How You Can Leverage Influencer Marketing with Jeremy Barnett of Rad AI

Summary of Episode

#54: Jeremy Barnett sits down with Ethan to discuss his martech startup, Rad AI, that utilizes influencers or what Jeremy calls, “key opinion leaders,” and artificial intelligence to deploy effective marketing campaigns. The pair discuss the makings of a strong content marketing strategy, how AI has impacted the martech space, and how to leverage influencer marketing to grow your business. 

About the Guest: 

Jeremy Barnett is the founder and CEO of Rad AI, a martech startup fueled by artificial intelligence to deliver high caliber content and high ROI for clients. Previously, he founded a fashion subscription service Trendy Butler and serves as a board member at Swoon Media.

Podcast Episode Notes

Introducing Jeremy Barnett and his AI marketing tool, Rad AI  [1:05]

Content authenticity and influencer marketing are Rad AI’s bread and butter. What are they and how do they assist businesses in their marketing campaigns? [5:50]

Jeremy reminisces on the old days of marketing – before AI. Specifically focusing on how personas were generated with creative, informed decision making. [11:48]

Rad AI helps every client differently based on the company’s individual goals. Jeremy breaks down some of the ways that Rad AI supports the goals of their clientele. [16:16]

Jeremy offers invaluable advice to anyone who is looking to use influencer marketing for their own business.  [20:50] 

Jeremy expands on what content marketing is, how it can benefit your business, and how you can learn to create content marketing yourself! [32:21]

Jeremy shares his #1 advice for early stage entrepreneurs. [37:54]

Connect with Rad AI [39:07]

Full Interview Transcript

Ethan: Hey, everyone, and welcome to the start up savant podcast. I'm your host, Ethan, and this is the show about the stories, challenges, and triumphs of fast scaling startups and the founders who run them. 

This week on the show I spoke with Jeremy Barnett, CEO and founder of Rad AI. 

Rad AI is a marketing agency specializing in content and influencer marketing or what he calls, “key opinion leaders.” The thing that makes Rad AI special is the novel way that they use AI to build user personas. We got in pretty deep on the ability for marketers to make truly informed decisions  and the data required to make them.

So, if you’re into marketing or the company you’re building does any sort of marketing, which is pretty much everybody, right? We made this episode just for you.

But before we start spilling secrets, please locate the subscribe button on your podcast player and press it. Subscribing lets the almighty algorithm know that you think we’re pretty cool. Which is cool, because you’re cool. Okay, I’m done.

Let’s jump into my conversation with Jeremy Barnett. Hey Jeremy, how are you doing today?

Jeremy Barnett: Ethan, how’s it going and appreciate you guys having us on

Ethan: It's going well. I'm stoked to have you on as well, and I know we have a lot to get through today, so I'm not even going to mess around and we'll just jump right in. Can you tell us what is Rad AI?

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah, we're an artificial intelligence that's been built to automate content decisions and creative strategy going into any marketing campaign. So typically brands use us to understand what they should do. We call it the five W’s: who, what, when, where, and why. Going into a campaign as opposed to guessing or infusing a biased opinion with respect to the creative and campaign strategy.

Ethan: So is this a software product? Or, is this or is this something that you are working with customers to help run their campaigns with them?

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah, the technology is a software. It's a platform and some clients use us in a self served capacity. The majority of the clients we are working with right now on a campaign basis and we're doing that to initially deepen adoption and not just get hooked into our methodology, but really get them thinking about how to activate an ROI-based influence or key opinion leader campaign with quantifiable performance that's transparent across the entire stake holder organization.

Ethan: Got it so I know some people don't like this word. And maybe there's a better word for it. But would you describe the non-self served side of your business as an agency?

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah, I mean, we lean into it. We're completely fine with understanding who we are and what we are. We actually just have a services arm of our company very similar to a lot of large SaaS companies that have launched and we do that in order to deepen adoption. The vision of the company is to be the blue check mark next to any creative campaign that they used Rad intelligence to decide what they were going to do, why they were going to do it, what channels they were launching on. 

