THE THOUGHTFUL ENTREPRENEUR PODCAST

1691 – Utilizing A.I. To Move Faster with Atak Interactive Austin LaRoche

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks to the CEO of ATAK Interactive, Austin LaRoche.

Austin started the conversation by exploring the importance of marketing technology, or martech, in bridging the gap between sales and marketing teams. As Austin explained, the traditional silos separating these two crucial departments are gradually crumbling, thanks to technological advancements.

Tools like Salesforce and HubSpot are revolutionizing how teams collaborate and communicate, making aligning sales and marketing efforts more accessible. This is a B2B game-changer, where seamless integration between these teams can significantly boost efficiency and results

Regarding sales strategies, Austin had some valuable advice for businesses. He emphasized the need to clarify vision, messaging, and target audience and to focus on attracting, converting, closing, and delighting customers.

Austin recommended leveraging existing connections for businesses on an accelerated timeline and seeking referrals from satisfied customers. He also stressed the importance of structure in networking and guided approaching potential leads through mutual connections.

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Importance of marketing technology (martech) in connecting sales and marketing teams
  • Increasing demand for technical marketing support
  • Breaking down silos between sales and marketing through advancements in technology
  • AI tools won't replace critical thinking, but leveraging them effectively provides a competitive advantage
  • Original, value-driven content is becoming more important in marketing and sales
  • Slower transition of voice-activated searches in B2B compared to B2C
  • Sales strategies: clarify vision, messaging, target audience, attract, convert, close, and delight customers
  • Leveraging existing connections and asking for referrals for businesses with an accelerated timeline
  • Importance of structure in networking and approaching potential leads through mutual connections
  • Establishing KPIs, roles, and filling the implementation gap in marketing tactics
  • ATAK Interactive's role as an outsourced marketing department for smaller companies and technical work for larger companies
  • Importance of automating processes for easier communication and note-taking
  • Assessing gaps and exploring service pages on ATAK Interactive's website

About Austin LaRoche:

Austin LaRoche is the CEO of ATAK Interactive and the brain behind the M2S (Marketing-to-Sales) Framework, a game-changing B2B growth strategy. Hailing from Pasadena, California, his company, ATAK Interactive, serves clients worldwide as a comprehensive marketing agency.

Austin, a dedicated entrepreneur, is driven by his desire to help fellow business owners realize their visions. His motto, “Strength in Structure,” reflects his commitment to transforming clients from sporadic marketing efforts into organized, measurable, and optimized operations at every customer touchpoint.

Austin's journey began with founding The Next Stop, a 501(c)3 organization providing recreational programs for special needs adults in Atlanta. Armed with a master's degree in new media from DePaul, he launched his first marketing company, the Exacta Group, in 2009. Five years later, he sold it to ATAK Interactive, where he has remained a principal for nearly a decade.

His creative spirit and penchant for organization have led him to develop frameworks that extend into all aspects of his life, instilling accountability and purpose. Austin's dedication to “Strength in Structure” is a business philosophy and a way of life.

About ATAK Interactive:

ATAK Interactive is a results-oriented full-service agency prioritizing tangible outcomes over empty promises. They are unwaveringly committed to achieving results directly contributing to increased company revenue, dismissing misleading metrics and superficial social media acclaim.

With a dedication to helping their clients unleash their growth potential, ATAK Interactive relies on data-driven strategies and analytics as the cornerstone of their approach. Conversion optimization is their primary focus, whether driving direct sales for eCommerce businesses, generating high-quality leads for B2B companies, or increasing foot traffic for brick-and-mortar stores.

Regarding web development, ATAK Interactive designs websites with the intent of converting the target audience into leads or customers. They're transparent about delivering a 3x ROI and work tirelessly to optimize campaigns to reach this goal promptly.

If a brand isn't resonating with its desired customers, ATAK Interactive dives into refining its value propositions, mission, and visual identity to create a more compelling company image.

