Introducing the Niche Marketing Podcast! NMP is a new show by The Agency Guide (TAG) that aims to offer a unique angle on marketing by interviewing marketers with exceptional insights into specific industries. The host, John Bertino, founded TAG and is joined by Laura Petersen, the Director of Content, for this introductory episode.
The podcast is dedicated to providing in-depth discussions on specific strategies for niche marketing, rather than just surface-level tactics. It is aimed at entrepreneurs, brand-side marketers, and agency personnel looking to improve their marketing strategies in specific niches.
Listeners can expect insightful interviews with industry leaders covering a range of topics including SEO, PPC, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing, mobile marketing, analytics, CRO, influencer marketing, branding, digital advertising, CRM, UX, e-commerce, video marketing, AI, chatbots, voice search optimization, and more.
The Niche Marketing Podcast offers detailed conversations that provide listeners with specific tactics and understanding that they may not get elsewhere. Whether you’re an experienced marketer or just starting out, the podcast is a valuable source of insights and inspiration. Tune in and start learning today!
Watch the Podcast Interview:
A Few Highlights Include:
- The Agency Guide is a unique marketing consultancy that matches brands with marketing agencies that are a good fit for them, with the help of experienced consultants.
- TAG represents roughly 200 marketing agencies, allowing them to create the best possible matches between brands and the agencies they represent.
- TAG provides unbiased guidance to brands, without any specific motive attached to it, as they are not paid directly by the brands they represent.
- The founder of TAG, who has over a decade of experience working for marketing agencies, saw a need for an entity that could provide authentic and unbiased guidance to brands.
- One of the problems the founder of TAG saw in the industry was biased recommendations based on what an agency specializes in, rather than what is best for the brand, which led him to launch TAG.
- John Bertino has been teaching marketing for over a decade through SCORE and at universities such as the University of San Diego and Drexel University.
- John Bertino began his career in the music industry at EMI, working on projects such as the launch of the Gorillas and 30 Seconds to Mars’ second album.
- TAG, John Bertino’s current company, has worked with both large and small brands, including Jenny Craig, HostGator, and Qualcomm, but the maximum value of their process is to smaller, more confused brands with revenue ranging from about one million to 25-50 million.
Best Marketing Advice Right Now:
- Topic modeling is an underutilized tactic in marketing that can be a game changer for SEO and content marketing efforts.
- By breaking down a topic into subcategories and prioritizing the degree of depth for each area, marketers can create valuable content that is useful to users and search engines alike.
- Chat GPT, a language model developed by OpenAI, is a tool that leverages topic modeling technology to quickly generate content on any given subject.
- Marketers can use Chat GPT to fill in gaps in their SEO strategy and expedite their content creation process.
- Understanding and utilizing topic modeling can be the secret sauce to success in niche marketing podcasts and other marketing efforts.
About John Bertino and TAG:
A decade spent working for marketing agencies was more than enough to know that there are too many bad agencies and not enough objective marketers within them. John launched TAG in 2014 with the mission to provide brands unbiased guidance from seasoned marketing professionals at little or no cost.
TAG advises brands on marketing channel selection, resource allocation, and agency selection to ensure brands invest in the right marketing strategies, with the right expectations, and (ultimately) with the right partners.
TAG represents 200+ well-vetted agencies and consultants across the United States and Europe.
John’s professional background and areas of expertise include: Marketing Planning, Earned Media, SEO, Content Marketing, Link Acquisition, Digital PR, Thought Leadership, and B2B Lead Generation.
About Laura Petersen:
Laura leads the content team at TAG. You can learn more about Laura here.
Connect Socially with Us:
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Transcript of Episode #000
Note: This transcript has been provided to assist you in finding extra information specific to your needs and goals. We have not edited it line by line for grammar, spelling, or punctuation. Please forgive small errors.
[MUSIC] Hi, everyone.
John Bertino here, and this is episode 000 of the niche marketing podcast, the new podcast being launched by The Agency Guide or TAG.
I’ll be the host of the podcast and I’m the founder of Tag John Bertino.
I’m in the Philadelphia area recording this live with my esteemed colleague, Laura Peterson.
Laura is the director of content for the agency guide.
And I asked her to join for the first episode.