So the technology is in a place now where it automates the creation of a persona, its interest based persona. So the idea of understanding who your customers are at the interest level. And doing it from a data set that is actually today's snapshot of the internet. For lack of a better word. That's really the place that we excel in. The idea of doing key opinion leader marketing campaigns, as opposed to influence marketing campaigns, is figuring out the different voices that brands should engage with that act. They move the needle as it relates to the brand's core objective.

Ethan: That makes sense. So when these folks come to you, these companies come to you and they're running these marketing campaigns. What's the problem that they're experiencing that Rad AI is specifically positioned to solve?

Jeremy Barnett: Creative. It's creative intelligence, so most of the time in our vertical… So for starters, I would say that the company that we acquired, which we can talk about in a little bit. Initially, when they launched they were solving, it was a natural language generation artificial intelligence and they were improving the performance of blogs and performing, improving the performance of emails. Open rates, And it was a similar product to like a Jasper or Pressato, if you're familiar with those two AI solutions. 

They were third to market. When we did the acquisition we said, “Hey, look, the technology itself does what it's supposed to do.” But the problem in Martech that it was pointed at is… It was an elegant problem, but not a problem that had as much meaning behind it from a business model perspective that we would have liked. So I had some experience in the Martech space, specifically in the influence of marketing space. So when we acquired Atomic Reach, we decided to readapt the artificial intelligence and solution towards the influence of marketing space. 

And at the time the rationale behind that was it was a very… It's just a very disruptable industry. There's a lot of opaque players that are in the space that live and die in ambiguity. There's not a lot of innovation in the space, and once you really understand what the space is or isn't the one common through line is, there's just a lot of jargon and things that we felt we could be, not just disruptive to, but we could really create a new solution that brands would latch on to because of our sophistication, not just with the technology, but also our sophistication with how we understand performance.

Ethan: So there’s a statement that's kind of all over you guys, as you're LinkedIn and your website and all this good stuff and that, and that is data informed, influencer marketing and content authenticity. Can you say what that means to y’all?

Jeremy Barnett: So the first thing is we think of influencer marketing as key opinion leaders, so the idea is not identifying the person who's going to be a one off promotion. It's more so finding people that are going to work with the brand on an ongoing basis, finding the people that love your brand because they authentically love your brand versus people that love your brand because they're getting a paycheck. So when you talk about content authenticity, the understanding of what that actually means with respect to the relationship between ROI is the most critical part of it. 

So brands when they are deemed by their target customer to be authentic, and if they have a good product, they are rewarded with more sales and loyalty from their customers. So there's a direct relationship between content authenticity and the way humans decide to spend money with a brand, so we've been able to identify through several data partners the unique relationship between content authenticity and campaign ROI. And the way we think about it is once the content gets into, like Facebook’s ecosystem or Tiktok’s ecosystem, the algorithms in those areas, they're going to do what they do right, So you're kind of you can use their targeting tools. If you're a marketer, you can use their demo tools, their business managers. whatever, But the bottom line is once the content’s there, it's there. 

The space that we like to be in is before the content goes there. So you have the best possible piece of content That is created for the persona that you're actually targeting. That has the right messaging for your objective, and all of those check marks are tailored to your specific campaign objective and it's aligned. And we found that when you do that before you launch, you're able to remove the biased opinion of a marketer, what they think should or shouldn't be done based on a previous analysis, and you're able to create a piece of content that's more compelling for whatever your campaign objective is. So it's that relationship between authenticity and ROI and brands. They want to be more authentic with their customers. I don't think a brand's ever going to say, “well, we like to be fake.” 

I think that we can all say that oftentimes we're just fed so much junk, some of it resonates, some of it doesn't resonate, so the idea is getting rid of all of the clutter, getting rid of all the junk, understanding the things that your customer cares about today, then putting content in front of them delivered by key opinion leaders that they're going to actually really care about than the net. and result is you get more return on investment That's measurable and transparent that that can be communicated back to the rest of the Oog.

Ethan: So is your software out there just identifying what it is that those actual users or those intended users of that marketing campaign, what they actually want to see, what they actually care about. Or is it more kind of the other side of, “we are really good at authenticity. We want to manufacture authenticity.” Which kind of side do you think is most being served by your software?

