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Build a Bulletproof Digital Marketing Career Brand with Kenny Soto

Kenny Soto is Here to Help You Build a Bulletproof Digital Marketing Career Brand

This episode is about an insightful approach to building a bulletproof (and recession-proof) digital marketing career. Today’s guest is Kenny Soto (the only Kenny Soto that comes up on

Google!), who joins us to share how he transitioned from music student to successful freelance digital brand creator, the importance of being able to explain data in a way that benefits the specific audience you are presenting to, how to present “bad news” to clients in a way that demonstrates your capabilities (and makes them want to rehire you), and more!

Kenny Soto is a digital marketer with over 7 years of experience working in various industries. With a deep understanding over multiple marketing functions, Kenny helps his clients create holistic marketing strategies that accelerate growth at low costs.

His expertise also includes personal branding, where he has helped notable clients (Ray Dalio, Andrea Albright, and Dr. Tracy Thomas) grow their online presence. Kenny is also the host of a marketing podcast called “The People of Digital Marketing” where he talks to marketing experts around the world to help other marketers accelerate their career growth.

And in this episode, Kenny explains how he has made sure that he is the only Kenny Soto that comes up when you Google his name (despite the fact that there are 1,043 other Kenny Soto’s out there!)

In This Episode, You’ll Learn…

  • The benefits of volunteering your time when building a happy client base.
  • Why being comfortable with explaining (as opposed to just exploring) data is a valuable skill for a digital marketer.
  • The importance of differentiating between which data provides value to which people in your audience.
  • A creative approach for presenting “bad news” to clients and still winning with them.
  • How hosting a high-quality podcast can replace your career resume.
  • Why simplicity is the key to an effective presentation.

People, Blogs, and Resources Mentioned

How to Connect with Kenny Soto:

Where Lea is Speaking Next:

I'd love to meet you, in-person or online! Here are the data storytelling, analytics, digital marketing conferences and events I'll be speaking at:

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks so much for joining me. Have some feedback you’d like to share, or a question? Leave a note in the comments below, and we’ll get back to you!

Now, I'm going to ask two favors from you:

  1. If you're digging the show, don’t forget to hit the Follow buttons on iTunes or Spotify to never miss an episode.
  2. If you liked what you heard, I would love if you could leave me a rating or review in Apple Podcasts. Ratings & reviews are extremely appreciated and very important in the rankings algorithm. The more ratings, the better chance of fellow practitioners getting to hear this helpful information!

And finally, always remember: viz responsibly, my friends.


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Episode Transcript

Today's interview is packed with some of the most insightful strategies I've heard on creating a bulletproof, recession proof career as a data and digital practitioner or a consultant from a rising star in the digital podcast sphere. So, be sure to stay tuned in. But before we get rolling, I have just a few key updates for you.


Now, as usual, I am super excited for today's guest. But in particular, I really loved hearing about how this person used their own skills in marketing, measurement and data communication to carve a path to an extremely fulfilling digital marketing consulting career, and now growing as an industry thought leader, so very fun stuff.


Now, this is the final episode I'll be releasing for summer 2022. I've decided to take a nice, chunky break for some much needed R&R, and to wrap up my book manuscript, but not to worry, I'll be releasing some of the most popular episodes from the way back machine, in the meantime. This is especially great if you're a new listener and didn't get to binge all 77 episodes yet. Don't worry, I know you'll get around to it. Alright, let's dive in.


[00:03:09] LP: Hello, everyone, and welcome. Today's guest is a digital marketer with nearly a decade of experience working in various industries and he has a deep understanding of multiple marketing functions and he helps his clients create holistic marketing strategies that accelerate growth at low costs. Who doesn't want that? Also, he is the host of a really fun up and coming marketing podcast which I had the distinction of being on, and it's called The People of Digital Marketing, where he talks to marketing experts around the world, to help other marketers accelerate their career growth, and there's nothing I'm more passionate about than empowering practitioners to create the careers of their dreams. So, please help me welcome the latest guest, Kenny Soto. Hello.


[00:03:55] KS: It's a pleasure to be here, Lea.


[00:03:57] LP: Thank you so much. It was so lovely to be invited to your new show, which we're going to talk a lot about, because I think it's always amazing to see how people in the field want to create and own their own voice and share their expertise in this space in the digital realm. So, everyone loves an origin story. How is it that you fell into this magical mystical world of digital?


[00:04:25] KS: Well, I have to start and I always start the story with the fact that I studied music theory in college, and near my senior year, a lot of my friends had already graduated, and I was keeping in touch with them to see what they were doing. What were they doing with their degrees to see if there was some tangible career growth, a start to their own careers. And almost all of them were working in retail after graduation.


