LA Business Podcast

31. Bill Laske, Executive Vice President of MediaDex

Bill Laske Media Dex LA Business Podcast
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We talk to Bill Laske about the challenges of business and media during this unprecedented time.

Robert Brill: [00:00:00] Before we get started on this episode of the LA Business Podcast, we recorded this episode on April 24th there are some brief mentions of covert and coronavirus related business activities. This is based off of April 24th information. All right, let’s go.

Intro: [00:00:15] Welcome to the LA Business Podcast, a form for business owners and senior executives to share.

Experiences about the elements that drive their success. Your host is Robert Brill, CEO of, an Inc 500 company delivering the power of hyper-local advertising. Robert writes for Forbes, Inc and Ad trade publications. Our goal is to bring you the stories about successes and failures of people who are making big things happen in marketing entrepreneurship.

Robert Brill: [00:00:51] Hey everyone, welcome to another episode of the LA business podcasts. Today, my guest is Bill Laskey. Bill, why don’t you introduce yourself? Actually the only thing I want to say that you’ve been in the advertising and marketing business for over 40 years.

Bill Laske: [00:01:07] Yes, I have. That’s true. And I’m not quite that old, but yes.

First of all, thank you for having me. I really enjoy these podcasts. I urge anybody who’s listening to tell your friends. It’s fantastic. Um. But yes, Bill Laskey, I’m, in media buying and advertising, started when I was 13 years old. So that is indeed 41 years ago, doing post by analysis for my dad, full disclosure, I work with an agency that he effectively founded, 40 years ago. And that’s MediaDex, and his name is Dex. And so I was doing post by analysis through high school, you know, making three bucks an hour, which, given the current, times. That’s about what I’m making now. So, you know, illegally below minimum wage. But, no. Then I bounced over to Japan. I actually started a magazine over there a long time ago, so it kind of stayed in media, joined Nissan in marketing, and came back with Nissan and got me to California the first time 25 years ago.

And then jumped off about 20 years ago to kind of do my own thing, in the media buying space. So, we are primarily a traditional. shop, hanging our hat, mainly on spot TV. but certainly radio, outdoor, and getting more into digital, which, you know, thanks to you, I get a lot of help on.

Robert Brill: [00:02:30] Appreciate that. So you know, the purpose of this podcast is really to talk about growth and scale of businesses. So I want to know two things. What are you doing in this moment to, grow and scale your business? And what interesting things have you seen other businesses do now and even before now, like are really interesting to you?

Bill Laske: [00:02:58] Yeah. You know, and I’ve truly been, this sounds like I’m doing a commercial for your podcast, but I mean, I’ve been encouraged by some of the things that you’ve alluded to in some of the things you are actions that you’re taking. We’re not there yet. Just in terms of using some of the great tools that are out there to help grow our business and just kind of grow our, our, I’ll say, share of mind, out there.

So actually that’s something I probably will bug you about here shortly. But, that being said, I mean, you know, we’re, we’re, right now, we’re doing all we can to shore up our existing business, and keep everybody, you know, going as best we can. I mean, I have clients that are, of course, completely closed and, really no end in sight, sadly, just to, due to the, you know, various challenges.

But, in the meantime, I will tell you, I have clients that are, kind of staying the course. Even those that have cut budgets. And I know that’s really not your question, but, if you, if you stay the course at all right now, and, and even ongoing, the media values are just beyond crazy. I mean, to me, it’s not a take advantage of the situation and let’s, you know, let’s, let’s stick it to the media supplier, so to speak.

But it’s, it’s more of a, let’s send a message of partnership to them while they’re down. I’m referring mainly to TV, stations around the country, you know, where they’re taking cancellations in the 60, 70, 90% range. And so, you know, you’ll see a few, a handful of advertisers out there that are staying the course and the ones that are getting a lot of, I’ll say, good exposure.

You know, in this time when people are watching it, consuming more media than ever, you know, not so much linear TV necessarily. There’s certainly the ongoing huge shift, to streaming, video. And we’ll see how that goes when things come back to quote unquote normal. But, you know, we’ve done it all in the business expansion, range, and we partnered with a lead generation firm.

And frankly, that was kind of disastrous.

Robert Brill: [00:05:02] Why was it disastrous?

Bill Laske: [00:05:05] I mean, it’s predictably and I say predictably because, we actually have done it twice. I’ve been doing this now. No full time in my own shop, I’ve got a partner in Cincinnati, and I’ve been doing this now. It’s been, is this, I’m in my 19th year, with an over those 19 years, a couple of times we have hired a lead generation, people, you know, it’s really people, you know, dialing for dollars, so to speak, but a little higher level than that certainly.

And each time they contacted our clients directly. I mean, I talk about bone head basics and I made it very clear here is your do not call list. And it’s funny, I saved the voicemail from one of my clients who called me, laughing about it. Fortunately. But you know, you can imagine that being kind of embarrassing, and making this not real buttoned up so.

Robert Brill: [00:05:57] I think one of the challenges, you know, build one of the challenges in this business. There’s, there’s two things that I, that I’m hearing. The first is that I find it incredibly difficult and I’ve, I’ve been validated on this. It’s incredibly difficult for a business to market itself from the inside out.

It’s like. It’s like a fish in water. I think fish maybe don’t even realize that they’re in this medium called water, just like we don’t really consider that we’re in a medium called oxygen and whatever else is putting right in our air. Right.

Bill Laske: [00:06:26] Until recently, and I’ll say recently, meaning let’s say about a year ago or so, we finally updated the media Dex website.

