Voice Prompt: Welcome to the Ignite podcast, where we help marketers and CEOs learn the latest tips and tricks to help ignite growth in their business. This isn’t your typical marketing podcast. We push beyond platitudes to deliver you real-world stories from the trenches. Are you ready to learn? Are you ready to grow? Are you ready to have fun? Well, then buckle up because you are about to enter the Ignite podcast.
Alex: Hey, everybody, exciting times we have going on right now. I could not be more thrilled to introduce Kurt Lee Hurley to Ignite. You guys are going to learn a lot today, I have a feeling. This is going to be a really exciting interview. Kurt, welcome to Ignite. You’ve been around the block quite a bit. This guy’s got 20 years plus of marketing experience. We’re going to touch on everything from home services to healthcare marketing.
He’s currently the CMO of American Family Care. We’re excited to hear all of your experience and everything you’ve done in marketing. Welcome to the show, Kurt. Why don’t you walk our listeners through how exactly you got to where you’re at right now? Walk us through some of the big milestones and what got you to marketing in the first place and what are some of the exciting things you’ve done along the way.
Kurt Lee Hurley: Certainly. Well, thank you, Alex. I appreciate you having me on. The journey of a marketer who’s been active in their chosen profession is obviously a very long, painful, uninteresting to the listener, but I have been the combination of an educated marketer, as well as an entrepreneur. I know that in many areas of business, that definitely is a nonstarter. Most entrepreneurs aren’t interested in having corporate markers work for them and most corporations aren’t interested in having a ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ entrepreneur market workers.
Alex: Yes, nobody will hire me. Nobody will hire me anymore.[laughter]
Kurt: Well, yes, especially in this market.
Alex: Nobody is getting hired. Everybody that’s listening, we are interviewing right now. I usually don’t timestamp this, but it is April 3rd, 2020. We’re in the middle of the Coronavirus crisis. Kurt and I are both working from home, and we’re going to touch on that. Kurt, continue. So, corporate and entrepreneur, nobody wants us both.
Kurt: Certainly, yes. It puts you in the precarious position of being both a business owner as well as, at this point, a C-level leader for the man, so to speak. I’ve been fortunate to be able to walk that razor’s edge for the lion’s share of my career. For me, it’s been fantastic. I enjoy being both an entrepreneur, as well as working for the man. It does uniquely position me and give me insights on both sides to better steer and lead the vehicles in which I get behind.
Years ago, I started out in fitness. A little secret, I was the Baywatch trainer for the Baywatch television show cast and crew, the most-watched television show in history. Fitness was something that I had really spent my formative years in. It was something that I did extremely well, subsequently working at Bally Fitness, which is likely the largest fitness chain in the world at this point, I believe, today. The combination of those two things, I brought together and built a string of fitness centers where I was partner and CMO. At that time, I was also holding down a full-time job.
That really was the beginning of all that. Many years ago, I was also in healthcare where I’m at currently, but throughout the years, I’ve meandered into financial services, home services and back here at healthcare, with one redeemable consistent quality across all those. It’s really something referred to as multi-location or multi-units/multi-area marketing. That’s the story, in a nutshell, bringing all those things together. That’s who I am and where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing.
Alex: You heard it here first, guys. Don’t hassle the Hurley. You got to train all over. Oh my God, that’s so cool. Baywatch was huge.
Kurt: It was huge.
Alex: I think every guy my age is still a fan of Pam.
Kurt: Fan of Pam.
Alex: That’s right. Oh my gosh, that’s cool. I actually didn’t know that about you. All right, guys. Since this is the Coronavirus, Kurt, what would you recommend to marketers in a crisis? We’ve got to start with that. Is it time to pivot? Is it time to pause? Is it time to retreat? Do we cut with a scalpel or a machete? What’s your philosophy? You’re running a huge organization. What would you recommend to all the marketers out there that are very scared, to be honest?
Kurt: A, let’s start with, yes, for any marketer that is good at what they’re doing in any organization, in any vertical, in any industry, they always have to be ready to pivot. There’s always going to be something that either disrupts the market or intervenes into best-laid plans. With that being said, all good marketers have to be prepared to pivot. They need to both pivot with a scalpel and have a machete at the ready.
I think you really hit the nail on the head with that. A, yes, they have to pivot. B, they should always be in that state where they’re looking out for not only the organization and the changes within the industry but for themselves as marketers. We’re creative people. We’re not just creative people, but we’re analytical people. At the end of the day, I think using those faculties to be able to not just pivot but even, perhaps, in this state of things, as they’re today, we’re ready to disrupt going forward.