So, I was asking myself and I was asking them like, “What value did you get from this music degree?” And for the most part, to summarize all their responses, they would rather have spent the money that they spent in college actually working in studios, finding ways to volunteer in studios, because the degree didn't do anything for them. I freaked out. I didn't know what I was going to do and I volunteered at a nonprofit just to see if I could learn a new skill. It just so happened that that nonprofit, which is called SCORE, the Senior Center of Retired Executives, had a marketing division.


So, SCORE in and of itself has chapters all around the country, and they help small business owners and startup founders with things around marketing, legal, finance, all for free. These are retired executives from Microsoft, Sony, Colgate, big Fortune 500 companies, and I had the pleasure and the great serendipitous opportunity to volunteer and be an intern for this man named Maurice Bretzfield, who has been a marketer for more than 30 years, and he essentially threw me into the fire, so to speak. Whenever we had a client, and the client needed help with SEO, or the client needed help with editing the website, or the client needed some copywriting done, I'd never done any of these things before but Maurice would tell the client what kind of strategies to implement, what set of tactics to use and then he would essentially say, “Now, here's my associate, our intern, Kenny, he's going to do the work for you.” That's how essentially, I got started.


And then from there, I was at the nonprofit for about six months, and I expressed my concerns of trying to find work after graduation. Maurice basically told me, “Make a list of everything you learned at SCORE, put in your resume, and start applying for jobs and tell me what happens.” I got a job three days after graduating.


[00:06:54] LP: Wow, that's amazing.


[00:06:54] KS: Yeah. That's essentially how I got into digital marketing.


[00:06:59] LP: Wow. So, they caught you, kind of right out of the gate?


[00:07:02] KS: Yeah. I would say another thing that helped me out, too, was, and this is why anyone who's in college specifically, I always have the same advice for them as they're trying to figure out how to get a job quickly after graduating, definitely find a way to volunteer your time for free. And when people hear that they're like, “My time has value, I don't want to work for free, I don't want to volunteer.” But the reason why you're doing that, especially at the beginning of your career, is you don't know anyone. For the most part, you get hired by your peers or because of your peers. So, all of the jobs, if not, the majority of them that I got with little friction and little effort was because someone introduced me to the hiring manager. The first job I ever got was because I met someone who was a previous SCORE client, and while I was applying for work, he saw that I was basically on the market and he introduced me to one of his colleagues, who then hired me.


So, that's the one thing that changed my career. I still do it to this day, where I offer my services for free, once a year, to at least one client, just for the sake of expanding my network, and also that way, I can get some client testimonials. So, there's two benefits to that. One is expanding your network, and at the same time, if you're trying to get social proof, spec work, volunteer work, however you want to find it, that also helps tremendously.


[00:08:20] LP: Wow. How do you select a particular company to do that for?


[00:08:26] KS: My criteria is somewhat flexible. But there's really two things that I consider when I want to volunteer for a client. One is, because a lot of my work has to do with marketing, and specifically on the content and growth side of things, they have to have customers already. And the reason why that's one of my requirements is because I like to work with clients who have some kind of product market fit in the industry that they work in, because for the most part, marketing is an engine for growth, an engine for gaining revenue. But if the product or service you're promoting doesn't work, no amount of marketing can help you and that doesn't mean –


[00:09:07] LP: Right. You want to be able to have something to test and market.


[00:09:10] KS: Exactly. You want something to test and at the same time, you want your social proof that you're trying to get from this experience, actually showing impact.


[00:09:19] LP: Right. Before and after baseline.


[00:09:22] KS: Exactly. And then the other thing really is just, am I interested in the project? So, those would be like the main two criteria that I use for spec work.


[00:09:31] LP: Wow. I mean, that's an incredible way, I think, especially to stay connected and grounded to the idea of being in total service and making the exchange, the mutual benefit about something other than money, but also learning results for someone, so that's a really interesting strategy. I really like that.


[00:09:54] KS: Yeah, and the other thing too, is like, you can probably expand your list of clients, and this is speaking specifically as a freelancer, you can expand your list of clients if you take the approach of, I'll have two to three clients who are paying me. And my fourth one is always a free client, for the sake of getting social proof, but also referrals. So, that's the other benefit. Everyone has a network and even if it's a three-month project, four-month project, where you're giving someone 10 hours a week, that's going to give you so much benefit in the future, because then you get more social proof, as I mentioned before, but then when the product is over, you can literally just ask them, “Hey, do you know anyone who might need my services?” Then just start those conversations and that helps you with just getting more qualified leads in your pipeline, where you don't need to do the outreach yourself. They're more so qualified because someone is doing the work for you to prospect and find those opportunities.


