How To Avoid Burnout & Thrive In Marketing with Brice Gump & Kage Spatz

Marketing Strategy Series hosted by Kage Spatz, Founder of Spacetwin.com

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Brice Gump Marketing Expert

If you feel inspired to go start something, then absolutely, by all means, go start something. Even if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur, if you don’t want to be the one leading the way. That’s totally fine. And that’s okay.

As part of my Marketing Strategy Series, I’m talking with 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 or career. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Brice Gump of Major Impact Media.

Brice is an entrepreneur that’s fascinated by the way messages spread, technology moves, and teams of everyday people can create life-changing businesses using a laptop and an internet connection. At his ad agency, he helps online experts create impactful advertising campaigns to grow their businesses.

Thank you for doing this! Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting and what lesson you learned from that?

When I got started I didn’t know anything about spreadsheets or optimization or anything. So I just did things the way people taught me.

Someone who had shown me how to do Google ads at a very basic level showed me how to export the spreadsheets of all of the campaigns we were running and then manually calculate quality scores.

So it was just a lot of manual work and it took like an hour to do each account. I was probably spending anywhere from three to four hours a week, manually calculating quality scores for the accounts that I was running. Then I discovered pivot tables and learned I could do it in 15 minutes.

After that, I discovered automated scripts and I learned that for the things I was spending hours doing every week, I could just automate that entire process. That’s actually how I learned that it really pays to Google around and look for people who have figured out better ways to do stuff than you do right now.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

Yes. Starting out as a freelancer, I pretty much did what anybody would ask me to do and I would take on any clients that would want to hire me. What I learned over time though is that who you choose as a client makes a huge impact on the success that the overall project would have.

And that changed everything for me because so many agencies will work with anyone and just work on whatever projects they have. But when I figured out a very specific skill that I could offer and a very specific type of person I could work with, I found the most success. All because I learned details about their business model and the skills and mindsets they brought to the table, as well as the traits of the customers we were targeting.

That really helped me to be able to pick people that I knew would be successful with the services that I offered. As a marketer, it’s easy for us to think that everything is on us and it’s our job to do all the work to make our marketing successful.

But you should realize no sales rep is going to last long selling a product they don’t believe in, and neither do marketers. So despite what most people tell you, you can’t turn poop into gold, right?

So when you are getting started on projects, whether that’s working at a company, working at an agency, bringing on clients, doing freelance or whatever — Choosing the right clients and knowing the kinds of clients that will be the most successful with the services you provide is a huge tipping point.

At least it was early in my career because that’s when I figured out how to pick people that were going to be successful before we even got started. That’s when I was really able to improve the results that we were able to get for all of the clients that we work with.

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 about that?

I grew up in Texas, but I went to college in a small town called Durango, Colorado. After I finished college, I decided that digital marketing was going to give me a better, more exciting career path than anything I could do with my political science degree.

So I actually packed my bags and moved back to Austin, Texas, which as a side note, I think is an amazing idea for anyone young or who wants to get into an industry and has the ability to move. Move yourself to where the action is because you will find more opportunities than you can imagine.

Being surrounded by people who are doing what you want to do on a daily basis is amazing. But I was spending a lot of time on meetup.com, looking for good meetups with people working online and in digital marketing. I probably went to 10 meetups. Seven were awful, two were okay, and one was amazing. And that one was called an internet marketing party and it was put on by a guy named Dave Gonzalez.

After a few months, they send out an email looking for an intern to help them organize the event. So I replied to it and they took me on. And for the next two years, I helped them put on this event every single month in Austin. I met more people doing what I wanted to do because of those events than anything else I did.

And I’m talking about tons of brilliant people building super cool businesses and just doing great things all because Dave had this event and I raised my hand and said I wanted to volunteer with them. I helped them put on these events and Dave introduced me to so many cool people.

It really helped me get started in this industry, meet great people, get inspired, and get introduced to my first clients as a freelancer. So definitely moving to Austin, and getting involved with the internet marketing party put on by Dave Gonzalez, put me on the path that I’m on today.

What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?

I think life is about finding balance because this industry moves really fast and there’s always going to be something new to focus on. So you’ve got to make sure that you know how to disconnect and get away from the computer.

Make time to work out. Make time to relax. Make time to spend time with your family because there’s always going to be something new to catch up with. Avoid getting caught up in the next shiny new tool that’s always coming out.

I think just stick to having a really great strategy and the fundamentals down. And then you can try to fit these shiny new things into your strategy, but don’t chase them too much.

I think tactically two of the best things that I’ve ever done is to turn off all the notifications on my phone. I don’t have any notifications from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, or any social media. The only notification I get is if someone sends me a text message and that’s it. And when I’m working, I put my phone away, so I don’t even see my personal text messages. And that has been a huge help for my sanity because now I can use these tools and these platforms more intentionally.

The other best thing I did was find a Chrome extension that will kill your social media newsfeed. That means when you log on to Facebook, there is no newsfeed and you can be more intentional about going through the platform without getting sucked in.

I think those two tactical steps have helped me avoid getting too sucked into stuff and use these tools more intentionally.

Consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?

I think we’re entering the age of privacy where people want more control over how their data is shared.

Likely what this means is the tech giants (Google, Apple, Facebook) will still have access to all of the data that they want and need. The challenge is that the little guys like you and me — won’t have access to that data.

So small businesses are going to have to accept that the days of unlimited access to hyper-targeting, tracking every single person, and every click that they ever made online with your business is going to go away. And that’s going to go into a little black box that the big guys own. What we’re still gonna have access to as marketers is creative data — what messaging, what content, and what videos are driving results.

