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Welcome To The #1 Global Hit Podcast Join Up Dots

Mar 11, 2020

Introducing John Bertino

Today's guest joining us on the Join Up Dots podcast is the owner of TAG, a new an innovative agency based in Philadelphia USA. As he says "Let's be honest, anyone can call themselves a marketing "expert" and anyone can open a "marketing agency". The result: Unqualified marketing providers are everywhere causing many brands to get burned and precious company resources to get squandered. This is not the case with today's guest, as  John’s professional background stems from over a decade in the agency space where he consulted with clients on SEO and inbound marketing campaigns. During that time, John watched sales people and marketing agencies fight tirelessly to one-up each other and impress prospective clients with industry jargon, flashy proposals, and agency bluster. How The Dots Joined Up For John Perhaps most concerning – a remarkable amount of the strategic recommendations agencies give their clients is predicated on what’s convenient for them – not the client’s situation. Enter TAG; arguably the world’s first true marketing consultancy, 100% focused on providing brands unbiased direction, education and vetted agency recommendations. These days, John and his team at TAG consult with brands of all sizes on just about every area of marketing. He personally teaches several courses on the subject at the University of San Diego, Drexel University, SCORE and other accredited educational institutions. John also organizes large events for marketers and entrepreneurs through his group the SoCal Marketing Club, one of the west coast’s largest digital marketing clubs. So why do people still focus on a splash everywhere method of marketing, instead of knowing where the vein of gold is? And is marketing still a winner, or has it fallen down the ranks of everything else that is needed nowadays? Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr John Bertino Show Highlights During the show we discussed such deep weighty subjects with John Bertino such as: Why there is such a problem in the industry involving quick start marketing experts claiming to be something that they aren't. John reveals how Tim Ferris's The Four Hour Work Week was the catalyst for going out on his own. Why the keys to entrepreneurship are playing into your strengths and delegating everything else that keeps you from doing your best work. and lastly...... Why John believes in the anti-scale method that we believe 100% about in Join Up Dots, and the steps that he took to make that happen. How To Connect With John Bertino Website Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Return To The Top Of John Bertino If you enjoyed this episode with John Bertino, why not check out other inspirational chat with Clayton Morris, Dorie Clark, and the amazing Niall Doherty You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy Full Transcription Of John Bertino Intro 0:00 When we're young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here's your host live from the back of his garden in the UK. David Ralph. John Bertino 0:25 Yes, hello, a good morning, everybody. Good morning and welcome to Join Up Dots. Thank you so much for being here. As always, Well, today's guest who's joining us on the show is the owner of take a new and innovative agency based in Philadelphia, US Ray as he says, let's be honest, he says he's he doesn't say in an English accent, but it's the best I can do. Let's be honest, anyone can call themselves a marketing expert and anyone can open a marketing agency The result? unqualified marketing providers are everywhere, causing many brands to get burned and precious company resources to get Wonder now, this is not the case with today's guest as his professional background stems from over a decade in the agency space where he consulted with clients on SEO and inbound marketing campaigns and during that time, he watched salespeople and marketing agencies fight tirelessly to one up each other and impress prospective clients with industry jargon, flashy proposals and agency bluster. Now, perhaps the most concerning and it's concerning to me, a remarkable amount of the strategic recommendations agencies give their clients is predicted on what's convenient for them, not the client situation boo boo you marketing companies. Enter take arguably the world's first true marketing consultancy 100% focused on providing brands and buyers direction education and vetted agency recommendations these days. him and his team at tag consult with brands of all sizes on just about every area of marketing and he personally teaches several courses On the subject at the University of San Diego Drexel University score and our accredited educational institutions. He also if a citizen enough organises large events for marketers and entrepreneurs through his group, the so cow marketing club, one on the West Coast largest digital marketing clubs. So why do people still focus on a kind of splash everywhere method of marketing, instead of really knowing where the vein of gold is and targeting that? And is marketing still a winner? Or is it folding down the ranks of everything else that is needed nowadays when I start finding out when we bring it to the show to start Join Up Dots with the one and only Mr. John Bertino. Good morning, john. How are you? I'm Fantastic. Thank you, David. Fantastic intro. Thank you. David Ralph 2:50 It's lovely to have you here. And you know, do you know how stupid I am john. All week. I knew you were coming on the show. And I've been thinking, why is it called tag Why is it called tag It's just don't do me, the agency guy as simple as that. How stupid am I? John Bertino 3:06 not stupid at all that we like going by tag, we lead out with that a lot. But that's right. It's an acronym for the agency guy. And quick clarification, and