How the DAC Group Improves the Customer Journey

How the DAC Group Improves the Customer Journey

Mike Corak, Vice President and General Manager at DAC Group, joins the Content Experience Show to discuss parts of the customer experience that are often overlooked.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

All About the Customer Experience

The customer journey is built of many parts that should lead to a single, smooth operation from start to finish. Unfortunately, many content marketers tend to overlook seemingly less significant pieces. This oversight can lead to a jarring and even broken experience.

Mike Corak of DAC Group believes that these often neglected pieces of the customer journey are actually the most important. It may be easy to focus on what is considered core content, but initial touchpoints like localized content and point of purchase can be important determining factors for your sale.

By making sure that all of these smaller, peripheral pieces still line up with your core content and focusing on the customer journey, you can ensure a smooth process and seal up any “leaks” along the way.

In This Episode

  • How to stay involved as a leader without micromanaging
  • How to think from the client’s perspective
  • Why localized content is a vital part of the content strategy
  • How to plan and justify a content strategy budget with a client

Quotes From This Episode

“I think it’s easy to focus on shiny objects and the new things that are coming and forget that there’s still an end goal for the clients.” — @MikeCorak

To understand the customer experience, touchpoints, and what people want is critical. If you can do that, it can really inform the kind of content you're going to make. Click To Tweet

“If you go the route of content and customer experience first, you uncover a lot of opportunities and end up tying the story together better.” — @MikeCorak

When you're not taking advantage of all the content opportunities on the local level, you're missing that first impression opportunity. Click To Tweet


Content Experience Lightning Round

If someone handed you plane tickets for you and your family to go anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Mike is a huge fan of travel and takes an annual two-week vacation with his family. His dream would be to go to South America to be able to experience the various climates and cultures.

You are stuck on a desert island and you can only bring one album with you, what will it be?

Hearing the same lyrics all the time would drive him crazy. Mike says he would have to take something instrumental, deciding on John Coltrane’s Blue Train!

