Howard Tiersky – From , The Digital Transformation Company

Every business that is interested in growing needs to know how to market.  This includes the small businesses as well as the Fortune 500 companies.  Nothing gets done until a sale is made, and if buyers don’t know you exist, it is tough to get them to buy from you.
Howard Tiersky, author of the Wall Street Journal Bestseller, Winning Digital Customers, outlines the steps necessary to build your brand online.
Online is where almost everyone seems to be spending a lot of their time now, so marketing online is a great move.
Listen as Howard details his entrepreneurial journey as he worked for and now with some large companies as he started and built his digital marketing business, From.
Visit Howard at:
Authentic Business Adventures Podcast

You have found Authentic
Business Adventures.

This is the program that brings you the struggle, stories, and triumphs and successes of business owners across the land.

We are locally underwritten
by the Bank of Sun Prairie.

My name is James Kademan, entrepreneur

author, speaker and helpful coach to small
business owners across the country.

Today we’re welcoming/preparing to learn

from Howard Tiersky, speaker,
Wall Street Journal best selling author,

transformation consultant and CEO of
FROM the Digital Transformation Agency.

So, Howard, my good man,
how are you doing today?

I’m great. How are you?
I’m doing very well.

I’m doing very well.
Thank you.

I’m excited to speak with you,

because you are essentially
a digital transformation artist,

it seems like in the world of business.

At least an engineer.

At least an engineer. Good
enough, makes it sound.

But you’re right.

It is part art and part science.
There’s no question.

So let’s start from the beginning.

How did you end up in this space? Right.

I don’t know.
I might have stood in the wrong line.

The Internet’s not going away.
No, you’re right.

How did I end up in this space?

What really happened to me was
I have a background in education

and my early career was in theater and
the performing arts.

Oh, really?

And I was involved in graphic design,
computer graphic design.

This is back in the early 90s,

and I was doing that in part for things I
was doing in performing arts

and promotional materials
and also in part as a day job.

That was sort of how I was earning

my living while I was also involved
in my pursuits in the performing arts.

And I wound up working for a large

consulting firm doing graphic design work,
initially sort of for their own internal

purposes: proposals and other
marketing materials.

But I started then getting involved

in things that they were doing for clients
and, well, fast forward to the Internet.

I should say I started doing digital
“stuff” like desktop video, kiosks,

things like that before there was
really a commercialized Internet.

So, then when that became a thing,
I was sort of the person they were like,

“who in our company knows anything
about anything like this.”

And I was the closest person they had.

And it wasn’t that I knew that much about
the Internet, but it involved Photoshop.

So there I was there.

But anyway, so that was, of course,
you’re talking about ’94 or something like

that. A long, long time
ago in the early days.

But before I knew it,
I was running around meeting with their

clients, large Fortune 500 companies
talking about digital and the Internet

and why a big company might want
to have a website, things like that.

And really, it was just kind
of a natural progression from there.

I wound up really enjoying the work,
doing that type of stuff and actually use

a lot of the same things that I loved
about the performing arts,

storytelling and creating something
that was visually interesting and engaging

with an audience and combining technology
and creativity and things like that.

So leading a team.

So I wanted to really just
sort of follow in that path.

And as you say, of course,

the world of digital has been a great
place to be in terms of opportunity.

And I just was very fortunate.

I guess I jokingly said I stood
in the wrong line, but actually

unwittingly was in the right
place at the right time,

Because it would have been hard to have

intentionally architected a deal
where you just came into a company and

the next thing,
they were taking you around to their

biggest clients and positioning
you as an expert.

And of course,
I had to quickly become an expert.

But back then, it was easy to become

an expert because there was only
six months of the internet.

So how much did you have to learn?

There was only so much to know,
and then you could just grow from there.

Nobody necessarily knew
that you were wrong, I suppose.

Well, that’s true, too.

As long as you know more than the other
person, I suppose you’re an expert,

So in the early days,

it was something that was just it would be
like, maybe today think like, Blockchain.

If a big company is like, “okay, we’ve
heard of this thing called Blockchain.

We honestly don’t really
know exactly what it is.

We’ve seen some examples of it.
We know it’s something to do

with currency, but not only that,
but tell me more about it.”

That’s kind of where people’s minds
were back about, say, the web.

Back when I was starting,
it was this sort of vague,

“yeah, I heard of that kind of thing.”

