Optmyzr Blog

PPC Town Hall 51: Top Women in Digital Marketing Share Their Success Stories

Mar 17, 2022
PPC Town Hall

Vimal Bharadwaj

Content Marketing Manager



Last week, on the occasion of Women’s Day, we premiered a special PPC Town Hall episode where we spoke to three influential women who built great careers and personal brands in digital marketing.

They shared their success stories, how they overcame challenges, and tips & advice to building great careers.

Here’s the full episode with the transcript.

Full episode:


Fred’s introduction to the episode.

Fred: Hello and welcome to another episode of PPC Town Hall. My name is Fred Vallaeys. I’m co-founder and CEO at Optmyzr.

I’m also going to be your host for today’s episode. So this episode is airing or premiering during Women’s week. So we decided we wanted to bring together some of the most influential women in PPC and digital marketing.

Some of the folks you’re going to see here today are usually on the top 25 list of PPCers. One of them is not on that list because they don’t just do PPC. They do a whole lot more than that. So they have broader skills.

But we thought it’d be interesting to have a conversation and see how these women have built their own brains and built their careers in PPC.

Now, I’m going to be honest, I’m a white privileged male, so leading this conversation can be a little bit awkward for me. What do I know about the issues we’re going to discuss today?

So my role here today is really to facilitate the discussion, but let it flow where it needs to. And all three of our panelists are just as much the host of today’s episode as I am. But I can’t wait to hear how they did it, how they got to where they are today, and some of the hurdles and challenges that they may have faced along the way.

Now, that said, I hope that this episode is also broadly interesting to everyone, just from a PPC career perspective. There are differences whether you’re a man, a woman, a person of color, all of these things change it.

But there are also many things we have in common as humans. Right? So let’s not forget about that element as well. So with that, welcome to this episode of PPC Town Hall.

Akvile, Anu, and Navah introduce themselves.

Fred: All right, so here are my guests for today. Welcome, everyone. Get everyone to introduce themselves a little bit. Akvile Defazio, let’s start with you.

Akvile: Thank you for having me. My name is Akvile DeFazio. I’m the President of AKvertise, and we are a social media advertising agency.

Fred: And hence, you don’t make it on the top 25 PPC list because you do social. But it’s still digital marketing, and all of these things are very interconnected.

So I’m very happy to have an excuse to actually bring you onto the show for the first time.

Akvile: Thank you so much.

Fred: All right, next on the screen, we have Navah Hopkins.

Navah: Thank you very much for having me. Hi, I’m Navah Hopkins, President of Navah Hopkins, LLC. We help brands unlock the profit and solve business problems, whether it’s SaaS, whether it’s managing Ad accounts.

I am very grateful to be on the top 25 list with Fred. But more importantly, I’m very excited to have those conversations about how people can take meaningful steps in their career, whether it’s PPC or otherwise, regardless of gender.

So thank you very much for having me.

Fred: Yeah. And you’ve certainly made many steps over your illustrious career. So I can’t wait to hear a little bit about how you made those decisions and what happened.

All right. And then we have Anu Adegbola. Welcome to the show. You’re coming back for the second time. I believe it’s great to see you again. You have made some career changes since we last spoke. So tell us what you’re up to these days.

Anu: Of course, I’m very happy to be here and sharing the stage with two ladies. And I absolutely very much respect over the years.

I’m working recently, very much recently this year, I joined Marin Software as an account director to really be the paid search expert, the page search lead to help our clients do paid search very well.

And I remember speaking about that to one of the clients I was talking to recently when they were like, oh, is Marin good for us? And I was like, look, I will tell you that it is.

I am someone who’s very much part of the #PPCchat Twitter community, especially, and even on LinkedIn, trying to really talk about all the changes that’s always going on that’s coming out from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and the likes.

And my key thing is just to make sure that they are doing paid search really well. And that’s really a passion of mine. And I love talking about it and discussing all the different updates and how to use it and test it.

Fred: Yeah. And we somehow seem to keep bringing on competitors. Marin, this week. They give you permission to be on the show?

Anu: Yes, I got the permission just today. It came in like half an hour before I was like, yeah, we’re good to go. And they’re like, as long as you mentioned Marin, how Marin is amazing.

And it’s a great third party tool. You’re good to go.

Akvile, Anu, and Navah talk about how they got into marketing.

Fred: I obviously have no qualms about bringing on competitors because at the end of the day, this is such a big space and it’s about education. So that’s why we’re here today.

But let’s just kind of go around the table again and talk a little bit more about the careers that you’ve had, the many places you’ve been.

Akvile. Let’s go back to you. Tell us a little bit about how you came to be where you are today.

Akvile: Sure. So I have an unconventional path, I guess you could say. But I feel like most of us come from many different backgrounds in our industry. But I went to school for physical therapy, and I realized after graduating that it’s not what I wanted to be doing.

And any time there are marketing tasks at the clinics I worked at, I jumped all over them. And I didn’t know what I was doing, but I was very interested to learn more. So I took the leap and got an internship that I fought for way back when I lived in Seattle.

It’s a place called Evo in there and outdoor snow ski apparel company. And out of all 30 some applicants, I think I was the only one they said that didn’t have a communications, marketing or business degree.

And they went with me as a wild card. And I’m so grateful to them because that’s where my career really started. And I was there for several years. And then unfortunately, the recession hit in 2008, so my school loans had kicked in at that point and we had to scale back on hours.

