The Marketing Haven Podcast

Episode 3

Jason Jenson converses with Arthur Root

Follow the link to listen to the podcast along with a transcript of the podcast below.

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Arthur Root:
Welcome to the Marketing Haven podcast hosted Nostra. Where we discussed what it takes to market in today's climate and how to build a killer marketing strategy. 

Arthur Root:
Today we have a very special guest here on Marketing Haven. Jason, welcome to the show. Could you give a quick introduction of who you are, kind of what marketing is to you and how you got to the place you are today? 

Jason Jepson:
Sure, well first man thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it. 

Arthur Root:
 Always a pleasure to talk. 

Jason Jepson: 
I think I've been doing marketing, PR communications for the better part of 25 years. Primarily focusing on preparing companies and gearing them towards acquisition and what that looks like for them, whether they're an existing longstanding company or whether they're a startup and they're looking to grow and then be acquired in some capacity, and I've had the pleasure and honor to work with some great companies.These all along the West Coast, you know, Southern California, Portland area, Central Coast of California, Seattle.And yeah, it's been so far a very fun journey. We've had $2 billion acquisitions under my belt. I've helped about eight other companies get acquired and I love building out the communications marketing platforms that really follow the business and the business and what they're doing. 

Arthur Root:
That’s quite an impressive background, and So what do you see as kind of the big difference between building a marketing team, a marketing message, a story when you're kind of building toward an acquisition versus building that same sort of messaging. But when you're trying to build a more well when you're not trying to build toward an acquisition, we're trying to build a more stable business and kind of that. What have you seen as different positioning for those two different scenarios? 

Jason Jepson:
Sure, so when you're building towards uh, towards being acquired, the first thing you want to do is you need to identify a who you think could acquire your company and then be what makes you attractive to them, right? So you've got to label those out first, then you have to make sure that that acquisition and the messaging and everything you're putting around it still aligns with your true north as a company and where. You're going right so fundamentally you got to go back to the core, why are you here?  What do you do? And what are you doing to make things better? Make them interesting, whatever that is. Maybe that's A and then B. It's getting in front of those people, so a lot of it is really setting up. You know it's networking and your cost of networking is is is the cost of the dance and it might be going to events you know, of course, we had a year where a lot of events were virtual those very difficult but going to events and getting on speaking panels and I know everyone doesn't want to pay but I pitched so I pay. Pay, because you're paying to get acquired. So get on those executive level panels, get in front of your counterparts, be a leader. Watch how people speak. And then make yourself different. A lot of people will speak and they'll come out. And this, by the way, this tidbit aligns for both, which is when you speak. You have an option, you can sell your company or you can be an expert and you can educate. It's up to you. But experts who educate build leadership. So if you're building to get acquired, you want to be a leader so that you can show a leadership track record and then do that process over again. If that's your passion, if you want to build a substantially sustained company that's going to go the distance you have to be elected because you have to not only set precedence but you have to set goals and standards that far exceed the people that are around you so that you're the pinnacle in the room. Pinnacles experts are insightful people. They get attention, and if you're once again, if your intention is to stay, stay there or get acquired, you're going to get that attention. And that and those speaking opportunities open you up. They open you up for people to understand your vision and what you want to do and how you're different and then they also open you up to then having other conversations with these people, potential acquirers or potential partners and get it going through it that way and then the third part of this goes for both as well is what are you doing that's different? How are you setting yourself apart, that that makes sense and what I mean by that is, you know, let's use the example of banks. Right every bank will send you a letter with a rate and the rates are going up rates are going down. How do you? Know the bank told you once the content to buy. A house the bank will tell you what's going to the bank will take. But if that's all the bags for, then your transactional. And then there's no reason for the partner or for the company or for the customer to come back to you, unless it's a transaction so create a different way to communicate and resonate, and be a fixture in that person become a brand. Right, even if you're a widget you can become a brand just become a unique widget that talks more about. The widget, are you there to sell it? Rate your customer’s lives and what they've done, or are you there just to email them every day and remind them of what they're of rates being low rates? Being high? I'm of the first. I want to celebrate clients. I want to do things different. I don't need to beat you. Over the head with our name. I need to embrace you with who you? Are and then as soon as I can. Because I understand who you are. I can move you. To the next level and I'm part of that movement. Or if you're at that next level, then guess what I'm already talking in your language. So we already coalesced, we're already together in the dance. Unfortunately, a lot of people don't, right? They're like I'm just going to push my message. Out I mean, hey, I'm over here. I'm over here for what? Well, I sell insurance second mortgages OK, what does that mean? If you don't know the process of the business and you don't understand what's going on, it's it doesn't matter what you say or how? You say it because you're not going to resonate. 

