Jeff Rosenblum, the founding partner of digital marketing agency Questus, has a unique perspective on the industry. His agency’s fortunes rose in the dot-com era. But they survived the crash and came out stronger on the other side with lessons learned that guide their work to this day with companies like Apple, Suzuki, General Mills, and more.
He knows that most companies waste the vast majority of their marketing dollars as they try to make something stick. His approach: combine creativity and data to create targeted marketing that benefits brands and empowers audiences.
We talk about…
- Competing as a small firm against the world’s biggest marketing agencies
- Turning customers into evangelists
- Using the Fair Price Matrix to always get paid what you deserve
- When you should say no thanks to a prospective client
- And more
Mentioned in This Episode: www.questus.com
Dave Antil: Welcome to Performance Delivered, Insider Secrets for Digital Marketing Success, where we talk with marketing agency executives and learn how they built successful businesses, and their personal brand. I am your host, Dave Antil.
Today, I’m happy to have as our guest, Jeff Rosenblum. Jeff is the founding partner of Questus, a digital marketing agency that’s worked with some of the world’s most influential brands such as Capital One, General Mills, the NFL, Suzuki Motorcycles, a, believe me, the list goes on. Jeff is also the author of the book Friction: Passion Brands in the Age of Disruption, which I highly recommend if you, like me, are trying to figure out how to build and grow brands in this time of technology overload, data collection, multiple channels, and endless choices.
Jeff, it is great to have you on the show.
Jeff Rosenblum: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Dave Antil: Just full disclosure, Jeff is a friend, and also a client of Symphonic Digital. But he’s also super smart and has a great company, Questus, and we’re really, super excited to have you on and learn more.
To kick it off, Jeff, tell me a little bit how you got started in advertising, and what led you and Jordan to start Questus.
Jeff Rosenblum: Yeah. How about I go on the full rant, and just interrupt me if I’m going too deep.
Dave Antil: Yeah.
Jeff Rosenblum: How did I start in advertising? That’s a great question. I haven’t thought about this for a while. I did something that I guarantee none of your listeners did when they found their first job, which is, I was in love with the concept of marketing. I was a marketing major in college. The honest truth is, the reason I was a marketing major in college, is I wanted to be an English major, and the line was way too long to jump onto that and become an English major. There was a really pretty girl playing Frisbee out on the green. I was like, “I’m failing on this. I’ll be a business major, and I’m going to go play Frisbee.” The epilogue on that is the pretty girl is now my wife, and I’ve built a whole career out of marketing.
I would say that day was a great decision. But what I honestly did is, when I graduated college, I bombed out to California. I went to school in Vermont. Bombed out to California, I had no connections. I predate the Internet, so there was no Monster, HotJobs, LinkedIn, any tool. I grabbed a Yellow Pages, and I cooked at night in restaurants. I was a pretty good cook. In the Yellow Pages that I opened it to M for marketing, and I built this system where, every day, starting at the front, I called 20 different companies. 20 new companies. The next day, I would do all my return calls, and add another 20 companies. I was pretty much destined for marketing, partially because I loved it, and partially because I didn’t have a great system or network.
The interesting thing is, I went to a company that did marketing strategy. About 24 hours into the job, they’re like, “Hey, guess what? We don’t do marketing strategy, we do market research.” I was like, “Well, why not? Strategy’s cool. Research is not cool at all.” They were like, “Look, there really is a line item in every major company’s income statement. They have a budget for market research, but not necessarily for strategy. So, we want to do market research.” Okay, let’s go do some market research. I love their clients. They had … oh my God, we had everybody. We had Disney, Intel, Levi Strauss, Microsoft, you name it. We started doing market research, which is really far from my natural disposition. I’ve got the attention span of a fruit fly on espresso. I’ve got a really bad attention span.
Next thing I know, I had to sit there and pore over data. What was going on is, we were in traditional research. We were doing mall surveys, and telephone surveys, and mail surveys, where we would go out there and ask people for their opinion on things. What I realized is, when my boss asked me to install AOL, and CompuServe, and all these initial Internet things is that all of this stuff is going to port over to the Internet. What would take us literally anywhere between six weeks and six months, we could start doing in a matter of six days. Now it’s down to six nanoseconds. But back then, that was massive, if you can truncate something from six months to six days.
