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Marketing Minus the BS: Joe Zappa’s Straight Shooter Tips

Ladies and gents, gather around and let me introduce you to the enigma that is Joe Zappa, the Adtech Marketing Whisperer. Now, before you roll your eyes and mutter, “Oh great, another so-called expert,” let me clarify something: Joe isn’t one of the bullshitters.

He’s not the tech guru who can recite every line of code, but he’s the genius who knows how to get adtech marketed.

And let’s be honest, in this industry, that’s worth its weight in gold.

Joe Zappa once laid it out plain and simple: “An adtech website should do three things: clarify what you do and for whom, energize customers and stakeholders, and differentiate you from competitors.” Simple, right? Well, not for most of the brainiacs running adtech companies. They either babble about their grand vision or bog you down with the nitty-gritty of their product. Joe’s magic lies in capturing both.

In modern adtech marketing, it’s about building an audience through personalities. Trust me, nobody gives a rat’s tuchus about your company account. They want to connect with individuals. And by individuals, I mean someone with skin in the game – a co-founder or executive who isn’t afraid to put their face out there.

So, you’re wondering, “When is the right time for an adtech startup to bring on marketing support?” Joe’s answer is as straightforward as it gets: around the $1M revenue or Series A mark. This isn’t the time to hope some marketing agency will pluck customers out of thin air for your unproven startup. Nope, founders need to hit the pavement, work their network, and validate the idea. Once there’s some cash flow and you know who your customers are, then you can bring in the marketing cavalry.

Joe’s also got some solid advice on what adtech customers actually care about. Spoiler alert: it’s not the tiny details of your product. The vast majority of customers don’t know or care about the differences between your product and your competitors. What they do care about is your market perception, inertia and existing relationships, and the people or service behind the product.

Adtech companies are often founded by engineers who pour their hearts into perfecting their products. Admirable, but here’s the kicker: if customers don’t know about these differences, it’s like shouting into the void. Winning in adtech isn’t just about having a superior product. It’s about winning the perception and relationship games. Marketing is the discipline that crafts your perception and builds relationships at scale. If you’re not telling your story, guess what? Your competitors are.

Now, let’s talk about hiring. You need someone who understands adtech. Period. This isn’t the time to get a junior marketing manager and hope they grow into the role. You need a strategic operator or an agency that knows the adtech landscape like the back of their hand. Expect to invest, because good marketing isn’t cheap. But if done right, it’s the difference between obscurity and being the talk of the industry.

Marketing in adtech isn’t about simple dashboards and instant gratification. It’s about reputation and relationships. If your marketing strategy can’t get you media coverage, growing social audiences, or leads saying, “I’ve been seeing you everywhere,” then it’s time to rethink it. Avoid the rookie mistake of expecting miracles from a junior hire or hoping for instant results like direct-response marketing. Adtech marketing is a long game, and Joe Zappa’s playbook is one worth following.

So, next time you’re knee-deep in adtech jargon and can’t see the forest for the trees, remember Joe Zappa’s mantra: clarity, energy, and differentiation.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll crack the code to adtech marketing success. Right Joe?

Pesach Lattin
Pesach Lattin
Pesach "Pace" Lattin is one of the top experts in interactive advertising, affiliate marketing. Pesach Lattin is known for his dedication to ethics in marketing, and focus on compliance and fraud in the industry, and has written numerous articles for publications from MediaPost, ClickZ, ADOTAS and his own blogs.

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