The best career stories are those that start with someone solving a basic need to help a community of like-minded individuals. Kevin Mullett’s story began with an earnest desire to improve his community of video-game players, which ultimately turned him on to programming. Coming from a sales and marketing background, he naturally applied these skills in that realm and became a real champion of digital marketing.
The sales angle is such a critical perspective which can often be overlooked when the conversation revolves around vanity metrics, visits, or worse…rankings. Kevin explains how an understanding of sales can make us better digital marketers, and also how sales can serve as a target for even the least conversion-focused marketing activities. He even explained how providing the extensive wealth of knowledge he regularly shares at conferences (see Over 200 Audio, Video, & Image Tools for Social Media Marketing if you don’t believe me) can itself lead to sales! Certainly a lesson there for any brand focused on thought-leadership.
Myself coming from a similar background, our conversation about consultative sales and the parallels between sales and digital marketing resonated deeply. A consistent theme of the Marketology-in-Motion conversations I’ve had is the need for a varied skillset, and we did indeed talk about the need of an SEO practitioner to understand web development, but Kevin’s focus on the importance of a sales background certainly provided a fresh perspective.
Kevin Mullett is a great marketer to know and one whose path #usDragons have crossed on many occasions. If you ever get the chance to see him speak, it’s well worth it and he’s one of the friendliest guys you’ll ever meet. Any follow up questions you’d like us to ask? Leave us a comment below and stay tuned for our next Marketology in Motion video.
ABE UCHITELLE: Welcome to another installment of Marketology in Motion. I’m Abe Uchitelle, I do business development at DragonSearch and I’m here today with Kevin Mullett, who is the director of visibility at MarketSnare. And Kevin does SEO, social media, web development, design, UI and UX, and he is an amazing speaker. I had an opportunity to see him speak earlier this week. Really a great speaker. And he’s got a lot going on. And my question to kind of kick things off is, how did it all start for you? How did you get involved in all this?
KEVIN MULLETT: Actually, computer gaming got me started in this. And as a result of wanting to play better games, and first person shooters, I actually bought a high end computer, which I had always been interested in design and artwork and so forth like that. So the guy that I was gaming with happened to be a developer, and so he taught me basic html, you know, on a text pad and then I just really dug it because, you know, the online world allows you a lot of flexibility and there’s a lot of tools that you can use, versus hand drawing, which I’m not very good at. So, that just kind of propelled me forward and then I just dug in and tried to figure out ‘How do I do this? Well, how do I, you know, make this work?’ But because I come from a sales and marketing background all of that was always wrapped around ‘But how is it going to benefit this? How is it going to convert?’
ABE UCHITELLE: Right. Now I’d like to ask you about that, the sales and marketing background. That’s, you know, a background that I kind of come from as well. My personal feeling is that, really understanding how to interact with customers is kind of a prerequisite for everything that we’re doing, even if you don’t have a sales background. So, in you day to day work, how do you apply that sales background to what you’re doing?
KEVIN MULLETT: Well, I mean I think it boils down to, you know, there’s several ways that you can sell, obviously, too. You can be the pushy salesperson, which unfortunately works for some people, and then you can be the guy that is helping and assisting others and so forth. So I kind of have this philosophy about social media and online marketing in general, which I call the Help Philosophy, and basically it boils down to: humanize your message, encourage conversation, listen first, and promote less. And that goes part and parcel with how I used to do sales, which was: go solve somebody’s problems, help them figure it out, and if there’s a genuine need, if there’s a need actually there, then it may result in a sale. And you just have to be good at trying to figure out how to increase the likelihood of getting a sale.
ABE UCHITELLE: Right, right. Now, you know, I’ve found, when I was working in retail, which is what I did through college and a few years after, I was going to be more successful, I could tell, I knew I was going to be more successful, when the customer was talking more and I was talking less. If I was going through a feature list, probably wasn’t going to work out too well, but if they were telling me what problem they were trying to solve, then it was going to, potentially, have a greater likelihood. And I feel like that really applied to social to some degree.
KEVIN MULLETT: Well, I think that is one way to do it, absolutely. My particular thing was humor. So I would try to diffuse any tension and any fear of being asked for the sale, and so forth like that, and wrap it in just being a, you know, just being a nice person, who then throws some humor around what you’re trying to do. And I think that that diffuses a lot of awkward situations in there.
ABE UCHITELLE: Right.
KEVIN MULLETT: But, you know, obviously, if you’re not providing something that’s of value to them, then you have to question why you’re asking them for the sale anyway. And that’s much like it is in social media, you can have conversations with people, but if you are asking them to take an action, are you talking to an audience that could even take action on that, and would it benefit them if they took action? Because if you don’t have that squared away, then you’re already going to have a bad closing rate, as we would remember from sales. So, it starts with a prospect, you know, is it a suspect or an actual prospect? You know, and figuring that out first, and not that we say that everybody fits into that category, that’s quite the opposite, we just want to know where they do fit.
ABE UCHITELLE: Right, right. So I’m kind of curious about your role at MarketSnare. You’re the director of visibility. So, what does that really mean?
