EP 50 - Simms Jenkins - Why Email Marketing Should be the Cornerstone of your Digital Marketing Strategy
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|Simms Jenkins is CEO of BrightWave, North America’s leading email marketing agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing programs that drive revenue, cut costs and build relationships. Jenkins has led BrightWave in establishing a world-class client list including Affiliated Computer Service (A Xerox Company), Aflac, Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Google, Phillips66, Porsche and Southern Company. The agency has been ranked among the fastest growing private companies by Inc. Magazine the past three years.
Jenkins was awarded the prestigious AMY Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide market insight and consulting.
Jenkins is the author of two definitive and highly regarded books on email marketing; The New Inbox (published in April 2013 by ClickZ/Incisive Media) and The Truth About Email Marketing published by Pearson’s Financial Times Press in 2008). Jenkins is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, the largest resource of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off. His industry articles have been called one of the top information sources for email marketers.
He has been featured in The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, Adweek, Bloomberg TV, Wired Magazine and scores of other leading publications and media outlets. Jenkins is a regular speaker at major digital industry and general business conferences and was named one of the World’s Top 50 Email Influencers.
Additionally, Jenkins is the creator of EmailStatCenter.com and SocialStatCenter.com, the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to founding BrightWave, Jenkins headed the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media.
Jenkins serves on several civic and professional boards, including Atlanta Families, Zoo Atlanta’s Marketing Board, and Fernbank Museum’s Corporate Leadership Council. He has served as a mentor at Flashpoint, a Georgia Tech-based startup accelerator program. Jenkins is a graduate of Denison University in Granville, Ohio and resides in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood with his wife and three children.
Follow Simms on Twitter, Facebook, and his book websites at NewInboxBook.com and SimmsJenkins.com.
Random Notable Simms Fact: Simms was Student Body President in 8th grade, the Vice President in college and an intern at the White House, which ended his political aspirations.
Why Email Marketing Should be the Cornerstone of your Digital Marketing Strategy
Email marketing is a crucial part of any digital marketing strategy and is a vibrant way to create and foster relationships.
On this episode, Steve’s special guest is Simms Jenkins. Simms Jenkins is the founder and CEO of BrightWave, North America’s leading email marketing agency. He is the author of two books, The Truth About Email Marketing and The New Inbox. He is also regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry. Here are more awesome takeaways on this episode:
The evolution of BrightWave as a company.
The challenges faced by marketers today and how to overcome them.
Simm’s predictions on the future of digital marketing.
So put on your headphones and find out how to integrate email marketing techniques into your overall marketing plan.
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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01:15 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Simms Jenkins, CEO of BrightWave.)
Steve: You are listening to the Awesomers.com podcast Episode number 5-0, that's Episode number 50 everybody, that's kind of like a little milestone and as always all you have to do is go to Awesomers.com/50 to find all the show notes and details, relevant summaries and transcripts, etc. Now today my special guest is Simms Jenkins and Simms is the CEO of BrightWave, which is North America’s leading email marketing agency. The award-winning firm specializes in elevating email marketing programs that drive revenue, cut costs and build relationships. Simms has helped lead the BrightWave marketing team to establishing a world-class client list including Aflac, Chick-fil-A, Cox Business, Google, Phillips66, Porsche and so many more. The agency has been ranked among the fastest-growing private companies by Inc. Magazine for the past three years consecutively, that's hard to do by the way. Simms was also awarded the prestigious AMY Marketer of the Year Award from the American Marketing Association for being the top agency marketer and the Email Marketer of the Year at the Tech Marketing Awards held by the Technology Association of Georgia. Jenkins is regarded as one of the leading experts in the email marketing industry and is regularly cited by the media as such and called upon by the financial community to provide marketing insight and consultation. Simms is also the author of two definitive and highly regarded books about email marketing, which we talked about in this episode including his most recent work called The New Inbox. His first one was called The Truth About Email Marketing and I found it’s very instructive back in the day when it first came out. Simms is currently the Email Marketing Best Practices Columnist for ClickZ, which is one of the largest resources of interactive marketing news and commentary in the world, online or off by the way. His industry articles have been called one of the top information sources for email marketers. Simms is such a busy guy he's created other things like EmailStatsCenter.com, SocialStatsCenter.com and those became and have become the leading authorities on email and social media metrics. Prior to finding BrightWave, Simms was the head of the CRM group at Cox Interactive Media and today Simms serves on several civic and professional boards including the Atlanta Families, the Zoo of Atlanta Marketing Board, Fernbank Museum's Corporate Leadership Council and some other things as well. Simms really does try to give back and he resides in the Atlanta Buckhead area with his wife and three children. Simms is a powerhouse marketer, a really really amazing guy leading an amazing agency and I'm thrilled that he was able to join us today.