Tweetable Moments:

04:01- “Outbound cold outbound outreach is just at an all-time saturation level.”

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out ATAK Interactive website at

https://www.atakinteractive.com/

Check out ATAK Interactive on LinkedIn at

https://www.linkedin.com/company/atak-interactive/

Check out ATAK Interactive on YouTube at

https://www.youtube.com/@AtakInteractive

Check out Austin LaRoche on LinkedIn at

https://www.linkedin.com/in/austinlaroche/

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Transcript

Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you.

Austin (00:00:58) - With us right.

Josh (00:00:59) - Now, it's Austin LaRoche. Austin, it's great to have you. You are the CEO of Attack Interactive. That's Attack Interactive. Austin, it's great to have you.

Austin (00:01:10) - Oh, thanks so much for having me. This is awesome. I really like that intro.

Josh (00:01:14) - Thank you.

Austin (00:01:15) - Yeah, yeah.

Austin (00:01:15) - Good, Good cadence. I'm happy to be here today.

Josh (00:01:18) - All right, well, nowhere to go but down from here on my part, so. All right, what does Attack Interactive do?

Austin (00:01:26) - We're a full service B2B marketing agency, so we handle all things strategy, marketing, development, design and then marketing technology, which is kind of its own new little world, right? Really connecting systems across CRM and marketing automation tools. So there's just kind of that martech bucket. And I'll be honest, that's an area where I have been investing internally a ton in the past three years because the demand continues to to rise for a lot more of that technical marketing support.

Josh (00:02:00) - Yeah. Tell me tell me more about that. What does that look like?

Austin (00:02:03) - Well, I think what it is, the reason why it is that way is there's just such a the silos of sales and marketing are really starting to break down. And I think it's because of the technology, right? We've got popular CRMs like Salesforce and part popular marketing tools like HubSpot, and these tools can speak together and really bring marketing and sales professionals together so that they can see who's communicating to which prospects, which contacts at which time.

Austin (00:02:31) - And the process isn't always easy, right? So some some companies will adopt a platform like, let's say, HubSpot, and they'll take all of this. They'll take every hub, they'll take sales, marketing service, they'll put their website on there. And so everybody's working in the same sandbox. But a lot of times some people want to have their CRM and Salesforce. They want marketing automation. In HubSpot, they've got an ERP and they want all of these things to talk to one another. They want all of these things to be able to communicate certain content to different types of personas based on actions. And so it's it's a lot more complicated and there's a lot more architecture to this part of marketing. Then let's say your traditional lead generation or conversion rate optimization.

Josh (00:03:21) - Yeah. Well, listen, anytime I can get someone who is a pro on the B2B marketing side of things always loved, you obviously have your ear to the track. This is what you do day in, day out. Can you give us a little bit of a State of the Union for like how B2B marketing is going right now? What has fallen out of favor? What do you see on the horizon as being something that, you know, service providers, consultants, agencies, etcetera, B2B service providers should be paying attention to?

Austin (00:03:50) - Well, I mean, we can't not talk about the elephant in the room of I don't necessarily believe AI is going to take everybody's job and marketing and that we don't need to have critical thought anymore.

Austin (00:04:01) - But I do think the people who learn the AI tools are going to be able to get the most benefit. So if you know how to write faster because you have the support of AI, if you know how to code faster because of the support of AI, you know how to generate awesome images that really reflect what a brand wants to look like. If you can utilize these tools, you're just going to move faster than everybody else, which means you're going to get further along in a much quicker pace. I think that what what I would say to me is really falling out of favor. And some may disagree, but outbound, cold, outbound outreach is just at an all time saturation level of like I'm not saying it doesn't work. I will tell you this. I'm not doing anymore. I'm not do I don't want to do it.

Josh (00:04:50) - Find no disagreement with me, sir. I could not agree more. I talk with VP of Sales regularly. That is absolutely the sentiment. I can confirm that hundreds of times over.

