Marketing Leadership With Mark Barrera

The final episode of our Leadership Series has the guys digging into running an agency vs. consulting vs. leading an in-house team. The conversation of course also digs into tips and ways to better manage remote teams as 2020 has changed how teams work together among a host of other topics.

Leadership Series Guests & Episodes

  1. Building and Hiring Digital Teams W/ Sean McGinnis
  2. Managing Marketing Teams W/ Lauren Vaccarello
  3. Leadership & Growth W/ Amanda Orson
  4. Leadership & Teams W/ Mark Barrera

Full Transcript

Matt Siltala: [00:00:00] Welcome to another exciting episode of the business of digital podcast, featuring your host, Matt  and Dave roar. Hey guys, excited to have you join us on another one of these business of digital podcast, uh, grateful for, uh, you always, uh, you know, the listeners you guys are what make us do this. And so, uh, I think we’ve got Dave over there somewhere.

How’s it going? Dave,

Dave Rohrer: [00:00:24] hiding in my house for more construction.

Matt Siltala: [00:00:28] So. We’re continuing this series, Dave. And, uh, today we have, uh, Mark Barrera with us. Okay. And, uh, we were just chatting about, uh, in March probably going to be mad that I share this because it’s, he’s not the kind of person that. That, uh, he, he’s the kind of person that does

these things behind the scenes to not get recognition.

But, uh, we were talking about, we were at a pub con in Hawaii at one point, and

Dave Rohrer: [00:00:50] this was like 10 years ago. Most.

Matt Siltala: [00:00:52] Yeah. And, and, uh, he had paid for a bill with what, like 40 or 50 people

Dave Rohrer: [00:00:58] don’t say how much doesn’t matter.

[00:01:00] Matt Siltala: [00:01:01] But, uh, he had paid the bill and I didn’t know that until we were chatting about that right now, but I’ve been on many sessions with Mark and we’ve we’ve, uh, Been around the block, so to speak, but Mark rare right now he is head of SEO at trust radius and, uh, other things as well.

And I’m going to let Mark go ahead and just introduce himself with whatever else he wants to our listeners. But Mark, thanks for joining us.

Mark Barrera: [00:01:24] Yeah. Thanks for having me guys. It’s it’s fun to talk about 10 years ago.

Matt Siltala: [00:01:29] Finally. Finally, I can thank you.

Mark Barrera: [00:01:31] Well, one day we’ll all get together again and have another,

Matt Siltala: [00:01:34] Oh man, I look forward to that.

Mark Barrera: [00:01:35] Yeah. So just, just quick synopsis of me, I’m like you guys have been doing it forever. So, um, I’ve kind of been primarily on the agency side for about a decade and then ventured out to the in house side for the last Oh four years. Give or take. Now, uh, previously was that Ziff Davis running SEO for PC mag, Mashable black a whole host of [00:02:00] sites over there.

And then as mentioned, uh, running SEO over at TrustRadius right now.

Matt Siltala: [00:02:06] And, and what is trust radius right now? Or what, what is it that, how would you describe?

Mark Barrera: [00:02:11] Yeah, so we, we are a, a peer review platform for B2B. So anyone looking to buy software, uh, enterprise software, that type of thing, and you want to figure out what’s going to be best for you.

We have some of the best, highest quality reviews, uh, in the space so that you can come figure out which products is gonna match your needs and then help you along in that buying decision. So that. You’re not wasting all that money when you invest in the SATs.

Matt Siltala: [00:02:37] Awesome.

Mark Barrera: [00:02:37] Very good. So competing with the likes of Gartner and G2 and that world.

Matt Siltala: [00:02:43] Very, very cool. All right, Dave. Well, um, this is, this is a series that you put together, my friend. And so I’m going to let you, uh, jump in here with Mark and, and to get this thing rolling.

Dave Rohrer: [00:02:53] So no pressure,

Matt Siltala: [00:02:54] no pressure,

Dave Rohrer: [00:02:56] mr. Mark. Um, Also, we just found out that [00:03:00] Mark is a listener on a Spotify. So good to know that it does work on Spotify.

Matt Siltala: [00:03:05] I was telling Mark though that I don’t think he heard it, but, um, we were, when we were talking about Spotify, uh, it also gives me clout with my kids because you know, I’m on Spotify. That’s the only way that I could be cool.

Mark Barrera: [00:03:18] It’s funny for me. I have to borrow time from them. I need to get the family count.

I haven’t done that. So I’m battling them to even listen. Sometimes.

Matt Siltala: [00:03:24] That’s funny.

Dave Rohrer: [00:03:27] So, Mark, um, you do have an interesting background because like, like me, you spent a lot of time other, we flipped because I was in house first and then I went agency solo. You were solo. Grew that agency, um, sold the agency and then went in house.

Um, so we’ve. Always been like opposite, I guess. So whenever I’m in house, your agency,

Mark Barrera: [00:03:49] totally, totally.