See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

Anna Hrach:Hey, everybody. Welcome to The Content Experience Show Podcast. I'm Anna Hrach from Convince & Convert. Now, ordinarily, I would say that I'm here with the amazing Randy Frisch from Uberflip, but he and the rest of his team are actually in the process of moving offices right now, so it is just you and me this week. We're actually flying this one solo. Thankfully, I was actually joined by my very good friend, the amazing Mike Corak, who is Vice President and General Manager of DAC Group in Louisville.
Now, we talk about a lot of really great stuff this week, and it's a lot of stuff that we haven't talked about on The Content Experience Show before. We talk a lot about personalization, and local search, and we talk about getting people all the way through the customer journey with a brand, and then kind of forgetting as marketers that there's still more to go. Just because we've gotten them to the point of conversion or to the point of purchase doesn't mean that they're actually going to convert, so we talk a little bit about how that experience at the end is actually so critical, and even just how localized content and local search content efforts can really just help brands grab some of that low-hanging fruit. Now, in addition to that, we also talk a lot about content organization, and content teams, and one of the things I think you're really going to love hearing about from Mike, is how even though he has this huge, fancy-pants Vice President/GM title, he is still very much involved in the day-to-day, and he has some great advice for everybody out there who is taking a next step up in their career, or content directors who are heading up into VP positions, or even content creators who are heading up in the manager roles. He has a lot of great advice for how you can still take that huge step up without really losing the edge that you have and really losing the understanding of the day-to-day, so it's a great show today.
Let's go ahead and bring Mike in. Mike, thank you so much for joining us toady on the Content Experience Show. I am so excited to have you here because you are one of my favorite people in the world, but just so everybody else can get to know the Mike Corak we all know and love, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
Mike Corak:Sure. What a sweet compliment. I'm a big Anna Hrach fan as well. Hello, everybody. I am Mike Corak.
Anna Hrach:Yay.
Mike Corak:I am the VP/GM of DAC Group's Louisville office, and we run the agency's business for everything south of Chicago coast to coast, and for those not familiar with us, we specialize in performance marketing, online, and work with clients where location matters. Most of our clients have some sort of physical footprint, and need to transact both online and offline.
Anna Hrach:You just dropped a massive title on everybody, but one of the things that I think everybody needs to know is how even though you are VP and you are General Manager of DAC's Louisville office, you can get down into the weeds, and you know how to pull the levers just like any practitioner does. How have you managed to really balance sort of growing into this VP position, overseeing all of your teams, while still really not losing that day-to-day?
Mike Corak:Good question. Yeah. Well I'm fortunate enough to be old enough where I can remember where this internet thing started, so my first position was essentially Project Manager for website builds, and back in those days, we were talking to clients about why having a website might be smart, and all the things that go along with that, so ...
Anna Hrach:Before everybody had a URL?
Mike Corak:Right. Exactly, and what is a URL? Maybe our mutual friend, Jay Baer had ... What did he have? I think he had Did you ever hear of that story?
That's a good one. If you haven't, you need to ask him about that. Yeah.
Anna Hrach:Yeah, I did, how basically that was back in the day when URLs were just available, and brand names were just up for grabs.
Mike Corak:That's right, and Guinness 00:04:10 flew him and his buddy out for a tour of the facility in exchange for the URL. That's a good story to ask him about. Yeah.
Anna Hrach:Nice.
Mike Corak:Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I've kind of come up in the industry having my hands down, down in the weeds doing the work, and it's always been a philosophy of mine that staying close to it, or at least close enough to know how it's done will help you in all kinds of conversations. Today, most of my involvement with clients is help them to design the strategies with teams, explaining what that is to the people who write the checks, and making sure it ties to business and all that kind of stuff, but to do that, I've got to stay close enough to understand what the teams are putting together and kind of gut check it, so I tried to stay involved on that level. I'm not on every planning meeting with the teams.
I'm not necessarily in all the delivery meetings, but I'm definitely looking at reports and prepping for presentations, and staying close enough to it so I can understand if we're going to move the needle or not and deliver on the contracts that we're signing.
Anna Hrach:Nice. For a lot of content creators who are taking that next big step up, or even content managers that are becoming directors, directors who are becoming VPs, how do you help them understand how important it is to really understand how to pull the levers, and knowing which levers to pull without micromanaging your team and getting involved in their business still, and still being able to have that 50,000-foot view of everything that's going on, because it's no easy task, so how do you accomplish it?
