I just care that everybody feels as much fulfillment as they can in their time here.
As a part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with my fellow marketing pros at the top of their game to give entrepreneurs and marketers an inside look at proven strategies you might also be able to leverage to grow your business. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Jonathan Ronzio.
Jonathan Ronzio is the CMO of Trainual, a leading SaaS company that helps fast-growing businesses automate their on-boarding and training by documenting every process, policy, and procedure in one simple, searchable, scalable system. Jonathan is also an award-winning filmmaker, adventure athlete, and co-hosts a podcast called “The Stokecast” — an Apple Podcasts Top 100 show for outdoor, sports, and recreation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure I’ve had funny mistakes because the funny stuff we’ve done has always been what’s worked for us! But there is one campaign that comes to mind that didn’t work so well. I love that Heads Up game you play on your phone — the one where you hold the phone to your forehead and have to guess what word is on the screen based on the clues that people shout at you. When I noticed you could record and save the replay videos, I thought it would be great to play with the team and have Trainual be one of the words I had to guess.
We had a couch full of people shouting at the camera, “THE BOSS FROM THE OFFICE…THE SHOW WITH CENTRAL PERK…PLAYBOOK SOFTWARE FOR KNOWLEDGE AND TRAINING…(which the answer was Trainual). I ran that video as an ad on Facebook so that someone scrolling through the feed might recognize the funny game and tune in. I still think it was a clever idea, but we spent over $5k on it, and it didn’t work. You have to test those things though!
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Most marketers get in their own way by focusing too much on specific strategies, best practices, or measurable outcomes. Not to say you shouldn’t care about measurement. But I think now more than ever, you need to focus first on creativity, and building a brand that both entertains and educates your audience. Don’t overthink everything you do, and don’t be afraid to test even the most random, ridiculous ideas. Doing that will help prevent burnout because you’re constantly focused on new things instead of doing the same thing over and over.
Great advice. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. As you know Google and other search engines constantly update their search algorithms. Today, do you believe that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is still an important part of any long-term marketing plan? Can you explain why?
The principles of SEO will always play into a piece of your marketing strategy. The tactics to actually optimize for search engines will continue to shift and evolve. But of course, you should be mindful of creating content that is associated with and ranks against what your target buyers are searching for. To me, it feels like it’s getting less important as attention continues to pour into various social media platforms. I’m more focused on building a brand through content on social channels than I am in ensuring we rank for the top 50 terms in our industry. Everybody’s competing for SEO, but if you can build demand around a brand, then you can get people searching for you, not an industry keyword.
Can you share some basic Search Engine Optimization tips you have for less experienced marketers?
If you’re really just getting started with SEO, find a good SEO plugin for your website, like Yoast SEO for WordPress, and start learning how to create content that in its title, body paragraphs, and meta description is purpose-built around a particular keyword. SEO strategies are a deep rabbit hole if you dive in, but tools like this make it easy to learn the framework.
What “3 Non-Intuitive Marketing Strategies” have been most effective for you in your industry?
1. Run 15-second Instagram story ads featuring unpolished, personal content that makes it look like you’re a friend in their feed. For example, walking down the street taking a selfie video, talking about your product or some topic related to it.
2. Let your customers write your copy for you. We run quotes that we pull out of customer reviews as the descriptions and headlines on our social ads.
3. Utilize influencer and celebrity video collaborations in the same videos that include raw customer testimonials. You’re essentially borrowing the brand equity of these well-known figures, and matching them against the real value prop that your real customers are experiencing.
If you were only allowed to run paid ads on 1 platform (in your industry) over the next 12 months, what would it be and why?
I don’t know if this is cheating, but I’d choose Facebook because, with their Ad Manager, you can run on Facebook and Instagram simultaneously. There are more than a billion people active on Facebook, and more than 100 million people on Instagram every month. That’s more than enough audience to build a massive business and brand on.
As a professional marketer, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
This might sound cheesy, but the thing that I’m most passionate about is that people are happy doing what they’re doing. Even with my own team, I encourage side hustles and honesty about where they want to go and what they want to create outside of working with Trainual. Because ultimately, I just care that everybody feels as much fulfillment as they can in their time here.
Wonderful. That’s really what it’s all about! What quote would you say has inspired you the most in your life or career?
“Live boldly in tribute to the spirit of wonder.”
I think I read this in an alternative press interview from Anthony Green, the singer of Circa Survive when I was 17, but it has always stuck with me.
Good one, my friend. Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!