Ep011: Kelly Garrett Shares How Her Design, Technology and Bots are Shaping Her Marketing of the Future
00:02 – All right, welcome back marketing futurists, you know, who I am, Mary Kathryn Johnson and I get to chat with my amazing cohost and let you get to know her a little bit more and I’m sure some things will come out but I don’t even know because I’ve only known her about the past eight months. So welcome to the conversation, Kelly Garrett. She is the head of the number one, the head cheese of etc. Design and marketing. Hey there, kelly. Thank you. So excited to do this. I know I can’t wait. Okay, so you got to start off just like everybody else and give us a little bit of background and what brought you to where you are on this path to being a futurist.
00:47 – Yeah. So the question is how far back to start, right? That’s not go back to childhood to. Yeah, right, right. Unless you became an entrepreneur back then, but. No, I did, I did. I sold things as a child and I think I was meant to be an entrepreneur, you know, ever since childhood but, but really it started more, more or less in high school when I just was very into design and computer design and I started doing things on the computer, designing, greeting cards and all sorts of things like that. And throughout high school and college, tried to get jobs that would teach me more of computer design and, and a little bit of business thrown in. And so I, I kind of self taught all of the design side of things. And then, when I was in college decided, oh, hey, you know, I’ve got friends and family that are asking me to design things for them.
01:40 – I should, I should turn this into a business. And so I thought I need a website. So I taught myself how to design websites and learn coding that way just on the internet, looking at tutorials and buying books and things like that. And I got my undergrad degree in it and as soon as I was done with that, I decided, you know, I think I really want some, some type of advantage going out into the workforce, so I’m just going to go get my mba right away. And did that. I went to a full time program, and it was a very, very intense couple of years doing that. And through that mba program I had several marketing and entrepreneurship classes and that’s where I really got the bug and decided, you know, what maybe kind of climbing the corporate ladder isn’t for me. Maybe I really want to let my creativity be a bigger part of my career and I’m just dove right into starting my own design business right after college, right after my mba.
02:42 – So I started out freelancing and it was only a few months before I had more work than I can handle and needed to hire another designer started that right away. And so as that was going, that was kind of starting to do its. I had a brilliant at the time, now looking back on it is just as another step in the journey, but had the idea to open a store where we were helping people do design for things like wedding invitations and birthday invitations. I’m kind of on their own or guided with help from us a little bit because about that time I was getting married and tried to make my own wedding invitations, tried to do all these things myself and there were not resources online. This was 11, almost 12 years ago. There were not the things online like there are now to be able to make your own invitations or do all these things.
03:41 – I felt really alone in that journey and felt like, you know, I think goodness, I have the design skills to be able to do this myself. I don’t know how other people do it. So how the retail store where we did that for a while. The bottom line with the store was several things. I was, I was doing too many things at once. So I was trying to do graphic design services for people, wild running the store, second, it wasn’t the right location, you know, just a lot of rookie mistakes in business and we close the store down after a year and I mean, so it, you know, it was, it lasted a year, which was okay considering, and, and then, you know, decided, well, okay, I really need to make this design service at this agency work. And so that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years.
04:35 – It’s been, you know, lots of up and down journeys for, for me personally, my business has grown and contracted along with, you know, usually when I’ve been having kids, I’ve got four kids and it seems like every time I would have a baby I needed to scale back a little bit. And so I’ve had team members, I’ve had up to five people on my team at one point and you know, back down to one, just myself and every combination in between. So, I really, I look back at that and I just feel fortunate to be able to have that flexibility to do that and really be able to call the shots in, in when I needed to scale back and when I needed to expand, you know, kind of go back and forth and do that. So that’s been about the last 10 years. The last year has been the amazing journey that you and I are both on with, with messenger bots and that has really catapulted my business and has opened so many new doors of, of things to, you know, other services that I can offer people and ways to help make their marketing more integrated all across the board. And that’s really what I’m all about is integrated marketing. That brings me to, to here now.
