Rank Fishkin Explains Why Meeting Your Customer Where They Are Is The Future

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Guest:
Rand Fishkin
Founder
SparkToro
Host:
James Fratzke
Head of Client Success
Fratzke Media
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REad Interview Transcript

Quick disclaimer: these transcripts are auto-generated. They are best used in addition to the Podcast audio not instead of. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.

James Fratzke: [00:00:05] Hi, I'm James Fratzke, and this is Back to Business: COVID-19 & You, powered by Fratzke Media.

James Fratzke: [00:00:17] Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the podcast. Today, we're talking to Rand Fishkin, the founder of SparkToro, SparkToro, is a tool that marketers and midsize businesses can use to help identify where their audience spends time online. So, for example, does your customer listen to X, Y or Z podcast or did they enjoy reading so on so blog that information can help you better target your customers in a more effective way online. With all that being said, I want to talk to Rand today for two reasons. One, he's a business owner just like you and me. And so he's going through this pandemic. And he actually launched his new product for SparkToro in April. And as you can imagine, that comes with a certain set of difficulties. So we get into that. We also talk about some of the things that Rand's seen in the digital marketing space. What are some of the trends that businesses should be doubling down on? And what is the impact, the long term impact that this pandemic is going to have on marketing professionals and marketing departments within our mid-sized businesses? So with all that being said, let's jump into it. Please enjoy my interview with Rand Fishkin.

James Fratzke: [00:01:34] Alrighty everyone, I get to welcome back one of my favorite guests today, Rand Fishkin of SparkToro. Rand, how the heck are you?

Rand Fishkin: [00:01:41] Good James, how are you?

James Fratzke: [00:01:42] I'm doing pretty good. You know, all things considered, just trying to stay strong.

Rand Fishkin: [00:01:48] I hear that.

James Fratzke: [00:01:50] Now Rand, you have a new product while new to market. But you've been you've been building it for quite some time now. SparkToro and folks that are listening to this might be familiar a little bit with the project. Couldn't have picked a more awkward time to launch it, April? Mid COVID-19 pandemic. How's that going?

Rand Fishkin: [00:02:13] Yeah. So we launched a month ago, April 22nd. We were originally scheduled to launch the second week of March. And we yeah, because of the pandemic, basically pushed it by a little more than a month.

Rand Fishkin: [00:02:28] And I would say, yeah, it's going. I guess it is going better than our initial budget. Worse than how we thought it might go. Based on how early access in February went, which is no surprise, right?

Rand Fishkin: [00:02:45] I think it's. Yeah. So all things considered, we cannot complain.

Rand Fishkin: [00:02:51] It's you know, it's on the path to give us a profitable company at the end of the year. That's shocking, right? That's incredible. Amidst what's going on. And at the same time, we saw, you know, when we did the early access in in February, we saw really high adoption rates, like conversion rates around five percent. And now that's down to about zero point five percent. So 90 percent loss in conversion rate. And worse, you know, James, I think the worst thing that I saw was we had all these early access e-mails, right, where we're e-mailing marketers, mostly marketers, who'd signed up to our get notified when SparkToro launch. Right. And over the course of March, as we were sending those emails in groups of a couple thousand come every week. We kept getting a higher and higher bounce rate and a higher and higher rate of people's emails coming back. And they all come to my inbox saying so-and-so no longer works here. Right. So it's just like this. You can see the economic devastation. You know, the. Just hundreds and hundreds of people just from our like, you know, twenty thousand email list of people who are no longer employed and pretty brutal.

James Fratzke: [00:04:15] Yeah. You know, it's one of those unforeseen circumstances that to your points in it, that I never really thought about that. It's a very interesting perspective getting those email bounces back. And we've all heard about it being in the marketing space. And that was one question that a client of ours wanted me to ask you. So I'll go ahead and start there. Do you see this trend of you know, because one of the first things that gets cut is marketing budget, and oftentimes that means marketing people lose their jobs. Do you see there being a rebound when things get back to normal or do you see people saying, hey, let's get the team a little tighter?

