Technical Skills for Marketers

Fine Point Grey Mike Arnesen, CEO & Founder Upbuild

Technical Skills for Marketers

(36-minute podcast)

This week we consider how investing in your technical skills brings career benefits for general marketers and the value of practical idealism at the office and at home. We also dive into LinkedIn’s matched audiences, our take on Amazon’s Echo Look (a voice-controlled camera for fashion tips), how “Ready Player One” reflects real life, and the latest on the Net Neutrality debate.


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Featured Expert:

Mike Arnesen, Founder and CEO of Upbuild

Guests and Experts


Mike Arnesen, Founder and CEO of Upbuild

Bio: Mike Arnesen is a massive optimization geek based in Portland, Oregon. He’s also the Founder and CEO of UpBuild, an SEO and analytics agency on a mission to change everything about how great technical marketing gets done. For a taste of what Mike’s up to right now, visit his NOW page.

Mike has been working in the SEO space for over a decade, but actually started out as a history major who reluctantly took a job at MySpace in the late 2000s. In between answering support emails, Mike discovered two incredible things: WordPress and SEO. The rest is history.

Today Mike is considered a thought leader (whatever that is) in SEO and analytics, and he spends his days leading an amazing team of technical marketers at UpBuild, going down technical marketing rabbit holes, speaking at conferences, and contemplating company culture.


Maureen Jann, Director of Marketing, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Maureen Jann is a veteran B2B marketer whose career in Digital Media has grown up with the Internet. A self-described jill-of-all-trades, Maureen has elevated creative problem solving to an art form and enjoys the daily challenges of driving business results in unexpected ways. Her skills as an entrepreneur, content marketer, creative director and passionate people manager set her apart from the pack. Maureen has worked in every corner of marketing making her a skilled tactical resource as well as a strategic partner.  Recently, she was the captain of the marketing ship for an award-winning professional services firm and is currently creating a content marketing strategy for Point It, a digital marketing agency.


Tim Mohler, Sr. Marketing Manager, Point It Digital Marketing

Bio: Tim Mohler is a multichannel marketer with experience building campaigns for travel, CPG, food, beverage, and technology companies reaching both B2B and B2C customers. He’s passionate about building marketing experiences & partnerships that are relevant to a brand’s message, exciting for the customer, and most importantly deliver measurable results. At Point It, he develops digital, social and content campaigns as well as managing on a day to day basis.


Maureen Jann: Hi there and welcome to Fine Point. Digital marketing updates, a weekly podcast of the latest happenings. Interviews with expert guests from across the spectrum of digital marketing.


I’m Maureen Jann, the Director of Marketing at Point It, a digital marketing agency here in Seattle, Washington. I’ll be your hostess today. I’m joined by podcast engineer and Senior Marketing Manager Tim Mohler, who will be joining in throughout the chat.


Today we have Mike Arnesen with Upbuild an SEO, analytics, and CRO agency. We’ll be talking about skillsets marketers should have.


How are you Mike? Doing well?


Mike Arnesen: Doing very well, thank you for having me.


Maureen Jann: We’re delighted to have you. We were gonna talk weather but I feel like we covered that, but let’s do it again. Landmark temperatures.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, landmark temperatures, especially here in Portland, Oregon. Supposed to hit 80 degrees today which is wild because just a couple days ago it was 50 degrees out and cloudy, now it’s gonna be sunny and 80 and suddenly in summer.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, and you know, for here it means that all the Amazonians find their shorts, right? That’s a thing. And there it’s all the hippies find their shorts on some levels, right? That’s fun.


Tim Mohler: Way to offend the entire Pacific Northwest.


Maureen Jann: Nailed it! Yeah, I’m from California.


Tim Mohler: Somebody’s gotta do it.


Maureen Jann: Exactly! Somebody’s gotta do it.


Tim Mohler: Yeah, I’m from California too.


Maureen Jann: Oh, high five! Right on. Where are you from in California?


