Josh Scheer: “Absorb as much as possible”

Absorb as much as possible. While it’s great to specialize, marketers with broad knowledge that they can act on and drill deeper into as needed are extremely valuable. The job title of “growth marketer” is one of the fastest-growing titles in the industry, and it pays well. But one of the most important parts of […]

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Absorb as much as possible. While it’s great to specialize, marketers with broad knowledge that they can act on and drill deeper into as needed are extremely valuable. The job title of “growth marketer” is one of the fastest-growing titles in the industry, and it pays well. But one of the most important parts of a growth marketer’s role is understanding how all facets of marketing work together so they can create an effective plan. To get there, you’ve got to be learning about everything.

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 Josh Scheer.

Josh Scheer is a Texas native who thrives in problem-solving and creating measurable results for clients. He graduated from the University of Missouri in journalism before he fell in love with results-driven marketing. He pivoted his career and never looked back. He loves helping individuals on the digital team find their passion as well as cultivating and maintaining partnerships with companies in the industry.

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?

So excited to talk with you! I began my career life in journalism. After a couple of years at an old-school newspaper, I joined a start-up doing real-time news for a community in Wyoming. As the Content Director, I helped our company grow the network to seven separate communities, culminating in the largest media audience in the state. We were monetizing the sites through custom native-sponsored content, which was rather novel at the time. Working on some projects on that side of the house and seeing the enthusiasm from clients about how their content performed I knew I had to get into marketing full-time. When I left news, I dove deep into PPC and have grown my knowledge and skill set since. Currently, I serve as the Director of Digital Marketing & Strategic Partnerships at Relic Advertising.

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?

I don’t know if it’s funny, but I learned PPC at a lead gen agency helping clients harvest very specific prospects in very specific markets. After helping several clients study the quality of their leads, I learned that Google Ads can be relaxed in how it interprets geo-targeting. If you have the setting for locations to include “people who are interested in your location,” it can serve ads all over the world and you might not be getting the traffic you actually want. Tweaking those settings and utilizing location exclusions was a game-changer.

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?

Oh man, there are way too many who have influenced me to get to where I am today. I’m particularly grateful to Relic’s ownership. There were some major challenges shortly after I started here, and the owners, instead of looking outside to figure things out, trusted me and my leadership capabilities. Without their confidence, who knows where I’d be today.

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

We focus heavily on destination marketing, which could have spelled disaster during 2020. But it didn’t! We banded together as a team stronger than I’ve ever seen, helped our client’s message get to people who were wanting to travel but were worried. While we ceased a lot of promotional marketing for most of the year, we helped our clients develop campaigns we could use as soon as restrictions started lifting. Everyone’s scrappy, right? We were so scrappy that we kept our business healthy during a time that could have been devastating.

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?

  • Willingness to ask questions. Everyone wants to be the smartest person in the room, and no one wants to seem dumb in front of a client. However, instead of making assumptions and potentially being wrong, asking questions brings clarity to everyone, shows an eagerness to get things right and usually leads to a better outcome. I’ve never had anyone upset at me for asking too many questions
  • Cool-headedness. It’s so easy to react poorly when things go wrong. It’s so easy to say things you probably shouldn’t. I’ve found that taking a beat to understand the full context of a situation makes my reaction more informed and appropriate.
  • Being prepared to fail. People get paralyzed in analysis and fear not getting something right. Sure, you need to have a plan or a minimum viable product before trying something. You’ll never get all the kinks out before launch. Sometimes you just need to get in and start doing. You might fail. And that’s ok. Most of the time, you’ll just find opportunities to improve.

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

It’s such an exciting time to be in destination marketing. We’re still dealing with COVID-19, but leisure travel is booming and business travel is on its way. However, the role of destination marketing organizations is changing, and we’re working on some offerings that will help our clients navigate their new duties. More to come!

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.

In my mind, many of the problems I see from organizations getting started for the first time relate to a channel’s place in the funnel. Sure, display ads are nice and cheap, but are they going to get people to directly buy a product? Probably not; it’s an awareness play. Paid search can be incredible as a bottom-of-the-funnel tactic, but if your brand doesn’t have any awareness, getting people to act on your ad will be painful. Summed up, it’s a lack of full-funnel thinking and an abundance of unrealistic expectations.

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.

I could write a whole book on this, but I won’t. Yet. A successful blueprint begins with clear goals, clear audience targets or personas and a channel breakdown that hits areas of the funnel where the brand or product is weakest. I suppose this is more of a foundation, but once you have those things defined, you can apply the budget to the channels that best serve those purposes.