[00:10:56] LP: Wow, I love this so much. Great. All right, what kinds of skills would you say, because obviously, with COVID, it became a very competitive candidate hiring market. What's great is that it seems to be really turning a corner where it's becoming more of the candidate’s market. And still, you definitely need to differentiate nowadays, with everyone, I think, flocking to digital media and marketing. So, what can marketers do today, to showcase that they have a unique skill set? What kinds of skills are hiring managers looking for? And how can they demonstrate those in the process?


[00:11:38] KS: I love that you asked me this question, because I've asked this question to at least 20 chief marketing officers this year, if not more, and for the most part it's all the same. I can speak to this myself, where it's like, the skills for the most part don't matter, especially if you can learn them by Googling or YouTubing specific aspects of those skills. So, for example, email marketing, copywriting, video creation, and editing, all these different skills, you can learn, either for free, or you can pay someone, an online course, if you will, to speed up that education. It's not necessarily the skills that help you stand out, but more so the history of business impact you've contributed across your career.


[00:12:24] LP: Okay. I see. So, rather than presenting a long list of credentials, it might be more valuable to actually present your own case study of the results that you've created with your skills.


[00:12:37] KS: Yes, because for the most part, there's assumptions that happen when you apply for a job. The first assumption is, if you're applying, you have at least 80% of the skill set that's required. That's the first assumption. The second assumption is whether or not you have the full list of skills, you in some way, shape or form are passionate about the opportunity because of the company and what it's offering.


So, with those assumptions set aside, we have to consider the fact that one, you have to beat the applicant tracking system, that bot. That's easy to do. You can pay many services, resume writing services to find the right keywords for you. I've done this in the past. But then after that, you're going to be in front of the hiring manager and all of their questions are used to filter both for, can you fit into the company culture? And can you do the job? For the most part, if you are competing with three other people at the top of the candidate list, and you all have the same skills, what the hiring manager is going to use is a comparison of who had the most impact for the most amount of companies that they work for.


[00:13:50] LP: I see. So, if everything looked the same, if the skills looked the same on paper, the results will be the determining factor.


[00:13:58] KS: Yeah. And then the other thing to consider is, let's say at the end of the day, both business impact and skill set are equally the same across both candidates at the end of the list where you have only two people to choose from. Then what really matters is how much does your passion for the product, or service, the company you're applying for, really present itself throughout the application process, throughout the interview process? And these are all things that I consider even to this day, whether it's me applying for a job, or me applying for a freelance opportunity on any of the various marketplaces that I use to find these opportunities. It's all about, one, obviously, I need to have the skill set. I need to have a track record that I'm growing over time, but then I need to showcase that I have a passion for the project. And at the same time, when I compare it to other candidates, what's really important is just making sure that at the end of the day, can we expect impact from this person?


[00:15:02] LP: Wow, this is fascinating. Okay, so when it comes to skills, because I've always been thinking like, “Well, you need data storytelling skills.” I don't know, I'm a little partial to data storytelling skills. I don't know why. I always kind of cite that Forrester, a few years ago, predicted that data storytelling skills would be required by 25% of all hires and promotions. I think that's one great way to look at it.


But what you're making me think of is, there's a key component of not just knowing how to explore data, especially when you're evaluating digital marketing results of different campaigns or optimization, landing page, things like that, but also the explanatory part. So, these are two very different skill sets, and most digital marketers that I know of, and data analysts I know of, at some point, have to take on the role of explainer, not just explorer, and this is the gap that people are falling into without the right skills. So, have you found at all data storytelling skills or learning that has helped you communicate these results that end up being the edge that you give yourself when you're trying to show what you've accomplished for other companies?


[00:16:23] KS: Absolutely. I would say one common question that I've gotten, either through my own interview processes or when just talking with colleagues or actively in the job search right now is around data. How do you use data? How do you present data? What is the usefulness of reporting in your perspective? I've heard that question repeatedly and it just goes to show that there is a demand from the recruiter side of things for people who are comfortable using data, even if you're on the creative end of marketing, like myself.


I'm a writer, an SEO specialist. SEO is kind of like where I have my area of expertise, aside from copywriting as well. And even though, to a certain standpoint, the KPIs for SEO, across all industries can be relatively the same, people still want to know, can you actually tell convincing stories of progress over time? Can you build confidence across departments within a marketing team across an entire organization? And again, this is a skill that I'm still learning myself, but I do find that as I'm getting better at explaining data, not just exploring data, one, it's built more confidence in myself personally, explaining why am I doing something? How's it having impact? And at the same time, it builds confidence for other people in need to know that if a task is delegated, or if a roadmap I create is made, that is the right decision or right set of decisions.


[00:18:05] LP: I see. Okay. So, are you testing and refining your data storytelling or communication processes well? If you are, what are you finding that's working well, for you in that?