Alex: Yes, absolutely. It’s almost like you have to combine the two sides of your brain, is what you’re saying, the creative and the analytical side, then, regardless of your position within the organization, be a leader, look out for the business priorities, as well as your own. In this crisis, when everybody’s going through it, like when a company’s going through hard times, I get when someone looks introspectively and they say, “Maybe I need to look for another gig.”
In this time, when everybody’s screwed together, this is really the time for marketers and everyone else around them to really think about, “What can I do for the company to help us get out of this thing in a slingshot manner in the next 90 days?”
Alex: Yes, so important. I got you. You touched on multi-local marketing. That’s actually Cardinal’s gig as well. I think every one of our clients is multi-local, all the way up to 200 locations. We have found that there is a specific set of services that go along with that and capabilities and expertise that comes with doing it for a while. Talk to us about what jazzed you up about the multi-local marketing aspect or multi-location businesses. What are some of your favorite tactics? When you go into a new gig, what are the first things you look at and the first things you take care of?
Kurt: Awesome. I think that’s a great question because I think about this a lot. Of course, when speaking with other CMOs and VPs and senior VPs and such, they don’t necessarily look at multi-local, multi-location, multi-regional, or even international businesses in the same sense that they look at what they do. For example, a CMO at a major bank, they don’t necessarily look at a business like that. It’s a great question. The answer is this. Now, at the end of the day, anytime you put together a strategy and that strategy works and there’s both top-line and bottom-line ROI, you want to replicate that. You want to be able to replicate it across as many areas and spaces as you possibly can.
That’s one of the challenges. It’s not just marketing for one business, but it’s marketing for many businesses in many areas where there are so many variables and idiosyncrasies that play into that local market, that sometimes do not necessarily cross over and work effectively across an entire system. For example, in franchising, each local market has to be looked at, has to be researched, and every faculty within the constraints of your marketing mix has to work specific to that locality.
It’s almost like saying, “Well, when you’re 12 years old, you’re able to manage yourself. You can shower and brush your teeth and dress and do all that stuff.” Well, as you evolve through life, it almost is like, “How many things can I manage effectively?” That is how I look at this multi-local area of marketing because it’s managing 250 or 500 or a thousand, or in some cases, thousands of businesses and doing a good job at it.
That’s a challenge for marketers. It’s a challenge for a CMO, a CEO, a CFO. That’s really what I love about this specific area of marketing with multi-local, is the fact that each and every location is a challenge into itself, and then compiled collectively, it becomes a major challenge. I’m into that. I’ve always been into being challenged.
Alex: Yes. Challenging, it is. They almost are like just many businesses, each one of their locations. Something about it, I’m with you, I find it so invigorating to look at a hundred different location pages on a website. It’s like a personal challenge to get every one of them ranked, drive efficient paid search leads at every single location. You talked about each one has their individual location and we have to look at each locality and how they interact. Kurt, unless you have a- y’all have several hundred locations unless we have a team of 20 people looking at every location, which I don’t think you do, how do you tackle that in your first 90 days? Are you a traditional, a digital guy? Then, what are the specific tactics you’ll look at first that you can scale with a glocal bit of approach? Where do you start usually?
Kurt: Fortunately, when you walk in at first 90 days is really not as collective with all those elements that have to play into it to really gain an understanding of as many of those businesses as you possibly can. Then, fortunately, you walk into a gig like that, you do have multiple agencies of record that you’re working with. They’ve already, for the most part, gotten a handle on working with not only franchisees but working locally within that particular set.
It’s really just a matter of bringing those things together, understanding the location, understanding the agencies that are already at play, looking at performance across those locations as well as across the agencies, and being able to glean what can be done to improve upon that particular performance.
Fortunately, I’ve done this before, so it was not as difficult coming into this particular opportunity as it has been in the past. Then, there’s the negotiating the hand-holding, the buy-in, and all those other things that come into that particular mix. At the end of the day, it’s not always as difficult combining those thousands of moving parts all at one time in that 90 day period. It’s a matter of stripping it all down, looking at them one at a time, looking at how well they’re doing, looking at the agencies, and seeing what can be done to improve upon those performances individually, not collectively. Then, ironically, you fix one, you fix many, it raises the tide.
Alex: Absolutely. Fixing them and you measure it. You talked about evaluating the performance of the agencies, of the campaigns, of the locations, of the individual business units. How are you doing that? What metrics from home services to health care, what are you typically looking at? Are you even looking at leading indicators like traffic in-store walk-ins, I don’t know, a phone and email lead to home services companies, somebody that walked into an urgent care or you only looking at booked appointments, book revenue? Talk to us about what people should understand a CMO looks at.