Jeremy Barnett: Well, I mean the answer is both. So the first thing to understand, I think that's important is before we do any campaign before we make any recommendations of humans. before we make any creative strategy recommendations we’re utilizing… We have six hundred API based data connections, but we're using about ten of them on a frequent basis, the most active for creative intelligence that we use as Reddit. So we're looking at the fifty four million user conversations that are going on on Reddit or understanding what they're talking about, what they're not talking about. We’re categorizing into segments into the subreddit ave correlation directly to your campaign, and then we're able to pull out the things through a weighted system that our technology is built for to understand the things that your customers care about most today, and the frequency of those things that are being talked about.

And then that enables us to create an interest based persona going into the campaign. So the high level is before anything is done Is where we've got a process that automates the creation of an interest based persona. All personas today are done at the demographic level, and, while we do use demographics as a secondary data function in our persons at the core, where were the only ones that are doing interest based persons at the click of a button. Using our data partnerships. 

That tells us the story that tells us the in puts in the things that your customer cares about, what they don't care about, as it relates to your campaign objective. And then that is data led from every part of it. Our insights team is helping translate the information to our client, to make sure our client understands what's what, with respect to the relationship to the Pain, and then from there we're able to match key opinion leaders up, or influencers. We'd like to call them key opinion leaders because they really are key opinion leaders, but from there we're finally the top one percent of key opinion leaders that match by creative strategy, persona, and content creation. 

And when all of those things match going into the campaign before you've done anything, the likelihood of you outperforming the standard index is literally like a 20x multiple. So we really stand behind the capability of the creative. Because that is what drives everything. If you have bad creative, you're dead. You're not going to know if it worked or didn't work. You’re not going to know if your product is good or not good, if you're creative isn't up to par. But if you have good creative and it is up to par and it's targeting the right people and it's with the right message and it's at the right time, and all of those things are data led. then the likelihood of your performing up to expectations and exceeding expectations increases dramatically.

Ethan: So we're goin to get a little bit more into the content here in a little while, because that's kind of the world that I've played in for as long as I have and I find a very strong interest in it. But I want to talk a little bit more about these personas. So you're a marketing guy. You've been in marketing for a long time, and we're now seeing all these AI tools coming into play. and your, you know, companies like yours, especially our company is used In a I to build these personas. But what was the way? Let's call that the easy way. What was the hard way? How did you do this before AI and before having all of these aggregators come in and play around with this data for you.

Jeremy Barnett: Well, yeah, so we have the way it was done before us. Was you would look at Google Analytics, and you would look at historical performance and you would then decide what that information means as a marketer, So you are giving the information like Google Analytics gives you the information, or Adobe Analytics gives you information, or Facebook business Manager gives you that information, But you as a marketer are making decisions about what that information means. So by virtue of you deciding what that information means, you're fundamentally guessing or by using a biased opinion as to what or why, right? So that's the very first thing. that's the way it was done before us with the ad with, I mean, and and by the way, we're at a completely different kind of curve.

I'd like to think it was because we had this vision of like hey, like we know that this is going to be crazy in two years with all of the different commercial adoption going on across several different sectors, and all the different ways that ChatGPT3 could be used at the business level at the commercial level at the individual user level, there's so much disruption going on in the space. But if you just kind of think about it as a whole, what we figured out is that creative decision making is a black hole. 

And this is, and you know the interesting thing, Even the really big agencies and big PR companies, they do the same thing. They have a smart analyst who's looking at the information, but at the end of the day it's intelligent guesswork right so from our perspective that's the opportunity and you know it's interesting. Like for example, ChatGPT3, We use ChatGPT3 in some of our linguistic models to score the recommendations that it gives us, so we'll have it kick out like twenty five recommendations for some language that should be used in copy. Then our a I will score the score. That language. That's an interesting way that we're using it, But there's so many different ways that AI as a whole is changing the way humans think about solving problems. 

But the most important part about artificial intelligence from our perspective is the AI has to solve a problem that the customer cares about and then they have to understand it right, Like, in other words, we can't go to somebody and be the smartest people in the room and be patting ourselves on the back because we're so sophisticated, the AI is so cool and we did all these things. And then when we show you the information, you don't understand it. 

