Ed Bardwell is the President at Rainmaker Digital Services (RMDS), the providerof the Rainmaker Platform. With clients and staff across the globe, RMDS is aglobal leader in content marketing solutions that develops marketing strategiesand technologies that help clients meet their business goals.
Ed also serves as the CEO Nimble Worldwide, an integrated advertising agencybased in Dallas, Texas. Nimble Worldwide has been recognized for its innovativeuse of technology to support the marketing efforts of its clients. Awards haveincluded agency of the year by the Social Media Club, Emmys, and Addy Awards. Astrong proponent of the concept of “Method + Message = Results,” Ed leadsNimble’s strategic efforts within the agency.
Connect with Ed on LinkedIn and follow RMDS on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- The power of content marketing
- How has technology changed the relationship between a brand and a consumer
- A content framework is critical to every business
- Marketing used to be a broadway show, today it’s a conversation
- Marketing is an investment
This transcript is machine transcribed by Sonix
Intro: [00:00:05] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for high velocity radio.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:15] Lee Kantor here, another episode of High Velocity Radio. And this is going to be a good one. And if you’ve got a pencil and paper, get ready to get a lot of notes and a lot of great information. We have the president of Rainmaker Digital Services, Ed Bardwell, with us today. Welcome, Ed.
Ed Bardwell: [00:00:33] Thank you for having me.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:34] I am so excited to be talking to you. Full disclosure, Business RadioX, which produces this show, is a client of Rainmaker. They do our website and they have done it for many, many years and we’ve been extremely happy with them and proud to call them a partner in our business. And I would love for Ed to share a little bit about Rainmaker Digital Services in terms of some of the services you offer other small to midsize businesses.
Ed Bardwell: [00:01:01] Well, sure. First of all, Rainmaker Platform is a comprehensive business marketing platform. And what we mean by that is we take technology out of the conversation for our clients as it relates to their customers. So if you want to add video to a website or simply build a basic blog or web presence, Rainmaker platform is the tool for you. But what we found over the years is many customers become very successful and become our clients, and that’s a distinction that we use to represent those clients that need additional services. In the old days of advertising, and I remember a time I was in a presentation and there were a bunch of ad agency guys, you know, the really good looking type t shirt wearing guys. And I was up there and I was kind of a geeky guy and people were asking why I was so successful. I said, Well, you know, the agency model is dead, you guys are dinosaurs, you just don’t know it. And they were all taken aback. And I went on to explain that everybody needs these basic services, how to build a relationship, how to creatively tell their story, how to represent themselves in the best manner in whatever channel that they’re trying to work with.
Ed Bardwell: [00:02:26] But people were tired of simply buying into the expertise of the agency. And so what we’ve done here at Rainmaker Digital Services is combine the power of the technology with the creative and technical resources to provide a full suite of services, everything from basic branding to media planning, all the way to specific targeted campaigns, depending on a client’s objectives. You know, we’re really big believers that marketing is an investment, not an expense. And so if a customer, if a business is thinking about, oh, my gosh, everybody’s talking about fill in the blank technology or this new channel or this this new social media, we say stop time out. Tell us how that’s going to be an investment for you. And so we try to take a business first, a marketing first, a creative first approach to technology, which is our fundamental differentiator from both the technical competition, who focuses only on the technology and the creative competition that focuses only on the message. We try to bring them together. Message and method is the way we get results.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:36] Now, do you have kind of an avatar for the ideal rainmaker client? Are they solopreneur or are they big firms? Are they in technology or are they in services?
Ed Bardwell: [00:03:50] Lee That’s a great question. The reality is Rainmaker Platform was originally conceived for the small to midsize business. Everyone from the solopreneur that wanted to do this as a side gig up to the company that might have some version of a dedicated marketing resource. But what we’ve found, especially over the last three years, is some of those businesses have had enough success that now they do have dedicated resources, you know, typically not a marketing or creative team of 5 to 7 people, but under five people, though, we do have a handful of global 2000 relationships and most of those folks, most of those enterprises turn to us because our technology and the and the philosophies, the content marketing philosophies behind our technologies allow the the media to be iterated for specific target audiences geographies, and they can do it much more economically than with traditional enterprise software. So the the foundation has always been the small to midsize company. But we have had the opportunity to sharpen our teeth with some enterprise level partners as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:11] Now, what’s the pain that those prospective clients are having where Rainmaker Digital is the solution? Like what are maybe some of the breadcrumbs that this business owner or business leader is having that kind of lead them to you?