Austin (00:05:05) - You know, and that's the thing about about content is like if you build content that is original, that has something to say, that isn't afraid to say something that might like really get their target customer. Really? Yeah. But somebody who's not their target customer go, Hey, I don't like that. Then, you know, you might just get lost in the shuffle. You might just look like an AI generated blog. But I think that's where really marketing and sales is going to continue to gravitate to because it always does. It's who is making the best offering, who's articulating it the clearest, and who is providing the value that the customer is looking for. So I do think that, you know, some from a tactical standpoint, I think one of the things that will be really interesting to watch in B2B marketing is just going to be the difference in where search goes because search is going to be on. It's going to be a little slower of a transition than B to C, right? Hey, Siri, where's the closest pizza place?

Speaker 4 (00:06:04) - I can help.

Josh (00:06:05) - Sir.

Josh (00:06:07) - You're. You're. I was when I was like, Oh, shoot, You're going to trigger mine. You got yours.

Josh (00:06:12) - You know.

Austin (00:06:12) - But, you know, so. So people are already going to those sort of voice activated things for be to see you type something in Google Maps and, you know, but but still, right now, for most B2B companies, they are typically are offerings that they have that people are searching for and whether they're ranking organically or by paying to be at the top, I do feel like that is an avenue that if you can crack that code and get the right formula for you to be able to build your ROI, it can become the most consistent and formulaic way to be able to get an ROI on your marketing efforts.

Josh (00:06:47) - Yeah, yeah. Well, listen, your lips to God's ears and you know, in regards to, you know, your observations on Legion outbound, you know, those sorts of tactics, However, I think that that, that ends up presenting a little bit of a stressor for, let's say, someone who's like, Look, that's great, but we don't have, you know, nine, 12 months to develop an SEO strategy.

Josh (00:07:11) - Like we really need to have sales conversation sooner rather than later. What is a service provider or a B2B owner? What's a sales team to do today?

Austin (00:07:22) - Um, well, that's that's a great question. I think, you know, obviously it always comes down to us knowing our target audience, right? We got to know where they are. And so one of the things I like to do is I've kind of built a framework that starts where the first part is really clarifying certain elements of your business, right? Really clarifying what the vision is, documenting the vision, because a lot of times the vision is stuck in somebody's head and they they have it and it's really smart, but nobody else knows. I've been that person before and really documenting the vision, understanding what the comms and messaging are that make up the brand, knowing what data needs to be looked at, what is what is our average value of a or average annual value of the customer look like? What's a lifetime value of our customer? Okay.

Austin (00:08:09) - And then what can we spend to acquire one customer, right? Understanding some of those elements and then really thinking about who's our target audience, who are the target audience? And then once we dive into that target audience, let's go in and let's think, okay, how can we, based on where these people are, how do we attract that target audience? And once we get in front of them, how do we convert them into an opportunity? And once they're an opportunity, how do we close that opportunity into a customer? And then once they're a customer, how do we delight that customer? So they tell every single everybody about us and they know and they become our biggest evangelists. So I always like to look at it in those buckets that attract, convert, closed alignment. And if you're in an accelerated timeline, you know, unfortunately you're probably going to end up doing more, you know, desperate, desperate times call for desperate measures. Right? So, you know, if if you're doing it right, then you're going to think about maybe instead of cold calling or cold emailing people you don't know, maybe start talking about people talking to people that you do know who actually like what you're doing and have had success with what you're doing.

Austin (00:09:13) - And maybe you say, Hey, is there one person, is there one person in your life who you think might need what I've got? And then look for maybe more of a of a mutual connection in that way? Because I do believe that as a business owner myself, and I'm sure the same way, like if I had never heard of you like I am, I've got the shield of mine has never been bigger. And it's, you know, the force field has never been stronger to tell you to go away. But if you're somebody if I'm getting introduction from somebody I like, even if I can't help you, I'm going to help them because I like them. And I'll start that conversation with you and I'll at least, you know, be able to hear you out and see if there's any way I can guide you where you want to do.

