In the modern world, digital marketing has become one of most popular methods of branding and business building. There are so many different avenues within the industry and having worked as a copywriter, I’m always on the lookout for new techniques. GeekSmash is an example of a digital marketing agency that’s doing something different because they’re catering to people who work in the pop culture industry.
It was fun to talk to GeekSmash CEO, Joe Delbridge about the message behind the agency and how it helps professional geeks. Joe talks about starting off as a blogger, growing his passion from comics and what the current status of influencer marketing is like in his opinion.
Digital marketing has grown into a diverse frontier, with many agencies looking to come up with new ways to help clients. GeekSmash is an agency that helps pop culture businesses and I think that’s awesome. Can you explain how the company was set up?
We started as a blog in 2012. I decided to start practicing what was to become my primary interest, which was Internet marketing. I picked the pop culture, or what I like to call, the geek industry, because of my passion for so many of the things within it. What we experience growing up has so much to do with shaping who we become as adults and it’s so nice to see people of all ages either engaging or re-engaging with their interests in our industry. It’s a true judgement-free zone and adults can play again.
What kind of clients and campaigns have you been involved with?
I’ve had the pleasure of working with several notable brands and feel very fortunate that getting clients has never been my problem. I’ve worked with Walt Disney Studios, ABC, LINE WEBTOON, Abbyshot, Alter Ego, Crafty Celts, Overwolf, POP Comics, Lezhin Comics, and many smaller up-and-coming brands that you’ll be seeing more of in the near future.
Comics have the ability to unite people of all ages. Where did your love of comics come from?
It comes from my mom buying me my first comics when I was probably around four years of age. Some of my earliest memories were of Tarzan, Superman, the Six-Million-Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, and eventually when I got a little older, I found my way to Marvel. Growing up, I didn’t have a positive male role model in the home, so I learned a lot from reading the stories in comics. This is why it’s so important today that writers understand the impact that they can have on the youth. Sometimes, we all forget how important we really are and who we may be impacting with our decisions. I love when writers include positive messages in comics.
Do you have any favourite superheroes and have you been involved with any campaigns that have promoted a specific character?
Favourites would be Superman, Batman, and Punisher. I haven’t promoted a specific character yet, but that would be cool. The closest I’ve come to promoting a character was working with BBC on promoting “Doctor Who” through a social campaign. However, WB if you’re listening, I would love to be involved in anything promoting my favorite do-gooder, Supes!
What’s a regular day like in the office for you and the team?
We actually don’t have an office. We’re a small, boutique agency, just the right size, and most of us aren’t close enough to each other to meet at an office. My developer lives in Washington state, my lead graphic designer is in Newfoundland, and the rest of us are spread about. When I find someone who is both mega-talented in their skill sets and lives and breathes some form of geekdom, I snatch them up and hang onto them, regardless of where they live. I’m hoping that as we grow, I can expand to have enough local people to justify an office as I think we’d have a fun time! Not sure where that will be, but North Carolina is where I live now, so we’ll see.
What’s your opinion on the current digital marketing landscape?
I like where it’s headed! Most of my requests used to be for SEO, but these days, brands are looking more to ads, content, social media, and working with influencers or ambassadors. Intentions are getting less about tricking the search engines and more about putting out quality content and branding. There hasn’t been anything revolutionary in a while, but the days of people being duped by cheap knockoff marketers are apparently getting fewer and fewer, which is awesome!
Are there any techniques or services that have helped you stand out from other digital agencies?
Yep! For one, I only take on clients with whom I feel we’d truly enjoy working. This is a fun industry and there are some companies who are just in it to make money. I won’t help them. The best way to keep our industry pure is to only buy from those who are truly in it for the passion. As far as services that we offer that help us to stand out, I’d go with our influencer service. It’s a very interesting space full of amazingly talented people.
How important do you feel collaboration is in the world of pop culture?
As important as in any other industry, I’d say. This is an interconnected social world now, and collaboration is a fantastic way to help lift each other up (thinking Marvel Team-Ups). One of the services that we give our existing clients completely free of charge is industry relationship building. I travel quite a bit and attend multiple comic cons and other shows worldwide. When I’m there, if there’s a chance to introduce my clients to someone that I meet where they may be a mutual benefit, I do so! At the end of the day, my success is up to me and I just want to know that I’ve helped others succeed along the way.
I thought it was interesting that GeekSmash attends comic cons on a client’s behalf if they are unable to attend. How does that process work?
Until cloning is perfected, people can’t be at two places at once. So, for example, we can attend a con on the east coast while our client is still packing up from a con on the west coast. Also, we represent a few international companies who don’t really understand fully how to engage an American audience at cons. Since this is our specialty, we handle as much for them as they need to pull-off an amazing show and teach them along the way.
Influencer marketing is becoming a popular form of brand representation. What sort of criteria do you look for when collaborating with influencers?
Well, that sort-of depends largely on the type of collaboration. “Influencer” is being thrown around now and is somewhat losing its definition. There are Instagrammers with 6k followers using the title, “influencer” in their bio. While they may have a small amount of influence, a major brand won’t see it that way. Likewise, there are some major celebrities who have millions of followers, but some of them aren’t influential, either. Rather, what we look at is the engagement rate, which is the best indicator of how interesting one’s content is perceived by their followers. From here, we can somewhat accurately gauge how successful a campaign might be if we use that influencer. There are several other factors that we consider, but that would be a whole other blog post.
GeekSmash’s Instagram and YouTube calculators seem like a great way to link people together. For someone who’s interested in using them, how do they work?
They’ve been extremely well received! I’m humbled by how many people on the web now use these as their definitive resource to check engagement rates and prices. All you do is enter an Instagram handle or YouTube channel ID and it will spit out some details that you can’t get from Instagram or YouTube. For brands, this information is invaluable, because they can see if someone is buying followers (very low engagement rate) and how much they should pay for either a pre-roll, integration, or dedicated video.
For anyone who is looking to break into the digital marketing world, what is your best advice?
Start a blog. It worked for me! It’s great practice, gets you involved in the community in which you want to work, and if you go after it with the intention to learn as much as you can along the way, you’ll find your confidence growing and your skill improving. Also, I do recommend pursuing a degree in that field if you find that you’re really enjoying it. No matter how much you teach yourself, a good programme can show you things that can put you over the top of some of your competitors. I attended Full Sail remotely and I do recommend their program to everyone who asks.