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Interview with Moe Abbas – Kickstart Your Digital Marketing Career – Episode #57

Moe Abbas is the Co-Founder and CEO of Acadium, a revolutionary company that enables just about anybody to launch a career in digital marketing – for free.

In this episode we covered:
  • Why is having some understanding in sales and buyer behavior useful for marketers?
  • How did he come up with the idea for Acadium?
  • How does someone launch a career as a freelancer or independent digital marketer?
  • How can a marketer identify their strengths?
  • What are the most in-demand skills marketers should know in 2022?
  • What is the main difference between a digital marketer and a growth marketer?
  • And more!

Full Episode Transcript:

Kenny Soto  0:00  

What’s up gang? Today’s guest is Moe Abbess. And let me tell you why he is so cool. Moe’s the co-founder and CEO of Acadium, a revolutionary company that enables just about anybody to launch a career in digital marketing—for free. Acadium has raised a million dollars from top angel investors like the ex-CEO of Expedia. And it has launched more careers in digital marketing than any other learning platform, which is saying something, let me tell you.

This episode is really, really interesting. In my opinion, I feel like anyone can get into digital marketing but, sometimes the challenge is finding the right resource, the right school, if you will, in order to get started. And why Acadium is so cool, is you’re able to not only learn about digital marketing skills from their team but, you’re also given tasks from real business owners. So you’re able to put your learning in practice in real-time and launch your career immediately. So if you’re interested in learning more about digital marketing, and what are some in-demand skills, this is the episode for you. Now, let’s tune in. 

Hi, Moe, how are you?

Moe Abbas  1:12  

I am Fantastic. Thank you so much for having me, Kenny.

Kenny Soto  1:16  

I am very aesthetic and excited for today’s episode, for several reasons. But before I dive into those reasons, I want to have more context about who you are and what you do, not only for myself, but also for the podcast listeners. So my first question for you is what got you into the world of digital marketing?

Moe Abbas  1:37  

Yeah, I guess. I’ve always been a marketer, my whole life sales and marketing and my core competencies. They’re a key thing if you want to be an entrepreneur, and you know, I’m a hardcore entrepreneur, and entrepreneur my whole life. So I’ve always been into sales, and then from sales, you extend into marketing, I feel like if you’re going to be a great marketer, you need to understand the psychology of sales. Because that’s essentially what you’re doing. You’re working with some buyer psychology, maybe it’s inbound marketing. So you really need to understand how people think in order to get them to the next step of your funnels.

Kenny Soto  2:12  

And would you say that you would need to have some experience in sales to be a good marketer? Or could you just, I guess, learn from some resources instead, do you actually need experience as a salesperson,

Moe Abbas  2:27  

I mean, it helps a lot, if you do have that experience, you don’t necessarily need to have direct sales experience, they are different from each other. But you absolutely need to understand buyer behavior to be a marketer. You know, I feel like a lot of people, they misunderstand marketing or they generalize it as branding. 

You create something pretty, and, you know, and that’s marketing, that is not marketing, marketing needs to lead to a sale, you know, and, and if it doesn’t lead to a sale, you’re not marketing properly, right? Like, they’re so tight with each other. So either you know it inside and out, or, you know, the psychology, the behavior of the buyer, and how to get them to convert. 

And you generally have to work closely with a sales team, in order to figure out is my marketing working? Is it not working? I mean, there’s such an overlap between the two that the most successful people have both of those skills.

Kenny Soto  3:36  

Yeah, and I can definitely attest in my own life. And it’s usually people who aren’t marketing professionals. They assume that marketing is just creating advertising, creating videos, audio imagery, and posting it on social media or on a website. Whereas the world of digital marketing is much more robust. 

There’s the creative side, of course, which is what people normally are accustomed to knowing. But there’s also the data and analytics side of things CRM management, social listening, there’s a lot more areas of focus that you can you can dive into as a marketer. My next question for you, Mel, is how would you describe your current job?

Moe Abbas  4:14  

as a CEO? Yeah, I make decisions. I am actually leading the growth right now too. So I work very closely with the growth team. Ultimately, my job is to make the right decision is to navigate these treacherous waters of startup land, and ensure that we have the resources to execute on the mission of the company isn’t the job of any CEO. 

So if you’re a CEO, which is a little bit different than a marketer, I do wear my marketing hat. Quite often, it’s different than my CEO hat. But ultimately, a CEO needs to make great decisions to get the company where it needs to get to execute on its mission.

Kenny Soto  4:54  

Speaking of the company, could you describe for the audience what Acadium is? And how did you come up with the idea?