So this could be more of a two-way conversation instead of a one-way monologue.
So Laura, thanks so much for joining.
I’m excited to have you here.
I love everything podcasting, so I’m excited to be here and help kick off the show.
Well, again, we’re thrilled to have you.
So my hope is that you can kind of lead and steer the discussion so together we can unpack what the purpose of this podcast is and where we’re going to be taking things in the forthcoming episode.
So why don’t you go ahead and lead the way?
So I thought it’d be great just to hear first what inspires you to start this show and specifically on niche marketing or marketing to niches?
There’s a lot of marketing podcasts out there.
There’s certainly no shortage of them.
Marketing content in general, a ton of noise.
I really wanted to see if I could come up with a premise, an angle, a strategy that allowed us to cut through the clutter a little bit.
Part of my thesis there was that if we were able to devise an approach to this that was more focused on getting into the strategy of things, specific strategy versus just talking surface level tactics, how to use Twitter for marketing or how to do an AMA, ask me anything.
If we get more specific into strategy and specific niches, the subject matter would be more dense, the subject matter would be therefore more appealing.
And since ultimately this is a podcast by marketers for marketers figured again, we needed a way to go about it that elevated the content to make it that much more enticing.
So with our focus on being diving into niches, I think we can spend a little bit less time talking from a tactical perspective and more time saying, look, if I’m going to do marketing in this specific niche, what are the strategies or angles or unique characteristics of that niche that really are going to guide the strategy and that allows us to be more in depth with the content.
Then the other aspect of it is just simply that with what we do at TAG, matchmaking brands to agencies, we’re certainly always looking to get the message out there that, “Look, If you’re looking for a niche practitioner in a certain industry with a certain skill set, we’re the team to contact.
We’re the guys and gals to know.
And I think this focus on niche marketing helps reaffirm that message about what we’re doing here at TAG and how we can help.
Now, since you mentioned the ideal listener a little bit, that was one of my questions, too, I want to ask.
So it’s for marketers specifically?
Yeah, ultimately, anyone with an interest in how to market within a given niche is someone that we hope to provide value to through this show.
That could certainly be an entrepreneur looking to launch a product or service within a given niche.
We hope that the insights and interviews we do on this podcast would give them some really useful information about how to improve on the marketing strategy.
From that, through that lens, no doubt, this is definitely, we hope, a great product for entrepreneurs to consume.
Beyond them, we think that what we’re going to be putting out here through the Niche Marketing Podcast is going to be great for both brand side marketers, that is essentially employees working for the brand, brand side, to develop marketing strategies or execute marketing strategies that will be great for them, but also for our fellow agency personnel.
Not that we’re agencies here at TAG, but we work and represent a lot of agencies.
And we think for an agency that’s maybe recently took on a client in a given niche or industry that the content we’re producing could be super helpful to them, or perhaps even an agency looking to pitch a new prospect in a given industry in which you either haven’t worked or have done limited work.
My hope is that through what they would get through the content we’ll put out, they can be a couple steps ahead or have a leg up in that pitch process through what they learn on the show.
I love that.
And by going more deep into these niches, you can have more nuanced and detailed conversations like you’re saying, so people can really pick up some great specific tactics and understanding that maybe they wouldn’t get elsewhere.
I love it.
So let’s back up a little bit.
Will you tell everyone a bit more about yourself, where you grew up and just a little bit about your background.
Let’s get to know you more.
So currently, as I mentioned earlier, I’m based out of the Philadelphia area.
I’m from this area originally and originally launched the agency guide nine years ago from San Diego, where I was living at the time.
And that’s a market that to this day, we still have deep roots, lots of agency relationships, lots of just business and professional relationships in general as well as personal, I suppose.
The genesis or the idea for TAG, or perhaps I should actually take a step back and explain what TAG is and then get to the idea behind it.
So for those that don’t already know, the agency guide or TAG is a very unique marketing consultancy that essentially match makes brands and their specific needs with marketing agencies that are a good fit for them.
Myself and my whole team of consultants, each one of us has at least a decade, if not multiple decades of experience under our belt, supporting brands with digital or brand marketing strategy, which allow us to speak in a very experienced and comprehensive and thoughtful way about what we would do if we were in their shoes and why, what marketing channels to invest and why, what reasonable investments in those channels looks like.
