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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

02 Meet Your Host - Erik Martinez

Meet Your Host - Erik Martinez

Show Notes

In this week's episode of the Digital Velocity Podcast, you will get to know Erik Martinez, one of the hosts. Erik is Executive Vice President and Co-owner of Blue Tangerine. As an accomplished digital marketer, his in-depth knowledge spans paid and organic search engine marketing, email marketing, website development and management, digital data-mining and analysis, and direct marketing.

As an agency owner, do you have a plan to grow your company? Erik explains, "What you need to have as a marketing leader today is to have a vision and a game plan to get from point A to point B. It may require you jump to point J and point H and whatever in between, but you need to have a game plan otherwise you will never reach your goals.”

Erik also describes how important it is to have skilled people to help execute that plan. He says, "You need to surround yourself with experts who can help move the ball forward down the field. You need those people to participate.”

Listen to learn more about Erik's views on becoming a better Digital Marketing and Ecommerce agency leader.


Show Notes


Tim Curtis: [00:00:00] Hi, my name is Tim Curtis. I'm CEO of CohereOne and welcome to the second edition of the digital velocity podcast. In this episode, I get to interview my cohost Erik Martinez. We are flipping seats and this time he gets to answer the questions. So Erik, are you ready?

Erik Martinez: As ready as I'll ever be.

Tim Curtis: Well, let's start with something interesting. Let's get a little bit of your personality. Of course, I've known you for a number of years. We're good friends. We've worked together. Let's give the listeners a little bit more flavor about you. What do you like to do outside of work?

Erik Martinez: Well, Tim, I [00:01:00] have a lot of interests. My two primary outside of work interests are cycling and fast pitch softball. That may sound a little bit strange and they're a little bit disparate.

Tim Curtis: So you need to give some context.

Erik Martinez: I'll provide a little context. So as a kid growing up in Colorado Springs, Colorado with the great Rocky Mountains and Pikes Peak in front of my house, one of the things I absolutely loved to do it was not being in my house and my bicycle was my mode of transportation to get out of my house and explore the world around me. So I talked to my aunt who passed away a couple of years ago, but one thing she said to me just before she passed was I remember seeing you in places you should not have been on your bicycle and I never said anything to your mother.

So the bicycle is a symbol of freedom for me. It helps me de-stress. Helps me process work. It's a great workout and I've gotten to the point where [00:02:00] I like to ride pretty regularly around 18 to 20 miles when I go out. Anything less feels too short.

Tim Curtis: That's a lot of riding.

Erik Martinez: It's not enough. I would love to do it every day and I don't have time to do it every day. The reason I don't have time to do that every day, I have two teenage daughters who have been playing competitive, fast pitch softball the last five years. When I first got in this, I knew a lot about baseball from playing baseball, from watching it as a kid with my dad on the TV.

So I thought, yeah, this competitive softball thing's pretty cool. So I sat on the sidelines as a parent, but apparently, I'm a type-A personality and have to be in control. When the opportunity came up, I I took over my oldest daughter's team and started coaching competitive, fastpitch softball.

I did not know how little I actually knew about the sport until I started coaching. So today, kind of as my side gig, non-paying side gig, I run [00:03:00] a competitive softball club here in Lawrence, Kansas called Lawrence Fast Pitch Softball. We have ten teams and a little over a hundred girls in our program ages 8 to 18.

We really, really, really focus on developing players to grow and learn how to play so that when they hit the high school level, they're good to go because the high school teams, they play 20 something games in about a six-week period of time. The whole season here is about two and a half months.

So there is no time to train and develop players in that short time period. So we kind of built the club around the idea of developing players to reach that level and hopefully beyond. We've had a couple of players go off and play some college ball.