Arthur Root:
Really interesting stuff and so you mentioned earlier about talking about educating more so than you know, selling your specific product and that makes total sense to me. You know you're selling your product. You're getting, you know, maybe a couple of customers that float in. But when you're educating your building, you’re building thought leadership. You're building a reputation, and that reputation is. usually more valuable, but when? 

Jason Jepson:
But also, we'll put real quick on that on that thought leadership deets, you're also setting a tone for defining terms, and you're setting a tone for how your industry is spoken of, and those terms and that now your industry is spoken. You're setting that you're the leader, right? So when they go to your competition and they use your words and they use your innovative thought process and it doesn't sound familiar and that person is confused. Your competitor is confused. It makes your competitor look bad and it makes and it resounds with them. Even more than like I resonated with Arthur and what he's doing. I went and I talked to somebody else, they didn't get it. I don't feel comfortable with them, not getting it because Arthur gets me. He gets my company I'm just going back to him so then you want to encourage people to shop around. I want you to go anywhere you can, 'cause you're not going to get it from me because I taught you the questions. To ask, I gave you the answers and I set you and me up for success. 

Arthur Root: 
Very interesting and so when someone is just starting here when they kind of are in this process with, or they don't have that brand where they where they're certain to build it. What would be your piece of advice of getting on those panels and giving those talks? How would you go about building up that thought leadership so that you know you can see the results. Kind of what you were just talking about. 

Jason Jepson: 
At first it starts with what is your true north and why are you here? What are you doing? And you know the thing that I like to do is you get in on a whiteboard and you write everything down. Write it all down, nothing foolish, just write it down and then figure out where you fit and why you sit there. Right, that's number 1 #2 is when you want to start building thought leadership, you want to start getting on those panels. Whether you do it yourself or you hire someone, start writing. Get a blog. Uh, and start engaging on LinkedIn really get engagement LinkedIn and reach out to reporters. Reach out to them and don't pitch him man. There's nothing grosser, and I've never heard of you in any way, shape or form, and I get an email saying hey let me tell you why I'm smart. Versus I read your article on artificial intelligence, I really thought it was interesting. However, your tone was really futuristic, and I think you might have missed out on the opportunity that's here today and what that opportunity means for today is XY and Z. I'm actually writing a white paper on this and I would love to keep you informed. Done, now what are  you doing?  Oh now I'm offering something. Never ask first offer first. What can I do for you? How can I help you what who can I put you in front of, how can I give you a different insight on the world. Or what's happening? And if you and if you can do that. And be sincere about it and honest about it. You're going to win hands down. You sit down with someone, it looks like a waste of your time they don't know they don't know your business. They met you at a conference or you  just went to a conference, don't get a booth space just go mingle, talk, hang out with. people, there's a coffee shop. You can sit down there, it's not that important, the booth space is it. The relationships are and then just and then once again. Educating you, you're going to get someone to come in and go. Yeah, I mean I heard you guys did some stuff with the technology and we're a billing system. We know you so we want to partner up and he's like, well, that's not my space. Now you have a choice. Give a real choice right there, right? You can blow him off and go hey you know what? That's really not where we fit, however, and we've had this conversation earlier. However  I know someone let me make an introduction. But when I but you preface the introduction now based on your engagement with them, right, our gauge was easy. You know, with someone else maybe. Hey, I'm gonna introduce you. However, don't come with a hard sell don't come in with, you know, just asking how they're doing, what's going on. This person doesn't do the hard sell or whatever it may be. To prep them for success. Now you've got a legacy of helping someone showing that you're a valuable network person and giving them the insight and information to succeed. Those are all key tenants of leadership and that gets people talking. And yeah, you're gonna help some people out just for the sake of helping them out. But call it practice and get good at it, because if you're going to be a leader, that's part of your job and you get those things Down and you start networking and not you. Guess what other people are going To hear, and they're going to see. And what you're gonna realize is where your network is valuable and where it's winning. And where your network needs help and where you need to go out and hopefully find a person like you that will ingratiate you and bring you in and do some stuff. And if you can do those things. You're one step ahead of 99% of everyone else trying to be a startup trying to get on a panel. Trying to get in front of CEO XY and Z. Right, you're one step ahead 'cause you're showing your value. You're showing that your value is in relationships and it's not transactional, and that moves you from a generalist to specialist. And when you're a specialist, you know exactly what you're doing and when you can do that and communicate that and at the same time step back and show overarching. how I see the world. The way I see the world is different than anybody else. But that way is going to help the people around me. You're solid gold. 

