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Ralph Thompson

Episode 14: Use Measurements and Track Conversions, with Ralph Thompson

In this episode, you will learn about tracking conversions from Ralph Thompson, President and Chief Brain of eBrains.

Formally trained as in finance and as a CPA, Ralph gained basic experience with Price Waterhouse Coopers and then moved on to NYSE regional banking firm where he advanced to become a top finance and administration executive over 10 years. He took his first entrepreneurial step as co-owner and COO of The Martin Agency (an Ad Age Agency of the Year) where he grew the company from 20 people to 250 over a 10 year period before selling it to Interpublic Group. His next adventure started when he co-founded eBrains to focus on digital marketing in the travel and tourism industry. eBrains is celebrating its 18th year. The company was sold three years ago to a DC marketing holding company and Ralph remains in his role as President and Chief Brain. Ralph enjoys using ample blessings of both sides of the brain to help brands leverage the digital marketing space to drive more measurable incremental ROI. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 48 years, two children, 3 grandchildren and collaborating with friends and colleagues. Ralph enjoys golf, wine, great food and travel.

More on Ralph’s Background

Thank you for joining me, Ralph.

Thank you, Nicole. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Can you tell us a little bit more about your background and your passion in travel and tourism? I love the comment about both sides of the brain, because that is a blessing, sometimes, to be able to use both sides.

Yeah, happy to do so, Nicole. It’s a big fight with both sides of my brain from time to time because the formal training of financial stability and trying to be accountable and measurable. I was so fortunate to be able to take my entrepreneurial step into the Martin Agency, which is one of the most creatively driven agencies in the country. At a young age I was exposed to that and actually learned at that agency to look at the value of creativity and it goes beyond just the work. It’s creative in anything you do. Harry Jacobs one of the leaders in creativity in the country who have since passed was one of my partners there. I remember that he always said, “The definition of a creative is someone that sees the relationship between two things differently than anybody else.” If you take that to extreme it’s a big challenge for us.

I’ve always thought about that as a great guide and also his other comment was, “Don’t be afraid to fail.” I think sometimes you do that and you get outside the box, but in today’s world there are risks with that too. They say those that are innovators and leaders sometimes are the ones that have a lot of errors in the back for trying new things. I’ve always been one to enjoy that and I have the scars to prove it. The way that it’s really helped me is to look at, first of all some things never change in terms of being able to connect with your target audience. You need to connect with them both logically and emotionally. You need to be able to somehow understand whether you’re getting through or not through their attitudes and behavior. The only thing that has changed is the way in which we do that. The way in which we connect. There are many more viewing opportunities that the consumer has today.

They get many more messages. The challenge is how do you break through the clutter? That’s something that I remember we were seeing back in the 90s when broadcast was going and cable came along and there were so many other channels. Some things never change, which is the core way in which you’re able to reach the consumer and engage. The things that change are those things that make it more effective and more accountable. That’s why I think with my financial background after evolving through the Martin Agency and being fortunate enough to grow that and sell it to Inner Public and take a little time off to play a little golf and everything and also put into perspective what can you do next? Then this thing called the internet comes along. Which then enables me to think about how I bring the whole branding process and behavioral process to the internet in a way that may be more measurable or thought about differently than perhaps some other folks who weren’t trained with a financial background.

That’s really intriguing and I think that’s just a great way to think about the internet. I just love that you said you’re still doing the same things. You’re still talking about branding. You’re still talking about consumer behaviors. You’re still talking about connecting with an audience. It’s just a matter of maybe those tools and how you navigate the marketing landscape. I’m really looking forward to hearing your input in this interview.

Finding Innovative Solutions to Difficult Challenges

I’m going to dive right into our first question Ralph. That is, I know you’ve been around for a while. You know how competitive the tourism and hospitality can be can you tell us a little bit about how you have helped your clients stand out from the crowd?