Tim Mohler: I’m from a small town called Thousand Oaks which is an LA suburb.


Maureen Jann: Oh yes. I know. I have family in San Bernardino. There you go.


Tim Mohler: Oh wonderful.


Maureen Jann: Very cool. I actually am from the bay area myself which everybody who’s listening to this knows anything about the relationship between the Bay Area and the northwest is rolling their eyes. Big time. Awesome. Well, before we get started digging into the interview with Mike we’re gonna start talking about what’s happening in digital marketing. So we’re gonna start with our brand new net neutrality update and then we’ll move on to other happenings in the market.


First, let’s just talk about the basics. Net neutrality is that you get served the same content at the same speed no matter who you are and what you’re looking for. So that’s just the underlying basin. That happened- that started in 20- or in 1999 was the first legislation around that. The FCC took it up and made it their pet project. We ended up having more legislation in 2015 to rule that the telco’s and the cable companies will be treated equally as if they’re common carriers that everyone can use and… So this has been a real struggle between the cable companies and the providers of information [unintelligible 02:34 – 02:35] like whether or not you’re Microsoft, Google, Amazon or whatever.


So as of May 1st there was a federal appeals court that declined to rehear a challenge to the prior administration’s landmark net neutrality rules. This was due to the fact that according to- I’m gonna butcher this name but I’m gonna try really hard not to- Sri Srinivasan. Oh, gosh, I’m sure I tortured that. The new hearing would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty around the fate of the FCC’s order, and the FCC’s order is that they’re going to reorganize and strip out all of the restrictions around net neutrality for the cable companies. So the idea that they would- the US telecom trade group representing the major telephone companies- when they sued the FCC in 2015 over the new rules basically this judge who- these guys are trying to have them rehear it- the judge is coming after them and saying ‘That’s silly.’ The FCC is looking at these rules wholesale. There’s really no reason to try it until all of this falls out.


So no matter what side of the issue you fall on, the bottom line is that the impending proposal of the new FCC’s change is already impacting court cases today which I think is really the most important thing. It’s a little- I mean obviously these topics are complex and it’s sometimes challenging to read them and share with people in a really useful, easy, bottom line way but I think that for this the bottom line is just that. Courts are already starting to react based on possible changes in the FCC rules.


Tim Mohler: You know, to me it’s interesting- this goes back almost to the founding of the internet when it was originally designed- it was designed democratically so that essentially everything going across the wires would be equal. That’s one of the things that’s made the internet both so valuable to everyone as well as such a stable technology really, and this is really the telco’s trying to capture more of the profit that they’re watching Amazon and Google and Facebook and all of these other companies grab up. And they’re going ‘Where’s our piece? We want some. We want to essentially charge both sides of the equation- both the customer who’s already paying us for that wire to their house and the people who are providing the content.


There’s definitely huge risks to that but I don’t think this judgment is really a surprise. To spend all the money of carrying on a court case when the FCC’s about to change its mind again, probably not a good idea for the justice system. I think the court cases that are going to matter are going to come after the new regulations come out and we see where that all falls out.


Maureen Jann: I think the part that I struggle with on this is that this feels strategic to me. This feels strategic to me in that telco’s aren’t stupid and neither are their litigators, and so I wonder if there’s some sort of strategic play here that I’m not seeing.


Mike Arnesen: I definitely agree that there is probably some strategy here. It’s a lot like what we think about as FCO’s and marketers. When Google does something they’re not just doing it because. There’s a reason. There’s a motive behind it and something they’re trying to accomplish. So, I totally think that there’s some kind of strategic thinking around this for sure.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, I just-


Mike Arnesen: Not sure what it is.


Maureen Jann: Exactly. I can’t wrap my arms around why they would bother. Are they trying to make a point? Are they… I don’t know.


