“To avoid burnout, you have to unplug” With Beth Shockley of TopSpot Internet Marketing

Beth is the Director of Marketing for TopSpot Internet Marketing. In this role, she combines her deep knowledge of TopSpot’s service with her love for people. Working on projects that range from big-picture strategy and leads analysis, to everyday email and website development, her skills are varied as her interests. Thank you so much for doing […]

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Beth is the Director of Marketing for TopSpot Internet Marketing. In this role, she combines her deep knowledge of TopSpot’s service with her love for people. Working on projects that range from big-picture strategy and leads analysis, to everyday email and website development, her skills are varied as her interests.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, or readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Myentire career path exists within the same company, which is a little unlike a lot of my marketing peers. I got my BA in marketing from the University of Louisville in Kentucky and after college, I decided to go out on my own. I did my research and Houston seemed to have a lot of great opportunities. I bought a thirty-day round ticket and ended up accepting a position as a Paid Search Account Manager with TopSpot Internet Marketing. I went home, packed up my car, and drove back to Houston. I was on my own for the first time and I knew it was up to me to succeed and do well. I think that really motivated me to put everything into my job and really go all in on learning everything I could about internet marketing.

In that first role, I managed paid search campaigns in Google, Bing and Business.com for about 60 companies, mostly industrial and B2B. After a few years, I was promoted to a Team Lead position, where I managed a team of three people, two Search Engine Optimization Specialists and one Paid Search Specialist. As a Team Lead, I needed to not only speak to clients about paid search, but also SEO (search engine optimization), design, creating sitemaps, and what goes into creating a good user experience on a website. In this role, I really got to learn about all of our clients and their businesses, really work with them and build a rapport.

As we added more teams, I moved into the role of Client Strategies Manager, where I oversaw all the teams at that time. A lot of that role was strategy, but also making sure that I taught new Team Members what I had learned over the years, like the things I knew were important to having good client relationships. I was also coaching Team Leads on how to develop their own Team Members, and instilling the importance of really understanding your clients, their business and their business goals, and how we can help them.

In 2015, I moved into my current role as Director of Marketing. I think having the amount of experience I had with the company really helps me to understand what makes us unique. Having a strong connection to our entire Team allows me to continue to impart the incredible amount of knowledge I have. I also still get to help our clients by working with our Team to fully understand them and what it takes to have a successful relationship.

It’s incredible to think that when I began my career at TopSpot, there were less than 20 people at the company. Now, we have over 120 Team Members. At the same time, I grew from someone starting their career right out of college to the company’s Director of Marketing.

Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

During my initial training as a Paid Search Account Manager, I was tasked with writing a few different Paid Search Ads for one of our clients. This was the first time I had ever written anything that would be shown on Google, so I took the task very seriously. Afterwards, I was very proud of my newly written ad text, and even prouder when I did a search on Google and saw it there. So proud, in fact, that I told my family and friends about it, and invited them to search for the same specific phrases that would trigger my new ad to be shown so they could see it too!

A few days later, still in training, I was taught about the importance of a PPC ad’s Click Through Rate (CTR) and how an ad being shown many times without gaining any clicks could be an indication of a low quality keyword, which could then impact the program. Needless to say, I quickly went back to my desk and sent out a frantic email to everyone proudly viewing my ad and asked them to stop.

I think it’s great to be proud of your work, and enthusiastic about what you’re doing in your career, but also make sure you know the whole story (including any negative implications that could occur) before spreading that enthusiasm too far.

(Also, for anyone who is wondering, the extra impressions didn’t harm the program, and the client’s new ads performed very well.)

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?

Taking on the position of Team Lead meant I had to take on managerial responsibilities for the first time, as well as learning more about the other services our company offers. It was a big transition for me, having never managed anyone before and had previously only had to worry about my performance on the accounts I was responsible for. At first, it was a bit of a struggle for me to get my arms around it all. It’s easy to say that your job is “too hard” or it’s not going the way you want it to because of factors you can’t control, but what I learned is that if I just believed in myself instead of listening to that little voice that was saying, “You can’t do this. You aren’t qualified. What are you thinking?” and if I just stayed positive and got out of my own head, I’d do much better.

At the same time, I realized that you are only as good as your Team. Their successes were my successes. So, I made sure my energy was focused on growing my Team Members and making sure that they had everything that they needed to excel — education, direction, and confidence.

The minute these two things clicked and I started really focusing on believing in myself while coaching and growing my Team, I think that’s when things kind of took off and I started seeing success with our clients and with our Team in general.