I barely graduated college. I was having way too much fun playing Frisbee. Next thing you know, I’ve got this job, and I turned out to be one of the very first people in the country that had figured out the concept of Internet market research. There were two young kids. I was in California, and there was one other kid that was doing it in Connecticut. Next thing you know, I had Microsoft, Netscape, Intel, Levi Strauss, Walt Disney. They were all my clients. I had cracked the code on something that was really unique. That was really good for the ego.
The next thing that was really cool is, the data that we were collecting was all related to how these companies should spend their dollars on marketing and advertising. What was initially cool was the methodology, but what subsequently became cool was what I learned. Which was, the vast majority of advertising dollars were completely wasted. There’s that axiom, 50% of my advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which 50%. I’m looking … I’m like, “Whoa, 50%.” It’s literally about 90% of everything that these huge companies were doing was completely busted. I quickly shifted to, “Hey, this is cool. I can do Internet research,” to, “Hey, this is cool because I think I’ve got proprietary access to what works and what doesn’t work, and most of it doesn’t work.”
Make a long story short, I thought this stuff was really cool. My roommate from college, absolute genius guy, amazing artist. He had art gallery openings, Johnny Depp bought his paintings. We opened People Magazine one day, there’s a picture of Johnny Depp. It was like, “Dude, look at that man, you’re over his fireplace. It’s that giant painting that you made.” I don’t know why he didn’t stick with that path. He probably should’ve, and probably hates me for talking him into a different path. He got way into the digital design. He worked at a company in the Bay area that had figured out how to do WiFi before there was WiFi, or at least multimedia before there was WiFi, by connecting design to CD.
Make a long story short, everybody had really lame websites back in the day. He had some of the coolest websites ever, but they weren’t very functional. He’d send me stuff, and I’m like, “Man, this thing looks really cool, but I can’t figure it out.” He’d be like, “All right, cool guy, show me what you’re doing.” I would show him what I was doing, he was like, “Jesus, dude, this is so boring. I can’t believe you do this for a living.” I was like, “Hey man, if we could take your really cool, sexy design stuff, and connect it to my really boring data stuff, we might have something.”
Probably about the day that this podcast gets published, we’re going to hit our 20th anniversary. It seems like that initial vision of marrying creativity with data, together, is exactly where the world needs to be, and exactly where agencies want to be right now.
Dave Antil: Right. You were early on in the performance data … connecting performance data with the creative landscape?
Jeff Rosenblum: That was the whole idea. Can we marry these two things together? We started in Jordan’s living room. We had two desks, one chair. He hates when I bring this up, he had a pack of Marlboro’s, and I had a stolen laptop. We’re like, “F*** it. We’re an agency. That’s all you need, right? You need one chair, one pack of cigarettes, and a laptop.” The whole concept was, can we tie all of that incredible creativity together with data. But not just for performance, but for storytelling. Can we take people down a journey, and down a sales funnel? Can we get them to behave in a way that works really well for brands, but also works really well for them as consumers? We no longer need to interrupt people over, and over, and over, and over again with the same exact message. This was 20 years ago, we realized that we could tell a story that grows, and is personalized, and empowers the audience instead of just interrupts them.
Dave Antil: Right, right. Once you guys landed on this data-driven, creative, and storytelling niche, what fueled the growth? Who was your first client? Who do you sell to at that time? That was early on. That’s when data wasn’t as pervasive as it is now. How did you convince people to give you guys, two guys with an apartment and a stolen laptop, the chance to come in and restructure, and rethink about how they did their marketing?
Jeff Rosenblum: That’s a great question. My former employer, the market research company, had an assignment for us to design and build some stuff for them. We had about three months’ worth of work. We realized we had three months to go find a new client, or we were going to be broke. What we actually had for a client, is what I affectionately refer to now as, what I call shitsandwich.com, which is basically … this is before the .com implosion. Our clients now are these amazing fortune 100 brands. But you wouldn’t call them, back then, in the late ’90s. The fortune 100s, they didn’t know about the Internet. They didn’t care about the Internet. This is when Google, and Yahoo, and all those guys were starting. Google had its 20th year anniversary, but there was thousands and thousands, and thousands of other companies that had incredible funding, but didn’t turn into Google. They just went out of business.