I think we’ve been fortunate enough when we started eBrains. Its focus, we started it to say that this industry is a tough industry because many great ideas are killed subjectively. We thought that when we started eBrains this thing called the internet was coming along and exciting start-ups. This was in 1999. We were saying if we start this, we can take an ownership position in our clients. That way it’ll enable us to be able to guide and direct them better because we have more say so. The bottom line is we didn’t have that at all. We wound up working more, and of the six that we grew rapidly with and grew from three to 25 people. In a year, this thing called Dot-bomb hit. After that hit six of those went south. We had to say, “What are we going to do?” Getting at what works for our clients.

We were fortunate enough to have relationships in the travel and tourism industry because back in the agency business at the Martin Agency- it was the agency that invented Virginia is for Lovers in 1969. That is the longest lasting travel brand positioning in the United States- Virginia is for Lovers. Virginia tourism at the time was saying, “We have a challenge. We’re able to get our message out.” Way back then and in the early 2000s destinations were held accountable for the number of travel guides they get out. They had perfected this way to get travel guides out with television doing per-inquiry television. The fulfillment piece was a Virginia is for Lovers travel guide. The only challenge was the cost of fulfilling that was about $12. We’re struggling trying to figure out whether we do something else or really find a way to grow eBrains.

The agency of record said, “You know, this internet thing. We tried overture because there was no Google at that time. We tried search marketing. We tried banner ads. You come up with something that is creative that will help us with our client.” What we did is there was a thing called, it’s co-registration. What I’m going to say is that this is a great example of that creativity. I just told you it’s somebody that looks at co-registration in a different way. Co-registration at that time for those of you that don’t know what it is, when you sign up to become a member of a membership site and you provide your information. You sometimes see the next page, which has offers that you can opt into because that site has your information. You’ve given permission for them to provide offers to you to consider.

At that time it was co-registration was a nasty thing. It was like garbage. It was like, all the boxes were checked and people would go in and you’d get stuff that you didn’t want. What I saw and my partner, co-founder, we saw a way to change the game there because nobody was thinking about co-registration. The P&Gs of the world were couponing and people were selling you drugs and all that kind of stuff. Nobody was thinking about tourism. We thought if we could stand out from all of that other stuff, all of the garbage then we could have a really valid communication with consumers because everybody is going to take a vacation ultimately. We could communicate with them in a way that explains what the value of a destination is and have them actually check a box rather than have the box automatically checked.

We could do that in a way that could deliver that fulfillment piece, which was still a printed travel guide delivered. We could do that for about $2, so $2 versus $12. We were very successful with that. We helped Virginia tourism meet their accountability requirements for delivering travel guides. We were able to have that catch on. The tourism industry, especially destination marketing segment of the industry became aware of that. It was adopted by over half of the states. Then we began looking down below the state level. Then commoditization takes place and other competitors came in. We had to do something more.

The more that we did was to say… Destinations are used to having conversion studies done to understand how many people visit you. How much money they spend? What the profiles are? What the leader markets are? We engage with Texas A&M’s department of Parks, Recreations and Tourism Sciences, which is one of the best researchers in the country for tourism and them to conduct independent conversion studies on the databases that we were building for these states. We were able to see consistency and conversion. We’ve been doing that now for 17 years. That enabled us to look at the data and provide guaranteed visitor conversions with a destination. That’s the point where we were able to create something of value that’s measurable. That destinations can go back to their funding sources and be accountable and prove the value of their marketing programs.

Wow. There are just so many great learnings in what you just described. One of the things, I really loved is when you talked about the co-registration, which that’s something new that I learned today. I understood the practice once you described it, but the word is new to me. How you went and looked for basically a place where something already existed, but looked for other ways to apply that. I know that you have some other new and cutting edge innovative ideas that you’ve worked on over the years. Which I’m sure we’re going to talk about in a little bit. Then to take it one step further and add in the conversion studies. I know with a lot of the destinations and the tourism professionals that I know, being able to prove the conversion is one of their biggest challenges. I just love that you have this system in place where you can help prove the success of a campaign. I think that’s just fantastic.