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

My company has always placed a huge emphasis on people. Whether that’s looking at clients as people and not just a number, or looking at our Team Members as individuals, there’s always been a focus on how we can help people.

I remember when I first started and had been with the company only two or three months, my grandmother passed away. We were very close. I went to the office of our vice president of operations, Anita. I was pretty new and I was very intimidated by her. I was still in shock from the news and knew I needed to tell someone that I had to head back home for the funeral. After I told her, the first thing she did was ask, “Are you okay? How can I help?” It was really comforting to know that even for someone who was completely new to the business, the first words from anyone were, “How are you? What can we do?”

And that translates to the client side, as well. We’ve been through a lot- fluctuating economies and industry changes. During those times when a client was struggling to get through an economic downturn, we focus on how we could help. We ask, how can we help? Would adjusting their advertising budgets help or could we focus more on specific markets that were still going strong. That’s how we approach things, by being a business that takes care of other people.

Not only do we take care of clients, but they take care of us. In 2017, Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc in Houston, where TopSpot is based. In addition to making sure our families were safe during the storm, the Executive Team was concerned for their TopSpot family, the local businesses we work with and how to keep up operations while the building was, literally, underwater. Because I work remotely, I was able to coordinate communications between clients and the rest of the Team. This included asking local clients if they wanted to pause their PPC ads until they were back up and running, coordinating requests from the rest of our clients in the US to various available representatives that were available, and status checks to every single TopSpot Team Member to make sure everyone was safe. Between the supportive emails and phone calls we got from our clients to the over $60,000 we were able to raise after we reopened, we truly saw how your clients viewed us as family, too.

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

The marketing we have been doing lately — including the collateral and the content we have been producing — has been really focused on the needs of our customers. We have been focusing on helping our new or transitioning clients to understand our processes, how those processes can help them, and what that means for their business going forward. I think this attitude is going to be really influential with our client onboarding and our retention, as well.

One way we have done this is through blog posts that serve to educate clients, as well as those in our industry. For example, we wrote about Google’s BERT algorithm update and we got a lot of feedback from our Team about how they shared with their clients to help them better understand what was happening. By focusing on education that impacts our clients, and not just creating content for the sake of creation, we are making our Team more valuable to our clients. We also created an opportunity for those who might not have seen as a resource before to understand that they could come to us for answers.

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

You have to unplug. It is so, so hard, but you have unplug. At least once a year, my husband and I go on vacation, and my phone is turned off and put away in the hotel safe (I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t mostly influenced by my husband. It stays locked up, with a few small exceptions to make sure things are going smoothly back home, and then it’s locked back up. Not only does it help avoid burnout, but by allowing your brain to think and process, you will come up with new ideas and inspiration you can pull from. That’s why I suggest taking time for yourself.

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 started at TopSpot fresh out of school. I needed a lot of coaching and direction; probably a lot of patience, too. TopSpot’s Vice President of Operations, Anita has helped me immensely by being that person. She believed in me when I did not think I could do something. She knew what I could do long before I did. The wisdom I have gotten from her, the things I have learned about people and empathy and, of course, internet marketing, have been so important to me. I don’t know where I would be without what she has taught me.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There are hundreds of memorable marketing campaigns that have become part of the lexicon of our culture. What is your favorite marketing or branding campaign from history? Can you explain why you like that so much?

This might just be because it’s fresh in my mind, but the recent Super Bowl commercial Jeep did with Bill Murray. It was a “Groundhog Day” movie theme and it was just so perfectly targeted to the demographic they were trying to reach. They wanted to target a specific persona and really went with it. It was my favorite commercial this year and I remember telling my husband I was going to buy a Jeep! It was a brilliant way of finding something that resonated with everyone in Jeep’s demographic.

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

Start off with an incredibly clear objective of what you want to get out of the campaign. Ask yourself, what is the end goal? And how will that be measured? Before you ever figure out what all is going to happen, what kind of collateral it’s going to be, or what the video is going to say, you have to understand the purpose of it first. Having that defined is crucial.

Next, you need to understand your audience and figure out exactly who that would be. Then, you have to decide what marketing avenues are best for reaching that goal, that audience, and how to tell that story. What is the best way to explain the process you are trying to explain or market the thing you are trying to market?

Basically, understand your goal and your audience, then you can take the time to let the creative process run and get the best ideas, instead of just running with the first thing that comes to mind (which isn’t always the best approach).