Those are the clients that we had because those are the guys that were taking risks, those are the guys that were well-funded. I actually went away on my honeymoon in 2000, and the Internet was going crazy when I went on my honeymoon. I called Jordan after a week. I’m like, “Dude, how’s it going?” He’s like, “Dude, it’s going great. But it’s your honeymoon, what the hell are you doing? Stop calling me.” “All right, fine.” Called him a week later, or a few days later, I’m like, “Dude, how’s it going?” He’s like, “Dude, things are great man, but it’s your honeymoon, stop calling.”
I called him about two or three times. He kept telling me everything was great. Then I came home, I’m like, “Dude, how are things doing?” He’s like, “They’re out of business.” I’m like, “Who?” He’s like, “All of them.” “What do you mean?” “Every single client of ours, and virtually every company from that incredible .com time period all went out of business almost at the exact same time.” I remember how wild it was in San Francisco, and then when I came back from that trip, driving down the street, can’t exaggerate this, a piece of newspaper blew across the road. It looked like tumbleweed in a Western town. There was literally nothing.
That’s when we retrenched, and realized, look, we don’t want to serve shitsandwich.com anymore. We want to work with the biggest and the best companies. It was ESPN, NFL, Apple, and nowadays it’s Wyndham Hotels, Suzuki Motorcycles, Universal Theme Parks, Capital One, Fannie Mae. All these amazing companies that, they might not have been the first ones to do incredible thing with the Internet in the late ’90s, but they’re certainly doing incredible things now.
Dave Antil: Right, right. Yeah, you went through a pivot early on, before they became pivots. You were forced into it.
Jeff Rosenblum: Man, I remember staring at the screen, or staring at my ceiling at 3 o’clock in the morning, just being like, “Holy shit. I’ve got to tell my dad I couldn’t pull this off. I’ve got to tell my father-in-law, sorry I just married your daughter, and now I’m flat broke and out of business.” That was a scary time. The complete bottom of the market, it just fell out. It’s hard not to drop into a cliché at that point, but certainly, what doesn’t kill you is going to make you stronger. We learned a ton. Probably, we learned mostly just about grit at that point. If you put your head down, and you grind, you’ll be all right. There was no secret sauce. There was no math level of intelligence. It was just hard work.
Dave Antil: How did you sell? How did you do business development in that time when people were slamming doors and closing companies? Did you have any secret sauce in your pitch, and how you approached clients?
Jeff Rosenblum: Really, I think at that time, we were as smart and as skilled as any of the big boys out there. But we could do things much quicker, much more affordably. Our pitch was never that we’re cheap and fast, but at the end of the day, we were competing … we were talking about … maybe we had six or eight people at the entire firm at that time, competing against firms that have hundreds, if not thousands of people. They were carrying a lot of bloat and overhead. There was always a way to capture people’s attention. You always got the A team, the senior team. At those price points, another one of our competitors might give you the B team, or the C team.
One of the things that we learned, if your listeners are trying to figure out, “Okay, how do I start my own agency,” is certainly that, it’s hard to get your first big-name client, but once you have a couple case studies, you’re in a safe place. The most important thing is just to do what you have to do to get your big name client.
Dave Antil: Right. That’s super important, is getting that big-name client. You mentioned you don’t want to go in saying you’re cheap and fast. How do you not? You’re a small agency, you’re competing against bigger agencies, who have a bigger name, then competing on prices. It’s always that thing out there. It’s like, “Maybe we’ll just lower our price, or we’ll do it faster.” How do you have the intestinal fortitude to not go down that path?
Jeff Rosenblum: Now I don’t need to. Now, after doing this for 20 years, and working with literally dozens of top firms, I don’t need to, and mostly I know that it’s not going to work for me. Anytime I’ve tried to do that, it just screws things up. Cutting corners in any way, whether it’s not hiring the right team member, truncating a timeline, not pricing effectively. It doesn’t make for a successful project. It doesn’t make for a successful relationship. It can start to drag on your other, very deserving clients. For us, it’s about developing what a fair price is, and that’s not rocket science. For the most part, you can just build a matrix that you come across … you have a bunch of columns for every aspect of a project, and then a bunch of rows for every single person that needs to touch that project. By filling in the hours, and the hourly rates, you can come up with a very fair price.