[00:18:19] KS: So, when I started my career, and when I started specifically doing reporting on SEO, I had and I still have, to a certain degree, a set of 13 KPIs that I look at within my SEO tool, which is Semrush, that's like the standard one I use, but also within Google Analytics. Before, I used to present all 13 KPIs, whether the audience in my reporting session was the marketing team, or key stakeholders across several departments, it never really changed. And that was something that I realized was a problem. And then what I realized was, “I need to segment these 13 KPIs based on who's my audience.”


If I'm talking to someone in the marketing team, then I could possibly tell a story across all 13 KPIs we're looking at. Whereas if I'm talking to someone who is on the sales team, or at the C suite level, they're only going to care about, “What was our return on investment on SEO?” And possibly, they might ask, “Wow many page views are we getting? How many keywords are we ranking for?” For the most part, everything else is for myself, just know how much impact we're doing, what's the progress of our activities, but for the most part leadership, or any other people that you're doing a presentation for that aren't in the weeds with you, they're not going to care about the other KPIs. That's for yourself.


I think irrespective of SEO, just any marketing function in general, it's important to take a step back and to really ask yourself, “When I'm reporting something within my marketing team, what are the KPIs I should be focusing on? What are the metrics I should be reporting on and telling a story about?” And then contrast that with, “If I'm talking to anyone else, what numbers do they really care about?” And for the most part, the number one metric is return on investment.


[00:20:14] LP: Of course, yeah. It's hard to get to, though, right? I mean, I think a lot of times, if we had like a direct path to that metric, we would just zoom right there. But if they don't have that available, they can't really see a concrete return on investment. What are the other kinds of measures or metrics that you find useful for that?


[00:20:33] KS: Yeah. So, this comes into a great discussion into metrics that are clear indicators of ROI and other metrics that are lagging indicators. So, for example, if you're doing a brand awareness campaign, within a brand awareness campaign, it's very straightforward to know what’s the number one goal. That would either be impressions, click through rate, or some kind of action that happens after someone clicks through on to a landing page. But when you go into other kinds of campaigns, where the goal is to create brand affinity over time, over multiple quarters, then your challenge is really talking about, “We're measuring these metrics,” whatever they might be, “but we won't see a return on investment for the next year or so.”


When you're having that kind of conversation, what's really important, especially if you're a marketer within a team is making sure that C suite people at the executive level understand that there are two types of campaigns. There are direct response campaigns that are made for someone to take a desired action, those are the easiest to measure ROI. And then there are more long-term campaigns where you're really just trying to make a wedge in the market over time, so that you are considered when you're not doing a direct response campaign, and someone is coming into your sphere of influence in an inbound opportunity as opposed to outbound.


I think that's one of the challenges that all marketers face, whether they work in SEO, whether they work in demand generation, or growth, or any function and whatever term you want to put it, that's really the main challenge that you have, especially if you don't work in that growth, demand side of things where it's clear to say, “This is how much money we spent, and this is how much money we got back.” When you're doing stuff like what I'm doing, which is putting time and money into effort, such as search optimization, creating a blog, and really trying to create a library of content that doesn't show its impact, six months, eight months, a year into the effort, then you really need to get that buy in from leadership before you even start.


This is something that I had to learn the hard way, especially at the beginning of my career. You want to make sure that it's clear across the table, that if you're in a marketing function, and the efforts don't show the impact months after you started that effort, you want to make sure everyone understands that that is the case and that is what's going to actually happen, and that we have to give these experiments, these campaigns time to show their fruition before we just shut them down, or we see them as failures.


[00:23:25] LP: Interesting. Okay. So, it's not really shooting from the hip. There's like a clear action plan ahead of time of how the various directions that results could go will be evaluated, and the plan taken from there, rather than like a knee jerk. Like, “Let's cancel it all and start from scratch.” And that actually brings me to a question I get asked really often is, “How do I present bad news?” Because no one likes to present bad news. No one likes to hear bad news. So, if a campaign isn't successful, is there something that marketers and analysts can include or frame things as, that can still make it a success?


[00:24:10] KS: This is why I love the fact that I've had experience across multiple functions, not just on the creative side of things, but also on the paid media side. One thing that I find, for the most part, only people in the paid media side of things do is drafting hypotheses and testing experiments. I think that's something that every single function in marketing should take and implement.


The reason why is because, let's say for example, you are managing a client's YouTube channel for their personal brand and after six months, you see that these three themes, if you will, aren't working. You're not getting the number of views and the number of subscribers and the watch time you expected, and now you have to report this to the client and obviously they're going to be angry because they've spent money on you, and they spent time and resources planning everything with you, and they trusted you for the past six months to really execute on this campaign. The best way to really present the failure in this case, because it is a failure, is to show, “Here's the hypotheses that we had. Here's how they played out in the market. In this case, we didn't succeed in what we were looking for. But more importantly, here's the new hypotheses we had. Here are the things we learned from this campaign that we're going to take into the next campaign and why.”