You know, so, so now we’re kind of at around a 20, 20, scale, or, or a stage, in terms of at least the technical aspects of it. And it looks decent. It’s not great. And frankly, I used to hang my hat on, well, you know, cobblers cobbler’s child, cobbler’s children don’t have good shoes, right? As the worst excuse that anyone can make in any business.

And I read that, I read a quote that’s like. You know, if you’re in the marketing media advertising business and you’re not doing good marketing media advertising of yourself. And again, you know, and I, I continued to be somewhat guilty of it.

Robert Brill: [00:07:08] It’s a nice site.

Bill Laske: [00:07:10] It’s, functional. and again, as you know, I mean, we’re, we’re not, we’re not, firmly in the digital space on our own.

And truly, frankly, and I’ve said this to you before, you know, coulda woulda, shoulda cracked a book eight years ago and maybe learned it. Instead, I decided to partner with somebody very good. and you know him well.

Robert Brill: [00:07:31] Yeah, I appreciate that. You know, it’s, yeah, I, you know, we’ve been working with a really talented, brand strategist.

Her name is Brandy Peter’s a woman up in Canada who I’ve, connected with and we started working together more closely. And what’s interesting is when I look at Tony price, our Chief Operating Officer, I look at me and I look at Brandy. Between the three of us, we have about 47 years of digital and marketing experience combined.

Bill Laske: [00:08:00] Wow. Yeah.

Robert Brill: [00:08:01] And you know, it’s, and what’s great, like it’s, it’s really interesting. I don’t have, as the leader of a company, of an organization, I don’t have to be, I don’t want to be the person. I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room. I want to be a contributing member of the team.

I don’t want to be the smartest person in the room. And I think it’s really hard to brand yourself within an with Brandon organization to the public. Because it’s hard, especially with my name on the, as the name of the business. It feels so incredibly personal and what I’ve had to get rid of over the last few years is like, you know, marketing, the advertising work that we do, I think is incredibly viable and precision and sophisticated.

But in order to attract clients who are not part of my network, they need to get to know who we are. In order for that to happen, we need to be accessible. In order to be accessible, we need to talk about things that are not the intricacies of programmatic and digital ad buying. And I’m just now in April of 2020 finally getting some momentum on that its literally taken me like three, four years.

So. In various fits and starts to fail in many different ways. To get to the point where I could actually just create a video series on YouTube consistently and meaningfully.

Bill Laske: [00:09:27] It’s, it’s very difficult to do. And whether that’s a discipline, I mean, certainly, I hate to say knock wood, but I mean, you know, we’re, you know, we’re in a situation where we have a little bit more time.

at least it should be that way. I, frankly, I’m feeling pretty busy, which is good. not necessarily productively, so, but busy nonetheless, and actually a lot of good projects and, had some, some good actually pitch meetings happening. S so some good things happening. but you know, you’re right and it just takes a serious discipline.

and, it takes, like you said, not getting into the weeds on your own business. you know, your area is certainly more technical than, than mine in a way. In many ways. and, and few people truly, I think, understand any of it, frankly.

Robert Brill: [00:10:14] Not everyone understands all of it.

Bill Laske: [00:10:16] No, truly. And that’s, by the way, that’s what, that’s again, where we come in as agencies.

you know, cause the pendulum swings back and forth with inhouse. Right? So there’s, there’s a move to take some things in house these days, which certainly threatened us, you know, in our positions to some extent. I mean, I think, you know, finally, you know, like you said, no one can know or do everything right.

And I mean, I go back to the old oldest, you know, some of the old marketing terms of, you know, GRP, you know, gross rating points, TRP targeted reading point. I would challenge, I’m going to say, I don’t know, 30% of CMOs wouldn’t know the difference.

Robert Brill: [00:10:54] They don’t have to.

Bill Laske: [00:10:56] And they shouldn’t have to, they shouldn’t have to exactly.

That. That’s, they should trust us. They should trust their team. and I, and I’m with you, I mean, I, you know, you, you know me to probably be a bit of a wise, wise guy every once in a while. but I don’t, you know, I too don’t want to be the smartest guy in the room. I, I really want to rely on, on experts, around me, above me, below me, doesn’t really matter.

And so, you know, so that being said, I frankly, for us, you know, growth, is, turning into, turning to existing clients. And, and having them trust us for what we’re doing. And they ask you, what else do you do? You know, they start saying, Hey, you do this really well. Can you help us with, in this case, programmatic or digital or whatever it may be.

But otherwise, you know, new business has always been difficult. It’s probably, it’s, to me, it’s the toughest part of this business. Absolutely. I mean, getting, getting, getting meetings. You can figure it out the entire business model, but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have clients.

Robert Brill: [00:12:03] One of the things that I’m working on, I’m very apropos to this conversation, is and this is something that I’ve been, that’s been swirling around in my head for at least a year, which is how do I change the way that we acquire business from referrals, which is great. I mean, completely blessed to be able to number one be an entrepreneur.

Number two, have it be successful. And number three, have it be built with such a steamed and valuable partners that we have across the board in a variety of different industries and verticals, and just people who, who are just. When you just put like you have any one of our other partners as an individual in person or on a stage or on a LinkedIn profile, like, Holy cow, these are incredible people and they trust me.

And they trust us. That is like.

Bill Laske: [00:12:56] No, that’s huge.

Robert Brill: [00:12:57] That’s like, and I can’t really think about that too much cause he might like freak me out. And how important that actually happens is, you know, but like what I’m trying to do right now is really creative. A marketing infrastructure that builds a business around advertising driven new business.

I worked in marketing like I, I love the, I find it different. I find marketing automation difficult, but what we’re doing ultimately is creating an infrastructure where I can create content, I can create this podcast and blog posts, et cetera, and I want to run ads. I want to nurture relationships in month or two or three.