Tim Curtis: I can attest certainly the amount of time you spend running that. It seems like whenever we're trying to get together, we're doing so around your softball schedule, quite honestly.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. When softball season hits, [00:04:00] it's typically three to four nights a week and almost the entire weekend. Every weekend during the summer and during the fall. I'm kind of enjoying it right now. My youngest daughter is playing high school ball and I get to watch her play and not coach. So that's kinda fun.

Tim Curtis: All right. Well, let's get another kind of question out there that maybe gives us a little glimpse of your personality. I think I know the answer to this one, but let's talk about your ideal type of vacation. Where do you go? Are you going to go to the mountains, you gonna go to the beach in the tropics, you gonna go to the great lakes? You gonna go to something historical? What's your jam?

Erik Martinez: You know I don't take as much vacation as I should, but my ideal vacation is touring castles. So about 2000 or so, my wife and I took a trip to England and France.

When we were in England, we did I can't remember 5 or 10 or 15 castles. At the time the [00:05:00] audio tours were really popular. I remember going to this one set of ruins outside of London. It was really nothing more than a shell of a building and a couple of slabs, but this audio tour had me captivated about the story, about the people who lived there, and the Lord of the Manor and all that stuff.

So if I could do anything right now, I'd go back to Europe and tour every single castle there is cause I just find them fascinating.

Tim Curtis: That's something no one would have known had we not asked the question, right?

Erik Martinez: Probably not.

Tim Curtis: Probably not. Well, it gives us a little bit of a flavor about interests outside of work. Kind of along that vein, hobbies. I know cycling. Is there anything else you'd like to do?

Erik Martinez: I love sports. I really love sports. As a middle-aged gentleman with some excess baggage, we'll call it, sports are a little bit harder for me, but anytime I get an opportunity to play soccer or softball, basketball, football, volleyball [00:06:00] I'd go five, five, six nights a week if I could. My knees can't take that anymore, that level of pounding. Hence why the cycling is really good. You get me on a soccer field, I actually played soccer as a kid, and I just loved being out there playing team sports with other people and having a good time.

Tim Curtis: Well, so I can also attest it's fun to have you call and say, hey, meet me at a sporting game.

Erik Martinez: Yes. Season ticket holder.

Tim Curtis: It's been way too long since that happened.

Erik Martinez: Hopefully soon we'll be able to do that again.

Tim Curtis: Well, lastly, give us a little flavor of Erik? Tell us something interesting about yourself.

Erik Martinez: So when I was growing up, I started a double major in business and in music. So kind of similar to you, Tim.

I never finished the degree in music. I was doing performance in tuba. Believe it or not. I marched five years with The University in Colorado marching band, and I have a classic music education, and music has always been a big part of my life. I don't play anymore because there really [00:07:00] is no time to do that and cycle and play soccer and all those other things.

I found that the classic music education was a great grounding in Western civilization and history. If you study that you learn about the history of the church and the liturgy and where all the things that we somewhat take for granted as sacraments, where they came from.

It is a very interesting and quite frankly, nothing more fun than playing in a gigantic music hall doing a from opposite balconies and performing in front of people.

Tim Curtis: There's nothing quite like the sonic sound of that music in that kind of environment.

Erik Martinez: Music is so electrifying. The best performance I ever had was in college and I was playing with this Dixie land band. I was the tubist. We went out and did the Sacramento Music Festival in California one summer. Nobody really knew us.

We had a few people in the crowd, but the [00:08:00] group behind us was a big draw. Suddenly towards the end of our set, there were hundreds and maybe even a thousand people. I never played for a thousand people before, outside of marching band. They started listening to us. We were jamming, they were jamming.

They pumped us up. We pumped them up. By the end, we had a standing ovation, this little, teeny, tiny Dixie land band of college students from Colorado. That was a lot of fun.

Tim Curtis: I knew we kind of fancied ourselves as Renaissance men, but I guess when you really think about the background of music and the education, it sort of lines up.

Let's switch gears a little bit. Let's talk about your journey into the world of e-commerce and marketing. I obviously know a lot of that story, but why don't you give us a little flavor about how you kind of came into this space.