Kurt: All the above. You’d be very shortsighted if you did not look at every aspect of that from the top of the tunnel all the way to the end result ROI. That’s what I do is I look at it as, let’s say, a linear roadmap that starts here and ends here. There’s all these attribution points across that linear map and see where things are at. It’s going to look almost like a graph. If you look at it from a marketing perspective, because there’s going to be highs and lows, there’s going to be areas that are working really well, that aren’t working well. For example, in a walk-in clinic format, what’s foot traffic look like? What is the conversion rate from, let’s say, urgent care patient to primary care patient.
Then, from the digital perspective, it is how many clicks, how many calls, how many booked appointments, and in all areas in between. Here’s a great thing. We have so many incredible automation and attribution tools today, CRM, ERPs, as well as CDPs that enable us to look at this stuff at a glance. It makes our jobs easier. Once all that stuff is in place and it’s working, it’s easier to look at any snapshot along with the cross, that linear snapshot, and see where the weak points are and see where strong points are and tend to eliminate the weak point and enhance and amplify the strong points.
Alex: Guys, you heard it here from Kurt, I’ve been harping on this for a long time. You’re not only looking at the leading indicators in terms of traffic in-store and online, but you’re also tying everything together through a CRM. You mentioned the RPS as well. CRM is critical. You guys have to know the downstream impact of all of your campaigns, so I’m glad to hear that you’re using [unintelligible 00:14:42]. So, soup to nuts. It’s important to take a look at every indicator. How do you, you’re busy going to, how are you staying up to date on the latest trends in marketing? Is it from talking with other CMOs, conferences, webinars, great podcasts like this one, how do you do it?
Kurt: Again, all of the above. Here’s what’s interesting. Anytime you’re in a role like this, you are constantly bombarded by those who profess to have solutions. On one hand, it seems like it may be a tedious, tiresome foray into lifting to yet another pitch. On the other hand, what it turns into is an educational relationship building an opportunity to learn more about things that you may know something about.
For example, I know ERP systems, I know CDP systems, I know CRM systems. I’ve worked in a multitude of them across different industries and verticals, but you never know more than an expert in their very specific chosen field. I listen, I want to know the technology, I want to know what’s working and, of course, I have conversations with other CMOs and VPs and SVPs as well as CEOs and colleagues and those who are willing to talk shop and I listen to podcasts. I am a voracious reader. Five books a month on average.
For me, there’s never enough information about how I feel. I still feel like a kid in the candy store when it comes to this stuff. I love the insight into information and turning what I learned in this, something that can be profitable for the organization.
Alex: Absolutely. There’s just never enough information out there. I hear from you. Reading so critical, talking with other business leaders is so important. Guys, you heard it here from Kurt, talk to vendors, new technology, new service partners, new agencies all the time. There’s no harm in talking to capable people. You might learn one thing from the conversation, you don’t have to end up working with them, but there might be one thing you can learn that you can apply.
Kurt’s always out there looking to learn new things. Kurt, why don’t you talk about a good bit of marketing strategy, and how you come into the role, what you’re looking at, how you track success? Let’s talk about digital marketing, leaving traditional advertising out of this because I’m biased. Where do you think digital is going here over the next few years, taking Coronavirus out of the equation, and how much that’s setting us back, where do you think we’re going? What do you think the next big thing, either healthcare or digital marketers in general, needs to tackle?
Kurt: This is something I think about a lot. It’s interesting because when the Google My Business listing first hit the internet, I looked at that and I went, “Holy crap, that’s free?” You think about the real estate value of a digital footprint on the right-hand side of a search engine return page, that size with that many attributes that are all tied into hundreds, if you do it right, hundreds of intricate webs of additional things that play into it.
I first saw that thing, I went, that thing, that free net freebie given by Google is going to become, if not the most important and most valuable asset to a business, it’s going to be up there in the running with vine as the most important thing. I saw that two and a half, four years ago when it really opened up. Things like that where, and we can call that SEO, but it’s also a lot more than SEO, but leading into SEO and it’s prevailing value and how SEO is becoming intuitive and your location services provide marketers with consumers who are on the go, they want and need what they want and they want and need what they want, when they want and need what they want and where.