Tim Mohler: I think this is- this is- this is sports ball writ large. So again I think this comes down to Google and the trade groups it’s part of versus the telcom’s and the trade groups they’re part of and their various lobbyists and the amount of money that they’re spending. Think about how much Google is making. This is big money. This is going to affect- whatever these regulations are, who cares about the consumer? This is going to massively impact the share prices of Verizon, of AT&T, of Google, of Facebook. Google pretty much is going to weather this anyway. It’s not gonna really matter, but you have to remember even YouTube- both YouTube and NetFlix pay those same telco providers for preferential access already in order to serve video. So for you to get great NetFlix video is really very intensive all the way across the pipe. So they already have a certain relationship where they’re paying for things, and I think this is all about who gets what chunk of the pie.


Maureen Jann: I don’t think there’s any question about that really. What there is question about is why bother?


Tim Mohler: Well, I think the concern needs to be on consumers where they’re going to end up paying more to everyone that they’re doing business with whether it’s Google for advertisers or Netflix charging you because they’re getting charged more by the teleco’s, paying more for your internet. At the end of the day, I think it’s the consumer that loses.


Maureen Jann: Sure. I agree with that. Okay, well Mike, do you have any other thoughts on this?


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, I think one of the biggest- or one of the biggest things in my mind at least- is that this whole thing is just, I mean, it’s going to be crippling for innovation on the web. I think that’s why things have progressed as well as they have, and we’ve seen so much amazing technology sprout up over the next decade, decade and a half. It’s because the internet has leveled the playing field and competitors can come up, create their own products and [unintelligible 07:51] whether or not they use a lot of bandwidth. So I mean I think this kind of legislation could absolutely just completely stifle that. It’s like well, you can innovate unless you’re doing this thing and then you’re gonna have to deal with being charged more for your services or make it so that you can’t. Create the next streaming service and stuff like that. It kinda breaks my heart is what I’m trying to say.


Maureen Jann: We had the ‘break your heart’- we all cried in our beer in our last- our last conversation because it was such a bummer, and we were just talking about how it was a real shame and it felt like it was killing a special place on some level. Anyway…


Tim Mohler: That reminds me a lot of these big telco’s also own content channels so they are competitors with NetFlix. If you think AT&T- they own DIRECTV- they are direct competitors. So this is also an anti-competitive move on their part. Once they break that down cable companies have long wanted to be able to eliminate other people’s ability to use their lines and this kind of goes back to something- to a fight that’s twenty years old. Mike, you mentioned cripples innovation, even the playing field. That goes back to why the internet was founded- what it was founded to do. I really think the government needs to step up to all parties in this and remind them ‘You don’t own the internet.’ These are the base playing rules, and it’s not yours.


Maureen Jann: I would agree with that.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, absolutely. Have either of you read the book, Ready Player One?


Tim Mohler: I couldn’t make it through. I got about a third of the way through.


Mike Arnesen: You couldn’t make it through? That- it’s one of my favorite books in the last like decade.


Tim Mohler: I will try it again.


Mike Arnesen: I’ve- Part of it may be because I listened to it also in audiobook format on Audible. It’s narrated by Wil Wheaton from Star Wars fame or Star Trek fame. Wow.


Tim Mohler: Now I will listen again.


Maureen Jann: Yep!


Mike Arnesen: I’ve listened to it three full times but basically the whole idea- the premise of the book is that there’s this virtual reality space called The Oasis that everyone- this is like thirty years in the future- basically we’re out of fossil fuels, the world just sucks and everybody kind of just lives in this virtual reality which is basically the internet. It’s really interesting to see how the conflict for control of this- this online space plays out. People have jobs that they go into The Oasis to do. Their whole existence is almost entirely within this online system.


The crazy thing is it’s not that different than my day-to-day life. I work out of my home and everything I do from my banking to running a business to interacting with my team is done electronically. I see net neutrality as like- basically like ‘We’re limiting people’s lives.’ It’s not unbelievable to say like you can live your entire life through the internet if you chose to do so. So limiting the sites you can access, treating a site differently is absolutely a free speech issue. It’s kind of insane. It’s like okay these companies, you’re literally the bad guy in this dystopian future novel. So congratulations.