Rand Fishkin: [00:04:56] I think it is probably going to be a combination of both of those. I think probably what we'll see is somewhere between 30 and 50 percent of the marketing spend and marketing teams sort of resurge as as the economy grows again, hopefully, you know, hopefully that's, I don't know, three to six months away and over the following six to nine months. So, you know, going into mid twenty, twenty one, I hope we start we see that rebound. But my guess is that the next two to five years, maybe even longer, depending on how government austerity measures work or government investment. Right. So, you know, I think this is it is a very well tracked problem, right. When you have a loss of economic demand in a country or across the world. There are sort of two government approaches, right? One is austerity. One which a number of governments have pursued. You know, you can look at sort of examples from Japan. You can look at examples from the U.K. and sort of see what happens, which is essentially those economies suffer for a very long period of time. And marketing takes takes a lot of the brunt of that. Or you can see, you know, in some other places, places like Portugal, a lot of Scandinavian countries, lot of Asian countries, some South American economies, Latin American economies. There's been sort of the opposite of that, or the United States, even in a lot of the recessions that happened in the 30s, 50s, 60s, 70s, right. Where we're where we had kind of a more you know, our political approach was like, let's invest when there's a recession. And in those cases, you see a rapid recovery. So, you know, depending on I think it's depending on kind of who controls Congress more so than which president is elected. But that that will probably be a huge determining factor in what happens for the next four to ten years in the US. You can even see it with the 08 financial crisis right there was the sort of, you know, Obama initially invested a bunch and the economy sort of bounced back a bit. And then, you know, due to mostly Congress, controlled austerity measures were put in place. And so was a very long, brutal recovery. And we could see that again.

James Fratzke: [00:07:29] Right. Yeah. Let's let's hope not. Right. Long and brutal sounds pretty painful, but I mean, that's what we're in the middle of right now is is this kind of painful time? You know, one of the things that kind of stands out to me from a strategy standpoint, and I'm thinking through the lens of like a mid-sized business. So not quite. Mom pop small. Not quite. Wal-Mart big. But even yet, marketers have to work smarter, not necessarily harder. And that's one of the reasons why I wanted to have you on the show today, is I think you're a tool SparkToro does a really good job of helping people work smarter, not harder. So can you see how maybe this this new product that you've lost can help marketers in this time?

Rand Fishkin: [00:08:09] Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, you can use it even for free and sort of see this this today. Right. But essentially the problem that we wanted to solve at SparkToro is what are the publications and people that my audience pays attention to. And I want to know those so that I can go direct and do creative kinds of marketing, organic and paid kinds of marketing partnerships, sponsorships, pitching to be a guest on a podcast. Pitching to have coverage on a YouTube channel. Pitching to write a guest editorial for a publication. Pitching a social media account to amplify my latest blog post. Whatever it was. Right, whatever your tactics are. SparkToro is trying to help you figure out the sources of influence that actually reach your audience instead of just those that have lots of followers or happen to rank in Google or the ones that your audience might mention to you. In a survey, that data is it's ludicrously hard to get today and so inefficient. Like when we saw, you know, when we were doing our our development of the product, we were asking folks, hey, how do you solve this problem today? And the answers were a combination of I just throw money at Google and Facebook because I can't do it. Or when we do that, we interview our customers and we ask them. But the self reported date is not great or we cyberstalker at scale. Right. Which which is a really good way to do it. It takes a ludicrous amount of time.

James Fratzke: [00:09:41] Right. And I think that's one of the things when I'm thinking about the trends we see a lot of people are consuming more content than they were before. Right. And so it's like, OK, how do we reach people at their fingertips year after year through podcasts or through YouTube or whatever it is? And it's never quite clear, like where do we invest those dollars, especially with, like influencer marketing, which was very popular several years ago. In some places it's still popular as people are kind of catching up to it. You don't really can't track what you're getting out of that. You don't know if it's the right investment or not. Sometimes when you pick an influencer and a lot of times there's no stats that are shared back and forth between the brand with those influencers. Does this help solve that problem a little bit?