And then from there, it’s going to become about building connections with your customers and getting them excited about working with you over somebody else, because they’re more aligned with what you’re doing. They agree more with your mission, your brand, your messaging, all of that stuff.

That’s what’s really going to be the future of marketing for small businesses — really focusing on fundamental strategy, the right messaging, the right creatives, and continuing to amplify those going forward.

What 5 things do you wish someone told you before you started?

[1] At the very beginning of your career, it is really important to spend as much time as you can working with people who do what you want to do at the highest level.

Today, especially for young people, there’s a lot of noise around starting your own business, being an entrepreneur, working for yourself, and that’s awesome. There are so many benefits to that, but I think you will learn way more in two years, working with A-level players on amazing projects than you will ever learn working by yourself in a bedroom for the next five years.

As much as you can in the very beginning, spend time with people who are doing what you want to do and doing it really well and being really successful. Go work for them for cheap, make whatever move you need to make, do whatever you have to do to gain experience.

Go find those people and work with them. You will learn more than you ever thought you could. And you can also get connected with amazing people in this industry.

[2] The next thing is there’s an unlimited number of people that have businesses that need help out there. So go find an industry or a group of people you’re excited to work with and go work with them.

There is no reason you have to work with companies or industries, or with products that you’re not excited about. Again, there’s an unlimited number of people that need help. So find people that are really enthusiastic and share the things that you’re passionate about and go help them.

[3] Another thing is there are a lot of different paths to success. There are tons of different ways to accomplish the same goal.

I think one of the best things that you can learn to do as a marketer, as an individual, is make a decision, stick with it and just focus. So don’t get shiny object syndrome. Don’t change. Every time something gets hard, don’t change your strategy too quickly. Every time you hear someone online say, oh no, that old way of doing it is dead. Now you need to do it that new way. It takes a lot of hard work to accomplish big things and oftentimes that resistance means you’re on the right path.

So one of the best things we can all learn how to do is make a decision and then stick with it and see it through as best as we can. Make a decision and see it through.

[4] The next one I would say is that many people are controlled by habits and identities that they don’t even realize they have.

If you can learn how you work, you can figure out which habits and identities you have that hold you back and which ones accelerate you forward. That is a huge insight into who you are as a person and how you can learn how to train yourself to accomplish big things.

There’s a really good book about this called Atomic Habits. He talks about this a lot.

I think it’s super-valuable, but if you can really learn how to train yourself, to lock in good habits and to build a great environment for you to be successful, and get out of bad habits and put yourself in an environment where you’re not even tempted to go back to those bad habits, then that’s when you will really be successful. And I think that’s extremely valuable knowledge.

[5] And the last one here is for anyone freelancing or in the small business world where I got started doing all of this. I would just say, you’re not doing anyone any favors by undercharging.

I think a lot of people get started in the freelancing space. There are so many people that want to get online and start freelancing, and they’re afraid to charge more because they’re afraid that other people are just going to be cheaper.

They just want to win projects. But the problem you run into when you undercharge is that you don’t give yourself the resources to do the best job. What you end up doing is providing an inferior service and ultimately you don’t end up helping people get great results.

So if you’re just getting started and trying to get experience, there’s value in getting your foot in the door and doing projects at a rate that will provide people value.

But I think it’s really important as you grow as a professional, especially if you’re a freelancer or an agency owner, to charge a rate that is going to give you all of the resources and the ability that you need to provide the best result possible.

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

I’m a huge book reader. There are a lot of great books to dive into. There are some great classics that you hear about in advertising like the ones from David Ogilvy or Claude Hopkins.

One book that I like to recommend is actually called the Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. That is a great way to just learn and think about sales in a different way. He doesn’t talk about sales scripts as much as he talks about sales strategies, and I think it’s really valuable.

And then one other book that has had a big impact on my thinking lately is $100M Dollar Offers by Alex Hormozi. That is a great new book that has come out about marketing that I’ve recommended to a lot of people lately.

For podcasts, I really like to look for interviews with people who are in the field or founding companies. It doesn’t really matter what podcasts they’re on. Just a lot of these great founders and these great marketers will go do interviews on other podcasts. Find really interesting people. Search around the web and listen to interviews, so you can learn more about how they think and what they’re doing.

One more before we go: If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I would love to help people find more meaningful work. There are so many cool teams of people doing amazing things out there that you’ve probably never heard of.

If you feel inspired to go start something, then absolutely, by all means, go start something. Even if you don’t want to be an entrepreneur if you don’t want to be the one leading the way. That’s totally fine. And that’s okay.

There’s still a lot of ways to do meaningful work. I think there’s too much noise about everyone needing to have some great, big idea and go be an entrepreneur, but there are tons of small teams with 5 or 10 people that are doing really awesome stuff and making a difference in the world. They’re able to build really cool businesses that actually help people and also build really great lives for the people who are involved in that company.

It’s really clear for all of us that large institutions today move slowly. It’s pretty much impossible for them to catch up with the speed of change, so small businesses and teams of people are likely going to have the most impact. You can absolutely wake up every day excited about what you’re doing.

Whether you’ve already started or whether you find someone else doing what you want to do and go join them, go find something that gets you excited and do meaningful work every day. Because I think having meaningful work brings purpose to our lives and makes life more enjoyable. And there’s absolutely no reason that anybody should wake up and dread going to work every day.

There are too many different options for us to not be doing something that makes an impact on our lives and the lives of others. We want our lives and the lives of others to be happy every day.

Thank you for sharing your story and so many valuable insights with us today!

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