Aazar Ali Shad is a Growth Marketing Lead at Synthesis.is, an online games-based academy started by Elon Musk and Chrisman Frank. He has a podcast called Growth Marketing Stories where he tells unconventional growth stories. He also has more than 10 years of marketing and sales experience.
Questions we covered:
- Why did he make the transition from sales to marketing?
- What’s been the hardest challenge in regards to growing his personal brand on Twitter?
- For someone who is interested in starting a podcast but, they need help—what’s the best way to start? What are some things they can do early on to help them succeed?
- What worries him and excites him about growth marketing in 2022?
- And more!
Full Episode Transcript:
Kenny Soto 0:02
Hello, everyone, and welcome to Kenny Soto Digital Marketing podcast. This is your host, Kenny Soto. And we are now talking to Azhar Ali. Hi Azhar. How are you?
Aazar Shad Ali 0:16
I’m great. How are you doing, man?
Kenny Soto 0:18
I’m doing very well. So I wanted to quickly start this podcast by getting a little bit of background on who you are. And my first question for you Azhar are you used to working in sales? Why did you shift over to marketing specifically?
Aazar Shad Ali 0:36
Oh, because I used to make sure the commission that’s why I’m just joking. The reason was moved towards sales marketing, I always wanted to be in marketing. And I could not get into marketing directly, because my English sucked so bad, that nobody wanted to be me doing their communications.
So I had to do my rites of passage of learning English and copywriting to become a good salesperson, and then a good marketer. And so if you, if you suck at your communication started the sale, and if you at least like to talk to people, then at least sales are great. And then you can move over.
Once you understand how people behave, how they talk, and how they tell their problems. It’s like doing user research one-on-one in sales before moving to marketing. So kind of helped me eventually, but I didn’t make the direct connection when I was not getting marketing jobs, and just getting sales jobs.
Kenny Soto 1:41
What specific skills that you learned as a salesperson helped you when you made your transition into marketing?
Aazar Shad Ali 1:50
I think when you turn from sales to marketing, something that sticks with you is like, first of all, learning how to sell. The only difference between marketing and sales is like marketing is one too many and sales to one. I see.
So like it is just like talking to customers directly. And whenever I’m writing a copy, now, I think about customers sitting on the other side of the desk, so I can see or I’m talking to them directly, and then I’m writing a copy. So it’s very easy. What I will talk to the person in front of me, right? The second thing is conversations.
The growth hack to marketing is to know your customers and be in their minds. And the way to be in their mind is to talk to them, once you talk to them, you need to have a conversation, you don’t need to have an interview. So that was another key learning that I have from sales that I keep. And the third thing is this persuasion skill. So I now recall, if you’re asking me deliberately, but learning, urgency, learning, social proof learning, and learning the ability to tell people that the problem they have and you need to convince them of something that I learned from sales.
Kenny Soto 3:05
How would you describe your current job?
Aazar Shad Ali 3:08
My current job would be doing marketing one too many on a digital platform where people are already hanging out and getting they’re getting their attention by showing something very persuasive and different.
Kenny Soto 3:26
And can you give a little bit more description of some of your weekly and or monthly challenges?
Aazar Shad Ali 3:33
So my weekly challenge is changing but like mostly look at the Facebook ads and Google Analytics and look at the numbers and see where exactly we are not getting the communication message and converting people. And the monthly challenge is basically achieving a target of X amount of signups paid signups are the monthly challenge that I try to keep pace towards.
Kenny Soto 4:06
Can you describe for the listeners some of your ideal clients?
Aazar Shad Ali 4:12
Right now I work at synthases, which is kind of a course enrichment program that helps kids from four to 66 to 14 Age learn critical thinking problem solving, and decision-making skills it was started at SpaceX by Elon Musk school.
And that school eventually is no more eventually no more. But what we are right now doing is taking the best part of that school as a course. That course is basically a game. So everybody thinks like, you know when you learn a subject mathematically, you learn mathematics, and then you play a game on mathematics.
But every single day is a game already and we have added some mathematics to it. And so that’s how we think about it. So it’s a game and Uh, people who are my customers are specifically from homeschooling gifted kid parents, our parents were usually from the tech background and who are currently worried about a future of education.
And we all know that we’ve all studied in school and somehow at some point, this thing we were learning didn’t make sense to us, like, how will we use it in practical life? And that’s why Johnson says, because I thought about the same thing I did, like 16 years of education. No, it’s 18 years of education, actually.
And out of 18 years of education, I think, only six months were useful in total, and the rest of them are, basic literacy, English, math, and communication skills are great. But nothing else. Actually, I don’t use calculus daily in my life, I don’t use it. Likewise, in my life, like myself, why do I need to study them? Sure, if somebody wants to study, they can study. And, for me, I never wanted to study.