Yes. We’ve been able to do that with the additional digital solutions that we have evolved, which you just referenced. We’re able to get accountability with that too with the constant challenge that we’re always challenging ourself to figure out how we measure converted visitors.

Yeah. Talk about that a little bit about the more. When you say you’re constantly challenging yourself on how you measure. What are the different types of things that you look at?

Well, we work with Texas A&M. First of all that co-registration and how we involve that enabled us to build databases for the client, opt-in email databases. The conversion study was conducted on those databases. We know that that’s only one component. Destination Analysts, which is a research firm in San Francisco, does an annual study and they say about 17% of consumers that travel actually opt-in to your database. That’s an interesting guide. That covered a certain part of visitors to the destination, but it didn’t cover all of them. We then took that idea and Texas A&M created an ongoing opt-in conversion survey for all the folks that come to websites as search involved. Now Texas A&M does a conversion study and we do search marketing for our clients.

All of those that participate in the guaranteed return on marketing investment option that we have, their websites are under conversion studies too. Destination Analysts says, “About 37% of those that visit your destination will ever use your website.” Now we figure if we’re doing a good job with that we’ve got 37% probably covered with website traffic, we’ve got another 17 in the database. That’s upwards of 54%. Then this thing came along called programmatic advertising. Display advertising done in a programmatic way. Which has evolved and we have been in that space for about eight years now. We were one of the early adopters of it and have evolved a pretty interesting solution there, which then enables us to reach consumers higher up in the funnel on a very targeted basis.

“A creative is someone that sees the relationship between two things differently.” – @leethomps #Podcast Click To Tweet

Then Nielsen’s Vizu division does lift and intent to visit studies with ad campaigns. Now we figure that we can reach a significant chunk more of those who will never go to the website, but we have found a unique way with a independent creative ad serving platform known as Spongecell, to be able to track those consumers that come in and engage that will never go to your website. We’re able to get those under measurement. Now we’ve got a campaign for our clients for a years worth of work. We’ve got a good 60, 70% under conversion study. If the whole industry sees validity in conversion studies, which it does, and as long as they’re conducted independently and they have statistically reliable and projectable results supplied to the database, then I think that we have a pretty good way to track and measure all of that in any channel that you get because now you can look at those certainly in earned actions through PR and social activities. They’re all driving folks to the social pages or to the website. We’re able to get those under measurement as well.

Wow. That’s great. That really does illustrate what you mean about constantly challenging yourself. 17% wasn’t quite enough, 37% and just trying to continue your way down the sales funnel. I think that’s a really great example of creativity and how you’ve developed these tools for your clients.

Turning Day Trips into Overnight Stays

Ralph, can you talk to me about either a challenge as an agency owner have faced or perhaps a challenge that you helped a client with and what creative solution you’ve come up with.

I think a really good one that I’ll talk about because it’s proximate to your reach area is a great example of collaboration and partnership that we’ve done with Visit Buffalo-Niagara, Niagara Falls USA, The Niagara convention and corporation there in conjunction with Brand USA and I love New York. They all pitched in and we created a fund to be able to reach Toronto and Southern Ontario to be able to drive more Canadian visitors to Niagara County and Buffalo. What we did, there was a agency prior to the group selecting us to be able to help them with this, because the first year of that initiative they had a well known national firm that was engaged. They really weren’t experienced in the travel and tourism industry. We were fortunate enough to be working with both of those destinations on other work.

They asked us to help them with this. We created a campaign that was 95% digital. They did do a little bit of print into Toronto. The 95% digital we created a solution for them that started with first of all understanding the research that had been conducted. The research said that Southern Ontarians thought the only thing to do was to basically come across the border and shop because they had more variety and more choices when they shopped than they had. Of course the exchange rate, which at that time was in their favor. They only thought that you’d come here and go shopping. There were day trips, but no overnights. Our challenge was to figure out how to get them to do overnights. We were able to understand the initial wave of research and understand that they thought there was nothing here.

