We had the opportunity to chat with Patrick LaBauve the Marketing Strategist for USA Today network.
In our discussion, we touch on the importance of hard work and grit to get results, the current state of education for the next generation of marketers, and why we need to be more upfront with clients.
Patrick is a super chill guy, like myself, so this one is a great interview with a few gems to help you get more bang for your buck. Enjoy!
Nicholas: (00:04) All right, we’d like to welcome our guest today. Patrick LaBauve with USA Today network. What’s up, Pat?
Patrick LaBauve: (00:11) Oh, nothing much. Just enjoying the sunny weather this week.
Nicholas: (00:14) Can you give us a little bit of background on where you come from, what you do now, and what that looks like?
Patrick LaBauve: (00:21) Sure. I am born and raised in South Louisiana. Lafayette, Louisiana in fact. And for about the last 12 years I’ve been doing some form of digital marketing, digital advertising. I’ve worked in-house for few brands, and a few companies. And I’ve also worked at ad agencies, and a web development company. For about the last four years I’ve been with the USA Today network, and I’m a marketing strategist there. I help advertising clients put together marketing strategies and proposals.
Nicholas: (00:59) Cool. Let me give a little bit of background on how we met for our audience. Patrick was at Social Media Day in Lafayette, and he’s basically a taller better looking version of myself. I think we have the same glasses, same jeans, all the same interests.
Patrick LaBauve: (01:15) Same shoes. Yeah, same shoes. Yeah, we both shop at Huckberry.
Nicholas: (01:21) When I hear USA Today, the first thing that comes to mind is a physical newspaper. Maybe help the audience understand a little bit of how that … It’s beyond that, and maybe some of the other entities or products that fall underneath the USA Today Network.
Patrick LaBauve: (01:41) Sure. Absolutely. Yes, you are correct. USA Today still puts out a daily newspaper, which they’ve done since 1982, and they’re actually owned by Gannett. And so Gannett not only owns USA Today, but about 110 other publications across the country in small markets. Or small, medium, even large sized markets. But we in addition to print circulation, and audiences, we also have a very robust digital presence as well.
Nicholas: (02:18) From experience with some of our clients, I think they still look at digital as kind of an extra. When they’re allocating their budget, they could be still putting 70% percent in traditional media. When I say traditional, I mean billboards, print. What has to happen inside, internally in an organization to have that push where they recognize we need to be in digital all the way?
Patrick LaBauve: (02:43) It really starts with the goals of the brand, or the goals of the advertiser, whatever they want to achieve. And so that’s where we’re able to engage with customers and clients, and say, “Okay, what are your goals? And what are you trying to achieve?” If their goal is to focus on brand awareness, or some of the top funnel tactics, we can certainly help them with that. But if they want to focus on things like bottom of the funnel, like foot traffic, and customer loyalty, then we can help them there as well.
Patrick LaBauve: (03:12) Also we know we’re not the end all be all. We offer a full suite of products and a full suite of strategies and solutions, but we know at some point there may be a need for traditional media, including other things like radio, and print, and outdoor, and TV. We try to help our customers and find out who are they trying to talk to, or who are they trying to engage with. And what’s the best avenue or what’s the best strategy to do that. Whether it’s a full online strategy or a completely offline strategy. It just depends on who we’re working with.
Nicholas: (03:50) I’m gonna use a buzzword, omnichannel. There is a place for this, and actually one of the clients that we are running Facebook ads for, but I actually got a postcard yesterday in the mail that paired up with the creative and copy we were using in the Facebook campaign, and I thought wow, that’s actually pretty cool. It made sense in that context, paired with the Facebook ads and everything that we had been doing. I think that there is a place for it, but this comes back to the strategy, and that’s primarily what you’re involved in.
Nicholas: (04:21) What kind of suggestions or advice can you give to someone who is in charge of the media buy for a company, and deciding how they allocate that budget? What have you seen from a success standpoint that works well? As far as deciding where that goes, and how it’s presented in those different channels?