Welcome back Awesomers. It’s Steve Simonson coming to you again with another episode of the Awesomers.com podcast and today we have a very special guest Simms Jenkins. Simms, how are you?
Simms: I'm doing well Steve. Thanks for having me on your show.
Steve: Certainly a pleasure and it's always fun to talk to somebody to where I go back a ways and the audiences had the benefit of hearing your bio read in at the top of the show, but maybe you could tell us where you live now and kind of what takes up your day-to-day activities in your business.
Simms: Sure. Steve, I'm based out of Atlanta, Georgia where I've lived for 20+ years and I run BrightWave, which is the leading email and eCRM agency. And as founder and CEO my day is a little bit all over the place like a lot of CEOs of growing companies. But I spend a lot of time focused on the growth of the business, financial side of the business and then our team and clients and making sure that we're all aligned in terms of the vision and where we're headed as a business and where our clients are needing us to really make impacts on their business so. What that looks like over the course of a 10-hour day is a little bit different every day and that's what keeps it fun and interesting.
Steve: Boy, that's for sure. It's definitely - it could be a wide world or wild world in the land of entrepreneurialism and I'm sure your agency is no exception. Simms remind me, how long is that thing been going because I know that I've used it in the past for a past business I was involved in and that was long ago, how long you guys has been running?
Simms: Yes. We just celebrated our 15th anniversary, which is kind of really blows my mind to think about all of the blood, sweat and tears that have happened on that crazy roller coaster ride in 15 years. But we've reinvented the business every couple years, which is fascinating to see and but yes 15 years, a long time and a long time in the - where we've been focused on email, a lot of changes, but we're still largely focused on the same area which has been I think a big part of our success.
Steve: Well no doubt about that and you know you guys are obviously very accomplished and the agency is widely recognized as an expert. As I recall even you know some number of years ago you even wrote a book about email marketing. Am I right or wrong about that?
06:33 (Simms talks about his two books.)
Simms: Yes, two books actually, yes. My first one was about eight or nine years ago called The Truth About Email Marketing which the Financial Times published and then five years ago I wrote The New Inbox which ClickZ and their parent company published, which was really more of you know the world was really quickly changing social media mobile or looming and there was a big conversation of are they going to kill email and I've heard you know is email going to die or be killed you know countless times over 15 years, but you know I think I saw that those channels were going to be so important to email and make them more effective and vice versa. So, I always had the desire to really tell my vision of how email fits in in this radically changing world. So, it was a pretty different book than my first book, which was more on fundamentals and best practices of email, which still are fairly accurate, but yes two books. I don't have a third one in me at least right now, so I think I've a covered email pretty well for the time being.
Steve: I love it. Well and you know it sounds like I'm not the first guy to tell you, but you know as I read some of these you know websites and the talking heads out there in the internet space they tell us very clearly that you know nobody uses the email anymore. Everybody has either messenger box or you know social media or this or that, is this news to you? I hope I'm not breaking some bad news to you right now.
Simms: Well, I mean like I said I've been hearing those kind of themes and doomsday news for 15 years and they're all wrong. It’s the world changing in how we communicate for sure, but email as anything is much more ingrained in how people communicate with their preferred brand. Our, you know, our college-age kids communicating with each other and their parents differently than they did 10 or 20 years ago, absolutely, but then they get jobs then they get email addresses and then they become adults and get emails from their financial service institutions and their favorite brands and yes they might also do that through Snapchat or Instagram or other social channels, but email serves a very strong purpose. It's the number one thing that people are doing in terms of if you look at you know every hour of media that they're consuming it's how they interact with their favorite brands and mobile has just made it much more pervasive for checking email all throughout the day. Maybe you know maybe it's not seen in the same light as it was a few years ago, that’s because there's a lot more channels and it's a lot harder to get your email read. But email is still the number one marketing vehicle. If you had one bullet in your gun and need something read whether it's a new app, a new sale whatever it may be email is the best, most effective and compact way to get that message in front of the right audience and accomplish your goal. So, I think there's – it's been a good story to talk about everything else, but it is going stronger than ever.