And that’s what Elan’s thought process was like, some people are great in mathematics. Some people are great at speaking, some people were designing. So let them explore what they want to explore. And so what we do is we use games to teach kids by learning by doing rather than learning by lecturing,
Kenny Soto 6:19
When you’re thinking about the marketing plan and marketing strategy for synthesis, what are some of the channels that you’ve been experimenting with?
Aazar Shad Ali 6:28
The channels are where the market hangs out, where customers are hanging out every day. And I started with a search, and I thought, my customers, are looking for us. But basically, we are creating a new category when you get something new. Like, for example, when Uber came in, nobody said, Hey, I need some stranger to drive me from A to B, right? Nobody’s looking for it.
People are looking for a taxi service, but nobody’s looking for an Uber kind of service. So the search is not was not a great channel. But Facebook is a great channel. So the framework that I have recently learned is like, if they are looking for you go to Google, if some they’re not looking for you, and it’s very innovative, go to socials.
So these are two channels that I keep in my mind. And I think anything which is new is actually great for society. And so in this comes Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But since my market is mostly parents from 25 to 44 years old, they are hanging on Facebook, they are millennials, millennials who are worried about their kids.
Kenny Soto 7:37
Got it. Now speaking of channels, you mentioned Twitter. And this is a good way to segue into your personal brand. I have been following you ever since a mutual friend of ours, Agatha mentioned you. And I’ve been following you on Twitter seeing the content that you’re sharing, and you’re growing very fast. From what I’ve observed. What’s been the hardest challenge in regard to growing your personal brand on Twitter
Aazar Shad Ali 8:01
To stay consistent, I think you can come up with one week of good content, and the next three weeks are useless and people don’t like it. But if you stay consistent, and you know what’s hitting and what’s not hitting, it can actually go viral. And the whole idea to write on Twitter is to go viral for me. I have not utilized the networking aspect of it.
And that’s the sad part people do reach out to me, but not the way people should reach out to me. And so that’s like the biggest challenge like, Hey, I have a friend who has like 500 followers Max. But as he gets like, he makes more money than me just although he’s a designer and he’s like 24 years old working with different NFT and crypto projects because people like his designs, like this guy, has fewer followers, but has more business than me. And so that is something I’m waiting to unlock for me since a couple of days ago.
A president of a specific country talks to us about something this is just on Twitter like those things are happening on Twitter, but we just were just not bad people to figure it out. And so it just means I have to go more in like keep having a conversation with them rather than them.
Kenny Soto 9:15
So that’s the top level of your Twitter approach when it comes to like the more granular components of a single post. What are the things that a post should have when you’re thinking about going viral? What are the components that should be considered?
Aazar Shad Ali 9:30
So basically, social media in general is all about something that you don’t know if you don’t know, which means that people will get attention. If you talk about how SpaceX will have space, like how much we’ll have trains. That’s a new concept, right? So anything that is new and informative is a great way to think about it.
The other way to think about is that I stole it from Sam power and Shan puri on their podcast called MFM. My first million. And they say like there are six emotions that you can use. One is LoL is waterpark WTF? You can edit that. And then we have, oh, I didn’t know, then there is another emotion is like, hmm.
Now I understand this concept and why I did relate to it right? And so like there are six emotions I don’t exactly remember but like and the other would be, the other one would be like angry, right? So anything that if they triggered the six emotions, can we go can go viral.
The other thing I’ve learned is that you have to be counterintuitive and counter-narrative. So think about it this way. The ultimate growth hack is learning from your customers, right? So you say growth hack, but a growth hack is something that you know, a simple piece that can help you with explosive growth. But learning from customers is actually pretty obvious, and conventional, right? It’s like counterintuitive, right? And so that those kinds of stuff really work well on Twitter.
Kenny Soto 11:08
Now, I also have done a little bit of research about you. And I know that you started a podcast. And I wanted to know, what’s the best way for someone to start a podcast in 2022. If they’ve never done a podcast before, they’ve probably just been a listener passively. And they’re thinking of starting something. It could be a podcast that’s related to business, but it could also just be a podcast. That’s for the sake of entertainment.
Aazar Shad Ali 11:36
Yeah, so first of all, I will give you a link to the thread I’ve written about this topic of podcasting, or you can put it in the show notes. Yeah. I think a podcast is what people consider a podcast is like, it’s a completely different medium. It’s not like blogging. It’s not like a substack. Okay.