Erik Martinez: It was all a complete accident. When I graduated from college, I graduated in the 1993 recession.

I was fortunate enough that I had done an internship at the company in Colorado Springs [00:09:00] for about five years. One of the people I had worked with over the course of that five years had taken a job with a company in upstate New York. So when I graduated, she said, hey, do you have a job? I'm like, no, I'm still looking.

Fortunately ended up with a job just a couple of months out of college, which at that time was not very usual. Started working with this direct marketing company. What was really interesting about that job is these guys were doing advertisements in newspaper inserts. Any of you old enough to remember the newspaper and the advertisements that would go in the middle? Those were called inserts, right?

They do this insert advertising, and what they wanted somebody to do was to work with this college professor from The University of New Hampshire who is working on neural networks. Let's translate that into modern days. Neural networks equals artificial intelligence. Kind of the early onset deployments and research [00:10:00] around how neural networks can help people make decisions better, faster or whatnot.

The one thing I learned out of that experience, it was a total failure by the way. The main reason was the data was garbage. We didn't have enough consistency in our data for even an artificial intelligence brain to make the small connections that you needed, and we didn't have enough data to do it either.

So even in today's environment where there's truly millions and billions and trillions of transactions happening every second, there may not be enough data to deploy artificial intelligence. That technology is getting better and the data sets are getting smaller, but that's actually what I did out of college.

So that job was a miserable failure and that a boss actually ended up leaving and taking another job. I got somewhat recruited to go work for a company that did data processing. So Tim and I both come out of the direct marketing [00:11:00] industry and have a deep passion, but you know, when you get a mailer in your mailbox, there is a name and address, right?

Well, a lot of times in these databases you think, well, I'm only in that database once. You may be in that database five times, quite frankly. This company specialized in taking those five names and consolidating them one because it's really expensive to mail a catalog or a direct mail piece to the same person five times, right?

It's not an inexpensive thing. So, I was brought into their database group to work on their first PC-enabled database, and this was, I'm not going to tell you what year, long before now, what they did is they generated an account engine. That sounds like what? Like, hey man, I log into Google analytics today and I want to see how many visitors came to the site in the last 24 hours.

Click this button, click that button. Boom. I've got my answer. Well, back in those days where you didn't have that, you had all this data [00:12:00] going into these massive databases on mainframe computers and green bar paper. We looked at that stuff too, but they found a way to take that data and compartmentalize it and generate a little count engine.

So you could say, how many customers did I generate from that campaign this month? It would take us three and a half weeks to process one month's worth of data for them to do their evaluation. That's how long it would take. What we do in seconds today, three and a half weeks of data processing to get there.

So that led to my next job, which was more pure direct marketing. I'll admit I was jumping about every 13 months at that point in time. I was young. I wanted to make more money. I wanted the next best thing. Right? That job lasted about 13 months, and I went to the next company. It was a teeny tiny little tie catalog.

Yes. People used to wear ties folks, owned by a guy [00:13:00] who had built his fortune selling vitamins through direct mail. So I went to work for these guys and they had this internal cobalt-based system I had to learn in order to do my job, which was really truly to do the direct mail.

There were no websites at this time. This is all pre-e-commerce. I had to learn how to go extract data from the system and learn to write queries and extract data from this old mainframe so I could do something with it, turn it into information to help inform how I did my direct mail programs.

Then I got recruited by a company in Chicago who happens to be a client today. They are a direct marketer and growing super fast. The guy said, hey, I'd like you to come work for me, run my direct marketing operations, and because you have this knowledge of this really strange mainframe-based system, I want you to come install that in my company. I'm like, yeah, that sounds great.