So as you say, you don’t need to know

a lot about Blockchain to be the one who
knows the most in the room – in most rooms anyway.

It’s interesting.

I can remember the Internet came about
between my senior year and freshman

sophomore year in college,
and it was just this weird,

like, “What can you do with it?

Anything you want to know is
on there, like, anything?”

And still we spent our time on chat
rooms and stuff like that.


Something like the Internet has so much

power and so much knowledge in there, and
you just didn’t even know where to begin.

You were given infinite
intelligence, essentially.

And you didn’t even know where to start.

Although it was a lot
less infinite back then.

Yeah, I suppose.

And harder to find things, really.

But still, you’re right.

Of course, all of a sudden it was this.

Imagine what we could do with this.”

But at the same time, it wasn’t
always obvious what to do with it.

No, not at all.

When I was at Ernst & Young,

which is a huge consulting, accounting, tax firm,

and we were working on the first
website for Ernst & Young.

The question is, “Well, who is going to use this?

What’s this for?”

It’s not the kind of company that people
are – it’s not like our clients,

boards of directors of large companies, are

going to go on to the Internet
to look for an accounting firm.

So, like, why are we doing this?

And originally, it wasn’t
really clear who would use it.

In fact, we thought that maybe the first

group that would use it
would be job seekers.

That was probably like the initial because

they were younger and they
were more on the Internet.

They were at universities,
much more so than our clients were.

I think it was years before clients were

really using that as a means
of doing much of anything back then.

It’s not always obvious.

It’s interesting.

I can remember having that conversation

with people where you tell them, hey,
you need a website and they say,

“Why?” You think, well, because people
will be on the Internet. Right.

“Who’s going to be on the Internet?”

And you think, well, everybody should be.

But realistically who at this moment
is? A lot of people had it through AOL.

Some people would have it
at their office, but not at home.


But you can argue, on one hand,
that’s all ancient history.

But it’s an interesting study because

we’re in the same situation
today in some ways.


Which is to say,
the future always seems murky.

And then you have the present.

And it’s like, well, there’s AI, machine
learning, drones, augmented reality.

There’s all kinds of things.

3D printing, all kinds of things
that people have this vague notion.

It’s not like they don’t know about them.

But if I’m an accounting firm,
what does 3D printing mean to me

and probably seemingly nothing.

But there was a time when that’s how
the Internet seemed. Like, “I get it.

But what would I do with it?”

Of course, the answer isn’t always
there’s an immediate opportunity.

But it just goes to show you if you look

at how important digital has become
and then how important mobile has become.

There was a time when
the Web was super important.

But people looked at mobile phones.

And the original kind of Internet

connectivity for mobile phones was like,
remember, you had these phones where like,

if you wanted a B, you had to hit the one
key twice and then three times for a C.

And it was like, teeny,
tiny black and white screen.

Like, who’s going to use
this for anything?

Maybe you could get the weather.

But like, really?

And now, obviously,
smartphones are the number one way

that people access the digital
world on the Internet.

So it’s sometimes hard to see
where the future is going.

There’s a great quote that I think
is from maybe from Matt Taylor.

I’m not sure.

But he said the future is
rational only in hindsight

that’s genius.
I like it.

That’s cool.

So from this original,

I guess at that point it was a job, right.

You were working for someone.

I worked for almost 15 years.

For Ernstein Consulting.

And then at a certain point,
the consulting practice of Ernst Young was

purchased by Cap Gemini, which is
another large global consulting firm.

So then I got bought as part of that.

And I went over and I was
with Cap Gemini for a number of years.

And I left in 2008.
Got you.

And you left in 2008
to start your own thing.

Is that right?

And is that when you started from.

Yes, more or less, we rebranded the name

of the company about
six or seven years ago.

Now, originally,
we started under a different name,

but yes, that’s when we
started the company got you.

And when you went off on your own,
did you go off on your own with other

people or subcontractors? Or was it you
saying I’ll just build it from me on up.

I had two colleagues that I had worked
with at Cap Gemini who were sort

of the three of us initially, and then
we started bringing in others got you.

And I imagine that was a big decision
to leave what I would consider to be

a stable company if there were
stable companies in 2008.

But let’s just say there were there were
at the beginning of 2008 and that’s

by the end of 2008, I actually left
just before the stuff hit the fan.