A podcast is a medium to have a deep relationship with your audience. Okay, that’s, that’s the main thing, right? Somebody is listening to you, every week, or every month whenever you believe, right? And so I think people who either have an audience already on some other platform should go deep into podcasting because then they will turn a fan into a superfan. Okay, that’s, that’s the key essence.
But let’s say you don’t have an audience and you want to start a podcast. If you want to start a podcast, then you need to start, let’s say, let’s talk about this, you have to go really specific in a niche.
So for example, if I have to start over my podcast again, I will do podcast marketing for developers. That’s why I will do marketing for developers. And that’s like, any step nobody has figured out on podcasts, they’ve figured out on a blog, maybe not on the podcast. And that is like one specific will think about podcasting. And then those people will listen to you because you’re not an expert.
And they identify themselves as Hi, I actually listened to the guy, he’s making content for me, right? I can resonate with them. That’s one thing. The other thing is like. And, by the way, I don’t follow my own advice. It’s good. Mine is growth marketing stories.
And I have to say like, although it’s for growth, marketeers, not a lot of growth, marketers Listen to me, because my a lot of growth, marketers are listening to like business podcasts, bigger podcast, and yeah.
So I would actually like to also niche down that’s like the last experiment that I’m keeping to myself. The other thing about podcasting is that you have to use audio as a medium to talk to people. So think about it this way. Give an example in the trade as well. You have already seen something popular on the internet that works really well on TV, and you want to bring it to podcasting.
So think about it this way. I don’t know if you’ve seen this but like, there was a Buzzfeed-style video where you have to answer questions, but you have to eat spices to it. That show can work well because like kind of voice will go through the medium and the listed podcast is a very visual medium.
So when you listen to your early thinking that person is thinking about like how you’re reacting towards that he thinks spikes, right? Or the third one is a shark tank for E-commerce shark tank for product marketers or a tank for construction people, right? So like you focus on specific TV mediums that can be turned into podcasting.
So I would suggest thinking of this way because podcasting is the way to get deep or get entertained. It’s not a way to teach people. It’s not like, hey, I’ll teach you five tactics that you can immediately apply.
In order to teach people, you need something visual, you need something, in the example, you cannot do that on podcasts and you cannot convert people to become customers on podcasts because you inspire people. Right. So for example, my two favorite podcasts are my first million because I just like to hang out with these two guys who are not even my friends.
Kenny Soto 14:54
Yeah. And they talk about great stories too, which is pretty cool
Aazar Shad Ali 14:57
Read stories and they talk about business ideas. Yeah, I don’t even use these ideas myself, but I just like to keep updated. Yeah, another one that I really like, as a podcast listener is how to take over the world. So it’s about I love histories, and history, historical greats.
So Napoleon, Alexander the Great, and it talks about how they like, it turns the entire biography of two, three books into one part, the main said that I should care about. So I listened to that to get inspired by the older people, people who died already. So like those kinds of stuff, like, you know, the third podcast I listen to is something called unthinkable.
So it talks about things that we are not thinking, like, okay, no, like, I’m not thinking about these things. I can listen to this podcast, or my favorite one is a hidden brain. The hidden brain is like, taking one big question and answering it.
So for example, I think they recently answered, relationship, how to build a great relationship, right? It’s a really big question. And a podcast exploring what are the, like, gems that you can find from somebody’s brain and give to the world? So like, these are the podcast, I think we’ve done a lot of how I build this kind of thing. A lot of marketers do that because they get inspired by Guy Ross. But I think these are the different ways to look at the podcasting world.
Kenny Soto 16:22
When thinking about getting started, should a potential podcast host plan out a month’s worth of content? Or should they try another approach where essentially, they’re just going to have at least an idea for one to two episodes, and then work based on inspiration from there, I know one of the challenges that podcast hosts have suffered from this too, is you’ll get a quick start a good joke, you’re inspired, you launched the podcast, you record it, whether it’s a solo, podcast host, or a host plus guests? And then after Episode Five, the podcast is over.
I had a second podcast myself, but that was about investing only got up to episode three, and I stopped. And I personally think part of the reason why is because I didn’t plan out the future, all of these different ideas that I wanted to discuss. So what are your thoughts on planning and head? And when is like, what’s an example of someone who’s planning too much?
Aazar Shad Ali 17:25
So just to let you know, in terms of podcasting, I think if in those three episodes that you talked about, somebody would have given you good feedback, you would not have talked to somebody who give me feedback. No. All right. Yeah.
And I also have the same problem because podcasting is not an email medium, like if you write an email and get an email back from somebody, right? But casting like nobody wants to go on the email and write the email down and write to this person, hey, I loved your podcast. It’s a lot of effort, right? So the thing is, like, what I personally think is that, like, if you get good feedback, I have like, a maximum of three 400 downloads per episode.