Yes, there’s always these times that says, “Look, is this too high? Is this too low? We’d really like to get our toe in the door, and show them how awesome we are.” You’ll always face that, and I don’t think there’s any way around it. I remember my very first job, the one I mentioned before, the two founding partners, they were Harvard guys. They both went to Harvard business school, they were super smart. I remember they always went through that for every project when they wanted to bring on a new client. For the most part, it never goes away completely. But I think once you have yourself established, or you have some confidence in what you’re doing, you can get yourself pretty darn accurate just by figuring out what the fair price is.
Dave Antil: Right, right. Also, you can’t short-change yourself. You know what it takes to run your business. Sometimes you’ve got to say no. If you can’t make money, and the client doesn’t want to pay your price, sometimes walking away gives you a lot of power as well, particularly to your team, I’ve discovered. When you say no to something that everyone knows is going to come down and be a disaster. It sometimes can be very helpful.
Jeff Rosenblum: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That’s great advice, and there’s only one way to learn that, which is probably the hard way. Which is, you get really excited because this is company X, Y, Z. They’re so famous, and they’re on the cover of Wall Street Journal, and you really want them on your client list. Look, at a certain point in time in every agency or small business history, you take that client. You do whatever the hell it takes. If you can get Amazon, or Apple, or whatever, you do whatever it takes to get them on the board. But once you have a few of them on the board, it’s really just not worth it.
That’s the advantage of doing this for 20 years, is A, you have the pattern recognition. You can tell pretty early if someone’s going to be a good client or not. And B, you realize, at the end of the day, it’s all about the relationship and the fit. That company might be great. That human being working at the client might be great. But if they don’t fit exactly with what you do, it damages. It’s just not good in the long run. It’s going to create internal stress. It’s not going to be profitable. It’s going to take your focus off. Fit is absolutely critical. But it just takes experience to figure out what fits and what doesn’t fit.
Back to your pricing thing, I know that if it’s a good fit, price is never going to be the issue. If I price myself out, and it’s a good fit, the client knows it’s a good fit, and you can have an open conversation. They’re going to say, “Look, you’re off. Your competition is coming in at half the price. Something’s going on.” I say, “Look, I don’t give Rolls Royce pricing over here. Something is not apples to apples. Let’s work through this together. It’s probably that we’re not scoping this thing the same way. Maybe there’s a deliverable where we’re just not understanding.” If a client doesn’t want to have that conversation, it’s usually just not a good fit. That answers the question for you before they actually become a client. At this point, most of the people we work with are really, really kind individuals. They’re open to conversation, and we can work through those issues before we onboard them.
Dave Antil: Right, right. Yeah, that’s really important, is to be able to have that conversation and stop guessing. Too much guessing going on in the agency pitch business. Just ask the question.
Jeff Rosenblum: Oh my God. Yes. If you’re an agency person listening to this podcast, culture is everything. Both internally, and on the client side. I remember speaking to a prospective client a handful of years ago, a large handful of years ago. The woman on the end of the phone is screaming at me, and we haven’t even started working together. It was our very first call, and I’m asking a couple general questions. You start pretty broad. You start pretty positive. What are your hopes, dreams, desires? What are you looking for in an agency? These types of questions. She starts screaming at me. I’m like, “Whoa, this is clearly not a good fit. They clearly have some culture problems over there. Guys, I don’t care if they call us back, we’re not taking that call. We’re not right for each other.” The epilogue on that story is, I don’t mind admitting it, it was Blackberry. That’s what happens. When you have bad culture, you run your company into the ground. Blackberry was the most amazing company in the world, and now they’re basically done because they didn’t have the right culture. We can usually sense culture right from the initial phone call. If the people on the other end of the line are not friendly, and they don’t want to collaborate, we know it’s not a good fit for us.
Might be different from other people. Some agencies are like, “We don’t care about the culture, what we care about is doing the craziest creative in the world. People want to do three-dimensional video that blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” Great, if that’s your priority, then find those clients. But you’ll be able to sense it early in the process.