We have people knocking down our door asking for help, and they might not be massive projects that might be small projects, but small projects are fine because we, you know, so that’s the big shift for our organization. And I agree that it’s so difficult to build a business based purely on referrals.

Bill Laske: [00:13:59] It is. It is. But like you said, there’s, there’s not much more valuable than that network that, that you have earned. you know, grown and earned and, and, truly, like you said, I don’t want to think about it too much. You’re right, cause it’s, it’s, it’s still big, so to speak, but, no, well, I, and I, I guess I would ask you, I mean, you know, how, how successful have you been with quote unquote cold calling anything here?

Were you doing much of that at all?

Robert Brill: [00:14:27] We don’t do cold calling right now and actually just released a video on our YouTube channel today, like half an hour of us recording this right. talking about, we’re getting between 10 and 15 new leads a day. Wow. Excellent. For small business owners, marketing people, we’re getting those from Facebook.

And, the goal is to get them through that nurture sequence, which we’re, we’re still building. It’s not refined it, but we’re building it and, we haven’t done cold calling. I think the best way whether it’s right or not, what I believe is that the internet and the communication infrastructure that we have access to in 2020 is the fundamental most.

The best way for a business to be built that humanity has ever had.

Bill Laske: [00:15:19] Yeah, agreed. 

Robert Brill: [00:15:22] We have a full recording studio that would have cost millions of dollars or hundreds of millions of dollars 20 or 30 years ago. I have it in my iPhone and the, and the distribution system, so now it’s a matter of making all that stuff work and we’re doing that.

Which is really cool for me. I love that we’re able to do that. I have, like I said, I have really smart people around me able to do this, but I’ve never done cold calling. I’ve never done emails.

Bill Laske: [00:15:46] Now, I mean, again, same in a sense. I mean, I’ll, I’ll tell you, there’s only one piece of business that I’ve gotten through a true cold calling process, and that was 17 years ago, and it took seven months to get the meeting.

But it was a cold knocking on the door, persistence, annoying process, an old school way. And again, it was successful, but it hasn’t been successful since. For all the things that you’re doing, using the tools that you know to use expertly. I mean, how, you know, what, what, what percent of the capabilities do you feel you’re tapping into?

It’s just like you said, the internet is the best possible thing there is. And even with all you’re doing, there’s probably so much that could be done, right?

Robert Brill: [00:16:28] Yeah. I mean, I actually think it’s, it’s much more important to simplify the process rather than, rather than look at all the tools, like one of the, one of the key things that I’ve learned over the last few years is that, like.

You know, you read a book or you go to a seminar or you watch a webinar or you watch like a masterclass or something. You know, that subscription program where you have experts telling you about different topics, like, that’s great, but you don’t have to, we don’t have to consume a hundred percent.

It doesn’t have to be ingested a hundred percent of the content. It doesn’t have to be ingested, but you could have one tidbit from a master negotiator and the goatee negotiator. I think Nick Vos is his name, or Bob Iger from Disney. One tidbit of information and can dramatically change your business.

And I’m looking for the one piece of information from one person or one learning that’s going to make dramatic difference. I mean, our marketing infrastructure right now is actually very simple. It’s a $50 a month MailChimp account. What we’re paying for is the brains of our marketing strategists.

That’s what we’re paying for. That’s the critical element there. You know, we, I make, landing pages through my website through WordPress and Elementor. We use APR for automation, which costs me 70 bucks a month. We run Facebook ads. Yeah. It’s a very simple, it’s a very simple thing. But to get there, I actually have to lean on people who are smarter than me to know how to do this.

So any business owner who’s looking to make a difference in their business, I think it’s about finding simplicity, complexity.

Bill Laske: [00:18:10] Right? And, and truly with the advent of all of these tools, and like you said, I mean, I’ve been doing this, you know, as an adult, let’s call it, how old am I now? So, 30 years, you know, I laugh at my high school experience and call it 40 years, but.

No, I’m, I’m only 54. Come on. With the advent of these tools, it seems that there’s so much more that number one I could or should be doing. But you know, we used to, because we hung our hat on television and television, the way that we do it is, is still very, very effective and very, very efficient if you’re buying it market wide in any one market.

So that kind of limited our, the size of the target client. We were always looking for a client that had the size and, or wherewithal or frankly at the end of the day budget to make it happen in any market, in any one full market. So I kind of, you know, I was never, I never really paid attention to those tools.

I don’t know. You tell me, maybe, you know, would a Facebook campaign work for what we do?

Robert Brill: [00:19:12] It would. I’d probably need to learn more about, about your key buyers. I think the challenge with I think there’s some nuances for specifically selling to the advertising business, but the nuances are that I don’t think cold calling is the right way to do it, but I do think luke warm calling.

Is actually a good way to do it. Meaning warm up the consumer with ads only then and Facebook and banner audience.

Bill Laske: [00:19:40] Right.

Robert Brill: [00:19:40] And then follow up with calls because you know, whole agency holding companies I’ve seen, and it has, I have, I have been so. Their organizational structure and the decision makers are so different in each agency holding company, and there’s so many different paths to kind of get to the same buyer, especially now that some television is being bought by digital folks and TV folks are looking at digital and there’s holistic planners, et cetera.

So like, there’s no. Like back when I started in 2004/2005 it seemed to me, at least from the inside of universal McCann, it seemed like there was a clear path to who the decision makers were. It doesn’t mean it was easy because unfortunately for like the sales reps at Yahoo and MySpace, I was a decision maker.

