Jake Larsen here. I’ve decided to leave my stable job of four years and pursue my freelance marketing and consulting business full-time. This decision has been snowballing heavily on me for the last year and it’s to the point where I could not pass up these opportunities.
The situation does not come at a convenient time. In one month I am going to be a first-time father. Luckily I have the best wife in the world who supports me more than any jock strap I’ve ever worn. She’s fully on board for the adventure. I see this added responsibility and pressure to succeed as extra fuel to my fire.
The hardest part about this decision is the fact that I had a great job at a great company. ZAGG provided me with a plethora of benefits including: Insurance, matched Roth401K, Stock Options, PTO, daily recreation time, (gym, pingpong, ZAGGsquare, foosball), soda, snacks, etc. I worked with an amazing team and got along great with management and peers. To top it off, there were many days that we would break iPhones and iPads at work. Who does that? I honestly enjoyed going into work on Mondays.
So why would I leave?
This heavy question requires a heavy answer. I’ve written this detailed and lengthy post to help explain myself and my decision process. Just a heads up, it’s a long one.
A Cess Pool of Innovation
When I was first hired on, I was told that ZAGG hires entrepreneurs; people who take responsibility and get things done. Given this entrepreneur mentality, ZAGG had become a breeding ground for talent. Many of these talented people have become my closest friends. Some of these friends have also moved on to blaze their own trial, while others are still there doing amazing things.
The internet marketing team at ZAGG would call our area a “Cess Pool of Innovation”. This was because we weren’t scared to experiment and test out ideas. One of the things I admire about ZAGG is their culture of experimentation. Failure is not a thing to be feared but encouraged as it’s necessary for growth. We’ve had many marketing successes but even more failures.
Using Both Sides of the Brain
I grew up very right-brain heavy. I expressed my creativity through the outlets of video production, design and filmmaking. This passion and talent of mine is what initially got me the job at ZAGG. I quickly realized the importance of using the other side of my brain, the left side that’s responsible for numbers, analytics and logic. I’ve never been interested in numbers and threw in the towel in math when we started using letters instead of numbers. (Letters were meant for spelling, right?)
Sure I could create great videos, but they were worthless because nobody ever saw them. It’s a problem that has plagued most businesses and people. They may have an amazing product or service, but what good is it if nobody knows about it?
Being at ZAGG exposed me to a whole new world of data, analytics and numbers, which forced me to use both sides of my brain. I became fascinated with Google Analytics and the ability to track the numbers of visitors, traffic sources, keywords, bounce rate, flow charts, event and goal tracking, sales, etc.
My mind was blown when I started playing around in Google Adwords. Keyword research, SEO, PPC, CPM, CPC, Conversions, conversion rate, retargeting etc. I was amazed at the targeting ability that Adwords provides advertisers to get their message to the right people. I was shocked that you could increase the click through rate by 200% by changing the headline or the placement of a button through A/B testing.
I learned so much by surrounding myself with talented people. ZAGG’s marketing and e-commerce team is among the best out there. Email, Social Media, PPC, SEO, Video, Designers and Developers; you name it, ZAGG does it and does it well.
Any marketer can track and measure numbers. Good marketers can create well designed ad campaigns. But it’s the great marketers that play off both sides of the brain to create emotion in people that drives action. Great marketers tell the story behind the numbers.
I’ve loved being a part of the ZAGG family as we helped each other grow. It’s crazy to think what ZAGG has accomplished in the last five years. Then I look at myself and it’s just as crazy to see the growth that has happened to me in the last five years.
The knowledge I’ve gained at ZAGG University far exceeds anything I could have learned at any other college. I came into ZAGG a student knowing next to nothing about online marketing. I’m leaving a seasoned professor having spoken about our experiences across the nation.
I don’t consider myself an expert by any means. I firmly believe there are no expert marketers, only expert testers and experienced marketers. What works for one company may not work for another. Similarly, what has helped a company get to where they are, will not continue to work to get them where they wish to be. Thus brings the importance of testing and measuring.
How We Became YouTube Marketing Ambassadors
ZAGG was one of the first companies that started to use YouTube heavily with their marketing. With the success of our videos and scratch tests, ZAGG became a YouTube case study on how people and businesses can effectively use video.
When I was first hired on, ZAGGtv, their YouTube channel didn’t exist yet. Now, 35 Million views, Millions of dollars in online sales and 4 years later it’s seen incredible growth. This success was a result of a super talented marketing team and the innovative culture that is fostered at ZAGG.
We did our job so well that we were one of nine companies, chosen by Google, to be YouTube Marketing Ambassadors. We were given beta access to TrueView, YouTube’s new advertising platform. They flew us out to the Googleplex in Mountain View and the YouTube HQ in San Bruno not only to get our feedback but to share their vision with us and what the future holds in online advertising. It was incredible.