Rand Fishkin: [00:10:28] No, no. SparkToro is not we are not really in the influencer marketing field at all. Not even a little bit. In fact, we intentionally bias against collecting Instagram data just so you wouldn't wouldn't have that association. Right. So so no, SparkToro is not about trying to calculate the are a lie of having some half naked person on Instagram five hundred dollars to pose with your product. But that's not our not our jam. However, what what it can do is say, you know, you want to reach whatever. H.R. directors in Texas with your new software tool.

Rand Fishkin: [00:11:08] What are the publications that you can sponsor, pitch, co-market with, you know, write a piece with get amplified by in order to reach that audience. And it's very you know, it's top of funnel focused, but unlike kind of the practice of influencer marketing, to me, the fundamental problem with influencer marketing is what you do with influencers is you look for. Let me find a person who is well followed on social media that uses these keywords in their profile. And that's not actually what you care about.

Rand Fishkin: [00:11:46] You don't care if a, you know, whatever some young, attractive person on Instagram happens to have one point three million followers and has the word, I don't know, H.R. in their bio or whatever, use the hashtag last month that's not useful to you when you want to see is I wish I could cyber a thousand or ten thousand H.R. directors in Texas and see everything that all their social accounts follow and see everything that their web page about pages say about them and what they link to.

Rand Fishkin: [00:12:23] That those are the publications.

Rand Fishkin: [00:12:26] Those are the people, those are the accounts. Those are the podcast, those YouTube channels that I actually want my marketing message to be on because they know they will reach my audience. And then you can try a bunch of tactics and see what performs well for you. Right. What sends good traffic you can measure that in G.A. You can measure it and through whatever analytics system you've got, but are like we feel like our job at SparkToro is Just to say to you this percent of the audience you want to reach follows these publications in this order. Right. And so, you know, you get like James, I'm sure you've had have you ever had to, like Wall Street Journal problem with the CEO or CMO.

James Fratzke: [00:13:04] Where they they read it and quote it.

Rand Fishkin: [00:13:07] And they assume that because they read it, every one of their audience reads it as well. Like I read The Wall Street Journal. Therefore, our customers must read The Wall Street Journal. So that's where I want our piece to be at.

Rand Fishkin: [00:13:22] Come on, man. We all know that's not true. You told me you want to reach H.R. directors. They don't read The Wall Street Journal, right? There's this trade publication. I mean, maybe two percent of them read The Wall Street Journal. But the problem is you don't have data. Like you.

Rand Fishkin: [00:13:37] It is really hard to bring data to that battle and say, here's the number. Right. And so anecdotes dominate and anecdotal evidence is a poor excuse a poor substitute for marketing knowledge.

James Fratzke: [00:13:51] Right. You know, and that's one of the things that's to your point. There's this self facil self fulfilling prophecy that happens right where we kind of associate himself, project on everybody else. And we think that they like the things that we like. Right. And oftentimes is as midsized businesses, we're trying to solve problems for ourselves, not necessarily solve problems for our customers. And this is really backwards thing where you build something there like, oh, this is exactly what I want, but it's not necessarily what our customers need.

James Fratzke: [00:14:23] All right. I want to take a quick break and pass it over to our Head of Client Strategy here at Fraztke Media, Lisa. Lisa, take it away.

Lisa Fratzke: [00:14:31] Thank you, James.