06:04 – And so what I hear with that is that you, are open to what’s coming and being able to dabble in it and see if it’s something that can help you and possible your customers even to the extent of opening an actual physical store. I mean, that’s a, that’s a major undertaking, that’s not online digital stuff, that’s, you have inventory, you have rent, space, lots insurance, you have all those kinds of things. And to have that experience is something that most people don’t have, most entrepreneurs don’t have a, at least most entrepreneurs that you and I know the digital line. So, so what did that, what pitfalls did you use from that situation? From that journey that helped you grow and learn to, to be able to take advantage of now messenger.
06:59 – Oh, so many, so many, so many. And I mean even just, you know, the, just the basic basic things as in financing. Like I took out financing for the store, it was a huge expense to get it up and running and never again will I need to borrow money to start a business. That was huge. And I, yeah, every time I get to a point where it’s like, oh, we’ve got this fantastic idea, I’d have to take out a loan or you’d have to do this, just stops me dead in my tracks because I have no desire to do that again. And the risk taking, you would think that doing something like that and having to close the store and just having these times in business where we’ve grown and gotten smaller would make me less likely to take risks. But I think the bottom line, the lesson that I’ve learned from that is that I didn’t die. Nothing happened. We know, thankfully we didn’t ever have to file bankruptcy. We never lost our house. We came out okay. And so it taught me that these scary, scary risks that you think might, you know, completely make everything fall apart if you’re careful. If you’re smart about it, they don’t end up all that bad and there’s only benefit to gain from it. So I think that’s where things like messenger bots are so easy for me to try because I know that there’s really no risk in doing it.
08:33 – Wow. And so what made you jump on this whole messenger bandwagon? Why do you see that as being a futurist or part of the future?
08:44 – I am, I am absolutely a futurist. You know, my strengths finder is, is futurist or whatever. And, and I’ve always been someone who can kind of see the trends. My family kinda jokes because I’ll usually when it comes to like home decorating or design or fashion or something, I’ll see a trend happening and I’ll jump on it and two years later it finally comes out in stores, you know, I’ll be searching forever for that turquoise top that I love that color and then it takes two years for it to finally come around. And so I definitely have the ability to see, to see what’s coming. And I was at the converted convince a conference in minneapolis in 2016, October, 2016. So just over a year ago. And I saw Andrew Warner speak and that was just a transformational talk I have had followed him and mixergy for a little while.
09:46 – So I knew about him. I knew his podcast and he got up on stage and he wasn’t even planning on speaking about bots at the conference, but it had become kind of an obsession for him. So he ditched his entire presentation like a week before and switched it to bots and walked us through what you can do with it and showed us some examples. And then he had a bot to opt into, which I did. And then over the next couple days we got his messages and I just saw this and I had been. I’ve always struggled with building an email list. I help my clients build email lists and it’s like the shoemaker’s kids, my own website, my own email list, who have always been things that I haven’t had the time or I haven’t made the time to do what I know needs to be done to it.
10:39 – So when I saw messenger and I saw this bot that, you know, that was delivering these messages and I can just click buttons and respond and get personalized answers, I was just absolutely blown away and I thought, oh my gosh, the barrier to entry for this is so small and this email lists that I’ve been struggling with that I’m barely, barely getting like a 15 percent open rate on holy cow. This, it just blows that out of the water. So I just, I don’t even know why, but I just immediately saw the benefit in it and saw the feature in it. It just. I said, yes, I see how this is going to be a big thing. I’ve got to get on board with this. From there it was history. Andrew sent out some messages about a teaching people how to use bots and he, that he’d get on the phone with us and I was a little too proud to think that I needed education about, I remember, you know, getting on a call with him and I was kind of like, oh, I don’t really need to learn about it because the software is easy to use.
11:50 – I know how to code websites. I don’t know. I don’t know the software not going to be a problem for me, but yeah, I had no idea how much andrew could teach, teach me and there’s still so much to learn about it. There’s, it’s changing all the time. It’s just, it’s just crazy.