What the heck did I know at the age of 24 doing deals for hundreds of thousands of dollars, I was just happy to go to a Mastro’s and SDK. Right. Like I was a really important decision maker. I mean, I think I did good for our clients ultimately. But yeah, like looking back on it, I didn’t really actually know much.

But I think, you know, what’s interesting about that is I think we were being paid to be arbiters of the zeitgeists and culture. Interpreted by digital media, but still we didn’t have to know business fundamentals. We have to know culture and aesthetics to come and make that work. And today, the business that we’re in now is very different.

So let me ask you a question. What does the future of television look like for you? That’s one question I also want to know about On Course communications. Let’s talk about that. Yeah.

Bill Laske: [00:21:21] Yeah. So, like I said, I mean, I started in this a long, long time ago, and, and TV was the mainstay of our business. That has changed, somewhat. And so there’s MediaDex where I have, you know, hung my hat for the last 20 years or so. MediaDex billing is probably 80% still television. We otherwise radio outdoor, and now a little bit of a connected TV and OTT. So that’s, that really kind of dovetails into your, your next or first question about the future of television.

I mean, I, and, and I’m, I’m breaking my rules myself a lot on this call by saying the word television. I really have tried to force myself to say, video, period. You know, I’m a video guy and, and we, we’re, you know, we’re, we’re very good at what we do in the video space, frankly. And we’re, again, starting, and you and I have talked about this over the last year or so, but just really starting to get more serious about connected TV and OTT and streaming video.

And it’s, it’s. To me, it’s still an unformed space.It’s, you know, a huge, booming, burgeoning, a great interest in it right now. We’re all reading about the shift. You know, how, how long has TV got so to speak? Right? I mean, TV viewership right now is up, just because we’re all staying at home.

But obviously it’s been dropping. And certainly, depending on your target age demographic, it’s nowhere to be seen.

Robert Brill: [00:22:53] So, your talking about traditional television?

Bill Laske: [00:22:55] Traditional, yeah linear, linear is, it was a traditional television. Again, it’s still very effective for certain things.

Robert Brill: [00:23:04] What is it good for?

Well, you know,

Bill Laske: [00:23:07] we do casino marketing. I’ve got a pitch with a company, just yesterday, and they are in the, kind of low end furniture realm. So furniture and the new furniture rental, they have a low end, a tax service, for example. They came to us saying, you know, we, we’ve done studies that, that show us when we flip the switch on television, sales traffic goes up immediately.

Robert Brill: [00:23:38] Is that through media mix modeling?

Bill Laske: [00:23:40] Absolutely. It is. Yes. And certainly they are doing pretty, pretty aggressive digital. I just just met them yesterday on the phone, you know, for the first time, so I don’t know a whole lot yet. But, it certainly sort of bodes well.

And they’re looking for, well, and I was going, I’ve been saying this to people, and I don’t know if you’re getting this feeling, but, you know, my, my very best years in this business were, Oh seven, O8 /09 in 2010, kind of everybody else’s worst years in most businesses. and partly it came from marketers looking for other solutions. and, and I feel like we’re going to come out of this again with that similar kind of thing. I feel like I’m getting some of these potential calls, and these have been cold calls, frankly, that, that we’ve gotten through on because they’re looking for other solutions.

Robert Brill: [00:24:29] Digital?

Bill Laske: [00:24:31] Any and all, but including television.

You know, meaning, cause again, we have a unique approach to TV buying. And I’ll do my commercial pitch on it. pretty much sight unseen, depending on who we’re talking to. So for you, if you’re listening and you’re in the spot TV realm, our stances we’ll at least. Double your exposure with no change in spending, in, in any market.

And, it’s a unique proprietary approach that we have delved into or established over all these years. My father started doing it 40, 50 years ago, and it’s certainly changed and evolved. But, you know, we’re, we’re very, very effective and aggressive at what we do. So, TV, yes, a dying medi changing for sure, and dying in some areas.

And certainly, again, linear TV.

Robert Brill: [00:25:21] What types of advertisers are primed for television?

Bill Laske: [00:25:28] And in my, well, I’m going to go and say any and all. And we can talk about, you know, a full funnel approach, so to speak. And, I’ve been, I’ve been consuming some video actually lately, from the trade desk, and some of their videos and how they’re talking about how, you know, digital in a sense has always been kind of, they’ve kind of given up the upper funnel.

And they shouldn’t, is what they’re saying. They’re kind of arguing for, Hey, digital now serves everyone all along, every step of the way. And it should. And I fully agree with that. TV however, is still far more effective for awareness, and mass messaging more effective and frankly, a lot more efficient than you.

And I can argue about that certainly. But, you know, the way that, the way that we buy it, you know, we’re, we’re averaging three to $4 CPM. In all of the markets that we buy, and that’s broadcast cable, TV, et cetera.

Robert Brill: [00:26:26] What’s the minimum like for a smaller midsize business? Is television even accessible?

Bill Laske: [00:26:32] No standard answer. In our, in our businesses, it depends. so it depends on the market. Our stances, you know, depending on what else you have doing in terms of the media mix and what else you’re doing in terms of, you know, heavy, heavy, investment in, in other media. We have standards that we’ve generally said, is that 200?

Yeah. 200 household points per week. Minimum. Otherwise, don’t try it. Otherwise, don’t do it.

Robert Brill: [00:27:00] I think Twitter household points. Talk about what household points are we for a small business size business in Los Angeles. What’s the minimum they can spend right now in, in, in covert land?

Bill Laske: [00:27:20] Well, that’s a whole other story. I have a client that, turned the switch off on March 16th, and said, Hey, we’re not doing, we’re closed. We’re not doing anything. for the near term, you know, until further notice. So we, we shut down. Then for that time it was a 30 day thing, which obviously we’ve now extended, since that date.