So I needed to find something else and some really good friends and people that work there to this day. But I went and moved to a pet insurance company and helped them from the ground up and I was their first PPC person.

So I did come from a paid search background way back when, but I’ve migrated over to Paid Social. So after that I went to Third Door Media, which was a publication. So over there doing Organic Social, Paid Social, Paid Search I learned a lot in that.

Fred: That’s like sort of being at the powerhouse that tells them SEO and PPC and now having to do it for them.

Akvile: It was so great. I’ve met so many wonderful people, all of you and many more. And I made lifelong friends and I just loved working. There was such a fun time. But also marketing to marketers was quite the challenge.

So I took it on as a welcome challenge and a lot of fruitful things have come from it.

Fred: Quick question. Who of us here actually clicks on ads on Google or are we all like “No!” You click on ads? I’m like 50-50.

Navah: There’s two reasons why I’ll click on an ad. One, I genuinely just need it and it’s actually better than where the organic listing would be, but the other.

And then I make up prior to the marketing gods to apologize for clicking on an ad that I have no intention of actually engaging with, but to actually see what is the ad creative to the landing page so I can build content of what is good and what is bad.

Fred: I suppose you put it in a presentation. So now a lot of people see this brand and they still get the exposure for the $5 click that you just cost them. Anyway, let’s jump into the gender thing here. Right.

But you feel bad about having clicked on that ad. Do you think that’s like, women feel more bad about doing these things than men?

Navah: I don’t know. So I’m a fairly apologetic person. It was a real shift just to stop saying I’m sorry for everything and shifting to thank you for XYZ. I forget who sent it to me first.

I’ve heard several people put this shift out there where rather than you saying I am sorry for this. I am sorry for that. You say thank you for XYZ things.

So I guess what I should be saying is thank you, Brand, for providing the opportunity for us to have an even greater education so that even more people can benefit rather than I’m sorry for costing you money, but I will say I don’t think it’s a women versus men thing.

I think it’s an empathy thing. And how many people are in touch with the empathy of what their actions are, but just the confidence that comes from saying thank you incentive, I’m sorry, I think is more of the growth opportunity there.

Fred: Yeah, I really like that. I’ll try starting. I’ve also been shying away from saying I’m sorry because if you believe what you do, you should never have to apologize for it.

But just how you position it then as being thankful. I really like that. Anyway, I interrupted you Akvile.

Akvile: No worries. Those were good questions. I do the same thing. I’m like, I don’t want to click this out or don’t want to look for the organic results right below it. But the last part of it is about seven and a half years ago, I’ve always kind of had an inkling of I want to work for myself.

But some things have transpired at that point to where I just really needed to take that leap. So I finally had the courage and I asked another industry friend of ours, her name is Pamela Lund, if I could just shadow her for a day because I knew nothing about running my own agency.

I had never worked for an agency before, which I kind of wish I did in the past, since I was always in-house. But she’s like, I’ll do you one better and I’ll teach you everything I know.

And I’ll give you half my clients because I’ve taken on too much work myself and I want to start a completely different business. So she’s like, you give me half my time back and I’ll teach you everything and let you run from there.

So I’m still thankful to this day for her because I took that leap. And here we are, seven and a half years later, and we’re working with some really cool brands, and I’ve been working for myself.

Fred: That’s so generous of Pamela. Question on that. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to write. But did she literally just give you half the business or did she kind of…

Akvile: She still has her agency consultancy, but she did give me half of her clients. And then I did a lot of paid search back then. But then I realized that I wanted to do paid social.

So we’re both separate entities. We’re doing our own things. But I helped her out, and then she kind of just we split it up to where she would do paid search. I would do paid social.

So to this day, we still have like a couple of clients that we team up on for who wants to do collaboration.

Fred: And if you get the PPC client, the search clients, you kind of pass it on to her.

Akvile: Yes.

Fred: Got it. Interesting. All right, so Anu, why don’t we go to you next, tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today.

Anu: Of course, it’s been a long, winding road of a journey, to be honest. If anyone told me like, yeah, ten years ago I’d be working tech sites. I’d be like, I don’t know, it’s really weird.

I thought I’d be the person always in the weeds of paid search reports. I love Excel. That’s really what really got me into it. Seriously. Like, in my first interview was, do you like data analysis? Do you like being Excel?

I was like, oh my God, I was that geeky kid. So weird when I used to play with my dad’s laptop and pulling up VLOOKUPs and doing tables.

Fred: So strange on you.

Anu: Yeah, he’s a bit of a nerd, but I am.

Fred: I can call you.

Anu: It’s fine. I started off working in digital agencies, which was really great for looking at seeing the breadth of the different kind of brands you could work on, the different kind of account types and B2B, B2C, small, large, all that kind of stuff.

But one thing I really didn’t like and unfortunately I hear still going on today is like just all the silos. There’s only like there’s a paid search team that never talked to SEO or never talked to like email marketing or never talked to CRO and never talked to anybody else.

And it was just paid search targeting and all that kind of stuff. And I was always interested in business goals. How does paid search actually work within the whole ecosystem of the digital marketing efforts that have been made for a brand?

So I moved to in-house side and worked with these guys called Prime Inferno for now, which is how I became first in contact with Marin because their third party tool was Marin.