And if and when we’re aligned on those things, it’s at that point that we look to match make them with one of the roughly 200 or so different marketing agencies or teams we represent.
200 is admittedly a lot of organizations, but at the same time, it’s not that many, right?
It’s a manageable number.
We know all 200 or so of those teams really well.
And this allows us to create the best possible matches between the brands and the agencies we represent.
And lastly, we do all of this at no charge for the brands because we make all of our revenue through commissions, through the agencies we represent, but only if they actually hire the agency and much more so if they stay with them, which creates a really unique and authentic incentive on our part to be super intentional about who we connect to who because we really want to see it last.
So thanks for bearing with the self-promotional pitch there, but wanted to give some context on what we’re doing to get back to your question on why we’re doing it.
As I said, I launched Tag 9 years ago, but prior to that, I had another decade or so working for marketing agencies.
One of the things I saw in doing that was, well, a couple of problems.
One, there’s a lot of biased recommendations on what a brand should do or shouldn’t do based on what an agency tends to specialize in.
And look, I get it.
I don’t fault agencies.
Naturally, they’re going to be inclined to promote or sell those offerings that they’re best at.
It’s just that there’s a natural flaw in the way things, when there’s a natural flaw in that process and that really the brands often are confused on where they should put marketing dollars.
And if they’re getting advice from an agency or a consultant that specializes in a certain area, well, that might not be the best advice.
So I saw a need for there to be an entity by which really authentic and unbiased guidance was given without any specific motive attached to it since we’re not paid directly by the brands and we represent a portfolio of agencies that can do anything that allows us to be super, again, unbiased in the way we go about things.
Additionally, I found it really both frustrating when I was working for the agencies and again, kind of flawed the way sales reps that work for the agencies are just naturally put into a position where they’re incentivized to sell, right?
They’re incentivized to close the deal.
And again, that kind of gets back to, well, are they recommending the right strategies to begin with or are they recommending what it’s easiest for them to sell or what they need to sell, or they find the most ease in selling?
All of this again comes back to biased strategy, biased recommendations and also a pushy, uncomfortable process for the brands on the other end of the conversation.
So my thought was, well, if I could launch something where instead of representing one agency as a W2 employee, I could represent hundreds of agencies as a self-employed contractor, then perhaps I could help both sides of the equation in helping the brands get the best advice, align with the best teams while simultaneously helping the agencies find their ideal clients to make their whole struggle of getting good clients with the right expectations, also helping them to address that as well.
So on that note of sort of being a conflict of interest with people just kind of pitching whatever they want to sell, without naming names, unless you want to name names, could Could you give the listeners an example of something that you saw where it’s like someone came in and they needed help with X and the agency just pitched Y, Y, Y, Y, even though it wasn’t ideal.
Can you give an example that you remember that maybe something that sparked you to think this has to be different?
Yeah, for sure.
In fact, an easy answer comes to mind when you ask that question.
I started my career very much in SEO or search engine optimization.
For those that might not know, that is ranking higher in search engines and all that goes into it.
This is probably the poster child for inauthentic advice or a lot of agencies that maybe don’t know what they’re doing.
There’s a lot of really bad SEO agencies out there because a lot of what happens with SEO lives behind the scenes.
Yes, SEO unfortunately gets a bad rap as a result of that.
And so, yes, throughout my career that predates TAG, working for SEO agencies and/or selling up against them, one of the first things I found is that a lot of times, and I still see this to this day, by the way, brands come to myself or came to my agency at the time thinking they need SEO when actually they need.
SEO is probably the last place they should put their marketing dollars right now.
That doesn’t go for all brands, but for a lot of small businesses in particular, they fall in love with this idea of ranking high in search engines, but the actual process and financial commitment, not to mention time and resource commitment that goes into it, is something they don’t want, only to find out after they’ve already signed on the dotted line.
So I’ll give you another answer that’s completely the opposite.
I found somewhat of a similar dynamic with branding agencies.
Now, both SEO and branding, I love them.
They’re two of my favorite aspects of marketing to talk about and connect brands with agencies for, but branding is another one in that branding can be a little bit of a black box for companies that don’t fully understand it.