And I checked it this morning. We’ve had 800, and I think it’s 40 airings of our spots. At no charge. so the stations are going to take care of whoever takes care of them. I’ve had 800, and it’s, it’s literally $400,000 of media value at no charge. so. You know, so right now, it won’t take much.

I’ve, I’ve got a production company that I work with on that account, and they produced a TV spot for themselves that I’m placing right now. It’s going to start on Monday. And so for a, for a few thousand dollars. We’re going to have a hundred thousand dollars in immediate value. So now it was a weird time.

It now, now doesn’t count as like things recover in quote unquote normal times. A point, a household point is literally the percent of homes. Watching whatever it may be at that time. Then that’s, you know, so that’s GRP. Gross rating point is households targeted. TRP is based on demographics, so you know, if you’ve got, if, if it does a one in LA at one rating, that’s one household point.

In the LA market that represents the population. That’s 1% of the LA population. In the case of households at 5.7 million households. And then you, let’s say, you know, women versus men, you know, it’s, it’s in that six to 8 million, you know, depending on the demographic, people.

Robert Brill: [00:29:08] So 1% of the total number.

Bill Laske: [00:29:11] Correct. 1% of the total marker market in any market. So LA, LA, the going rate for a point in LA, I should say our rate for going point going rate in LA is about $250 a point, right? So just take that times 200 so now you’re at $50,000 a week in normal times to be on television pretty effectively in Los Angeles.

So for a small business that’s way too much. It’s, it’s, you know, it’s not, that’s not going to fly for many. You know, so if you’re, if you’re a restaurant chain in LA, and you’ve got 10 to, let’s say, 30 restaurants, depending on your sales, you probably can do it. And we can get very aggressive.

And right now, especially the deals to be had are beyond ridiculous. Mmm. So it depends. Like, so I buy about Peoria, Illinois, you know, puree Illinois. Now we’re at 1200 bucks a week in Peoria because it’s a small market.

Robert Brill: [00:30:06] How, how quickly, let’s say a restaurant in Los Angeles, how quickly is it? Will they just immediately see a bump in, let’s say, you know, when we reopened, right?

Bill Laske: [00:30:22] Yep.

Robert Brill: [00:30:23] What’s the expected like immediate or not immediate, like bump in traffic, like hop. How does that stuff flow on, on television?

Bill Laske: [00:30:34] You know, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll send you a, a little sort of. The prognostication that I read by a respect to CEO of a restaurant chain that I almost did work with.

So I’m not, I’m not that bitter cause I’m gonna mention the guy named name is Chris Elliott. Super nice guy. He runs Beef O Brady’s, which is a chain of restaurants in Florida. I’ll send you the article.  But he came out with. Hey, you know, no, no one knows, of course is the standard answer, but it really depends on how we go back.

Right? So if you’re a sit down restaurant, how much, I like the term physical distancing. Are we going to have to do, are they only only gonna allow one half or one third or whatever it’s going to be of customers in the store at any one time or restaurant at any one time. He, you know, he estimated we’re going to get back to about 50% within this year.

We’ll get back to about 75% next, first quarter of next year, and at a hundred percent, you know, a year from now, give or take is his feeling now. I know that was your question. Your question is, Hey, how quick would it move? you know, if someone were to, start advertising even a little aggressively, cause I mean, I, I feel like media deals will continue.

I think it’s going to be relatively cheaper somewhere in the 50% of normal costs, for the near term. That also hinges on how much political spending comes back. Cause we’re in a political year, which politicians still lean heavily on television and certainly more aggressively and more sophisticated and digital, as you know.

You know, again, I hate to give the Weasley it depends answer. but you know, I always go back. People say, you know how, how soon will we know if it’s working well? What’s the offer. You know, I mean,

Robert Brill: [00:32:19] How many locations are there?

Bill Laske: [00:32:21] All of those good things aren’t. Our biggest client is Checkers Rally’s, a burger chain out of Florida.

900 locations, based in Tampa. we’re on our 21st year with them. And certainly like all restaurants, and they’re, they’re better equipped right now to be getting through this. They’re really a drive through concept. They really don’t have a lot of sit down, locations. So, you know, some markets are up.

amazingly, actually.

Robert Brill: [00:32:48] Good for them.

Bill Laske: [00:32:48] Yeah, no, it really is. So they’re there. I mean, we deal with the franchisees. That’s kind of our expertise and, you know, we make, we make the corporate folks happy and look good because we deal with the franchisees for them. And like I said, 21 years, you know, in our businesses, almost unheard of.

So I’m actually proud of that for us, that we’ve lasted that long. And I think we’re probably on, you know, VP of marketing number six or seven at this point.

Robert Brill: [00:33:13] Do you think. Restaurant costs or like prices like for the consumer are going to go up.

Bill Laske: [00:33:20] I mean, yes, absolutely. I mean, I, you know, I mean, I’ve, I mean, just, and I, and I’m a very amateur investor, but I mean, we’re looking at mass inflation coming.

You know, you can’t, you can’t print two, four, six, $8 trillion of money they’re pumping in, and rightly so, man, people desperately need it. And then you look at California, I mean, we’re, we’re gonna, we’re not quite there, but we’re going to be at $15 an hour. here, I think it’s 2021, I believe is when it finally kicks in.

It’s been a slow process of moving up that level, but, to that level. And again, it’s needed. I mean, I, I don’t, you know, it’s, I really, really feel for the, you know, the, all the workers out there. And like I said, I mentioned my casino and they’ve got 3000 people on the street right now. I mean, not, you know, furloughed for a couple of weeks and then laid off finally because there’s no income coming in.