you'll find it central to our business model. We are anything but an agency, really, we're, we're a consultancy that represents a multitude of agencies. And I'm sure we'll dive into that in more detail. David Ralph 3:28 I'm sure we probably will, unless I get bored with the conversation and go in a totally different direction. That's what we do. So what is an agency then for people out there that hear the word but now they're not in that sort of environment? Actually, what would your definition of an agency be? John Bertino 3:45 Sure. Well, I think to some extent, that's part of the problem, right? agency has become this loosely defined term that we associate with anybody, at least in the marketing space that is providing marketing services. So Sometimes people will call themselves an agency when they're one one person. But I would argue that as soon as you're more than one, you're two or more than you could technically call yourself an agency. And you know, you can call yourself an agency with little to no credentials, experience, accolades, case studies. There's there's no formal agency certification team. And those are a few of the reasons why there's a bit of a problem in the marketplace. David Ralph 4:25 Yeah, but there's a problem everywhere. And if you've listened to multiple episodes of Join Up Dots, I do repeat myself because there's certain things that get out my nose, but I get pitched by a lot of people that are experts, but they've only been doing it since last Tuesday. And you know, it drives me mental and the first thing I do I go over to their LinkedIn profile, and when I see that there's hardly anything on there, or that they was working for a bank in Philadelphia and now they're an expert in marketing, whatever. How do we overcome this, john? How do we overcome this, this dive in And I'm brand brand ourselves because I accept people have to get going. And I accept that you become an expert by doing more of and learning. I accept all that. But how can we sort of overcome this and actually protect the people out there that are buying into these marketing people? John Bertino 5:18 Sure, well, I don't think the problem is going where anywhere anytime soon, right, the barriers to entry to become or call yourself an agency or marketing consultant, or next to nothing. And not only that, but the lifestyle that can potentially come with being a small nimble agency is quite appealing. And there's information all over the web that can help people get started. So the low barriers to entry the lack of necessary credentials or qualifications, and again, the lifestyle benefits are resulting in a multitude of people flooding in and saying, I'm a marketer, I'm a marketing expert and wanting to charge you for it. And that's great for them. That's great for entrepreneurship. And I support those who give a real effort into becoming a refined expert in the field, but many don't. And that's created a real problem for brands that want to go out and find reliable marketing talent marketing support, and that's why we created tag David Ralph 6:19 now talking about it around but problem one of the things is so many of these companies charge but actually don't guarantee the results and people like Facebook adverts and and Google ads and they they charge for their services, but the results don't come back in. Once again. How do you deal with battery issue so that you can say to people that if you're going to pay for us to do work, you're actually going to get it or is that not possible? John Bertino 6:51 Sure. So let me mention our model and and backdoor into your question. So what we do at tag is essentially empower brands to hire the perfect marketing partners, and also to invest in the ideal or proper marketing strategies. Right. So we're a consultancy, but we represent about 200 different agencies and consultants. And when we meet with brands, we do so in an objective, unbiased way, and say, Look, if we were in your shoes, essentially, if we were cmo for a day, if you will, or cmo for the week or the month, if we were in your shoes, how would we approach these problems? What marketing channels will we invest in? Why would we invest in them? We set expectations to your question about results, we set expectations around what proper results actually look and feel like and then when we're all aligned on what we want to do and why we want to do it. That's when we essentially matchmake them with one of our vetted marketing agency partners or service providers. So we represent about as a A 200 or so different teams, which is quite a few, but at the same time, a manageable number. And that depth of a roster allows us to essentially married the perfect marketing partner solution to the ideal brand need. And in doing so we take out all the time, headaches, and uncertainty that go with trying to find a good marketing partner. Well, I might go well, David Ralph 8:23 I'm gonna jump in with another question just so how do we know that? You know, john, how do we know about tag Mo's, we've always different industries, they've obviously got all different marketing needs. How is your experience so of all covering? Sure, John Bertino 8:41 well, the short answer would be if you give us a call, I think that experience will immediately come through each one of the consultants on my team has at least a decade or more of experience. And generally speaking, you can tell pretty quickly when you're talking with someone that's really specialised in these various channels for a while, but Beyond that, I think if if you dive into tag and look at the different different members on our team, you'll see ridiculous amounts of credentials, accolades, social proof. We're all essentially teachers, speakers contributors, teaching it, major universities are contributing to major publications. We even have a team member that speaks literally for Google. She's on Google's payroll as a as a speaker