Dave Rohrer: [00:03:51] Yeah. From a management leadership standpoint, how are those three different from consultants slash running an agency [00:04:00] to working at an agency for other people and being in house? Is there, what similarities are there and what differences are there?

Have you seen.

Mark Barrera: [00:04:09] Yeah. And I know we’re talking about leadership, so I’ll, I’ll kind of phrase it in that regard.

Dave Rohrer: [00:04:13] You can go off, off the rails

Mark Barrera: [00:04:15] for sure. Well, I’ll start there and then definitely go off the rails. But on the consultant side, I would say you’re, you’re leading yourself and having to be self motivated and, and, and push yourself, but you’re also leading your clients and there’s a heavy investment in making sure they do good.

Um, so there’s, there’s that pressure. And I would say the consultant side of it too, is you’ve really. You’re a true entrepreneur as well. You’ve got to figure it all out and make sense of it. Um, but, but the good side is compared to kind of, the agency is you’re really only figured out for yourself. You don’t have anyone depending on you.

So your failure is isn’t shared or your successes shared. Um, and I’d say that’s what kind of the big differentiator then taking that to an agency side is, um, now you’ve, you’ve got families to feed that aren’t your own. Um, you’ve, you’ve got a deeper [00:05:00] level investment in some cases from your customers. Um, so you’re leading in a lot of different ways and in helping people to grow and learn.

Um, so it’s not just about the customers. It’s also about a team and managing, uh, those people and making sure they’re growing and learning as well, because you’re really impacting their life in a way that most people don’t realize. Uh, and then in house, um, kind of a whole different, you know, you get to step away from some of that pressure of the, the ownership of things to really focus on what you’re doing.

And so. Uh, that’s been for me really nice. You know, I, one of the reasons I went to the in house side was, um, based on the fam family change for me. Wow. My wife is pregnant, so we kind of reprioritized don’t want to be working hard and focused on that, or be able to get a paycheck and step back and be with my family.

So that was a big reason for the change for me to kind of lead you for the agency side and go in house and have that stability and less pressure in many regards.

Dave Rohrer: [00:05:56] And as far as fighting the fights as a leader, [00:06:00] um, for either your clients from an agency side or internal, has there, have you noticed any similarities or differences when you’re either fighting for. Like pay raises for your team or bonuses or perks or fighting for, you know, resources say you’re at the agency and you’ve got three clients or maybe the agency has got a bunch of clients.

Have you ever approached or had to internally fight and get certain resources or certain people. Yeah, but always talk about that. You can talk

Mark Barrera: [00:06:32] about it. Totally. It is funny actually, you know, Ziff Davis stays. It was, it was fun. I tried to fight for, we were a large company and multiple brands, and so we had SEO departments kind of all over.

I just managed one of those teams. Um, but, uh, yeah, it was fighting, you know, to, to get people from other teams. Um, but, um, it is a different, I’d say corporate environment is, is really what I felt on the in house side. Um, now I’m on kind of the startup version of that. And [00:07:00] there are definitely different fights, um, startup you’re, you’re fighting, you know, across the company to prove your value as it stands in the company.

Cause you’ve got to do what can move the needle the most to, to get that startup growth going. Um, corporate it’s a little bit different, you know, budgets, aren’t pushing forward as fast as maybe a startup and, um, things are a little bit more rigid and takes a lot more, uh, Massaging of people and message and just takes time to get things done, some of those environments, um, and then, you know, agency that that’s definitely unique when you’re, you’re fighting with clients to, to get things done or get them to think your way, because you’re not as embedded in their business.

And you just, you’re never going to be the same as someone inside telling them to do something. Um, One of the perks of a consultant sometimes is that you’re getting paid to validate something. They hear, they just need the third party validation. But when you’re bringing something new, it’s a little different story that you’ve really got to sell it [00:08:00] and convince the whole internal team of, of the value or the idea you have.

Um, so yeah, you really got to kind of cater. How you fight for things depending on where you are and what situation you’re in. For sure.

Dave Rohrer: [00:08:14] I don’t know if I’ve talked about this example before, and I have to think about how to phrase it so that it doesn’t give away which client it was a long time ago, but there was once an instance when I worked, uh, we’ll just say I was consulting at some, for someone or somewhere.

And our contact there literally gave us like a three page document and said, I’ve spent six months trying to convince stake holders internally. Like that this is the rules. And so can you just take this change, wording, massage it so that it puts, put your logo on it, put your name on it. You know, it’s speaking of the validation from the third party agency and we will pass it around and say, look, we talked to the agency, here’s their POV.

We talked to the consultant, here’s their POV [00:09:00] and, and went into one single meeting. And it was that the issue was dead. It was solved.

Mark Barrera: [00:09:09] No, it’s true. And, and, and again, you know, I, I think their honesty in stating it to you that way was, was very helpful. Sometimes they don’t and they, they lay out their vision and plans and you realize that sometimes you’ve got to take that and reiterate it to them.