Steve: Well, and this is really the reason I wanted to bring this up is this you know deserves a little bit of myth-busting if you will because this you know people again I've talked about it in other context like affiliate marketing or SEO, but you know everybody wants to either for hyperbole’s sake or for causing you know controversy or even just you know being you know flamers that they want to just create a little controversy and so they stir up these things, but the reality is email is going strong and those who know how to do it really well it's going even stronger. I mean you guys are probably continuing to break new ways of getting things read and getting the inboxes cleared and being on the white list and so forth that's what makes you guys specialty right.
Simms: Yes, absolutely, and you know it's more about really our client results and what brands are doing and you know the bottom line is what – it was why email continues to grow and why we're a thriving company 15 years later and absolutely a mature digital channel. Email works and you know repeatedly whether it's Wall Street Journal or mainstream media you know companies have doubled down on email over the last few years. I think a lot of people like to think of its simplistic of either social media or email. It's either your mobile app or email. You know, any really strong brand is going to have a well complimented and diverse mix of marketing channels. Your customers are different. There’s some customers that are only going to interact with you through the mobile app. There's some that are you know want SMS messages three times a day. There's others, all they're going to check is email and they're going to read every single email. Others, it might be direct mail plus you know an email that really does the job of getting them to take discussion along or learn more or whatever it may be. So, it's really the right marketing mix and brands have gotten so much smarter. I mean I think that's probably the biggest thing that I've seen change in our business is just our clients are so sophisticated in terms of what they're coming to the table with and what they want to accomplish and their ability to use data and you know they're looking for homeruns where it used to be acceptable to kind of hey I've got a list, I know I need to you know monetize it. I want to send some emails. Now, it's you know how do you do some really smart things and you know I don't want to leave any dollars on the table. And you know most brands are generating you know tens of millions of dollars in revenue if not more from the other email program and they've just gotten much smarter and heavier.
Steve: Well, and this is really an important point for me to share with the Awesomers out there, if you don't understand that you know brands of all sizes but particularly the big brands are still continuing to invest in email and making it a part of a as Simms talked about you know kind of that compliment of marketing tactics and strategies that are out there, you're kind of missing the boat. Often you know if we only have to pick one I'm going to start with email and then I'll probably go to affiliate or you know kind of move down the line of you know highest ROI, lowest risk kind of things. But if you have the opportunity to do more than one thing then it really does work to kind of be wherever your customers want you to be. Is that fair to say?
Simms: Absolutely, yes. Different stages of the funnel, different types of customers using the web in different ways, yes it's you know it's all about where can you be to make that user experience much more seamless for your customer and connecting online and off and there shouldn't be a disconnect. You know we're finding that it's no longer acceptable for brands to have you know world-class customer service when you walk in one of their stores and then you get one of their emails and you click and it takes you to a page that's not mobile optimized, like that's the same as walking in a store and you know finding a rude customer service rep. So, I think you know people are really doing that – you know, digital transformation is what a lot of consulting firms want brands to do and that's really they are reinventing their entire business model and making sure that every element is you know really has a strong customer experience and with digital being front and center to that. So, you know, again, dramatic shifts in the way that companies are doing marketing and really valuing their customers and looking at that interaction.
Steve: Well, I definitely agree that you know if people aren't reacting to the changes, which are you know they're constant. I mean one of the benefits you have of the 15-year perspective and by the way 15 years in the internet space is a dinosaur age, so sorry to be breaking some bad news over here, but you know that means you guys have been around, you've seen it all and as you even been said at the top of the show you've had to reinvent the business kind of over and over as these changes have come down. Can you reflect on maybe a couple of the surprises that you guys have had to overcome along the way, one or two that stand out in your mind?
