On The Road E06 - Marketing: Dan Jeziorski

What is branding…and what can it do for a company? Learn those answers and a whole lot more, as Avitus Group Vice President Eli Johnson interviews the company’s Director of Marketing, Dan Jeziorski.

Key takeaways:  
  • Branding isn’t just about the look; it’s about messaging that inspires confidence and trust
  • The first questions that should be asked is about brand, not advertising
  • Consistent marketing of a strong brand can grow businesses in good times, and it can help sustain businesses in rough times


Eli Johnson:
All right. Welcome back, everybody. To another episode of On The Road. Today, we're featuring Danno, DJ Marketing, talking marketing-

Dan Jeziorski:
On the road again.

Eli Johnson:
... and all things branding.

Dan Jeziorski:
Whoa.

Eli Johnson:
Let's go.

Dan Jeziorski:
Okay. Let's do this.

Eli Johnson:
All right. Welcome back everybody. Thanks for joining us for another episode of On The Road. This is marketing specific today. I hope you've enjoyed the recent episodes on Avitus Dental and accounting, but now we've got DJ Marketing. Welcome, Dan.

Dan Jeziorski:
Thanks, Eli. Pleasure being here.

Eli Johnson:
You've been in a Avitus group since 2014? Is that correct?

Dan Jeziorski:
Yes. Six years.

Eli Johnson:
All right. Six years. Tell us about your life prior to Avitus Group and how that prepped you and prepared you for everything you've done in the last six years and this next chapter as we lock arms with Venture. Go.

Dan Jeziorski:
Okay. Prior to Avitus Group, I actually, well, I'll step back about 30 years. I actually got into the business to become a graphic designer. I was actually going to go to college to be a physicist. In high school, my senior year, I won a national postage stamp design contest.

Dan Jeziorski:
It was like, "Tada." The light came on and I felt like I needed to pursue a career in graphic design and illustration. That's how I got into the business. I worked a number of different jobs, had some fun design jobs, kind of moved up to where I was actually graphics manager at a place. We did some projects at one of my previous employers where we actually bombed. We had big budgets, no restriction on spend and produced zero results for clients. I care about the people that I do work for. I kind of take their spins real seriously. The fact that we bombed, I was embarrassed. The place I was working for at the time, it was really important for me to figure out why we bombed, but it really wasn't for them. I kind of felt like maybe I wasn't a right fit there.

Dan Jeziorski:
Fast forward, about nine months after that, and I had the opportunity to meet someone who had actually worked as a brand manager for Coca Cola. I asked him to evaluate a couple of these projects that we had done. He told me after looking at them that our branding stunk. That's why we didn't have any conversions out of those jobs. Working with him made me realize that I was more of a brand guy than I was an advertising or a graphic design guy. I actually pivoted my career completely, went into the branding realm. Part of the thing that happened there is when digital came on board, this is interesting. All of you listening to this podcast, back when I started in graphic design and marketing, there was never a computer in office except the receptionist who was doing the bookkeeping.

Dan Jeziorski:
That was the only person that ever had a computer on their desk. Everything was done by hand. Computers came on and digital marketing came in. I had to shift what I was doing with my career. I actually got introduced to a Venus group because I had worked for this company, became a brand expert, did a lot of brand training, took it real seriously. When digital came on, I realized that I needed to either jump into digital myself or I needed to find somebody who I could partner with. My passion was branding. I was looking for a partner and we found a partner that was actually an Avitus Group employee that was using Avitus for co employer. We actually hired Willie to do a business assessment. We spent two days with Willie Chrans and Ken Kerber in a room looking at both business' financials, comparing notes, seeing where we had an employee and talent overlap, client overlap.

Dan Jeziorski:
Out of that assessment, that's how I got introduced to Avitus Group. I was totally impressed with Willie. He came out of the assessment recommending that we didn't bring our companies together, that maybe we try sharing a space together and see how we worked. We wound up not merging with that company. Then, so after that transpired, Avitus approached me about coming in and managing their marketing department, strictly on the client facing side.

Eli Johnson:
Wow. For those listening and for the appointed consultants, Willie as our former majority owner, founder of Avitus Group, phenomenal entrepreneur, and one that led the strategic planning portion of our company for many, many years, where we'd sit down and consult with a client, go through a five year growth plan and so forth. I had forgotten, Dan, that you had gone through that until I'm hearing this story. You got to see a glimpse of some of what our financial services are going to actually do, thanks to Andrew Miller in CFO maintenance, CFO planning. That's like a light version of what strategic planning used to be, but nonetheless, what a helpful glimpse that you got into the Avitus Group world. Then also preparing you for leading the marketing department. Six years, I can't believe it's been that long. You're a brand guy, clearly.