All nine companies came into this Ambassadorship expecting to have Google tell us how to improve our campaigns. To our surprise, they told us that they actually learned more from us the value and potential of YouTube. They observe and studied how other people and businesses are using their products in ways Google never intended.
The Tipping Point
My decision to leave ZAGG reached its tipping point when I realized where the future is headed and how my experience and knowledge, positions me to take full advantage of the huge waves of opportunity that are inevitably coming.
When I worked at Fox Entertainment in LA, I was able to talk to several executives and leaders in the television industry. They were worried of the future because of the massive disruptions that have been going on in advertising.
Advertisers are willing to pay big money for your attention. TV stations make billions of dollars by renting out your attention to advertisers. When you watch the Bachelor, Breaking Bad, the Walking Dead or (Insert your favorite TV show here) These TV stations sell your attention to advertisers through commercials. So when you start fast forwarding through the commercials, the TV stations no longer have your attention, thus making the advertisers’ commercials worthless.
Our attention has been transferring from TV to YouTube. YouTube is doing to TV what TV did to the radio. Slowly killing it. I’m not saying that YouTube is replacing TV because there will always be a need for it. Even radio is still around and has it’s place. But the value that TV brings to consumers and advertisers is decreasing.
Their problem is our opportunity.
YouTube > TV
Gone are the days of forced advertising; watching and seeing ads that we don’t want to see. The tables of power have turned from the advertisers to consumers.
TrueView (YouTube) advertising allows consumers to skip an ad if they’re not interested. It also allows advertisers the ability to hyper target their ads at an affordable price.
The billions of dollars that are being so carelessly spent on TV will inevitably flow to YouTube.
Everything that YouTube Advertising is, is everything TV is not; Engaging, Targeted, Affordable, Trackable, Relevant and the Future.
The ability to hyper target an audience in TrueView is unreal. For example, anyone can create an ad that targets…
18-25 years old
Interested in technology
Uses an iPhone
Lives in San Francisco
To top it off you, the advertiser only pays if the viewer watches half of the ad or 30 seconds. Whichever comes first. It’s performance based advertising. No longer a shot in the dark hoping to hit something.
The analytics learned from the advertising campaign is just as amazing as the targeting ability. Advertisers can know…
Number of times the Ad was played
Number of times the Ad was clicked
Where the Ad was shown
When the Ad was shown
How much of the Ad was viewed
If a product was purchased afterwards
The Cost Per View
The Cost Per Conversion / Customer Acquisition
The Conversion Rate
Compare this to the TV Model…
Give us $200,000. We estimate that your message will be shown in 500,000 households. Whether people actually watched your Ad we don’t know. They may be in another room when it airs. We also don’t know if the viewers actually did anything after the commercial. Did they drive to a store and purchased your product? Probably not.
There’s so much valuable data gained in online advertising that just isn’t possible with old media (TV, Print, etc)
For this reason, I’ve been calling YouTube the Wild West for a while now. It’s new online real estate that is high in supply but low in demand.
The CPV (Cost Per View) in YouTube is now where the CPC (Cost Per Click) in Search was 10 years ago. Low cost real estate that will grow by 1,000% in the next 5 years. Since Google owns YouTube this is all done in the AdWords platform.
Think of the massive dent that Google has placed in the universe in the last ten years. What Google will accomplish in the next ten years will make this dent look like a small scratch.
Good Things Fall Apart So Better Things Can Come Together
The last couple of months have been busy as I’ve tried to balance my day job, grow my company on the side and cater to clients’ needs. I was coming home from work only to do more work. Combined with trying to maintain a healthy home and social life, it began to be too much. I wasn’t being fair my day job, my clients, my wife and I wasn’t being fair to me. Sure I may have been at the office, but I wasn’t really at work. My mind was off somewhere else. I was no longer being fair to ZAGG with my time and work and I didn’t feel good about it. My current clients and future opportunities demanded more of my time and focus which left me no other option but to end my current employment. With the growth of my side business, I handed in my letter of resignation.
I would not have made this leap of faith without a safety net, in this case being: two separate companies who are in need of my services. Just last week I received two signed contracts and a retainer amount that will easily replace my income from my day job and only consume a quarter of my time.
My New Off Road Vehicle
ZAGG has been a great vehicle for me to get me where I currently am. I am where I am now because ZAGG has trusted me with their keys. The road I was headed down was a safe and stable road headed to a nice place. The place where I aspire to be requires a different vehicle. An off-road vehicle. A vehicle that requires me turn off the stable road to blaze my own path to a destination not yet known.
My new off road vehicle is Video Power Marketing, a company I created that specializes in video marketing and advertising. Helping people and companies increase their sales, traffic and exposure using video. If you are in need of our services you can contact us here.
Is leaving my job a month before the birth of our baby daughter risky? Sure. But anything worth doing is risky.