So what we found was, the hardest part wasn’t building the technology. The part of it that is actually the hardest part is getting it in front of people in a way that's intelligible so that they can use it and understand it. so it's kind of interesting, right, like you would say, building technology is probably hardest for us. We started at the hardest part first, and now that we've gotten, I think we're at the beginning of commercial adoption, but what we're finding is like, “Okay. How do we communicate the value that we deliver to clients in a way that they care, versus like you should care about this?” because it's really important and what we found is the simplest of answers that people really care about ROI. 

In other words, if they can put it in a dollar into a vending machine, can they get back to? And they really care about simplicity of information, because they're going to go back to their colleagues and constituents at the company that they've said. Hey, these guys are great and they need to be able to explain what you do and what you've delivered. Those are the key to key drivers so as long as you can show that you're delivering more ROI. And the definition of ROI is mandated by the brand, and as long as you can give them the information where it's easy for them to understand so they can share it with other people. You're in a really good place to get commercial adoption.

Ethan: What are the average kind of boosts in this ROI that you're seeing from whenever a new client comes on, they're getting you know X per cent. And then once they start using your tool, Is it X times two? Is it X plus five? Is it X times X?

Jeremy Barnett: It changes with every customer, so the most important thing is when you define it with a customer at the onset of a campaign, you actually have to clearly define what their definition of success is. Is their definition of success hours saved on a campaign because they were using XYZ Vendors? Is their definition of success improving engagement rate? How much do they value engagement? How much do they value sales? Is it that they purely want to improve sales and their bottom line? 

So the answer is always going to be specific to the brand. But I can tell you, we defined a set of measures with one of our clients, which is a brand called Roman Health. You've probably heard of them. It's the men's… It's the direct to patient men's health care company that focuses on vitality products, and their definition of ROI was improved engagement. There was a defined a dollar value of engagement. Their definition of ROI was some time metrics that we calculated with them, but the bottom line is we had to go through that process with them at the beginning, rather than just assuming that they assigned value to these other things. 

Ethan: Right.

Jeremy Barnett: And that's really what I always see is the It's like outside of like Facebook and Google where you have this really clear. Easy to understand. You're spending two dollars and you're going to convert X, Y or Z. Right? That's some client’s definition of ROI. But if we know that going in and that's how we're mapping. So what we found is there's never a straight line. Oftentimes definition of ROI’s share voice brand sentiment, improved engagement. They're spending this much on these channels right now. How can we improve that? 

Another thing that we found that other people don't do, which we found this to be not just interesting, but also baffling, was the impact of the work that we do on other brand-owned channels and social channels. So because we've spent a lot of our resources and infrastructure around building out transparency through performance data, we're able to understand the correlation patterns between spike and website traffic, for example. To the content that the key opinion leaders are pushing out. And then we're able to look at the sustained lift over a period of time that results from these key opinion leaders pushing content out over a sustained period of time. So I say these things, because in order for you to be able to tell the story, you actually have to number one, understand what's important to the client up front, and then number two, you have to have the abilities to track these things in in a way that you can then give them the information that speaks to them in a way they want to be spoken to. 

So it's a really tricky thing in marketing technology, which I think oftentimes goes unsaid, which is a lot of you know. What I also found is a lot of times brands, big brands, will come to us and they'll run and run an awareness campaign and we'll say great. Let's double click on awareness. What does it mean? And well, we want to get more engagement. Let's double click on what more engagement means. Well, I think well, you know, then a budget of stuttering happens and what we find is a lot of people probably like half, don't really have a clearly defined goal post when they run Influence marketing.

Ethan: Right.

Jeremy Barnett: They're checking a box with a budget. It's really quite fascinating. So what we learn to do is push from a quantitative perspective, going into a campaign, right? So we say “hey, if we can deliver this and this quantitative, not qualitative, then we are set up for success.” We're able to build the models that will deliver the performance, and we know when that performance happens, that the brand is going to be happy because they told us. That's what defines success at the outside of the campaign. 

So I just find these things sometimes very fascinating, like the acceptance of opaque generalized information with these big budgets, And that's really the place that we like to pay. We like to be a little bit more thorough with the definition of value without sacrificing ease of delivering the product and above and beyond anything, Clients don't care how smart your business is or how valuable it is. If you make their life hard, they're still not going to care. So there's kind of like that balancing act of both. 

