Andrew Maff of BlueTuskr: “Start an Agency”

Start an Agency — Hear me out. A TRUE marketer needs to be an entrepreneur at heart. Even if you’re in-house somewhere, start a small side gig. This will teach you the intricacies of running a business and help you understand why you should make certain marketing decisions over others because it’s better for the BUSINESS, not […]

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Start an Agency — Hear me out. A TRUE marketer needs to be an entrepreneur at heart. Even if you’re in-house somewhere, start a small side gig. This will teach you the intricacies of running a business and help you understand why you should make certain marketing decisions over others because it’s better for the BUSINESS, not just the campaign and your vanity metrics.

Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.

In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew Maff.

Andrew Maffettone (Maff) is a marketing expert with over 13 years of experience in e-commerce marketing strategy. Not only has Andrew owned and managed multiple marketing agencies in the e-commerce space, but he has also worked in-house at multiple online selling companies.

With his knowledge of marketing and business strategy, love for staying ahead of the curve, and ability to execute effective marketing solutions, he created BlueTuskr and assembled a team of specialized experts to develop an agency he knew e-commerce sellers would benefit from.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

When I was in college, I played in a band as a drummer. No one knew how to book us gigs, so I took on the challenge! This turned into me doing it for other bands and then taking in touring acts. That success led me to start a company where I was booking artists and marketing their shows at a majority of venues in Central Florida. After a while, though, I realized I hated the music business. So, I pivoted the company and solely did marketing for the venues. Then it grew to restaurants and retail stores as well. When I found out my sister was doing something similar, we merged and started a small agency called Ronzio Digital. However, I learned that working with family sucked. So, from there, I went in-house somewhere and ended up starting an agency with the CEO. We grew that company by over 7 figures in two years and sold it to a public company. And now, I’m doing it on my own at BlueTuskr.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Yes! This is my favorite story. At my previous agency, I launched an email campaign and rushed through it too fast. It had spelling errors in the subject line, the snippet, and all throughout the email itself. It was horrible!

BUT, we had our highest open rate, highest click rate, and highest response rate ever! Mostly from people bashing the email and saying they wanted my job. The client laughed it off because even though it was poorly done, it brought in a ton of business for them. I learned a lesson in authenticity and accepted the fact that not everything perfect does as well as strategies that clearly have human errors.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Easy. Jay Goldberg. Of course, my dad is probably pissed I didn’t say him, because he helped me a lot with owning a business, but when it came to marketing Jay threw me to the wolves!

Jay was my partner at my previous agency, and he taught me a lot about running a marketing agency. He didn’t have much previous agency experience before, but he taught me how to think logically. From there I was really able to focus on putting out work I’m proud of while also figuring out ways to be efficient.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We act as a partner in our client’s businesses. Too many agencies are focused on their own numbers and making their clients spend more so they can charge more. Our model is set so we’re focused on the success and the longevity of the business, not on just blowing through their ad budget.

Every one of us who is involved in a certain account gets added to the client’s Slack. The client gets access to our project management system, and we share everything. We are a true outsourced marketing department with a fractional CMO.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Patience. Competitiveness. Drive.

Overnight successes are bull. Slow and steady wins the race every time. Yes, we want to grow. Yes, we want our clients to grow, but I always focus on the long game. This way I know I’ll still be and my clients will still be here years from now. Like most business owners, I’m competitive, but I’m competitive against myself as well. I always set goals to beat out things I’ve done in the past. I LOVE what I do. This is not work for me, this is a hobby I get paid for. If there is something about this I don’t like doing, I outsource it. I tell my employees to do the same. If you’re forced to do something you don’t like doing, not only will you get burnt out after a while, but you’ll also put out crappy work.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I am starting to work on a side venture that is almost like a social media platform for e-commerce sellers. Not like a Facebook or something, but more like a library of knowledge, content, and other sellers to help their businesses grow.

If I execute it correctly, it will become wildly important for all sellers. If you have any questions about how to run an e-commerce business, or even how to run your personal e-commerce business, this will be where you go. Plus, it’ll be free!

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.

Don’t tip your toe in the water, jump in!

Way too many businesses start their ad budgets way too low. If you’re just starting out, I always suggest starting with one channel. For example, let’s say Google Ads. Leverage that full budget for just Google Ads so you can gather enough data to decipher what is working. If you start with too small of a budget it could take weeks or months to have enough data to figure out what is working. Typically by then business owners get burnt out and say that the channel doesn’t work, when in reality it very well could have. It just wasn’t executed properly.

Once you figure out if a channel is working, then you move on to the next. Don’t try too many channels at once. You’ll spread yourself and your budget too thin.

If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.

Every product, every service, every business, and every owner are different. There is no blueprint.

I always tell this to business owners. There are way too many variables and personalities that get in the way of templating out a digital marketing campaign.

However, in more broad terms, when we first start out we pick a few things and focus there. Which social media channel do your customers use the most? Figure that out and start there, then move on to another one. Which paid ads channels do they use the most? Figure that out, then move on.

Once you’ve started to have a presence on multiple channels ALWAYS look at your data at a high level first. While digital marketing data tracking is very easy, the buying process is liquid. Someone could hear about you on one channel, click on an ad on another channel, but convert via email a few days later. You have to look at how your marketing is doing as a whole first, then narrow it down to focus on testing new things.

Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?

For most businesses, the no brainer would be Google Ads. While this isn’t always true, for example, e-commerce sellers may want to start with Amazon Ads.

But, with Google Ads the user is slightly more mid-funnel. They know they have a problem and they are actively searching for an answer. So chances are your conversion rate will be much higher because they are ready to act. With social media there is more education involved. You’re introducing yourself to them, so that funnel could take longer.

Then again, if you are offering a new product that has never been made before or offering a service that no one offers, no one can Google it because they don’t know it exists. In that case, I would lean towards Facebook Ads.

Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?

Creative and copy are definitely key. You may be hitting the perfect audience, but if your message is wrong, your results will tank. Take the time to make perfect ad creative and then test, test, test!

Read the data! You’d be surprised how many accounts I see where an owner will tell me the channel doesn’t work for them, when really the audience they’re targeting is wrong or the search terms they are triggering for aren’t relevant. The data will tell you what you need to know.

Always remember the buying process. You may be killing it on Facebook Ads, but it could be your Google Ads that are driving the right audience. It’s just taking them longer than you thought to convert, so your Facebook retargeting ads are getting all of the credit. Think about not only where and who your customer is, but how they buy. Customers shop differently. Knowing this can help you steer your PPC campaigns in the right direction.

Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?

Personalization. We are Klaviyo and HubSpot Partners because of email marketing. Being able to personalize an email to show the proper message and the proper creative to a customer could be a game-changer not only for your open rates, but all the way down to conversion.

Automation. I put a strong focus on what can be automated. Abandoned Cart, Browser Abandonment, Customer Winbacks, etc. are standard. But not enough owners think about Re-Order, Life Event, or Upsell campaigns. It blows my mind. You can automate almost every email to a certain extent. Business owners need to get automated emails down to the very last thing they can think of. Then you’ll only need to do a newsletter every once in a while.

Timing. If you email me on a holiday, I will be deep into a whiskey, curse your name, and unsubscribe. You have to think about when your emails are going out and even consider which time zone the person is in. I don’t care how well crafted and personalized your email is. If you email them at the wrong time, it may get deleted or buried in their inbox.

What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?

I live and die by HubSpot. For my own business and for our clients, I love it. Having everything in one place makes data collection and more importantly, automation a lot easier. I automate anything and everything I possibly can. Automated emails are nice, but we’ll automate specific ads people see based on triggers that go off in HubSpot. We’ll even automate down to the sales process to text someone, change their ads and their emails, and even Slack their sales rep about what they’re doing.

You know when you’re hanging out with someone and they say, “Oh that’s creepy!” because they got an incredibly targeted ad or a well-timed personalized email? Yeah, I’m the guy that did that…thanks to HubSpot.

Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?

Experience — If you’re just starting out, go on to something like UpWork. Lie your face off and say that you’ve done something a million times, then teach yourself how to do stuff. Of course, make sure you’re comfortable doing it and you can Google your way through everything, but this is the easiest way to get experience.

Certifications — I love this answer because it’s all bull. You can Google the answers to every HubSpot, Semrush, Google, Hootsuite, and Amazon quiz you can think of, get certified and it makes you look like a genius. In my early days I got a ton of clients because I would showcase my certifications, but they didn’t know I Google’d all of the answers.

Success — Once you get the early years out of the way, you need to walk the walk. Create case studies, get screenshots of impressive metrics you’ve hit, or get some testimonials somewhere. At a certain point, if you can’t prove that you’re good at what you do, people will know you’re full of shit.

Start an Agency — Hear me out. A TRUE marketer needs to be an entrepreneur at heart. Even if you’re in-house somewhere, start a small side gig. This will teach you the intricacies of running a business and help you understand why you should make certain marketing decisions over others because it’s better for the BUSINESS, not just the campaign and your vanity metrics.

Obsess Over Customers — This one is obvious. But if you know your customers better than you know yourself, you’ll be able to sell anything to them. And more importantly, you’ll be able to sell to them ethically. Too many marketers get to know their customers so they think they can figure out ways on how to trick them into buying, but a REALLY good marketer will not only get them to buy, but will make sure they stay happy about their decision as well.

What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?

I’d be lying if I said I don’t watch reruns of Shark Tank in my free time, but otherwise I’ve read more marketing books than I can count. Some of Gary Vee’s books are good such as Top of Mind, Hit Makers, and The Conversion Code. Russel Brunson’s Expert series are all great reads too.

I actually prefer reading physical books because I’m on calls and staring at a screen all day. So to just read a normal book is like a nice break for me.

When I travel, that’s when my podcasts come in. 100% I always recommend Marketing School with Eric Siu and Neil Patel, not only are they great at marketing and running businesses, but they’re short bite-sized 10 minutes or less episodes, so I can plow through some pretty serious knowledge in an hour without having to listen to any fluff.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Wow! This one is tough! I love kids and I love dogs. If everyone took one volunteer shift a month at a shelter or even just helping out a school sport team, you’d be surprised at how much you can learn.

Sometimes I find myself getting so stressed out about marketing stuff I have going on that doing things like that really grounds me and helps me clear my head of the unnecessary bs.

How can our readers further follow your work?

Wherever you want! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram with the handle @AndrewMaff. But most of the articles I write and videos I do are all @BlueTuskr along with our YouTube channel.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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