That’s when it really started. I started really liking the idea of automation and even also I started talking at conferences and came in touch with the lads from Brain Labs. So Dan Gilbert and Dan Botiglary as well and they were really into the script.

We give a loose script up for free. Unfortunately, Fred, you, me and you, we didn’t come in contact quite a bit later because I know you’re very much into the script world as well with Optmyzr, but I really got into your automation way back then.

We’re talking about like eight, nine years ago because I’ve always also seen myself as a bit of an efficiently lazy person. If something can take you an hour to do instead of the three, 4 hours that some long reports could do, let’s get done in an hour and get on to the next thing.

I was huge to be a fan of automation straight away and I’d always like to push all different kinds of automations on my clients. And I love the fact that what paid search also allowed me to do is come across a lot of third party tools, the likes of Kenshoo, IgnitionOne, DC Storm, way back when, SA360, of course, and the like.

So it really gave me the breath and the amazing journey to then become going in-house on with a tech tool. And I’m really seeing not just the experience of my agency side and in-house, but also the experience of being part of the community.

I feel being part of the #PPCchat community is my secondary job. It’s like literally just being there, showing up, giving my advice, hearing what’s going on, and great to be able to bring that back into the community to help us do things better. For paid search advertisers.

Fred: Yes. And for the people who don’t know #PPCchat. So that happens, I believe, Wednesdays on Twitter at 09:00.

Anu: Tuesdays. Well, on Wednesday, I’m sure that’s what you were thinking of.

Fred: Exactly. And then you also recently became the President of the PSA. So like, you’re not very busy, are you?

Anu: No, not busy at all. Yes. From the beginning of my career, I have been one of those people. I come from an amazing family of philanthropists, doctors and PhD holders who do amazing things for people.

And I’ve always been trying to find that that is in my DNA. I find what do I do? What has been part of my job is helping people. And I think the truth is a lot of advertising is really about making more money for somebody else.

So for me, for many years I used to think I was not really comfortable with that. And every once in a while I think maybe I’ll leave marketing at some point because I don’t really see how I’m helping people.

So when I started really doing the podcast and when started being part of the community and being a mentor and seeing others, especially women, other black females, other people who are like me, who thought the entry to this industry was so hard, a light bulb moment went in my head.

It was like, okay, maybe I should stick around for this. I should definitely stick around for this because this is where my desire, my love to actually help people and get people doing paid search better, being able to get into the industry a lot, getting into the industry easier and making them not how to deal with imposter syndrome.

Everyone has it. That whole I’m not doing things right. I should be learning this a lot quicker. Oh my God. How come that other person knows how to do this and I don’t?

These questions that I have, should I be asking them it might make me look stupid to be able to debunk all those like, yeah, it’s not okay to ask those questions. Like, no, it’s really okay how to just help people get along in that way.

So that’s become a really good big passion of mine.

Fred: Yeah. Even Google changes things basically every week. So, we’re all imposters. We’ve never done this before. Julie Bacchini was on the show not that long ago and she’s been doing PPC for over 20 years.

And she basically said, Listen, this is like the fourth time that I’m relearning how Google Ads works, because every couple of years it’s just different. And then I looked this up for a speech that I gave.

The human body replaces itself every seven years. After seven years, every cell in your body has basically been replaced by a new one. Just like Google Ads. Right.

Except Google Ads replaces itself faster than every seven years.

Anu: Every few months replaces itself.

Fred: Exactly. Navah, do you ever feel like an imposter and tell us how you got to where you are?

Navah: All the time. All the time. I feel like an imposter. I don’t think I’ve ever had a close colleague that has ever not had to walk me off a ledge and remind me that I’m actually competent.

And I think it’s because when one is clever, one is able to know what one doesn’t know. So in a bridged history of me, I actually wanted to be a high school English teacher, but I pivoted from that because I saw that I would be both poor and ineffective in the current education system and I couldn’t do it.

And I had this really impactful conversation with a relative who basically said, what are you doing? You are denying your nature. You are denying what you are good at. Go into marketing, like, you are good at this. Go do it.

So I ended up transferring, and while I was in College, I got my certifications. I started doing some kind of like, freelance side work. Got my first gig actually in SEO. That was probably both the best and worst experience because it taught me that in order to really convey and to be heard, you have to have an authority voice and a professional voice and your friend voice.

And if you allow too many to see only the friend voice, you can sometimes not be taken as seriously. But if you own your authority voice, that’s when you can really enact change and you can empower people to do well.

So after sometimes sent in the SEO space, I actually took the money I earned to start up trying to go back to education called AngelEd, which was meant to help education be as debt free and employable as possible, connecting students to scholarships and mentors.

It ended up failing, but it was a great educational experience and it built a lot of really good connections for me, actually. Now in the University space to help disseminate digital marketing knowledge to help the next generation of digital marketers, analysts, so on and so forth.

All the while I was working on that startup, I was doing freelance work on the PPC side, ended up in Fred’s tradition of inviting competitors on WordStream. I spent five years at WordStream and I fell in love with the idea of SaaS or software as a service.

And the reason why I fell in love with it is much like has been discussed, there is a genuine love of helping people. I truly, truly love seeing the benefit that a brand can get. But unfortunately it’s not scalable.