So I really feel for those folks.

Robert Brill: [00:34:13] You think the prices are going to go up at restaurants because of inflation? Because we’re, we’re just printing money effectively right now, and then there’s the upcoming minimum wage in California or federally or California.

Bill Laske: [00:34:27] Every state’s different. California.

Robert Brill: [00:34:28] Got it. And then see my thinking. I haven’t considered either of those two factors, although I’ve, the inflation part makes total sense to me. I’m just thinking, if a restaurant can only can legally only fill 50% of its, of its space to, into it and create social distancing. Yep. Then you’ve got to double the cost of the food there.

Bill Laske: [00:34:50] They’re going to have to do something again. I mean, you know, you right now you’ve got all these restaurant and other retail chains, you know, effectively defaulting on their rent. Right now, there, there was a letter that went out from the CEO of Cheesecake Factory about a month ago telling their landlords, Hey, we’re not paying April.

Sorry. No.

Robert Brill: [00:35:07] That’s as negotiation tactics though.

Bill Laske: [00:35:09] Well, and, you know, they, they kinda got vilified for it, but you know what? Everyone’s doing it. And they were, they were just nice enough to let them know. So no, you’re right. so, that, and set that aside, these are extraordinary times. and, and I, I, you know, sadly, even though I hear glimmers of, of, you know, openings here and there, and I hope it all goes great, and I hope there’s no, you know, major wave of a virus coming back in the fall and all that good stuff that nobody seems to know really.

But yeah, so, back to your question, yes, something’s going to have to give. But I think there will be, I think there will be, give and take. They’ve got their fixed costs. You know, they’ve got, and not to get into the weeds too much, but you’ve got your PPP, you know, your or paycheck protection plan, I think it’s called.

You know, where they’ve got to, in theory, keep everyone employed during this time. So you’re going to have too many employees in the store for social distancing, for example, in any one location. So they really, they really can’t adhere to those rules.

Robert Brill: [00:36:11] You just can’t have work.

Bill Laske: [00:36:13] Right, right. Well, right.

I mean, I’m saying, can we, can we get them, get them working on infrastructure? They can go build bridges. I’m just kidding. But, it’s, you know, it is, well, it’s awful. And it’s, it’s just, it’s, it’s, well, it’s an ongoing mess. But, you know, restaurant were pretty saturated six months ago, a year ago, two years ago.

I mean, I read something where if this thing goes 10 days, we’re losing 5%, if this thing goes three weeks, we’re losing 30% they’re not coming back. There are whole chains and certainly some of the smaller mom pop stuff that are not coming back. They’re just not.

It’s sad, but then there wasn’t a need for it. And for a little while, people aren’t going to have the money for it. you know, I mean, I think there’s pent up demand, but, you know, it’s like talking to me. How about you? I mean, are you travel a lot? you know, I mean, how, how, how, how quick are you ready to jump on a plane?

Robert Brill: [00:37:09] Oh, forget jumping on a plane going outside yo, right.

Bill Laske: [00:37:15] Right?

Robert Brill: [00:37:16] I’m not going outside like, if we were in Georgia right now, we would not be going outside. Probably like, we’re not going to go outside. Even like if, May 15th or May 30th the stay at home order is lifted in California. I mean, we’re not gonna start going everywhere.

We have a 15 almost 16 month old baby boy. Like, I can’t. In good conscience, sit in a restaurant like, there’s peaches and rainbows. That’s fine. Knowing that weeds on me might give me a deadly virus.

Bill Laske: [00:37:54] It’s, and again, I mean, you know, we, are lucky enough to be able to do what we do.

And the way we do it from the places we’re doing it. And yeah, so I’ve asked that question again. You’re a good example cause you, you do a lot more than I do and I should do more of this kind of stuff. But, networking events, you know, how many, how many ad tech conferences are there a year?

You know, it must be 50 or 150, or whatever it is, and you probably go to 12 of them or whatever the number is.

Robert Brill: [00:38:23] I’ll go to one or two.

Bill Laske: [00:38:25] And again, I’m sorry. I know I’m not making fun at all. I’m just saying there are people that they, you know, and I’ve really, I feel for those events people, cause so many of those events are not going to come back.

Robert Brill: [00:38:35] The big question is will South by Southwest comeback.

Bill Laske: [00:38:38] Oh man. You know, I think some of the iconic stuff will, I mean, I think, I think you know, the Coachellas of the world, which is more of a pure music thing, but a South by Southwest, which I, you’ve been to I think, write a few times.

Robert Brill: [00:38:48] Yeah last year. I had a full pass this year. Last year at the end of last year’s conference. I was ready to go. I was going to be there the whole time.

Bill Laske: [00:38:59] Yeah. Well, and, and then, and so take that. And that’s certainly a lot of fun and certainly has a lot of relevance for work, as well. But let, let me, let me take something that we all are desperately missing and desperately need.

And I’m sorry to, to prod you with this one, but yeah, Dodgers games. I mean going to a freaking game, even watching it on TV for that matter, but going to a game, I mean, when, when opening day was what, last week, two weeks ago, whatever.

Robert Brill: [00:39:27] I think it was like at the end of, yeah, a couple, it seems like.

Bill Laske: [00:39:30] A few weeks ago and it’s coming on and, and, I, it just,

Robert Brill: [00:39:36] I have half season tickets for the Dodgers.

You know, I can’t, I can’t even consider taking my wife and my child.