But yeah, I like that approach their, their honesty.

Dave Rohrer: [00:09:26] It was they’d spent six months had so many meetings and it just cracks me up that the larger the company, the more hurdles and like. How much time do you spend Mark, we’ll say on PowerPoint now for presentations internally, for something that you could probably email, um, or even in the past, that is it for somewhere else, like the larger the company, would you say it’s, it’s true that the more time you spend on reports and internal politics stuff

Mark Barrera: [00:09:57] totally.

Um, the larger the company, the more you’ve got [00:10:00] to make everyone believe in you. And, uh, I’d say that’s a big difference and I’m very lucky in my role at trust radius, where. Um, I’m viewed as the expert and they trusted my decisions. So I don’t have to back everything up with as much data or put together fancy presentations to get enough buy-in um, of course I’ve got to lay it out and make sense of it and, and, you know, explain the plan.

But, um, it’s easier for me in this environment than a corporate environment where there’s, you know, 50 stakeholders across. You know, multiple teams that all have a different level of involvement, because you’ve really got to make sure you cater that message to each of them. And to your point, that’s, that’s a lot of PowerPoint, um, time to make sure you’re getting that message right.

For each of those stakeholders. So I think for me, that’s the way I look at it. What is, what is the trust in my experience as a leader in this, and then, you know, how, how much does my team lean on that? And the more you have that, the easier it makes it for sure. And that’s why I’m the agency side of the consultant side.

The more you can, um, show that value and get that relationship that the [00:11:00] easier that’s going to become as well. So you’re not having to justify everything and explain it over and over again.

Dave Rohrer: [00:11:06] Do you have any a process for that? I know it probably changes from project to project or is there any general process from, this is the project we want, when it’s, you have been tasked with, you know, whatever our KPIs and goals.

And your team or someone has brought this project to you. How do you then take that project and work to get it done either now or in the past?

Mark Barrera: [00:11:33] Yeah. Um, and, uh, I think there’s two sides of that. When someone hands you a project, is it the right project? You’ve got to validate that. And if not help them realize that they’re pushing you down the wrong path.

And that’s where I’m always just kind of goals oriented. Let’s let’s make sure we align on the goals cause. We can do tactics and strategies all day that maybe don’t get us where we need. Um, then, you know, again, to the implementation, it’s that same type of [00:12:00] thing, the, the relationship and the trust that you’ve built.

Um, and that comes back to, again, kind of this, this leadership side of it. And I think that’s one of the things I’ve learned is that. Catering your message, understanding and reading people and knowing how to talk to them and developing that relationship with people is so important to being able to execute on any project and get things done and have people work with you.

Um, it there’s, there’s more relationship in it than I think people realize, uh, to execute. Um, it’s funny at TrustRadius. Um, one of the things I told them, they’re like, well, how are you going to work with the teams? How are, how are you gonna make this happen? I was like easy donuts and tacos. You know, it’s my form of bribery.

If I can sit down and have a breakfast taco with you or give you donuts, you’re going to like me right away. And we can have that time to, to start a relationship. Um, and it’s kind of a joke, but it’s true. I do that. I like

Matt Siltala: [00:12:48] to say it’s funny, but it’s true.

Mark Barrera: [00:12:50] Yeah. And I do it still do that. I’ll, I’ll bring in tacos and donuts and everyone knows what I’m doing.

But yet they still take the time to come in and, and have a donut or taco with me. And, and [00:13:00] again, that, that changes that ability to, to work with people and, and push those projects through. Um, and again, then you’ve got that expertise. You, you handle that and you show them that, you know what you’re doing and show them you can work together.

I think that can take you a long way.

Dave Rohrer: [00:13:14] I used to, when I was in house, if I knew I was going to a conference, I’d go and ask a couple people. Um, from other teams, especially the it team. And I was like, Oh, Hey, here’s a list of all of the companies that are going to be, you know, giving swag away. Is there any type of swag you want for you, your wife, your kids, a tee shirt?

Like what, is there anything you’d want? Cause I’m like, I got so much, you know, I can grab you some, Oh yeah, this is what I’d want. And then I’d bring it back. Or if your it team is having a late, you know, release, even if they’re not working on your project order and pizza on the marketing budget.

Mark Barrera: [00:13:51] Always, yup.

Dude, I’m telling you it is it’s

Dave Rohrer: [00:13:54] crazy food. Like suddenly pizza, you know, you, you tell the higher ups that, Oh, Hey, [00:14:00] for the team tonight. We’re we’re we got pizza. Cause we know they’re working late and you know, it does impact one of our projects and we really want to make sure it goes live and they’re like, Oh cool.

And suddenly if there’s a problem. Yes, yes. Who’s willing to stay maybe a little bit later. Oh yeah. Yeah. It’s amazing how much food is. Great.

Um, have you done because there is one problem right now is everyone has worked from home. So have you done anything different or new with remote teams or with the work from home right now?

