How Aquent Markets Freelancers to Marketers

How Aquent Markets Freelancers to Marketers

Aquent’s Jeff Gangemi joins the Content Experience Show to discuss creating content to engage other marketers and the business of being a freelance agency.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

Marketing to Marketers

Marketing marketing to marketers. Don’t worry, your screen isn’t glitching! This is how Jeff Gangemi describes his work at Aquent. And when you are marketing directly to other marketers, one thing is for sure: Quality is key!

At Aquent, the “products” are freelancers, and they are marketing directly to other businesses who are looking to augment their marketing teams. They’ve learned that to be successful, they have to take their content to the next level, pushing beyond basic messaging about staffing to bigger concepts that are applicable and entertaining.

Whether your business is B2B or B2C, marketing freelancers, goods, or services, Aquent is a great example of how to approach content. By holding yourself to a higher standard and going beyond the minimum of what might catch the attention of the general public, you will be well ahead of the curve and setting your business up for even greater success.

In This Episode

  • How businesses are balancing in-house teams with freelancers.
  • How to utilize content when marketing to marketers.
  • Why quality is key with content geared towards marketers.
  • How to move beyond content about staffing when marketing freelancers.

Quotes From This Episode

Make high-quality content. You can't mess around and hope it works out. Click To Tweet

“At Aquent, we market marketing to marketers.” — @jeffgangemi

“Framing content in a bigger-business-strategy way of looking at things attracts different eyes that wouldn’t normally be attracted to staffing as a practice.” —@jeffgangemi

Resources

Content Experience Lightning Round

Was it the job or the surf that took you to the West Coast?

It was a bit of both, and it was great to get away from those long Vermont winters!

Have you ever seen a shark while surfing?

Jeff has never seen a shark in person, despite surfing in some pretty sketchy waters known for shark encounters!

See you next week!