Bill Laske: [00:39:45] Right. No. And you’re a fan. Yeah. With serious investment in it, so to speak, in many ways. not, you know, not just financially, but you know, psychically and your fan period. So then, then I asked the question back to you. You know, how, how quick, how quick will this recovery be when you have a person like you were me, who would would, I mean, I’m dying to go to a restaurant.

you know, and I’ve been, I’ve been trying to order from the ones that I desperately want to keep in business. Cause like, cause I love their, you know, selfishly love their food, right?

Robert Brill: [00:40:22] Yeah. I think, I think we are not, I think 2021 is when we’re going to get back to some semblance of normalcy.

I think that’s going to be a halfway point.

Bill Laske: [00:40:36] Yeah, yeah.

Robert Brill: [00:40:37] Celebrated only by when we have a vaccine use. The other thing, yo I don’t know why he keeps saying yo. Like if we have a vaccine, I don’t know if I want to be the first person to get to get vaccinated on the new vaccines. Like I’m not an anti vaxxer at all.

But just remember Phen Phen remember when finance deal, and then like 10 years later, they’re like, Oh, it actually also causes holes in your heart, or something like that. You don’t want to be the first batch.

Bill Laske: [00:41:09] Yeah, no. Right. Well if you don’t mind, I’m gonna shift back cause I’d actually kind of, and I know this is a, you’re supposed to be asking me questions, but, and I’ve not gone through, all of your, you know, marketing guide through, through this.

So how, how do you get clients to even crack their crack their wallet open right now.

Robert Brill: [00:41:30] I don’t get clients to do anything, the clients have to want to do it. We simply look, I think, I think our mission and our stance on marketing overall is, Mmm, yeah. There, depending on the company that you are, you have an opportunity right.

And so there’s the essential businesses, which are like, I ju, I think cannabis is one of them, and it’s in food and anything you can do in the home, I guess will ads for Adorama selling, you know, selling home home recording equipment and stay at home office stuff relevant, right? And then there are businesses that are not essential.

Like you want to buy a Gucci bag or, a Montblanc pen or you want to travel. Obviously those companies are not essential, but marketing is so incredibly important because it demonstrates perseverance. It demonstrates confidence. Like you’re confident that you’re going to exist in the future. You’re going to persevere.

And the data shows that the companies who market are usually the ones who come out ahead. When the economy comes back. But I, but the, first, the foundational element of that sort of decision making tree, which I have in there, our recession marketing guide, and I, I appreciate you for bringing that up, is do you have cash number one, two, can you sleep at night knowing that you’re spending money.

You may not recoup on that for six to 12 months or longer. And then the other foundational element is where are you successful when the economy was good, or were you struggling when the economy was good? Either way kind of doesn’t matter in the respect that. Like there are a whole new set of rules right now and if you failed before, you can reinvent yourself and you can pivot and the world is different now.

If you can, if you can take advantage of that newness, whatever that new stuff is happening. If you can do something, provide value and be good to people and not be tone deaf, and if you could be actually helpful as solution oriented, you have a shot at success, you were successful in the past. You can move forward with more confidence that you actually know how to make it work at the good time. So now it’s more difficult.

Bill Laske: [00:43:44] But yeah, no, good point. All good points. I, read a great thing on LinkedIn this morning. I think it was said, Hey, can you recommend any good 15 second podcasts? Because for my community right now. That’s right. I thought it was good.

Robert Brill: [00:44:02] So what’s, speak on a little bit about always on aqua communications.

Bill Laske: [00:44:08] And you’re bounced around cause I’m bouncing around. I think let’s, I want to, I really do want to turn to always on. So the URL is And so, you know, I’ve been working at this now pretty successfully for a couple of decades.

The problem I have found is there are many out there who have known me for 20 years, and they think of me as the TV guy, period. You know, and that’s, and that’s fine. And there’s, there’s still room in that. I think we’ve got a good you know, is it five months or five years left of TV? And it’s beyond that.

I mean it keeps changing. And frankly, we’re, we’re taking our principles of TV negotiation and taking them to places where, you know, like connected TV and OTT. It’s, it’s actually generally working, not in this to the same effect, but we’re having some pretty, pretty decent results from it.

Um. But, know, so team always on, which is again, that the, it’s a full service agency. I teamed up with a couple of guys, and, well and, and all, somewhat sort of old school guys, with good experience. and it’s, it’s full service, a boutique in a sense where. What is it that you need?

And we’re happy with just a small piece, like you said, a project, you know, again, for us and with the advent of the internet and the, the ability to do much more sort of geographic, tighter circles, of targeting, in an efficient way using, using your expertise and tools, you know, we’re, we’re wide open to a wide range of clients.

With, you know, full production, full media offering as opposed to, Hey, I’m the TV guy. If you want TV, I’m your guy. You know, I, I want to be able to offer everything to new and existing clients. so always on was, was put together. through a, again, a few people, a couple that, you know, and, we’re starting to actually get a little traction as I mentioned, and we’d really just kind of launched this, I’m gonna say two months ago.

How are you getting that traction? We are doing some old school, I’ll call it old school, using some new school tools of regular emails. We’re just doing a weekly email blast out to people and it’s nicely produced and we’ve got a good graphic guy that makes it pretty, and, and it’s, it’s informative.

It’s not real salesy. The last one we did was purely funny. That was all it is. It’s like, people know people don’t want to be sold to ever in a sense, and they sure as heck don’t want to be sold to right now. So we came up with this idea of just, let’s just be a little entertaining, a little breath of fresh air, and, you know, next week we’ll hit them again with something maybe more informative.

So that’s led to actually, we had two pitch calls this week, from just that email campaign. That’s it. That’s all. That’s really all we’ve done.

Robert Brill: [00:47:03] This is your relationships, right? You’re not like cold emailing people, right?