Simms: Yes. Well, I know I think we've had – the first phase the business was very much I had to sell you know email as a tool, as a channel, as a service as much as I did BrightWave and myself. You know, I think the early days people were still like why should I spend money on this internet thing, I'm not sure if it's a fad or you know whether it's really worth it. You know, so that really kind of helped me understand the value of thought leadership and at first it was very kind of to help accomplish two things at once selling email and selling BrightWave and myself as an expert, but that absolutely kind of created a whole new kind of awareness and ability to drive a lot of you know awareness and interest and reach for a relatively small company. I think being able to realize what you're really good at and you know during the initial social media craze six years ago we started with doing a little bit of social media for clients that we manage their email program, you know we said okay, social media complementary, we really – you know we understand what you're trying to do in kind of the brand conversation and we're going to offer that as a service and we weren't great at it. I think it was you know so new. We saw it as a you know land grab, but we weren't great at it in the way we were at email and it made us really kind of reevaluate. We want to be the best in the world at email services. So, we said let's stop chasing the shiny object like everyone else. We’ll have an opinion and a point of view on it, but we don't want to manage social media programs. We want to be you know the email critical business partner for you know large brands and growing brands. So, kind of making a reconfirmation of who we were and are we okay with it, that was really an important part and then I think you know like a lot of entrepreneurs you know at some point you're either going to grow or you're kind of stay the same and maybe it's a very comfortable existence and the desire for me and our team and was thankfully organic and client-driven was hey let's go along for this growth ride that our clients want more from us. We can handle it. The market is saying that there's an increased demand of services that we were already providing and it could go deeper on, so you know took the risk of moving from a really comfortable stable business that maybe didn't have a ton of risk and then where you're tripling in a few year period then you know there's a lot more risk, there's a lot more reward on that but you have to really be willing to kind of go all in to rock the boat on a you know comfortable entrepreneur gig to go for that bigger growth ride and that's been – you know, I had to reinvent myself during that period as well as the business has been really interesting and certainly worth it.
Steve: Yes. It's a really good time for people to kind of reflect for themselves you know what's important to them right. If you decide to double down and get into that growth mode, there's a cost to it right. Obviously, it sounds like, and I'll dive into this maybe a little further with Simms, but you know when he says he has to reinvent himself that means he probably had to add on some additional skills and learn how to cope with the growth and develop systems and people. Is that fair to say Simms?
Simms: Absolutely. You're spot-on and that's not easy particularly for you know control freak entrepreneurs that are used to doing it themselves because it's cheaper/better or it’s the only way that you know, but that's not a scalable thing. And you know I think there was a hard kind of awakening for me moving from at one point I was you know an email marketer that happened around an agency and then at one point I was running the agency and was less of an email marketer, that was uncomfortable for me for a little bit and then when you move to a growth-oriented mode you've got to just be really comfortable delegating and hiring and empowering awesome people and let them do their thing, which you know again take some time in the comfort level for most entrepreneurs to let go, that's easily one of the things I'm sure you can agree. It’s hardest for people like us that you know know what success looks like and know how to get there and want to do it all themselves and do it quickly.
Steve: Well, without a doubt myself included are kind of entrepreneurs in general that the hard wiring is often to be great technicians right and since reflected on this idea that you know hey I was a great email marketer, I just happened to throw an agency on top to try to you know make a business out of it and that's often how these ideas come about right. I'm really good at this, so let's make it into something bigger. The transition to go from great technician into great leader is very difficult and for a lot of us we struggle not just giving up the control, but just even the skills of how do you interface with people, you know how do you – to empower them as you described earlier. I've made so many mistakes and you know continue to learn today on how to manage and help people grow. It's a very tough business and it's quite a different thing than learning the actual technical skill of executing whatever that happens to be in your case email marketing. Is that – do you agree with that?
Steve: Yes. It's definitely a journey. So, Simms let's just back up just for a minute if you don't mind and actually before we dive into do your origin story just for a little bit, I want to take a quick break and we'll be right back after this Awesomers.