We actually went to our clients and said, “What are the five attributes that you can really deliver on?” If we get those visitors here and we get them to agree to spend a little more time. What can you really deliver on? We were given those five things. We invented a new way to test that. Many folks would then go conduct focus groups and they’d get three or four focus groups and spend a lot of money doing that. You’d be subject to 12 people and the loudest talker in the room influencing other folks and all depending on the moderator. We challenged ourself and we’ve been doing that for years with clients in the agency business. We said, we have this thing called the internet. We have this thing programmatic. We have the ability to distribute video and the equivalent of a television commercial.

What we did was to use the programmatic approach and we created what I call live real time behavioral research. What we did was we created a video for each of those five attributes that we felt we could deliver on. We put that in this creative display unit, which was the equivalent of a micro-site. We targeted the Southern Ontario market. We delivered a campaign into the marketplace with enough impression and firepower behind it to be able to understand and study what the results would tell us and know that it was statistically reliable. When the display ad, the consumer would see that in Toronto. They would see this display ad. There were five video icons in the ad that represented each one of those attributes. It did not name the destination. The reason we didn’t unveil the destination first was we wanted to see what the consumers natural behavior was and what they would click on of interest.

“What are the five attributes that your destination can really deliver on?” – @leethomps #Podcast Click To Tweet

They did click on that. Once they clicked and began to view the video we then disclosed what the destination was. Then after they viewed that we could see their behavior and where they went. Whether they engaged with another element of that banner ad or whether they went to the website. We were able to learn from that and see that there was a clear winner. The winner happened to be Girlfriends Getaway. We then were excited to create a campaign that the creative on that, the content was delivered in a way that said, “You’re going to need to pack these shoes for your Girlfriends Getaway in the Buffalo-Niagara area when you come spend the weekend with us.” We had all kinds of women’s shoes, which represented a different itinerary, each pair of shoes. That started the campaign of Girlfriends Getaway.

The results of that were incredible. It created fantastic economic impact. Our goal was to get the visits and average of one overnight. We averaged 1.4 overnights more than the average was from the baseline research. I think that was a significant contribution to economic impact. I think both of our clients were pleased with the results of that. What we’re seeing now is that the area is viewed by the Southern Ontarians more than just a shopping venue. They see everything that’s going neighbor with the new vibe in Buffalo. All the values that extend from Erie County into Niagara County and the quaint villages there. Hopefully we’ve made a great contribution to that area and driven more Canadian visitors across the border.

That’s really great. You think of Niagara Falls and the proximity of Niagara Falls and Buffalo to the Canadian border and the huge population that’s right there in Ontario, Canada and so close. One would think that wouldn’t be so hard to get them to come and spend some time. Hearing this case study from you, you really can understand these would be day trips and trying to convince someone who lived so close to actually spend the night is a little more challenging. I just love that example, it’s a perfect example.

It’s a great result.

Absolutely. How fun is that, that you get to actually see the results because you’re able to measure it and know what the economic impact is. There’s so many marketing campaigns and programs even that I’ve been involved in where you don’t know definitively exactly what the results are. I think that’s just fantastic that you can measure that and actually attribute an increase of 1.4 overnights up from the baseline is just a great result.

I think to your point, you can’t get everything measured. There’s great content, there’s subjectivity to that. You’re always trying to figure out how you can see how you move the needle. I think the important thing is, get some form of measurement. You can argue and debate how reliable it is. If you do it over time and you stick to it, if you have the same methodology you can see the movements and the change in behavior. That’s what we’re fortunate to have been able to do because we’ve stuck with this approach for 17 years now. We have over 300 studies that we can see. We have over 10 million database records that we can see what performance is all over the country. It’s a body of work that’s really unveiling. We learn a lot from it and apply it to our new clients that we get.

“You can’t get everything measured. Get some form of measurement & stick to it.” – @leethomps #Podcast Click To Tweet

That’s great. I think that’s good advice too, to pick the measurement tool. You can certainly argue about how valid it is, but as long as you’re measuring something you can hopefully see it shift and change over time.