Mike Corak:Yeah, and you know this from working together. I'm a big believer in planning, so I want to see ... As we work with clients and onboard them, I like to see an annual plan, "What are we going to do?", mapping out opportunities based on the research we're doing with them, all that kind of stuff from really from the get-go, so I think it's super important to be able to have an idea of what the work looks like three months, four months out, and through that, it forces you to ask a lot of questions, "What are we going to do not just tomorrow, but what are we going to do down the road, and what do we need from clients?", and all that kind of stuff. That's a good place I think for a manager to play and stay relevant. Your team will teach you what you don't know on the day-to-day, if there's a new Google Beta or a great new content tool, or that kind of thing, and so you can stay fresh that way, but if you stay in the planning phase, you know that you're going to get the business questions, and I think that's where a manager can really help the most.
I think it's easy to lose sight in our business, and really focus on kind of shiny objects and the new things that are coming, and forget that there's still an end goal for the clients that we work with, whether it's a sale, or getting a lead, or driving awareness. Whatever that business reason is, we want to make sure that we're still moving the needle there, and that's a great place for a manager to stay relevant. I also think on that level, you're probably working with clients to some degree. You're most likely having some senior level business conversations, and helping them tie the knots is important too. You want them to be able to internally defend the programs, be able to explain what's going on, make sure they keep their budget, that kind of stuff, and that keeps you around a while too, so there's some self-serving reasons to be relevant on that level, but I think that's a great place for managers, directors, VPs to stay connected with their teams.
Anna Hrach:I love that, so basically, like hire smart people, get out of their way, trust them, and ask really smart questions?
Mike Corak:Pretty much, yeah, and go to some of those client meetings. Be face-to-face on it when it makes sense, and make sure that you're accountable to them too. I think having that senior level contact at the client is always really, really important, and if you can give the elevator speech about the program you're running with them and what it's going to do, that's a nice place for you to play, and you don't really get in the way of the teams when you do that too.
Anna Hrach:You bring up a really good point about going to client meetings, and I think especially in the agency environment ... I came from the agency environments. Obviously, you and I work together. One of the things I think unfortunately is sometimes as agency people, we get so caught up, at least on the delivery side. We get so caught up with making recommendations to the client and creating programs that we think are going to be best, that sometimes we really forget to think from the client's perspective.
Based on your experience and sitting in in all these meetings, and being in the middle of the client and the delivery teams, what would you say to content teams who are maybe thinking too much about delivery, and if you could spin it around and help them see from the client's perspective, what would you say to them? What's some advice you would give?
Mike Corak:Yeah. It's a good question. I like how you framed that to sort of spin it around and put yourself in their shoes. Even if you have a client contact that's got a content title, they're still accountable to some sort of business metrics, so that's really the way I think you can rally that conversation and make sure it's relevant to them. They've likely fought for budget at that point, put something together internally to sell the idea of a good content program and what it's going to do for them, and I think where delivery teams, especially on the agency side can get caught off guard is they, like you're saying are focused on, "What's due on Friday, and what do I need to get it done?", that kind of thing, but aren't always thinking about, "What's this going to actually produce?", and make sure that you're having a business impact that you need, to because that's the part keeps your bills paid, and it might be the most important.
I know. I know just that little things, so clients love, especially in the content game ... Boy, don't they love production? That's hard to do, and when you're helping them in volume or work, even if it's just on the content strat side, creating really smart plans and tying it all together that has big value, but at some point, somebody with a finance title is going to look at that contract and say, "Hey, did we get that much business from this money that we spent?" If the answer is no, you probably are replaced at some point, so asking your contact, "Hey, when you go to your weekly department meeting, what are they talking about?", or "How are you being held accountable to this?", those are the really important questions I think to make sure that you can answer those, and your delivery teams know the answer to those too.
Anna Hrach:Yeah. I think it's so funny how, especially on the agency side, I think sometimes we forget that. It's not just our job to deliver amazing work and to help clients achieve their goals, but it's about really making our clients look like rockstars to their internal teams too, and just how far that can get you.
Mike Corak:Yup. No doubt about it. That's the trick.
Anna Hrach:All right. Last question before we jump into a quick break here to hear from our sponsors, when it does come to producing content for clients, and obviously, sometimes it can be a little bit expensive, and I think some clients are a bit unprepared for how much that content execution actually costs, so what are some tips that you would impart on to content teams for how to better sell content and justify that expense to clients?
Mike Corak:Yup. A great question. I keep going back to this planning crutch. Are you surprised? Let's start there. It is true, and that's the place to start the conversation, so when I'm either involved directly or coaching my teams on that, we like to set some of those expectations way upfront.