Dan Jeziorski:
I am.

Eli Johnson:
Why is brand so important? Because marketing can mean so many different things depending on your understanding of it. Why is brand such a big deal to you, to our clients and to what we do in the marketing department?

Dan Jeziorski:
Sure. The thing that I like about branding is, it's kind of the outward facing emotional side of the business. I look at branding as brand is like a promise that a business is going to make to me. Say for instance, let's talk about maybe the BMW brand. Their brand and their slogan is the ultimate driving machine. Their brand, by saying that, I believe that if I walk in and consider buying a BMW that I better experience the ultimate driving machine, it better outperform anything else I would get behind the wheel and test drive. Branding to me, I'm an emotional guy. I'm very sensitive. Anybody who knows me, Eli, and I had some great conversations. [crosstalk 00:00:06:11]. Yeah. Well, thanks.

Eli Johnson:
He's hurt right now.

Dan Jeziorski:
Exactly, exactly. Hand me a Kleenex. Really, branding, it gets the people's hearts. That's the thing I like about it. Advertising and marketing a lot of times is driven by visuals. Brand is a connection to the heart and the emotional side of somebody. People create loyalty to brands. A lot of times they buy based on impulse because of something that they're eyes see. A lot of times, it doesn't satisfy what they're really looking for.

Dan Jeziorski:
If they become connected to a brand and have this emotional connection to it, the loyalty they have to a brand is incredible. I've just always loved that part of it being that scientific side of me, wanting to be a physicist, I believe that branding involves both science and artistry. The combination of the two is what makes great branding incredible. There's a lot of brand people in the world that are good at visual branding, but they're not good at the messaging and the emotional side.

Eli Johnson:
Yeah. If we think marketing and getting to engage with a prospect that eventually should become a client, we better be prepared in the field as BD reps of Avitus Group, of appointed consultants of other divisions, that brand is going to be a topic of conversation. Before we can go and build them a website, understand how to do digital hyper targeting well, whatever the thing might be, we'd better first have a conversation about brand. Is that fair?

Dan Jeziorski:
Absolutely, absolutely. Because branding, a lot of times, you can market a bad brand and people aren't drawn to it. They don't decide to engage with the brand. A brand's got to be attractive. It's got to create confidence and trust so that people want to work.

Eli Johnson:
Yeah, absolutely. That's a good segue into what we actually do within our marketing services, which is something we really want our audience to understand today. Thinking of the tiers of marketing, the ideal client, what we need to engage with and then spend being part of that conversation as well. Tell us about what me, Eli Johnson's construction company, signing up to be a client of Avitus Groups' marketing, what that would look like? What do you expect of me? What do I need to be doing? What do I need to plan to spend a month. Set me up for success in that.

Dan Jeziorski:
Sure, sure. First off, you need to make sure and we'll advise you as a owner of a company that we need to look at your brand and seeing if your brand is influencing the growth of your company and whether you're able to grow and meet your growth goals. We always start with a conversation about the brand and about the assessment of that brand. Then once we know, and sometimes a brand literally takes an overhaul. We've had clients where we've gone in and told them they need to rename their business, which has created some very interesting conversations. Literally if it's impacting a business from growing, we want to talk about it. We're super transparent because their brand is as emotional to us as it is to them. Another thing we try to help them do is understand that their brand is not about them.

Dan Jeziorski:
Their brand is about their prospects and their clients. They're the ones that they need to satisfy the most and with that brand. An example I'll use is a lot of people come to us and their business is an acronym of names, and it might be EBC. That might be named after their kids, Eli, Brock and Charlie. That's not for them. It seemed like it was a good idea and a fun thing to do with their business. They've got to understand that the guy who might be looking at using them for technology or for mechanic work or service work, that that means nothing to them.

Dan Jeziorski:
When they ask them what that means, why they named their business that, it kind of sets them up to think, "Okay. These people maybe aren't as sophisticated as other brands that might have a more, a name and a brand that's based on reasoning." That's kind of the first step. Then we talked to them about how we can market their brand. You take a great brand, you set it up for success and then you take it out to the masses. You got to kind of have your house in order before you go out and start working people to get them to come and trust your business.