Achieving Results Through an Incentive Community

Ralph, can you tell us a little bit about something you’re excited about? A project that you’re working on looking into the future that our listeners might be interested in hearing about.

Absolutely. I mentioned earlier that we’ve always been folks that have encouraged our team to be inventors of best practices rather than follow best practices. I’m always challenged to create best practices. Just like the co-registration, that was not a best practice, we invented that. We also, there’s good and bad to that as I mentioned. We were in the mobile space seven years ago. We brought a integrated mobile solution to the table and introduced it at ESTO seven years ago. It had a fully integrated mobile site. It had a mobile application. It had a co-op program that had all great co-op levels for industry partners within a destination to participate. It had database building. It had opt-in text. It had everything, and it had a mobile app. It had different levels that you could participate in. Everything you could think of. It was just a fantastic solution called Destination M. We thought we were very innovative with that and we brought it to market. It was a big failure of course. Nobody was ready to adopt. Think about that a long time ago. Where are we today?

“Don't follow best practices. Invent them.” – @leethomps #WhyCollaborate #Podcast Click To Tweet

Seven years is like dog years in Mobile.

Seven years ago here was Destination M and it was really hot. It didn’t make it, it’s in the garbage can, it’s in the dumpster. We did learn from that and I’m really excited to bring a new mobile solution since today everything is mobile. Even to the point that mobile views get you favorable ratings with Google and search optimization and increase your quality scores there and video. All of that’s happening today now, which is what we envisioned seven years ago, so I’m happy. Within the last year, we’ve been working on a mobile CPA network Cost Per Action. What we’re able to do is we have a network that is now about, the reach is a little over four million now and growing at about 50,000 a month. We have four million reach of folks that have oped-in.

This is a term that makes me cringe because it reminds me of the co-registration days. It is an incentive community. Everybody goes, “Whoa, it’s an incentive community so we’re going to pay people to take action. They’re just going to take action because we paid them.” Which is what destinations had been doing for the past 10 years with their sweepstakes and their contests and their giveaways. If you do studies of that, I think roughly half of those leave within 30 days after the contest is over with. We looked at that and we said, “We want to incent people, but we want to incent people not with a whole lot of money.” We do pay money, we don’t pay rewards points or anything like that. We pay money for someone to join our mobile community. In order to be paid they have to have a PayPal account. We have the only double opt-in, written FCC compliant mobile community that we can begin to communicate with text.

What we do is when they join the community they have to take an on-boarding survey, which they’re paid a dollar for. The on-boarding survey gives us comprehensive insight about the household. Now we have a general base of data about each household. Then as clients come on not just tourism clients, but clients in every other industry vertical that depend on leads direct to consumer. We now have the ability to go in and create micro-surveys. Let’s say for example there’s a destination. They have an event they want to drive somebody to. It’s very important to get a lot of people there, they want to make sure that they don’t fail so they need an insurance policy. We can geo-target an area that would be the radius that you would drive people to this event from.

We can conduct a survey in that community geo-targeted only to those to see what their interests are and to see if there’s interest in attending this event. Then we may once we understand how many of those we have we would share that with our client. We would ask how many they want to attend the event on a pay per action basis. They would only pay for those who attended the event. The proof of it, I love this because it’s common sense. The proof that you attended the event, you have a mobile phone in your hand. We know that. It has a camera. What we have the consumer do, we can certainly put a pixel on the confirmation page that you got a ticket to the event if it’s online.

If not in any event what we require is that our community member is required to take a picture and to take a picture of their receipt. They provide that to us as proof of action when there’s a cost per transaction involved. We do that and we provide that and our system captures that data and we provide that as proof of performance. We’re real excited about this community. It’s been going on for about nine months now. We’ve got some great results with it. We actually just rolled it out to non-tourism categories last week. We’re really excited about what we’re seeing there.

