This week, we talk to Cameron about our LivePlan YouTube ad. Who is Cameron? Well, he hates our YouTube ad.

We also chat with our eCommerce expert, John Procopio, about what to do when you get negative customer feedback.

Listen to Episode 6:

Show notes:


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Audio transcript:

Peter: All right, episode six. Going to shake up the format a little bit here. Folks who have gotten used to our normal article layout format here, it’s going to be a little bit different this time. I hope we don’t lose too many subscribers.

Jonathan: Yeah, actually, I think a lot of people might end up liking it. Maybe more? I don’t know.

Peter: Oh? Interesting. Good. Yeah, we’ve got a couple different guests today. One who’s going to tell us a little bit about the nature of advertising, give us some insight into how it happens in the YouTube space. From our company here, Palo Alto Software, we’ve got John. Then, a consumer of advertising and ordinary person, someone who has seen some of the ads that we put out there.

Jonathan: Yeah, and just to give a little bit of background around the story for today, we have a video for our software product called LivePlan. It’s kind of an explainer video. It shares what the tool is, the benefits of using it, all of that kind of stuff. We use it in our YouTube advertising, so we want to talk about that. Before we dive into all of that, I want to go ahead and play it for our listeners. Is that okay?

Peter: Is it okay with me?

Jonathan: Yeah.

Peter: Is it okay with them?

Jonathan: Here it comes.

Ad: You’re an entrepreneur, and you’re ready to start pitching your idea to lenders and investors. You know what they’re going to ask for: your business plan. You don’t have an MBA, you aren’t an accountant, and you aren’t getting into business to stay up all night crunching numbers. You need something that’s easy to use and that gives you a professional plan that you can really put into action. Welcome to LivePlan. With over five hundred sample business plans, covering virtually every industry, you’ll save hundreds of hours of work. You can collaborate securely and easily with partners, and if you need some outside help, there are expert instructions and video advice at every step, along with free customer support. You can also build a one-page visual snapshot for quick pitching and export it, so you can impress audiences anywhere, any time.

A business plan isn’t just something you create and then forget. With LivePlan, you can easily transition to setting goals and measuring progress, taking you from day one to year one and beyond. LivePlan even integrates with accounting software like QuickBooks and Xero, can handle multiple companies, and it’s helped more than two hundred and fifty thousand businesses get off the ground, fast. Research has shown that when businesses plan, they grow thirty percent faster than businesses that don’t plan. Let LivePlan help you maximize your business’s potential. Get started today with our sixty-day, risk-free, money-back guarantee. LivePlan: business planning, goal setting, and financial tracking made easy.

Peter: All right, so that’s what a video ad sounds like. If you could see it, that’s what it would look like.

Jonathan: It looks a lot better than it sounds. I don’t know. Yeah, so we’ve got John with us here to talk about why we made it, how we made it, and how it’s been performing on YouTube. With that, John, why don’t you talk to us about it?

John Procopio: Cool, happy to. Also happy to be a return guest on the podcast.

Jonathan: First ever recurring guest.

Peter: Yeah, first ever returning guest. Congratulations, John Procopio.

Jonathan: Welcome back.

Peter: Excellent.

John Procopio: Yeah. YouTube advertising is a great space. I think a billion users on YouTube, so kind of a lot of eyeballs. We had a video a year ago, that was Meet Susie video, if you’re interested you can check YouTube for that. It was that whiteboard video where you see a hand drawing things. Those were very in vogue and very …

Jonathan: Oh, yeah. Very popular.

John Procopio: … Productive for a while. Then we wanted to step that up, and give … Well, first, represent the product more, so we wanted to update the story of LivePlan. We enlisted the help of a firm and got started on that project to really tell the full story of the value proposition of LivePlan in ninety seconds. When we sat down with this company, it took about a month or two. The main point of the video was to actually use it on our website, so have it front and center. Someone comes to, “Hey, what’s going on here?” They can just click the video. We found when we loaded this new video up, that our conversion, meaning the people who actually do the thing that we want them to do on the site, which is to sign up and become a customer, went up fifteen percent within two weeks.

Jonathan: Now, for somebody who doesn’t do this a lot, is fifteen percent a good number? Is it a bad number?

John Procopio: If you got a fifteen percent raise, would you be happy?

Jonathan: I’d be pretty happy with that, yeah, to be honest.