Patrick LaBauve: (04:40) Well, I think it again comes back to the advertiser of the brand, and they really have to understand who they are before they can start going out and being a successful brand, they really have to figure out why should people. It’s kind of marketing 101, what’s their differentiator? What’s their unique sales proposition? And really leverage that for a campaign as you mentioned cohesively. Not just doing … Dipping your toe in the water and direct mail, or dipping your toe in the water in Facebook advertising, and doing some in social media, and just kind of piecemealing stuff together. You really have to look at this as a holistic campaign just like a business.
Patrick LaBauve: (05:22) And the other thing is time. That’s probably one of the biggest things that we deal with, especially with a lot of our local advertisers. They have not only small budgets, but they also have a very limited time. They may be thinking week to week, not even month to month, or quarter to quarter. But if you do a campaign for one or two weeks, and you’re not seeing immediate results, they’re wanting to change, they’re wanting to pivot, they’re wanting to pull out and say, “Let’s spend on something else.” But it really takes time to build up things, especially something like search, and SEO for instance, it could take six to twelve months before you see any new real lift or any real impact to your campaign.
Nicholas: (06:07) What’s the solution for this? Because this happens all the time with clients, right? Hey, here is a really basic example, but even in Facebook if you create a campaign, an ad set, an ad. Once you figure out what you want, you really shouldn’t touch it for 72 hours, just to really find out what’s going on. We’ll have clients that are in that 72 hours asking where the results are. How do you get around this? Is it a better way of explaining it? Presenting it? It is being more upfront and basically telling them you will not see results, or in their eyes what they deem results for the next three months. Just being upfront with them, what is it?
Patrick LaBauve: (06:49) I think that is a big part of it is being open, and honest, and upfront, and saying because of our expertise, because we’ve done X amount of campaigns, or we have years of experience, and we know that within the first 72 hours to two weeks we may not see the results because there is a lot of tweaking that goes on. We always want to see is our copy correct, are we reaching the right audiences and all that kind of stuff. It really could take to time to just gain traction even.
Patrick LaBauve: (07:20) And that’s where you kind of have to step in as a professional organization, and say we’re not just some fly by night company, and want to take your money. We’re in this for the long haul. There is a lot of hand-holding. There is a lot of talking clients off the edge so to speak at the very beginning. But those ones that have invested into this, and something I’ve heard is you can’t have the R without the I. You can’t get the return on investment if you’re not willing to put in the investment.
Patrick LaBauve: (07:52) And so it’s like building a house, and you’re not gonna build a house in a day, I guess unless you’re in the Dream Home Makeover show on TV. But you can analogize this. I don’t think that’s a correct word. You can use an analogy, and say it’s like planting a garden. You have to get the dirt right, and you have to get the right seeds, and you have to make sure that you plant at the right time. I’m not a gardener by the way. But you have to water it, and you have to care for them, and hopefully, within a certain amount of time, you’re gonna start seeing results. But that’s a … I think analogies kind of help people understand to some degree, and as long as they know that okay this company isn’t just taking my money and running.
Patrick LaBauve: (08:44) Because we see that a lot as well. We deal with clients that have been burned in the past, that they’re not willing to part with their hard earned money because they may have had some shady companies they worked with in the past, and that’s something we just have to kind of work through.
Nicholas: (09:01) I think that falls back on the industry too. I think we have to start communicating that more. I think people use that as the sell, that we can get you results, and we can do this and that. They use that as the sell, but I think that in the end it kind of bites us. Because when we can’t get those results in that amount of time, essentially there is no longevity in that, and it’s not sustainable.
Patrick LaBauve: (09:29) Right.
Nicholas: (09:29) As an industry as a whole where we should be more responsible in how we present that kind of stuff.
Patrick LaBauve: (09:35) Absolutely. The more we … The more campaigns we work on, the more clients we work with, the more we learn because we learn a lot every single day. One of the things we talk about in the company is experimenting your way to the answer. We’re always kind of experimenting, and learning new ways. And we don’t have a bible so to speak of how you do everything. Here is step one, here is step two, here is step three. We kind of all work towards a similar goal. Or we’re taking … We have an end goal in mind, and we all kind of take different paths, and say hey this one is working in this market, let’s try it in other markets and kind of utilize best practices.