To have one-to-one assistance, you’re not going to be able to enact as much good one to one as you could through software. And so what was nice about WordStream is not only was I able to help people and work on individual accounts, spread interesting knowledge, but also work on software that could scale really clever strategies.

And so that piece of product really stuck with me. I ended up, after WordStream going to build the paid arm for Hennessy Digital. We ended up managing a book of business of about 1.5 million ad spend per month.

So built a kind of entity there. An agency ended up then at Justuno, which is the CRO software, then went to AdZooma which is the PPC management software. And I realized after those two software jumps that, you know what, I need to take a break belonging to a brand.

AdZooma was based in the UK, I had to set up a Corporation for myself to be paid because they were going to have to pay me as a contractor. So the decision that I had been weighing and I wish I could give you a hug through this call.

I feel a lot of really good advice and a lot of really good encouragement. Like, you know what? Just make that leap. You are meant to do this. You have the brain and the workflow to do it this way.

And so after I realized, you know what? I need to take a break, I made the call. We’re going to just focus on my consulting business. And what’s nice is that because of the width and breadth of my experience working with the thousands of brands from the WordStream side, the thought leadership piece, speaking, writing Ask A PPC for Search Engine Journal.

I’m about to also write for Search Engine Land’s Public Speaking Circuit. I had enough inbound interest that I could just say I’m going to go off on my own. And it was a fairly easy decision.

I could not have done that at the beginning of my career, even though I tried. So it’s really nice kind of coming full circle and being in a place where I can help the people I really want to help, I can solve the problems I really want to solve.

Taking again every moment of sadness based on a moment of happiness. And I firmly, firmly believe that all the things I get to work on are direct result of that.

How did Akvile, Navah, and Anu build their personal brands?

Fred: Nice. So I love the whole personal branding thing and how that’s enabled you to get to where you are today, having more control over the decisions that you make. So let’s jump into that a little bit.

So all three of you have amazing personal brands in the industry. Was that a conscious decision to start building that for you?

Navah: Yes! Oh, 100%! I’m sorry, I’m jumping right now. Oh, no, thank you for letting me jump back in. I got to catch myself. So this is actually really important and this is something that everyone should have a brand outside of the brand that they work for.

Because no matter how good you are, you are replaceable. Nothing outside of you that will retain like you could always be pushed aside. So after a series of interesting working experiences where I would work really, really bloody hard and maybe things would work out.

Maybe things wouldn’t. From a pragmatist standpoint, I knew I had to start to come up with my own brand so that I could have leverage to push forward. Things I knew had to happen because it wasn’t just some quiet little kid banging on the door with an opinion.

This was Navah Hopkins or before I got married, Navah Fuchs saying, this needs to happen there’s outside clout there that if we don’t listen, what are the repercussions of that?

I was very aware that as I started to build my own external clout, I not only was able to knock those things, I was able to add more value to the company, so I was able to command a greater salary.

Of course, the main motivation was helping people and spreading useful information. But there is a certain degree of selfishness that I think is important that everyone owns and pragmatism that everyone owns.

When thinking about your brand and how you leverage your brand in internal discussions.

Fred: Exactly. I think having a personal brand has huge benefits, but it’s also a fair amount of additional work and it’s not easy to get there right. So it is a trade off.

And I guess that’s why that selfish component is necessary. Otherwise, I think people just wouldn’t want to put in the extra work for it. Akvile, talk about your personal branding and how you use it to get new clients.

Akvile: Similarly to what Navah said. My mom said this to me when I was younger. She’s like, no one’s going to come knocking on your door unless you put yourself out there.

So I try to take that in many different aspects of my life, especially professionally. But when Twitter came out, I loved it. It took me a little while to figure it out, but once we connected with marketers, it was just like I was genuinely excited to just share things, but the helpfulness aspect of it is what really I thrive on sharing, helping that generally makes me happy.

That’s the tradeoff for me. Like, I share something and I get personal fulfillment from it because people have shared with me. My career wouldn’t be where it is if there were other people in our industry that were so helpful selfless and sharing different information.

There’s plenty of work to go out there. So I love that we’re competitive, but we’re still all very intertwined and very willing to help people reaching out just without anything. You don’t expect anything in return necessarily, but for me, I just think Twitter really helps things take off, and you do have to be a little bit healthy, selfish, as Navah put it.

You do have to say, I’m good at this. I can do this if I’m accepting clients. Put it out there. I was so hesitant the first time. It was year two of my business. I lost two of our biggest clients in one week.

One got acquired by a larger company that came back to us six months later. Another one, their CEO, resigned, and I was not prepared for something like that. And I was trying to learn how to do business development.

And that’s where I really decided to lean further into my social network and offline, online. I very reluctantly just tweeted, hey, we’re accepting clients. I felt like it’s such a failure at that moment. And everyone’s like, oh, you just incorporated, you’re growing. Congratulations.

And I was like, oh, that is not how I felt. But now I’m not afraid to put that out in there anymore because other people can have different perspectives, and your closest group of confidants will know what’s going on behind the scenes.

But there’s no shame in telling people what you’re good at, what you can do to help others. And I think just being a helpful person that’s excited about the industry that we’re in, maybe updates.

I work more on the paid social side of things, and Facebook has a lot of challenges that come along with it, and there’s a lot of people complaining about it. So I’m guilty.