Let's do it. I had no idea what the [00:14:00] heck I was doing. So basically that job turned into an IT job where I, in 1999, installed this backend operational system, which they're still using today, by the way, and learning how to manipulate data and get it from one system to another system, to another system and whatnot. Then he goes, oh, and by the way, I have this website that we built in 1995, and yes, it was an HTML website, and I've got 400 products and we generate about $50,000 a year, but we have no way of updating this thing.

Nobody can do that. Make it better. One of the gals in our call center, her boyfriend at the time happened to be a web developer and he wanted to try to build their web system. So we came to an agreement and he and I scoped out our first CMS and built our first e-commerce enabled website platform in late 1999.

I remember we were doing $50,000 a year. The first month we [00:15:00] turned it on, we generated 30 and the second month was 35 and then the next month was 40. All of a sudden we were like Holy Smokes. This internet thing is for real. At that time, Yahoo was the number one search engine. Go figure.

So fast forward a couple of years, we started doing email marketing and we started doing affiliate marketing. So I was learning this stuff as it was being invented.

Tim Curtis: I always call it the Wild West of e-commerce back in the day, all that stuff was happening all at the same time.

Erik Martinez: Yeah, so we then took this custom-coded site and found a platform and built our next iteration of our website on an actual e-commerce platform. Which we are now for the first time ever, and I say we because we do all the e-commerce operations for this particular client right now. We are finally migrating them off that platform onto a new platform.

That should go live sometime in the next two months. So, my path into digital marketing really was kind of at the [00:16:00] beginning. It was crazy. It was like, Oh wow, this Google thing has taken over Yahoo, and there's this thing called SEO and we should be doing it. I learned really, really early on that digital marketing was about data, taking your data and moving it somewhere else and making it more valuable.

At that point in time, we weren't even talking customer data. We're just talking product data. So anybody remembers Frugal? Yeah. We were one of the first people to put out a feed on Frugal and start generating sales before that became Google shopping. The young man I hired to run our IT department, he wrote their first product information management system, just so that they could send a feed to Amazon back in the mid to late two thousands. So that's the path, right? Learned it from the ground up. Now I feel like I'm swimming upstream because the industry changes every single day and keeping up is a definite challenge.

Tim Curtis: It's very fluid. It's a very fluid space. I wouldn't say that that your story is unlike others in the sense that it [00:17:00] perhaps was not an intentional direction that you took, but you ended up finding yourself sort of emerging into the e-commerce field. You can look back on all of these different work histories and the different sets of responsibilities you have, but let's say, you're now talking to a classroom back at The University of Colorado, what advice would you give someone that wants to now pursue a career that's similar to yours?

Erik Martinez: Yeah. You know that's a huge question, Tim, and one that plagues me every single day because today's digital marketing is a set of specialties. It's a set of vocations, and to be good at every one thing is really, really extraordinary if you're able to find the person who can do it.

There are probably a half dozen people in the world who can probably do that, but the reality is every one of these disciplines paid search, paid social, organic social, programmatic advertising, email marketing, all those things are [00:18:00] unique vocations and need deep expertise in order to make them operate as effectively as possible.

Now, the reality is most of our companies aren't that big and even most of our agencies aren't that big. So we can do a lot of good things, but do we maximize the opportunity, even in the world of SEO? I listened to some SEO podcasts and I was listening to one guy and I can't remember his name off the top of my head at the moment, but he was just talking about one specialty where he was focused on Google patent submissions and using that to gauge where the algorithm was going to go.

That's all he focused on. That was his specialty. So just think about that in the world of SEO where most of us are a little more of a generalist. We'll say, here's the 25 or 30 things that you need to do to help improve your position in the search engines.

This guy's taking one teeny [00:19:00] tiny segment of that. There are those opportunities in our digital marketing spaces today. You could do that in paid search, Google shopping is hugely important. Yet how many people have the data chops and the understanding of how to actually properly set up a data feed, manage campaigns around a data feed, to maximize return? It's a vocation.

Tim Curtis: It's a vocation. Yeah. The term I've used is a vocational specialist. That's what's different about marketing let's say when you initially got your start and where marketing is today.