Dave Antil: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right, yeah. Nothing beats a good fit. Everything works better when you like the client, they like you, they’re easy to talk to, and they’re easy to deal with.
Jeff Rosenblum: Yeah, we know that collaboration is key for us. If they don’t want to collaborate, then we’re not going to have a great relationship. Other agencies are not that collaborative, so that’s not their priority.
Dave Antil: Right. Speaking of collaboration a little bit, when a client hires you, and you have an idea of what they need to do that might be a little different … it’s a left turn from their current strategies, how do you talk to them about that? How do you get them to think differently about their business?
Jeff Rosenblum: Patience, persistence, education. We always try to educate our clients on why we want to do something. We’re very rarely throwing a crazy idea up on the board. It looks great, it smells great, and that’s it. We’re just going to show the underlying research, we’re going to show the insights, we’re going to show the consumer behavior, we’re going to show how that ties back to KPIs, key performance indicators, bottom line performance in both the short term and the medium term. Education is the foundation of everything. Persistence is also critical. Agencies always want to do some funky, fun stuff. But you also have to be empathetic to the situation your clients are in, which is, they don’t want to take the biggest risks. They’ve got a career at stake. They’ve got families at home. They don’t want to go and do something crazy that might lose their job. You can bring down a whole department. You can bring down a giant company if you take unwarranted risks.
You have to be persistent in the sense that, very rarely can you say, “Hey, here’s a big idea. Let us educate you as to why.” Then they’re like, “Great, let’s do it.” Usually, it takes a few different tries saying, “Okay, let’s do some stuff that’s really safe. Let’s get some results. Let’s move the needle.” That’s a critical thing, you always have to move the needle. Get some results. Once you get some results, you can push to be riskier and take bigger results.
Then the last part of this, just being patient. There is things that, 20 years ago we started seeing what the future was all about. Now it’s two decades later, and we’re just seeing some of these things come to fruition. On a client-by-client basis, usually it takes about a year before clients really get it and start making some maneuvers that are aggressive and in the direction that we really want to go in. Sometimes at the agency, they’ll point to certain clients and be like, “Look at these clients. Not only are they taking risks, but look at the results. They’re getting incredible results.” I’m always like, “Yeah. That’s absolutely beautiful.” But most clients are not like that. You have to be willing to be an educator. You have to be willing to be patient. You have to be willing to be persistent.
Dave Antil: Right, right. This feels like a good time to talk a little bit about Friction. About your book about brand building, and this digital age. I hate calling it the digital age, but it’s just now. Tell me a little bit about the main thesis of Friction, and how you think about apply those tactics and strategies with clients.
Jeff Rosenblum: Yeah, we call it Friction because we believe friction is anything that holds people back in life. It’s anything that gets in the way of your hopes, your dreams, your desires, your aspirations, your goals. It might be the big, big things about fulfilling your lifelong dreams. It might be just little things, like getting through your day. But the point is, that great brands are built by removing friction.
Another way of looking at it is, by empowering people. By improving people’s lives. Everybody wakes up in the morning wanting one thing. They want to be better than the day they were before. They sure as hell don’t want to be interrupted over, and over, and over again with the same brand message. The same advertisement. Whether it’s on TV, or a pop up ad, or a banner ad, or a podcast ad. The point is, brands need to invest in content and tools that improve people’s lives, one small step at a time. When brands do improve people’s lives, they get rewarded. Not just by having customers, and not just by having loyal customers, but by building an army of evangelists. When you have an army of evangelists, they carry that brand message forward better than advertising ever could.
Dave Antil: Right. Yeah, that’s so powerful. You take advice from people you know and those evangelists, more than you listen to, or take action on an ad. I’m a huge fan of that.
Jeff Rosenblum: Sure, think about the last thing that you bought that was not a pack of gum, a beer, a soda. Anything that cost 50 bucks, a hundred bucks, five hundred bucks, a thousand dollars. Think about a pair of skis. Think about a car. Think about a vacation. All of these things that cost a few bucks, we go on our own journey. We’ve taken responsibility into our own hands. We read ratings, reviews. We look at photos. We watch videos. We call our friends. We go into retail stores. We comparison shop on features, functionality. There’s this whole, ethereal, emotional connection that we get with brands. We literally spend dozens of hours using dozens of information sources. Brands that do it effectively put the right message in the right time into all of those channels.