Moe Abbas  5:04  

Yeah, so Acadium helps people launch and build marketing careers. So if you have no experience, you can come to Acadium and build a portfolio by doing tasks, get hands on experience through apprenticeships, you get certified, there’s courses for you in marketing, that’s totally free. And if you do have some level of experience, we have a boot camp that will help you get hired. 

So we connect you with a career coach, they help prep you, they look at your resume interview, prep the game and connect you with hiring partners. So that one’s super valuable, it’s a very high ROI, that one costs a little bit of money. And we’ve noticed that you essentially make two times that investment back in your salary increases. So we also help you look at salary and negotiate top dollar for your, for your income as a marketer. So there’s that bootcamp. And then we have our Acadium marketplace, which is the number one community for marketers in the world. 

We literally train more marketers and help them launch careers than any other organizations on the planet. And we do it for free. Like we have a mission to enable economic mobility by providing access to relevant job training to people with internet connection. And that’s something that’s super motivating. And the way we came up with this is by working with interns, so I work with a ton of interns, help them launch their careers, we realized that, hey, you know, there’s a better way than the school like I people were coming out of school without experience. And they were on hireable, I couldn’t hire them, they had no experience, it couldn’t do the job, it was a terrible situation, didn’t even know how to work in a professional setting. And after they intern with us, we were able to hire a bunch of them, because they got trained. And they also a bunch went on to launch their careers. 

And we said, Hey, you know, on the job training is the best way to launch a career. What if we could enable everyone to get on the job training? What if we can enable business to provide job training. 

And that’s why we built Acadium. Because we believe that on the job training is the best way to launch career. And that providing access to people around the world to on the job training will enable them to get economic mobility. And we’re seeing this this is live. This is happening right now it works. And anyone who is trying to launch a career in marketing, whether they have no experience, or they have a couple of years experience Acadium is the number one place to come with experience to join the Acadium plus Bootcamp, it’ll get you paid more get you hired faster, with no experience. You can do courses, apprenticeships, tasks, and get certified as a marketer.

Kenny Soto  7:46  

I wish this school or this business skews me was around six years ago when I started my digital marketing career. But I got lucky because I took an alternative route. And I was a music major in college. And what I did was I volunteered at a nonprofit. And that’s how I got my marketing chops. And I was lucky enough to learn about marketing, in real-time doing tasks as opposed to taking a course and then reading a textbook and then getting an A plus on an exam. I actually had the chops. So it’s really cool to see what you guys are doing. My next question is, how does someone launch a career as a freelancer or independent digital marketer?

Moe Abbas  8:26  

They need to build experience. So the way they that we suggest doing it is exactly what you did is if you don’t have any experience, need to get it, but nobody wants to pay them if you don’t have experience. 

So they have to volunteer, you know, work on paid, it’s the best way of doing it doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time doing this, you know, and Acadia and apprenticeship is 10 hours for three months, you can do multiple ones. You know, once you get experience, you get confidence, which is equally important. Even more important, I would say. And then you have some work, you can showcase and you can have intelligent conversations about marketing. 

And the more intensely you do this, the faster you will be able to get there. And once you have a certain level of experience, then it’s really about packaging. It’s how do you market yourself? You know, you have a website or portfolio, you know how to speak well. You know how to talk about ROI, you know how to generate growth for a business, you understand what the marketing function is. And in order to really understand it, you got to do it, like you said, and you ever generate results. So for someone looking to become a freelancer, come to your kadian do apprenticeships bear that experience and confidence. It’s so much confidence, because what you realize is hey, I actually know a lot more than these businesses. Right? 

Because right now you go to apply for freelancing you know that this is probably known more than you but in Acadium you’re going to learn from these mentors that we have on the platform. And then after a couple you’re going to be like you know, I actually know decent amount. So I can go have an intelligent conversation with the business. And then from there, you just take shots, you just prospect, that’s where the sales comes in, you need to sell yourself even more. So as a freelancer, you only got to do one client to get a full time job. And if you are a freelancer, you got to sell a lot of clients, you got to learn how to sell if you’re going back to the sales and marketing angle and talked about

Kenny Soto  10:25  

as a newbie in the marketing space, if someone is considering what skills to learn, how do you guide them into figuring out what their strengths are.

Moe Abbas  10:39  

I mean, like this is what’s your strengths is also what pays the most amount of money that you can learn to write your are the analytical or creative as a marketer. So you’re going to right away, you know, be figure out Am I more analytical and more creative, you need both. And, frankly, generally, analytical pays more, and it has a bigger sorry, a bigger job demand creative mix for on the higher level. 