Whenever budget allows, make sure your blueprint includes testing. Testing of audiences, creative, etc. Hold nothing sacred and let data be your guide.

And finally, tracking. None of this matters if you haven’t set up tools and pixels to measure performance. Always make sure these things are in place before launching.

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?

It depends on what you’re selling, but almost always, Google is the right answer. It has the biggest and broadest audience.

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

  • Get granular. Structure your campaigns and ad groups in a way that is logical and specific. You always want to make sure your ad copy and landing pages are specific to the keywords you’re targeting. To use the common shoe search analogy, don’t allow an ad talking about sandals to show up when someone was searching for boots.
  • Embrace automation. When Google started rolling out more automated bid strategies and responsive ad types, I was skeptical. I’m also a control freak, but largely, Google’s algorithms know what they’re doing and utilizing these tools typically leads to better results.
  • Don’t set it and forget it. Regularly set aside time (once a week at least) to review account performance and optimize. Search behaviors can change, algorithms certainly do, so it’s always best to keep a close eye on everything. Don’t make significant changes more than once a week, though. You need to give the algorithms time to learn. The larger the budget, the more often you can tweak.

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?

  • Testing. If you’ve got large enough of a database, do some split A/B testing to see how people respond to content and call-to-action changes.
  • Make sure your content is relevant to the customer’s place in the funnel. Think about where in their journey they signed up for emails and meet them where they are. Don’t send purchase-oriented emails to someone who has bought. Don’t serve “about us” content to someone who has abandoned a cart.
  • Keep your lists clean. Purge inactive contacts regularly; this could be email addresses that bounce or that might not have opened an email in 6 months. Lowering these negative metrics will improve your chances of avoiding spam folders.

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?

The time of OTT/CTV is now! People are streaming now more than ever, and there are so many opportunities to reach people. It’s also easier to buy than it used to be. Most demand-side platforms have OTT serving capabilities, and even Hulu is building a self-serve buying platform. If you’re currently running any programmatic, talk to your vendor or media buyer about how to get started.

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?

  • Be able to see the big picture. Think about you or your client’s marketing problem outside of your go-to channels and be creative with your solutions. For example, if you have a brand awareness problem, don’t immediately shoe-horn the solution into the tactic you know best. Think about where the audience is and what will reach them most effectively.
  • Ask questions. Never, ever think you fully understand what your boss or client wants without grilling them a little bit. Restate what they say to you to make sure everyone is on the same page. The way I get buy-in from clients on our digital strategy is by reiterating the same things they told me and then illustrating how the solution solves their problem.
  • Get comfortable with a little coding. I’m no expert here either, but being able to understand how pixels work and how to properly track actions using tools like Google Tag Manager is invaluable. Digital marketers who understand how to finesse the intricacies of the data layer and use GTM to its fullest can create innovative tracking solutions. This leads to better execution and clarity of performance.
  • Absorb as much as possible. While it’s great to specialize, marketers with broad knowledge that they can act on and drill deeper into as needed are extremely valuable. The job title of “growth marketer” is one of the fastest-growing titles in the industry, and it pays well. But one of the most important parts of a growth marketer’s role is understanding how all facets of marketing work together so they can create an effective plan. To get there, you’ve got to be learning about everything.
  • Always be ready to pivot. This industry is changing all the time. What you’re able to do right now might not be possible at this time next year. There’s always something new and better. Be flexible and never get married to one solution. For example, Google Ads just completely restructured how different keyword match types operate. Did you know that? Are your campaigns structured appropriately or do you need to put in some work to make changes? You don’t want to be surprised by changes like this.

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

On the digital front, there are so many good websites and blogs out there. I’m usually paying attention to what Neil Patel has to say, and the newsletter Raisin Bread by MarketerHire is great for staying on top of interesting industry news. If you’re working in a particular industry, find resources for the latest news for that vertical. Being knowledgeable about the larger ecosystem will help you create better marketing solutions.

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. 🙂

Let’s all show each other more compassion. Organizations like the Spreading Kindness Campaign are great. I believe that if we all took a second to think about how others think and feel before we act, the world would be a better place. Don’t make assumptions about others and consider how you impact those around you.

How can our readers further follow your work?

I host the Tourism Media Mayhem podcast with my Traditional Media counterpart, Sasha Jackson. Find us anywhere you listen to podcasts; we’re also on TikTok, LinkedIn and Instagram. Find me on LinkedIn, and you can also follow all the cool stuff our agencies (Relic and EKR) are doing on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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

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