12:08 – Wow. Well that leads me into. I mean obviously I agree 100 percent. I’m so excited because obviously we met and we were able to, to see this and do this together. So we know that there are many pitfalls that we’ve hit in this whole messenger journey. And also I think you want to, bring that to what you just mentioned, integrated marketing. So think about that and I know that’s Your future. That’s really the future for all of us. All of our marketing is going to be integrated and talk to each other. But how, what, what pitfalls are you coming up against in following that future?
12:48 – Yeah. And, and again, there’s so many. It seems like for every advantage there’s probably a disadvantage, which I think is true of any marketing tool or tactic that we use because we’re marketers and if, if, you know, for every good marketer there’s a bad marketer and people who abuse things and go in directions that they shouldn’t go. But so I mean pitfalls specifically with messenger is, and I think we’ve touched on this with a lot of the other talks to. I think there’s just this, this line between how personal is too personal and when it comes to getting messages from companies, I feel the same way. There’s this line that I don’t want them to cross that I just feel like, okay, that’s a little too creepy. Stalky. And I think the challenge with messenger because, and again, this is a benefit and a disadvantage at the same time because we get people in the place where they’re most, I mean this is the most personal device.
13:52 – It’s on us all the time. It’s an appendage for most of us. That’s where we’re communicating with our moms, with our kids, with our friends. There is, that’s a real privilege for marketers to have access to people in that capacity. And so, I just feel like it’s a very, very fine line to walk and we have, as we’ve said in any of the other discussions, we have a responsibility to not abuse that and to gain and keep our customers trust. And so that I feel like is something that although people definitely abuse it, I think more often than not, people are not trying to abuse it and they don’t necessarily realize that what they’re doing might feel too invasive or you know, it’s just as a marketer we have this tendency to have blinders on. Like you just can’t see things from the other perspective.
14:59 – And so that’s where my goal in, in integrated marketing really comes into play. I, I have a skill for helping people take all of the different marketing that they’re doing. So whether it’s on their website, whether it’s an email, whether it’s on a messenger bot making an experience for customers that is very seamless and very. I’m trying to think of less sophisticated. You know, it’s something that’s very subtle. And you know, my, my bot one of andrew’s contest, Andrew Warner held a contest for who could create the best bot. And that was his comments about it is just that it was very subtle and sophisticated and it just, it just felt very natural. And the conversation was, you know, not intrusive and just very, I can’t think of the right word, but, but you know, that experience very seamless for people. And so that’s, that’s what I do really well.
15:58 – And I help people find those pieces. I think I’m, a lot of time marketers have a tendency to segment everything or silo the way that they do their marketing. Like, okay, I’m over here in my email, what’s my email strategy? Okay, I’m going to send these messages. Okay, now I’m over here on my website. Let me hire a website designer and focus on my website. And whether or not they realize it or whether or not they’re capable of fixing it. They have this very siloed and segmented experience for their users. It’s not the same experience over here as it is over there, even though it’s all the same brand and all the same company. And so, by, by helping people kind of work all of those pieces together, it just creates a better experience for people and what I feel is a much less intrusive and more trust building experience for people across all of their properties, all of their marketing.
16:56 – So it’s cohesive. It’s, it’s, it’s the same message. It’s who you are is what you offer and it’s wherever you are is what I hear you saying, right? Yeah. Yeah. And, and that’s, and that’s not easy to do, you know, I completely understand why people have trouble with that because we get bogged down with the technical. We get bogged down with the copywriting, we get bogged down with all of these different things, and, and as marketers, all of these things that we have to focus our attention on and it doesn’t, the tools that are out there, it doesn’t make it easy either. So it really helps to have kind of one, one vision or one central I’m polishing and if, if you will, to, to kind of make it, all that seamless, cohesive experience. So with that, I, I know, you know, the experiences there, you want to integrate everything.
17:55 – I get that and I agree 100 percent, but where do you see the future going then to allow you to do that? Yeah, I mean I have to just kind of repeat what everybody else has been saying because it’s so, it’s so true. It’s personalization. It is. I’m focusing on the people first and with that, that that’s how the cohesiveness, making sure things align across your marketing is how you make that happen. You know, people don’t want to be sold, nobody wants to be sold and, and so you have to really make sure that you can deliver the right message to them at the right time and at where they’re at in the journey. And so if you think of your customers as being on a journey with you, I’m really understanding their journey and knowing what message they need to receive at the right time and making sure that you aren’t just, you know, you’re a tour guide, you have to, you have to bring them along your business as their tour guide and any good tour guide is going to make sure that you’re transitioning from one to the next.