I’ve done it once in a while. But I think as long as you’re genuine, you’re helpful, and you’re focused on not just putting out content that’s going to be interesting and helpful to someone else, but also getting things back from the community.

So I think there’s a really good kind of equal trade going on. And using your personal brand so people know who you are and what you do and how you can help them is very important for the success of you, whether you’re working in-house at a brand, an agency, or for yourself.

Fred: Thank you for sharing, because that’s very actionable. I think. How do you start building this personal brand while it can be as easy as going on Twitter and engaging in #PPCchat and chiming in.

So #PPCchat is basically there’s five to six questions that get asked and everyone gets to weigh in and you can weigh in. But hey, here’s what I think about Performance Max campaigns.

And so you start building up that reputation, that credibility, and then that can lead into like you’re saying, a chance to tell people, hey, I’m taking new clients. Please reach out to me.

Anu, you’re obviously engaged with #PPCchat, is that a channel that you use to build your personal brand or how did you go about it?

Anu: Absolutely. #PPCchat definitely really helped to make it almost like an easy Tuesday, Wednesday strategy of like, this is how I’ll interact, this is how I’ll show what I know about our industry.

I think it is one of the little positives that came out of the pandemic years. Like, I was in my house, I was in front of a screen more times than ever now. And so honestly, the #PPCchat community dubbed me out of some of my lowest moments of just going there.

And it wouldn’t necessarily always be a tweet about paid search. It will be about something that makes people laugh, the wages, just talking about the frustration, all the frustrations everybody is going through.

There’s definitely amazing feeling of you are not alone in the feelings you’re having about your frustrations about the situation, the industry, the clients you could be working on, frustrating clients, wanted to move on things that you have to do because you need to keep a client and there was just so much joy to just get involved with that.

And especially during the pandemic, I also picked up on trying to be more regular, even on LinkedIn. For me, that was just an opportunity to not need to job hunt anymore, not need to be the one searching for what the next great opportunity needs to be.

I saw a direct correlation with more people head hunting me, more people looking out for me to participate, to partner with something. Once I started leaning into posting more on LinkedIn, even it was just about sharing some of my difficult moments, the winds and the tough times and moving around.

And you’d always find that there’ll be some things that you think to yourself, I don’t want to share, this will be annoying or nobody wants to hear about this.

And it will be those posts that get the most interaction, the most engagement, the most. Oh my God, I can’t believe that you’re doing this because sometimes and I have moved around a lot because I’ve always had a strong sense of I’m not going to stay with somewhere. I’m not happy.

Even if it’s only been there for three years. I’ve only been there for three months. And then you have this weird feeling of like, oh God, I’m not going to post them in a new job. I just have to three months. What would people say?

What would people think? And you get so much amazing support from the get so much amazing support from the community. And I’m like, oh, Jesus, all of these things is just in my head, all this weird in my head.

And so actually now that almost even motivated me to even do more of it and to encourage other people as well who are also having that whole, Lord, I want to leave, but I don’t know whether I should.

And there are just some things that a lot of it is just in your head, and you just need to push it out to realize that.

Managing personal and professional voices on social media

Fred: Sorry to interject here. I said sorry, let me take the opportunity. Thank you for letting me interject. But I find this really interesting because I think you’re going into the personal voice and the professional voice that Navah brought up earlier in the show.

And that’s actually something that I personally struggle with. I think I have way more of a professional voice. For some reason, all digital marketers are on Twitter. That’s the place. Like nobody else in the world seems to enjoy Twitter anymore.

And then people come up and they’re like, well, why aren’t you doing more Instagram? Why aren’t you making TikTok videos about PPC? Is that something that you have all looked at and talk more about?

That how you draw the line between the personal and the brand voice? Because it sounds like you kind of mix both together. You do that across platforms as well?

Anu: Yeah, I do that together, probably on this one. All the different paid social channels have different ways of working. Instagram is not going to work the same way Facebook will work.

It’s not the same with Twitter. So you cannot just say, oh, paid social voice. And I’ll do the same thing across all the different channels. That will fail. So I think it’s definitely very important to realize what works for you.

How many voices can you materialize? And that might sound a bit like for personality disorder, but no, I think with LinkedIn, I know that I can handle just posting like, let’s say once a day, Monday to Friday, because that is a professional network.

That’s how I see it. I see some people doing it in different ways. And it worked very well for them. And for me, I see it in a way that they probably put in a lot more work, a lot more time into it than I have.

And I don’t. And the pace at which I’m going, the growth that I’m seeing works for me. I’m happy with it. With Twitter, it’s a lot more conversational. It’s a lot more like nuance. You can have a little bit of fun and play with it.

So I’ll do more long posts on LinkedIn, but I can throw in like a random thought that has just come in my head at 1:00 P.m. Might be about coffee, might be about Google, either one.

I might post it, it might work. It might not work. And I think one thing also has to remember people that have to remember is that because one post doesn’t work, doesn’t mean the next won’t.

So because you’ve failed one or two posts or didn’t get rid of the engagement.

Fred: Now you get back in your head and you’re like, oh my God, people don’t like what I’m talking about working today.

Anu: No, just keep going with some of their channels. You just need to keep going with it.

Fred: And, Akvile. I realize we should definitely bring this one back to you because you’re the social expert. So what do you think about that?