I find that when you take this approach of testing hypotheses, it's an easier pill to swallow when they don't work. Because at the very least, you're showcasing that your expertise in whatever function you're in, is the true tool to help you navigate the market. Because sometimes you don't know whether or not a blog post is going to work, whether or not a series of TikTok videos of an influencer is going to work. You have to test it out. And sometimes they don't. But what clients really care about, at least from what I've seen is, “What are we going to do next? Did we learn anything?” Because if you come to a client, and you say this campaign didn't work, and that's the end of the report, you get replaced. Whereas if you say, “This didn't work, but here's what we learned because of this, and here's what we're going to do next,” and have actionable steps and learnings and key findings, that creates a more palatable conversation. It keeps the confidence and trust that the client has on you, since the start of the engagement.


[00:26:40] LP: I love that so much. I don't believe in bad news, I believe in opportunities for improvement and the chance to keep our jobs. Even when I think about languaging. Languaging is so vital when we're communicating. This is why I love communication as an arm of effective data storytelling. So, I try to avoid verbiage like, “This didn't work.” But rather, I'll say in trying to be the most dispassionate way possible, “This didn't meet our projections or our calculations, our expectations. However, the good news is that there are X, Y, Z angles that we can take to continue to chip away or continue to improve or optimize and create new calculations, smarter, more well-informed calculations.” Obviously, moving towards accuracy with our projections is seen as a really good sign. People like when their expectations are met. And also, I think it's important to communicate that as you're getting started with this process of analyzing and benchmarking and things, is that just like a plane taking off, it's bumpy in the beginning, and you hit turbulence. But just because you hit turbulence on the way up, you're not going to land the plane as soon as you hit the air, just because the beginning was bumpy. So, I think that can really engender trust, and a belief that if they continue along this process, and this is actually an expected part of the learning process, I think that can really alleviate things for clients. I don't know, what do you think about that?


[00:28:25] KS: Given the context, because everyone's context is different. One thing to consider is, if you really want to, I'm speaking as a freelancer now, if you really want to build a great freelance business, you want to keep your clients with you as long as possible. It's the long-term relationships.


[00:28:43] LP: Of course, retention.


[00:28:44] KS: Yeah, retention is really what matters for a freelancer, not how much you're getting paid per project, or per hour, but more so, how long have you kept the client? Because you can always, if you're doing your job correctly, charge your client more year after year. If you're really good, you can charge them and upsell them, and cross sell them within the year mark, depending on how good you are. So, it's really just thinking about when there are mistakes, and when things don't turn out the way you expected them to, always being transparent and always having an action plan or actionable way of pivoting from the learnings that you got from whatever happened.


[00:29:25] LP: Yeah, it's exactly the same. I think of it the same way when I advise people on how to handle difficult questions, or questions they don't know the answer to and that it's not about having the answer, it's how you handle it if you don't. That's what truly engenders trust. So yeah, I love this so much. I'd also love to talk about your show. Obviously, I'm also a proponent of creating your own podcast to help your career, but it's not just about your own career, it's very much about sharing the wealth of knowledge that you acquire, claiming your own voice in the field. But obviously, it is a huge tool for growing your professional brand in the space, elevating your prospects, a lot of opportunities come your way. So, I'd love to hear more about your experience of how the show has fit in overall with your career portfolio.


[00:30:28] KS: So, the People at Digital Marketing didn't start out as an interview show of Chief Marketing Officers, Head of Marketing, VP of Marketing, et cetera. It was an audio journal to start. My thesis was, and the initial goal was, I can create a podcast and over time showcase my expertise in marketing, by marketing the podcast.


[00:30:56] LP: Okay. Interesting.


[00:30:57] KS: One of the first things I discovered is whenever you're making any kind of podcast, in order to enter the top 1% globally of podcasts, you need to make sure you have at least 30 episodes. I found this in a Reddit thread, and essentially, if your podcast can reach episode 30, you've automatically – because the thing is that there's so many new podcasts that come out every single day, all the time, the majority of them, 99% of them don't reach episode 30.


[00:31:27] LP: That's crazy. And whoop, whoop, made it! So, happy there. But wow. That's an incredible statistic. So, 1% make it. Wow. That's incredible. And also, it makes you think like, “Gosh, I wish there was a way out there to improve the chances of that”, because it takes a lot of work, and effort and process and commitment to keep a podcast going. Believe me, of course, I know firsthand. So, how did that thought experiment work, of like having this be an example of your skills? It's kind of meta, which is really cool.