Again, especially with small businesses, we find that our insights, our knowledge, our background really helps them understand what what they should be investing in and why, whereas maybe larger businesses already kind of know what they want and why.
But with a small business, this idea of branding is like a black box, they really don’t get it.
And so the proposals they’ll often get for branding, you know, will be sometimes on the ridiculous and Oh, what’s what I’m looking for just ridiculous and exorbitant.
Well, I was actually gonna go the other end of the spectrum.
But yes, it’s urban as well, right.
So sometimes you’ll ridiculous quotes like, “Hey, we’ll solve your branding issues for five, $10,000.
” Most of the time, that’s not going to be comprehensive enough to get into the hearts of audience personas and messaging and truly flushing out an identity.
But they’ll go for that low cost sticker price.
And yes, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you’ll see these ridiculous price tags associated with it that can be completely unnecessary for a small business.
So again, that’s one of those areas where there’s a lot of bias advice Maybe a true branding initiative isn’t necessary for the stage a given business is at, and they really just need help with their brand aesthetic, i.
their identity and so on and so forth.
So yeah, every day, I come across a lot of instances where brands are just being led astray, being talked into certain marketing channels or budgets that really are not right for them at this stage, at their given stage, but that’s what the agency wants to sell them.
So I wanted to ask you about your teaching background and experience, because you’ve done a lot with score mentorship and teaching at universities.
Will you share a bit more about that?
So it’s true.
So I started out, I guess when it comes to teaching, I started out with score, who at this point I’ve been an instructor, not technically a mentor.
All of their mentors are technically retirees, but an instructor to support various chapters of score from their San Diego chapter to now chapters out on the East Coast.
I started out with them over a decade ago or right around a decade ago.
I realized that similar to what I’m doing in my day-to-day work through TAG, that there was a lot of need for someone to kind of clear up all the smoke and mirrors and clear up a lot of the myths and confusion around marketing.
I found that I really enjoyed doing that even as a public service because the work I do through Score is completely unpaid and really just a donation of time and I love it.
That ultimately led me to finding my way into some universities, starting with the University of San Diego, where I taught SEO for, oh, uh, at least five years, if not, um, six or seven.
And then ultimately to Drexel University out here in Philadelphia, where I teach, uh, more comprehensive inbound marketing content marketing strategy and SEO, primarily from a B2B perspective.
Um, yeah, we do, I do lots of teaching.
And how about some fun facts?
I know that you are or used to be really into music.
Oh, I didn’t anticipate that question.
So I love it.
Well, yeah, on the wall behind me, I’ve got so I started my career at EMI.
That’s actually my first acceptance letter or job offer letter rather from my first company, which employer, which was EMI.
What does that stand for?
The heck does EMI stand for?
I’m not sure if I could think of that off the top of my head.
They just go by EMI?
Most people know them as one of the largest record distribution companies in the world.
They’ve since been swallowed up by Universal, but most people know them as Capitol Records, Virgin Records, Blue Note, which is big in jazz.
And then over my other shoulder, I’ve got my Dean Martin plaque record because I played a role when I was with Capitol Records and helping to bring that album to market.
In truth, I’ve got all kinds of record plaques with my name on it.
They just don’t fit my aesthetic as well.
But some of the more exciting projects in which I really had a significant role that people would know anyway would be the launch of the Gorillas.
during my years at EMI, I was very involved with helping to turn them into something significant because in the music industry, when someone’s already huge, you take a Dean Martin or a radio head who I also worked with, not a lot of work needs to go into, at least not for a ground level, entry level employee, there’s not much I need to do to help a radio head.
But for some of these brand new projects, there’s a lot that goes into it and Gorillaz was one of them.
Another one, when I played a big part in was actually 30 Seconds to Mars.
– Oh, wow.
– With their second album and got to meet Jared Leto and all that, so.
– That’s cool.
– I could talk about the music industry for ages, but I don’t want to put our listeners to sleep, so.
– Well, one last thing.
What instruments do you play?
– Oh boy.
Well, I used to be quite the bass guitarist, but rarely pick it up these days.
Something about being in the music industry has a convenient way of crushing the soul of musicians that are in it.
So I don’t play, play much these days, but, but I used to play a lot.
Oh, that’s cool.
Oh, I love it.
So to put in context, you said you started tagging 2014 cause some people might listen to this episode in the future.