Lisa Fratzke: [00:14:32] I'm really excited to talk to this audience today because we've been talking to a lot of our clients at Fratzke Media and truly believe that now more than ever, it's important for mid-sized businesses to connect with their customers online. I think we've all seen that COVID-19 has had widespread impacts on companies, our employees and our economy. We fundamentally believe at Fratzke Media that the rebound will be digital. If you don't know where to start and you want to make digital your competitive edge, we can help. Visit Fratzkemedia.com to schedule your free consultation. Our digital marketing experts specialize in helping mid-sized businesses like you leapfrog the competition. We look forward to talking to you soon.

James Fratzke: [00:15:14] Thanks, Lisa. All right. Let's get back into it.

James Fratzke: [00:15:18] As we kind of get into this, again, this new normal, and I'm just kind of checking things off my COVID-19 bingo card, which I don't say lightly, but, you know, it is. It is true. We all kind of have these words that we can commonly associate with. So as we get into the new normal and as as markers start to get back to work, what are some of the things that you would double down on, you know, from your decades of experience in this space?

Rand Fishkin: [00:15:48] I think that.

Rand Fishkin: [00:15:50] For us, that has largely been two-fold kind of process, one is identifying the businesses and industry sectors that still have money and are still making investments. Right. So commerce is really good for that remote working tools. A lot of B2B software stuff. Bunch of big tech companies. Right. There's still a lot of money and activity in those. And you could name a number of other sectors. Right. A lot of whatever delivery and logistics services. A bunch of like health care types of stuff.

Rand Fishkin: [00:16:29] Yeah.

Rand Fishkin: [00:16:33] That's the first one, right? So identifying here our customers or potential customers who could still pay for our product, who are still growing amidst this. How do we sort of re reposition our product or services to serve those folks well? And then the second one is really looking at the. Marketing side of things. How do we reach them, where do we reach them? How do we describe the solution to our problem in a way that resonates with them? How do we sort of provide evidence that that our solution is a better choice than alternatives, either competitors or doing nothing or whatever? However, they're manually solving the problem today. So that's kind of how I am thinking about a lot of how do we get through this? How do we survive and thrive?

James Fratzke: [00:17:28] Right. Yeah. And that's I like what you said there. Survive and thrive. That's like that's what we're all thinking about now. You know, two months ago it was kind of like, how do we just adjust with the ever changing information? And now it's like, OK, as the country starts to reopen, as people get back to normal and some semblance, some sort of way. How do we kind of change whatever perspective we were in? Maybe take some of that marketing budget that we pause and say, how do we apply this in the most useful way? I like what you said there about thinking about those two perspectives. One who's still kind of doing okay right now and can invest. And then the second one was, how do we remind me what the second point was like? How do we reorientate towards other people or what was it again?

Rand Fishkin: [00:18:22] Yeah, it's how do we shift our marketing to reach those people effectively? How do we reposition our product as against competitive alternatives? And how do we change up our marketing mix? Pricing, packaging, channels, tactics in order to be successful. Right. So it's sort of shifting like your product thinking and who your product serves and shifting up your marketing thinking.

James Fratzke: [00:18:50] Right. Do you think there'll be a kind of an influx of of talent that's going to get scooped up at the end of this for all these folks that potentially were furloughed or dropped off? And there'll be some companies there that will benefit from this kind of on the back end of it?

Rand Fishkin: [00:19:09] Yeah, I mean, you can sort of already see that in the market. Right. So one of the things that's true in the American economic picture, right. Is that capital has tons of power. Labor has almost no power. And so essentially, you know, when there is an economic crisis like this and there's a lot of layoffs and a lot of unemployment, capital gets even more power to sort of be you can see with Facebook. Right. So Facebook said, hey, we're going to move a lot of our teams to be remote and we're not going to pay them as much.

Rand Fishkin: [00:19:41] Right. Sort of like, oh, but you're going to keep making the same amount of money. You're just going to squeeze more effort and dollars out of the people.

Rand Fishkin: [00:19:50] And you can you know, you can now diversify your your labor force across lots of geography's. And so. Right. More power to Facebook, more wealth for sort of the owners of capital and the owners of Facebook stock, less for everybody else. And that, you know, that that picture is what I expect. Broadly speaking, in the United States, until there's kind of a like a political revolution around those sorts of things or. Right. The country sort of just devolves into this late stage capitalism, paradise for billionaires and a shithole for the rest of us.