Arthur Root: 
Yeah, and this seems like it bites. That probably would have worked in the 1920s and probably still works today. What have you seen that's changed or like? Maybe 20 years ago, 10 years ago, this marketing tactic wouldn't have been effective because of the change in technology now this is an effective medium. This is an effect of what’s coming up is really the question here. 

Jason Jepson:
I don't know so much as what's coming up as more of what you have access to, right? If you were to look for funding or look for an appointment with a CEO 20 years ago, you're in the Yellow Pages. You're digging through stuff, you're trying to find a person. Now you have LinkedIn. Right, you have access to people you might not have access to. But you have to nurture those relationships you have. You have slack, you have different, you know entrepreneur, networking groups you know. Are you involved in them or are you sitting at home punching code now. But there's winds on both and people like I don't have the time for that stuff. What you're finding is whether it was Kobe times or not. People are a million times more accessible than they were. They just are. So then it comes down to you and what are you offering? Or what are you bringing to the table, right? And what you're finding, especially in this new world, is that what you can bring to the table, or which you should bring to the table changes greatly because of the influence of the Internet. Because of the influence of what your product may or may not be able to do and so I wouldn't look at the next step as far as technology and communicating 'cause communication is always going to stay the same. Be honest, be sincere, be direct, and be true to your work. Right the access has changed greatly. Now you have access to people you would have never had access before to just the relation 7-7 degrees of Kevin Bacon. And in 3rd you've got for the first time ever.You have a way to show off. Right, you have a way to show off online. You have a way to show people and tag them and share with them and engage with them and you don't have to go through. The email route man. We have Twitter you've got Instagram, you know and don't just jump into their DMS, right? I mean, it sounds weird if you're a tech company going, why would It be on Instagram because maybe the influencer or the VC Or the company you want to work with is really Big on Instagram. Start liking their photos making comments. Right, go to their blogs, make comments, engage with them, use the tools that are out there. You know it's always nice to go after the new shiny object. But we have to remember. You gotta still you know whether it's I'll use Picasso as an example, 'cause I'm going to paint someone perfectly. And he did that first so that he could paint them abstractly so he knew it abstract meant, and where it was abstracted. Don't jump in slack if you don't know how to type. Don't go on Twitter if you like to write novels. Don't go on Instagram if you like to write novels and it's doing pictures right. Just you need to go a with your strengths, then be go against your strengths and where you're weakest. You can grow and then leverage those pieces access and then come back to the truth of who you are and what that means. Because if you run away from those. Things in jewels collector shiny objects. Unfortunately, you'll chase them all day. Long you know, and you can, you can get the next greatest app you can get that. Or you I'm on rainbow. I'm on Twitter. You can be on all the social channels, but if you're not using them effectively, there's no point in it. Right, and the effectively comes back to once again being honest, direct, sincere and who you are in your communication and being vulnerable to that. Admit you're wrong. Admit where you're right, stand true to who you are. I love this analogy. PayPal came out. When it first came out, Time magazine called it one of the ten worst creations of all time. Internet rises to 10 worst. Guess what reporters. They don't know everything. If you've got something and you're rocking it, you can keep it moving. Do not die. Do not let your dreams die 'cause someone tells you no do. Not let your dreams die 'cause a reporter told you know or told you is horrible. Fix what's broken and keep marching forward. Find your true North Run at it. 

Arthur Root: 
Absolutely, and so how did you find your true north when it comes to communication, what what is yours? And then how did you discover it? 