I can’t remember exactly.

There was some maybe economic
downturn a little bit.

But this was before the bubble burst
in the housing business and everything.

So an interesting time to choose.

But I didn’t know what was coming, but,

yeah, it didn’t feel like
a huge decision at the time.

I had wanted to go out
of my own for a few years.

So it was something that was a goal

and in the industry that I
was in by that point in time,

I kind of knew that if it didn’t work out,

I could just go back either to you
or another big company like them.

So I just figured, what the heck?

I’d like to try this.

And so I figured if it doesn’t work

for six months, I’ll just go
back where I was or similar.

So it didn’t feel like at the time.

In retrospect, the future is
rational and in hindsight, right.

In retrospect, of course,
it was a major turning point

for my career, but I didn’t think of it as
being as big as it might seem at the time.


So who amongst those three was the one

that said, hey, guys, let’s get
together and make this thing happen.

Well, it was me.

What I did was I decided
to start the company.

And then as soon as I was
doing it, I had a project.

We kind of got our first project

at the time that we started the company,
which was doing the websites and ecommerce

press system for Universal Studio
theme parks.

Yeah, it worked out.

Well, that was sort of the reason I did it

at that moment was that I
had this opportunity.

And I said, okay, now is
the time I have this project.

Initially, I didn’t know how long

the project was going to be, but it
turned out to be a couple of years.

So I called up two people that had worked

with me recently, one of whom had
actually just left, kept Gemini.

It might have been a year earlier or

something like that,
who had worked with me a lot.

And I said, hey, why don’t you come join?

And the other of whom had been
a contractor that had worked for me

because I was prohibited
from hiring employees of Kevin.

But anyway, nevertheless,

these were two people who I’d
worked with closely at the company.

And so I said, hey, I need you guys.

And again, I said, I don’t know
how long this is going to be.

This might be for a few months.

I’m not sure.

And of course, one of them, her name
is Heidi, but she’s still with me.

And the other Mike Moore he was with me
for I’m pretty sure, more than ten years.

And then he left at some point to become

the head of design for a large giant
global financial services company.

Very cool.
All right.

There’s loyalty there.

That’s impressive.

And landing Universal Studios, the website
at the beginning that it would be a major

notch on the belt, I guess as far as
that goes for launching from well.

Yeah, it was a great opportunity,

but the way our business often works
is you sell projects in phases.

So what we’d actually sold was sort of
the upfront initial kind of requirements.

So it wasn’t necessarily maybe like

a couple of months of work,
and it wasn’t necessarily

automatically the case that we were going

to get sort of the full
design and build of that.

Ultimately, we did.

But it was an opportunity for sure
to get in and prove ourselves.

But from a business sort of south solidity

perspective, it was like, well,
we’ve got a contract for two months

of work, and if we do a great job,
maybe we’ll get the rest.

They also might say,
you know what you guys have done,

but we’re going to go
with a much bigger company.

You guys have just started.

We really didn’t know we didn’t count
on that, but it worked out great.

In the end, it wanted to be something
that really became the basis

for the initial growth of our company
because it turned out to be a big project.

All right.
Very cool.

So how did you market your company
beyond that when you first started it.

When we first started, it not at all.
Not at all.


We spent the first year just

dealing with Universal Studios,
and we needed to hire I think we hired

about 40, 50 people
to work on that project.

And so really, I can’t remember the exact

timing, but it was many, many,
many months, maybe a year.

I’m not sure that all we could do really
was focus on making sure that we maximize

the opportunity we had there, because
as I said, we didn’t know for sure.

It wasn’t like it was in the bag.

And there was a lot of work to be done.

And we were bringing together a new team.

So it was a lot of work.

And so that was where all
of my attention and focus went.

It did occur to me that this
project will be over someday.

But if it’s a choice between

solidifying the sale of the next phase
of this project we’re working on versus

trying to go out and market ourselves
to companies that have never heard of us.

It’s so much more sense to focus on.

Let’s make this fantastic.

That was really the initial focus.

And then at a certain point, I could
see there was an end coming of that.

I can’t remember.

Let’s just say that was
a year in or something.

And I said, okay, this is not
going to last forever, obviously.

And then I went out and I use
LinkedIn to go out to my network.

And I said, hey, I need a person who can

kind of run business development,
somebody who because I knew I still needed

to focus 100% of my energy
on this massive project.