That is really exciting and another great example of being creative, innovative and showing what you can do with some of those scars.

That’s right. That’s right. We didn’t give up on the mobile community. We just left Destination M behind. Now what we have for a client is let’s say that you’ve got a programmatic campaign and you want to boost it with more traffic to the website, but quality traffic. What we’re able to do is to use that mobile community with a mobile booster because then we’re sure that there’s no fraudulent traffic because they are a member of this network and they have become members and then by having a PayPal account, which a bot cannot get. We’re able to really have real live people in it. It’s really cool because the view rate’s 100%. Our click rates are over 20%.

Then we’re able to subsidize and support another program that maybe has a couple of channels. This one boosts that whole campaign, that whole effort. It ranges anywhere from high up the funnel to just a click to the website to go through the website and click out to participating industry co-op partners, to concepts, video views. We had a really interesting situation with the congressional district in Atlanta, that right before the election the congressman required one of his constituents to view his three minute and nine-second video, which we know is a little long. He wanted that done within a 24 hour period before the election.

We were able to over deliver and over deliver within four hours. It’s incredible what you can do with mobile devices and time sensitivity. The other thing we’re thinking about is the upcoming big game. We can’t say Super Bowl unless we want to spend two million dollars for a 30-second spot. What we can do is everybody is going to have their mobile phone with them when they’re watching the Super Bowl. We aim to deliver a video view during the Super Bowl. We’re doing that with a couple of consumer brands that can’t afford to buy the television commercial but can afford to assure that they’re going to have video views of their commercial.

Wow. That’s another really creative approach just thinking about timing it and using this technology in that time sensitive way. That’s a really great way to think about it. I also like that you coined CPA, cost per actions, so fitting for a guy with a CPA background.

Why You Need to Build Strong Relationships

Ralph, one of the things that we talk about on this podcast with several of our other interviews is the idea of collaboration. Something that I find to be unique in the tourism and hospitality industry, which is this idea of what I like to call coopetition, which is where competitors actually cooperate to create programs bigger than themselves. You gave us an example earlier where you talked about Erie County and Niagara County in Western New York, Buffalo and Niagara Falls, working together with I Love New York the state agency. Then of course Brand USA at the national level to put together a program. Do you have other examples of collaborative programs where you can see maybe competitors coming together to work on programs that have been successful?

Yes. Sure. That example that I gave there was on the client side where you have destinations who look at each other as competitors, but came together for the benefit of the whole, for the greater good. Let’s look at it on another side, which is the professional services that are delivered by entities that call themselves digital marketing firms, advertising agencies, PR firms, web shops, anything you want to call them. They all probably crossover in some ways. Then when we found eBrains, having been trained as a brand person I was very focused on making sure we were true to our brand. I love your term because we had a term when we founded eBrains. We were committed to collaborating. Our focus was to bring the best resources to bear on your clients business based on whatever their desired outcomes were.

Bring the best resources to bear if you can afford it have it in house. If you can’t afford it, partner, because the operative there is bring the best resources to bear. When you are growing and you’re an organization that is in some way helping your client reach out and connect with consumers and engaging them, you can’t be an expert at everything. Really important to understand how you can leverage that. I think there are some keys to being able to do that. You could go online and get your MBA and your non-compete agreements and all that. When you would go pull one up, I always laughed at it because it never was mutual. It was always in the best interest of one party. I’ve made our attorney change all of ours so it was a collaborative. It mentioned the word co-petitor. We called it a co-petitor and that we were in a relationship together.

We agreed that if it was, for example, this agency’s client and we were participating with them, we acknowledged that. It was always driven by that agency. We were on that team to make a contribution. I think that’s an example of where we were able to do that. We have done that with many friends. I can think of a situation — North Myrtle Beach — we saw an opportunity there. That account went into review. I had some dear friends that through my career we had consulted with different agencies across the country, probably about 20 or 30 of them. They would ask us to help them out and help them grow and we did that back in the 90s. This particular situation, there was a requirement that they wanted a South Carolina agency.