Eli Johnson:
Yeah, absolutely. Recently at the business development quarterly meeting, something we do at the Avitus Group side of things with our sales team is get together quarterly as you would have imagined. We got to have Phil Urso there with us and got to see his PEO diagnostic that he does, which is something I think will parlay well into what we do on the expert service side of things, with accounting and ATS and all the services that we offer. One of the things that really stuck with me was a question that he asked to prospects that he hopes to have become clients when, and it's just a little bit of healthy pushback, feedback he gives in that, "Hey. I heard you want to be the best in class and you want to be the best business period, but you're not willing to spend on your 401k. You're not willing to double down on the health insurance that your employees need. How do you expect to be the best if you don't attract the best?"

Eli Johnson:
I liken that to what you've coached our clients in, in the marketing space. That you're probably not going to reach the audience you want by spending $200 a month and think you're going to be the greatest name in the Pacific Northwest. What should expectations be to our audience when they control the conversation with a prospect about marketing spend because that's a big conversation right now with people. It's something that goes fastest. If something's going to get cut in a budget, it's been historically our experience that marketing budget is first to go. Why is that not a good thing? An equally important question, what do you want our prospects to be prepared to spend if they're going to engage with us and actually be a good partner?

Dan Jeziorski:
Sure. The marketing spend and man, we know it's going to happen in marketing when something changes in the market. In 2008, when the market crashed, I had 10 big clients in my business and we talked to all 10 of those clients about how this was going to impact them and how it was going to impact their marketing spend. I had three clients who chose to continue their spend, basically the way it was, keep engaging, keep getting their name out there, keep doing all of these things. Seven of the clients cut their spends anywhere from 30 to 50%. over the course of the next three years, the clients who kept spending, kept keeping in front of prospects. They knew that their prospects weren't going to spend as much with them, but they knew they needed to keep their name in front of them so that they knew that they were still around when.

Dan Jeziorski:
By the time 2015 hit, fast forward seven years later, all three of those clients got bought by Venture capital companies because their businesses had catapulted ahead of their competitors by light years that they actually got on the radar of people who were looking for companies to buy. All three of those owners of those businesses have no longer had to work. Marketing proved that it helped grow them and sustain them through that effort. As far as the marketing spend, when we were to coach people on marketing for our team, they actually need to spend about $2,500 a month as kind of the minimum where we need to be, because that enables our team to do great work for them and get the full access to our team of experts. If they're not willing to spend that, we really can't do a lot for them.

Dan Jeziorski:
I'll liken it to someone who wants to say, for instance, get their car in a race. You might be able to get your car on the race track with a minimum spend, but you're going to get run over and lapped by people that are spending more day in and day out. Actually, if you can't spend enough to get in the race and be a competitor, you're better off to try to save your resources or look at other things you can do to grow your business so that you get it to a point where you can actually spend that amount. We did some surveys back when I first came to a Avitus Group and we know that every business owner pretty much wastes about 30 to 35% of their marketing spend on areas that are guaranteed to get them no results.

Eli Johnson:
Yeah. That's very, very helpful context. $2,500 a month, that's an easy conversation piece. There's a lot of companies we've worked with that spend way, way, way, way, way more than that. Like you said, it's wasteful. Yeah. Really helpful. Thank you. Now, final question with regard to the Venture partnership. You are very passionate about our clients because you are a small business owner and everything we do at Avitus Group and across all divisions is to get owners back to their why. What excites you about this new partnership that we have as a division within Venture? Not only from the marketing branding perspective, but also just the fact that we get to help more business owners?

Dan Jeziorski:
Right. Yeah. What really circles back around to the beginning of when I talked about why I got out of graphic design and into branding. It really is because I care about clients. When they do a contract with us to do their marketing, they are trusting big dollars to us to make a difference and move the needle for their business. With Venture, that opportunity has just grown exponentially by more than 10 times, in my opinion, they may only be so much bigger than Avitus Group, but I think the opportunity is times 10 because A, they've got great brand presence in a lot of markets that we are not in and B, their brand delivers a powerful product. When Phil talked about, you mentioned the diagnostic. That's a great example of something. They have really never branded that diagnostic. After I heard about the diagnostic at the meetings last week, I've already talked to [Heion 00:15:35] And he's going to allow us to help brand that diagnostic because it's a differentiator.