Jason Jepson:
You know, I'll go first to the discovery. The discovery took time and it took, you know once again, that word vulnerability, right? And what I mean by that is that I had to figure out where I was good and where I was bad, and I had to figure out if I wanted to work on the things I was bad at If I wanted to admit to Someone Like You where I'm bad, right? If we're sitting down and having a meeting like gee, I really want to work with you man and I need a byline writer. And then I need a white paper writer man and you're the guy. Let's go now I can be honest with you and go, hey I'm not the best white paper guy. My brain just doesn't work that way. I can help you,  I can add it. I can walk you through, but it's just not me, right? Or I can say. Yeah, and then I can subcontract it out and I can be sneaky. And I can take all the glory. So it may work, but am I being honest and true? No, and so I had to really look at my weaknesses or and still look at them every day and work on right? I'm not the best writer I'm not, I'm not the best orator sometimes, so you work at it and you try to think about the advice that you've given people and you try to hold yourself true to it, you know. As far as finding my true north, you know it was a lot of hours of sitting down. When I wasn't working, figuring out why I wasn't getting hired. Was it that I tried to be everything to everyone? Yeah, 'cause I needed a job. So when I was pumping up if it said PR in it or you know I was like I'm your guy. I get news coverage. But what does that do? What does that tell you about me, nothing. Right, but instead you know and it shortens your pool a little bit, but if you're also like, what do I like to work on now. I'm not good at it like it's one thing like I like guitars. I can't hold the tune to save my life so I go out. And start playing guitar, no, you shouldn't write against yourself in it. And my true north found out was that I can come into a situation and what I bring that's different than a lot of other PR marketing people is that I understand your business 1st and I require that. Because if I'm not gonna understand your business, I can't tell the story of your business because I don't know the history of the world that your business lives in. So I don't know how your customers work. I don't know how you work internally. If you're just giving me if you're saying, write a headline and get me coverage then you don't know how your business. Right? And then you have to sit down and you come back to where I'm at. Finding my true north and go do I want to hear from someone. That the way I'm directing communications doesn't align with the way I'm running my business, like do I just want headlines? Am I just trying to make my mom proud? Do I just need to email her look, mom, I was in USA TODAY. Like if you're in USA Today for the company that you have and everything that you've done Is it really going to matter? Versus let's say back in the day Network World or Wired magazine or you know whatever it may be. What's going you? Know, but it's USA TODAY. Well Mom is going to love it doesn't do anything for the business you've wasted my time you've wasted the reporter’s time. You've wasted the readers time. And you haven't stayed true to who to where you're at. And so for me, being able to find that courage and I have build a track record to tell people that to sit down with CEO's and say man, I'm going to be really honest with you. There are nine other people in that waiting room that will tell you yes to everything you want to do and here's why I'm telling you no. And you know, it's tough to do. But when you do it, you do it right and you do it with the right conviction you're going to come out ahead. 

Arthur Root:  
Yeah, I think that's excellent advice for startups life in general it seems like, which is not off-brand for you. Uh, and so that's awesome. And so if you were a marketer and you were just starting out and you know you, you didn't quite know what you were or what your specialty was yet you didn't know what your true north is, what would you do? Would you go you know, maybe start an agency, go to a startup, go work in sales, but work in product. Kind of what would be your your first move? Let's say you know right out of college. Just wanting, you know, you know you're interested in marketing, but you don't know what yet. 