Akvile: I feel like I’ve been struggling the last two years. I have a toddler now, so juggling that with COVID and a baby. I haven’t done as much as I want to year into, but the creativity that tries to resurface is not something that’s been really great the last two years.

But before that, I try to figure out who the audience is, what I want to convey with Twitter, I use it mostly for marketing. I’ll throw in a few things that are personally just to add that human component because I also do want to share certain things with that community and other people that might be my followers with LinkedIn, the professional as well.

But something like Instagram. I do enjoy sharing some work related things, but I know that it’s much more a lot of marketing friends on there from the industry, but also just people that don’t work in this space.

So I try to be a little respective of like what would they be interested in as well from my profile.

Fred: And you use your personal profile but you share marketing stuff through it.

Akvile: Yes, because there’s too much to handle too. I try to do just one for AKvertise, but I’m like, I work remotely. I’ve been working remotely for ten years and there’s only so much you can do.

And I know I can get creative there, but I’m just limited on bandwidth. So for instance on Instagram, since it is my personal account and people know what I do, I will share things like when we used to go more to in-person events like, hey, I’m here, this is what we’re doing just to make it exciting for people that are also not in this space.

So for instance, I just moved last weekend and finally set up my office again little by little. So I shared the thing like, oh, you know, my office is set up and about to do this really great conversation with some people I respect and have learned or come from.

So that type of stuff is still career related, but it kind of intertwines with personal. So I think it’s best to understand how do you want to be conveyed to the people that follow you, whether you’re public or private on different channels, or if you’re younger, maybe greener to the industry, what your goal is, what do you want to be known for?

How do you want to evolve your account, your persona per se, but just try to mix in a little bit personal so people know that there is a more human warmth component to you if they can approach you about something else.

Because while we do work most of our week, most of our lives, I think it’s also important to show that life is not just work. We should work to live, to work whatever you want to do.

But at some point, it’s not 100% right. We’re multifaceted beings. So I think it’s okay to put out some personal stuff in between career oriented posts as well.

Fred: Thanks for sharing that. All right, let’s shift topics here a little bit. And Navah maybe we’ll go back to you. Okay, so now you run a consultancy. You’re having to go out there. I’m sure people are knocking down your door to work with you, but at the end, you still have to sell. Right?

So how do you get buy-in sales situations and throughout your career, when you were perhaps presenting to a room full of men, how do you get buy-in how do you get them to trust you?

I know the personal brand that you built was something that helped you before. Those people listening today who haven’t quite gotten to that personal brand level, what advice would you give to be like that trusted expert in getting buy-in more easily.

Navah: So I’m going to give advice of what you should do and then give advice of what you shouldn’t do. We’re going to start with what you should do. Be genuine and authentic in what you can reasonably provide.

Do not allow anyone to pressure you into hard metrics, hard goals that you will deliver on. Instead, lean into what you can specifically provide. So, for example, one client I’ve taken on, we’re now going into a monthly retainer.

They started off on just projects. They wanted hard metrics of what the fixes that I was proposing would be able to deliver them. And I flat out refused. I will not promise you something that I cannot guarantee will happen.

These are the things I’m expecting to happen. This is why I’m expecting to happen and give data behind why. And it all worked out. And now they kept asking me, hey, what do you think about this?

What do you think about this? Like, you know what, if you would like to be on a monthly retainer, let’s be on a monthly retainer. Otherwise, we’re going to need to make these projects.

And they found the advice, they found the value I was able to provide useful that they ended up going with that retainer.

Fred: What I’m hearing is you’re kind of doing the pushback earlier on rather than sort of like going with the flow.

Navah: Correct. And this goes to what you shouldn’t do. Don’t devalue yourself by giving away your brilliant mind for free. A lot of times when I was younger, I was so insecure in my intelligence that I felt the need to prove it, and I would give away everything of value right up front.

And so by the time it came to actually selling and the time it came to actually securing the clients, they didn’t need me because I had already given them everything away for free.

Fred: You built a software to make it easy to run it?

Navah: Yeah, exactly. And I think that’s actually one of the reasons why I lean so heavily on software is because you’re able to build out solutions. And even if you solve one thing with a lot of wit for free at the beginning, just to kind of what the appetite, you still can then build those really interesting Iterative solutions.

So I find it easiest to work in that space. But for those that are just getting started, it is okay to give a tidbit of advice. You do not need to give everything away for free. The other thing that’s very important to own is what kind of tone do you need to bring to the conversation.

There are certain people when I’m speaking to them. I am a very clean cut. I lean very much into the fact that I am a well-educated college grad. I’ve been in the industry 15 years. I will lean into every single award I’ve won.

There are other people where I’m far more casual, far more accessible. I have sold more high value deals on my Star Wars geekery than my actual PPC knowledge. Because when you like who you do business with, it’s so much easier to have that conversation, so much easier to grow that relationship.

If everything feels like it’s nickel and diming or a fight that it’s not a healthy relationship. And it doesn’t matter if you get one really big month of MRR or one really big month of spend, if the relationship will be poor, if there will be a lack of trust, if there will always be this question of value, you will hate that work and you will ultimately do bad work.

And then that will feed your impostor syndrome. And then it’ll just be bad. So find folks that you enjoy working with own your value. Do not give everything away for free, and test the limit of how much people are willing to charge.