The two competitors were in the region this account was operating in. It had been there for years. We sensed that they wanted something new. I called on a dear friend of mine who was a great creative talent that came out of the Martin Agency and was at GSD&M in Austin, Texas and worked on Virginia tourism and Texas tourism and several others. We asked Dan to join us, this little agency in Greenville, South Carolina. We were their digital partner. We came together. We knew that each of us had a certain amount of capability. The agency in Greenville had some digital capability. What we did was bring the best resources to bear. Strong creative, strong digital and a strong agency foundation in South Carolina. We created what was tagged the “Dream Team.”

We went over and pitched and won the North Myrtle Beach Tourism account for this agency in Greenville, South Carolina and did it all as a team together. It’s their client. That’s an example, another way in which you can come together and collaborate in a co-petitive way for the greater good of your client first and foremost and your whole organization because you build relationships out of that. At the end of the day if you’re in the professional services business. Everybody can talk about content, content, content all they want. At the end of the day if you’re not building strong, long-lasting, trusting relationships you’re only one day away from getting fired because of your work.

“At the end of the day, you need to build strong, long-lasting relationships.” – @leethomps #Podcast Click To Tweet

Agreed. I think that’s such a great perspective. To talk about bringing the best resources to bear. I like the new word, co-petitor. That fits perfectly with our coopetition.

I know that’s why when you mentioned that to me I chuckled a little bit because I said, “Oh my goodness.”

That’s perfect.

Somebody else thought that.

That’s right. I couldn’t agree more about bringing the right resources for the project or for the client. The client is first, absolutely. Can you tell us a little bit more about how you find great partners? You described that Myrtle Beach scenario. What do you look for when you’re looking for partners?

We have found that first of all through trial and error, believe me, we have had some errors. It starts with building trust. Over the years I’ve been in business for so long we have a lot of relationships. As I think back about how those came about. They all came about in an opportunity to build a relationship of trust. You’re not going to be successful 100% of the time. That first is the core foundation. Again you can look at these through, you can find them through word of mouth and discussion and look at LinkedIn and then go to industry events being involved with tourism our primary focus and eBrains.

We’ve gone to actively involved in state tourism conferences and BMAI and eTourism Summit and US Travel Association ESTO gathering. You run across and you come across folks to work with when you’re actively involved in those different industry categories and associations within the category. Then I think once you identify those that might be a fit, the important thing is to really get a sense of trust. You try to from my perspective we’ve always been about treating everybody the way that we would expect to be treated. That’s not always the best business practice because it’s a very competitive world out there. It has been the practice for us. We really work hard and try to do that. Not only with our clients, but with our co-petitors as well.

That’s great advice. You keep going back to those very simple, but truthful and reliable resources. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. It comes down to very those simple things that you learn when you’re a kid, right?

That’s right. That’s right.

That’s great advice.

It’s so important. It’s so important because whatever title you put on your organization, you’re in the professional services business. You have to be in a certain segment, that is advertising, marketing, and PR. You’re in the professional services business, and the number one emotional connector is trust. That means that you can’t say that. What you have to do is be there, because what I was taught creatively, if you get the core emotional connector because we know audiences make decisions from emotion and they justify with logic. The emotional connector is not something that you actually talk about. Your behavior is what connects the emotion.

That’s fabulous. Ralph, this has been a great conversation. So many really good pieces of advice. I know our listeners have learned a lot and I’ve learned a lot. Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to share with us before we sign off?

I just think I’m so excited with where the communication world is going. It’s a blast for me because again I go back to that financial base, which makes me want to prove everything. There’s so many more opportunities to prove things today with the digital space. I’m very excited about that part of it and the challenges that exist. I just think that we have a wonderful opportunity out here and we need to continue to mine it and don’t be afraid to fail.

I appreciate that. I love your perspective. You’ve really given us a lot of new things to think about. Thank you very much for being on our show today.

Absolutely. Happy to help.

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