I couldn’t take my eye off that ball.

But I said, I need
to bring someone else in.

And so I did.

I brought in Debbie,
who’s still with me as well.

And she came in, and probably
I’m going to guess 2009.

And I said, okay, here’s the deal.

Welcome to the company.

I have no time to talk to you.

Your job is to get us more clients.

We haven’t finished our first project yet.

We only have one client.

We haven’t finished our work for them yet,
so we don’t really have a case study.

We don’t have a website,
but you need to go find us more clients.

Oh, you guys didn’t even have a website?
I don’t think so.

Or maybe we had a page.

You have to understand,
we started this thing with a project.

Why would we need a website?

It wasn’t that we didn’t believe
in websites, but it was just you asked me,

when did we start marketing
the answers for the first year?

There was no concern about, like,

how we the last thing I
needed was a second client.

What I needed were people who could play
all these roles and get projects on.

You know what my business is often
like that feast or famine, right?

Either you have too many people.

You’ve grown to a certain size, and now

you’ve finished this project
and you finished that project.

But you haven’t started enough new work.

And so now you have too many
people and not enough work.

And that’s a problem.

Or because we’re often
in my business selling.

We’re out there talking to a lot
of companies about projects,

and you never know how many
of them are going to happen.

And so if all of the projects that we’re

talking to clients about at any given
time all happen, we’re screwed.

Just like, no way.

But they’re not all
going to happen usually.

But then sometimes the stars align.

And, like, the four projects that we
proposed on last month all come back.

And you’re like, Wait, what?

Because you’re counting on it
being more like, half or whatever.

That’s a good problem to have.

But nevertheless, it’s a problem.

And so then you’re in a situation of like,

okay, it’s an opportunity
to grow, which is great.

But, of course, just because it’s an
opportunity, you could also screw it up.

That means you can find the right people,

bring them in, onboard them,
use it as an opportunity to grow.

And when that’s happening.
And someone’s like, hey,

this client wants to talk about another
project you’re like, okay, when is it?

That’s awesome? That’s a good position
to be in where you’re okay if the client

says no, because you
have so much going on.


well, to some degree,
we’re in that situation right now,

since Kova digital transformation
has been taken off.

Also, my book came out earlier this year,

which has gotten a lot of attention,
became a Wall Street Journal best seller.

So we’ve been growing a lot.

We’ve probably grown 50% just this year,
and we’re hiring people every week.

That’s great.

But we have a very high standard.
We’re a people business.

So we have to make sure
we find the right people.

So for every person we hire,

we’re interviewing probably
more than a dozen people.

And the people we hire wind up getting

interviewed by five or six or seven
different people before we say yes.

So that and of itself
is a sizeable effort.

So you try to scale it, try to say,
okay, how can you be efficient?

But you don’t want to become so efficient
that you’re hiring the right people.

So that’s a challenge.

And right now, there’s no question.

Of course, we never want to be like,

we’re not interested in talking to more
companies and getting more business.

Of course, we’re always looking
for exciting new opportunities.

But there are moments when and I had
a conversation earlier today with a client

about a project is actually
the next phase of a project.

And she said, yeah,
we’re reorganizing now.

So I thought this would be happening,

but I probably won’t get
to it until the fall.

She goes, I feel really bad.

We’re really planning on proceeding with
this, but we’re not ready to do it yet.

And I’m like, Please do not feel bad.

This is the best news I’ve gotten all day.
That’s funny.

That’s fine.
The fall sounds good.

Meanwhile, we got so much to do that it’s

kind of like sometimes
a meeting gets canceled.

You ever have that you’re like,

I could really use that time
instead of being bombed.

The meetings cancelled,
even if it’s an important meeting,

you’re like, that’s going
to help me out a lot today.

You can’t become complacent because we

hire all these people,
and this is not just me.

This is you can find this at any
advertising agency, architecture firm,

law firm, accounting firm,
any kind of ServicesPEOPLE business.

You hire, all the people.
They handle, all the new work,

and then you’re like, OK,
now I need to be bringing in business

at the next level to keep
all these people busy.


And we’ve got a great track record
of not being one of those companies.

That kind of gets bigger
and smaller and bigger and smaller.

We don’t want to be
that kind of place to work.

We want, like you said, loyalty.
We want a place.