and a mentor. So all the credentials are there. But again, I think honestly, just with the conversation, usually that comes through pretty immediately. And I should mention, we actually don't charge for any of the consulting we do not typically anyway, the idea is that provide free, unbiased, objective seasoned expertise at no cost to earn that trust. And then we make a recommendation on who we think you should work with. David Ralph 9:47 Right? Okay. So I want to spin away from what you do to where you started, because you're on Join Up Dots is very much about how people actually overcome the struggles of growing a business and teething troubles all the way through. He's just different troubles you have to deal with. Now you're sitting there, Mr. JOHN bertino. And you're in your bedroom, in your lucky underpants, I always think this and you come up with this idea of you're going to go your, your own way and do your own thing. It's all white to think that and as I say, everything is built twice, once in your brain. And once actually, in real life, and in real life one is a lot harder than building in your brain. What was the first steps that you took to actually create something that was your own income producing? Empire suppose? John Bertino 10:38 Sure, I love this topic. And by the way, how did you know about my lucky underpants? We both got lucky on my parents, john, David Ralph 10:44 we've all got lucky underpants until we get married, and then those lucky underpants disappear. John Bertino 10:50 Fantastic. Well, so let's see. I love this topic. By the way, it's really what I'm passionate about you and I have that in common is I don't know if it was a linear thing for most people, it's probably not. But I know I realised fairly early in my professional career probably 5678 years in that. I guess I was a leader not necessarily a leader of of men per se, although I'd like to think I've grown into that. But just I needed to kind of do my own thing. It's really who I was. I didn't know at the time that I necessarily needed to be self employed, but I knew I kind of had to do it my own way. And then I came across Tim Ferriss, his book, I'm sure it's been mentioned on the show, if not thousands of times, but you know, I came across it more or less when it right came out. I believe the books a good 20 years older, so at this point, and he had talked about, and I'm paraphrasing here, because it's been, as I said, probably 1015 years since I read it, but if he had said something to the effect of, would you rather make money million dollars a year and work for someone else and have no time to yourself and not be able to make your own decisions? Or would you rather make a quarter a half or a quarter of that and be completely empowered to do what you want with your time. And for me the choice was clear, it was it was definitely the latter, right. And so between just recognising the way I was functioning in the corporate environment, and coming across material and content like that, that which was starting to become the norm, I just knew that I had to slowly but surely work my way into working for myself. David Ralph 12:32 I've actually got that book in my hand at the moment, the four hour workweek, and I haven't read it for years, to be honest. But I pick it up and I wonder every now and again, whether I should go back and actually read it, whether it's covenant whether the logic behind it is still relevant now, I don't know. What do you think is was it obvious time or, or should we still promote it as the go to book? John Bertino 12:59 Yeah, it's A little bit of both. I don't know if I would promote it as the go to book per se, but it's certainly kind of the one of the foundational books of entrepreneurship in its modern form. It's a great read. For anyone that's aspiring to go out on their own, just go into it, knowing that some of it will definitely be dated. I David Ralph 13:21 was the poster boy for that book. And I actually did literally everything he said in there. And it worked. It worked like a dream. The only problem that I had was, once I freed myself up from work by, as he says, asking for a Friday off and been asking for Thursday off and then building up a portfolio of work because I had this extra free time. It all worked until somebody didn't want it to work. And when a new manager came in and didn't like the fact it all failed like a pack of cards and that literally was the catalyst for me saying, sod this I'm going to go out and start my own thing. Little did I know where I was going to head but the passion was very Because you can't go back, can you once you've had control of your time and your income, and as I always say to people, the fact that you pay your own taxes so you think about it in a way because when you in corporate land I used to just get my paid. I never, it never concerned me that they were actually paying the right tax It Was this something that was taken out of my bank account. Once you actually had that control, you're never coming back on a job. John Bertino 14:26 Now, it's, it's really true, or at least you'll find out very early on in the journey, whether or not this is for you. And if you stick with it for a while, I don't know even a year or two there's I'd say there's no going back from that point. And you know, it's interesting, I had the exact same experience that you reference where there was a point where I had some flexibility I was making. I had some good clout within the company I was working for the ownership really respected me at the time and gave me a lot of leeway and flexibility with my schedule and Through that I started to put some pieces in place to, to, I guess move out on my own eventually I wasn't in a rush at the time. And then he brought in a new manager and all that came crashing down. But in some ways that was kind of the catalyst I needed to, to take it to the next step. David Ralph 15:15 