MF 101 : “Direction is More Important Than Speed,” with Dennis Yu and Logan Young
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer and Logan Young is the co-founder of BlitzMetrics, a digital and social media marketing company whose clients include: The Golden State Warriors, Nike and Rosetta Stone.
Successes at a glance:
Dennis Yu is the Chief Technology Officer for BlitzMetrics:
Acclaimed speaker at numerous conferences, world-wide
Contributing writer for:
Adweek’s SocialTimes, writing on real-world Facebook strategies using brand data
Social Media Examiner, writing on social ads strategy
Social Media Club, writing on social media strategy
Tweak Your Biz, writing on internet marketing goals w/ startup and business management focus
Business 2 Community, writing on advertising, social media and overall business advice
Former Technical Marketer for Yahoo!
Former Product Manager for American Airlines
Logan Young is the co-founder BlitzMetrics:
Graduate of Brigham Young University where he studied advertising
Hybrid marketer splitting his time between marketing campaigns / strategy and creative work
Speaker at several conferences, including in Asia and Australia
Featured guest on The Sophisticated Marketer podcast
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
When Dennis started his business, he and his team thought that local was the key to success: local businesses, local marketing. With his experience working in analytics at Yahoo!, Dennis thought there was an incredible opportunity and in the beginning, there was. Dennis and his team enrolled several big clients, including dental and medical practices, real estate agents, massage therapists and restaurants. From there, they were able to win some big clients including Quiznos and California Pizza Kitchen, running digital and Facebook ads for them. Then, just as things were looking up, a bad turn of events occurred and they lost these clients. Dennis not only had to face this harsh turn, had people relying on him for answers and payroll. It was at this point, that Dennis realized the most important assets he had were the connections he had built up over the years and the knowledge and experience of his team. So Dennis did something “crazy.” While most in this situation would have undercut their own prices to try to win more business, Dennis did the opposite – he raised them 5-10x. Once he did this, Dennis was able to land bigger, national clients on his roster, including pro sports teams, the WWE, Nike and Addidas. As Dennis points out, this is not a traditional pivot story of going from sagging business to another. This was turning a ship that had already had success but had the wind knocked out of it. How? By recognizing the value it brought to its clients and increasing its prices to reflect that. At the heart of it, Dennis shares: you have to have the confidence in yourself. Not the fake hubris where you pretend everything is ok when it’s not. But the confidence that your mentors have and instill in you that you can get thru the rough patches and succeed.
For Logan, it all comes back to what his father taught him at an early age: anyone can start something but what matters is finishing it and seeing it thru. Logan took this to heart and made it the mantra in his life. When Logan went to school, he had his eyes and heart set on the big ad agency career path. However, Logan faced harsh rejections all along the way, so many that it set him back 3 or 4 semesters in school. Ultimately, this setback inspired Logan to make a pivot and pursue connections outside the classroom.
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
Dennis has always been good at math. He was the guy that everyone in his classes hated (and feared) because he would wreck the curve for everyone else. If you look at Dennis’ resume, he attended the London School of Economics, no small feat! But what Dennis didn’t understand was people. Unlike equations, people don’t behave rationally or fit into neat models. When Dennis was at American Airlines, the CEO who was also one of his early mentors, took Dennis aside and said, “son you need to learn how the real world works, how you deal with people, how you build relationships.” That’s when Dennis learned an important lesson: that it’s not what you know or even the connections you have, it’s the willingness to jump into the unknown and take smart risks. When Dennis was at American 20 years ago, he thought he had it made and had life figured out. But what Dennis has learned over the years is that there is no “one thing” or “one moment” when it comes together. You have to constantly adjust. Dennis experienced this later at Yahoo! when he had many setbacks and aha moments. What Dennis has learned as an entrepreneur is that “the highs are never as high as you think they are and the lows are never as low” and that the more you go thru these peaks and valleys, the more you will face them as you continue on your journey. The point is not to overfocus on the highs or lows because that’s when you’ll break. Finally, it’s not all about you. Your success, especially as an entrepreneur, comes when you surround yourself w/ the smartest people. Dennis learned this from his days at American where he would make it a point to get to know the best and brightest in the different departments and later at Yahoo! where he learned to put his pride aside and seek out mentors. It’s when you take those steps that you will make connections that will drive you forward. Incidentally, Dennis and I connected thru a mutual friend, Leonard Kim. Similarly, back when Dennis was at American, who could have known that the internet would become this big thing? Dennis built a website, back in the days of dial-up and eventually ended up running analytics at Yahoo! which led to connections at companies like Google and Facebook. Moving Forward listeners, this is how it’s done. Sometimes the seeds you plant today won’t pay off dividends until much later. What seeds are you planting today? Are you looking beyond your job or career description to build something which today may not look like much but tomorrow could lead you to an incredible pivot?
Logan is a huge proponent of mentorship. Logan explains that the idea of mentorship is to seek out someone who has been there, who has walked this path. As mentioned above, Logan pursued a career path in college that resulted in a dead end. Logan was forced to look outside of himself and his network to pivot. One innovative way Logan did this was thru Twitter, he used the platform to connect w/ people who were doing the type of work he was interested in. This led him to connect w/ someone who was connected w/ Dennis and because Logan was open, inquisitive and willing to take a risk, that opened the opportunity door to work at Blitzmetrics. Today, Logan speaks at conferences across the globe educating companies and business leaders. Moving Forward listeners, both Logan and Dennis share an incredible takeaway. Take smart risks and when you find that one avenue or course closes off, find a new one. For Dennis, it was pivoting the business from local to national. For Logan, it was going down “the wrong road” on his career path to recognizing that it wasn’t the right one for him. That’s how we pivot and move forward.
Knowledge bursts on Facebook marketing:
What is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to Facebook advertising:
Dennis: self-promotion. No one cares about you, they care about themselves. So create wonderful, engaging content and boost it for a $1 a day.
Logan: focus your ad dollars on a funnel rather than straight conversions. Use the hourglass model.
Better engage w/ target audience:
Logan: Remember that ads are a creative process. People are inundated with ads to the point that they’re tuned out. So make your ads not look like ads, no matter who your target audience is. Instead, create good content that is true to your brand but doesn’t look or act like an ad.
Dennis: Video! Video is how we engage and captivate so make sure you are maximizing your use of video content. Tell your why story: what you believe, who you are and that is why people will want to connect w/ you.
Resource to make better use of Facebook for business:
Dennis and Logan: Facebook changes so fast that the purest source is Facebook itself. Facebook has wonderful tutorials and training that are free! Take advantage of this informative and useful blueprint program. If you’re geeky and really want to know what’s under the hood and where they’re going, go to Facebook for Developers.
Dennis also recommends Digital Marketer Podcast, Ep. 49 where he breaks down the power of Facebook Boosting using a $1 a day strategy.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
Dennis: Be patient. In the short run, the world never moves as fast as you think. And in the long run, everything can happen. Dennis thought that the shift from local to national to AI would happen immediately but it’s still occurring now. So Dennis would tell his younger self to be patient and that the opportunities are still open. Don’t get caught up in the “fear of missing out” bubble. Do it right and slow rather than fast w/ many mistakes. As Dennis sums, “direction is more important than speed.”
Logan: Enjoy the journey. Live in the moment. When Logan was in school, he was so focused on graduating and looking beyond, that he didn’t always take the time to appreciate the joy of being a student, being w/ friends and enjoying the journey of the life.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
Logan: “Don’t short yourself.”
Dennis: “Get 8 hours of sleep!”