Ethan: Right, So let's jump out of Rad AI marketing specific for a moment, and jump into the kind of like the wonderful world of every day marketing. And I know you've been talking about the wonderful world of everyday marketing. 

Jeremy Barnett: You said wonderful.

Ethan: Oh yeah.

Jeremy Barnett: You said, wonderful world of everyday marketing.

Ethan: Yeah, it's the best who doesn't love marketing except all of the sales guys. 

Jeremy Barnett: Who doesn’t? Yeah, totally totally.

Ethan: So we've been talking a little bit about influence marketing. What you've called key opinion leaders but let's say I'm a founder of a company who I have money for the first time. I'm going to do some marketing for the first time and somebody told me it was a good idea to use influencer marketing, But I don't even know how to think about it. Where do I need to start? What are the questions that I should be asking myself or to my marketing team to even get an understanding of how to get into this quote, unquote influencer marketing?

Jeremy Barnett: Well, the first rule is you know you shouldn't be engaging with an agency for anything less than like if you have to be able to afford at least at least a fifty thousand dollar plus campaign. If you're going to go with an agency to get anybody, that's even reasonable working on your campaign. 

And everybody has the same stuff, and the pitch across the board is really the same and the way influence in marketing works today, depending on what your objectives are. But if you're a small brand, you should be thinking about it like ‘product in exchange for’ and you should be thinking about it like you're going to do the work. You're going to set up maybe some sort of internal infrastructure to support the work, and the idea is not spending a lot of money. Very rare that you spend anything if you can. Invest into, like a platform like a maverick or like one of the solutions that helps you kind of do outreach and manage back and forth comes with influencers, maybe some sort of affiliate network. 

But that's really what you should be doing. You shouldn't be thinking about it from any other perspective than “it's an ancillary way to get content created, product in exchange,” depending on the channels you're going to go activate on. For example, Instagram, the reach is going to be anywhere from ten to thirty percent of the influencers audience. Whereas with TikTok, depending on if the influencer or creator creates a good piece of content, you have a legitimate opportunity to go viral on Tiktok. Some influences go viral more than others, but the high level is on Instagram. It's a paid to play environment. Tiktok, you have an opportunity to go viral. The other channels are really based off of the industry that you're in, you know, like for example, Twitch is really good for gaming and it's also oddly good for politics, But that's another story. 

Ethan: Right.

Jeremy Barnett: So the idea is like first and foremost, do it yourself. If you're small, right, that's the first thing. There's a lot of resources and infrastructure out there. Learn how to negotiate the deals with the influencers. Don't spend a lot of money and learn how to do it yourself. The second part of it, which is important is just think this piece of content is being created, So if you're an ecommerce brand, you should be thinking about the content in a framework of, “Okay. Now the piece of contents ready. I need to have rights for the content so I can use it in different places, because you want to extend the reach outside of social channels.”

Ethan: And is this if you've had somebody make this content for you? These rights to this content?

Jeremy Barnett: An influencer or a key opinion leader has made the content.

Ethan: Okay.

Jeremy Barnett: It a lot of times, people that our early stage influencer marketers don't think about the content rights, or they don't get the right content rights, so you want to be able to link in with the influence to be able to promote the content with paid advertising on the channel that the content was published on. You also want to be able to adapt the content to other channels to be able to promote it. And that's where you get ROI. So if you go into influencer marketing as a brand and you're like I want to do this and I'm hoping to get you know, fifty influencers activated, and I'm hoping I'm gonna get five thousand sales. It just doesn't work like that any more. 

There is some anomalies here and there, but it doesn't work like that. The thought pattern is I'm gonna get a bunch of content. I'm going to use that content in different places across my marketing mix and the content that performs well. I'm going to adapt that and put paid media behind it, So that's the right way to think about it as a smaller brand.

Ethan: Okay, so if I'm let me let me see if I can recap that. So if I'm doing anything less than a fifty thousand dollar campaign, I should really be thinking about doing it myself or having an internal team take care of this situation. 

Jeremy Barnett: Yes.