How all of this stuff is playing into a single element of this simple definition of digital marketing. SEO unto itself, I think, is evolving and will become the premier facet of digital marketing because words and images are indelible and they’re there. The number of times that you can connect into other words and images may not only multiply, but they exponentially multiply because each and every access point or a touch-point to that particular piece of real estate grows exponentially every time a consumer comes involved, and then add things into the mix like voice search and this aspect of SEO where the actual search bar has become intuitive based on the number of exponential criteria that’s been placed in that search bar. It really has drawn together this thing. I know we’re still calling it SEO, but if you look at the GMB, if you look at SEO unto itself, or if you look at voice search, or if you look at mobile, they’re still considered separate. This conjoining element or these conjoining elements of SEO, to me, that’s the future of search marketing. Then, that’s where big things can be. Paid search is always going to be there. It’s always going to have a nominal effect. If we’re going to simplify this, if I’m going to put my finger on one thing, I’m going to see the future of digital marketing and SEO.
Alex: Yes, thank you. As someone that loves SEO dearly and started as an SEO company, I love hearing that. I agree. I think GMB is going to even evolve more. I know they’re trying to turn it into an ad unit. Everything Google does is to eventually make money. You have some ads popping up there now. For the most part, though, it’s going to remain organic because it has to, it loses credibility with reviews of it’s not.
I think it’s going to become prescriptive here in the next few years where Google analyzes, either your shopping trends or it’s going to listen to what you’re saying and then, “Oh your kid,” it will hear your kid is sick or it will see you bought a thermometer on amazon.com and then it will say, “I booked an appointment AFC, you’re going to be scheduled on Tuesday at nine o’clock. I saw there was nothing else on your calendar.”
I think that’s where we’re going. I think you’re right, GMB is going to be a big catalyst, and I could not be more excited. Kurt, one final question. You have lived in LA, you’ve lived in Texas. While Birmingham doesn’t have any Baywatch babes, I’d love for you to tell everybody what’s been your favorite place to live. If it is Birmingham, tell us your favorite restaurant where everybody needs to check out.
Kurt: Okay. I’m going to start with Birmingham and say it is an absolutely incredible city with a plethora of incredible restaurants that people here are everything you would think, they’d be in a Southern locale like this. Perry’s Steakhouse is my absolute favorite restaurant here in Birmingham, but I’m going to say this. I’ve lived in 15 plus States. I am a native Californian, although I was born in Boulder, Colorado. I’m going to say this, Orange County, California, for whatever reason, has everything that I love.
Here’s the kicker. I own a home in Waco, Texas. I would have never thought that this guy from Southern California would ever live in a place like Waco, Texas. Waco, Texas is equal to Orange County, California, and Birmingham, Alabama in many ways.
It’s Waco, Texas had the beach, and it does. I had a lakehouse there for a while. It would be one of those places that would just drive millions of people a year there. I think Chip and Joanna have done that alone because I do know [unintelligible 00:22:45]. Well, they have. Waco, Texas has become the number two tourist destination in the country because of that show and because of their notoriety. Collect those areas. I love Birmingham. I love Waco, but when I think about where that perfect area was for me, that was conducive for who I am and what the things I like to do. Orange County, California, Dana point was that for me.
Alex: Yes. Fitness, good food, good weather. I was once in San Diego. Was it San Diego, LA? I don’t remember it. I was in an Uber and I said, “Man, this weather’s perfect.” It was like 73 and sunny. The Uber driver said, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m so tired of this weather. It never changes. I was like, “If you like chocolate ice cream and you get it every night, you don’t need a different flavor of ice cream.”[laughter]
Alex: Oh my gosh. I love Southern California, Atlanta movie. My son goes to college. Hopefully, we can get them into Stanford or something close. Guys, you’d learned a lot. I promised you would. Kurt Lee Hassel to Hurley gave us tons and tons of tips on this one. Kurt, thank you so much for joining us on Ignite, where can everybody find you.
Kurt: They can find me at kurtleehurley.com, or they can find me on LinkedIn at Kurt Lee Hurley or Twitter Kurt Lee Hurley. It’s all pretty simple. I’m going to be clear, although it’s Kurt Lee Hurley, I’m just Kurt Hurley. Obviously, as a marketer, I had to find a differentiator. My middle name was the differentiator, so although professionally I am Kurt Lee Hurley, I’m just good old Kurt.
Alex: It’s just so good, old Kurt guys. One other place you forgot to mention, you can find him is on Amazon, search the book Boundless. I’ve read it. It’s awesome. Tons of health and wellness and well-being tips in there. He is an established bestselling author, CMO, American family care. Thank you so much for joining us on Ignite.
Kurt: Thank you, Alex.[music]
Voice Prompt: Thanks for listening to this episode of Ignite. If you like what you heard, please leave us a rating and review. Before you go, please remember to subscribe to this podcast so you don’t miss the next episode. For more digital marketing tips, make sure you visit cardinaldigitalmarketing.com. Have a great rest of the day. Don’t forget that the most important part of your job is to ignite growth.