People come and really want to stay
for a long time, which means we need to be

able to make a commitment
to the people that we hire.


I always imagine mine with my call,
answering service.

You grow.
You’re always a little bit ahead

of the people or the volume
of clients and calls that you have.

It’s, like, up and up and up, right.
Keep going up.

But there are times when you’re like,
okay, we’re comfortable here.

But then you add another client,
a decent size, a client.

We got to bring on more people, and it’s.

Never net zero.

I guess as far as that goes,

you’re always a little bit upside down
as far as volume of employee time that you

have, because that new client is
just right around the corner.


You have to maintain that in order
to maintain the quality.

Same thing.

I don’t want to be hiring people just to
get rid of them because of volume, right.

Like we’re going up.

A long ago decided to forgive myself
for not being able to predict the future.

That’s awesome.

And I just say, Well,
I’m going to do the best I can to manage

those kinds of risks and know that it will
be what it will be and just have

confidence that whatever happens,
we’ll be able to handle it

and with honesty and transparency, both
with our people and with our clients.

Sometimes we say to our people, listen,
we want you to be living a balanced life.

We don’t want you to be
working 80 hours weeks.

However, we’ve got this opportunity that’s

come in in order for us to fulfill
our clients commitment.

We’re going to need to work a little

harder, but we’re working hard to hire
so that you don’t have to do that.

We’re not looking to take advantage
of anybody asking to do

that on an extended basis, and similarly,
with our clients to say to them, when

we’re not, well, just be honest
with people, it’s great.

If we’re super busy, then we say, Listen,

we want to work with you,
but the reality is that these are

the projects we have
committed and we’re growing.

But if you have this project
you need to do tomorrow.

There are times when we have to say
it hates Prince pains me to say it,

but I don’t think that we can
help you in the short term.

That’s fair.

Totally fair.

We’re just in the end,
entrepreneurs are problem solvers.

So it makes sense.

Tell me about the books that you have.

You had one just recently come out, right?

So I brought a book out.

The hardcover came out
in January of this year.

It’s called Winning Digital Customers,
the Antidote to Irrelevance.

All right.

And we were psyched and became

a Wall Street Journal bestseller,
right when it came out.

So that was nice.

And it’s a book that’s meant to be a tool
for any company that’s looking to undergo,

well, digital transformation, which
sometimes begs, what do we mean by that?

And the book goes into that.

But I think essentially the challenge

that most companies are faced with today
is that the world is changing rapidly.

It was already changing rapidly

in the sense of this idea of a movement
toward what we call digital customers.

And what I mean by a digital customer is
the customer that has digital

at the center of their lifestyle,
which I think is increasingly not only

the majority of people, but the vast,
vast majority of people.

Hbo just did you see this HBO documentary

about Fran Lee that Martin Scorsese
did I have not.

So it’s called Something The City.

Well, anyway, it’s very funny.

I think there’s six or seven episodes.

It’s with Martin stories
and Fran Levowitz.

Very funny.
But Fran Leeowitz, if you’re not familiar

with her, she’s a columnist
and kind of a humorous.

It’s been around for a long time.

She’s probably in her, like,

late 60s or 70s by now, but famously,
she doesn’t have a computer.

She doesn’t have an iphone
or a smartphone of any sort.

She doesn’t use the Internet,

and they’ve done a whole TV show
about her because that’s so weird.


Such an oddity not only for that reason,
but they did the show, but I mean,

you have to find somebody like that that’s
not living a lifestyle which is centered

around their device. And you’re like,
what planet are you from?

Let’s do a TV show about you.

You’re so interesting and unusual.

And when you know that that’s your
customer, it means that if the customer

listen, the iphone only came out,
and I think it was 2006.

If I remember correctly.

And apps became available
a couple of years after that.

So we’re talking about only a little more
than a decade of this even being possible.

And yet it’s completely transformed

the way we shop, handle
our finances, travel date.

Obviously, it’s had a huge impact
on government, social media has and social

media being massively impacted
by these mobile devices.

So we transform society and,
of course, continues to transform.

And what that means is that if you’re
a business, there’s a great Jack Welsh,

quote the legendary CEO
of General Electric, who said,

I think back in the 80s,
when the speed of change on the outside

exceeds the speed of change
on the inside, the end is near.


Honestly, that’s true of probably
most companies today.