Here's a comment that I oftentimes will say. I'd love to get your reaction to it in this context, but the marketing profession today, especially those at the top, that CMO, maybe that senior vice president of marketing, that top executive role, we've seemed to have lost our great thinkers. It's not because of an inability to think, but it's because marketing has become a set of vocational specialists.

So we don't have that breadth of knowledge on how those pieces all necessarily interact with one another. I think it's harder [00:20:00] now for people coming into marketing and specifically, digital marketing to understand the broader context. What are your thoughts there?

Erik Martinez: Yeah, I think there's two things.

Let me first finish answering your first question cause I got real long-winded. If you're coming into this space and you want to be in management, and you want to be a CMO or you want to be the director of e-commerce for any organization, you need to spend time and not necessarily become an expert in every single field, you need to have tangible, credible knowledge of that field and how it works.

That surface-level knowledge isn't going to get by, isn't going to get the job done. You need to have enough to know when your staff is blowing smoke up your nose. Right? So back to critical thinking in leadership in digital marketing, I think it's two things.

I think it's part of this specialization that's happened in [00:21:00] the industry and it is technical, it is merchandising. There's hard skills and soft skills in all of this. There's art and creativity. The web has become a microcosm of all the different skill sets that you have in an organization, and so any one person can't have all that knowledge, right? It's just really, really difficult to process all of that.

 What you need to have as a leader today, in my mind, to make that work is to have a vision, have a plan, have some way of getting from point A to point B, and that may require you jumping to point J and point H and whatever in between, but you need to have a game plan.

Otherwise, the ecosystem can run amuck. Even within our team at Blue Tangerine, we talk about this. Our team, we are doing more and more strategic reviews of every single client, only because of all the different pieces. We want to march and [00:22:00] lockstep, and when we do, we get better results for our clients.

Well, if you're sitting on the client-side and you're running a 10, 1500 million dollar e-commerce operation, you need to have that same basic approach, right? You need to have a strategic vision and a direction so that your team can march and lockstep. The email team's not going off this way and their creative team's going off that way.

That's how you create strife in your organization. So I think today's leaders, it's not the critical thinking, it's just getting overwhelmed with the details and making sure you're pulling yourself out, and looking at the 30,000-foot view of what's going on and saying, I need to move these pieces on the board.

I need to shore up these weaknesses over here in my search programs in order to achieve X. I think that is really that creativity and trying to translate tactical elements and strategic elements is the critical skill.

Tim Curtis: You kind of alluded [00:23:00] to failure earlier in the conversation and let's go back there for a second.

What would you classify as maybe one of your larger failures or being a part of a large failure, then what did you take away from that? What was that particular lesson that you said, you know what I have learned this. I'm never going to forget this. What would that be?

Erik Martinez: Yeah, a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to help a client rebuild their website.

This is my first time doing it from the agency side and not as the client. I've sat on that side of the desk and I've built multiple websites and gone through that process. The thing that totally failed on this particular project was it was a business that was very low margin.

It was a business that was heavily invested in Amazon. It was a business where their priorities were focused on outbound sales and not on really honing in on their e-commerce operation. What that led to is, [00:24:00] Erik, Blue Tangerine, at the time it was Triad Analytics, build us this website.

Help us pick a partner. We picked a partner. Build us this website on this budget. I'm going to give you a resource, but I'm kinda not. So anytime I needed the resource to do anything, load content, whatever he was too busy helping the sales folks with their stuff. It became really, really apparent to me that the big issue was one, I didn't have enough time to run this e-commerce rebuild for this client without having a team of resources behind me that had their own expertise and can do the content loading, and can do the technical reviews, and could keep track of all of the integration components with a very complicated backend system.

So, back to that vocation topic we just mentioned. It was really the recognition that I no longer as one person could manage all that by [00:25:00] myself and be successful. You can't do it. You have to have skilled people in your team who can come in and throw their expertise in when needed.