In fact, we may even do it in the sales process to really understand, help them understand what it's going to take, because you and I have both been there. The last thing you want to do is have an awesome content strategy that you know would work, and then you find out they have a budget to execute on about 10% of it, and if you knew ... I know, right? If you knew it upfront, you would make a plan that would do something with that 10% budget, but if you have unrealistic expectations, they can't do it, it ends up being just great ideas on paper. What I like to make sure is happening is that those expectations are set upfront, and it's not just content production, all right?
We have to think about in most cases, some sort of media behind it or promotional kind of budget too that may go with it. We like to talk about the campaigns that might happen as their design too, and talk about different ideas on how to both produce and promote, and really get that stuff on paper so they know, and if you can get ahead of it, even if you don't know what the campaigns are and you can just make them, be marks on the calendar and put some general budget around them, it really helps them on their side, and as you know, most companies you work with can't just come up with money. They need to justify it in some way too, so if you can give them a head start, quarter, two, three out, and they know what is coming down the pipe, I think you set them up for success too, and you can at least alleviate some of those concerns that might come up. Then, I like to let people know what's behind it, so I like to be transparent around hours, say, "Okay. If we make a video, here's what that looks like for something you're talking about."
"It usually takes this much time", and if you can show them the effort behind it, that's a lot of times, especially if your client contact comes from the content world in a way, they can grasp onto that, and that's something that makes the price tag not feel so big, because they can understand what that effort is. "Okay, we need a brief. We need these different components of it. We're going to have to pay for talents", that kind of thing. It helps them I think justify it too. Then, worse come to worst, if they're still having a hard time with it, I like to compare some of that effort against some of the other things they may be doing. Let's say you've got a client that has commercials.
You can say, "Hey, what does one of those commercials cost you?" "This thing could probably drive you similar impact, and it may cost 5% of that, or 10% of that", so putting it on relative terms sometimes helps too, and may plant some seeds on where they can get the budget if the budget is fixed.
Anna Hrach:Nice. I love that, so obviously planning. I think we've talked planning. Now, one of the things that we're going to do, so we're going to take a quick break to hear from our sponsors, but, Mike, hold that thought because when we come back, I want to talk a little bit more about how you guys are actually doing this at DAC and how you're doing contents, so everybody, hang in there real quick. We're going to take a quick break and hear from our sponsors, and we're going to come back and talk to Mike Corak a little bit more about content and how his team executes.
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Hey, everybody. Welcome back. We are here with Mike Corak, who is VP and General Manager of DAC's Louisville office. Mike, before the break, we were talking about planning and helping to justify budgets and things like that, but what I would love to talk about is you had mentioned at the start of the call that you and your team are actually creating content for clients who have both digital and physical presences, which is super, super interesting because I don't think we talk a lot just in general as an industry and as content creators about localized content enough, but your team is doing that pretty much every day, right?
Mike Corak:Yeah. It's definitely part of our DNA. The agency came up through the print business, and got quickly into map channels, those kind of things in the late '90s, early 2000's, and then from there, it was natural to grow capabilities and search, and content creation, and promotion, and that kind of stuff, all these things that ended up getting under this performance umbrella, but yeah. Through that, a lot of our clients just became retailers, or people on the financial fields, medical, those kind of things, where there was some sort of transaction face-to-face and the need to promote that online.
Anna Hrach:When you talk about localized content, maybe you can help clarify, you're talking about things like local search, and listings, and things like that, which is so important because it's not typically considered part of like the 'Content ecosystem'.
Mike Corak:Yeah.
Anna Hrach:I feel like it gets forgotten about a lot. Is that just me or you seen that too?
Mike Corak:Yeah, for sure, and it's an afterthought on top of it. A lot of times, it's a whole different team that's with content needs that may not have been included in a content strategy. We're planning upfront, so a lot of times, what you'll find is very generic, not well-thought out content that's plugging holes on those levels, and the disappointing part about that is oftentimes, for a consumer, that's the first touchpoint and maybe the most important. You've got your phone out, and you're trying to find a store, or you want to call somebody, and that's where the beginning of some sort of transaction is going to take place, so when you're not taking advantage of all the content opportunities on that level, you're missing that first impression opportunity in many cases, at least closer to the bottom of the funnel where you're going to start transacting. There's a lot more to it too, right?
You've got search, and you've got these listings, but it quickly gets to a website, so think of all the money everybody is spending on media for paid search, and social, right? These are all places that enter into core content pretty quick, so that connection to it is pretty important too.