Ethan: I should be using affiliate platforms and other platforms to be able to manage the outreach to these influencers

Jeremy Barnett: Affiliate platforms and or other platforms. Depending on what if it's an ambassador program, or if it's like a nano influencer or program, really depends on what your strategy there is…

Ethan: Okay,

Jeremy Barnett: But there's literally an abundance of them that are out there. But if you're going to really build a serious infrastructure around it and you don't want to be on Google Docs, one of those platforms can be helpful and they range in cost from anywhere from a thousand to five thousand dollars a month, depending on how big your organization is.

Ethan: And are these specifically meant to kind of manage the relationship between the brand and the influencer? Do they also help to find the proper key opinion leaders?

Jeremy Barnett: I mean, you know the problem with the influencer discovery on all of the platforms is it's It's sub par, so you're always like… Yes, you can find some people on the platforms, but you have to think about it like how do you find like it's the world and it's keywords. and then your different data sources are mandated. Different data sources are specific to Instagram, or Tik, Tok, or Pinterest or Twitch. All of these platforms are individual things that keep their data a certain way, And it's not like there's just one standard of universe for how all social platforms keep their data, So when you start talking about the ways to find influencers you're finding by categories or keywords, Right and most of these platforms don't give you access to the historical performance of the influencers.

Ethan: Right?

Jeremy Barnett: So, you basically are beholden to some public data and how much public data they’re releasing, and how accurate is also another thing. And how you're using the data becomes like an issue. So what I'm saying is there are search functions. All platforms have them. But if you think it's going to make it so you don't have to do anything, you're just in the clouds like… there's a human part of it that has to be there with respect to how you find and source influencers. If you're at the earlier stage. If you're like a smaller brand or you don't have reasonable infrastructure to support.

Ethan: Right, yeah, I always assume everything is going to be an extra pain, so I've learned a long time ago to stop thinking that things are going to be easy because they just never are.

Jeremy Barnett: They're never easy.

Ethan: So you're jumping on to these platforms. The affiliate platforms are probably there to kind of facilitate the money transfer. the deal, transfer the platform to find and to communicate.

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah, I would call them like, I would call them influencer platforms. There are affiliate platforms, but I would call them more like influencer search platforms. 

Ethan: All right, And then that last step was to get the rights to the content. Now, do I need to have a contract with each different influencer? Or, is it something written in an email?

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah. Now, I mean, you would want to have a… you want to standardize it so you don't have to go back and forth with them.

Ethan: Sure.

Jeremy Barnett: And to say hey, this is our standard contract. This is what we're going to give you. This is what is expected. But depending on how many nuances are with the campaign, depending on how many nuances you require as a brand, you know some people. The different rights contracts like you know… The bigger the bigger the influence is, the more You're going to negotiate the rights. So as a smaller company, just think about it like this: If an influencer has a quarter million, five hundred or million plus, and you're reaching out to them for product in exchange, your chances are like next to nothing that they're going to do it.

Ethan: This is a product in exchange like, I will give you this basketball if you sell my basketball to all your people.

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah. 

Ethan: Okay.

Jeremy Barnett: It's almost like you're wasting your own time and if you think about any quality influencer with a significant following, they are for sure getting offers on a continual basis to do reasonably sized deals with money attached. So there's a money component to it. The value of nanos and early stage and smaller influencers is you can find people that are aligned with your brand that are authentic that you can get really good content from but they're going to do it because they're excited to be working with the brand. So the idea is just kind of like, almost like a good way to think about it is you know, don't bother wasting, you know, ten hours of your time trying to go after things that are above your weight class. Because you're just going to end up with twelve hours wasted versus just focusing on the micros and the nanos as an early stage business, Because you’re going to get more traction there.

Ethan: Do you have any specific thresholds of follower count or views per time frame that you see as being, “this is going to be the bread and butter for the size of company that I am.”

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah, I mean we are. It depends on how big the brand is and it depends on what the campaign objective of the brand is. All of these things are built into what we are or aren't going to do. But from a general level you're looking for influencers when they create content that are showing on TikTok and an engagement rate of over 12%, and on Instagram an engagement rate of over 4% percent. And then there's different units on each one of those platforms that sort of vary depending on what industry you're in and what your strategy would be.