It sounds almost pedantic. I hate that I even said that, the right message at the right time. But it’s so critical. As you go through that journey, the last thing you want to do is hear something that you already knew, and the last thing that you want is to not be able to find information that you’re looking for. Initially, you need to emotionally engage something, and then you need to pull them through the sales funnel, where all that rational information, and all of their emotional needs are met. As they go on your web site. As they watch TV. As they’re up on Instagram. As they’re over on Snapchat. As they’re back over your web site. That they read ratings and reviews on Amazon. We’re all going through that journey. Brands need to activate in all of those channels.
Dave Antil: Yeah. You’ve just identified a ton of moving parts. How do you keep your team in front of all of that, and in front of the client demands. There’s a lot to bring in front of the client. How does your team work with the clients to make sure that this is all flowing into the right place?
Jeff Rosenblum: I think you touched on a couple of things. One of them is, we’ve learned by studying some of the great brands out there, that you need your own behaviors to be documented. You need to live by them. One of our behaviors that Jordan came up with is, learn something new right now. What that means is, each of us at the agency are committed to learning new skills every single day. We’re huge on, here’s a cool article. Here’s a cool video. Share it out, whether you’re on Slack, whether you’re on email, we’ve built out an area of our web site where people can share some of the latest and greatest research findings, articles, case studies, et cetera. It really comes from the ground up. As you can imagine, some of the youngest people on the staff are the most educated. Because it becomes so natural for them to understand the latest tools.
I use Instagram, and I use Facebook. I also play guitar. But if I play guitar, there’s an interpretation that happens for me, because I didn’t start playing until I was pretty old. If I want to play an A, I’m like, “Oh, A, okay. Fingers go here. Got it. Strum. Go to C, okay, fingers go here. Strum.” If you find someone who started playing guitar at six, they don’t do that. Their fingers just go A, C. They hear the music and they play. The same thing is true in modern marketing. I can do Instagram, but there’s an interpretation layer much the same way as there is when I’m playing guitar. The youngest people, they just get it because they grew up on it. It’s really important for us to educate ourselves through all the different communication techniques that we have, but having the stated behavior, by having it part of our DNA.
But the other thing is, how do you take it out and educate your clients? That’s one of the hardest things to do because they’re very busy, we’re very busy. You’ve got to hit your day-to-day needs. But they also do want to be educated, just like we do internally. What are the latest trends? What’s the latest research? What’s the latest insights? What’s the latest data technology? Consumer behavior? It’s really, education is the key to everything. But it’s about committing yourself to it. It’s easy to say you’ve got to be educated, but what you really need are the processes and tools to do that, to share the information.
Dave Antil: Right, right, right. You made a comment about the people, the young folks. How do you find people to work at Questus? Where do you find good people?
Jeff Rosenblum: In a nutshell, most of our great people come from referrals. Certainly we’ve found amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing people through recruiters. But if you look at the general trend of where we find out best people, it’s through referrals. We work very hard on our internal culture to keep people inspired, keep them engaged, keep them challenged, keep them having fun, keep them building great relationships. Then try to get them to spread the word, and invite their friends over. There’s an amazing book on this topic. It’s so goddamn amazing. Hesitant to actually even say it out loud right now, because it really turned out to be a competitive advantage for us.
It’s called Who. It’s written by Geoff Smart. We actually interviewed him for our book, Friction. Friction is like a lot of books out there, where it really leverages storytelling. It tries a little bit to be like Malcolm Gladwell. I’m certainly not nearly as good a writer as Malcolm Gladwell, but we tried to steal his style. Who is different. Who is less about telling stories, and it’s more about a handbook on how you find and keep great people. It’s been one of the most powerful things I’ve ever read, is Who by Geoff Smart.
Dave Antil: Okay, we’ll have to put that on the list. I want to be respectful of your time. I know we don’t have you booked all afternoon. To the point you just made, how do you stay on top of things? What are some of your top sources for marketing information? Do you go to blogs, web sites, conferences? What do you do to sharpen the saw?
