Jason Tabeling, CEO of AirTank
Each week, we interview proven leaders from our network, to learn from their experiences, and share their Talent Attraction and Candidate Experience stories with you.
- In this episode, Jason share’s the story of his career progression evolving from a Licensed Insurance agent at Progressive Insurance to a Paid Search expert, and now to CEO of a eCommerce product and Digital Marketing agency.
- Jason offers his perspective on how to differentiate yourself in a job search as well as the critical importance of your personal & professional network.
- Add some new music knowledge to your repertoire too!
Full transcript of our interview below:
RON: Hello, everyone. Today is the premier edition of The Bell Fall Search Focus on Talent video series. This is the Digital Marketing Edition.
My guest today is someone that I’ve worked with in the past. He has been a client of mine, and most importantly, we become very good friends over the years, a massive respect for him not only for his professional success and its extensive digital marketing expertise, but also for how well he treats everyone around him.
His reputation is stellar. He’s very generous with his time, and he’s one of those people that you just feel lucky to know. It’s my pleasure to have with us today:
Jason Tabling, CEO of Air Tank. Jason, Welcome. And thanks for your time.
JASON: Thanks for having me, Ron. Very excellent intro.
I’m very excited to be a part of the premiere addition and very exciting. And I would say thank you for the kind words. And right back at it’s been a pleasure to know you, and you have helped me a tremendous amount of ways.
So happy to try and share any knowledge today and appreciate the opportunity.
RON: Thanks for those kind words. So to kick off our chat, can you reintroduce yourself? Tell us about your current role in your company? Explain to our viewers a little bit more about AirTank’s differentiators.
JASON: So my name is Jason Tabling, I’m currently the CEO of AirTank, which is a digital design, development, and marketing company. We also have a headless optional API commerce platform called ZiftrShop that we are very excited to be in market with over the past few months and looking to grow the business.
So I’ve been here about six months so far in this role and very excited about it and and all the opportunities that we have here.
RON: Perfect. Can you talk a little bit more about your personal and professional experience? How has your career progressed? Have you spent time in agencies or more on the client side roles, B2B versus B2C and do you have a niche or speciality that you feel are your core strengths that you have built your career around?
JASON: Yeah. I started off my career as a licensed insurance agent for Progressive Insurance. I was so fortunate to be there. My first job, I was just answering phones.
“Thank you for calling Progressive, This is Jason.”
I learned a ton about so many things at that time. That’s probably why you said the kind of stuff about me treating people, I think that was a lot of it.
People would call you…They were angry.
People call you…They were happy you saved the money, you didn’t do what they wanted.
It was a real, better understanding of what it was like to work at a company and work for a business. And so through my experience with Progressive, I got to meet some incredible people.
I got into digital marketing through some auditing and some other work that I did. When I got into that role and that was when things really started to pick up. The timing was good in terms of growth of Digital Marketing.
Progressive was way ahead of the curve. And I just got to learn an incredible amount from people and stuff there. So I spent my first few years there, six years there.
And then I got recruited to go work at this very small agency at the time with one of our good friends, Paul (Elliott).
And that agency turned into another just incredible opportunity, and I spent 10 years there.
That was Rosetta, Brulant, Emergent Marketing, Razorfish; mergers / acquisitions / growth.
And through that course of 10 years, I was very lucky to work with great people, who helped me through my career. I got to grow up and expand from when he said, What do I start with?
If this “whole world” burned down, I’d still go back and do paid search and paid media. That’s sort of the core of what I know and have become really an expert at, if you will, or as close to an expert as I can be.
Since then, it just started to stack up, right. Learn a little bit more, expand and grow. And that’s one of the things I love about digital marketing and just digital in general, so much change so much to know and piece together.
Everything is different now than it was even six months ago. So I could go on and on things that just weren’t even around six months ago and digital. And I think that’s a great opportunity to expand, grow.
And so, I spent 10 years there, then went to brandmuscle. There I worked on another great opportunity, leading digital and working in product on the software side.
And that sort of experience really helped me figure a lot of stuff out. And I’m here now at AirTank, where I’m doing software and services, and I’m just incredibly excited and lucky to have the opportunities that I’ve gotten so far through the course of my career.
RON: Excellent. Thank you for that. You know, I think the biggest lesson there is that you don’t have to have a degree in marketing or necessarily start your career in marketing in order to achieve success in this industry.
JASON: You know, people ask me all the time, what type of background and stuff I hire for? I hire for motivation and interest. Your passion and perseverance and willingness to step up can get you there.
I mean, it really can. We’ll talk more about this, but I think that’s what is really impactful and fortunate about this space.
RON: Gotcha. Switching gears here a little bit, can you talk about a specific example or a case study or success generated by Air Tank for one of your clients and perhaps one from the past that’s a personal favorite of yours, doesn’t matter when it was in your career.
JASON: So at AirTank, we do a lot of commerce work, as I mentioned, with the platform, ZiftrShop. And one of the things I think is our our biggest success currently at the agency, and the company is working with this startup, sort-of mid enterprise brand SoClean. SoClean makes a CPAP cleaning machine.
These guys were growing so quickly that their existing platform and the company was just scaling in real time, essentially. We saw a lot of their growth occur, helping them with a lot of the growth. But also we saw some stumbling blocks.
And so, for example, they were on their old commerce platform and about 75% of their folks were abandoning the cart not because they didn’t want to buy what they wanted, but because the technology wasn’t enabling them to buy.