Ethan: All right. Let's jump off of influence your marketing for a second, and jump quickly into content marketing. But before we go deep into that, could you give us a quick definition of what content marketing is.

Jeremy Barnett: Well, it's super broad and we had to learn this the hard way because we were initially using our AI for the entire marketing mix. But content marketing is anything associated with the martech industry, marketing technology industry, so content marketing is influence marketing, key opinion leader, marketing, content marketing is long form blog content, short form blog, content, content marketing is email sequencing. Content marketing is paid advertising across the entire social ecosystem, Facebook Meta business manager, Tiktok business manager, Pinterest, Twitch, Twitter, whatever. So content marking is the materials that you're putting into your digital mix, your marketing mix that are going to either build loyalty and awareness over time, convert a customer to take an action, or create a sentiment around your brand with a target customer that you want to motivate to do something.

Ethan: All right, that's a pretty nice and zipped up answer. It's like you had that prepared.

Jeremy Barnett: No, no, no, I have to know these things as the co-founder of a marketing technology company.

Ethan: Yeah. 

Jeremy Barnett: If I didn’t have a good answer for you, I think there would be bigger problems.

Ethan: That's logical. 

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah.

Ethan: All right. So since content marketing is so huge, where should founders… I mean, let's say I'm the founder of a brand. We make athletic shorts and we have a whole line of different athletic shorts, and hey soon we'll be getting into athletic shirts. We're up to six full time employees and We've got several freelancers that work with us. Just kind of giving you the idea of what's in my brain here of who we’re talking to. The founder of that company and the quote, unquote marketing team of that company. You know, Dave over there, he’s marketing. 

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah.

Ethan: What should Dave be thinking about on content marketing? What's the thing that he can do that's going to bring the highest value to the business and let's define that. I know you've said that several times. I just want to sell more shorts. 

Jeremy Barnett: How big is Dave's company?

Ethan: Dave's company. Let's see here. We're working on two hundred thousand in revenue per month.

Jeremy Barnett: So his run rate is 2.4 million dollars. So he's still a relatively small company, so Dave probably has between six to ten employees, right? if you kind of do a revenue per employee match. So the first thing is to get good at doing the thing yourself. So get the muscle for running Facebook ads internally, get the muscle for activating influencer content marketing internally, get the muscle for email sequencing, content creation. All those things internally, one really really good marketer can do it all. You're going to waste a bunch of time with a bunch of people who don't give you know what about your business because you're just not big enough from an agency perspective.

Ethan: Mhmm.

Jeremy Barnett: So you're never going to get somebody carrying the way you're going to care, And you're also, if you're outsourcing at that level, that means that you are not fluent enough in order to manage somebody correctly. That is an external vendor. So you’ve got to build that muscle internally. 

You got to have your hands on it. You got to understand it, and it's all a very learnable thing. Is another really interesting part of it And there's lots of people that are out there that are really good at it, if they're manage correctly, and you can find really good people in all parts of the world that are happy to work for four thousand and five thousand dollars a month full time, and they're fluent English speaking they have five years experience by media on Facebook, know  how to create ads. But just understand that it's a process and it's only going to be as good as two things. 

The product that you have number one and number two is the piece of marketing materials that you're putting out into the ether, so you know, like Facebook is not going to make your dreams come true. And a really good content marketer’s not going to make your dreams come true if your product sucks. So you’ve got to really have the ability to sometimes take a step back and understand what you are and what you aren't. And from there just depending on what your business model is, I mean, there's all sorts of stuff. I mean, you brought up [inaudible] business or the clothing business for you, for the non-Hebrew listeners.

But the thing that's interesting about the clothing business is there's opportunities for recurring business models, there's opportunity for subscriptions, there's opportunities to control the entire food chain from end to end. Meaning the way you manufacture products all the way through to the way you market products. And there's ways to really understand your customer intimately based off of their style preferences. So it's really an interesting space, the clothing business. I have quite a bit of experience in that space in particular, but I would say the one thing above them beyond anything else is do the thing yourself until until you're big enough to where people will care, and you know, don't be mad that people don't care when you really small, or you're not getting the right person to be interested in your deal because you can't afford them.

Ethan: Right. 