Anna Hrach:What's crazy too is it seems like whenever we go to conferences, and whenever a lot of times, content marketers talk about content or content strategists talk about content, we're talking a lot about either core content or product content, or a really high funnel content, but isn't it ... I don't have the exact stat on me. I really wish I did, but isn't it something ridiculous, like 90% of people that hit a local listing or hit a local search listing are pretty much ready to buy? It's something ridiculous like that, right?
Mike Corak:Yeah. I mean, it's super low on the funnel. Yeah, and it is. I know what stat you're talking about. I think it's 90% have intent at that point, and then ... Gosh, I saw a stat the other day that said, "Nearly 50% of some company's transactions have that touchpoint involved", which is pretty wild.
Anna Hrach:One, it's crazy to think that's one of the most forgotten pieces of content that we create, is that's sort of like, "Oh, it's a Yelp listing", or "Oh, it's a Google Places listing, or Google Maps", but it's like if 90% of the people ... Again, this is not the exact stat, but if that intent is so high, it's such low-hanging fruit to just grab and create such a great experience for them.
Mike Corak:Yup. No doubt, and you and I have done this before, right? Print out a bunch of those touchpoints and throw them on a table, and put them next to your content strat and your core content, and see how they match up, and a lot of times, they don't. That's a big, big opportunity for a content strategist out there to think about, "Hey, let me really understand every touchpoint I've got with somebody, and their journey from maybe that listing, or the landing page through to a question being answered or a transaction, or some other engagements, and then let's see if we're telling the same story", and I think you'll find a lot of times, you're not.
Anna Hrach:It's funny too to think speaking about a customer experience where if you were to take every care and consideration to get them to purchase or up to that purchase point, and then just [inaudible 00:21:32] and say like, "Okay. They want to purchase, so they're good to go", but if that purchase and that finding a store, or even getting to a physical location, or just finding the information, that final piece of information they need is so difficult, they could completely abandon still. They haven't officially purchased yet, so to just abandon them right before that seems kind of silly.
Mike Corak:Without a doubt, and that's a place where smart digital people will also kind of vulture traffic from others too, right? If you see somebody's not doing some basics like buying their brand name or making sure that they're showing up in a map channel, you could have already paid three, four times for touchpoints to get them that far, and to have a black hole there is pretty interesting, and what we'll see, and we do it too for some of our clients when it makes sense, but that's a good place to either create some content and try to insert it in that part of the journey, even if it's for another brand or buy a brand name, a paid search, or use some of those tactics to go basically find those people that are ready, but may not be able to find the competitor's brand in some way or engage with it, and then offer them up something very similar from somebody they may have heard of, and a lot of times, that's some of the most efficient traffic that you can get because those people are ready to buy.
Anna Hrach:In terms of team structure and organization, how does this typically look? If you had your wishlist or your dream team put together, how would this work itself either into existing departments or how do you structure department to support some of this local content?
Mike Corak:Sure. That's a great question. Not on like other campaigns, if you've got a client that's willing, we would still want to start with some really good research phase upfront that would lead into a good content strategy and customer experience sort of plan, and I know that sounds crazy, even if it's for something like search, but to understand customer experience and touchpoints and what people want is really critical, and if you can do that, then it can really inform the kind of contents you're going to make. A layer that goes on top of that when you're thinking that way would be if localization too, so "How do you make a quick-serve restaurant stand out from a local restaurant? What are some of the things that can happen in the content arena to do that?" If you can really understand the customer, and then make it relevant to the area in some way, there's a lot of opportunity to win.
Long story short there, I think starting with a good research phase, and also auditing and looking at competitors and looking for holes is all part of that process, and it's ... I like to say local is really just a lens. If you still have all the tactics there that you can use, it's just a matter of really planning it through on that level, and then working your way up to sort of core content and those strategies too, and making sure that those stories are all really working together. Then, I think once you get through that auditing and planning phase, that's when you bring in the tactical people, and you can really ask, "Hey, SEO person, where do you need content? Here's the strategy we're thinking about."
"Let's make sure that you get your order, and local listings, team, where the places that we can impact with content. Where are you planning on sending that traffic, media teams? Here's the story. What do you think you can buy? What sort of stuff are you going to need?", and really make sure everybody's putting their order in.
If you go that route content and customer experience first, you uncover a lot of opportunities, and you end up tying the story together better. If you start what most people do at just the tactic, you'd lose that opportunity to think a little bit bigger, and then you really just filling holes. "What can I do? Okay. A listing's got a place for a video and some images, and I can put this description, and, okay, just let me go fill those in", right?
Anna Hrach:Yeah. A good first step for anybody who's not doing this, is to literally just find those gaps, find maybe what's not optimized, find those missing videos, missing images, and then obviously, as they take steps actually, bringing multiple teams together to really build up that experience, right?