So if you’re like creative on the high level, once you reach the upper echelons, the creative people do really well. But if you don’t know, analytics, if you don’t know how to look at a conversion funnel, and determine if your marketing efforts are generating an ROI, you know, you need to know that it’s so it’s a requirement in order to become a great marketer. 

Or you can be creative and you can create some amazing social media and you know, website branding stuff, if you’re more of a designer at that point, to be honest, right? So design chops is something you should have some design chops as a marketer, let’s say you got to be a great designer, because you can get someone else to do that. But definitely, you have to be somewhat analytical, somewhat creative. And then if you ask me, the most valuable thing in marketing right now, are media buyers. So if you’re able to buy ads profitably, you know, that’s that’s very, very in demand. So social media, but social media is tricky, because you have to be able to show an ROI. 

Like, if you want to make money, at least in social media, you have to be able to show that you’re generating the business money. So how are you going to do that followers? Yes, sort of, you must grow it massively to do that. And then they need to be able to convert those followers. So you have to figure out, well, how do I take a follower and make them into a client? Right, that’s your job as a marketer. So it’s full cycle.

Kenny Soto  12:33  

One thing before asked my next question, I’ve actually been challenged with figuring out how to attribute the effort of growing a social media page and translate that to how that’s growing the business. And one thing that the listeners might want to look into is UTM parameters or query strings that you can put on the end of a link. 

If you’re driving website traffic to a, excuse me, if you’re driving website traffic from social media, you want to make sure that you’re attributing that top of funnel acquisition as much as possible and as accurately as possible. So if you haven’t done so already, do some research on UTM parameters and query strings. So you can track the performance of your social media via Google Analytics. 

Now, my next question, and I guess this would be a direct follow-up for what we just talked about, we just dive into it a little bit further. You mentioned social media, and you mentioned media buying, what are some other in-demand skills in the marketing industry that you believe will get people jobs in 2022?

Moe Abbas  13:37  

Content marketing—actually I should included that one. So you can do research, right, like we have on our blog, actually, we tell you, what the pay scales are and what the most in-demand jobs are in digital marketing. But the three big ones are media buying social media analytics, and then growth marketers. 

That’s growth marketers are a unicorn now what is the most valuable because a growth marketer could do all of that. It’s someone who knows how to generate growth, growth. And if you’re able to do that, frankly, a lot of growth marketers become very, very expensive consultants, or they end up becoming their own entrepreneurs. Because if you know how to grow a company, why can’t you just sell something and grow yourself at that point, right. 

So, usually, the career of a growth marketer is a start in the specialization, maybe social media, maybe content marketing, then they get more skills, they try a few other channels, they work with another growth marketer usually, or a community and then they start understanding how business works and how growth works overall. 

And then from there, they either become a lead marketer and then from there, they usually end up becoming a consultant, some kind of, you know, high paid growth consultant making you know, two $300 There’s an hour in demand as well for their specific knowledge of how to grow companies that they get or, you know, they have a track record of doing this. And then from a consultant quite often to launch your own products and make money on those.

Kenny Soto  15:17  

I’ve interviewed. Yeah, I’ve interviewed at least 50 guests up to date now in this podcast, and some of them consider themselves digital marketers. Others consider themselves growth marketers, I’d love your opinion. Maybe it’s one sentence isn’t enough, but if you can, like boil it down, what is the main difference between a digital marketer and a growth marketer?

Moe Abbas  15:43  

Digital Marketer focuses more on the online aspects, it’s more limited in scope, a growth marketer will touch sales will touch the business, like their job is to figure out how to grow the bottom line revenue, a digital marketer is more narrowly focused of the in such a way that, you know, maybe they’re focused on social media and they maybe do some media buying. And that’s their channels that they do. They’re not so focused on unit economics, a growth marketer needs to know the value of the product they’re selling. In order to figure out how to optimize the unit economics to be profitable for that business. It’s a more encompassing role than a digital marketer.

Kenny Soto  16:48  

Do you have an this is on the spot? But do you have any resources or recommendations for where the listeners can learn more about unit economics?