Jeremy Barnett: And that's really the net net. Nobody's going to care like you care. You have to always be in stages of when you're growing with the people that you bring on. They have to be good for you right now. Not good for you in six months, not good for you in two years. You know I've made this mistake where I've brought in really qualified people that have the central casting pedigree, but they just weren't good for the company right now, right? So the same thing holds true with marketing. You know, I think a lot of it is bootstrapping. You get to a certain point at two and a half million dollars a year. You probably could set up a really active HubSpot account, set up your sequence in and automation through HubSpot, which is a whole other conversation. That would be fun to do training on if we had all day, but just being very honest with yourself about where you're at and being willing to do the deal yourself. That's the first thing above and beyond anything else. If you're willing to do that, then all the information is out there and you can go grab it.

Ethan: Sweet. So if I've learned three things for this episode it's that everything is harder than it should be. Nobody cares because I'm not big enough, and use HubSpot. That's it! All right. I'm gonna be reaching out to Hub spot for some advertising dollars after this.

Jeremy Barnett: Yeah, we were deep in our solution with them right now. It's actually a great product. I’ve got no bones in the game other than that we’re a user as a company.

Ethan: All right, we're going to move into the last question. The question that we ask everybody, because we love the answers we get. What is your number one piece of advice for early stage entrepreneurs?

Jeremy Barnett: Just don't start a business unless you're incredibly resilient, a little bit crazy, and a glutton for punishment. Those are the things that I would say. It's really really hard. You have to be above and beyond anything else smart. There's lots of people I know that aren't the smartest people in the room that are really successful founders. The most important thing is resiliency: you have to be okay with things going wrong several different times throughout your journey, and you have to be naive to the world to a degree. And you also have to be okay with telling people things they don't want to hear. So number one thing, resiliency. Head and shoulders above everything else. That's the one like I was going to do a draft pick. And you said this is the most resilient person. Here's a guy from Harvard. Here's a guy from Stanford and here's a guy who sold his last company for a hundred million dollars. I'll take the resilient guy or girl.

Ethan: All right, that's a good answer. You know. I'm going to have to get your address so I can send you some rose colored glasses. 

Jeremy Barnett: I'll take him

Ethan: All right, we'll get them over to you. All Right. Where can people connect with you online? And how can our listeners support Rad AI?

Jeremy Barnett: Well, you can email me directly You can find me on LinkedIn. Just look up Rad AI and I'm pretty easy to find Jeremy Barnett on LinkedIn. If they want to support our fundraiser we're on WeFunder right now. I think we're the top, or at least second to the top company that's on the platform right now. We just surpassed $2.7 million raised on the platform.

Ethan: Nice.

Jeremy Barnett: We're going to be close, closing around in about forty five days or so. So we're targeting, hopefully somewhere between four to five million for the raise. The valuation is eighteen million bucks.

Ethan: Sweet.

Jeremy Barnett: Always happy to talk to investors that are interested. Also always happy to talk to people that think their product or service might be good for our business. Always happy to forward somebody over to our sales team once we evaluate the opportunity. So all that kind of fun stuff and I appreciate you having us on, Ethan. Thank you.

Ethan: Awesome. Jeremy, this has been a whole lot of fun. So for everybody listening, we're going to get the links. the quotes. Everything else we talked about in the show note over at That's where you can find it all. But Jeremy, this has been a lot of fun. Thank you very much for coming on to the show.

Alright that’s a wrap for this week’s episode of the Startup Savant Podcast! 

Remember, if you like the show, the best way to show us some love is by rating and reviewing the podcast! And the places to leave those ratings and reviews in on either Spotify or Apple Podcasts.

We appreciate you tuning into the show, and we’ll see you next week! In the meantime, go build something beautiful.

Expand to view full transcript

Tell Us Your Startup Story

Are you a startup founder and want to share your entrepreneurial journey with our readers? Click below to contact us today!

Request an Interview

More on Rad AI

Rad AI logo.

Rad AI Profile

Rad AI is a marketing agency leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to generate effective marketing strategies. 

Read More

Rad AI promotional image.

Using AI to Create Better Marketing Strategies

The origin story of martech startup Rad AI, founded by Jeremy Barnett, that utilizes AI to create impactful marketing strategies. 

Read More