[00:32:07] KS: The thing is, is that the reason why I made it was because I found that a resume or a pitch, like a regular text pitch with a portfolio, can't get you a job or client today, because there's too much competition. For the most part, you're dealing with two types of customers. You're either dealing with customers who are shopping with price, and if you have a high-ticket item, then you're automatically disregarded. And there's other customers who are willing to pay what you charge, but you're not the only person available in the market for the services that you're providing. So, you need to find a way to essentially, ideally, one, get the customers you're looking for coming to you, and if you're going to them, then you need to have a large repository of not only previous work, but content out in the market that showcases you know what you're talking about.


Now with me, I have a unique situation, or in this case, probably not so unique situation, of still being in the very early stages of my career. So, although I would definitely consider myself, not to toot my own horn, an SEO expert, sometimes I have clients who come to me or I go to them for other functions, other campaigns, whether it's helping them with their video creation, helping them with their podcasting, helping them with their sales, landing pages. And some of these things I wouldn't consider myself an expert in, but I know how to do them.


So, in these particular sales conversations, what gets me to actually close and get the successful sale is we'll have the conversation, but before the conversation even happens, they've Googled me. And last time I checked, there's at least, globally 1,044 Kenny Soto's in the world, but I'm the only one that comes up when you Google my name.


[00:34:05] LP: Really?


[00:34:06] KS: You can do this later after the recording. But if you google my name, I'm the only one that comes up. And the reason why is because of my podcast and because of my previous blog posts that I made before the podcast. The other thing that helped me out, and this is the reason why I changed the podcast, was I started to realize that if I want to make a great podcast, I need to talk to my ICP or in this case, my ideal listener. When I did, this was the harsh truth; none of them cared about what I was learning. What they cared about was what they want to learn about when it comes to marketing. And several of them told me, “Because you already know a lot about marketing and you have your own desires to learn different functions within the field, why don't you just do a guest show?”


Yes, there are a lot of guest shows out there, but there probably is a unique angle you can take. Then I literally just started interviewing people that I used to work with across various industries. And eventually, my mentor started listening to my podcast, and he got the great idea of basically telling me, “Don't focus on tactics or strategies, those will come up naturally. Focus on the people.” That's how I came up with the name, The People of Digital Marketing, because there's so many great valuable podcasts out there that cover tactics and strategies, but none of them cover the people, the actual people in the career that have great advice to help you accelerate your learning. That's how the show basically started to evolve to the point where it's at now, where my goal isn't to have one of the most popular marketing podcasts or popular business podcasts in the market, but more so whenever anyone is listening, whether the audience stays the way it is, or it grows over time, they find actionable advice that they can take with them to work the next day.


[00:36:06] LP: Of course, yeah. All of that is incredible, and really amazing advice. It reminds me of the advice given by Wil Reynolds, the head of Seer Interactive when he was on the show some time ago. And he said, anytime you present at a conference, meeting, whatever, be at the top of their to-do lists the next day, right? It's like a nugget. What can they do differently starting tomorrow? I love that so much. Because we do look at specific metrics for podcast success, like subscribers, loyalty, growth, things like that. But it's this softer goal of when a person out there shares with you that something they heard on your show really made them think or gave them some sort of next step in creating success for themselves. I think that is the highest metric that you can measure your success for your podcast.


[00:37:09] KS: Yeah. Here's the crazy thing. There are many things. I'll go through the list. So, there's a lot of things that have occurred since I've started this podcast that I didn't even intend to be soft metrics to focus on, and these are the metrics I focus on now. So, one of them is, how many marketing leaders do I have in my network and how is that growing? And the reason why I focus on that is just because I've realized through this podcast, especially when it comes to applying for work or getting clients, I don't need to be the most popular marketer in the industry if every single person in my network is a leader. Because then when I reach out to them, whether it's to directly apply to a job that they have on their team, or it's for a referral to another opportunity, it's such an easy ask because I've already interacted with them through the excuse of interviewing them for my podcast. So, that's one great benefit. The other benefit –


[00:38:10] LP: Right. Because people love to offer their opinions.


[00:38:14] KS: Exactly. The other great benefit is I’ve found that whenever I have a specific question or a specific dilemma that Google or YouTube cannot solve, I'll reach out to someone who's an expert in that. And all of the questions that I have, there's an assumption that other people have them. So, I'm already creating great content for my audience, but at the same time, I'm getting expert consultations from marketing leaders for free.


[00:38:41] LP: Interesting. Wow. So, there's so many ancillary benefits or unexpected side benefits to that process. You're absolutely right. I mean, so much of the insight and curriculum I've put together, especially for my book coming out, has been sourced from, I even have lots of sound bites from the show in the book, just because they were really pivotal in helping me think about how to elevate what I was doing and crowdsource it, right?