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Episode Transcript

 
Randy Frisch: Welcome to Conex, the Content Experience Show. I'm Randy Frisch from Uber Flip and Anne is here with me from Convince and Convert. We are really excited about this podcast. We're gonna buzzword the shit out of this, and I had to drop that because our guest dropped the S word in the middle, and now, at least you know what you're getting into. So if you're not prepared for that, drop off this podcast right now. But he did it in a very genuine way, maybe less so than I did there. And this was actually a really honest talk about the misconceptions around outsourcing some of our talent, but also, misconceptions on marketing buzz words.
Anna Hrach: Yeah, we talk about the whole ecosystem, and there's a lot of action items. I'm trying to think of more buzz words, but I'm failing here. Yeah, we actually have this really funny piece where he did this entire buzz word campaign, which I think everybody listening will appreciate because it's always good to take a step back and have a little bit of fun with ourselves and have a sense of humor about sometimes we catch ourselves saying these buzzy things. And I die a little inside when I say them, so I know everybody else out there does, too.
Randy Frisch: Absolutely. And he, by the way, is Jeff Gangemi. He's at a company called Aquent where he's director of marketing communications. I think sometimes, when we think of some of these third party ways that we can get content created, we think that they're gonna come in and just talk about what they do with their clients, but this is actually them figuring out how they're gonna approach their content strategy. Which I found really interesting, because as Jeff put it, they are marketing ... It's a tongue twister. They're marketing marketing to marketers.
Anna Hrach: To marketers. Yeah, so anybody feels like having a little game of bingo on this one, if you wanna ping us with the count of times we say marketing marketing to marketers, I think that'd be great. But no, it's really a great theme for this entire show because that's what he does.
Randy Frisch: I have a better idea. How about get a beer, or get a bottle of tequila. J Bear love tequila, so in honor of J Bear, grab a bottle of tequila. And every time we say marketing on this podcast, take a shot. You won't make it to the end of the podcast if you do that, and it's a good one, so you may wanna do a sip each time.
Anna Hrach: Yeah, maybe like a beer, like a light beer.
Randy Frisch: A light beer, I like it.
Anna Hrach: It's a lot. Yeah.
Randy Frisch: Yeah. Just so you know, light beer in Canada versus light beer in the US I think has a very different meaning because light beer in Canada doesn't actually mean a lower alcohol content, it just means lower calorie. I think that's different in the US, right?
Anna Hrach: Yeah, so in the US, it means lower calorie. But it's typically lower alcohol, too.
Randy Frisch: Okay, I think we're all about the alcohol up here, so ...
Anna Hrach: Yeah, that's why I love Canada.
Randy Frisch: Absolutely. Amazing, so let's roll this. I think you can tell this is gonna be a fun one. And Anna, you brought him in, so here we go.
Anna Hrach: Jeff, thank you so much for joining us today. It's so great to have you here.
Jeff Gangemi: Well, thank you Anna and Randy for having me. I appreciate it.
Anna Hrach: Yeah. So we got to know you a little bit before we started recording here, but just so everybody else gets to know Jeff a little bit, can you just tell everybody a little bit about yourself and your role?
Jeff Gangemi: Yeah, so Jeff Gangemi. My role is director of marketing communications for Aquent. Aquent is I believe the oldest digital creative and marketing staffing agency in the world. About a 31 year old company that continues to grow and innovate as we go. But we essentially, and in my role, we market marketing to marketers. It's hard to say that correctly.
Randy Frisch: I love that. It's so hard, but it's high stakes.
Jeff Gangemi: It's high stakes. If we don't pull it off, if we don't do proper quality marketing, who's gonna work with us. It's an interesting spot to be in.
Anna Hrach: Okay, break this down for us. So you're marketing marketing to marketers. So what does that actually look like?
Jeff Gangemi: Good question. So we work with the vast majority of the Fortune 500. And what we essentially do is help them find the best talent to supplement their marketing, creative, and digital activities. Obviously, everyone's talking about digital transformation, digital marketing. How do big companies, small companies, medium sized companies execute their marketing initiatives at scale? How do they access freelance or flexible workforces to, say, bring in somebody to do a project? We help them understand the benefits of working with freelancers, how they can access them, and how they can really just get world class creative marketing type work done at scale.
Randy Frisch: So I'm just curious on that, Jeff, and we're not gonna talk too much about the company. We wanna talk more today about some of the tactics you're doing which I think are really interesting and really effective. I'm curious your perspective on how things have matured on that content creation side because I'm hearing a lot of people saying they're bringing these teams in house now. That they've proven that they can manage it and can work, which is different than five, ten years ago when we were all trying to build our content team. So how much of a balance do you see these days in terms of what people want in house and what they want to outsource or partner on?
Jeff Gangemi: That is a great question, and I think that there's various answers to that, depending on the exact function you're talking about. If you're talking about content creation broadly, like across design, content marketing, creative of various sorts, video, for example, as well. It seems to me that we've been doing some content actually specifically for tech companies, luxury retail organizations that are actually bringing more and more in house. Having the most critical functions that they undertake, as grand dependent type stuff really internally. And then outsourcing and using not agencies, because agency tends to be, of course, very highly quality, high cost work.