I don’t know how near the end is.

I don’t want to be too dire,

but this is what companies are challenged
to do today is to say, okay,

how can I transform to make sure I’m
keeping up with the needs of my customers?

And it’s not easy, especially when you’re
a bigger company because it’s like

that old, the bigger the ship,
the slower it turns.

So that’s the book.

The book is both why
you need to transform.

And then how what is the five step process
we outline in the book based on kind

of my 25 years of experience,
I say that hesitantly,

because I can’t believe it’s been
that long of working with large brands,

from General Motors to General Electric
to Allstate to you name it.

I’ve worked with not every major brand,

of course, but dozens and dozens
and dozens of these types of brands.

So I’ve had an opportunity to see patterns
like what has worked, what works.

And I’ve been involved in as many failed
transformations as successful ones.

I’ve gotten to see all the issues,
the challenges, the potholes.

And that’s what I write about in the book.

If you’re trying to do this,
how can you succeed?

What are the kinds of problems
you’re likely to encounter?

And what are some strategies that I’ve

been seeing be successful
to overcome them?

All right.

I want to talk to you about working
with these larger companies.

When I’ve worked with larger companies,
they’re slow moving shifts.

We have 5 million decision makers or

roughly, and you have an idea or
you’re an expert in the field.

You tell them, hey,
we should probably do this.

You got a bunch of people in the meeting
that may or may not know anything about

what you’re talking about,
and still they put up roadblocks.

So can you just tell me about your
experience and how you navigate that?


Well, that’s been my whole career.


that’s who I work with, right?

I mean, I run a smallish company.

We’re 100 and some odd people.

So we’re medium business or
whatever you want to call it.

But our clients are all largely
multinational type companies.

How do I navigate it?

Well, I think it’s just
partly expectations.

All right.

Part of what they hire us
to do is to navigate that.

So part of it is part of success
is to say, okay, wait a minute.

If what they’re needing is a $50 million,
massive transformation,

that’s possibly going to take a year
to get to the point where they’re ready

to say yes to even the first phase
of that of major investment.

But there’s work to be done to get there.

I guess what I’m trying to say is a client
will bring us in to say, okay,

we need to create a vision and strategy
of where we need to go so that we can

socialize that and try to get
people to agree to it.

And then we need a partner like us to come
into those meetings with us and provide

the research and provide the statistics
and provide the industry perspective

and provide the case studies
and all that is work.

You can get paid for.

It’s not like we have to necessarily get
all those people to agree on doing

everything to be working for that company
got you so stages more or less.


They need
the challenge that you articulated about

working with these large companies is also
experienced by the people who work there.

Those are the challenges
of working within a large company.

All right.
So when you’re in charge of marketing or

digital or the CIO,
or you’re the senior vice President

of Ecommerce or whatever you are,
and you kind of go, hey,

I see where we are, but I kind of get
a sense of where I need to go.

It’s not easy to get there.

There’s all kinds of challenges

and obstacles, and that’s a lot
of what I talk about in my book.

And so we can partner with them and say,
okay, let’s help you get there.

How do we overcome organizational
resistance to change?

How do we create a vision
that we can sell in?

How do we create a business case model

that finance will sign off and say,
yes, these investments make sense.

How do we create an implementation plan
that has stage gates so someone doesn’t

feel like they’re writing you a $10
million blank check, but rather say, okay,

we’re going to do this part,
and we’re going to prove that,

for example, design thinking is a very
powerful strategy that we use a lot.

And it’s why they use them.
As I discussed,

it a great length in the book where you
use customer research to identify what

would be the problems that if you could
solve them, the market would respond well

to you prototype possible solutions,
and you test them again with customers.

And that process isn’t insanely expensive.

So when you’re able to show

that and you’re able to say, hey, listen,
we have a vision for an app that would

totally transform the way
our company does business.

And we spent a smallish amount of money.

We’ve prototyped it.

We’ve tested with customers,
and here are the results.

Now we’re ready to spend a more mediumish
amount of money to do a pilot of it.

So you’re helping people kind of move

through it step by step, and they don’t
have to make a huge leap of faith.

But every step of the way, as a partner,
as a consulting firm or as an agency

working with that company,
those are projects.

Those are things that are hiring me to do.

And, well, of course,
none of us like to endlessly work

on projects to go nowhere,
even if we’re being paid.