19:16 – You’re not just going to go drop him off. And I are grifols and say, here, look, it’s a waterfall. Great, okay on the airplane, now we’re over to the statue of liberty. No, you’re going to have this very fluid transition and this journey that you’re taking them on. So, so that’s what we need to be, is a tour guide for our customers, really walking them through our business and what they should experience exactly. And through that tour, what I’m again, how, how do you see us navigating that tour as marketers looking to take advantage of the future? I think that the mediums I think, I think it’s easy to get focused on the mediums are the channels, you know, it’s all about messenger bots right now. It’s all about email a few years ago and it’s all about websites. And I think, I think it’s important to remember that the channel is going to be irrelevant 10 years from now.
20:20 – I don’t think, you know, I don’t think we’re going to be communicating the same way. I mean, yeah, we’ll have video. Yeah, we’ll have audio, but it’s going to be different 10 years from now. And I think it’s important to not get hung up on any one channel or any one tool because those are just tools and those are just channels. And so, so the, what the future looks like. The future looks like communicating everywhere and places that we haven’t even thought yet. You know, you see in the movies, you walk down the hall, you know, you’re at the airport and you’re walking along and there’s a hologram that pops up and says, hi kelly, nice to see you, enjoy your trip. There are there ways we’re going to be communicating that we haven’t even begun to see yet. So the important aspect of communicating with customers is making sure that you are able to adapt your message to fit the channel that you’re using and to fit where they are in the journey and what they need to hear at that time. I don’t know if that answers your question.
21:25 – Definitely. And, and there are so many tools that obviously we’ve, we’ve spoken with the, the creators of so many of these tools, which, which has been such an amazing privilege. So, and I know you’re using the majority of those tools right now in integrated marketing for yourself and for your clients. So how, how can I use that tool? So let me ask you this, which of those tools do you think are going to be most impactful for your business and for your client’s business and which would you recommend that I implement as well?
22:07 – Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve, I’ve always tried to keep my eyes out and open to what tools are out there and never end and not really, you know, saying that this is the one tool that everybody must use because especially working with clients, every business is different. And so by telling you, you know, you really should use drip, mary and, but my other client over here, susan, she needs to use active campaign. There is not one size fits all for any tool out there. I think there are some tools that do a really great job and we’ll have a majority of businesses will be a good fit for them. Drip, I think is one of those tools that, that I really think, is kind of leading the way. Like bob jenkins was saying, I’m in one of the other interviews is that there were kind of going away from this one, one size fits all or one tool that does everything and what I love about drip is that it is trying to be what is the like center brains of your marketing and so yes, it’s an email automation platform but it just so much more than that because drip carries so much data with your customers.
23:28 – You’re following your customers around online and carrying all that data with you. You can use a tool like zapier to transfer data from one place to another, but it’s just a parallel transfer of data. I’m going to. I’m going to try to explain this and see if I can see if it all make it make sense, but basically you know, if you’re. If you’re having a susie sign up for a webinar and you take that webinar registration through email and you use zapier to pass that webinar registration to zoom. All your passing is the email address and you’re saying susie signed up for the webinar. That’s great and that’s very, very helpful and zapier is a wonderful tool that I use a lot, but what drip does is it can take multiple levels of data and follow susie around so she signs up for a webinar with drip.
24:22 – Drip captures the fact that she sign up for the webinar, passes it to zoom, but then it watches on zoom when susie logs in and actually watches the webinar. How long does she stay on the webinar? Was it five minutes? Was it 30 seconds? Then after she watched the webinar, did she click on the link that took her to the sales page and did she read the sales page? Did she opt in for something else or did she buy and it’s compiling all that data data about susie as a person, as an individual person rather than just one action that she took with her email, and that is hugely, hugely powerful because there aren’t any other tools out there that allow you to capture that much data and that depth of data about a single person. So, so drip is really focusing on an individual subscriber as a person.