But the production work using external vendors, staffing agencies, to execute some of that stuff. So keeping the high value stuff internally. It seems to be a focus a [inaudible 00:06:42]
Randy Frisch: So if you could say, and I know I'm putting you on the spot here, so we can always edit this out. But if you were to look at one role that maybe five years ago was not in house, it's been brought in house. What would that role be? And then maybe one that you just think still people do wanna find that partnership for.
Jeff Gangemi: Shit. I don't know. I don't know if I have an answer for that.
Randy Frisch: I love when we're getting the real ... I love when I just nail someone with an answer, and their only reply is, "Shit." That's dead on.
Jeff Gangemi: Experience in the industry. I don't really know in our industry. I haven't been in it long enough to really know.
Randy Frisch: Okay. That's fair. We are not editing this out, just for the record.
Anna Hrach: I know. I was gonna say I hope this doesn't get edited out, because I feel like it's such a great, real answer where it's like ...
Randy Frisch: All right, before I give another tricky one, you jump in. I can't give Jeff two tough ones back to back.
Anna Hrach: Yeah, all right. You're right. So actually, Jeff, I actually had a question about your day to day, which is how are you supporting Aquent with the content efforts, and what are you building out? Because you're working on the marketing side of things, not necessarily the hiring side, right?
Jeff Gangemi: That's right. So again, we market marketing to marketers. We essentially, since coming in, when I came in, we had one or two key pieces of content that drove our lead generation over the course of ... Basically, relied on two pieces for the entire year.
Anna Hrach: Two pieces. Just two pieces alone.
Jeff Gangemi: Two pieces of content alone, and that is not a lot as we know in this modern age. The fact that there's a ridiculous amount of clutter out there is another matter, but still, I think anyone would argue that we needed to ramp up our efforts. So I established a team. It's funny, because we were just talking about outsourcing versus what you keep in house. But I brought in a team of freelancers and a freelance editor to help me ramp up. So what we ended up doing was building out personas, as most modern marketers will do, making sure we created one or two really pillar type pieces for each of those personas. And then supplemented through video, blog, various other formats to try to drive awareness and engagement, and lead capture, qualified lead capture of course, around those pillar pieces of content.
So that was the first base level, going from zero to something. Then, we moved on to more of that sales support model, where we started looking at how do we support, and we've got a sales force. It sounds funny when you're selling marketing to marketers, you actually have hands on people out in the field. We're, in the end, selling people. So we started to develop content, again, utilizing this big freelance talent work force that we help our clients engage with to put together all sorts of content geared toward getting the foot in the door. The awareness within key accounts and key verticals.
So for instance, we just put out a great interview with the global creative director for Spotify, who just won a big award for having the in house creative agency of the year. That's the kind of content that drives awareness among our key verticals and technology, but is just broadly of interest as anyone in the creative field is interested in how do you balance that same question that Randy was asking. How do you balance the in house versus the outsource. So getting the true expert perspective from world class creatives is really where we're going. Hopefully, that answered the question.
Anna Hrach: Yeah. It did and then some. And I actually even have a question about some of the stuff you were just going through. Obviously, it's an easy pick to create content about outsourcing and the benefits of outsourcing, right? Obviously, you guys probably have that nailed down. That's your core strength, your core pillar. But how did you expand that conversation into additional topics? There's really only so much you can say about outsourcing without being super repetitive in terms of, "Outsourcing is great, outsourcing is wonderful."
So how did you expand that pillar, and what are some of those other pillars that you started including to mix up the content and get a more diverse topic range?
Jeff Gangemi: That's a very good question. So I don't know if I would even frame it as outsourcing. We actually have an outsourcing arm called Aquent Studios, where people can actually have a managed service, like a team that's not their team, but a creative team either on their site or externally. Not that that's particularly important to this conversation.
Anna Hrach: Sorry, I used it as a blanket term, whether it's freelancers, or temporary hires.
Jeff Gangemi: Yeah, accessing the flexible workforce.
Anna Hrach: Yeah.
Jeff Gangemi: So moving beyond that, it's just framing it as ... I think what was interesting to me as a former Business Week Journalist, is taking it out of that realm of staffing. Okay, that gets stale quickly. But if you frame it in these bigger, more strategic business framework or way of looking at things, I think that really attracts additional people and different eyes that wouldn't normally be attracted to staffing as a practice. So for instance, the gig economy, generally, it's a buzz word, it is upon us. Obviously, 40% to 50% of our work force is gonna participate in some way in the next few years.
So how do you frame that, and frame it in a way that large companies, how they will see value in their ability to better access gig workers. So how do you take staffing and then take it up a couple levels into the strategic accessing skill sets and talent to drive business and strategic initiatives forward.
Anna Hrach: Nice. So it's really looking at what's going to engage and then building out content from there. Well, Jeff, hang in there for a quick second. I wanna dive definitely more into this, and you actually mentioned buzz words, which I know you did an entire campaign around. So I'd love to chat about that, but real quick, we're gonna take a quick break from our sponsors and a special message from Jay.