Now, when you take that step, because one of the things that people struggle with, and I struggled with it myself, so a lot of the questions are very much leading. I wasn't earning enough. So people were saying delegate delegate out, but I couldn't earn enough to delegate out because I didn't have enough to pay the bills. Anyway. Do you remember that time when you literally were trying to grow and you were doing everything yourself John Bertino? John Bertino 15:42 I sure do. Yeah, I mean, I mean, absolutely. But you have to find some tasks that you can delegate and they don't even necessarily need to be core to your offering. So a good example on us would be would be something like bookkeeping or in invoicing and stuff like that. Maybe there's some simple administrative tasks that you can take off your plate to let you focus on the actual service. you're offering little changes, little micro delegations can really start to add up and give you the momentum you need. David Ralph 16:17 Yeah, but only if you've got a certain amount of income to pay for people, because otherwise you're you're taking it from where you haven't got it anyway. And if there's somebody out there, who is wanting to take the corporate leap, and they've got a mortgage to pay, and they've got all the kind of bills that I need to pay, the fault of hiring someone when they haven't got enough to cover what they need to cover anyway is difficult. John Bertino 16:41 Yes, but I would, I would counter that. You can outsource but honestly, it can be little things even around the house, right? And we're talking to that aspiring entrepreneur that's really feeling locked in their job. They're starting a side hustle, but they're kept on their time. And they're saying, well, gee, I would love to outsource things, but I don't have I don't have the money for it right and i would counter Well, you can outsource mowing the lawn, so you don't have to do it. And you can have an extra hour for your side hustle. You can outsource ideated ideas for a blog post by writing out a blueprint, finding someone on Upwork or an intern at a local college and giving them $20 to go out and help you ideate what your next 10 blog posts will be. You can outsource cleaning the house so that you don't have to do it and like the lawn you can focus on your business. Even little things like that can really add up and every hour counts. David Ralph 17:38 So when did you get to the point? Actually, I'm going to ask that question. I'm going to come back to it. Let's listen to Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey 17:44 My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn't believe that that was possible for him. And so he made a conservative choice. Instead, he got a safe job as an accountant. And when I was 12 years old, he was let go from that safe job. And our family had to do whatever we could survive. I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which was that you can fail at what you don't want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love. So when David Ralph 18:11 did you get jumping back to my my brilliantly posed question interrupted by Jim. But you actually loved doing what you're doing because we see it time and I remember speaking to so many guests on the show. But say, they went from a corporate gig to creating an income, some of them creating millions and absolutely hated every second of it. It just wasn't the right business for them. This seems to be the right business for us. So when did you actually tap into the love and think yeah, this this is my thing. And it's not just a stepping stone to someone new. John Bertino 18:46 Yeah, I love that question. And it was, it was never a conscious effort to Well, let me back up. I had come across multiple books or teachers or mentors, you know, just through the internet podcasts, book recommendations, things like this, that it said one of the keys to entrepreneurship was to play into your strengths. And kind of to our prior discussion or prior question, try to outsource or delegate the rest. The more you can focus on your strengths and delegate the things that aren't your strengths, the more likely you are to succeed. So from day one, before I even had the business idea, I was coming at it from that mentality. And so I was always focused on Well, what are my strengths? And this is such a great question for me because I literally built tag around what I knew I was good at. So what what does tag essentially do not to not to get on tag again, but this plays right into your question. we consult, which means I needed to know marketing, and we do business development. I mean, really, we are a marketing team that does business development for agencies, right. So I knew That I was good with people. And you know, I've never fancied myself to be honest, as much of a salesperson I really really never have. Although I was told by so many people you're great at sales or I was always in sales roles didn't really see myself as sales. I saw myself as a consultative I guess a consultative business development person, but it really was about developing relationships. It was always about business development and the relationships for me and I knew I liked doing that. So I, I leaned into that over and over and over again, and to this day, that's I try to focus on just those two things. That is being really good at my marketing Aquaman. So I can provide great advice to brands and then the selling just happens naturally, the business development becomes easy. And to your prior question again, I looked at Delhi, everything else. David Ralph 20:53 Now, that is just super talent. Obviously. We have every super talent there is the kryptonite. will bring you down. And as we see in business time and time again, most people are brilliant at seeing what's wrong with other people's businesses but actually can't see what's wrong with their own. It's like