Dan Jeziorski:
All PEOs provide benefits and they provide payroll and they provide risk and safety management. They all basically bring the same offerings to the table. Venture is the only one who has a diagnostic like that. That is a huge differentiator for them in the marketplace. They really had never even thought about branding it, but we're going to get them to brand it now because when you're in a meeting with a prospect, the conversation that they need to have, or they need to look at as if they're looking at five companies to help them with something and all five proposals are on the table and they're all within 1% of each other in price and price isn't a consideration, how is one person going to stand above the rest?

Dan Jeziorski:
Usually, it's because of excellent branding. If there's five people looking at PEO and Venture does this diagnostic that no one else does, that's going to give that business owner insight into their business that they weren't aware of and data that could really change the projection of their business or the trajectory of their business going forward. They are going to look at Venture really hard. It's what to brand, when to brand and Venture gets it. They're a company who understands the power of branding. That's another thing that excites me about them.

Eli Johnson:
Yeah. Very cool. For us to take home, and then I have one final question for you, brand. We're going to start with brand. We've got to have our clients understand this is a longterm play on marketing and branding. We got to be willing to stay the course for a while. We're going to pivot with our approaches. We're going to be adaptable. We're going to help them be adaptable, but a five month client, a 10 month client, that's probably just not the right fit for us.

Dan Jeziorski:
Exactly.

Eli Johnson:
Then also be prepared. That $2,500 is the floor and we have clients that spend way, way more than that, which is great. We also want to get a return on people's investment. We're not just going to spend and waste, but we want them to get to where they ultimately want with their goals. Final question, and then I'll bring it home for our listeners, but you have an amazing amount of experience in the marketing space. Just recently, let's say in the last year and a half, two years, what would be a case study, something you could share, a really great win or a great story around a client that we've gotten to engage with that can give full context to our listeners because we want more of those opportunities. When we get to be a blessing to our clients and that small business owner family, and everybody that impacts that is such a fun thing. I've seen it go really, really well in the marketing world. Go ahead.

Dan Jeziorski:
Sure. Absolutely. Probably the one that touches the closest to my heart is Rimrock Art and Frame. We actually did a rebranding of their company. They're in a space that there's a lot of the people in their business and their business sector have gone out of business. They've been replaced by big box stores like Michael's does framing and Hobby Lobby and places like that. Their impact of their business by these big box retailers has really cut into their business because a lot of them have turned it into more of a pricing war for framing, as opposed to the value of making the artwork look beautiful. We talked to them about what was happening in their business and how we could differentiate them and demonstrate to people that the value of the artwork is far more important to what the frame does to it than the cost of the frame.

Dan Jeziorski:
We walked them through a complete rebranding and changed their logo, updated it and modernized it. Really the important thing we did is we rewrote all of their brand messaging so that people understand that their product has what they offer has a lot to do with the frame. It's more the value of the artists at Rimrock Art and Frame that get the right piece on there to make that piece that's so value to them, whether it's a family heirloom picture or a painting that someone has done, or a photograph a hobbyist took. That no matter what that piece is that somebody walks in the door with, they're going to treat that with respect and they're going to try to make it be the best piece of artwork anybody has in their house.

Dan Jeziorski:
It's just a completely different thing. I think it's one of the best slogans that we've ever came up with or descriptions for a client. Underneath their logo, it says, "Our work is art." There's a double meaning around that. It truly capitalizes and communicates what they do for their clients beyond just throwing a frame around a picture. It was a big success for us. I think what we did for them dynamically is going to really change who they are as a business and how people pursue perceived them. They're really connecting a lot more now with artists and professional photographers, people who spend more often and spend more, invest more resources in those. It's getting them connected to a better audience and it just has transformed their brand.

Eli Johnson:
Yeah. That's a great story. You and your marketing team have changed just about everything imaginable on our marketing side of things at Avitus Group since you arrived in 2014. The website, the brochures that we have, our applications, it all started with you changing our messaging from a family of business solutions to a Avitus Group, simplify, strengthen, and grow. It doesn't surprise me. You got another story right there. I know Scott, the owner of that company. That's a great story. I didn't realize we'd even changed that recently. Thank you for sharing that. Thank you, everybody, for being with us. DJ marketing, Dan Jeziorski. Thanks for joining us. You have been awesome. We look forward to this next chapter and all the prospects out there that we're going to be able to support by way of marketing thanks to you and your team's help. This is On The Road.

Dan Jeziorski:
Absolutely. Brand matters. Don't forget it.

Eli Johnson:
That's right. All right, everyone. I don't know how to end it.
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