Mark Barrera: [00:14:36] Yeah. Yeah. We’ve, we’ve definitely shifted kind of how we work. Um, it’s interesting. We use 15 five as kind of a measurement of our team on a weekly basis.

We track OKR against that. And one of the things we do each week is kind of, you know, get a pulse check on different things. How are people doing? What do they like about remote life? And what we, we kind of saw quickly was that about half of our team enjoyed, um, being remote and was more productive about [00:15:00] half really miss the office environment.

Um, so it’s good to see, you know, who those people were and then understand how, what you needed to work with them. Cause the ones that missed the office you’ve, you’ve got to treat them a little bit different and the ones that are embracing the remote, maybe, maybe you don’t have to do the same things. Um, but for me, one of the changes was just kind of going to a daily morning, stand up.

Um, when we were in the office, we could talk and we all shared a space, so it was easy to just bring up topics. But in that remote, we lost that. So I want to make sure the team had 30 minutes of that every day, regardless. So we jump on a zoom. We just kind of talk about what’s going on. Um, sometimes we don’t even talk about work and it’s just personal things, but it’s back to that, just making sure we’re communicating and keeping that open.

So that, that was one change. Um, beyond that, I think it’s just more frequency of contact and making sure you’re checking in with people. So one of the things I did in the early days was. Uh, I would just find someone on Slack and say, Hey, just popping by your office to say hi. Cause again, that’s something I would have done in the office.

I try to walk around and say hi [00:16:00] to people. How do you do that on Slack? So I was like, Hey, I’ll just be honest. This is me popping by your office and chat for a couple of minutes here they’re doing and move on and do that. So, uh, it’s back to kind of maintaining those, those normal touch points you would have with people, but in a new digital way.

Uh, with the nature of remote. Um, and I was also lucky, um, to have lead remote teams and be led remotely, uh, Ziff Davis. We were kind of distributed between New York and Austin and other areas. Um, so I kind of knew what, what it took to manage people and be managed and how that looked. So it wasn’t too much of a change for me, but again, understanding the team around me and how they were adapting was definitely crucial.

Dave Rohrer: [00:16:39] I hate Slack. I say it all the time. I know that Matt laughs every time

Mark Barrera: [00:16:45] it’s not Slack. It’s something else though, right?

Dave Rohrer: [00:16:48] Yeah. I know. It’s what are you going to use? Email? I emails, you know, just as bad I’ve I’ve given talks and then we’ve all given talks about just, you know, it’s like how many, how [00:17:00] many emails do you have to have?

And I used to actually have a coworker. I won’t say where, um, or if it’s a him or her, but we actually would have, um, a running bet about if someone was being promoted or leaving, there was some sort of news how many people would hit reply all.

And then we would do over under, you know, first one would get to pick and we would play the game of who can get, who can guess closer to the number of people that would hit reply. All.

Mark Barrera: [00:17:30] Oh, yeah.

Dave Rohrer: [00:17:31] And just say, congrats, good job. You know, something just so that made sure, like everyone saw it. It’s like, you know, we can all just hit reply.

Mark Barrera: [00:17:41] You know what, another thing just popped my head, actually, a change that I didn’t do, but our engineering team did. And I think it was pretty cool is, um, they actually have a discord server, so we’ve got kind of an open room to where we can all just pop in and chat. And that’s been pretty neat where you can pop in and out of that.

So it’s a non Slack version of, of. Team [00:18:00] communication. Um, so yeah, there’s a lot of cool things we’re doing to kind of adapt.

Dave Rohrer: [00:18:04] Everyone’s doing something that’s interesting to hear just how everyone’s, um, mixing it up or, or, you know, even those that were like you said, you were distributed before, but now that everyone is, you know, off in their own little world, Um, what was the other question around this?

Uh, Oh yeah, sorry. Um, for those early in their career. So say someone that reports to you now, or that has in the past, or maybe someone that’s listening, that’s just starting, or that’s got a couple of years experience. That’s trying to move up internally in house or become, you know, an SEO lead or SEO manager at an agency.

What advice would you give them from what you’ve kind of learned over the years?

Mark Barrera: [00:18:49] Yeah, I think be intentional in that path of, of moving up, you know, it’s, it’s one thing to want it, but it’s another thing to do something about it. Um, and you know, [00:19:00] there’s lots of ways to do that, but, uh, make yourself valuable offer or even force yourself to get involved in new things to show that you’ve got Viet value kind of beyond, but, um, ask for that, that guidance in your career.

Um, mentorship is huge. Um, so seek that out, um, because you know, the, the people that can mentor you are going to help you understand what you need to do to push up that path. Um, but again, I think it really comes back to being intentional about it. Um, we’ve got someone on my team now, uh, Caitlin, she’s amazing.

And this is something that, that I know she does every time we’re in a one-on-one she’s, you know, saying she wants more, she’s asking how she can be better. She’s spending time doing trainings. Um, so, you know, she’s. She’s really putting herself out there to show that she wants that growth. And those are the kind of people that shine.