James Fratzke: [00:20:29] You know, Rand one of the things that I love when I talk to you is you always paint such vivid pictures of that.

Rand Fishkin: [00:20:35] I mean, there's no like, let's be real. There's no one who doesn't know this is happening. Right. Everybody sees it. We're all like, yup, that's what's happening. Right. And we just some of us choose to be more involved and less involved. But I don't think there's no even even across the political spectrum. Right. It's not like Republicans and Democrats disagree. They're like, yeah, that's how it goes. Some people are against it and some people are for it.

Rand Fishkin: [00:21:01] But everybody knows it's happening right.

James Fratzke: [00:21:04] You know, I I'm very curious about this idea of maybe some of these trends that are going to continue to exist out of this pandemic. For example, a lot of people have been working from home. Right. Kind of nice people all of a sudden, something that wasn't available to them before because you had to be at the desk and your manager had to be able to see you. Now, maybe that becomes something that continues to exist. Are there any trends or any things that you're seeing that you're saying, well, this actually shifted people's perspective in such a way that they're going to take that with them out out of the pandemic?

Rand Fishkin: [00:21:45] Yeah. I mean, one thing two trends that I thought were really fascinating that have been going in one direction for the last 20 years and looks like they might reverse.

Rand Fishkin: [00:21:56] Out of this one is time spent on desktop versus mobile. So, like the first time in fifteen years, that desktop share of screen time has gone up in the last three months. And does that fade? Does it go away to more people. Right. To these mobile devices get a little less sexy after we're like, oh it's kind of nice having this huge screen and keyboard and all that kind of stuff. And I'm working from home anyway, right. So do we see more of that long term? I don't know. I suspect that that might be a short term trend that stays a little bit higher but goes back down. Another one is younger folks. And so people, generally speaking, under 50, which technically includes myself, have been over the last 20, 30 years of our adult life, have been cooking less and ordering more takeout delivery, doing more prepackaged stuff, doing more, much more, eating out right. And getting meals at work and all that kind of stuff. And that has shifted in the pandemic. I don't know whether that behavior returns. I wonder whether they'll be kind of a resurgence of baking and cooking and recipes and, you know, making stuff at home which had been on the rise, you know, for a long time since kind of the 1940s, 50s. So that that trend could be with us for a long time as well. Remote work, I think, is a really obvious one. Video connections and meetings is a really obvious one. I think distributed geography's could be a more obvious one, you might see. You know, we've had this trend for 50 years now of people. Well, 40 years maybe of people returning, sort of returning to cities in the United States from suburban and rural areas, cities being the primary growth trajectory that might balance out a little bit more. We might see that graph slow. You can you can see some as a result of the pandemic. The energy sector has shifted pretty dramatically right there was that like that week period where oil was worth less than zero?

James Fratzke: [00:24:23] Yeah, they were giving it away, I guess. Giving it away.

Rand Fishkin: [00:24:25] I'd rather send it to store it. Yeah. So it was like, we'll pay you to take the oil. And so green and renewable energy sources might be a might be on the rise much faster than they were previously. A lot of people are getting by without commuting. I suspect they're finding that pretty awesome.

Rand Fishkin: [00:24:47] It's kind of nice. You know, traffic. Yeah. Right. Yeah.

James Fratzke: [00:24:50] Or at least going to you know, you're in Seattle, but I'm I'm down here in Orange County, California. And I'm not one of the people that Governor Newsome is bagging on in Orange County that's going to the beach and walking on the beach. But from time to time, I do drive up PCH just to see some ocean every once in a while being at home. But with that being said, I think that it's really interesting to see how different people are reacting to things. My point was, with the commute back to your point, man, it takes me 20 minutes to get from here to the beach versus it could take me an hour on a normal day. That's nice. I hope that's here to stay. I would be remiss if I didn't dive in to SEO just a little bit with you, because that is such a big part of your story. Are there any trends in Google or anything right now that you're seeing kind of emerging that are different than beforehand that we should be keeping an eye out for?