And you said nine years ago, but yeah, I’ll put it in time is 2014.
And so you started teaching with university of San Diego.
Was that like 2013 or score like 2013 ish or so?
It was shortly before launching tag.
I love that.
Let’s see what else.
Um, so going back to the ideal list or the show, I, some things that you said made me want to write down a note that you help at tag and also I imagine for the show.
We’ll focus both on small businesses, but also large corporate organizations.
Can you just talk a little bit about the breadth of the scale of the types of businesses that are relevant for this?
Focusing first on TAG and then bringing it back to the podcast.
I find that TAG has helped businesses large and small.
Some large brands we’ve worked with include Jenny Craig, Hostgator, did a project with Comcast, did a project with Qualcomm.
We work with some very large brands, Constant Contact.
We actually help them find their marketing agencies.
We’ve certainly been around and have worked with large and small brands alike.
That said, I find that our core value prop of not only bringing the ideal agency to the table, but also again, clearing up a lot of uncertainty, answering a lot of tough marketing questions.
The maximum value of our process is really, it’s those brands that are a little smaller, a little bit more confused, frankly.
So brands that are usually about a million in revenue up to 25, 50 million in revenue.
We do a lot of work with companies of that size.
But again, I’ve worked with brands smaller and larger than that.
And sometimes just the sheer fact that we can fast track them to finding the ideal marketing partners is value in and of it by itself enough for some very large brands to be interested in what we’re doing.
And I should probably also add to that that, and this, I guess, gets right back to the niche marketing podcast, that when we’re working with the larger brands, a lot of times it’s not that they need a full service agency, although sometimes that’s the case.
It’s that they have this outlier need that their current marketing department and/or agency can’t satisfy.
So a common example would actually be public relations and PR.
It’s very specialized.
Branding actually often is another one.
It’s not uncommon for a larger brand to have a killer digital department and/or digital agencies.
They’ve got their SEO and their content and their ads all worked out.
But when it’s time for that brand refresh, the agency doesn’t really do that.
Maybe the individuals internally are too close to it, which is actually a common problem to have the right insights to look at things objectively.
It’s oftentimes that there’s this very specific need where we’re a super convenient solution to help them, again, fast track to not only someone that knows that marketing service real well, communications, branding, whatever it is, but also they’re vertical.
And so it’s saying, look, if you need the ultimate PR and communications firm in the web three niche with locations in Europe and in your budget as X, we can pretty quickly and conveniently get you to a vetted resource in that way.
So again, with the podcast, we’re on this quest to find these very niche marketing experts all over really the world because we do a fair amount of international business.
And what listeners can expect is a series of content, right?
So not just one episode, but multiple episodes where we tackle different niches.
So we’re going to roll out with some content around the industrial supply and a manufacturing niche, followed by some content around the mortgage and real estate niche, and probably looking at the food and beverage niche shortly thereafter.
And we’re going to have different experts, different types of marketing experts within each one of those niches do 30, 45 minutes of content.
So for example, in industrial, you can expect an episode that’s very communications focused, episode that’s very brand centric and focus, probably an episode that’s very, you know, SEO and content marketing focus, so on and so forth.
So I would say my final question would be just around, are there any parting tips or pieces of advice that you might want to share as just like a closing thoughts for people who are listening who are like, give me some marketing gold right now.
Just in general.
It’s funny, it’s a tricky question because to the overarching theme of the discussion, things are so situational in marketing.
That’s why so often the answer is, yeah, you got it.
The worst answer in the world, which is it depends.
But something that’s not only an area of expertise for me, something I often find as an underutilized tactic.
Also something that’s extremely top of mind right now is actually this idea of topic modeling.
And the reason it’s top of mind is because it’s something that chat GPT addresses and partially solves quite well.
So before we get to chat GPT, just to explain what the heck I’m talking about for those that aren’t sure, since my background’s in SEO, and with that comes a lot of content marketing.
I find that an underutilized, I’ll use the word tactic, is this idea of topic modeling.
Even if the SEO agencies are using topic modeling, I find that this is like an under-discussed nuance of SEO, which to me is really the secret sauce.
It’s It’s really the whole thing, right?
So when it comes to- – What is topic modeling?