blinkered, for some reason, what would be your your kryptonite around your neck that you knew in early days that you actually had to get help with? Unknown Speaker 21:24 Well, I think to some extent, we I still work on that kryptonite every day. And that would be that our model is structured and your questions are so nicely laid out, because one really is leading leading right into the other. Our model as I just described, it is not especially scalable, but I'm of the belief that one of the best ways to kind of carve out a unique value proposition and provide unique value is to, in a sense, do something that's that's hard to scale, right? Because once you're really good at something that can't be replaced by machines, you Then kind of own that, and then you can kind of figure out the micro improvements you can make to scale it. So the kryptonite to your question is that our model is not especially scalable. Now I have surrounded myself by other people just like me. But even still, it's hard to scale human capital. And so, whereas there are store sites online that attempt to match people with the right agency, but they're algorithmic, they're not consultative, they don't really get to know you your time, your company, your brand. And so they will always struggle to provide that bespoke hand holding approach that we provide. We've come at it from the opposite side, we've got that part dialled in, and we're kind of to some extent slowly working our way into how do we make this more scalable and so and so that's the kryptonite but I'm aware of it. Right. I think that's the key being self aware, being honest with yourself about where the weak points are not getting intimidated and running from them, owning them and slowly chiselling away at them. David Ralph 23:00 Okay, so that's the business kryptonite. What about yourself personally, john, what was the things that you look at and you go, really is not mapping at all. Unknown Speaker 23:11 Outside of business? Well, that's, that's interesting. I think, if I'm honest about it right, again, in the spirit of honesty, when you are entrepreneurial, many of us, if not all of us, have a real tendency to be a bit scattered. Because once you get a taste of the good life air quotes, as we talked about it earlier, because there's plenty of struggles with the good life, right? Once you get a taste of it, you start to some extent being led into well, oh, here's an interesting idea. And maybe I'm quite smart. And I can turn this into a business too. And there's definitely a tendency for us to get scattered and overconfident. And so just constantly raining myself in staying focused and only diving into other product projects that are jacent to what I'm currently working on and succeeding with is key. And so I certainly have to challenge myself there. David Ralph 24:07 It's interesting, isn't it? Because I always people say to me, you know, what's the success? How do you create a successful podcast? And I say to him, do it for seven years, you know, and it's a kind of flippant response, but it's true. There's the persistence, there's the consistency, there's the repetition, all those things that sort of build into it. Now, when I look at what I do on Join Up Dots, I think I've got more success from this show than anything else I've done. Just because I've kept at it. Were a lot of things I look back a while I used to do, could have gone somewhere, but I kind of didn't think about the financial shoots were coming up quick enough, where I could have wanted those financial shoes because as soon as you get some money, it proves that there's money there. When you look at yourself, is that something that you're aware of, in not just your own business, but other people's businesses, but they pivot too quickly instead of just getting their head down and doing the work. Unknown Speaker 25:05 Yes, there's there's some of that, I think, right to our prior discussion about being a bit too scattered and not focusing. But, you know, another I'm going to actually look at that from the opposite end of the spectrum. I think a more common problem I see is people doubling tripling quadrupling down on on an idea that that might not be good. And that's a conversation no one's no one wants to have and, and it's, you know, people being polite often don't want to tell you, but I think I would challenge every entrepreneur to be really honest about whether or not they're solving a problem that people have or whether or not they're trying to create something. That's just what what they want to do whether or not it's actually helping people in the process. David Ralph 25:47 Is it Oh, as simple as that, because we talk about this all the time solving problems, is that really what business is all about? Or is that just a strap willing but kind of works? Unknown Speaker 26:00 No, I really think that's what business is all about. I think the data has proved that out. And if you look at some of the most successful startups over the last decade, you'll see what they're focused on is making pivots and iterations that lean into where the problems actually are and taking focus away from things they were doing, because it was convenient for them. So I absolutely think that's one of the fundamental keys to success. David Ralph 26:25 Because somebody like the iPod, for example, you can have 1000 songs, you can have your entire record collection in your back pocket. That really wasn't a pain point. I think, up to that point. Nobody was walking around going, I really need to drag my entire record collection with me. But then he comes along, and it's a global success. So is it as sort of a pivot between pain and pleasure, and although we say problems, there's also solutions. Is that what takes somebody like Elon Musk or Steve Jobs or Richard Branson into into the stratosphere? In, but they can pivot between the two between pain and pleasure. Unknown Speaker 27:06