Like I started off when I was first doing my pricing at $100 an hour. I now get $250 an hour for just consultative work. And people don’t bat an eye at it because they know that they are going to get much more value out of that spend.

So don’t be afraid to test your prices and look for those friend relationships within your authority voice.

Fred: And then I guess we all go about pricing a little bit the same way, right? When I ran an agency, maybe I can shortly, briefly in between doing Google and Optmyzr, but I was like, okay, let me charge this much.

That’s my comfort limit of what I can ask for. And then people would consistently say yes. And I was like, oh, maybe I can increase it a little. So that’s how you get there. But also ask around in the industry, because if everyone’s saying yes because you’re under pricing yourself by half, then that’s no good, right?

Hey, Akvile, let’s go to you about getting buy-in from clients, existing clients, new clients. How have you handled it?

Akvile: It’s easier now. I feel like since I have a lot of experience throughout the years, but when I was younger, it was certainly more challenging being green, and I feel like I wasn’t very confident in my voice.

I was nervous about public speaking, so I feel like people can pick up the tone in your voice. And if you’re not sounding very confident, it’s much more difficult to get a buy-in. So few years back, I knew this was an issue for myself and I needed to overcome it, especially if I wanted to be successful in business and I wanted to start speaking at conferences.

So I went to Toastmasters. And if this is an issue for you, it’s wonderful, wonderful global organization. I didn’t miss a single weekly meeting for a year, and my first speaking engagement was a keynote at the Adobe campus in Salt Lake City, which I never thought I could get to that point.

But going to Toastmasters helped me so much in being able to be present when I’m speaking to use a more confident tone, even if I’m not feeling confident, if I’m having a bad day and I have to do a presentation or do a sales call with a prospective client.

I’ve noticed that same thing. Like, I’ll test different prices, and I was so worried about doing that. I’m like to say it with confidence, even if I’m not feeling confident, maybe practice before I hop on the call.

And I have not had anybody push back. So that gave me more confidence to the next call, the next call. And I feel like even if you’re feeling like an imposter, you’re not feeling at your best, just practicing it out loud.

And don’t hesitate to try not to stumble. Of course, we all stumble from time to time, but as long as you convey it that way, then that prospective client will be confident in your scales and be like, okay, she can say that voice or that price, then she’s worth that most likely.

And as Navah pointed out, definitely sense out how that relationship is going to be and set the boundaries. Set the expectations early on because there are so many red flags that you can pick up over the years as you do this longer of what a good relationship is and sense it out.

Trust your gut, because one has anyone ever said I shouldn’t have trusted my gut? Right. Especially if you’re more intuitive and working with people. But I feel like that’s very important to do, especially if you are looking to be more forward facing, work up at a company to more executive position or a VP of some sort or just working for yourself, because that will help set the tone for your business and your success.

Fred: It’s amazing advice and I have to make light of this, sadly. But I should have not trusted my gut when my good friend told me five, six years ago that I should have bought Bitcoin, I was like, no, in the world that this can be right.

Akvile: You’re not alone.

Fred: So, yeah, we all have regrets. But in the end, you’re right. I mean, trust your gut, because I think there’s regrets of opportunities missed are very different from regrets of having taken on a bad client who’s made your life so stressful that you hate your job, you don’t get time with your kids.

I think those are two very different things. So that’s great advice. Anu, what about you?

Anu: What about me about?

Fred: Pushing back, right so a room full of men you got to present to them first time, they don’t believe you. Maybe before you had your personal brain, before you were who you are today, you’re younger. How would you have dealt with that room?

Anu: I think I definitely have to give credit for that for me to again, it’s something that I’ve mentioned, like my family, I come from a very overachieving, confident family, and I’ve always been like, I have that running through my veins.

Like, if I’m in a room, I deserve to be in a room. If I’m on a stage, I deserve to be on that stage. Especially my first speaking gig, I had a bit of stage fright and I just mentioned it and I was like, yeah, let’s just throw it out there.

Look very nervous my first one, and then I just got into my talk and it had such great feedback, and I was like, well, that’s not too hard. In fact, the way I started thinking about it is that if you’re the person brave enough to be the one standing up there and talking, you’ve got something of value to say.

You’ve done the brave thing. You’ve done the good thing to start off with. So your audience have every right to listen to you. And so I’ve always just made sure that I always come well prepared, always come with my confidence, and never feel bad about not being able to answer certain questions because you don’t necessarily need to have all the answers, all the questions on the spot.

It’s okay to say, Sorry, that bit that you’ve just asked me, I don’t know, but this is what I know. And that bit that I don’t know, I’ll research it and come back to you because everyone’s learning, everyone’s going, and you won’t always have the answers all the time.

So at the end of the day, it’s just about making sure that you do your preparation, but you don’t get flustered if there’s something that has been up about that you do not know and just keeping at it.

It’s also very much a relentless game. I think how I’ve really stuck in is that even in the good days and bad days, just realizing I just need to get back in there people, things will fail. Things will not always go right.

But there’s a 50 50% chance that you could get something if you present yourself. There’s 100% chance you won’t get it if you don’t show up at all.

So the biggest thing is to just continue to showing up and try to be better than the last time. All right.

Fred: Wayne Gretzky said you missed 100% of the shots you don’t take.

Anu: Absolutely.