John Procopio: Yeah, we were excited to do that. Yeah, there’s not a lot of tests that give you that kind of bump.

Jonathan: Okay, awesome.

John Procopio: Then the thought was, “Well, we’ve got the video.” We actually used the Meet Susie video previously on YouTube. We work with an external digital ad agency, and through their help, we were able to get that YouTube ad, for that ad piped in YouTube ads.

Jonathan: Okay. Swapped out the new one instead of the old one.

Peter: That’s great. It’s pretty common these days for a technology company, a technology savvy company, to have the landing page, that is their home page, have a video that explains the basics of what they do. John’s saying, basically, he took that explainer video, that “Here’s what we are. Here’s what we do. Here’s our whole DNA,” and used it as an advertisement. What I think is interesting there is that that’s a little different from, I think, a lot of what traditional advertising really is. The video ad usually is fifteen, thirty or sixty seconds. You see it on television, it’s breaking up the content programming that you want to see.

YouTube has a couple different approaches. Number one, this is all pre-roll, which means it rolls before the content, not during the content that you’re watching. YouTube obviously has much shorter interval content in general, on average, so you’re viewing smaller segments, you’re getting the ad up front, and then you’re getting to the point where you’re watching the thing you wanted to watch originally anyway. Also, John’s ad is a summary of the product, and it shows you what the thing does. It doesn’t deliver some kind of joke, there’s not a lot of characters like you might see in a Progressive Insurance ad, it doesn’t have a cartoon gecko, all these kinds of things that have become the tradition in this video ad space. John, how does that apply to, more generally, like all those small businesses out there? It seems like getting your message across is the new way of delivering advertisement.

John Procopio: Yeah, absolutely. You’re touching on the overall branding concept. I think with this video we were really aiming at direct response, so explaining the value proposition, but it’s a short-term goal here. We really want to get in front of the customer, understand that we know who you are, we know where you are in your search right now, and we are the painkiller for the experience that you have right now.

Peter: John, wait a second. What do you mean, “We know who you are?” Because I think a lot of ears are pricked up right now about [crosstalk 00:07:40] …

Jonathan: That’s a little scary, privacy.

Peter: Yeah, people get a little worried about [crosstalk 00:07:43] …

John Procopio: I didn’t mean it in that sense. I just meant where you are in the lifeline of your business. It’s likely if you’re searching or you’re looking for terms around planning, the majority of our customers are in a certain stage of the business. The majority are also looking for funding. That’s what I meant by that, not in terms of following you around on the internet and such.

Peter: That’s great. We’ve got these ads running on YouTube. They are retargeting and targeting our audience that we think we want to reach. That’s really interesting. John, have you ever talked to anyone who’s seen those ads?

John Procopio: Not complete strangers, basically. Not anyone I don’t already know.

Jonathan: That comes along to me. I manage our social media for Bplans and LivePlan, and about a month ago, I got a tweet. The tweet was from somebody who was really not impressed with our YouTube ad. His name is Cameron, and he used some choice words for how angry he was about watching the video:

Cameron Reilly: “Dear @LivePlan, I swear, if I see your ad one more time on YouTube, I’m going to hunt you down. Every single video for weeks.”

Jonathan: I thought it would be fun to talk to him, to figure out what it was that bothered him about it, why he reached out to us to even tell us that it was bothering him. Cameron, we’re going to bring him on and have a chat.

Peter: Let’s absorb a negative reaction, and hopefully other folks can learn a little bit from this interaction that we’re going to have.

Jonathan: Yeah. I’m sure that we’ll have things to learn ourselves.

Peter: Interesting. I look forward to this.

Jonathan: Cool, all right.

Peter: You ready?

Jonathan: I’m ready.

Peter: We’re dialing in.

Jonathan: Cameron, can you just maybe introduce us to yourself? Tell us your name, where you’re from, and what you do?

Cameron Reilly: Yeah. My name is Cameron Reilly. I am the principle consultant and director of a marketing consulting firm, Motherlode. I’m also a podcaster. I’ve been podcasting for eleven years, one of the world’s first podcasters. I live in Brisbane, Australia.

Peter: That’s great.

Jonathan: Awesome. Welcome.

Peter: That explains the accent.

Jonathan: That explains, definitely, the accent.

Peter: All right. If we disagree with anything you say, we’ll also blame it on the Australia thing, right?

Cameron Reilly: Yeah. Listen, I’m married to an American, so …

Peter: All right.