Rand Fishkin: [00:25:58] Let's see. I mean, so so Google has made some substantive changes, kind of, you know, pretty fast to local, just showing a bunch more data about how businesses are open or whether they're open, what they're offering. I suspect that will continue. Right. They'll have kind of the tools to turn that on and off in the future around major events in. In cities or in the world, I think Google is also using this opportunity to. When I say. Maybe, maybe right size their business a little bit. So focus a little more on profit and a little less on raw growth. It looks like right now or experimental growth at least that's let's say that that might mean that some of their efforts to enter sector after sector and sort of dominate those and take away all the clicks. Maybe that slows down. I don't think it's going to stop. But I think it might slow down a little bit, leave a little more opportunity for other providers. The growth in desktop means that clicks are up on Google, right? So you can see the click through rate is rising because on mobile devices, we tend to satisfy. Yes. A little bit more with just what the mobile search results show us. Rather than digging in on desktop, we tend to dig in more so as there's more desktop search and more desktop visits in general. Right. Search click through rates are higher. That that presents some opportunity for marketers as well. I think now's an awesome time based on all of this, to recognize that a ton of your potential customers are are in fact, potential future customers, not potential now customers. And as a result of that, what you should try and do is get them into your world and community. Right. One of the things we do at SparkToro, because of this, we were like, oh, this is going on. Let's make our free plan more generous. Let's make it easier to sign up for free. Let's show more results with free. Let's make like let's make free the focus of SparkToro's launch. And then in the future, will capture people on a paid level. Right. So I think it's a great time to build up your email list, build up your channels, build up your content marketing practice, build up your marketing flywheel, and then in the future, when people have the dollars to spend. You can capitalize on the growth growing community that you built.

James Fratzke: [00:28:37] I think that's a really important perspective because what's happening right now is that cycle that that from consciousness to decision to purchase and all those things is is getting a lot longer because people are waiting to see, OK, how is this going to shake out, you know?

Rand Fishkin: [00:28:54] Am I going to have any money?

James Fratzke: [00:28:56] Yeah. I might not have any money or is it even going to be open? You know, some perspectives on that. For instance, is all these concerts that got canceled. Well, I had concert tickets to a show that was supposed to be in October. It got canceled and they rescheduled it to March. Now, I had an option to either keep that ticket or get my refund. I got the refund because I'm not sure what's going to happen in March. You know, like, I kind of need that perspective. So I think that's a true plum line for all consumers. They're kind of sitting back on the sidelines and saying, OK, is now the time to get that, especially if it's like a luxury good or something like that? So that's a really great perspective. This doesn't mean to stop working on your flywheel. It just means to maybe shift the perspective a little bit and understand that.

Rand Fishkin: [00:29:47] Better time than ever to work on that flywheel.

James Fratzke: [00:29:49] Well, on those Quadrant 2 kinds of things from seven habits where it's like important but not urgent. Right now, a lot of businesses are finding themselves in that kind of space as maybe they aren't having people come in is I look at some of the restaurants in our area who are saying, OK, now's the time to do some of that work that we've been deferring for a while, made us work updating things. And so it's a it's an interesting time.

James Fratzke: [00:30:20] I would be remiss if I didn't have you face to face like this and mentioned that big fan of your book is that we actually bought a bunch of copies of these and give them to our employees and just kind of really love the perspective of, you know, first off, the transparency and the candor that you kind of bring to it and also just some of the honesty you have around building a business. What's important, what isn't important, at least from your perspective. And the nice thing is if you read through it in your like minded, then you finally get that, like, OK, there's somebody else out there that thinks like I do. So I really appreciated it. Totally read it cover to cover, I don't just have it here because I knew I was going to talk to you. I really enjoyed it. With that being said, I kind of want to give you the opportunity to have the final word. So is there anything else you'd like to share before we wrap up today?