Nicholas: (10:14) I think even the term marketing has changed. We’re finding that there is so much overlap, and crossover that we’re seeing when you’re working on a project, that it’s not the same as it maybe was in the past, where it was we come up with this campaign. It’s not Mad Men, here is the campaign slogan, and we go from here. There are just so many other things to consider, and it could be presented totally different in different channels. Yeah, I think sometimes it’s just hard to convince the client or help them understand, and I think partially too they don’t need to understand all of that.
Patrick LaBauve: (10:14) Right.
Nicholas: (10:53) That’s why they’re hiring someone who does it well. But I think that they feel they do. And so it’s like how do you present yourself, this is what we add, this is the value so that they can focus on their business, as opposed to trying to work with the agency in a way that actually restricts them. We find that a lot.
Nicholas: (11:11) Are we the same age? How old are you?
Patrick LaBauve: (11:14) I am 36. I turned 36 in March. Yeah.
Nicholas: (11:17) Okay, I’m 37. We dated ourselves. Now, what kind of advice would you give to someone who’s … Let’s say there is someone fresh out of high school, or is midway into college, maybe they’re looking to get into the marketing agency life. What’s some advice that you would give them? As far as how they would prioritize where they spend their time, money, energy?
Patrick LaBauve: (11:44) I think a lot can be said for actually putting in the work, and understanding the platforms that you’re gonna be working on, or could potentially work. Find a local business, a small business, and say, “Hey, I’ll do some social media for you on the side, or I’ll do this for free. I just need some experience.” And really humbling yourself, and saying I can do this for you, give me a chance, and then show your value, show your worth.
Nicholas: (12:14) Yeah. As an agency, I know the way we hire has changed. We hire mainly off of a portfolio. What have you done? Or what are you doing? I’m always asking people what is your side hustle? I mean, I want to see that someone is doing something even outside of their nine to five. That’s fine with agencies, but one trend that I’ve noticed in an organization, let’s say it’s a healthcare company that has an internal marketing team, they still seem to be hiring on a mix. Okay, you have … I see that your portfolio shows you’ve done all these things, but we still want to see that you have the education. Do you think that will ever change?
Patrick LaBauve: (12:54) No, I don’t think. I think what a formal education does is it teaches you how to learn, and it teaches you kind of fundamentals of certain things. Especially, in marketing courses, you learn the four Ps, or you learn things like customer service, or management, those kinds of things. I think that it’s always good to have a foundation. Because if you go, someone straight from high school with little to no college or secondary education, they may not have a lot of those skills.
Patrick LaBauve: (13:26) And now a lot can be said. Some things, some people are just naturally gifted and could be great marketers in end of themselves, but I think you get kind of a well-roundedness from a formal education that you might not getting going straight into the workforce, and vice versa. I think if you go straight into the workforce, you can learn a lot of things that you may not learn through school, so I think it’s a healthy combination of both.
Nicholas: (13:57) Those companies are typically hiring safe, right? I mean, meaning the majority of the people they hire, they know that they’re gonna be of a certain caliber, and it’s gonna. But I think for a lot of these new brands, and companies, and startups they’re looking for the outliers. They’re looking for someone that, yeah, maybe they take a chance on them, and they might have to get rid of them, but there is also the chance that they could do something incredible. I think that companies that are thinking outside of the box are probably going to be more willing to hire people without the formal education, but I think more established organizations are gonna always play it safe, and they’re gonna look for the combo.
Patrick LaBauve: (14:39) I was gonna say, I think creative agencies can often have a little bit more flexibility in terms of bringing somebody on with less experience because it’s coming up with unique solutions. When you go and work in-house somewhere, you probably need a little bit more of understanding how the business works, and how does marketing interact with finance, and how does that interact with accounting, and legal, and all of those channels. I think there is something to be said for both, working in-house versus working at an agency, and schooling versus experience.