Tim Curtis: When you realize that about yourself, you also can't unintentionally think less of yourself because you can't master all the vocational specialties anymore.

There's a growth to that, right?

Erik Martinez: Yep. Yeah. I lost that client and I don't mind. It was an abject failure on my part, but it also allowed me to look at what we're doing at Blue Tangerine and trying to ensure that everywhere along the way that we have the expertise in the areas that we're working.

There's this natural tendency of all of us to say, I can do this. I know myself, I'm innately curious. I can learn anything. I may not be efficient at it, but I can learn anything given enough time, but we don't have the time anymore. You need to surround yourself with experts who can [00:26:00] help move the ball forward down the field, whatever. You need those people to participate.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. Hire people that are smarter than you. That's what I was kind of like to say.

Erik Martinez: Absolutely. My entire team is smarter than me.

Tim Curtis: All right. Let me ask you another question. Like me, you are constantly juggling multiple clients, different sets of strategy. Here's what needs to happen. You've got a lot of activity, obviously, outside of your life we discussed, how do you keep a fresh perspective on things?

What are the tools that you go to or books or whatever, you mentioned podcast earlier, what keeps you at the top of your game as an executive? How do you do that?

Erik Martinez: Yeah, for me, that's really hard because I am a doer. I'm kinda like the Home Depot guy, although I'm not a handyman.

Tim Curtis: Decidedly, not a handyman.

Erik Martinez: Decidedly, not a handyman. In the digital marketing realm, I'm a doer. I like to understand the nuts and bolts of how things work and that is constantly a battle for me. My business partner, Greg Bray and Blue [00:27:00] Tangerine has really introduced me to this world of podcasting. He started one last year which has been highly successful in our home builder segment of the business. He's like, you should listen to this and you should read this. He's been a great influence to spark that interest in other things. Now my interests today are in running a digital marketing agency.

So it's not only understanding what my clients need and what they need to do to be successful, but it's also about, I've never run a marketing digital marketing agency prior to Blue Tangerine, so I have to learn. So I listen to The Build a Better Agency Podcast, and not that's only about agency life.

There are some really, really good segments. Drew McLellan does an amazing job of bringing in great speakers. I listen to Greg's digital marketing podcast. We've been reading some books, forget the gentleman's name now, but it's called Business Made Simple, and he wrote another book called Story [00:28:00] Brand talking about how to how to frame your customer as the hero and to help them overcome the problems because we're the guide. It's about the storytelling and it's a little bit on the salesy side of it, but there's some really, really meaningful things you're eluding to last week in your episode of our podcast, getting things down to clear, concise points, making them very clear for people.

I've been reading a lot more. I follow a lot of people on LinkedIn. I try to consume at least 20 to 30 minutes a night, if not more, of content, to pick up on, what's this trend. When I'm walking the dog, I'll listen to a podcast or two.

Tim Curtis: Always be listening.

Erik Martinez: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: By the way, Drew McLellan has a great podcast.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. I love reading. I used to read tons and tons of books. I just don't have the time to do it anymore. So listening is a much more time-efficient tool for me.

Tim Curtis: I don't know about you, but when I'm reading in bed at night before I go to sleep, [00:29:00] it kind of helps calm the mind, but the next morning I don't remember somewhere in the middle of that, my brain kind of shut off as I was getting ready for sleep. So I think we all have to find those ways to consume content and that probably changes over the years.

Erik Martinez: I have the actually opposite problem. I read something and then I get super excited about it, but then I'm up until like five in the morning.

Tim Curtis: One thing that was always a good piece of advice is always keep a pad and a pencil on your nightstand or in your nightstand so that when you have those thoughts, you're reading something, write it down. Don't lose it for the next morning.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. Great point. Great advice.