And it’s a hard grind because I have to promote a lot. But I can tell you personally, that if I get like two or three people reaching out to me on each episode like I love this part of the episode, I think I will keep doing it because I don’t care about 200 people listening and responding. I just care about two or three people who are listening, responding, and saying, this is why I love this podcast, right? deep engagement, deep engagement reaching out to people.
So that’s like a feedback cycle. The other thing is that if you’re starting a podcast, you probably will suck in general, even if you’re an eloquent speaker. So the way to actually get over with this whole thing is to release a lot of podcasts together before the distributing and release in punches were like, okay, you know what, okay, now I’ll release 20 episodes.
And then I will just distribute it, I will distribute a social be social, be social, social, right. And that way, you actually get the momentum and get feedback quicker. And that’s a good way to start. And I don’t think you should actually have to podcast you should only have one podcast, which actually, I agree.
I feel passionate right now. I’m not 100% sure if I will continue my existing podcast just because I’m not deeply resonating with my audience. Like my audience is not coming back to me saying, Hey, I love your podcast, I’m trying different stuff. So for example, I’m trying my podcast was about stories, but it’s technically part interview part narration and it’s just like any other podcast, so there’s no difference.
So what I’m doing is I’m, I’m, I’m talking about a company that has done a really good job in growth, which is such as Canva, and telling their stories. So one, expert and dissecting so that’s like, how can we agree right, this is how I built this but there is no how x company grew this from one personalized aspect and that like something that experiment, the first experiment I already did, and I got a good response like I Be like we tactical podcasts that how to run FB ads from A to Z, right. And that was really good as well and I got good feedback.
So like, now I see that man, I really am a really good content, I get really good resonance as well. So the third experiment I’m running debates. So on Thursday, I have a debate podcast like SEO versus thought leadership. I’m like, Okay, let’s run this experiment as well and see how people resonate. So what I’m looking for is resonance now downloads, as soon as I get the resonance, I know I need to keep doing these. If it still doesn’t work, then I need to stop this.
And I need to see, Okay, what else is my passion? One thing I’m thinking about is like, growth, marketing is my passion, I can share with people but like, maybe I don’t have an edge. So maybe I should do podcasting for brown people. They see people from my background because they would love to listen to a foreigner who is made, right. So where can I add value rather than where I can place myself as an expert, is something that I’m thinking about myself. So like, podcasting is a very hard medium to grow or discover as your talent. So that would be my short answer.
Kenny Soto 21:12
What worries you, and what also excites you, in general about growth marketing this year?
Aazar Shad Ali 21:25
I would say TikTok pretty much excites me. And this is something I will I’m going to dive deeper into this year I really want to learn the art of working with people in three seconds. Through tick tock, I think it’s a great medium, it’s a great distribution medium as well.
So that really excites me, I think the whole model, or like they have an easy algorithm, and the market is there. So let’s exploit that. And that’s, what really excites me. And I like the fact that there’s a new medium, which is equal to all rather than, like equal to some. Right? So that’s what I like about it.
Kenny Soto 22:00
Is there anything that worries you specifically? Or that you think this is going to be a big challenge for marketers this year?
Aazar Shad Ali 22:06
I think now that the whole privacy thing is actually will go further tracking will be even harder. Today, I just got a message from Facebook that they are removing detailed targeting on Facebook ads, and I’m running an ad on detail targeting. So that worries me how else do they want to fuck it up. So yeah.
Kenny Soto 22:29
And my last question for you is hypothetical. If you had access to a time machine, and you could go back in time, 10 years into the past, knowing everything you know, today, how would you accelerate the speed of your career,
Aazar Shad Ali 22:40
I would just have a coat. So I will find somebody like shampoo and sample and say, Hey, I’m at your disposal. I noticed this, this is let me work for you for free. And that’s it. And then I will learn all marketing in one year to have great Korean marketing.
I did not have a great mentor and I learned from a lot of people and that’s something that I would go back to and find one person who’s happy to like I got a lot of people like that now so now they want to work with me. But yeah, I would like to have one mentor who is already doing a lot of marketing and I can do marketing for him on his behalf because he doesn’t have time to learn all kinds of marketing.
Kenny Soto 23:24
Thank you sir for your time today and if anyone wanted to say hi to you online, where can they find you?
Aazar Shad Ali 23:30
I think they can easily find me on Twitter. Another shot is our assets ad or they can reach out to me at other shot.com and be happy to answer any questions.
Kenny Soto 23:40
Perfect. You’ve listened to another episode of the podcast. Thank you as always for your time and thank you to you the listener for listening to another episode. And as always, I hope you have a great week.