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Steve: Okay. We're back again everybody and since I always like to get a sense because you're a successful entrepreneur, you know your agency is responsible for four big national brands like you know Equifax or Mattress Firm, Aflac, Chick-a-fil – these –Chick-fil-A, is that how they call it? What's their proper name?
Simms: Yes, you're right, yes Chick-fil-A.
Steve: Chick-fil-A, yes. They don't really have that many of them out here in Washington. I think there was just one, but these are big brands. Everybody knows these names and when I think of you know the growth of you guys as an agency to where you're now the you know the predominant supplier for these guys it makes me really proud. I'm excited for you. How do you feel about it?
Simms: Oh, likewise yes and you know it's been a journey to work with some of the world's best brands and you know it hasn't always been a smooth one, but yes there's a tremendous amount of pride and you know candidly there's a lot of pressure that comes along with you know you want the win and you know the world's best brand hire you and then sometimes there's a gosh that's a great deal of responsibility that I personally feel and that our agency needs to feel to you know and trust you know we're communicating with their customers, which is the number one asset for all these customers, so it's a really big deal.
Steve: Yes. I appreciate the fact that you guys have that sense of responsibility and I always picked that up in the old days when I was involved with the company where we were a client of yours it was very clear that not just you as the leader, but the team that you had on the job they were you know taking seriously the responsibilities and the execution of the strategies and so on and obviously that's why you guys have been successful, but let's go back in time a little bit. Tell us where were you born?
0:23:10 (Simms tells us about his origin story.)
Simms: Baltimore, Maryland.
Steve: All right, so East Coast, northeast even and were your parents entrepreneurial or what did they do?
Simms: No. Yes. My mom was a teacher, my dad was a financial adviser and worked for Morgan Stanley for 30+ years, so you know pretty traditional, conservative careers. My grandfather had entrepreneurial streak and started a few companies and did some different things. So he was the influence in our family, but it wasn't something certainly that was on my radar even you know leading up to the right when BrightWave was created of I'm the type of person that I want to have a business, my own business. That is not something that I was thinking about in college or out of college or you know I wish that I had that maybe Drive or vision, but I did.
Steve: Fascinating. So, obviously you went to college. How did you like that experience?
Simms: Oh, couldn't get enough of it. You could plug me back in college right now. So yes, I went to a liberal arts school called Denison University in Ohio, really small school and it’s a great experience, you know really smart kids from all over the country and you know it was a school that I was very involved with, vice president of student government, did a lot of different things you know kind of a big fish in a small pond. But I was a history major, which really just meant I was unemployed when I graduated with no idea of what I wanted to do so.
Steve: I was wondering what history majors do, so now I know. So, what was your first job coming out of university given that it probably wasn't doing something with history?
Simms: Yes. You know, I actually got a job with the Olympic Committee in Atlanta which is what brought me here in 1996, which was just kind of lucky timing that the Olympics were going on that summer and had some connections and got a job with the Olympic Committee and you know it was more a way to get to somewhere that to me seem really exciting, less about the job, but it got me on an initial track of sports marketing, which certainly is one of those jobs that sounds cooler than it is particularly if you're a 22-year-old newly graduated college kid with lack of direction. So, it was a part of you know Atlanta post Olympics. There were just so much going on, still a lot of excitement and a lot sports marketing related energy and opportunities that came out of that Olympics.
Steve: Yes, that was quite a time for sure. How about was there a particular defining moment or moments that you know from that time you know the university and your first job with the Olympic Committee to now where you own your own successful big business that the you know a defining moment that put you on the road to where you are today?
Simms: I think it's probably more situation in kind of how do you act in times of crisis if we put it you know more bluntly. You know, I was a newly married guy and it was right after the dot-com era and bubble had crashed and 9/11 had happened, I got laid off from my job that otherwise I loved at Cox running the customer relationship management group and they were shutting a part of our business down and I needed to make money. I was you know a newly married guy with a mortgage and the job market was terrible. So, I did what most people you know have to do when there's not a lot of choices. I hustled and started doing some consulting and you know took some small side gigs helping people kind of with digital and with email and search and realized that an email was the number one thing that worked and it was a big focus of what I did at Cox. You know, it's the number one driver of site traffic. We spent a ton of money and there was just a huge void of like how do you do email successfully. Everyone kind of understood intuitively how it worked, but there was you know how do I set up a technology or how do I do it in the right way. And so there was just a big moment of I wasn't you know didn't have a brilliant business plan, but I was – my back was against the wall and I had to do something and that's kind of what drove me. So, it's not necessarily a very glamorous creation story, but it's you know certainly I think what you know I'm sure a lot of athletes come out of like you know my best game was when we were down three games to one and we had to win and that's sort of my view of you know I could either rise to the challenge or be defeated at an early age.