Josh (00:09:55) - Do you do you advise on that side of it as well? Kind of. Or is it just like, come on, this is common sense networking? Or can you actually put some structure in some guidance around that?

Austin (00:10:05) - Well, I'm glad that you said structure because I our our company motto is strength in structure.

Austin (00:10:09) - I think that the biggest problem with all of marketing is it's a lack of focus, right? Sales, marketing, it's hey, what if we try this? What if we try this? What if we try this? And so through that prism that I was talking about that attract convert close to light, I really like to really granular in the tactics. Each tactic that a company should be doing, they should be establishing a KPI for each tactic, a role, a role and responsibility for each tactic. Somebody's got to be in charge. They need to know what just a base creative approach. We don't have to have the the best tagline ever, but we at least need to know what value proposition we're going to come after. And then one thing I've noticed is when you're building out these strategies with companies, there's always a gap, right? There's always an obstacle because you can create the best strategy. So for instance, in that convert stage, let's say we want to send somebody to the best landing page it's ever been built and you're going to tell everybody you know why you're the best.

Austin (00:11:06) - But you also know that people convert 35% more when they see a video where they like somebody talking it. You have a lot of videos on your site, so you know exactly what you noticed. That's, you know, and and so it's like, oh, that's a great idea. But we don't have a video, right? And so what ends up happening is you end up building a strategy and then you want to execute the strategy. But there's this gap, right? And the gap needs to be filled typically with some sort of technology or a resource content or some sort of process. I think those are the four that I've really pinned down where that implementation gap gets to. And then you you really need to try and focus on minimizing the amount of time implementation takes. Because again, like when you're thinking about a company, you're investing, right? You're investing in strategy. This sounds good. Okay? We're investing in building the foundation. That sounds good. But now we're a couple of months in and we want more leads.

Austin (00:12:03) - We want more business. We want to go, go, go. So you got to be pragmatic with that. And you meet people where they are and build a structure and a system that's going to work for them. But I do think that those structures have to be very, very much customized to companies. I get in this debate a lot because I'll see a lot of other agencies and they have these. Packages. I know it's much more scalable and I'm and I'm bravo to them. But like I know that every single company that comes and talks to us has a unique problem. And to solve it to to the maximum that we can, we are going to have to have a unique solution. And so we everything we do is very much customized to those customers. And I do wonder if it holds scale back a little bit more than I wish, but I know that it's why we are able to consistently deliver and why we've got such a good reputation, because we're more interested in problem solving for our particular customers than being able to create some sort of cookie cutter package and hope everybody can sign them.

Josh (00:13:02) - Yeah.

Josh (00:13:03) - Okay. So attack interactive, who are you typically obviously B2B, but maybe you could share a story or two or a project that you worked on. Just, you know, someone's listening to us right now. They might be wondering, huh? I wonder if attack would be good for me.

Austin (00:13:20) - Yeah. So I see the a lot of different types of customers, right? I've got a persona that's probably, let's say, like a 5 to $200 million company that's very sales focused. They have a really good sales team and they might have a marketing coordinator. You know, they, they, they need, they need something for a PowerPoint, but they're not really utilizing real marketing sophistication. And they could use a boost of leads. They could probably use a fresh content, you know, some fresh content. They could probably just use some some marketing support and understanding within their communications how they could be working better. And for those kind of companies, we come in as kind of an outsourced marketing department.

Austin (00:14:02) - So filling in all the gaps of strategy, marketing, Legion design, anything anywhere, there's a gap, we can fill it and then they can lean on us for that. I'd say another engagement that's been very popular for us recently, though, is some larger companies we've worked up. There's one company we've worked with that's $27 billion company, very international, and they are they really needed a lot of technical work done within their CRM. You know, they had many different instances on a particular CRM across five continents. We needed to consolidate that, connect it to their Salesforce. It was, you know, and it was one of those things that project that took a few years, but we're seeing a lot more of that to a lot of companies that have these legacy systems, all this data from all this years back and it's like, whoa, like we got to clean this up. We got to clean this up, and it's all got to be streamlined and it's got to make sense because at the end of the day, these these companies want to be able to get the right message to the right person at the right time.