Maureen Jann: Good point, Mike. So I think in the spirit of lightening things up we have to move on but I appreciate everybody’s patience with us as we work through what net neutrality means. I know it can feel a little clunky because I’m in the learning mode and I’m writing the scripts so it’s interesting as I learn I will get more articulate and then we can share more- deeper insights. I think it’s easier just to be transparent about that learning process and opening yourself up to saying ‘More information is better.’ Let’s do this together. So I’m excited about this and I’m excited about learning about it. I’m not excited about the net neutrality challenges. I’m pleased that we’ve added this and I think that it will serve everyone well as we dive deeper into it, but before we all go cry in our beer some more let’s move on to the other articles.


We did two articles. One was The Amazon Echo Look which apparently is a camera with- and speakers. So it’s an Amazon Echo speaker camera combo so-


Tim Mohler: It’s cute! It’s an adorable little thing. I could see it as like an animated little character walking around.


Maureen Jann: It totally looks like a Disney character.


Tim Mohler: Exactly.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, 100% yes. So Amazon Echo Look is a voice-controlled camera for fashion tips. So, yeah. This is happening. Amazon Echo smart speaker has an Alexa-powered camera designed around taking your fashion photos and videos. Of course, not anybody can have it. It’s an invitation-only kind of purchase. If you- if Amazon deigns to give you one then you too could be very self-absorbed. No no, I mean very fashion-forward. So Instagram, Snapchat-ready fashion shots. When you don’t know what to wear they have a service called Look Styles Check. God, some of these names are brutal. It blends an AI algorithm with fashion specialist advice to provide a second opinion about your outfit. So handy!


Tim Mohler: This is so… This is just… Everyday on my way in to work I drive past all the Amazonian blue badges and I’m wondering which of them is going to be giving fashion advice to whom exactly?


Maureen Jann: See, now you’ve offended them so at least I’m not alone anymore.


Tim Mohler: Yes, I know. That’s all of Seattle. I just fell out of favor with two-thirds of the city.


Maureen Jann: And your wife.


Tim Mohler: And my wife. That’s true. Wasn’t gonna mention that. I think it’s funny- so, with the Amazon Echo Look this is a really natural development. Actually I’ve met some of their fashion people and they are very fashion forward, but they’ve always had trouble breaking into fashion. They have their own lines of clothing which apparently are very good and kind of modeled on- I’m getting a look here- perhaps not, I don’t actually shop fashion anywhere, and I should not be giving fashion advice but my wife says that they look very good. Very much in the fast fashion category. So this makes sense.


If you think back- I’m an event marketer somewhere in my background- Levi’s- Levi Strauss Company did a lot of work around how to get people to buy jeans online and how do you do the fitting and how do you do that with a virtual environment and they did a lot of- they leveraged a vehicle for it, but a lot of it involved a camera and a bunch of AI. This to me is just a natural outgrowth of Amazon trying to break into new areas where- it’s grown tremendously but there’s just these last little niches that it can’t seem to quite right and this is one of them. For me, this is a great learning platform for them and possibly a solution and possibly something that will evolve into a solution. Personally, if I could avoid ever having to walk into a store again to buy clothing, I would be all about it. So for me combine it with a personal shopper and I’m all there.


Maureen Jann: Mike, what do you think of this?


Mike Arnesen: Well the thing about never having to go into a store is that maybe if you don’t have to do that maybe you don’t have to leave the house either. Then in that case what does it matter what you wear? You can just wear sweatpants all day which sounds kind of cool.


Maureen Jann: Nailed it!


Tim Mohler: I have a great robe.


Mike Arnesen: I feel like as FCO’s we spend enough time already kind of reassuring folks that Google isn’t the next- isn’t SkyNet. I mean, we’ve given it ears and now we’re giving the AI eyes as well? This is getting a little concerning. I’m paranoid enough about the laptop camera that I put a little cover on it. I don’t know if I would want this in my house. I might just be old. Maybe that’s my issue.