Jonathan: So you’re used to it.

Cameron Reilly: Yeah, I’m used to her saying, “I didn’t understand anything you just said, so I’ll just assume I’m right.”

Jonathan: It’s convenient. It helps.

Cameron Reilly: It’s the basis of America’s foreign policy too, I think. “We don’t understand your accent, so we’re just going to assume that we’re in the right, here.”

Peter: All right, we’ll keep that in the final cut.

Jonathan: Yeah, definitely. Cameron, thanks for joining us. We wanted to give you a chance to tell us about your experience with our LivePlan ad on YouTube. Maybe walk us through it, can you remember the first time you saw the ad?

Cameron Reilly: I can’t, because after the first two hundred thousand times, I think I had some sort of neural dysfunction. This is going back a couple of months, but all I remember is that I saw your ad, and it’s a nice enough animated ad. I think I paid a slight bit of attention to it, because I am in a business where I’m often writing marketing plans and occasionally helping clients write business plans. I think I just bought some marketing plan software, which is probably why your ad targeted me, attached to me like a sucker fish. In the back of my head, I think when the first time I saw it, I thought, “Oh, well. I hadn’t heard about it before, and I might need it in the future. Good to know.” Targeting kind of works, I’m the right kind of guy for your package.

Jonathan: Okay, that’s good to know.

Cameron Reilly: Yeah, but then I started to see it before every video. Maybe I’m exaggerating, because I wasn’t really keeping score, but it seemed like I saw it at the beginning of every video for a period of a couple of weeks. I watch a lot of YouTube videos. When a video is four minutes long and there’s a LivePlan ad for thirty seconds or something in the beginning of every one, very quickly, it started to annoy the hell out of me. I did what I do when people annoy me. I jumped on Twitter and said, “Stop annoying me or I’ll hunt you down,” I think is what I said on Twitter.

Jonathan: Those words were right. Yeah, “I’ll hunt you down.”

Cameron Reilly: To your credit, you guys replied back and helped me sort it out.

Jonathan: When you do send those tweets, are you hoping that somebody will respond? Are you using it just as a way to vent and express your frustration out into the ether? What would you expect from that?

Cameron Reilly: For a twenty-first century business, yeah, I do expect people to be listening and to respond. That happens more often than not, these days. Even with older cultured businesses in Australia, businesses that are very big, that have an oligarchy and dominate, they will respond, but usually but not do anything about it. Usually pay some sort of benign lip service. “Oh, we’re so sorry that you experienced X. Please call us on this number and we’ll try and do something about it.” Which, if I wanted to call you, I would have called you in the first place. If I’m talking to somebody from the company on Twitter, I expect you to be the customer service rep and to get it done and fix it, or at least tell me how to fix it on my end. I don’t want to be bumped through to somebody else. It should be one-touch customer service, I think, on Twitter and Facebook.

Nevertheless, and I think I’ve said this on Twitter and Facebook since then, it’s amazing what good customer service can do. This is something that, as a marketing guy, I talk to my clients about all the time and have been talking to them about this kind of stuff since the dawn of the social web. I don’t get it much from clients anymore these days, but if I go back six, seven years ago, when Facebook and Twitter were starting to become more popular, there was a lot of businesses that were concerned. “Oh, what happens if we have a presence on these things and somebody says something bad about us? What will we do?” I used to say to them all the time then, “You know what? That’s probably the best thing that can happen to you.” They would be like, “What? What? Why?”

I’d have to explain, well, for a start, if it doesn’t happen in public, it may not happen at all. You have unhappy customers that are just privately unhappy with you, and you never get to find out about it. It’s good if they give you that feedback. Also, if you engage them well, and the culture of the organization is mature enough that you accept the fact that from time to time you’re going to have unhappy customers, and your culture is mature enough that you are ready to acknowledge that and step up and do something about it to the best of your ability, of course you can’t always fix every problem, but you have the intention of “We want to try and make this right.” Then there’s almost no better form of marketing than to be able to do that in public.

I think it’s an absolute boon for businesses to have people complain in public, and then to step up and try and solve it in public, because you’re demonstrating in public, “Hey, this is the kind of company that we are. This is the kind of culture that we have.” I think that’s a terrific thing. Not only did you turn me around from literally wanting to hunt you down with Scud missiles to going, “All right, they’re a good bunch of guys, and girls probably. Okay, fair enough.”