Austin (00:15:08) - And particularly utilizing tools like HubSpot and Salesforce, they want to automate that whole process. And so that's where that's what we've been able to have a lot of customers do is automating processes. And it's not just what the messaging. A lot of times we help those processes with salespeople, right? Because one thing I know about salespeople, nothing brings them greater joy than getting in a room, shaking hands, smiling and just and getting that person on the other end to buy into what they're doing. They love that. You know what they hate doing, taking anything that happened in that meeting and putting it in notes in the CRM. They hate that. So why not give them a tool where they can do a voice message or a voice text and go, Hey, those guys are great. So and so really liked it. I think we're going to have a deal done by next week. Boom. That makes their life easier because they kidding.

Josh (00:15:56) - Oh, man.

Austin (00:15:57) - Yeah. All of the all of these sophisticated CRMs are doing it these days.

Austin (00:16:03) - That's great.

Josh (00:16:04) - Because you.

Josh (00:16:04) - You just identified me to a tee. Yeah. I like. I like being.

Josh (00:16:09) - In the moment.

Josh (00:16:09) - I like being 100% present for that person right then. But then, you know, you ask me ten minutes later, like, oh man, I should probably should have taken some better notes.

Josh (00:16:19) - Yeah.

Austin (00:16:20) - Yeah. It's just. And so if you can, if you can do that and you can automate certain things, right, you can move, you can simply move something from one deal stage to another and a CRM and then all of a sudden the, the DocuSign goes out and then once that gets signed, the next thing goes out. And then, you know, and then it's just a series of these 15 triggers, right? Something happens, someone hit submit and then something new happens. And so there are a lot of these tools that make both marketing and sales professionals lives so much easier. And that's typically what we aim to do. How do we make your life easier and how do we get you the results that you're looking for?

Josh (00:16:56) - Yeah.

Josh (00:16:56) - All right. So your website attack, interactive attack, Interactive. When when our friend is listening to a conversation are very private conversation right now. But they've been listening in every word we've been saying. When they go to your website, what would you recommend they do? What's that next step?

Josh (00:17:15) - Well.

Austin (00:17:16) - Take a look. I said a lot today and think about where some of your gaps are. You know, we've got five very clear service pages. And if you need some help with your strategy, check out how we do strategy. We've got a framework for everything we do. Check out our marketing framework, check out our dev framework, our design framework, and our marketing technology framework. Because we we live here. We know that our customers come to us with vision and ideas and they typically don't have the setup to get where they want to go. And so when they work with us, they get organized, they get focused, and we get them on the right path towards being where they want to be.

Josh (00:17:54) - Austin LaRoche. I have to say thank you so much for recording this. I was just going through a previous communication and I think we tried to record this one time and I got knocked out by a power outage. And it's funny, it was because as you got on today, I'm like, Oh, you're never going to guess what's going on. We have one of those central Florida thunderstorms going on right now. So thankfully, we got it recorded.

Austin (00:18:15) - Yes, I lived in the South many years in August where I always called them the the Armageddon thunderstorms would come down around for. You thought the world was ending by 6:00. Everything was dry and you never would have thought anything had happened. But I miss him sometimes.

Josh (00:18:29) - Yeah.

Josh (00:18:30) - All right. Again, Attack. Interactive Attack. Interactive. Austin LaRoche, you're the CEO. Austin. It's been great having you.

Austin (00:18:41) - Yeah, thanks so much. Josh, This was a lot of fun.

Josh (00:18:49) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest.

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Josh (00:19:52) - Each.

Josh (00:19:53) - Day. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the thoughtful entrepreneur movement.

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