25:14 – Not an email address, all the other tools are really focusing on the email address and that’s, that’s about all you have. That opens the door. Yeah. So, so with drips specifically where that opens the door is with a tool like many chat, if you integrate with many chat, many chat doesn’t, facebook doesn’t give you an email address. So the challenge with many chat as well, we have to somehow capture their email address. Well not necessarily because many chat has a subscriber id so if we can tie that subscriber id to their drip id, we’ve, we’ve linked up their email address and their subscriber id without having to ask them for their email address. So there’s so much power available there with drip and it’s such a new tool that I don’t think that we have Yet to see the power that it can that it can have. There are people like brennan dunn who are using it to its full potential and are really leading the way with it. But I’m, I’m just so excited to watch that tool in particular transform and integrate with other tools to make things happen. I mean, basically every tool that we’ve mentioned on the summit, like you said, is one that I’m using and I’m one that I am integrating together with everything else too, to just make marketing more personalized and more powerful and more integrated. yes.
26:44 – And so what, what excites you most about all the things that we’ve learned in seen in this summit? And it’s, it’s such, it’s not even a pinpoint of what’s to come and what’s available, but still what excites you most about the future of marketing?
27:01 – Yeah, so it’s the tech, it really is the tech I, I’m a techie. There is something about, I think what it is, it’s something about the fact that there is a machine doing these things, you know, and I, I could go down a long route about artificial intelligence. To me, I mean, yes, machine learning, yes, machines can learn, but at the end of the day, who created the machine, the people created the machine. So machine is never going to be better than a human, right, and I’ll argue that all day long. but where I was going with that is that oh, okay. So what gets me excited is, is really the tech, because it’s this machine, it’s this thing that is not real. It’s not human, it doesn’t have the same capacity as a human and it’s just crunching numbers and it’s just doing these things repetitively. I’m really fast. But it’s able to give us experiences that are more human like and that, that cross section of that happening, this, this really, you know, fake dumb.
28:10 – They’re dumb, dumb, smart. The smartest computer. Yeah. They can probably process things faster than humans, but they’re still stupid because they don’t have the emotional capacity that humans do. So the fact that you can take that and combine that with you can make it feel more personal and more experienced. And I’m emotional like a human. That is just really fascinating to me. So I look at the future and I get excited for the, the tools and to see how close we can really get with mimicking the human experience. We’ll never get there, it will never be exactly because people are still at the core of everything and each person, so you know, even that I find the one developing that tool and I have certain limitations in my communication ability, in my intuition, in my understanding of human behavior, then I can only develop that tool to the level that I currently am. And your experIences, your intuition, your, relation relating to other humans is going to be different from mine. So no matter what, we’re going to get down to those details that we can never get past. Machine won’t be able to do that no matter what.
29:35 – So yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s incredible. Where this is headed and so many incredible communication opportunities and I, it’ll growth opportunities that we have to love each other. It’s just fascinating to me to have these conversations is just incredible that we wrap our brains around this. I just amazing. Another point on that too is, I go back to the conversatIon we were having with andrew from chatfuel, when he was talking about machine learning and predictive models. And the thing that I find so fascinating about that is, is really kind of the long tale idea. You know, I have always felt like no matter how personalized a brand is, you know, target I think is an example of a brand who’s really good at knowing our customers and predicting things and, and having really personalized things no matter how good they get, I’ve always felt like they can never pinpoint me. I’ve always felt like, you know what, I am just different.
30:46 – There’s something different. They still can’t get it. So when andrew started talking about using predictive behavior models to kind of reach the long tail, the one percents that really lights me up. And that gets me excited because, and, and just kind of on a personal note, I had a stillborn. I had in 2013, I had a baby boy who was stillborn and it was because of a condition called icp, intrahepatic cola basis of pregnancy. And that is a very rare, rare disease. And it’s a one percent. So I’m the one percent. I know what it’s like to be the one percent. And so when traditionally in marketing we look at statistics, we look at the most common things, we like our bell curves, you know, we want to see what is the most frequent occurring thing and let’s focus our marketing towards what the majority of people want to see or want to buy.