And one of the reasons that I think we

have a really great track record is we
have a great track record of going

in and helping get the stuff funded,
helping to figure out what is the path

to getting alignment and being
able to get it to be successful.

But from a small business perspective,
if for some reason, that company can never

get it together to get consensus and move
forward, or at least we got paid.

So we’re not sitting around saying, Well,

this is all just an endless sales process.

Does it answer your question?

I imagine there’s pride in your work.

So you want to see it come
to fruition or completion.

It’s critical because ultimately,
that’s not success, right?

If we work on a strategy that goes
nowhere, well, we probably still got paid

because we fulfilled what
we were hired to do.

That’s not ultimate success.

And on the one hand,
it’s not all within our control.

And Furthermore, digital transformation

renovation always has a lot
of risk associated with it.

That’s the nature of it.

So you can’t expect everything to be
successful because there are so many

landmines, but what you want is
the successes to be really big successes.

And when they are, then it’s okay
if not every single thing, though.

Sometimes we’ve worked with the client

to build a digital product
and went out in the marketplace.

And I mean, sometimes they’ve
been like, insanely successful.

We’ve done redoes of sales processes
that have doubled, conversion,

brand new products that have generated
$100 million in their first year.

But we’ve also done things that clients

spent $600,000 launched a small pilot
or something that we built for them.

And it tested well with users in tests.

But in the marketplace,

it just didn’t seem like it was really
catching on at a certain point.

You’re like.
All right.

Well, that didn’t work.
But you know what?

You do ten things like that.

If eight of them are failures and one
of them is a modest success and one

of them is a massive success,
it’s well worth it.

It’s like any kind of investment
portfolio mindset.


I want to compare for the small business

owners, the entrepreneurs
that are watching this.

How does digital marketing differ
from the big guys,

the Fortune 500 companies versus
the little guys that may have a marginally

smaller budget than some
of the bigger guys.


Well, I really think that the digital
world has created a real advantage or

an opportunity for smaller companies
much more so than ever before.

I mean, there was a time when if you
weren’t prepared to take out an ad

in a national magazine or an ad
in The New York Times or an ad

on television or something,
how are you going to reach people?

And now we don’t have that problem
with targeted advertising, social media.

There’s all kinds of ways if you’re

looking for paid reach to be
very targeted about it.

So I think that’s the key and small
companies always to the point we’ve been

talking about have the ability
of agility compared to large companies.


I think, of course, depends
on the nature of the business.

But in my business, for example, it’s all
about getting people to know who we are.

Here’s the good news in my business.

We know who our customers are,
the people who do business with us.

I mean, if you look at a tool like

LinkedIn, and now this
is a B to B business.


So this isn’t as true for B to C,
but there are other tactics you can use

for BTC, like Facebook
targeting and things like that.

But in B to B, what I would say to any B

to B company, and we work with many
and say, okay, how many people are there

that can buy your product in, let’s say,
the United States of your target.

Well, if you’re selling
MRI machines, right.

A million dollar MRI machine,

how many people are there
that can actually buy one?

I mean, I don’t know,
but 10,000, maybe not a million.

Whatever the number is like, well, okay.

And who buys them? The hospitals and diagnostics
and what role at those hospitals?

Well, it’s probably either the CEO or
the CFO or the head of operations.

And then all of a sudden go on LinkedIn
and say, okay,

let’s find out what are the top 1000
hospitals in this country and who are

the top five executives at those
hospitals now at least to 5000 people.

I can get all that information relatively
easily, whether it’s through something

like LinkedIn Sales Navigator
or using a tool like Hoovers.

There’s a whole bunch of these tools
out there now – not super expensive.

I mean you have to spend something.

Now I know who I’m going after.

And now how do I use email marketing
or social media targeting?

If you have these people’s email addresses
and you upload them to something like

LinkedIn or Facebook,
you can output targeted advertising

at those exact people that you
know are your prospective buyers.

And then you can use something like

lookalike modeling to say, how do I
find other people like this audience?

And maybe those are good too.

And now you start to do content or get

them to sell a landing page
or invite them to a webinar.

There’s all kinds of tactics,

but none of that was possible
before the digital world.

And so I think that means that
the entrenched advantage of being a large

company with a big marketing
budget is less than it used to be.