Ed Bardwell: [00:05:28] There are typically two types of businesses that reach out to us. The first is someone who has had a website or they have a Google my business account, or they’ve done some Facebook advertising and they really don’t know what it’s done for their business. They know they’ve got to have it, but they don’t know what it’s done, how it’s working. And in some cases, unfortunately, there’s been a hack or there’s been some kind of issue. And they may understand the goal of building a relationship through content, but they really struggle with the technology. And those people typically they’ve talked to like an I.T. firm or a consulting firm who starts to use acronyms and the different letter soup that you’re going to find in technology to try to convince these businesses that they should do that, that they should work together. I’ve never thought that technology should be a sword. I’ve always thought it should be a shield. And so for those guys, typically what we tell them is, hey, you know, at the end of the day, you know, all you care about is, is your message in front of the right audience. Is it doing what you want it to do from a marketing perspective? And can we make sure that someone else, a bad actor, can’t negatively impact your brand? So those guys typically turn to us because especially with Rainmaker Platform, you know, from from the time you sign up for the license to the time you leave the platform, which we hope is never you don’t have to talk about technology ever again.
Ed Bardwell: [00:07:19] We can we can control all aspects of your digital presence from the moment that you build that relationship with us. And then the other group of folks is is typically a group that is very technically savvy. We see this with affiliate marketers. Certainly these drop shippers and certain groups of businesses that have strong I’m thinking of like I.T. support groups. They don’t need help with the technology necessarily, but they have very little clue about what digital marketing has to be about today. And that is it has to be about the story. You can’t simply put up a price list or we’re the best in the market at running cable in your office. People need to understand the story behind the business because frankly, today that is what sells. You have to have that relationship with your audience. People are buying more with their heads and hearts than they are with their pocketbooks. So for that audience, we train them on content marketing. We hopefully show them folks like Business RadioX. I mean, your presence is amazing from a content perspective and you certainly are a great illustration of the power of content. And a lot of people say, Well, I want to do that. And so we try to show them some of the basic techniques for blogs, podcasts, video, blogs, things of that nature, where they can begin to build those audiences and have a relationship that goes beyond simply the transaction now.
Lee Kantor: [00:09:03] And that’s kind of a mental shift for entrepreneurs, right? There was a time when the salesperson had all the information and then the customer needed the salesperson in order to kind of buy something. But in today’s world, with so much information available to everybody, you have such a more informed consumer in that you better have a compelling story. You better have a really good back story about how you got involved in this business and what makes you different and special. If you want to build that kind of relationship between you and your customer, is that an area that you help folks with kind of crafting that messaging and crafting that story and giving them the tools to kind of share it?
Ed Bardwell: [00:09:48] Absolutely. You know, if you look back at our history as Copyblogger with Brian Clark and some of those folks or my team’s background, we did some work with Disney back in the early 2000. It’s all about the back story. It’s all about trying to create a approachable and understandable persona that your prospective buyer can understand. We talk frequently about the role of authority and authenticity in our content. Nobody’s going to believe you if you say. I’m. I’m the smartest guy in the room. But if you have a story that shows that you’re the smartest guy in the room or you have testimonials, that’s the power of word of mouth today. And digital is so incredibly high. Reviews, testimonials. Those those adds such color to the story that you’re telling that you can you can introduce the fact that you’re the smartest guy in the room or you’re the best vendor for a potential relationship. But if you have these other elements in your story, well, it becomes much easier to believe that you’re the authority. And then if you add to that. The fact that I’m not the best guy for everybody or I too have stumbled or frequently we will. We will use. In educating customers, especially that second group of folks, you know, tell us tell us the time that you weren’t successful. And then we will help them craft that into the story, because few things are more authentic to prospective customers than knowing when you failed and then how you’ve learned from that failure and corrected it for the future. If you’re human and if you’re if they perceive you as being willing to to act in that transparent and authentic way, it’s much easier to convince them that as an authority that any recommendation that you might make is comes from a place of mutual benefit.
Ed Bardwell: [00:12:01] And really, today, we like to tell folks everyone’s in the media business, whether you like it or not, whether it’s that that unfortunate picture at the PTA meeting or you having a, let’s just say, animated text conversation with a customer that they’ve screenshot. It’s out there. And if you’re not authentic and say, you know what, with with customer X, I did lose my temper or they simply didn’t do X, Y, Z, or whatever the case is, your audience will forgive you. I mean, we’ve found, especially in in the business community and the United States in particular, we’re very forgiving. We just have to believe that there’s a reason to forgive. So you combine a good story that helps establish your authority with things like testimonials and reviews and that transparency and that authenticity to really build a relationship with a prospect. Because what we know is the purchase is not the end of the relationship. You know, I don’t care what you’re selling today. It could be a widget at the end of the day, if the widget doesn’t last, as long as you think people will go on to social media, they will go out into the digital realm. And they’re going to say, Ed’s widget just didn’t do what it said it would. It only lasted for five years and I thought it would last for ten. And people are going to take that as a critique where maybe the rest of the marketplace is only lasting one year. But regardless, you have to be present and prepared for those kinds of media conflicts.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:48] Now I find that I’m sure you do as well. A lot of folks spend their time on their website just talking about themselves. And like you alluded to it earlier, it’s one thing to say, Oh, we’re the best or we’ve been around for 100 years. That doesn’t mean as much to the consumer as I think that the person who wrote that copy thinks it does. You know, the person who’s reading a website or going to a website wants to solve a problem. So if you’re not solving their problem and you’re not showing examples of how you solve similar problems for other people, and having those people speak up and say, hey, without this company and their team, I couldn’t have done that, or I got to a new level because of this person. If your website isn’t filled with that kind of content, then you’re really almost wasting your time because at one time websites were just kind of billboards and they used to be like, Hey, this is my stuff. These are my, you know, it’s like a Yellow Pages ad. Yeah, but not anymore. You’re your website should be a living, breathing thing that’s evolving as you evolve. And it should be filled with information and help and education for your best prospects to learn more about you and understand what makes you different and special.