31:41 – Well that has always felt just like not good enough for me. You know, like, well I’m the one percent, I’m, I’m, I feel different. I am different than everybody else out there. How, how can you reach me? How can you make it more personalized to me? And so yeah, I mean it’s just starting to talk about ways to reach the smaller percentages. The fewer people that are, I’m sure a lot of people feel that same way, is that, that just lights me up. That just makes me so excited. We all have those things. We all have something in our lives that make us, that one percent really is unique to us and we identify with a very small group of people and it’s still. So I take that and go way back out now. Big picture and say our whole society is trying to make everyone the same. Yes, all the same and there’s no distinctions and it’s.
32:40 – It distinguish and there are definitely ways that that is the case, but we are really trying to make everyone the same whereas our marketing are. We are trying to be very individualistic and very personalized and very one percent and so when we can, when we can really reconcile those two things and be okay with both, then we will have arrived. Right? Then we will have arrived at an understanding that human behavior is yes, all the same. We talk, we talk, we are all the same in that respect. We have the human condition, but how we get there and that journey that we take is so unique. Right? Completely specific to us and a very small percentage of people who have gone on a very similar journey. Right? Not incredible. I’m just so blown away by that.
33:34 – And just to think that we are coming close to a time when we already have some of those tools, but to think we are getting even closer to a time when we can capture that and reflect that experience back to people. It just, it blows my mind. It’s just.
33:52 – That’s exciting. Well, I mean, and think about the movie back to the future and like, I think it was back to the future two or three where, where she walks in as an, the, the girlfriend walks into the house and the house greets her by name and knows her preferences and knows all that. I mean, that’s here, that’s here, that’s here. They were only off by a few years, so not too bad. Wow. Okay. So, you know, just like everyone else, what kind of a tool or a tip can you share with our audience that will give them that futurist advantage?
34:32 – Yeah. And so it’s, again, it’s similar to what other people have said, but because I am very much about integrated marketing and focusing on your customer journey, it’s that it isn’t. Make sure that you can identify a journey that you want your customer to go on, but even more importantly then the journey you want them to go on is to first of all understand them. I mean, that’s, that’s the marketer’s dilemma. Everybody. Everybody needs to understand their customer. But once you understand that your customer know the journey that you want them to experience and know the journey that they want to experience and that they need to experience and, and try to just step back and look at your marketing from their perspective and see, am I being a good tour guide? Am I taking them from the very beginning right where they’re at? Maybe they don’t know anything about me.
35:24 – They don’t. They don’t even know very much about the problem that they have. They have a problem. They just maybe haven’t identified it yet. Really stepped them through your journey. You know, lead them through. Make sure that every point where you transitioned from either one channel to another channel or from one stage in your lead generation process to another stage, making sure that those transitions are really smooth and that overall you are reflecting the right tone, the right look and feel that you want to reflect your brand and if you do that, your customers will have the best experiences and it’ll make the decision for them to work with you. So easy. It, it, we won’t have to sell them on anything. That’s it.
36:17 – That’s it. Personalization, understanding the adventure, understanding the story, understanding what they need and providing that adventure for them with your product.
36:27 – Yup. Wow.
36:29 – Wow. Well, I, yeah, that’s, that’s incredible. I can’t wait to see what tools you’re gonna use in the future. I can’t wait to see. I’m going to definitely follow your lead because I know if I just, if I just keep my, keep you in my connections, I’ll know what’s coming. The way of technology. So you, you’ve, besides that reason, you’ve got a friend for life of course.
36:56 – This journey has been amazing to be on together. And, and frankly, I think we, I’m only here this far with it because of what you and I have done together. So this is just the beginning.
37:10 – Definitely. Thank you so much for sharing your journey and, and what you’ve done and what you see as the future of marketing because I think you hit it right on the head.
37:20 – Awesome. Well thank you for doing this with me.