Steve: Well, definitely the back against the wall is a genesis for many businesses for sure and I actually really appreciate that. Has there been any big lesson that you have learned along the journey so far that you kind of want to share with maybe some of those who are still up-and-coming in this world?
Simms: Gosh, yes. Some of – a lot of them and I know I'm one of them is probably really good to document those lessons as well as the kind of historical wins and moments because you know whether it's 3 years or 15 I know and I've spoken to a lot of entrepreneurs that have kind of similar businesses they wished they almost had like pictures of their first office or they wished that they celebrated that early client win being a part of entrepreneur mindset is okay what's next versus savoring important milestones and there's certainly been plenty over the last 15 years or so. You know, I think when I look back at like critical moments where the business could have you know really suffered or taken a big step back and almost all of those times were filled with lots of really good impact by people other than myself, so I think the biggest lesson that I continue to learn is like you know really hiring awesome people and I know it's almost cliché for an entrepreneur, but it's really hard for a lot of entrepreneurs to do is hire almost you know people that are better than you, is what I found to be the case, a lot of ways of you know hire awesome people and really let them do their thing. Tell them what – you know what's the vision of what you're trying to create you know as a company and then roll and let them do it and that's been I think something that sometimes you learn the hard way when you try to do it all or maybe you hire the cheapest person or the most convenient versus the best. But I'm certainly you know as we've grown it's such a big believer in hiring the best talent makes you some exponentially better as an organization and you know we've really been lucky to have a great team and a lot of key people that have grown in different parts of our phases of our growth which is really how most entrepreneur organizations you know you might have that key first employee that doesn't make it to the second phase of the company and certainly not when you're a more mature organization. And we've had you know Brent Rosengren. He worked with our chief client officer. He’s been here almost 13 years and he's reinvented himself at every stage of the company and that's just almost unheard of that you have an early employee that still is essential to the success you know 80 employees later, which is really cool to see.
Steve: That really is amazing and Brent is a brilliant guy and, but it really is an evolution as the organization changes and you go from you know 2 to 5 to 10 to all the way up to 80 there are extraordinary differences and it can be quite difficult and even some of the early folks in the organization are like hey this isn't like it used to be right. It doesn't feel the same and so that can be a very tumultuous time and so I really appreciate that lesson learned being shared that you know not just to hire great people, but you know you have to prepare that evolution and you try to bring everybody along who is willing to kind of invest in themselves and reinvent themselves as you go because it is not the same, unequivocally not the same as it used to be right?
Simms: Correct. Yes.
Steve: How about this? Because you know you've been through a lot, was there ever a time whether it’s in your business or otherwise that you just kind of want to give up and kind of go back to the you know the 9-to-5 world and just kind of check out the entrepreneurial business? Anything like that ever come up to you, occur to you?
Simms: No, not once. Gosh, in fact if you’ve told me you know, my business I had to give it up and start over tomorrow, that would be incredibly painful and difficult and yes you know I think it's such an ongoing roller coaster ride that you know just as fulfilling on so many different levels that no, I have never thought of throwing in the towel.
Steve: Yes. It's funny because you know no matter how you feel as the that rollercoaster ride you described goes, it's very, it's almost incomprehensible to me for example no matter the darkest times I can be in for me to consider well yes, I'll just go get a 9-to-5 job. It would just – it would be very difficult for me. That said and of course you know, there's other times where it's like yes maybe I should pivot a little bit because this is a lot of work or it's not working or whatever. How about do you have any tools as a leader, as a CEO that you use maybe on a day-to-day basis that you find either indispensable or highly valuable to your day-to-day work?