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Randy Frisch: All right, we're back here with Jeff and we're talking all about how to market marketing to marketers. And I think that just makes this podcast episode so much fun for us as marketers. And one of the things that you sent me, Jeff, in the last few weeks, we've been exchanging. I don't know if it was LinkedIn messages, or emails, but you sent me this awesome video that you produced. And it appealed to me because I'm a marketer, and I'm struggling sometimes with what certain things mean. And it was this one on buzz words we'd said earlier. It was all about attribution modeling, which I'm not gonna even try to explain because I always butcher it.
But your video nailed it, it was fun, it was such high quality. Maybe you can talk about not just the finished output there, but how that process went about putting this piece together.
Jeff Gangemi: I would love to because we're still in the thick of it. It's a series, an ongoing series that we're working on.
Randy Frisch: Buzz word alert. Series is actually a good take off on the last podcast we did with Amy Landino, where we were talking about video and how these video series are the new thing. So you are all over buzz words, Jeff.
Jeff Gangemi: Yes. So essentially what we did, so we've got a focus around, obviously, marketing marketing to marketers. We have a focus on obviously digital marketing. It's an emerging field rife with buzz words. So what we did was create a gated piece called our digital marketing hiring guide. Clear value proposition, right? Helping teams understand some of the key roles they need on their marketing team. We thought it would be fun really to tie each of the key roles, say marketing automation, for example, or SEO to individual buzz words that we hear about, butcher, misquote at parties, et cetera. And also, as a way to drive traffic to this long piece of content. We wanted to have something fun and attention grabbing, particularly across social media. So again, we put together this list of some really fun buzz words, obviously started with attribution modeling.
And I recently relocated to Los Angeles from snowy cold Vermont. And aside from the weather being better, we have, it turns out, access to a little bit of video production talent around here. So we have an internal agency guy named Bennie Grenell, too legit, who we work with. And I came to him with this idea thinking we're gonna do some quick buzz word alert, quick person to camera, being funny, but we went through the entire video production process here and are scaling it out to, again, a six part series. But we think, again, with marketing marketing to marketers, you can't mess around. You've gotta come with a super high quality piece or it's just gonna be perceived as junk or noise, potentially.
So we actually worked with this illustrator who went and combined with this amazing actor that we found local here in LA.
Randy Frisch: She's great, actually, by the way. She just nails it. I felt like she was a marketer.
Jeff Gangemi: That was the angle. And she hit the target demographic perfectly, and she delivers so many buzz words per minute without ... What's the word I'm looking for?
Randy Frisch: Breaking character.
Jeff Gangemi: Yeah. She delivered more marketing buzz words per minute than I could imagine for someone who doesn't know anything in particular about marketing. Yeah, so what else can I tell you about the ...
Randy Frisch: I love that your whole point about because, and I love this phrase and I'm just gonna keep using it. I think we need a marketing word count for this one, but basically when you're marketing marketing to marketers, just the point you hit on about being super high quality because people in your audience are gonna judge it more harshly, and they are gonna look at it from their own professional lens. And so I think the fact that you paid attention to it, even on a piece that is more light hearted, and is funnier, you still paid attention to that quality, and it wasn't good enough it good enough.
You really went the extra mile to do that extra quality.
Jeff Gangemi: I think that's a key. So making it high quality, but also keeping it respectful of the fact that you're targeting people who probably know what attribution modeling is to start, or at least to some degree. So it's tongue and cheek, and you're winking at them. But also giving them some education with their entertainment while driving to a call to action. You can't mess around and hope it works out. Yeah, it really mattered to do that right.
Randy Frisch: I think what you're hitting on, which we struggle with sometimes, is you can't insult people when you do some of these pieces because you're talking to an audience in theory is informed, but we also can't be too presumptuous. I think, Anna, you and I circle with that sometimes on this podcast with a lot of the people who tune in where we wanna make sure we establish the basics, but then we also know that there's some really sophisticated marketers listening to this.
So we have to balance setting it up and then delivering some sort of value ad at the end. I'm wondering how you pick the buzz words, and maybe you can even give us, because again this topic is so near and dear to everyone listening, what are some of the other buzz words you plan to hit on in this series?
Jeff Gangemi: We picked the buzz words because we boiled down the digital marketing universe to six vital roles. Obviously, there could be more or less than that, depending on your perspective, depending on your perspective, depending on your company size, et cetera. We did our best to tie each role to an individual buzz word.
Randy Frisch: Nice. So what are these roles? Can you give us even a few of them? Six is a lot to remember, but ...
Jeff Gangemi: Sure, of course. We started with attribution modeling, second one is Omni channel marketing, which ties to the role of just a marketing manager, or director of marketing. Just a conductor to your marketing orchestra type of person, so the leader type.
Randy Frisch: I like it.
