a lot of people that’s usually a very effective way to close a sale or to start building a relationship. With bots specifically I always recommend that it leads to a live interaction within messenger eventually. Maybe there’s some videos and things like that happening beforehand, but yeah, like you said, once a person is qualified, definitely lead it to a live conversation inside of messenger, because for a majority of businesses, and consulting, and even like eCommerce, being able to talk to a person is so valuable.

Chris Davis: 26:31 I agree.

Kelly Garrett: 26:31 Everybody talks about how, “Oh. I don’t want to go through this phone tree of talking to a robot. I just want to talk to a person.” The more you can make that happen with someone who’s qualified to eventually purchase from you, the better success you’ll have.

Chris Davis: 26:47 Absolutely. I agree. I love everything. This was great, Kelly. I really appreciate you taking the time and walking us through your process. More importantly, being a voice of reason out here for consultants and marketing automation agencies and specialists alike of the approach that we should be taking. Even if somebody is coming to you with, quote unquote, strategy and coming for technology, don’t just let them prescribe for themselves. If doctors did that, I believe the term for that is malpractice. You know? We can’t do that. We are the experts. We know best. Hear them out, listen, but listen to those key indicators that let you know, okay, this person is a little all over the place, or, okay, they’re not aligned with a specific goal. Let me step back before we get into the technology.

I know for me getting started that was one of my flaws. I just was so excited about technology. The second somebody said something I’m like, “Oh. We could use this for that,” and immediately start throwing tools at people. I thank you for giving insight, as I mentioned, to your process and how you’re aiding. You’re fighting on the front line with us to help these small businesses for success. How can people find out more or get connected with you, Kelly?

Kelly Garrett: 28:12 Yeah. Absolutely. If you don’t mind actually, I have a free gift for your audience.

Chris Davis: 28:19 Oh. Perfect.

Kelly Garrett: 28:20 They can reach out and find that at Excetera.com/ACPodcast.

Chris Davis: 28:28 Great. Great. Spell Ekcetera for us.

Kelly Garrett: 28:31 E-K-C-E-T-E-R-A.

Chris Davis: 28:35 Great. Ekcetera.com-

Kelly Garrett: 28:40 [crosstalk 00:28:40]

Chris Davis: 28:40 … /ACPodcast. It will be in the show notes, ActiveCampaign.com/Podcast as well. So it is there forever, and you can click on it, if you couldn’t spell it for whatever reason. The link will be there. Kelly, again, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I really enjoyed this one.

Kelly Garrett: 28:57 Yeah. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it, Chris.

Chris Davis: 28:59 Yup. No problem. I’ll see you online, Kelly. Thank you for listening to this episode of The ActiveCampaign Podcast. Did you enjoy that analogy that Kelly used with the airplane and the 50,000 feet view, and as you get closer and closer …? I think it goes without saying that you have to keep the big picture in mind. As business owner, when you start … and I think this is the easy part for most of you. Most of you, it’s easy to know what you want to accomplish with your business and what you want to do, but it’s when you start working in the details that sometimes it can get boring. You may find yourself yawning and impatient, just like, “Okay. Okay. Let’s just do it. What does it take to get done?”

But I would stress take the time and go through the process right the first time, because any step that you try to skip, trust me, you will revisit. When it’s time to revisit it, it’s normally more painful, and it costs more money to do the step that you skipped in the sake of just getting started. This has nothing to do with you shouldn’t iterate or the MVP, most valuable product. You do all of those things, but what you can do up front, the things that you can do, please do, and save your future self by approaching things the right way, establishing that strategy, and making sure that your technology matches it up with that to create a more personalized experience and journey. That’s what we’re in digital marketing for, everybody, and that’s why you’re listening to this podcast.

If this is your first time listening, I don’t know what to say, besides come back. The only way to come back is to subscribe. If you subscribe in iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, any place where you can subscribe to a podcast, we’re there. When you do that, you’ll get notified every week, so you’ll be able to easily come back and listen to every podcast, and potentially be a guest. Who knows? It’s up to you, but do me one more favor. While you’re subscribing, make sure you leave a five-star rating and a review on iTunes while you are in there. It helps us get the word out. It helps vet us as a bonafide podcast, worth the time of the everyday business owners striving for success.

If you’re struggling with ActiveCampaign and you just kind of find yourself spinning your wheels, as I mentioned, Kelly is a consultant. We’ve got a plethora of consultants that can help you, as well as an internal team. Our success team is here, internal, live human beings, ready and willing to help you at the drop … I wouldn’t say of a dime, of a click of a link to schedule a time. You can schedule that one-on-one at ActiveCampaign.com/Training. If you want to take a more self-guided approach and learn at your own pace. You’re busy. You want to be able to consume a blog post here, or some writing here, watch a video there, you can do that at the education center, ActiveCampaign.com/Learn. We’ve got educational content to fit your schedule, your business and your lifestyle. This is The ActiveCampaign Podcast, the small business podcast to help you scale and propel your business with automation. I’ll see you on the next episode.

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