John Procopio: This is John. Yeah, and as a business, we generally don’t look at oversaturating the market. The fun thing about our business is that people are in this specific part of their business cycle, and they’re looking to get this plan done, and so often people are going right to Google and typing in the keywords that they need help with. That’s the majority of the way we spend our ad spend. With YouTube, actually, we’re really only targeting people who have come through our site before, and really allow the data to tell us what the sweet spot is as far as how many impressions we should show. The target we were at, actually, when you were experiencing the ads, was three per day, but it sounds like there was a little bug in the machine, and you were actually seeing more than that.

Jonathan: Does that sound about right?

Cameron Reilly: Maybe I was only seeing three per day, but if I was watching three a day and it was your ad on every one of them, every day, I think that’s still going to annoy the hell out of me. I’ll tell you who else does a really bad job of this is Hulu.

Jonathan: Yeah, and it feels like a special kind of torture, because they make you pick which ad campaign you’re going to get. You’re like, “Okay, I know I’m pretty much signing up to watch eleven Hyundai ads. That’s awesome.”

Cameron Reilly: “Which kind of torture do you want, the water boarding or something stuck under your fingernails?” Again this is a big problem in marketing and advertising, generally. It’s just poorly thought through and poorly executed. The counter response is that people are getting better and better, as I said before, not only at fielding, but we’re building systems to hide your ads. I think the marketing industry, and advertising industry in general is doing a very, very poor job of fixing the culture of our industry and to build marketing campaigns and ads that are actually going to make people feel good about the brand rather than, “Oh my god, do I have to watch this again?”

Peter: A small business, even like ours, can be out there doing what seems like professional marketing with a good message, with a non-offensive ad, and overreach in some direction, unbeknownst to the small business owner themselves, and really aggravate that end user, that consumer, the person who they want to make their customer. I think there’s a lot of great lessons here. This isn’t just about YouTube. Apply this metaphor to everything that you’re doing out there, magazine ads, showing up at trade shows, everything, and just make sure to think about it. This is one of those great stories that I don’t think you’ll often get to hear.

John Procopio: Yeah, and the other point I think is hidden in this is always be testing. We look at numbers constantly, and we actually got Cameron’s feedback and we had a big discussion about it. We actually did dial back the ads, and we did some testing. We pulled it back to one per day and conversions went down by about the percentage, from three to one, about fifty to sixty percent. Right now, we’re in between one and three. We’re always testing these things and taking feedback to the nth degree.

Jonathan: Yeah, and it’s important to get feedback from people. Cameron, you talked about it, just when you hear back from somebody if it’s negative feedback, that’s not something to be afraid of. We could have just apologized to you and tried to fix it, and then left it there, but I think we’ve been able to benefit from having a longer conversation with you and hearing where you’re coming from and what your perspective is.

Cameron Reilly: Yeah, look, and I want to congratulate you guys, seriously, for the way that you’ve dealt with the whole thing. It is impressive, even though it happens more often these days than it would have five or ten years ago, it’s always still impressive when you come across a business that has the maturity to say, “Oh, we screwed up. Great, come and tell us more about it, because we really want to learn.”

Jonathan: Cameron, before we let you go, I just wanted to ask for our listeners, if they wanted to find more of your work online, where can they go?

Cameron Reilly: The marketing business is Motherlode, L-O-D-E, We do have clients all around the world, so if you’re looking, it doesn’t matter where you are, we can have a chat over Skype and help you out. If you want to listen to some funny history podcasts, I do Life Of Caesar, the linear story of Julius Caesar, but it’s not your usual history podcast. There’s a lot of bad jokes, a lot of swearing, a lot of contemporary politics and religion discussion and tying it back into ancient Rome, and quite a lot of cheesy seventies rock songs in there. That’s kind of a big deal. It’s a top one hundred podcast in US, Australia, UK and Canada, give or take, most days. Also, the life of Alexander the Great. I think the URL for that is Similar thing, but obviously on Alexander of Macedon. Give those a plug. I also have the Napoleon Bonaparte podcast …

Jonathan: No kidding?

Cameron Reilly: … That I did for several years [inaudible 00:21:11]. Considering that this week was the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, people should go and listen to all sixty episodes of that so you understand who Napoleon Bonaparte was and the important role he played in European history.

Jonathan: Yeah, it looks like people have a lot of listening to do.

Peter: Yeah, great.