0:32:58 (Simms talks about the tools that he uses as a leader and CEO of BrightWave. )
Simms: Well, I've hired really smart people. I think – yes, I'm a big LinkedIn proponent. I think it's incredible you know not only ways for someone like you and I that cross paths awhile ago to stay in touch. It's a great educational tool. It's really good from a business development and marketing standpoint. I think a lot of people really underutilized it or maybe view it as you know it's like Facebook for work and don't see the value out of it I think that's a big kind of miss. You know, there's so many good resources whether they're podcast or you know Twitter is one of those rabbit holes I try not to go down too deep because it can just, you know you can go in a lot of directions and next thing you know you spend three hours, but there's – you can really read the mind of a lot of really smart people and it's you know certainly seeing how Elon Musk and Donald Trump use Twitter just shows you that it's not again sort of the siloed third tier messaging thing anymore. It’s, you know, it's a way to completely see what very prominent people are thinking almost in real time. So, I've used a lot of you know kind of social media recon to read about whether it’s competitors or just people that are really smart and I want to know what they're thinking about.
Steve: Sure. Sure. No. It makes perfect sense to me. I do also agree that both the opportunity to have kind of the spotlight into the mind of other people you know whether it's the Elon Musks of the world or you know anybody else, just to be able to have a little spotlight you know directly from them is a very unique thing that Twitter delivers and LinkedIn is quite underutilized and can be a very good conduit to maintain relationships over the years. You know, we're going to take a quick break and when we come back I'm going to ask you to get out your crystal ball and tell me the future, so get that ready. We'll be right back after this.
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Steve: Okay everybody, we're back again. Steve Simonson here, Awesomers.com podcast joined by Simms Jenkins and Simms and I have done business way back in the day and their agency has just continued to blow up. He's a really bright guy and a thought leader in the space of not just email, but you know kind of the general customer journey and so much about digital marketing is about that and so I'm privileged to have you on the show today. Thank you for joining us Simms. I do want to ask you though to get out your crystal ball and tell us in five years what do you see changing in this – the digital marketing space or the email space specifically whatever you care to pontificate about. Give us some thoughts about that future.
0:36:07 (Simms gives his predictions on the future of the digital marketing space.)
Simms: Gosh, you know five years is such a long time in our world. I used to write a lot of like prediction columns in different publications and I've gotten away from that because it’s so easy to be wrong. I think you know data is going to continue to be such a big thing and it's going to be from a marketer's standpoint a huge asset. People are going to continue to use data in a bigger way and it's going to become somewhat of a potential liability too or you know I think some of the backlash of social media companies in Google and how they use data is something that it’s going to be you know top of mine and it's going to be a CEO level type conversation not just CIO, CTO, CMO, so I think that's something to really keep an eye on. In my world, you know I think email is going to continue to be one of the most important parts of the marketing mix and really the hub of the consumer experience, but there'll probably be two or three new platforms that people are using to communicate a message with brands and each other and those probably having a or haven't even been born yet and I think that's incredibly fascinating to see you know what will come and how will it change. Again, I am not a believer in that these things will kill one another. It’s more how you add it to the mix, how will people use it and then how do you take advantage of it if you're a smart brand. I mean there's very few brands that are leveraging probably Instagram or Snapchat in a meaningful way, but I guarantee you it's on the radar of every kind of B2C CMO out there. It doesn't mean that you go all-in and you kill your search and your email budget to dive into Instagram, but there's a lot of you know the boards want to know how are we taking advantage of you know the latest shiny object for sure.
Steve: Without a doubt. Those are I think very salient predictions because you know things aren't going to change and I actually appreciate the fact that you know you've predicted that you know something or potentially more than one something is going to come along that will continue to help modify this experience that the consumers are having whether it's you know social media, a messenger platform, you know the evolution of WhatsApp and even Apple, you know the Apple messaging system. Obviously, Facebook messaging is already highly being moved into for marketing, but Apple has opened up their messaging system for advertisers to start talking directly to people with iPhones now. What's your thoughts about that? How's that going to impact the world if any – it's at all?
Simms: I don't know, but if – you know, there's the big companies, you know, the ones you have to really watch out because they can move kind of the tides faster than others, but yes I think anything Apple does, anything Google does you have to really pay attention to. They've also struck out on some pretty big things too, so it's not necessarily oh my gosh they're launching this, therefore the world is changing, but you certainly want to make sure that you're aware of the kind of the currents there.