Mike Corak:I think so. That's the way to do it. Yeah, and I think you get a lot further quicker when you take that sort of approach, because again, a lot of these teams are disjointed, the person in charge, especially on the client side in charge of some of these things may not ever talk to a strategist internally. It can literally be, "Hey, I'm in charge of SEO, and I've got these parts in the responsibility funnel. I'm going to fulfill them, and go." If they don't get to talk to the content strat person, there's a big mess on both sides.
Anna Hrach:For sure. No. I love it, and I think this is just something, and, Mike, I'm so glad you were able to come on and talk to us about this today because localization and local content is just not something that I think our industry talks about enough, and especially its importance within the customer journey especially. If you wouldn't mind, we would love to have you stick around for just a little bit longer. Now that we got to know a little bit about you on the professional side, we're going to ask you some personal questions. How's that sound?
Mike Corak:Look out. I'm ready.
Anna Hrach:Awesome. All right. After this break, we're going to come back and we're going to talk to Mike a little bit more about his personal side. All right, Mike. I know you pretty well from working with you in the past.
I don't think we clarified this before, but you were actually my boss at one point, which I'd like to just say now, "I'm sorry."
Mike Corak:I hope you're not actually. Oh no, I loved working with you. I don't know. You're like, "I'm kind of sorry, but it's your fault."
Anna Hrach:I'll just blame all my bad habits on you, and then it's all good. I know you pretty well, but I would love for everybody to get to know you better as well, so we have a couple of personal questions for you. First, one of the things that I do know about you is that you love to travel, and you take a massive vacation every year. A huge, huge vacation.
Mike Corak:We do. That's true story.
Anna Hrach:Yes, and it's like about two weeks, right?
Mike Corak:Yes. Yeah. That's the rule in our house, and as you know, my wife as well, she likes to make sure I go somewhere far where I can't be on my phone or doing emails, or those kind of things too, so we actually have family time, which is important.
Anna Hrach:Nice.
Mike Corak:You also know that one of our mutual friends goes with us that has the same problem I do, so his family is pretty into that plan as well.
Anna Hrach:For sure. Yeah. It's really important to get some of that time out and break time in there. Let's say somebody handed you plane tickets for you and your family to go anywhere in the world right now. Where would you go?
Mike Corak:You know where I've been wanting to go, and I haven't been able to convince the rest of this crew for it yet, but I want to go to South America, and I've just not been. I've been to most of the rest of the world, but I haven't spent much time there, and I think the extreme weather differences, and different cultures that I haven't been exposed to are pretty interesting. I hate to say it because I don't like doing those kind of things, but maybe like a part-cruise or something so you could see a few different ones, or at least give me a big, giant van where I can drive everybody around would be good, but it's so big. Yeah, a normal plan of just driving around would be a little tricky there, I think.
Anna Hrach:Yeah, and I've actually heard that some of those multi-day cruises are getting better where you get to spend more time in the cities you actually get to visit, so maybe they have one for South America.
Mike Corak:Yeah. Maybe they do. Yeah. I just need a lot of Dramamine, and yeah, and hugs to get through it. Yeah. I have a little queasy stomach, but we'd figure it out.
Anna Hrach:All right. Aside from getting seasick, maybe one of the things you could do in addition to Dramamine is listen to music because you are a massive music nerd, so maybe some music would help calm you down, right?
Mike Corak:Yeah, I think it would. Yeah.
Anna Hrach:Yeah. Obviously, I know you're a big Vinyl fan, and you pretty much post ... I think pretty much every weekend, you post what you're listening to, and it's always something new and different and amazing, but what is your all-time favorite go-to band?
Mike Corak:Oh my God, that's impossible. One band for real of all-time? Okay. What is the scenario? I have to, just who I like the best or is it one of those on a desert island, or ...
Anna Hrach:Oh, man. Now, you threw me for a loop too. Okay. Let's go you are stuck on a desert island and you can only bring one album with you.
Mike Corak:One record, okay.
Anna Hrach:Yeah. You find like a coconut and like some palm needle that you get to play the record with.
Mike Corak:Yeah. I would ... Okay. That's tricky-tricky, and I'm going to give you a boring answer, but I think it's a true story, so I would probably bring something without lyrics because I think that would drive me crazy for that long.
Anna Hrach:You can make up your own lyrics too.
Mike Corak:Good, right? Something instrumental. I'm probably going to go with something like jazz because that gets your brain moving. You actually could do a little daydreaming, so I think I'd go John Coltrane, 'Blue Train' is my choice.
Anna Hrach:Nice.
Mike Corak:Yeah.
Anna Hrach:All right. Nice. Literally, mic drop, both a pun on your name and the record. Mike, thank you so much. That is all the time that we have for today. Unfortunately, I know this goes so fast, but it was so fantastic to have you on and hear your perspective about local content, and managing teams. Really appreciate all the insight you provided.
Mike Corak:Thanks so much. I think you have a great show going, and I'm honored to be on, so thank you for the opportunity.
Anna Hrach:Definitely. Thank you so much. All right, everybody. On behalf Randy Frisch at Uberflip, I'm Anna Hrach from Convince & Convert. This has been Conex: The Content Experience Show Podcast.
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