Um, and again, keep learning, um, uh, you know, looking back at myself 10 years ago, it’s like, man, I really didn’t know a lot, but. But I thought I did now. I’ve learned so much more, [00:20:00] but I’ve pushed myself to keep learning. Um, you know, cause marketing’s a lot, it’s psychology, it’s data, it’s statistics, it’s copywriting and you know, each of those you can go so deep on.

And so that, that’s the thing. Just, just keep pushing yourself to learn more. Um, but again, show others that you are learning more and ask to apply what you’re learning to see how it actually works and show that extra value.

Dave Rohrer: [00:20:26] My phone sucks. It’s ringing right now. Thanks. We’ll cut that out.

Mark Barrera: [00:20:32] Sales sales always.

Dave Rohrer: [00:20:34] Yeah, it’s either a small child or something. Um, I think a lot, you kind of started to answer it or you started to go down on the line, but I’m going to jump ahead, but. What advice or tips would you give yourself a, you know, five times, like when you were first going in house, um, or maybe one tip for how to, how to, you know, go through the politics before you went in house, and then when you were [00:21:00] starting off in the agency life, what would be one thing you’d suggest to, you know, yourself say, Hey, you’re not gonna always be right, but you know, here’s something I think you would, you should think about.


Mark Barrera: [00:21:12] I think for me, I’ve always tried to be a better listener, um, and not a talker. Um, I love to jump in and talk a lot. So I think listening has always been something I focused on, uh, to be better at, from back then to now. Um, another thing that, that looking back, that’s always been good. It’s just. Better processes always.

Um, and then working with teams or clients, you know, setting clear goals, paths to those milestones and checking in on those frequently and then adjusting as necessary. You don’t mean not being too rigid. Um, but alignment towards the goal can go a long way with team members or, or people understanding what you could, uh, you know, where you’re going with a project.

Um, gosh, [00:22:00] Other advice, I think have fun. Um, you know, that that’s something, you know, work hard to, to keep learning, but have fun. Um, you know, don’t get caught up in work too much and let it shape who you are as a person. You should actually have the opposite. Be true, who you are, should shape how you work.

Um, and for me, the, the change in thought there is, is kind of an evolution towards servant leadership. Uh, that was something that I learned very well from a business partner of mine, Eddie Patrina, um, that it, it allows you to really build people while also building culture through that servant leadership, uh, cause people are really core to getting things done.

So you need to treat them like people first and not as employees is its task rabbits to, to get towards a project. Um, so those are some of the things that I think I. I look back at it and we’re glad that I thought about and did, and some things I wish I’d all leaned into earlier.

Dave Rohrer: [00:22:55] I think the listening one is always tough.

Mark Barrera: [00:22:58] Yes. [00:23:00] To this day, like legitimately I think there was a meeting I was in yesterday as a team wide meeting. I was like, don’t talk, don’t talk. Don’t talk. Let other people talk. Listen. Okay. Now you can talk.

Dave Rohrer: [00:23:11] And that’s, for me, that was a big thing in, when I went from agency to consultant because I went the opposite way.

I’m used to having a project manager and. A account manager or account rep or whatever account, whatever that person is that wherever you’re at, they would always do the talking. And then it was almost like, you know, then they would push my buzzer and then I could talk about something totally going to go.

And then when you’re, you know, single person consultant also know, I’m like, Oh, that’s me. I have to do that. All of that. Oh, shoot. Okay. Um, you know, I have to do more talking after spending so many years trying to get myself not to just. Leap in and answer things.

Mark Barrera: [00:23:52] Yeah. And, and one of the things I told myself back then, and still have to work on today is not, when I talk, remind myself that again, I am the [00:24:00] expert and I should be authoritative.

And when I say and believe in what I say, um, you know, I think that that was always a challenge for me, you know, whether it was an imposter syndrome or something else that, um, they’re paying me for a reason to do this job, believe in myself and talk about it in that manner.

Dave Rohrer: [00:24:17] I think that’s really hard. I think we all do it, the imposter syndrome and question ourselves.

But I think that’s a really good point is that when you are talking and Matt, we’ve talked about this before, you know, it’s like when you’re scared of talking and like, I still am scared of giving talks and speaking, but you know, people still see they’ve been coming to see you or they keep asking you questions, you know, your stuff.

Just deal with it, get over it somehow.

Matt Siltala: [00:24:46] Yeah, absolutely.

Dave Rohrer: [00:24:48] But I don’t.

Mark Barrera: [00:24:50] Exactly. And that’s again, you know, keep, keep trying and keep learning and they’ll give up on it.

Dave Rohrer: [00:24:55] Yeah. It’s like, yeah, I’ll keep trying, but yeah.

[00:25:00] Mark Barrera: [00:25:00] And to your point, I think the, the, the thing that helps in that situation is just to remember that people are coming to you for this, regardless of how you feel about it, they’re coming to you for a reason.