And if you think about BBC, look at places
like Etsy or Kickstarter, right?

I’m a watch buff myself.

So I’m always looking and interested

to see what kind of new
watches are coming out.

And there’s so many independent watch
brands that have launched. It used to be if

you wanted to sell like a higher end
watch, let’s say a watch that was going

to sell for $3000 $5000 $8000,
that kind of thing.

You had to figure out how to get your
watch into these jewelry stores,

and that was locked up. It
was very hard to break in.

Now all you have to do: get on Kickstarter

or put something on the Web, buy some
Facebook ads, create a cool video.

And now all of a sudden, coincidentally,

I’m wearing this watch right
now a very cool watch.

I like a lot from a company called
Gorilla Swiss Watch Company.

They created this very kind
of unusual, innovative watch.

They’re selling it direct to consumers

through things like advertising
on Facebook or influencer marketing.

There’s all kinds of people on YouTube

and other places that create blogs
and YouTube channels about watches.

And they can get those people.

I don’t know if they’re paying them or
through other things getting them to talk.

The point is, they can
find their audience.

I’m just mentioning this
in consciousness is a BDC example.

Albiet a luxury BDC example.

Find that audience sell direct and avoid
not only the cost of having to only charge

wholesale, but also the gatekeepers
who otherwise might look at an unusual or

an innovative watch and say, yeah, I don’t
think our market is going to go for that.

And then you’re just like,
you can’t get your clothes into Macy’s.

You can’t get them sold.

Now that’s all blown up.

That’s cool.

So it opens the door and more or
less levels the playing field.

In many ways it does.

I mean, to be perfectly honest.

What I spend my days doing is working

with large companies trying to figure
out how to unlevel the playing field again.

To say, look,
you are at risk by all these small

competitors where so many
barriers have dropped.

So how do you as a large company strategize

to figure out what do I still have
that are competitive advantages?

Of course, large companies have
competitive advantages, right?

They have name recognition.

They have huge pools of money that they

can spend if they can figure out
how to spend it in the right way.

But it’s more and more important
that large enterprises be better

at leveraging the advantages they do have
because it’s not as easy as it used to be

because there are so many more
opportunities for smaller companies

to compete on a seemingly
more level playing field.

Yeah, I always think of it like a poker

hand like you used to be able to buy
your way out of the poker hand.

But that’s not necessarily
always the case

now, as far as marketing goes.
Interesting, much more targeted.

Howard, how can people find you
and where can they find your books?


So you can find my books pretty much
anywhere that you’d buy a book,

like on Amazon and such by looking
for either my name Howard Tiersky or

the name of the book
Winning Digital Customers.

There’s also a website for the book
If you go there, you can get the first

chapter for free, so you
might find that interesting.

The book also comes with all kinds
of supplemental materials,

additional videos,
additional ebooks and other things that go

into even more detail because it’s meant
to make sure people can really apply it.

It’s not meant to be theory.
It’s meant to be a practical handbook.

There’s also bulk sale pricing,

because a lot of people wind up buying
one, and then they say,

I need 25 of this because I need
to give it to everyone on my team.


So you can do that on the Winning Digital
Customer’s website and also I’m on a podcast.

And also I’m on LinkedIn a lot.

And I do a lot of live casting on LinkedIn

so you can find me there
by looking for my name.

Very cool.

This has been super awesome.
Thank you.

Well, thank you so much for having me.

It’s been a lot of fun.

This has been Authentic Business

the business program that brings you the,

the struggle stories and triumphs and
successes of business owners across the land.

We are under written locally
by the Bank of Sun Prairie.

If you’re listening to this on the web,

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My name is James Kademan
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the country on the web at as well as Draw in Customers Business Coaching offering business coaching services

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on the web at and of course, the Bold Business Book. A book for

the Entrepreneur in all of us
available wherever fine books are sold.

We’d like to thank you our wonderful
listeners as well as our guest.

Howard Tiersky, Speaker,
Wall Street Journal Best selling

Author, Transformation Consultant. Howard
you got quite the resume there.

Don’t believe everything you read.

Can you tell me that
website one more time?



That should be so easy to find, right?

Essentially, what you guys got to do.

Past episodes can be found

morning, noon, and night at the podcast

link found at
Thank you for listening.

We’ll see you next week.
I want you to stay awesome.

And if you do nothing else,
enjoy your business.



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