Maureen Jann: Maybe we all just want people to get off our lawns, and we appreciate that. No judgment. No judgment.


Tim Mohler: This isn’t the first time though. Microsoft has had Xbox in the living room now with the ability to see and hear absolutely everything going on for most people in both their living rooms and their kitchens for years now. There’s been a lot of concerns around that. I think the difference with Amazon is they have no- I mean, they’re Big Brother and they’re gonna advertise to you based off of what they hear and see. That’s just the deal. Ironically they’re also charging you full price for it versus giving it to you for free which I think is a little bit strange.


It can be unplugged, right? So to me I think in the… I believe it was clipped on something in the ad that I saw so it’s a fairly easy turn-on, turn-off device. They have promised that they’re not gonna use it to advertise this, that and the other thing. We’ll see how that holds out, but I do think with Amazon they’re going to keep your data for themselves which at least it’s not going everywhere which- if it was a Google device I think I would have a little bit more of a concern around the privacy issues.


Maureen Jann: I think my biggest challenge with it is that you can release all of the gadgets and the doodads that you want around fashion. Dear Amazon, you can release all of the doodads and gadgets you want around fashion. If your user experience for buying fashion doesn’t get better, it doesn’t matter because buying clothes on Amazon sucks.


Tim Mohler: Yeah that’s for sure. That’s absolutely the truth. They have started playing around with some new storefronts but this goes back to the Zappos versus cross-selling Zappos on Amazon issue. Zappos knows how to do user design, and for me Amazon feels a little bit like buying clothing or shoes or whatever in a Wal-Mart where somebody has run around and scattered the clothing thought all of the rest of the store.


Maureen Jann: Agreed.


Tim Mohler: So yeah. No.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: So you said they promised not to advertise but I feel like just based on the stuff that you- you search or that you’re wearing or how long until they are recommending you buy things that would go better with your outfit. I feel like that’s just a matter of time.


Tim Mohler: I think that’s natural but that’s gonna be native and built in versus selling that to outside advertisers.


Maureen Jann: I suppose you’re right.


Tim Mohler: So hopefully. Though you know many of those advertisers are advertising on Amazon’s platform now so maybe who knows.


Maureen Jann: SkyNet.


Tim Mohler: Exactly.


Maureen Jann: Article two.


Tim Mohler: This is so depressing.


Maureen Jann: I thought that was supposed to make things more fun. Introducing LinkedIn Matched Audiences. Okay so at least this name makes sense. I feel like we’re looking up. Because the Facebook shopping… Slow clap. Anyway, so LinkedIn announced this new targeting tool in late April- just last week really. That includes website targeting, account targeting, and contact targeting. Basically their whole idea- I mean I- we got the straight of the LinkedIn website so it’s all their marketing speak and their all of their advertising speak which is fine. No judgment. As a marketer, no judgment.


Tim Mohler: It looked like it was copied straight from the Facebook site so that’s perfect.


Maureen Jann: Well, that’s… My thought is it’s about time, ya know? Welcome to 2010- population the rest of the world. The whole idea is that they’re trying to close the gap and deliver that full funnel marketing, and I wonder how much they… I mean, they are the best and most diverse database of business information so really that’s a natural thing. I am surprised it’s taken them this long. It feels silly.


Tim Mohler: Thank you, Microsoft.


Maureen Jann: Yes, thank you, Microsoft. Cheers to you. Since they’re the largest collector of business data, there’s real potential for advertisers now. Hooray! To actually do some intelligent on the LinkedIn prof- platform. Mike, what are your thoughts on this one?