Jonathan: Well, I think we’ve got what we need for the show, so thank you for joining us, Cameron.

Cameron Reilly: Yeah, great. Thanks, guys.

Peter: Thank you.

Cameron Reilly: I had a great time.

Peter: Thanks for joining us.

Cameron Reilly: Cheers.

Peter: What can a small business take away from this? All small businesses need to get customers in the door, need to get clients, need to get people to engage with them. How does a small business start to think about advertising if they’ve never done it before? If you have been advertising for a long time, maybe in certain areas but not others, how do you start to rethink the work that you’re doing to reach those new customers, to engage with people that maybe would be interested in your product if only they knew about it?

Jonathan: One question that I have is, John, how many impressions do we get with our YouTube ads?

John Procopio: Again, it’s a small portion of our overall business. Maybe about a hundred thousand a week.

Jonathan: Okay, so one person having a problem with it, what does that tell you? Does it tell you that if one’s got a problem, does it mean that there’s a lot more that probably do too? How do you take that input?

John Procopio: Yeah. There’s rules of thumbs on those types of things. Even just the ratio of people that actually call customer support to report an issue is a similar way of thinking. I think with YouTube it’s interesting because it’s a very intimate platform, as opposed to banner ads where people, to Cameron’s point, are so acute at ignoring.

Jonathan: Yeah. Just something else to think about too is, from the social media aspect, not being afraid of people reaching out to you and saying something negative. Engage with it. Find out what the problem is. We actually have, on Bplans, a social media decision tree, or a response tree. You can analyze the social media post and decide how you should engage with it. Some, you legitimately just shouldn’t engage. You ignore, you let it go, and it’s fine to leave it sit, and it’s probably not going to come back to you. Just being proactive with it, figuring out how you should respond, and taking the appropriate steps.

John Procopio: I’m always amazed when I do a search and I find, whether it’s on social media or some even on a blog post, where there’s articles from the company that responded. Remember that these things live on forever.

Jonathan: Right.

John Procopio: It’s not just the here and now. Think about the long-term brand potential benefits, if you’re perceived as coming to the rescue and doing the right thing, that that’s going to have for your business long-term.

Peter: If we had to think about ways to make sure that any business won’t make Cameron angry at them, what would be your tip of the day, John?

John Procopio: Be thoughtful. Make sure you’re targeting the right audience. In this case, Cameron was probably not the perfect audience. That’s fine, that’s going to happen. Really work with partners that have similar audiences to yours, I think is a lesson. The closer you can align yourself, who’s already kind of gone through some of these, and maybe come up with cross promotional efforts, you can kind of get your feet wet in advertising without actually having to outlay a lot of costs. There’s also community events and stuff like that. You can kind of test the waters with some of these things before really going all in.

Jonathan: Okay, that’s great.

Peter: Jonathan, what do you recommend people do to not make Cameron angry at them?

Jonathan: To be honest, I don’t know if you’re ever going to be completely safe from not making Cameron angry. I think if you’re in the business long enough, if you want some longevity for your business, chances are, somewhere along the way, either you’re going to make a legitimate mistake or somebody’s going to perceive that you’ve made a mistake and tell you about it. What you do, is you have an appropriate response. You talk to Cameron. You have the conversation, and you figure out if there’s something that you need to change about what you’re doing or if you just take that input and learn how you should do your next advertising campaign.

Peter: That’s awesome. People out there, if you’ve ever run into a Cameron …

John Procopio: Embrace him.

Peter: … Embrace him. If you’ve got stories to share, tweet with us, hashtag with us, send us some hashtags over Facebooks.

Jonathan: Yeah, you could send us …

Peter: How do you do that?

Jonathan: … You could send us your story by email,, or you can send a tweet to us @Bplans. You could use the hashtag Bcast if you want, and we’d still pick that up. Yeah, we’d love to hear your stories of maybe a time that you worked with a customer to figure out something that went wrong, or maybe what you would have done differently in our situation.

If you have a question you’d like us to answer on the show, send us an email at or send us a tweet @Bplans.

The Bcast is brought to you by Palo Alto Software, makers of and LivePlan.

AvatarJonathan Michael

Jonathan is the Engagement Marketing Manager for Palo Alto Software, and has spent the last 9 years developing and implementing digital marketing strategies. During that time, he has learned that empathy and authenticity are strengths by which companies can effectively engage with individuals at every point throughout the customer journey.