[00:39:11] KS: Exactly. I would say that's why I'm going to continue doing this podcast whether the audience grows or not, and it is growing over time. The reason why is because at the end of the day, my podcast is slowly becoming more important than my resume. It’s becoming more important than anything else that I can create just standalone, promoting myself. If I go about promoting every single marketing leader, instead, it's going to make me known as that person, at least in theory, that is the most connected marketer in the industry. If anyone wants to do market research or partnership that leads to the conversion of a marketing leader, I'd probably be at the top of the list because of the network that I have.


[00:39:55] LP: That's incredible. Well, we might be talking after this because I love marketing leaders. What are some of your favorite other podcasts that help with this topic?


[00:40:07] KS: I would say, in the world of marketing, and also like just a great podcast to listen to, and this is someone who I see as a role model for my own content. There's this podcast now labeled Exit Five, by Dave Gerhardt. It's a b2b marketing podcast. And although the majority of my clients are b2c, the reason why I listen to it, is because at a certain point, in your career as a marketer, you'll hit a wall in what you can do, and it's not because you don't have the skills. It's because when you start your career, in most cases, you are given the tactician hat. So, all you focus on is best practices for TikTok videos or best practices for optimizing blog posts or best practices for converting people through email.


You have to then cross that chasm of being a tactical marketer to being someone who can really have a seat at the table for the business and someone who can be a partner in growing revenue. Because at the end of the day, and this is something I learned recently, like, this is not something that I just stumbled upon. And luckily enough, I discovered it through doing my own podcast. At the end of the day, a marketer’s main job, and people can debate this, but in my opinion, is growing revenue, contributing to revenue, whether you're b2b, b2c, no matter the industry, and no matter the product, no matter your service, marketing is an investment in growing revenue. And in most cases, if it's seen as a cost center, as opposed to an investment, it's probably because the team is focused too much on the tactics, and not so much the overall company strategy, how that company strategy fits into the marketing strategy, and then how the tactics fit into the marketing strategy itself. There are tiers involved.


Through my podcast, but also through listening to Exit Five, I've been able to discover this chasm that I don't even think a lot of people are talking about right now. More so, Dave Gerhardt is great at explaining how to cross the chasm. Because it's important to know that it exists, but you also need to know how to actually cross it. And that's why if you ask me the question, what's a podcast that I use to be a better marketer? That's definitely one of them.


[00:42:28] LP: Okay, well, that's definitely one we'll have to check out. Because when it comes to digital marketing, there are many chasms to cross and obviously, the more that can help with that, the better.


[00:42:41] KS: Absolutely.


[00:42:49] LP: All right. So, we've arrived at a segment called The Upgrade, which is a tool, a resource, an expert, something that the listeners would absolutely love to check out that you feel like it's either like really up and coming or exciting, or it just plays a really big role in your work and your success. So, what do you got?


[00:43:12] KS: So I just mentioned the podcast Exit Five by Dave Gerhardt and that's definitely a great resource. But something that I want to talk about is his new book, Founder Brand. And the reason why I find it so useful, is because it's not only for founders. He wrote it specifically for founders, but it's such a universal book, that if you work in marketing, but also if you're a content creator, it's something that will help you tremendously. This is why I'm reading it right now. Because he goes over many things and I like how he outlines it level one, level two, level three, where there's different stages for developing your founder brand. It's the same thing for your personal brand. You need to know who you're speaking to, why you're speaking to them, why you think you should speak to them. And then the book covers how to approach your messaging, how to approach that communication with your ideal audience in a way that I haven't seen done before.


I think, for the most part, the book is very useful, especially if you're at the beginning of your career, and you have intentions of owning your own business, because then you can start crafting how your personal life and how your personal brand fits into that overall arc and the overall journey that you intend to have in the future. So, whether you're a founder of a company now, you're a content creator, who's focused on building out their personal brand, or you want to be a founder in the future, Founder Brand by Dave Gerhardt is the upgrade that I would recommend.


[00:44:43] LP: Okay, awesome. Yeah. I mean, I think it's so valuable, how seeing what the strategies are that help people where their entire livelihood, the future of their businesses, rely on knowing their customers and their audience. A lot of times I found that as a practitioner inside of a company, I didn't have that same impetus driving me towards that, because it's a paying salary job and I get a paycheck. But that's not the reality for business founders. They live and die, literally, by whether they are able to capture and execute on what their client's needs are. So, I love to see how those kinds of strategies can filter down to anyone who wants to be successful and really stand out. So, very, very nice. Have to check that out.


Alright, so we've arrived at our final question. I want you to think hard here and imagine this very plausible scenario. You're finishing a souffle in a Parisian cooking competition, when suddenly you trip and fall into a vortex that pulls you back to the moment you're about to deliver your first presentation. Do you remember what you're presenting about? And what advice would you give to the yesterday you?