Rand Fishkin: [00:31:20] Oh, gosh. Yeah, I mean, I think that for a lot of folks, you know, they are feeling this sort of pressure to take to use this time to like have to. Grow and invest and like work harder than ever, and they're doing it. Many of them with kids at home or in non ideal living situations, whatever it is, you know, with with roommates or, you know, they're extroverts and they just don't have anyone around to spend time with.

Rand Fishkin: [00:31:54] And I want to I just want to say that, look, it is a great time to invest, but it's also a fine time to be like, no, I am overwhelmed. This is overwhelming. I need to just sit at home and watch cartoons for a while and eat some pizza. And that is totally OK. You are well within your rights to do that if you want to make sure we can do more of a four day workweek. I think that's a really good idea.

Rand Fishkin: [00:32:22] If you want to carve up your day so that you wake up later and you have a two hour break. I think that's awesome to give yourself permission to take a break. You do not have to always be hustling and working hard, and it's cool.

James Fratzke: [00:32:41] I think that is exactly what everyone needed to hear. So I really appreciate that. And that's the nice thing about giving you the final word. You never know where it's going to go. But I think that that that hit the mark. Alrighty Rand, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

Rand Fishkin: [00:32:56] Yeah. Thanks for having me. Yeah.

James Fratzke: [00:32:59] Already, everyone, that concludes my time with Rand Fishkin, now one of Rand's superpowers is his ability to be candid and raw and just shoot straight to the point. I really appreciate him doing that. At the beginning of our interview, talking about what it's been like to launch his new SparkToro product right smack dab in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. This is why I appreciate it, because a lot of you listening today probably find yourself a very similar situation. Maybe 2020 hasn't gone exactly the way you've planned. But here's the good news. That by investing in digital marketing and digital marketing strategies, you will be able not only to survive, but to thrive in this new normal. Here is the honest, brutal reality. So much of our life has been going to digital things like smartphones and online resources. And now is the time to embrace that. So that leads me to my three takeaways for today, because at Fratzke Media, we really believe that the rebound will be digital. And what we need most right now are digital marketing strategies that will allow us to prosper in this new normal. So let me give you my three takeaways for today's episode based off my time with Rand, were three things that really stood out to me. Number one, now more than ever, we need to understand where our customers are spending time online. Now, tools like SparkToro allow us to do that. But outside of just that toolset, it's going to be so important for us to understand what podcasts do our customers listen to, what blogs do they frequent? What social media profiles do they like to binge look at in their free time? If we can understand where our customers spend their time, we can better target them at those locations. My second takeaway, and I love this from Rand was what he's doing at SparkToro, and what we could be doing in our businesses is thinking about the now versus the later. So what are the industries or the verticals that we can target now that are actually doing well? Like grocery stores, like medical and have a certain strategy for that group of people. And then what are the folks that we can target later, maybe some of these people that have uncertainty on where their business is going or uncertainty and and what the cash flow is going to look like. As we've continued to progress through this pandemic, we need to set up some strategies around how do we get them into the funnel and continue to nurture them through until they're ready to make that purchase. Which leads me nicely to my third point, which now is the time to invest in your digital marketing strategy. Start thinking about the people, the processes, the partners and the platforms that you're leveraging to communicate with your customers. As we get into this new normal, there will be habits and trends that follow us into this time. More people are spending time online. More people are looking for seamless interactions from the online world to the offline world. Already, folks, with all that being said, I appreciate our time, as always. Thank you for listening. And I will talk to you real soon.

James Fratzke: [00:36:20] Everyone, one last thing before you leave. Make sure you go to whatever platform you're listening to, the Back to Business podcast on and leave us a positive review. Every rating and review really helps us grow the show and make sure you share it with people in your professional network so we can help other people like you and your mid-sized business get back to business.