Matt Siltala: [00:25:11] And that’s like kind of the, that’s like the same advice that I give to everyone. Cause a lot of times, you know, people forget that not everyone in the crowd is the exact same. They, they forget is that who they’re preparing it for? Like, like with me, a lot of times I was always worried that, what am I going to teach a day?

Roar? What am I gonna teach a Mark Brown? What am I going to teach? Then? I’m like, these guys are my peers. I’m not like here to teach them. They’re not here to learn from me. And if they happen to learn something. A golden nugget for me. Great. Then that’s a bonus, but I’m here for these guys and to teach them and to help them learn something.

And once I got over that side of it, then it made a lot of that easier for me. But, but yeah, I think that’s, that’s so true.

Dave Rohrer: [00:25:54] I can go see someone talk about a one on one topic and I’ll be like, why am I here? I’ll just sit in the back. [00:26:00] And all of a sudden they’ll start talking about something that I haven’t had to

Matt Siltala: [00:26:02] do.

Dave Rohrer: [00:26:04] And all of a sudden it’s like, Oh, Well, I’d never really thought to do it that way. That would actually improve my process a little bit. Cause yeah, we just get stuck in doing things that we always do them.

Mark Barrera: [00:26:18] And as we get older, not saying that, that the old G OGs are old, but, uh, the market’s changing. We gotta, we gotta stay connected with, with things that we may not typically have.

Dave Rohrer: [00:26:28] Everything’s changing. I mean, that’s the dead. How many times

Mark Barrera: [00:26:32] always

Dave Rohrer: [00:26:33] it’s always dead. Every year it’s dead. So is email and link building and,

Matt Siltala: [00:26:37] and you gotta, and you gotta keep changing. Right? Dave, you’re on tech talk like, uh, uh, I love your tick-tock video. Just kidding. I don’t see any of them.

Dave Rohrer: [00:26:45] I’m no, Dwayne is not convinced me yet.

Matt Siltala: [00:26:49] I’m just messing with you.

Dave Rohrer: [00:26:51] No, you’ll

Mark Barrera: [00:26:52] be dancing down there. No time.

Dave Rohrer: [00:26:54] No, no, no, no. We’re on YouTube. You can go low, go [00:27:00] listen to us on YouTube or we’re old school and Instagram and Twitter and most other ones, but not to talk, sorry,

Mark Barrera: [00:27:07] two years from now, my words.

Dave Rohrer: [00:27:09] Okay. Yeah. There’s going to be a viral video of me doing some silly dance somewhere that I didn’t take.

That’ll be the problem. That’s always the problem.

Matt Siltala: [00:27:18] Yeah. It takes up video with the beard you created.

Dave Rohrer: [00:27:22] Uh, Oh yeah, I can do that. Your wife coming.

Matt Siltala: [00:27:26] Yes, she would.

Dave Rohrer: [00:27:26] And if you’re, and if people aren’t, aren’t sure what beard I’m talking about. Just you’re listening to the podcast. Look at that shot. That’s the beard I’m holding up.

It’s Matt’s beard.

Matt Siltala: [00:27:38] My wife was still frustrated at you every once in a while. She’ll get confused because someone will use that picture again as their profile that they’re holding up and yeah.

Dave Rohrer: [00:27:49] Sorry,

Matt Siltala: [00:27:49] Holly. Good job, Dave.

Dave Rohrer: [00:27:52] I still get in trouble a couple of years later. Um, we were talked about this a little bit, um, when you’re [00:28:00] building a team, so say you come in, um, and maybe there’s already a team we’re at now.

So this might be looking back at some of your, your past roles, but do you typically go in looking at where the holes are and then. You know, hire a generalist or specialist, or do you look at your mostly been on the SEO side? So, you know, it might be a little bit more narrow, but yeah. You hire someone that has SEO experience.

Do you hire someone that was a link builder to do something else? Like do you ever take a look at the generalist for specialist and go, wow. You’ve only worked at a SAS company. So you only know SASA SEO, or you’ve only ever done link building, or you’ve only ever done PPC for this small company, therefore you could never do it for a large company.

Mark Barrera: [00:28:53] Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And of course it’s always nuanced, but, um, What I like to do [00:29:00] regardless of experience. Uh, and this is something we did back at bus shift, the agency where had the partners there is that, um, very focused on strengths. So we use the strengths as part of our hiring process, um, because if you had the ability and the aptitude yeah.

Do something new, um, and the strengths in that area, then why not give you a chance? And so, um, even if you hadn’t done something, you know, whether it wasn’t PPC, but you know, you you’ve. Yeah. Got some aptitude with Excel or you enjoy statistics. Um, then you’re probably gonna be a fit for PPC and you don’t necessarily have to know a lot about it if that’s okay.

Strength for you. So that’s one of the ways I look at it is, is really focusing on what people’s strengths are and putting them into roles that. That amplify that, um, so you know, someone that that’s not strong collaborator, you know, keeping them away from anything, project yeah. Management, um, things like that.