Tim Curtis: Talk a little bit about who in your life, whether it's influencers, it's people you've known, who have been really influential to you or to your development or your particular leadership style.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. There've been a handful of really critical people.

Probably the first one was a lady named Sue Devito. She was that first boss that I followed to multiple companies. The thing that she opened my eyes to was that I could do it. I've always had a little bit of an introvert, kind of [00:30:00] closed off personality and didn't get necessarily a huge amount of validation in my childhood that I was smart or bright or whatnot.

Grades tell you one thing, but having other people acknowledge that you're kind of smart, or whatever that is getting some validation that you're on the right path. She was kind of the first person that really gave me that opportunity to expand my wings.

That was fantastic. The next person is actually, you might find this ironic, was a CFO. Usually, I stray away from the accountant type people because a lot of things are black and white for them, but this gentleman, his name is Mark McSweeney. Mark is a dear friend of mine. He really took the opportunity to educate me on negotiations, and how to push back. It's not taught. How to push back and get a win-win. That was hugely valuable as I started getting more [00:31:00] into being an executive.

You have to negotiate things all the time, with your staff and with yourself and with your family, and obviously, with suppliers and whatnot. So he was hugely important. Then the last person, last, but not least, is a gentleman named Tom Blexrud. I always had this dream of starting my own business. I really had no clue what that meant at the time. Tom's pulled me from the client-side to the consulting side. I was about to call it the dark side. He's the person who brought me over and he said, look, I will help you, and I will guide you through the process of transforming from being an employee to an employer.

It took about five years for me to get it, but he really gave me that first opportunity and gave me my first few clients. I worked for him and then he worked for me and then he retired and off I was running with my own agency. If it wasn't for people like [00:32:00] that, I'd never be at Blue Tangerine.

I've been blessed. I've got a great business partner in Greg Bray. He compliments the things that I absolutely stink at, which is anything administrative. He's very calm and reinsuring. He's a problem solver too.

Tim Curtis: It's kind of funny. He described the two of you as sort of the peanut butter and the jelly or no, I guess it was the peanut butter and the chocolate, like a Reese's cup. Sitting back and watching you two over the years, it's been fun to kind of see that because you do compliment each other so well.

I think that's kind of a part of the unfolding story of Blue Tangerine.

Erik Martinez: The reason I joined Greg and merged my business in with Blue Tangerine, is I realized I was a horrible single. I was horrible at it. I could never get to my sales stuff. I very rarely got to my accounting stuff.

Together, I think we've managed to do a lot more than we could do as individuals.

Tim Curtis: I would say kudos to you for always having the strong self-awareness that was an [00:33:00] issue that you struggled with being on your own, but now watching you and Greg, it certainly has been kind of that evolution, if you will.

Erik Martinez: Yep. It's been fun. It's been fun and it's stressful and it's rewarding. We're blessed. We have a great team at Blue Tangerine and a wonderful group of professionals. I couldn't be happier right now.

Tim Curtis: Well another question we're kind of coming to the end here, but I wanted to ask you common myths about the profession.

You asked me that very same question in my interview. What's one common myth that you'd like to tackle and field and debunk?

Erik Martinez: I think there's a couple of them. One is just because I work on the internet does not mean I'm the computer guy. Yes, Mom and Dad, I'm talking to you.

I used to sit on the client-side and I was very critical of agencies. Now I'm on the agency side and I'm still critical of agencies, but I'm critical for a different reason. The truth of the matter is agencies should be an extension of your team. I use the word should deliberately. I know we're taught never to use the word should, right? It's a [00:34:00] squishy word, but you know, the reality is we're here to help our clients, and good agencies always keep that in mind.

It doesn't come down to an hours budget or one invoice or whatnot. It's a series of experiences, right? We have got to keep our clients at the forefront of what we do. I think there is an illusion, and in some cases, this is justified, that agencies are there to take your money. We're not. We're not here to just take your money.