Jeff Gangemi: And a CO, we talk about retargeting, we talk about marketing automation, inbound marketing. Again, we really wanted to focus on buzz words that get a lot of play, that you hear a lot of, but actually may be slightly more nuanced or complex than they typically sound. So that's really around marketing automation in particular. We've been struggling with the scripting on it, to some degree, because it's so simple yet so complex. Yes, you can automate a series of emails, or even one email, but you can also completely personalize and customize content experiences at scale based on individual attributes and behaviors, and that kind of thing. So how much detail do you get into in a series like this, that is designed to be humorous, and clearly an overview, not a deep dive, while still delivering something that's gonna drive the outcomes that we're trying to drive.
Randy Frisch: That makes so much sense. Anna, I know you've read, I don't know, Jeff, if you've seen, I wrote a blog post that's gotten some good reach around the idea of the buzz word of content marketing. And how it means something different to so many people, but too often, it's limited in our definition. We define it as purely creating content versus, as you just touched on, how do we put that content out there to be experienced by our audience, and what are the things we touch on there. So I'm just saying if you wanna do a buzz word video on content marketing, count us in at Uber Flip to partner with you on that.
It's a really fun campaign. Where can people check this out? Usually, we don't plug a piece of content, but this one's fun for even our audience to check out.
Jeff Gangemi: Sure. Well, we could put a link in the description for the podcast, of course. We're gonna be hosting them on our blog, and also the Aquent YouTube channel. So Aquent is A-Q-U-E-N-T. You can find the first one, the second one's going out tomorrow, and the rest will continue to trickle out over the rest of the summer.
Anna Hrach: Nice. So now that everybody knows where to go to view this amazing content, let's go ahead and get to know a little bit more about the personal side of Jeff. So Jeff, we've talked a lot about what you do on a day to day basis. Obviously, doing a ton of amazing stuff that everybody should go check out. But let's take a quick break and talk to you about some of your personal hobbies outside of the marketing realm. How does that sound?
Jeff Gangemi: Sounds great.
Anna Hrach: Fantastic. All right, everybody, stick around. And we are gonna get to know a little bit more about Jeff after this.
Randy Frisch: All right, Jeff, so you actually teed this up pretty well earlier, my question, which is you mentioned how you lived on the east coast in Vermont, and now you've moved out to the west coast in LA. And one of the things I do know about you is you like surfing. So I'm wondering if it was the job or the surf that took you to the west coast?
Jeff Gangemi: Well, it was a combination of both. I wanted to move back to the west coast and my wife and I ...
Randy Frisch: You've gotta be careful because everyone at the company's gonna listen to this and be like, "I thought you came here for the job, right?"
Jeff Gangemi: Right. Well, let's just say winter in Vermont. You're in Toronto, so you understand how painfully long it can get around March and April. So we could boil it down to general outdoor opportunities and mental health. Let's say that, that's a big reason for the move.
Anna Hrach: So follow up question to the surfing piece, have you seen a shark yet?
Jeff Gangemi: I've never seen a shark in real life, but I actually traveled in South Africa a long time ago, ten years ago now. We went to a pretty back woodsy surf spot where bull sharks had been noted for recently bumping people off their surfboards. They didn't actually bite anyone, but they just come to test out and see what kind of creature you might be. So they bump surfers with their nose and scare the hell out of them.
Randy Frisch: Yikes.
Jeff Gangemi: That's as scared as I could be without having actually seen one.
Randy Frisch: That just encourages for you to move back to Vermont and stick to skiing. How often does a deer come off the side of the mountain and try and run you down.
Jeff Gangemi: What about trees? They always are getting out right in my way, and that's why the move.
Randy Frisch: That's fair. I mean, that's always my vote, for just skiing at a high elevation where the trees don't exist. You go to some of those European ski experiences and you get up there, and there's just no trees. It just feels a lot safer for some reason. But I'm sure there's other issues that I'm not keeping in mind.
Anna Hrach: I think, theoretically, Jeff would be more likely to win a fight with a shark than a tree.
Randy Frisch: This is true. This is probably [inaudible 00:25:56] very true. Somehow, we're gonna make sure that we get all these ideas into the next buzz word video, where you dispel myths about high risk sports that you may try.
Jeff Gangemi: [crosstalk 00:26:13] we're having this podcast because who loves buzz words more than marketers. So it's like, finally, I'm in the midst of my audience. So I'm glad you guys are so excited about buzz words as much as we are.
Randy Frisch: I think it's a great campaign and this has made a great podcast. So I really thank you, Jeff, for taking the time to join us and tell us about everything going on at Aquent. It's been really interesting. I think a lot of us, like you said, we may not understand some of the opportunities and working with third party talent, but it seems like you guys are really executing well in showing what's done. And I honestly don't think that's done enough with some of the agencies or third party groups you can bring in. You associate what they do for you, but not what they're doing themselves. So this has been really inspiring.
I thank you for taking the time, and I thank everyone who listens to this podcast for tuning in and choosing this as part of how you educate yourself around how to build a better content experience. As always, I'm Randy Frisch from Uber Flip. Anna Hrach has joined me from Convince and Convert. And if you've enjoyed this podcast, check us out on Spotify, on Stitcher, iTunes, Google Play. Wherever you find us, leave us some feedback and let us know what we can do to make this more entertaining and dropping more buzz words along the way. Thanks again to Jeff and we hope to have you join next time.
 
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