So I would say generalists are probably preferred by me because again, you can shape [00:30:00] them, but there are situations I would say we’re specialists do matter. Um, so that was, you know, going back to Ziff Davis, I had to kind of create the SEO team from scratch. Um, and in that case, there were specific needs we had, so specialists were going to serve that because we didn’t have the runway of training that we, that we might have in other situations, we needed someone to come in and do that now.

And with that generalist, you know, maybe it’s three, six, nine months to really get that skill up to where you need it. So that, I think that played into some of those decisions on the specialist versus the generalist is that if I need action, now, I’m going to go more towards someone who has an experience.

But if I’m looking at the longterm team building, I’m probably going to take more of a generalist approach and focus on where I can grow these people.

Dave Rohrer: [00:30:43] Matt, were you gonna say something? Nope. Sorry. I thought you moved it. Alright. Nevermind. The, um, as the leader, how have you. Internally worked and fought for head headcount. Is there an [00:31:00] example you can walk through? I know we always want more budget, more headcount. Is there anything that you found to be remotely, somewhat successful?

Mark Barrera: [00:31:10] Yeah, that that’s always a challenge. And again, some of it comes back to that trust in your recommendations and how much of that you do or don’t have within an organization. Um, so that plays into it. But of course, the easiest way to justify, you know, that is, is when you talk in dollars in business dollars in ROI.

Um, but it’s not always easy to get to that answer. So, you know, if, if there is a way traffic is monetized directly and you can show X per traffic growth equals X dollars, then that’s an easier case to make versus a company who’s not monetized directly on their traffic like that. Um, w or, you know, you know, look it up a publisher, like PC mag, where that cost is shared.

I mean, you’ve got editorial that, that needs to do it. There’s, there’s so many involved to actually make it right work that, [00:32:00] um, you’re all fighting for those same dollars. So it’s really a hard battle in those cases. And then in others I’ve been in where it’s like, okay, if we don’t do this, we’re going to fail.

And you’ve sadly got to watch and see that failure happen, um, as the justification. So. Yeah, it’s, it’s all elements of it, but it’s definitely ambiguous and not an easy task. Usually

Dave Rohrer: [00:32:22] curious, have you found project management or project managers to help with the, not just getting stuff done, but just proving that point, that look, we have these resources, the, it has those resources, our project that has potential to move this much, you know, to the bottom line.

We’re just not going to get done. Have you used project management type stuff for that? Or is it mostly just for, you know, scoping in and making sure that things hit budget and timelines?

Mark Barrera: [00:32:54] Yeah, definitely in, in the agency side of things where, you know, everyone’s forced to track hours in that way, [00:33:00] it, it makes that an easier conversation, but when you go, you know, maybe corporate side and people aren’t tracking their hours, um, it makes it harder.

And project managers can help in those and, and, and product managers as well to kind of, to show that. And, and that is definitely one of those leavers from a. Um, ROI standpoint that, that I’ve pulled on, for sure. Um, so yeah, uh, pro project managers definitely can help that, you know, if they’re doing a good job and they’re a good project manager can show that, you know, easily then for sure, that’s a great place to lean on the, to show the hours in hours out in return on that.

Dave Rohrer: [00:33:32] Do you ever use, um, your have your internal teams right now and from an SEO side when you’re in house tracking hours or no,

Mark Barrera: [00:33:39] no, no. Really, um, the, the only part of that, though, I would say is somewhat tracked, is things that are tied to kind of the product and engineering teams, um, you know, tickets and JIRA and that type of thing.

Sometimes there’ll be hours attached to those, but no, um, again, and I’m, I’m lucky in, in the current role and the support I have that, that we don’t have to do that. Um, [00:34:00] it’s a smaller team. There’s four of us right now, but, um, No, luckily not. Um, but, but I, again, I have seen those situations in bid in those, uh, but in some of those, it also doesn’t justify.

You’re not able to use that data in the way that you’d expect to justify, um, resourcing one way or the other. In some cases it can fight against you.

Dave Rohrer: [00:34:18] That’s what I was wondering because I, one of the things that I always suggest for. Um, every time I give a talk at whatever conference it is, it’s always about getting your project done.

And I always time after time am asked by someone that does PPC, SEO is the webmaster does social. They’re like, I need more help. I need more resources. I’m like, do you track your time? What, why would I do that to show your boss that you can’t do it all that you know, to, to. Give them that data. And so I’m always curious when in house people are stretched between, you know, the marketing, the PR the social requirements, especially for us on the [00:35:00] digital and SEO.

Since we kind of sit across really everything, I often wonder most in house teams and maybe your team doesn’t do this. Do you guys operate like an agency? Like, do you have multiple people that come in and ask, have asks of you or no?

Mark Barrera: [00:35:15] Yes, we, we do, um, Act like an agency in that regard where we’ve, we’ve got Google forms and you’ve got a request to come to us and we process it that way.