About the show:
Back To Business // COVID-19 & You

As the world recovers from COVID-19, we believe the rebound will be digital. In each episode of the Back to Business: COVID-19 & You Podcast, we interview leaders of mid-size businesses to define best practices and next steps companies should be taking to thrive in the new normal. If you are a mid-size business navigating COVID-19 setbacks, and don’t know where to start or need help defining your strategy, this podcast is for you.

About the host:
James Fratzke

James Fratzke is a Co-Founder and Head of Client Success at Fratzke Media. His passion for storytelling comes from his time at the Walt Disney Company where he and his team executed record-breaking media events. He has helped tell the stories of major brands like Dollar Tree, Advance Auto Parts, and Jelly Belly.

About our sponsor:
Infinity Bank

When you bank with Infinity Bank, you are not banking with a faceless corporation. You are banking with industry leaders who want to know you and your business well. They are here to serve and partner with you to help you achieve all of your financial goals and dreams. To learn more visit www.goinfinitybank.com or call (657) 223-1000 today.

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At Fratzke Media, our paths cross with some amazing people. Learn more about their habits, insights and stories behind their success.

SEO expert and leading authority in the marketing industry, Rand Fishkin recently launched his new marketing software, SparkToro, which makes marketing intelligence easily accessible for marketers. SparkToro seemed to have a lot of early adopters, but unfortunately the company is also dealing with the effects of COVID-19. Rand talks about how the company is navigating the pandemic, how they’re still on track to make profit by the end of the year, and different marketing trends he’s noticed. Learn all this and more in this episode of Back to Business: COVID-19 & You

Our Back to Business: COVID 19 & You Takeaways

#1: Where Are Your Customers Frequenting?

Rand talks about how SparkToro was designed to solve the issue of inaccessible market intelligence for marketers. When trying to attract your target audience, it’s helpful to understand what podcasts they’re listening to, what blogs they’re reading, which Instagram accounts they’re following, and more. You’re trying to gain a deeper understanding of your target audience so you can better reach them.

With digital on the rise, understanding where your customers are frequenting is crucial. Customers aren’t shopping how they used to, and it’s up to businesses to meet customers where they’re at. Using market intelligence can help businesses understand customer needs, and help them recover post COVID-19. 

#2: Now vs. Later

Rand talks about how SparkToro is focusing on the now and the later. What businesses and industries are still thriving and able to invest right now? SparkToro is targeting these potential customers who can use the product and can afford it, and is repositioning itself to serve these industries. The company is also thinking about how to reach future customers, where to reach them, and how to position itself at the top to thrive post COVID-19.

In order to survive and thrive, your business could benefit from a shift in product and marketing thinking as well. Now is the time to be proactive and find your customers. Wing Lam, Wahoo’s co-founder, also utilized a similar strategy and found companies he could provide meals for, even though this wasn’t how they normally did business. Repositioning yourself now and in the future can help your company survive and thrive amidst the pandemic.

#3: Now is the Time to Invest in Your Digital Marketing Strategy

With digitalization becoming more important than ever, it’s crucial that you invest in your future to keep up with consumer trends. Rand talks about the different trends he’s noticed because of COVID-19, like the rise of desktop usage, and higher cooking rates and less food delivery, and many of these habits and trends will follow us post COVID-19.

Consumer shopping has changed, and businesses need to think about the 4 P’s (People, Processes, Platforms and Processes) and if they’re properly leveraging them to connect with customers. Now is the time to invest in digital and keep up with consumer trends in order for your mid-size business to survive. 

More about Rand Fishkin and SparkToro

Rand Fishkin has been in the marketing industry for almost 20 years, and originally founded SEOmoz in 2003, which later became Moz. He’s continuously innovating and recently released SparkToro, a software designed to make market intelligence easily accessible.