[00:46:03] KS: The first presentation I ever gave in a business setting, and I didn't mention this, and I should have mentioned this at the start of our conversation. When I was volunteering at SCORE, I wanted to take what I was learning and apply it to my university. I was president of the student government at the time and I wanted to help the university with their social media marketing, because just being honest, it was terrible. I decided, “I'm going to create a sales deck to offer my services to them.”


This deck had at least 76 slides. So immediately, it's already too much information, overwhelming, like what's the point, right? If I can go back, well, I'll give more context. I ended up closing the deal, but I think it was because I overwhelmed them with all the information that they just assumed they knew what I was talking about. I did to an extent, but I feel like they would have had more confidence in me and the deal would have gone much quicker to the close if I had just focused on showcasing and understanding the student body and what they were looking for. The opportunities that were available to us were presented in a way where it's not like, “Here is Instagram and the importance of Instagram and why we're not using it and how other universities are using it and the growth, et cetera.” It's more so, “You should be using Instagram,” and then it's just a one slide presentation on that. And go to the next part, which is, “Okay, so we understand our student body, what they're looking for, the main channel you would use is Instagram,” and I had at least 40 slides talking about examples of content we can create where those 40 slides could have just been a list, a bullet point list. And if they wanted examples, I could have probably had that in an appendix.


So, if I can go back, I would really just focus on, get to the point. I still think about that to this day. It’s more so like, when I'm creating a report, think about what are the one to two to three metrics that I need to report on, in most cases, four, five, six, you already – too many numbers, right? And then the other point is, how fast can I get to the main message? What is that one sentence or two sentences that's going to drive my desired action? Whether that's closing a sale in this place, or getting someone to do something after the meeting. That's what I would really focus on and tell Kenny back then, “Hey, you don't need this number of slides. It's ridiculous. You probably only need six slides to get to the point. And for the most part, you would save so much time in that meeting and get straight to the Q&A,” which is really what helped me close the deal is the Q&A section at the end of the meeting.


[00:48:54] LP: Speaking their curiosity and then letting them fly with questions. But they don't get to do that. They don't get to kick the tires, right?


[00:49:00] KS: Exactly. You don't want to, especially in a sales call, overwhelm people, because for the most part, I got lucky. But in other scenarios, I can definitely say that the more information you provide, the more confusing the conversation might get. And you just want to make it very simple. You want to present the problem, present why you're the solution, and present how you're going to implement the solution. That's it. That's all you want to do. Everything else is just fluff. And you can have the fluff if you think it's useful, but put out the appendix, and they can check it out after the call or after the meeting.


[00:49:36] LP: Got it. Yes. Oh, totally, love that advice. Get to the point, get to what they want. Oh, awesome. Well, Kenny, thank you so much. I really enjoyed this conversation. What I really take note about you is how results oriented you are and all the ways in the ways you truly are living a testing philosophy. You're your own experiment, in a way, your own sandbox. And I think the listeners will really benefit from so much of the advice that you gave here today. So, please tell the listeners where they can keep up with you and check your stuff out.


[00:50:13] KS: So, I always love saying this. All you need to do is go on Google and type in Kenny Soto, and you’ll find me on all platforms. And if you're interested in marketing, and learning from the world's best in marketing, from Fortune 500 companies, to small business owners, to individual contributors that are experts in their field, go to or type in your search bar, The People of Digital Marketing, and we are on all podcast apps.


[00:50:41] LP: That's a really great breadcrumb trail. Very, very well played. Yeah, I can't wait to see what you're going to continue to be able to do. I hope everyone starts to think about claiming their name in search as their next career strategy. And I truly hope our paths cross again.


[00:51:01] KS: Likewise. Thank you.


[00:51:01] LP: Thanks.




[00:51:11] LP: All right. I hope you enjoyed that interview just as much as I did. It's really great sometimes to start looking and talking to the people who are still working in the trenches and working with clients and working with the data. Seeing how Kenny used his own skills to really carve out a path for himself, was really inspiring, and I hope that all practitioners everywhere, can know that with the same kind of skills and determination, absolutely the same as possible for them.


So, to catch all of the links and resources and everything mentioned in this episode, visit the show notes page at I'd love for you to leave me a comment or suggestions because I want to hear about the challenges you face when presenting your ideas and insights.


Don't forget to follow the show on Apple Podcast or Spotify, so you'll never miss these interviews or special content.


I'll leave you with today's presentation inspiration by Ryan Lilly and that is, “Personal brands are determined by a track record of actions, not a track record of plans.” My take, there's no more powerful way to display your track record of action than learning how to present ideas and results effectively. Decision makers, stakeholders and clients want to see that practitioners will walk their talk and they need to see it in a clear, concise and compelling way.


Luckily, if you're listening to the show, you're in the exact right place to do that. Wishing you a safe, fun and thrilling summer, and I'll catch you when school is back in session. That's it for today. Stay well, stay cool and Namaste.


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