Mike Arnesen: Maureen, I totally agree with you on this. So preface of course, I’m an FCO nerd. I don’t do advertising. Until this second I just assumed that this was something they did. I’m shocked. What do you mean they weren’t doing this? That’s crazy! Now that I’m thinking at it- thinking about it, I’m like ‘Oh yeah. I have never heard that they do that, and I don’t know anybody who does do that because it didn’t exist until now. So that’s crazy but it’s great. I think it sounds like a step in the right direction. Maybe a little late for them, but it seems really cool. Actually something that- as someone who’s demographic is kind of that B2B, sounds really intriguing.


Maureen Jann: I agree. My demographic is also B2B so I was all like- my ears perked up like a doggy. I was like ‘Yay! Finally I can do more.’


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, this is relevant to my interests.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that was an exciting unveiling of a service that I plan on celebrating somehow. Probably by giving them my money but whatever. It’s good to know.


Tim Mohler: I have to shout out here to the LinkedIn marketing team. They run something called Sophisticated Marketer, and it’s some of the best B2B advertising and marketing that I’ve ever seen. Really, really high quality stuff.


Maureen Jann: This is their content marketing?


Tim Mohler: This is their content marketing team, and I have to think that as marketers clearly they know their stuff. They must’ve been so incredibly frustrated with their platform’s advertising. There’s got to be a lot of really happy marketers over at LinkedIn today. Well, over this last week. I know there were a lot of very excited social media marketers here at the agency as they saw this. So yeah I’m thrilled.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, it makes it a real contender for some of our clients as well so that’s exciting. Cool! Well, so let’s move on to the interview with you. As we mentioned before we’ve been hearing from Mike Arnesen, CEO of Upbuild. When we did our prep call what really stuck out to me about our conversation is his practical idealism. So that was such a moment for me you were like ‘I wonder if I can make this awesome thing,’ and you made it and it worked and that was really cool. So I’d love to hear a little bit about that and a little bit about what you guys do at UpBuild.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, let’s see. Wow. There’s a lot that we could potentially unpack, but yeah the story of UpBuild is really all about like me just creating this framework that I wanted to be able to work within. I started- we actually celebrated our two year anniversary on Monday of this week on May 1st.


Maureen Jann: Congratulations!


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, thank you so much. It feels like it’s been forever, but also like it was just yesterday which tends to happen with these things I think. As I get older time passes so quickly. Where did my youth go? But I started this journey with zero experience in running a business. I had no idea what I was doing which I think is a common thing that founders can all relate to at some point. It’s like ‘Oh, it’s been ten years. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Nonetheless I started this and I said that you know what? I’ve worked for a lot of agencies. I’ve worked for a lot of other companies. These are things- not even necessarily these are the things that I want to see in a company, but these are the things that I don’t want to do as a company like I don’t want to take on projects that frustrate me. I don’t want to worry about layoffs all the time and stuff like that. So basically I figured out what my ideal work situation would be like and said ‘Okay, I’m gonna try to do that.’


It’s been this- I always refer to it as this experiment in progress, but I feel like it’s been an incredibly successful one so far and it’s been very reassuring and inspiring to see that so many of the things that I had previously taken as a fact of ‘agency life’ didn’t turn out to be set in stone after all.


Maureen Jann: Ah, that’s always nice news. When you go ‘I think this can be done differently,’ and then you do it and it’s fine. That’s really exciting. I’ve been in those shoes before. It’s- there’s something very satisfying about experiment- having an experiment go right.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, absolutely.


Maureen Jann: Great. Well, one of the experiments that I thought was really interesting that we talked about was how marketers across the board need more tech- basically technical skills. It makes them better marketers, and I thought that was a really interesting point that you made. I’d love to dig into that a little bit so what are some of the benefits of understanding the more technical side of marketing for someone who might not be a technical marketer?