Jason Jepson: So in that scenario, go with where something that you like. Right and think about the hobbies you have. Think about the things you enjoy and then think about the markets that are around them and step into those and see if you like to surf or if you like the surfing industry. See if you like technology or You like the technology industry. There's a big difference in owning an iPhone and loving it. And marketing an iPhone. Right, because you're looking at the world differently. So that's number 1 #2 is to start deconstructing the things that you do like. Why does it matter that I just had? I went out and bought a new truck. Why didn't I buy a $5000? You know, khovar? Why did? Why did I have to buy a new truck? What was what's in me? That makes me want that and more importantly, what's in the marketing or from where I'm at my age, demographic financially, whatever, maybe where is that? That would that it resonated with me and then just start thinking about those things you don't have to have the answer, in fact you shouldn't at that age. But the fact that you would want to ask the question. That's where you're gonna win. That's where you're going to get the job when you sit down across the table and that CEO looks jingoes hey man aren't marketing great. What can you do and it's like it's not so much what I can do. I mean, obviously, I'm out of college. But it's what I want to do, it's what. I want to understand. And it's where I want to go. You know, if you're not going to fundamentally understand the business, then you're never going to know what you're going to like. And dislike, right? So you got to kind of jump in both feet and then from that experience if you will. Then you can at least make an educated thought and start going down the road are you an analytics person? Are you a words person? You know, do you work best with the team?  Or do you like to run solo? You better in an office and are really confined environment or you better working from home. I'm better working from home, I just don't need some distractions around me. And I can be a distraction in the office shocker, but so which you know once. Again, I mean, if you're not willing to be honest yourself and where your strengths and weaknesses are but be also then look at the industries and go. Why do you like something? Go with those. Easy answers, 1st what do I like and why do I like it? And then and then start looking at, you're going to see how big an industry is. You're going to see how, how much depth there is in these 100,000,000 multibillion-dollar industries. And you're going to find a fit or you're going to find out. I just like surfing. However, I'm really good in financial services. I did not do good in math, but there's something about this Marketing thing that I just get and then you make the decision and the transition to go right. That's going to fund. My passion for the serpent. Right circling could fund it. Working in the industry or working in another industry? Because yeah, all of a sudden you see the nooks and crannies. You see how the sausage is made and you're like I preferred not to know that well, that's not that doesn't fair enough. That doesn't hit me, right?

Arthur Root:
Absolutely, it's funny that you mentioned. I just hired someone who came in and said I'm just out of college, I know a little bit, but this I'm fired up about, I'm excited. To be here, they had energy. 

Jason Jepson:
That's what I'm talking about. 

Arthur Root: 
And I was like. That's what I want. I've interviewed 20 people who all kind of told me that they can do it. But saying I can do it and getting after it and having that energy made me hire them. 

Jason Jepson: 
Yeah, and if you're going to do it then what are you going to do next? Right? Like let's play the game, you know you can just do this I don't want you. Are you going to think past this? I don't care if it's right or wrong if you're new here, you know if you're a first reader, 'cause I don't care if your thoughts are right, or wrong, I just want to know you can think that way. 

Arthur Root: 
So my last question, Is what didn't I ask you about that that you'd like to talk about? What should I have asked about? And then what's the answer to that question? 

Jason Jepson:
I don't know, but you should have asked it I think the one thing that greatly misses and we touch them a little bit, right? The thing to remember is In this marketing communications PR arena. As a business, do you understand what it is when you're hiring? 'cause 90% of people don't? Right so, do you understand what it is and what you're hiring for? Do you want a lab person? You know you get these mixes like, well, I need web design, graphic design, PowerPoint, write speeches, knows media. Well, that's five different jobs. Just it is now there are some people who can do a lot of those, but they usually have 20 to 30 years of experience and you don't want to pay that. You know? 152 to $150,000 you want to pay whatever that number may be, so you know as a company I would highly recommend for companies even in the marketing departments that they have audit. Then find out what people are doing. To audit. See what they're doing and then also understand is that what you want them doing, do you understand what they do. You have to be able to do what they do, but do you understand it and are they challenging your business to grow and move forward at a faster rate? Because if they're not doing any of that. Then they failed. And you failed in who you've hired and the team that you've built because they should be pushing the envelope. They should be asking you to do things that make you uncomfortable. 

Arthur Root:
Fantastic Jason. Thank you so much for your time and if people want to reach out if they want to learn more about you or any of your endeavors, how should they reach out to you? 

Jason Jepson:
My LinkedIn at Jason Jepson. The company I'm currently with is PCMA so pretty easy to find. You'll see me with some headset on talking at the world's Fair of technology drones back in the day.

Arthur Root:
Back in the day. 

Jason Jepson:
Back with drones for a hot thing for six minutes, right? Yeah, it was a fun thing, but thanks so much for having me on I really appreciate it. I've told you before. I'll tell you again if there's anything I can ever do to help you guys out with don't hesitate to reach out, and if you're in Austin for sure give me a buzz and we'll go get a beer, a cup of coffee or something. 

Arthur Root:
Hey, that sounds good to me. Jason thank you. 

Jason Jepson:
Thanks brother, appreciate you man be good. 

Arthur Root:
Thank you for listening to marketing haven, please subscribe. 

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