So we were able to stand them up on our platform in the shop, and that reduced cart abandonment, increased page speed time, increase conversion rates by significant numbers (20-30%) on all of those different numbers and help them hit the next level of their business.
That growth, which was great for our business, was great for their business. I think it’s just something the company is really proud of to see that brand sort of take steps and level up and and become more of a household name as a brand, and expand their offering.
And I think that’s just sort of the work that Air Tank does is help enable their customers, get through the stumbling blocks, get through the growth curve, and help be a good partner to them, on both of the products and software side as well as the service side.
I think we’re all and me just sort of inheriting this. Really proud of that work.
RON: Great examples, Jason. You know, I realize that we’re under pressure to make money and run profitable businesses, but I think you’d agree there’s nothing more fulfilling than truly making a positive impact on our clients and their bottom lines.
JASON: It’s when whatever we take over a piece of business from another agency or company and very quickly 15, 30 days, I guess less than 30 days, we see a dramatic increase in performance.
And the reason why I like that so much is there aren’t that many different ways to accomplish digital marketing success fundamentally. The tools that we have as an industry are relatively the same.
Google Ad sets up the rules, and we play within those rules.
Facebook set up the rules we set up and those rules.
There’s certain elements you can do within software and talk to each other.
So when you see a client transition in your business and you move from selling that business, “Hey, we can do all these things to you,” to within 30 days, you see dramatic improvements, I really feel that’s like such a great accomplishment for myself as I’ve gone through those our company because it validates the expertise and the sales process, and there’s nothing that feels better than that.
When, you know right away, the client feels good about the decision they made to move to you. The team feels good and reinforcing their ability to execute. And that’s happened more than a few times.
And I think it’s not because the other agency wasn’t doing great work. It’s just that fundamental level of detail and expertise can really separate.
I think that feels the best throughout the course of my career and even since that I’ve been here at AirTank we’ve done that a couple of times.
RON: Transitioning to the last topic. I’m really hoping we can leverage your background and share some of your thoughts on a few different segments of the talent market first for students still in school and getting closer, transitioning into the workforce and wanting to explore opportunities and marketing.
What would you tell them?
What are the current hot topics in marketing and how should they best prepare for making their first move?
JASON: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. For folks with no experience coming out of school and you’ve got a degree, right? That is not going to be the separation. A’s and stuff are a good look.
It goes back to the motivation question, What are you doing to separate yourself?
I love it, and I think it’s a great idea when folks going out of school have different certifications.
There’s Google certifications that are free for Google Analytics.
Even Google just rolled out their new certification process to sort of circumvent to some extent college degrees or give more people opportunities.
But those things are great ways to say, “Hey, I’m really interested in this. I’ve done some homework to learn it, and I already have some base level understanding that’s been validated by the third party,” and that takes a little bit extra time. But again, you got to show that initiative, and I think that’s just a great way to do it when you’re coming out of school.
RON: Yeah. Great advice.
What about as a hiring manager? What do you like to see from candidates to differentiate themselves from others, whether they’re applying for your open roles or you’re out recruiting them directly?
JASON: Again, initiative should probably be the key theme here. But what homework has the person done? There’s so much publicly available information on the company, the people you’re interviewing with, press releases. Just read some stuff, know the words that the company i using. What are they focused on? What does it say on the website? What jobs are they hiring for? Anything that can demonstrate that you’re interested in that job in that company?
Versus just I’m here to apply for a job because I want more money or I want the different title, right? What is it about that role that gets you excited? And I cannot believe how infrequently that happens for what is effectively free, literally search the company you’re going to interview for that day, look for news or anything and just read something for five minutes.
RON: Yeah. You know, it’s funny. I wrote a blog post about this a while back, and even after
interviewing thousands of candidates over the years, it’s still mind boggling to me that this basic preparation is still missed. Better for those that do it, I guess?.
Lastly, what would you tell a peer or another experienced person? I know personally how competitive the market is in our area in our industry. How would you go about looking for your next role?
JASON: I think the more and more experience you get, the more and more important your network gets as your income goes up, the risk that that company is taking to hire you also goes up. And so it doesn’t even necessarily have to be that person that works at that company.
But a referral, a recommendation of someone within your network is critical as you grow up. And so that’s how I got this job. No one that I got this job from works here or knows anybody that works here. But it was through a connection that I’m here today and I don’t think I would be without that. And I don’t know that I would be in my last few jobs about that. So, I think people take it for granted that their resume of their experience within that company will be enough.
So don’t undervalue your network and don’t undervalue how generous people are with their time. People love to get people love to talk about their career and talk about would help them be successful and they love to help other people.
They love to feel that their work can help someone else. It’s just as much about that person in your network as it is them helping you. They want to feel like they’re helping to.
People have been so generous with their time with me, particularly as I started this job.
You’ve done this to me Ron many times and it’s really, really helpful.
RON: Yeah. Wow, Jason, again, that’s great advice and I honestly I couldn’t have summed it up any better than that. Alright, now for the highlight of the entire conversation, drop a few music nuggets on us.
JASON: As you started saying that I’m like, Oh my gosh. This is the part that makes me the most nervous.
I think all the stuff The National is doing as they branch out is fantastic.
RON: All right, Jason, I’ll drop links in the notes below to that music and to your LinkedIn profile for anyone that wants to explore further.
Again, I truly appreciate your time and I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavors and hope to speak with you again soon.
March 23, 2021