Mike Arnesen: I think having that technical understanding is just so important but I also get why a fair amount of people aren’t going to be as inclined to want to pursue that or spend the time that it takes to become familiar with that because the thing that fascinates me the most about our industry is there’s such a diversity of background. There’s people that come from the marketing side of things. There’s people that come from sales. There’s creative that get into SEO. But then there’s the people who have a background in development. So there’s always this kind of warring of perspectives and saying like ‘You need to know how to code to be good at SEO’ or ‘Yeah, totally overrated. All you need to be able to do is build links and talk marketing.’


I think there can be and needs to be a healthy overlap between the two and actually UpBuild in terms of how we refer to our services and what we specialize in. We call it technical marketing which isn’t a new terms by any means, but we lay that out as like this Venn Diagram where you have the marketing skill set and then the development skill set, and we operate in the overlap. That’s where we do best because we can talk about here’s what makes a site function and here’s how we can optimize that: To be more more search engine-friendly, to provide a better experience, to make the data more accessible so it can be easily digested and harvested, and into all these great things like AI and Conversational Search. Also, here’s why it matters for marketing. We can actually explain this to sea level folks and have it make sense and inspire their confidence.


So we try to bring it all together but I think what really makes the technical end so important nowadays is we’re spending all this time- we’re investing our clients’ or if we’re an in-house SEO for example we’re investing hundreds and hundreds of hours into optimizing these websites. I think to do that in the best way you possibly can, you have to understand how it works. So you can get fairly far with saying ‘Okay, well we’re gonna do [unintelligibile 27:14] research, we’re gonna optimize your front end content and make linkable assets and stuff like that great resources and start building authority, but you also need to understand the other half of the equation and without understanding the technical I think you only can get so deep.


Especially now with things like the speed of innovation in web technology getting faster and faster so even as something as basic as WordPress and PHP, it’s so much different than it was a couple years ago. Now sites are built in Angular and Note and React. Understanding that is very important to- it’s easy to for example, we go to [unintelligible 27:56] and read Mike King’s post on what you have to do for technical SEO in 2017. Great, but you should be able to understand whether or not certain things are going to be possible on the platform you’re working with or what that requires especially if you’re in this client-consultant relationship. To be able to speak authoritatively to what the relative resource costs that it’s gonna require to do X. Or is this even possible in our platform? To be able to be conversant in that stuff is just incredibly valuable and allows you to do your job as a marketer who invariably has an undeniable technical focus. You’re gonna be able to do your job better.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, I can absolutely see the benefit of that. Who are the people that you are working with? What kinds of marketers are they that can benefit from additional technology and technical skills, technical training, that kind of thing.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, so one of the things that I observe is that folks in like a marketing manager role in-house in like a B2B fast company for example, any kind of additional technical knowledge that we can impart onto them just really allows them to understand what’s going on and what needs to be done. There are people in the industry who will say like ‘Everyone should know how to build a website.’ I don’t necessarily know that you need to go that far, but to be able to have that basic understanding whether or not you are an SEO consultant or you’re the in-house director of marketing for a company. I think it benefits everyone involved to have that shared vocabulary around how websites work and what the general process is. Actually speaking to the value of education in the client-consultant relationship or if you’re in-house having your boss understand more about what you do and why these technical changes matter.


The more that you can break that down and demystify a lot of the technical stuff it really ramps up the perception of value of what you’re doing because we have the thing that SEO’s are continually trying to grow out of is this mystification- this black magic kind of stuff that just happens behind the scenes and no one exactly knows what makes it work and so still in 2017 we get asked to ‘Hey, can you do the SEO for our site? Make us rank number one at Google’ without having an understanding of what it takes to get there so the more you can educate someone like ‘Here’s everything that goes into this and here’s why it’s complicated’ allows you to relate to who you’re working with a lot better and for them to understand everything that’s involved.


Maureen Jann: That makes absolute sense. I know that that’s something I’m passionate about too. Like from a… I run a department. I work with a lot of people at my company, and it’s easier when I have some idea of what I’m talking about to a. Be empathetic. To understand the challenges that people working for me are running into, but also it allows me to help- like you mentioned educate the leadership and make sure that we’re all on the same page and get buy-in when I need buy-in so I think that’s impactful and useful information and everybody wins really.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah totally.