Moe Abbas  17:01  

Yeah, there’s a lot of SaaS companies, you really the unit economics is what’s your cost of acquisition. And then there’s two other key metrics, the most important one, what’s the lifetime value of this client? Those are the only two key metrics that matter that sort of the two most important key metrics in unit economics, right. So if I call if it cost me $1, to acquire this customer as a paying customer, and they end up paying me $3 over the lifetime, then my CAC to LTV is three to one. And that’s pretty good for something like a software company, it’s very high margins, you know, and anything above that you’re making even more money, maybe it’s one to five, maybe it’s one to 10, then then then there’s there’s rate of growth, which you get to what too complicated, but to keep it simple CAC, which stands for customer acquisition cost over LTV, which has a lifetime value, and if that ratio is healthy, you can continue growing in that channel.

Kenny Soto  18:06  

And you would say, like a benchmark or best practice issue 4321. Yeah. Okay.

Moe Abbas  18:12  

No, that’s the minimum. 

Kenny Soto  18:13  

I see. I see. Okay. Now, another question. And this is bat drawing back to Acadian. What are some of the challenges in marketing an ed-tech business?

Moe Abbas  18:28  

Well, we were in a complicated business from a marketing perspective, because we’re a two-sided marketplace. Right. So we have to acquire businesses and students. And it’s challenging because we don’t make money from students. 

We only make money from businesses. Right? So it’s challenging because you have to spend money to get students, although most of our is comes from organic, to be honest, but we want to accelerate our growth and you got to spend money. And that becomes challenging because you have to factor in two sides. Like is your unit economics a lot more complicated. And then you have multiple revenue streams. So it gets a bit complicated. 

And then, you know, it’s just figuring out profitable channels. So even if you have a profitable channel, like let’s say, for us, SEO was a profitable channel, it takes, it actually only becomes profitable after a certain amount of time. And it’s challenging to scale that up. It’s not a lever, you could pull on like ads, you can deploy more capital and get more ads, not necessarily the case with SEO, it takes time to get that going, let’s say. 

So there’s all these factors in growth that you have to account for. And you have to have a few different solutions in my opinion, one core solution, always you have one main growth channel and we have some supporting channels. And the challenge is the levers and you know after you get good unit Economics. The question is, how much does it scale? And how could you pull that lever? You know, could you just deploy more capital to hire a bunch of people? You know, how could you scale this up ultimately?

Kenny Soto  20:14  

Two more questions. What are some of the hard or soft skills that you have leveraged throughout your entire career?

Moe Abbas  20:23  

sales and marketing are hard skills, for sure. You consider them soft skills as well. The most valuable skill that I have ever picked up is the ability to learn. I have seven virtues that I live my life by under the code of conduct and Acadian, there are cultural values. And these virtues allow you to develop the skills that make you successful. I can walk you through them. I mean, their integrity, curiosity, care, tenacity, discipline, ambition and service. And they’re an ideal to strive towards.

Kenny Soto  21:00  

Sorry to interrupt but why curiosity? That’s one word that stood out to me.

Moe Abbas  21:08  

Wow. I mean, you’re especially important in marketing. For example, you see a blip in signups like, well, that’s interesting. I wonder why would that extra 10 signups from YouTube? Would You Do? You’re curious. I mean, you’ve been looking at this. 

That’s pretty interesting that you two mentioned us, I wonder why they mentioned us, oh, wow, this guy was referred by one of our existing members, that one that I gave great service to the one that I offered this special thing to, or whatever it may be. And then it’s like, now you figured out maybe if I offered this to other people, I can get, you know, more referrals out of that. So curiosity is the underpinning of learning. 

In order to progress, you have to be a learning animal. You have to be a learning animal, like rapid learning, especially as a marketer, because things change very quickly. So curiosity is the absolute base of that.

Kenny Soto  22:03  

Last question. And this is hypothetical. If you had access to a time machine and can go back into the past, about 10 years, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you accelerate the speed of your career to get to where you are today, just faster?

Moe Abbas  22:23  

I would say that, like, if I was a young person, I would be very careful in the market and industry that I enter, and then how I enter it, I might be more inclined to join an existing community, and build through that for a few years, like a startup, and then launch something myself. So I think a lot of people do whatever around them. And that’s kind of fine. But if you know, with my level of ambition, I would have been like, Hey, you should look at you know, software companies, and you should be in San Francisco. And you should be joining a rapidly growing startup. That’s the advice I would give myself.

Kenny Soto  23:13  

If anyone wanted to connect with you and say hi online, where can they find you?

Moe Abbas  23:18  

They can add me on Instagram: @realmoeabbas 

Kenny Soto  23:23  

Thank you so much today mo for your time and for your wisdom. And thank you to you the listener for listening to another episode of the people of digital marketing with your host Kenny Soto. And as always, I hope you have a great week. Bye.

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