Steve: So, if I read between the lines you're saying Google+ is the next big thing, did I get it right?
Simms: Yes. Never say never, but yes they're – I think that Google+ maybe it wasn't one of the homeruns that some people thought would happen.
Steve: Yes. It is fascinating to see and you know we could go into all kinds of you know the hits and misses from all the biggest and best brands along the way and that's probably a good lesson for Awesomers out there that you know when something doesn't work you just kind of keep going, you try the next thing, you pivot, you do whatever you got to do and big brands know that and they carry on with life. Simms, are there any final words of wisdom you care to leave with the Awesomers out there listening? You know, many of these folks are maybe not quite as far along as you have you know 50 years of experience and 80+ employees and dealing with world-class brands, so they might you know appreciate a little wisdom from somebody like yourself. What would you share with them?
Simms: Yes. Well, I guess my focus of being somebody that's bootstrapped and hasn't raised money, I would say avoid you know the gravitational pull that our media sometimes brings us to where you know only the real success stories are the companies that have raised hundreds of million dollars or sold their companies for billions of dollars. You know, if you've got a small niche idea that's going to make an impact in some ways and there are going to be real customers out of it, who cares if you're going to sell it whether you're going to take out credit cards to get it going, you know, go for it and focus on really what your business problem solves and less on some of I think the sexy stuff that I know I've paid attention to when I was 24 and luckily you know the world changed before I got to start my company, but I thought it was you know the successful formula was basically you know you raised a couple hundred million dollars and then you sell your company for billions of dollars and it's almost like those are the only details that matter and every entrepreneur knows it's so hard, but the small kind of slow growth stories are really what makes up America and don't get too focused on you know the homeruns out there that you know most businesses take years to happen and you can turn it into a couple millions of dollars of – with little capital then you got yourself a great business and it's something worth your time. It's not just the ones that need to go raise you know a ton of money and I think some of those businesses get overshadowed and people gravitate towards the shinier things.
Steve: Oh boy, I think that's really good advice. You know, there's businesses of all kinds and all sizes that can make a huge impact in the lives of entrepreneurs and all the people around that entrepreneurial ecosystem right, the people who work there, the people who are doing gigs for that, so there's so much opportunity and I think that's really really wise advice. Thank you Simms for joining us today. I really appreciate your time and taking a – I know your busy CEO schedule is hard to find the time, but really appreciate you jumping on here with us today.
Simms: Thanks Steve. I really enjoyed it and thanks again for having me on.
Steve: Always, always a pleasure to talk to you, BrightWave.com, we’ll have all the links and a couple of the cool things that I saw in BrightWave.com, we'll put those links in the show notes everybody, so that everybody can kind of get out there and see some examples of some of the email campaigns they've done, really exciting stuff and Awesomers, we'll be right back after this.
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Steve: All right. So my apology, a little bit of the audio in and outs that happened there and our apologies, we just couldn't get a good internet connection, but it was such a good opportunity, just get a little flavor of what Simms does and what he has done in his life, a really impressive entrepreneur and somebody who's built this craft, this practice of email marketing into a very large and substantial agency. And I personally in one of my past companies have used his services and I found his team to be very talented. Not only were they talented and had all the skills that we needed, but they often would take the time to explain things and show us things that we wouldn't have otherwise understood. And I tell you you know email marketing is not just as simple as sending an email right. If your server is on you know the bad list, the naughty list so to speak, your emails are not even going to get through. Maybe your emails are being tagged automatically by Google and being thrown into the promotions tab, which is like you know like an invisible land. It's almost as bad as a spam box. There's so much to email marketing including the deliverability, including writing good copy and getting people to take action and including just the basic idea of creating and fostering relationships. Don't forget email marketing is alive and well and although there's other channels you can use and consider to be part of your marketing, don't forget the email is absolutely as important today as it's ever been. So, again, this was Episode number 50 of the Awesomers.com podcast series and just go to Awesomers.com/50 to get any links and relevant show notes and details that are related to this particular episode.
Well we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.