Maureen Jann: So I’m going off script a little bit because I had a thought while you were talking about that. When we talk about marketers, that constant question is ‘Do you focus on specialists or do you focus on generalists?’ What it sounds like to me is that you’re advocating to be more of a generalist rather than a specialist. Is that what I’m understanding?


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, it’s kind of funny. It’s like I think UpBuild specifically- we get viewed as being specialists a lot but it’s like- almost like we are trying to become generalists by specializing in the things that are commonly lacking in our discipline or commonly just not as strong. So it’s kind of funny because we end up feeling like we specialize in this technical thing but really it’s that we understand all of the great tried and true SEO practices, we understand marketing, and we recognize that in the reality of 2017 marketing we have to go deep into technical. That allows us to kind of be general which is this weird thing that I don’t know if it makes a lot of sense but hopefully you see what I’m getting at.


Maureen Jann: Yeah, so it’s a general specialist. Is that what you’re getting at?


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, exactly.


Maureen Jann: Awesome. So if one was more inclined to be a specialist who would like to have a wider understanding of the general impacts the technology would have on their jobs, how would you go from being a specialist to a general specialist? Special general? I don’t know. This is just fun now. Anyway…


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, I think the way to kind of evolve or level up into a generalized specialist is to really just almost adopt this mindset of going out and collecting as much experience as you can with the different things. So what I’ve found in terms of people that do really well here at UpBuild and people that I just kind of see throughout the larger industry who are just crushing it is folks who have had the opportunity to kind of do something on their own whether that’s a business they’ve done in the past and they had a website that had a special marketing program around or whether they just have like side passion projects like doing something as simple as having your own blog on WordPress. Having the occasion and opportunity to go in and install a plugin or change your theme and also I’m gonna throw a couple bucks at Facebook posts to advertise on social. Know what goes into trying to write blog posts on a weekly basis. Having all of those opportunities really rounds you out and gives you additional perspective and as you mentioned before it allows you to be empathetic to the people you’re working with because you know what it takes to do all the stuff or you know the common struggles and where things can fall apart or what’s been successful for you.


So I think with any aspect of what we do unless we are intentionally going out and trying to keep our skill set well-rounded it’s really easy to specialize because if we’re in SEO we’re only talking about building links or if we’re in advertising and we really like spending 90% of our time in ad words and social advertising it’s really easy to kind of just- without even thinking of it- continue to reinforce day after day our deep specialization. Almost like in a sense we do run the risk of putting blinders on by not coming out of that little track often enough. We can run ourselves into a specialist’s rut, and hopefully it’s easy to get out at some point but you just end up being too limited which would be unfortunate.


Maureen Jann: Absolutely and you just gave everyone the advice that I’ve given pretty much every up and coming marketer is always have your own project to experiment with, right? Because that is so core to being a businessperson, understanding that business perspective as well as getting to experiment with everything from social advertising to code. It’s my favorite bit of advice so virtual high five for that.


Mike Arnesen: Yeah.


Maureen Jann: Awesome. Well thank you so much for coming and being our guest today. It was really interesting. I like this topic. I think it’s a fascinating one, and it’s one I’m always working on so I really appreciate hearing your perspective. So I think we also have an opportunity to chat with you on our Tweet chat coming up later this year. Is that correct?


Mike Arnesen: Yeah, I’m super excited about that. I can’t wait.


Maureen Jann: Me too. I’m excited to have you there. That’s gonna be really fun. Well, unfortunately it’s time for us to wrap up and for all of you out there in podcast land, thank you for joining us. It’s always a delight to have you along. Any links we mention today will be in the show notes for your convenience. If you like the show and want to make sure it sticks around please make sure to rate us on your favorite podcast platform. Follow point underscore it on Twitter to get the latest in podcasts, content, live events and more. Thanks for coming and for now stay on point.




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