– Right, so topic modeling is essentially, if we’re trying to, in the context of SEO, rank for something, or simply in the context of topics, excuse me, content marketing, trying to figure out what type of content we should put out, there should be a very specific effort to unpack what goes into a certain topic.
So the example I often use is actually wine because everybody knows wine at least a little bit.
And if there were someone putting out content about wine or trying to rank for wine sales and e-commerce, in addition to all the other SEO things like links and site architecture, how we think about breaking down the topic of wine is going to be key to not only our SEO, but again, our content marketing efforts.
Breaking down the topic is really the idea of topic modeling.
You have your parent topic of wine.
Underneath wine, you have your sub categories of red or white.
Underneath red or white, you’ve got obviously all the different grapes and varietals and blends and regions and whatnot.
Here’s the thing.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
What a search engine wants to see and ultimately, to a degree, what your customers want to see is an in-depth knowledge of that subject matter.
But how do we define in-depth knowledge?
It’s not always necessarily defined by what the purveyor of that content, like how they want to define it.
So in the case of wine, your content could be seen as subject matter deficient or just deficient in general if there’s not some discussion of, for example, terroir, which is fancy wine speak for the climate, the climate and soil and environmental conditions in which your grapes are grown.
That’s a really important subtopic under the parent topic of wine.
Another would be, your site would be somewhat deficient if you’re not talking at least to some extent about the major wine making regions of the world, such as France, such as Italy, for example, such as Chile, even if you don’t sell wines from those regions, because the parent topic of wine requires some in-depth discussion about the major winemaking regions of the world.
Again, the terroir, like I mentioned, another aspect would be things like maybe decanting wine, lower down on the topical spectrum, but something like taking the air out of wine or aging wine or wine storage.
All of these are are under the parent topic.
So to bring it all together and hopefully make sense of it, it’s about understanding what your subtopics are, understanding what the subtopics of your subtopics are and so on and so forth, and also prioritizing the degree in which we go into depth with each of these areas.
So to bring the full circle, I find that there’s not nearly enough discussion about this, even though in reality, this is really the heart of what makes SEO what it is today, knowing how to take a topic, dissect it, unpack it, create valuable content around it, and do it in a way that’s comprehensive, useful to the user while simultaneously appeasing search engines.
And now back to chat GPT, that tool is by nature in many ways a topic modeling tool.
Now, it does other things, but part of the reason it can spit out content so quickly about any given subject is because essentially it has, you know, um, topic modeling technology or information within it, where it knows how to pull from the primary resources of information around the web, build content from that, uh, from that database of information.
It knows what to talk about and what order of importance because essentially a topic models.
And so we could talk for hours about how one can leverage chat GPT to expedite or fill in gaps in their SEO strategy.
But the two go hand in hand and no doubt, it’s not only very important, but now we’ve got this fun new tool that everybody’s using that can help make it a little bit easier.
Oh, I love that.
That’s a great little nugget.
Well, anything else that you want to share about niche marketing podcasts to get anyone excited or thinking, yep, this is the show I got to hit subscribe to right now.
I would say for any marketers that are listening that have made it to this far in the episode, if you are a niche marketer or capable of being a hyper niche marketer, maybe you don’t always do your work in one niche, but you know one niche exceptionally well, we’d be interested to chat with you.
We’re again looking to do something very unique here where we only drill down deep on certain niches with expert marketers that have ideally a specialization in a certain aspect, branding, SEO, content, whatever it is.
And we’re looking to build relationships with as many of these niche marketers as we can.
So if this is you, don’t hesitate to reach out and hit us on social.
We’d love to have a chat.
And where can people find you on social media?
The agency guide is on all the usual platforms.
Usually the handle is agency guide HQ, I believe, for the most part.
LinkedIn, maybe it’s a little bit different, but we’re all over the web.
Search of the agency guide, the agency guide, Philadelphia or John Bertino, shouldn’t be hard to find us.
Then we’ll put it in the show notes too for the episode where people are listening in their podcast layer and then back at the website as well.
Good idea, Laura.
That’s why I have you helping me with these things because I’ll mess them up if We’re all happy, so thank you.
So thanks so much to everyone that stuck with us to the end.
We appreciate you listening and are super excited to see you on the next episode of the niche marketing podcast.
See you then.