Bill Laske: [00:47:09] Let’s see, one of the two that we got was purely cold. and it was a pure cold call that we hit them with an email. It’s been only four, four times. and they came back and, and it’s very, I mean, I, you know, again, it’s something I’m hoping I’ll be possibly talking to you about as well, but it’s, it’s huge. I mean, these guys, they, they, it’s, it’s a, I mean, it’s a billion dollar entity. These are, these are venture capital guys.

These are the, these are the money guys behind these brands. so I will tell you, what the difficult part is when, when you make it through at that level. And I’m going to point at the top of the top. These are the guys with the money. They don’t have their hands in the business. and so the meeting that we had, with them was fantastic.

And now we’re, I hate to put it this way, but you know, now we’re getting foisted upon their marketing people.

Robert Brill: [00:48:04] Right, right, right.

Bill Laske: [00:48:07] You know, so they’re thrilled to talk to us. Ha ha. but, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve had mixed results with those kinds of approaches, but yes. Otherwise you’re right.

It’s referral. A base or, or a little bit of lukewarm, like you said, is always the best. If there’s a little warm for like you said, this, these are the ones where through four weeks in a row, we created a little warmth and we got their attention with these guys who call us back and said, Hey, yeah, double the exposure.

Sure. We’ll talk to you.

Robert Brill: [00:48:40] I liked the site. It looks fantastic.

Bill Laske: [00:48:44] I hate to say it’s nicer than my MediaDex site, but it’s nice.

Robert Brill: [00:48:49] I love it. so Bill, two, two final questions. what do you love? What do you love? Love, love to eat. I’m a big foodie and I have the dude, let’s eat account.

I have a,

Bill Laske: [00:49:02] yeah, I know you are. And, well in, in that I’ve been able to go and you probably see, I’m not doing well in the fitness category right now with this stuff. My excuse is COVID. I love Indian foo, and I, I love, I mean, I love Japanese food. I lived in Japan for seven years, so I, I, I miss really good Japanese, Japanese food.

but, so I’ve had this delicious, it’s called Southern spice, an Indian new, relatively new Indian restaurant right here. I love, I forget the, the cheese is it pioneer. I’m not sure, you know, I forget what it is, but anyway, so I, that’s the only reason it’s on my mind is I had it last night and ordered from this place.

Robert Brill: [00:49:44] Orange County?

Bill Laske: [00:49:45] Orange County, Irvine. and, and I’m, I love, I love Persian food. I love Greek food. I, you know, I, I’m, I’m not a foodie foodie per se, but I love, I love good food and I love it. I’d really love good beer. so I’ve gotten into a lot of craft beer lately, and I’m trying to support local. There’s so many craft brewers, you know, in the area, but there’s a lot of good local breweries in the area.

Robert Brill: [00:50:08] So for us, my wife has turned me on to a Numeral Uno pizza. Oh, they’re here now? Yes. Yeah, yeah. Oh, right. There was another place called Geno’s. Sure. As well. I mean, I mean, I’m from Chicago originally. Yeah. See, like, so Numero UNO has been around, I’ve known about them for like 20 years out here in LA. I just never liked them.

Bill Laske: [00:50:35] They’re there. They’re not, they’re not very good here.

Robert Brill: [00:50:38] But they’re like, this is now the third time we’ve ordered from them over the last probably three, four weeks. But stuff like the bread is really sweet. They like the tomato chunks. it’s good stuff. And I, I had some for lunch before.

Bill Laske: [00:50:55] I will tell you a better and cause I’m from Chicago, so I will, I will be very rude and say there is no good California pizza, by the way.

California . Is a pizza wasteland. so, so, and I’m, I’m making enemies here and I’ll probably lose clients in the future on this, but I will tell you the closest I’ve found that I would recommend if you haven’t tried is Fresh Brothers.

Robert Brill: [00:51:17] Really?

Bill Laske: [00:51:18] You probably have them up that way. They’re up to about 40 locations now.

And by the way, they’re, they’re one we ought to, we ought to put it on a list for business cause we can also help them, you and me together.

Robert Brill: [00:51:26] Okay. Yeah, I see all around. Have you tried Geno’s East Chicago?

Bill Laske: [00:51:32] Not, not here, no. Geno’s East is my favorite in Chicago. That is my favorite goto place. There’s numero UNO, numero Dua, which were very good.

And I mean, I, I went to those 50 years ago. but Geno’s to me is, is still the best when you’re in Chicago.

Robert Brill: [00:51:48] Yeah. There’s one in Sherman Oaks and I went there. Yeah. Like in December and January.

Bill Laske: [00:51:53] You need, you need to go to the original sometime downtown. And, cause it’s, it, it’s, to me, the it, well, anyway, it doesn’t travel.

Pizza’s one of the best things that travels period. and, and I order Lou Malnati’s, you know, frozen, delivered. I do that like twice a year, and it’s pretty good. But anyway.

Robert Brill: [00:52:13] How can people find you?

Bill Laske: [00:52:17] is good I’m sorry to be a, you know, listing, listing the two out there, but, [email protected]

Robert Brill: [00:52:29] Very good. Thank you so much for being on the podcast, I hope.

Bill Laske: [00:52:32] Thank you, Robert. Take care. Appreciate it.

Robert Brill: [00:52:36] Thank you for listening to this episode of the LA Business Podcast. If you like what we’re doing on this podcast, please consider subscribing on Apple or Google play, leaving a five star review and sharing with your friends.

If you have any questions, comments or recommendations for a guest you’d like to hear on this podcast, please email me, [email protected]

Thank you. Have a fantastic day. Data is the new bacon. I love that.

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Intro Music: Echegoyen Productions

Created By: Brill Media