KEVIN MULLETT: Well, I wish I knew. No, so, the thing of it is that’s a title, I actually wear a lot of different hats there. Some of it is talking to our developers about the UI, I certainly am talking about the trends and where things are going and so if Google has changed something, normally those changes come down from me. Not from Google, of course, but from our team, you know, I’m the one that goes to them and says ‘Hey, Google has changed this today, this is how our platform has to pivot to adhere to the new algorithms.’ or whatever signals are being put out there. So I really do wear a lot of different hats in that. I do a lot of consultative work, so really, saying that I’m the director of visibility is, yes I’m in charge of the visibility for our product line, but I really do a lot of other things that serve us as well.
ABE UCHITELLE: Right, and you have kind of a unique background, I mean, not everyone that’s involved in social and SEO as deeply as you are is going to have that background in web development and in technology. And, you know, to some degree we have that here at DragonSearch, the last company that Ric Dragon owned was a web development shop, and a lot of those lessons in being process oriented and kind of agile development have kind of been applied here. And there’s definitely a need for you to understand technology, but what is the right mix? I mean, not everyone can have the background in web development and tech that you have. We have a lot of folks that are going to be watching this video that might not have that background. So how much do they really need?
KEVIN MULLETT: Well, first thing is, I don’t want people to think that they can’t succeed just because they didn’t start at that area. Because I believe everybody can work through those issues. Having the experience just gives you a little bit better breadth of information that you can take in, and decide what’s really relevant. So, I would say, you know, from the web side, from the web development side, understanding information architecture, content architecture is critical for search engine optimization. Why do you have the pages on the site that you have? How are you leading them into converting, because if you just are a graphic designer, and you don’t understand the whys and the how’s to people traversing a website, and that it’s not a magazine or a book where they always enter from the cover and go along a predetermined path. We don’t know where they’re going to land. So we have to have conversion points all the way along or calls to action, etc. You know, a lot of web developers, they’ll, you’ll get to the bottom of the page and the content just stops. Well, what’s my choice of action then? I’m going to hit the little red button up in the top right hand corner or top left hand corner, depending on what platform you’re on. So, I think that’s really important from a sales perspective, and I actually used to own one of my own companies, then I realized from both a social and a search perspective, in a web development process, that the entire practice, the entire thing that we’re doing, is to get sales. So it sounds great to expound on all of the things that social can do, but the bottom line is, if you’re not seeing an overall lift in your sales, and you’re not seeing your P&L sheet, your profits and loss sheet, improve, then you’re not going to be doing that very long. That isn’t to say that people can’t be using social to increase brand awareness, but brand awareness is to get sales, it isn’t so that you can’t be doing customer service, but you do good customer service a) it’s the right thing to do and b) because people talk about it and that increases sales. And so, you know, I mean, I just think all the way through the process, understanding the sales department, the marketing, the advertising part, the coding part, etc., is just really critical.
ABE UCHITELLE: Okay, now, you’re also a speaker, you speak at a lot of conferences. What role does that play in getting your message out there? Is it really about, you know, like what you’re doing and kind of your background and what you’ve been able to share, or are you able to really kind of, is it, is there a role in MarketSnare that that kind of plays?
KEVIN MULLETT: Well, I mean, you know, I was just looking this morning whether or not we see a lift in traffic to MarketSnare, which of course the traffic isn’t the key performance indicator, but, you know, I just was starting there, as a result of my speaking in New York. Well, what do you know; there’s this huge influx of viewership from New York. Now, you have to know how to go get that data so that you can utilize that, so clearly, me speaking did provide more awareness and more visibility to MarketSnare. But one of the things that we’ve always believed in at Cirrus ABS and, you know, MarketSnare, is that if you help people out, if you engage with people and give them information, at least a percentage of them are going to decide, this really isn’t something that we should be concentrating on, so we need to hire somebody to do this for us. Well, these guys just told us all of the things, or you know, a bunch of things that they know, so clearly, we know that they know it, so why don’t we utilize them, because they’re the subject matter experts. I’ll give you, real quick, a thing here, is a guy came up to me after a presentation, and he says, “You know, I really loved your presentation, but you just overwhelmed me. You just give away too much information and I can’t absorb that. I can’t do everything that’s in there.” I said, “I know.” And he looks at me really funny, and he wasn’t getting it right away and I said, “I purposely put that much information in my slide decks because I want you to realize a) that despite you thinking that you can do all that on your own, your job isn’t to do mine. So if you’re going to hire somebody, you need to think that we know how to do that and b) is that you know that we can do it, because I’ve just made your head swim with so much information. So a) you need to know how to do it, b) you need to know that I can do it, and c) you need to realize that you don’t have all of that information and you can’t keep up with it because it’s not your job.”
ABE UCHITELLE: Right, really good point. Well, thank you so much for joining us Kevin. This has been a great conversation and I encourage everyone watching at home to connect with him. I’ve been following him on twitter, really exciting guy. He’s @KMullett, and that’s Mullett with two L’s and two T’s.
KEVIN MULLETT: Yeah, the extra T is what differentiates me from the fish and the haircuts, so it’s really important to have that in there.
ABE UCHITELLE: Important distinction. And be sure to let us know what you think in the comments, whether you’re watching on YouTube or you’re on our blog, comments are probably below, right here. And check us out at dragonsearchmarketing.com. Thank you so much for joining us Kevin.
KEVIN MULLETT: Thanks for having me.
ABE UCHITELLE: This has been a blast. Thanks so much!