Nicholas: (15:15) For whatever reason I just keep thinking about education. We’ve been thinking about moving to be in a different school district. And we have friends that their kids go to cyber school, and private schools, and just trying to think through all that stuff. And it’s really been on my mind because just seeing the trajectory of students coming out of high school, going to college, and then coming into an agency, and just seeing that there is a lot of gaps in that, you know, and just wonder …
Nicholas: (15:44) And you know I’ve done some coaching and consulting for people who were in startups, or creating their own businesses, and as you know there is a ton of these courses out there, Mastermind courses that people pay a lot of money for, webinars. I think a lot of those are still missing the mark as well. Just always interested in that topic of how that can be improved.
Patrick LaBauve: (16:09) Yeah. My wife and I we talk about education. It’s very important to us, and we’re kind of, of the mindset that regardless of where our daughter, and / or future children go to school, as long as we’re able to support them, and be a part of their education experience, I think they’ll get out of it what they need, or what we hope they need. I have no idea what math is gonna look like in ten to twelve years when my daughter might be in high school. I might be jumping the gun a little bit, or I didn’t do so well in chemistry myself, so I don’t really know how I can help somebody in that aspect.
Patrick LaBauve: (16:56) But I think as long as parents, or guidance … Not guidance counselors, but I think parents, mentors, just someone there to keep them going I think is really important. Also something I heard, I’m very interested in, and similar to you I’m interested in the topic of grit and hard work, and that’s something that I was reading a little bit about, that it’s better to teach your kids that they’re … Reward them for hard work, and not just reward them for being “smart,” like saying, “Oh, you’re so smart. Great job.” It should be, “Oh, you’ve put in a lot of hard work, and you’ve gained this success. Great job on that.” Because if they think that they’re smart, they think they can kind of coast or rest. Whereas if they think, “Oh, wait. Hard work is what led me to where I am?” That’s where you …
Nicholas: (17:57) Oh, yeah. I love that. Yeah, because they get entitled, right?
Patrick LaBauve: (18:01) Right, right, right. And then you’d end up like me. I was told I was smart as a kid, and then I got into high school, and realized, wait I need to do homework. I have to study for the test, so yeah.
Nicholas: (18:12) There is a Kevin Durant quote. I know I’m gonna botch it, but it’s something to the effect of hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, or something to the reverse of that, you know?
Patrick LaBauve: (18:12) Yeah, yeah.
Nicholas: (18:27) And I think that’s a … I love that concept that … I think that a lot of people assume whether it’s an athlete, or a musician that they’re just naturally talented. And they may have a leaning towards that, but you’d be surprised to find out it’s just because they’ve done it so much. There may be people that are way more talented than them naturally but didn’t put in the amount of work. And from the outside it just appears that they’re better, when really they had to work a lot more to get to that point just to break even. Yeah, I love that idea of teaching your kids that it’s a process, and even if you are inclined don’t rest on your laurels.
Patrick LaBauve: (19:08) Right, right. Yeah, there was something I was gonna say. I’ve heard that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, and I always keep that in kind of the back of my mind. Not that I’m aiming to be an expert in really anything, but that’s just … There is no substitute for hard work. There is no substitute for putting in the work. Kind of what we were talking about a little while ago, about having the experience to work somewhere, versus the entitlement of saying well I graduated, and I have a degree, I should get a job. It should be okay you graduated, you have the degree, but have you done the work? Do you have the experience to do what we’re asking you to do?
Nicholas: (19:49) Oh, cool. All right, man. Any last thoughts? Or could you at least let our audience know where they can find you? Social media, anything like that?
Patrick LaBauve: (20:02) Well, I kind of pride myself on being kind of an antisocial social media expert, so I’m not the most active online, but you can find me on Instagram @PatrickLab. It’s all one word. No punctuation. If you like pictures of dogs, and babies, and food, and just random stupidness, Instagram @PatrickLab. And yeah, go check me out. If they want to connect, I’d be happy to connect with anyone.
Nicholas: (20:33) Cool. If you got a big budget, and you want to get some serious engagement, Patrick can hook you up.
Patrick LaBauve: (20:40) Right, absolutely.
Nicholas: (20:41) Cool, man. Thanks for joining us.
Patrick LaBauve: (20:44) Thank you.