Companies like Google and Facebook have totally disrupted how companies market over the past 15 years. At the same time, consumers have become more jaded and resistant to anything “salesy”. In your industry, where do you see the future of marketing going?

The future is in continuing to move away from the more “salesy” messaging and focusing more on the individual behind the company. Focusing on their needs, their pain points and targeting your messaging around how you can help. It’s less about what’s flashy and eye-catching; it’s about appealing to those very targeted markets that you are going after and making sure you are meeting their needs.

Can you please tell us the 5 things you wish someone told you before you started? Can you please share a story or example for each.

Data Always Tells the Story. And, make sure you are addressing the story it’s telling. Make sure when you send a client a report that you understand what you are sending, and you address the positives and the negatives being reported on. Otherwise, it can be open to interpretation, which can lead to a totally different story than the one you’re wanting to convey.

You Can Always Rely On Data. When in doubt, go back to the data. Data is your most important tool. It is honest. It will always have your back. It will also give you the answers you need. What it’s leading to is always correct. (It also makes you look smart.)

For one of our clients who was developing a new website we suggested a new sitemap, but the company didn’t agree with our ideas. We showed them the data we had that supported our suggestions, and with some reluctance, the client went for it. In the end, 75% of the visits ended up being in that section, and we gained the client’s trust.

Understand and Appreciate Your Sales Team. You always hear about companies having contention between marketing and sales, but really, it’s important to get to know them and work well together. Understanding the time, effort and work that goes into the selling of an account, is important to working well with the rep, but also with the client. Taking the time to understand the conversations the Sales Team has had with the client, the information they gathered and also gave, can really help you get started on the right foot with the client. Build on that rapport and trust.

I think coming from the account management side of things first helped me to understand and appreciate this.

Appreciate Your Impact. It makes a big difference to understand exactly what your marketing efforts are going to have an effect on. Visit your clients, get to know them and get invested, because understanding how your company affects your clients can really help motivate you as well as refining your efforts.

When it comes to TopSpot, we know that our efforts can help get a small business more leads, more clients, which can lead to more jobs, and a positive effect on their community.

Always Google Something Before Making Recommendations. When I was first starting out, I worked with a company that manufactured provided emission reduction technologies for the oil and gas industry. This includes catalytic converters for natural gas emissions (imagine incredibly large tanks that fit on top of refinery pipes, heavy duty diesel engines, etc.) I had no idea that a catalytic converter was a car part, too. So, after seeing that this phrase wasn’t included in their paid search program, I added it. Within a day, someone noticed, and we had to take that keyword off the program because we had spent a large chunk of their budget (which we quickly refunded) in that short time frame. Had I Googled “catalytic converters” before adding it to the program, I would have saved our company some money, and a lot of people’s frustration who were just looking for a new part for their car.

Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners to become more effective marketers?

First, use any kind of free survey tool where you can get feedback from your customers on how you are doing. When you can hear how you are performing and can listen to those key customers, you can figure out what’s important to them and easily turn that into how you market yourself.

Second, I would definitely say your website is a great tool, and possibly an underrated one. It’s the online front of your business, it’s how people find you, and how they find out about you. So much is done online, whether it’s from a phone or a desktop. Everyone is going to look stuff up before they move forward with a purchase and they are doing that online. Making sure you have a good web presence really helps small businesses.

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

I utilize a lot of different channels to keep up to date with the marketing world. The most obvious that comes to mind is Seth Godin. I don’t know a lot of marketers who don’t listen to Seth in some way, whether it’s his podcast, or through his books, or his daily emails of inspiration and wisdom.

Who is your hero? Can you explain or share a story about why that person resonates with you?

My mom is my hero. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s true. She’s been through a lot. She’s the oldest of nine, both of her parents passed away by the time she was 18. And instead of feeling sorry for herself, she did the opposite and took care of her siblings. Even though some of the kids were spread out and living with other family members, she made sure to visit them as much as possible. She coached their softball and baseball teams and was always there. She did all that while paying bills, putting food on the table, working her way through school and even buying her own car. Everything she did, she did on own, and it couldn’t have been easy. To this day she is still one of the most upbeat people I know. She doesn’t let things knock her down, she just continues to move forward.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think you can learn a lot from animals. From the way they act, and the way they treat other — I don’t know anyone who doesn’t feel better after spending time around animals. To that end, I would like to see more people involved in taking care of the animals in their homes, their communities, their world. It helps the animals, but it also helps the humans involved.

How can our readers follow you online? My LinkedIn is https://www.linkedin.com/in/bethshockley/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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