Jeff Rosenblum: I’m 47 now, and I’ve had to learn the hard way how to do it. I read a really interesting article the other day. It said that the top executives in this world, folks like Warren Buffet, the one thing that they do better than other executives is, they think. If you were to look at a photograph of a Warren Buffet, or a video of Warren Buffet while he’s working, might look like he’s doing nothing. But this is one of the most successful executives in world history. It brought up other people, maybe Bill Gates, I can’t recall. But he thinks. He spends a lot of time thinking.
What I try to do is … I think there’s three things that I try to do. One of them is read as much as I can. I’m still have a very short attention span. I still am very busy, taking care of clients. It’s hard to find a ton of time, but I try to read as much as I possibly can. The second thing is, I try to give myself time to think. Give myself some space. I can’t do that between nine and five. I can’t do that between nine and eight. But I can certainly do it on the weekends. I can certainly do it late at night. I can do it first thing in the morning. Cut down on the amount of stimulus I have, and thing through things. If I got a really big meeting, and Jordan will do this also, and he’ll tell me to do it. “Dude, get out of here. Go for a run.” I hate running. I suck at it, I’m slow, I’m awkward. But if I really need to figure something out, I’ll go for a long run, because you’ve got to cut back on the stimulus and think through things.
The third thing that I do is, I spend a lot of time talking about these things, with Jordan in particular. We probably spend, on average, 40 minutes a day. Which means, sometimes it’s well over an hour, where we’ll just debate things. Not for the sake of saying who’s right, who’s wrong, but how are we going to figure out, is Snapchat real or not real? Is Facebook going into the tank or not? Are six second videos the way to go, or 90 second videos, or 20 minute videos? How do you use data? Is it for targeting, or is it for personalization? It could be any topic. Sometimes, I’d say very often, they’re not really topics that are relevant to our business, and our day-to-do, and maybe even our client’s business, but we just love to talk about business, and what these things mean. It keeps the two of us sharp, it helps us figure out where we want to go as an agency, as an industry, with our clients.
Reading, thinking, talking, discussing, debating, those are all critical things. But, particularly as an agency where you’ve got utilization things that people need to deal with, a lot of people in the agency world, they’re head’s down between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM. So, if you want to get ahead in the agency world, well, you’ve got to work extra hard. It’s a service business. You’ve got to build between nine and six. Nine and five, absolute minimum. Nine and six if you want to outperform. Plus you need an hour or two of thinking on top. If you’re a young kid thinking about whether you want to get into this business, that’s what you’re getting into. When I was in my 20s all the way through my 40s, shit, I worked a 12 hour day every day.
Dave Antil: Mm-hmm (affirmative), right. Yeah. That’s such great advice. Read, consume as much as you can. Think about it. Then talk about it and sharpen it. I think that’s smart, smart advice.
If someone wants to reach out to you, Jeff, how do they get in touch with you?
Jeff Rosenblum: Our web site is as good an entry point as anything, Questus.com. Q-U-E-S-T-U-S.com. I’m up on Twitter, @JRQuestus. I’m up on Facebook and Instagram, @TheJeffRosenblum. You can hear my pause. I thought it was going to be Instagram influencer. I made a documentary about the future of advertising five years ago, and it did really well. We went around the world, I wrote the book, that did really well, it became number one. I was like, “F*** yeah, Instagram! I’m going to be an influencer.” I lasted about 48 hours with that stuff before I realized it’s just not for me. It’s not intrinsically rewarding. I don’t love it that much. I’ll poke around, check it out a little bit, but I’m not willing to invest the hours now, everyday. I think the lesson there is, everyone’s got to do what’s natural to them.
If you hit me up on those channels, I will respond. But unfortunately, probably not quite as quickly as [inaudible 00:38:34].
Dave Antil: All right, well thanks a lot Jeff. I really appreciate your time today, and thanks everyone for listening. If you like the Performance Delivered podcast, please subscribe to us, and leave us a review on iTunes or your favorite podcast application. If you want to find out more about Symphonic Digital, you can visit us at SymphonicDigital.com, or follow us on Twitter at @SymphonicHT.
Thanks again, and we’ll see you next time.