Ed Bardwell: [00:15:06] Yeah, you’re exactly right. We use a content framework for not only web content, but frankly, any type of business communication called pie. Pie stands for promotion, information and inspiration, and every brand has a unique combination of all three. But exactly to your point, if you simply say, I’m the best at this and here’s my price list, and you just go on and on about how wonderful you are, and you don’t inspire people. You don’t share the information. You know, the power of information sharing today is so much different than it was even ten years ago that we find fairly sophisticated brands really missing the mark by saying, well, we don’t want to tell them how to fix their radio or we don’t want to tell them how to how to reboot their computer. We want them to call us so we can charge them 40 bucks for the for the repair. Well, unfortunately, if you don’t tell them information that is relatively easy to find, they’re going to go to YouTube or to your competitor. They’re going to get the information. And while everyone may lose on that $40 opportunity when they need the $250 OS upgrade or when they want to have somebody help them buy a new computer or whatever the case is, they’re not going to come back to you because you chose not to share information. You’re exactly right. We you’ve got to have all aspects of a content relationship with your prospect.
Lee Kantor: [00:16:41] And you have to have a long term view of your relationship. If you’re looking at a relationship as just transactional, that you’re just trying to get money from somebody today and not trying to serve them over the long haul, then you’re missing out. You’re spending a lot of time and energy to earn that one account for just a short period of time, knowing that they’re going to find somebody else that has this similar thing cheaper elsewhere. So you better be kind of pushing the value curve up and adding more and more value and more and more reason for you to be hanging out with them so they can be doing business with you over and over because it’s so much less expensive to get more business from your existing customers than it is to keep finding brand new customers. I know it seems like there’s billions of people out there, but believe me, it’s a lot easier to get the 100 people that already like you to buy a little more than it is to find another 100 people.
Ed Bardwell: [00:17:34] Yeah, you’re right there, too, you know. With the market today. It’s it’s very easy, whether it’s the the big tech companies or even the boutique craftsmanship e-commerce sites that are out there. You can find business to business, business to business to consumer, a variety of services all across the globe. And so if the only thing you’re competing on is price, you will lose. There is no way to to to win a race to the bottom in terms of price. And it not not only is it easier to to upsell, resell, continue to engage with previous relationships, but it’s also when you create or add value to the relationship, that becomes a barrier to competition that is so difficult to to to crack. You know, we have you know, we are not the cheapest Web solution in the marketplace. In fact, we’re kind of in the middle. You know, there are several that are much more expensive than we are and then several that are much less expensive than we are. And one thing that we have found is from our customers, them telling us things like we see as much value as the much more expensive guys, but at a price point that’s much lower. And then that for those that are at the other end of the spectrum. Well, no, we don’t get any of these services that you guys include for free, whether it’s basics like SSL or secure certificates to make sure your site is protected or logs or database space or whatever it is. You know, we you’re right. It has to be a competition for value. And, you know, everybody since value has a qualitative component to it, everybody’s going to have a different lens or angle that they look at value. And so obviously we’re not the right fit for everyone. But what we do believe very strongly is we have to be a valued partner, not just a vendor. And I would suggest that most businesses, regardless of vertical, regardless of size and regardless of location, needs to be thinking about how you become a partner with your customer, not just a vendor.
Lee Kantor: [00:20:10] So, Ed, what is the the pain that somebody is having today where they should call you and your team? What is what’s kind of that thing that that’s right in their face that maybe they aren’t connecting the dots, that that having a conversation with you and your team could help them sleep better at night.
Ed Bardwell: [00:20:29] First and foremost, if your website’s an expense, whether it’s a billboard or a brochure, if you can’t directly track from your website. To your accounting system somehow say, this is how we’re making money through our website, you should contact us. And then second, if you’re if the message that you’re sharing to the marketplace in any regard is different than the message that is circulating on the Internet, whether that be in social media, your website, your email, then we would strongly suggest that you reach out to us as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:08] And if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team, what’s the website?
Ed Bardwell: [00:21:14] The two that I would suggest is specifically if you’ve got website questions, rainmaker platform and for broader relationship questions, Rainmaker Digital Dotcom.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:24] Well, Ed, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing such important work and we appreciate you.
Ed Bardwell: [00:21:30] Thank you so much. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you today.
Lee Kantor: [00:21:33] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on High Velocity Radio.