Um, but, but again, we’re not logging the time it gets those. Uh, and, and I’ll be clear while we don’t log the time. We do have a clear understanding of what those are. So case in point, um, I’ve got someone right now getting a lot of. Requests from our sales team on keyword research. So the form will tell us the quantity of those coming in.

And then on average, I know she’s spending one or two hours, so I can arrive at that number quickly, even though they’re not measuring it. So without the time logging, I would say task identification and rough ballpark of time on that we definitely do use. And I use that. Today is as a means to [00:36:00] fight for resources or understand, even if I’m not fighting for resources, is my team working on the right things or not?

Cause that’s another way I use that data just kind of in my head is, you know, I’m asking someone to do this. It’s going to take them five hours. Is that five hours better spent somewhere else. So while they’re not logging it, I will say that you’re right. I do have a sense of that because, um, you can’t make decisions without knowing it in some regard.

Uh, and then someone on my PR team the other day, actually, she doesn’t log it, but I asked her kind of a resourcing question. She came back with a list of tasks and hours. So it’s there when we need it, but we’re not diligent about tracking it.

Dave Rohrer: [00:36:37] Everyone’s always worried about scope Creek, but I think like request creep for in house teams is really a bigger problem than ever scope creep.

Mark Barrera: [00:36:46] And, and that’s where those forums, like I say, it gives us a way to track the volume of the requests. And then we have a general idea of what they are, because if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be keen on how bad that creep has been. Uh, but that was one for us that we’ve, we’ve [00:37:00] now seen keyword research requests have grown and are continuing to grow.

So we’ve got to figure out how to automate that through technology or hire someone on to do that. Uh, but we wouldn’t have known that had we not had some type of pulse on it and

Dave Rohrer: [00:37:13] well, you’re basically using those requests, is that right? As that kind of way to measure. That’s interesting. Um, I think this will probably be the last question, unless Matt has any others to throw in.

Um, over the years, what is a junior person done that either that reported to you that just knocked your socks off? Whether, you know, whether it’s the way they did an audit or something, or the way they presented something that changed how you like approached some sort of project or task. Yeah, that’s a great one.


Mark Barrera: [00:37:49] it is, it is. And it’s hard because we’re not in

Dave Rohrer: [00:37:51] left field, Dave,

Mark Barrera: [00:37:54] I it’s hard because, because there’s so much like back to the point earlier, like you, you think, you know, a lot or [00:38:00] you don’t, but there’s always someone to teach you. And that’s been very true for everyone. That’s worked under me as well.

Um, So one person that comes to mind back in, uh, agency days, uh, Phillip Turner, he was a guy that was straight out of college and, uh, was gonna go finance route and, you know, be a wall street trader and was just mathematically smart and statistical minded. Um, but decided he didn’t want to go that route.

So he wanted to do digital marketing. And so brought him on to manage paid campaigns and just his level of data analysis and testing. I was always an advocate for it and told them, Hey, let’s use the data and let’s let’s test, but he took it to a whole new level for me and really showed me that statistics matters.

And, and what you can do with data and how quickly you can adjust tests based on that. No, this was back, you know, now of course we’re all big data and data everywhere, but this was, you know, 10 years ago. Um, so I think for me that, that kind of put a new lens and actually pushed me to learn more about data and statistics and, and embrace that and, and [00:39:00] able to use that today, the way I am.

So yeah, someone coming straight out of college was, was able to show me that the value of math and data in ways that I hadn’t really thought about

Dave Rohrer: [00:39:10] it’s that finance background, that heavy, heavy data.

Mark Barrera: [00:39:13] Exactly. I

Dave Rohrer: [00:39:16] think that’s all. I’ve got Matt, unless you’ve got any others. I tried to, I tried to make good use of Mark’s time while he’s here.

Matt Siltala: [00:39:23] Yeah, that was fantastic. I, I, now I’m trying to remember this, uh, the Turner was, did he speak at a state of search ever? I’m trying to think if I pretty sure I was on a panel with him

Mark Barrera: [00:39:35] could be not sure. Yeah. I wouldn’t be surprised. But

Matt Siltala: [00:39:38] yeah, he was very sharp, very sharp. But anyway, that’s interesting, but now, Mark, I appreciate you spending time with us, as I said, a lot of great insights here and, and uh, you know, anything we referenced like to all our listeners obviously we’ll have links to and, and, um, I, uh, yeah, I don’t have anything.

And so if, [00:40:00] uh, if you’re good, Dave, uh, again, Mark, thank you for taking the time and joining us.

Mark Barrera: [00:40:04] Thank you guys. Really appreciate it. Thank you. So,

Matt Siltala: [00:40:07] so make sure everybody, um, take the time, go and look at, uh, um, go and rate us on iTunes and for Mark Romero with trust radius and Dave worth Northside metrics.

I’m Matt, a little with avalanche media and thanks for joining us guys bike.

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