We want to help. A good agency wants to help. A good agency wants to move you forward and not just take advantage of the fact that you've been working with them for 20 years and they don't have to do any work to get you to pay them. We should always be working. You should always challenge us.

If you are frustrated with an agency, talk to them. Tell them. I think that's probably the biggest myth, that agencies are here just to steal your [00:35:00] money. We're not. We're successful when you're successful. I feel very, very, very strongly about that.

I think if you gave your agency a chance, I think they will shine for you, and it doesn't matter who it is. There's lots of great competitors out there who can do a great job and help you guys move your business.

Tim Curtis: So, one other question, if you could step into my shoes, what would you have asked yourself that I didn't?

Erik Martinez: Oh man, that's a good question, Tim. I think you asked a lot of great questions. Maybe the one question is, what's on the horizon for digital marketing. We just came out of this really incredible one-year amazing expansion of digital in a way that nobody ever could predict.

 I think the big question is what is digital today? It's not just e-commerce. It is buy online, pick up at the curb. It is tools that help you accomplish a specific goal. We work with a lot of home builders and one of the big [00:36:00] topics right now is buying homes online. Anybody hear of a little company called Carvana? Greg likes to buy from Carvana.

Tim Curtis: He likes to talk about Carvana. Yeah, he does.

Erik Martinez: He talks about Carvana. I was just talking with one of my staff members yesterday and she was talking about buying a car and I'm like, what are you looking for, and she's telling me, and she's like, yeah, I'm kind of down to these four and I'm going to go test drive.

I'm like, when you're done test driving, once you figure out what car you want, go get bids online. Yep. Go to Carvana. See if you can get the same thing because you have the power as the buyer. Digital has enabled you to be a little choosier. You don't have to walk into a dealership, and by the way, I suck at car buying.

The last time I walked into a dealership, my car had a broken gasket, couldn't heat the car and it was 12 degrees outside. So those suckers knew they have me, right? They did everything they could to get me to buy a car and eventually I bought it. I was [00:37:00] happy with the car, but the experience was horrible and I don't have to do that anymore.

I can go to Carvana, a couple of clicks, right? Boom. I've got my car. I'm just in the process of buying a house with some land. I did all the research online. Now, I still have a real estate agent and he's been super helpful along the process because I haven't done this in a long time and I've never bought land in a rural part of the country before.

Zillow is kind of like the Amazon of home buying and Zillow, about a year and a half ago bought a mortgage company. You know, coming down the pike that they're going to package those things together and complete the whole transaction. Zillow buys houses and sells them on their site.

Tim Curtis: They're vertically integrating in a way that has never been done before.

Erik Martinez: If it can be bought, sold, traded, you can do it digitally. You can do it on your phone. You can do it on a website. You can do it in a multitude of different ways. Be ready. Understand that [00:38:00] your customers can engage with your brand in so many different ways and so many different types of technology, and it can be mind-blowing.

So have a plan. At the end of the day, if I were to leave anybody with your advice, make sure you have a good plan.

Tim Curtis: Where can listeners connect with you online? What's the easiest way to connect with you?

Erik Martinez: You can certainly find me on LinkedIn, but probably the easiest way is to email me

That's Erik with a K and I will make sure I respond back to you.

Tim Curtis: Perfect. Well, thanks, Erik. It's nice to be able to share a little bit of our friendship and kind of our history and share it with the listeners as we embark on this new adventure of The Digital Velocity Podcast. This is something that we've talked about for some time, and it's nice to start to see this come together.

Especially with such a solid guest list. That's certainly exciting to watch unfold, but thanks again for allowing me the opportunity to interview you today, so we can kind of get a little bit more of a sense of what makes you, you.[00:39:00]

Erik Martinez: Cool. Thanks, Tim. I'm looking forward to it. Should be an interesting journey. I look forward to learning a lot.

Tim Curtis: For now, this is Tim Curtis with CohereOne

Erik Martinez: and Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: Thanks so much.

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