Fred: I love the whole preparation thing and being true to your voice. Right. So when presentations go badly, whether that’s a presentation on stage or a presentation in front of a bunch of clients, it’s when you’re presenting somebody else’s work and you don’t know the detail. Right.

And it’s okay to not have all the answers like you said, but you should be the expert. You should really know what you’re talking about because people will call you the bullshit. All right.

So this has been amazing. I want to have a lightning round here one piece of advice you would give your younger you.

Akvile, Anu, and Navah share one piece of advice they give their younger selves

Akvile: All right, I’ll go first. Kind of piggybacking off the last question. I wish I had a stronger voice when I was younger. I think a lot and I internalized a lot, but it doesn’t. And I feel like I just had this wall up where I wouldn’t externalize it, which I didn’t learn until much later.

And I finally started speaking up and telling people my opinion. I used to be afraid of not being liked, and I’m getting to the point where not everyone’s going to like you, and that’s okay.

So I would just tell myself to not be afraid to speak up and to have gone to Toastmasters when I was younger. It’s great advice.

Fred: Who wants to go next?

Anu: My advice. The first thing that came to my mind is your imposter syndrome voice is wrong. That’s really the biggest advice. There will be situations, especially there are situations that you feel that maybe I shouldn’t have done that or that went wrong.

I shouldn’t speak my mind up here. That voice is wrong. Almost like similar to speak up, it’s better to speak up and maybe to be corrected than to just not speak up at all.

It’s better to still speak up because your imposter syndrome voice is wrong.

Fred: About the imposter syndrome. There’s this whole notion that experts it’s like this self-fulfilling prophecy. Once you’re an expert, you can say almost anything you want and people will believe it because you are the expert.

And so I think if you’re that younger person sitting in the room with someone with much more experience, I mean, do realize that often they may not be quite as hands-on with these very rapidly shifting tool sets and systems.

And so their perception on it may not be as accurate as yours. Right. And so there may be a disconnect between what you think and what you hear from the experts, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the expert is right.

And that’s where I think it’s really important. What you’re saying is don’t necessarily challenge them, because challenging someone doesn’t necessarily lead to productive outcome, but help them see the other side, ask about the other side.

Maybe they haven’t thought about it and start having that conversation because everybody gets smarter that way.

Anu: Absolutely. It’s important that we can discuss and that’s what’s so amazing about the #PPCchat community. It’s important that we can discuss what’s working for one person and might not be working for another person.

And how Google brings a lot of striving with all the updates. And some people like, oh, it’s working for me. And other people are like, no, it’s not. It’s the worst thing ever. And it’s really great to be part of that community that lets you see that, well, it’s not about it’s good or it’s bad.

It’s all about testing it to see if it works. And you can test loads of different things. And a test will work for one client. It will not work for another client. And there’ll be different loads of different caveats you need to put into place to say things work.

Because, yeah, you have all these thought leaders on Twitter who was like, bring this big sentence, bring this big statement. And I think it’s important that they be like, the caveat, though, is that always missed out.

That’s why sometimes I add to the conversation, someone put this big sentence, I was like, well, “It depends”. “It depends” is one of our favorite phrases in this industry.

Fred: That’s what makes Twitter so difficult for PPC, because it’s like, well, here’s the answer. And then here’s the ten caveats to that.

Akvile: Hot take.

Anu: Yeah, right. Navah, sorry. You go ahead. You give us your amazing tidbit.

Navah: I back up all that’s been said, I guess simply just own your power. You have power in your questions. You have power in your wit. You have power in your work ethic. You have power in every single choice that you make.

And even if something is not quite right, and even if you get set back a little bit, there is power in overcoming it and having that data point that you have overcome that adversity and you own your voice and your power.

There have been several instances in my career where people have tried to shake that. And I think one of the reasons why I appreciate so much this industry is that there are so many opportunities for true teeth in technical expertise and then also witness strategy to kind of protect those that are actually good and put to the side those that might try to shake confidence of the worthy.

So own your power, own your worth. Do not allow anyone to make you question that.

Wrapping it up

Fred: Great advice from everyone. Well, thank you so much. Viewers, thanks for watching. If you’ve enjoyed this episode you want to get more of PPC Town Hall, use the subscribe button.

You can also subscribe to the email list on our website. That way you’ll find out when we have new episodes. They roughly happen about twice a month. So thank you to our panelists - Akvile, Navah, and Anu. You’ve been fantastic.

Thank you for sharing all these wonderful insights and for remaining thought leaders, experts and educators. Most of all, let’s get rid of that box. We’re covering Anu’s face. Let’s go to this view.

No, that doesn’t work. Okay, how about this view? This is better. We can see everyone. So thanks for joining us. That little thing that was up at the bottom of the screen. My producer is trying to tell you that I just wrote a book “Unlevel the playing field”.

Go ahead and check that out on Amazon but again, thank you so much for being here. Thanks for sharing. Hope to have you again on another episode and have a wonderful day, everyone.

All: Thank you. Bye. Thank you. Bye.

Connect with the panelists.

Frederick Vallaeys: Twitter | LinkedIn | Unlevel The Playing Field

Akvile DeFazio: Twitter

Navah Hopkins: Twitter

Anu Adegbola: Twitter


  • Build a personal brand outside of the brand you work for.
  • Engage with your community by being helpful and sharing useful content.
  • Be confident and well-prepared when trying to earn acceptance for your ideas from your team.