Brian Meert is more than just the CEO of AdvertiseMint, a Facebook advertising agency. He is also a father, a podcast host, an author, and a teacher. What is his story and how did he go from delivering newspapers to managing a burgeoning business? Here, we speak with Brian Meert: his childhood and his journey to becoming a CEO.
In your Duke of Digital Podcast, you mentioned that your parents made you work at a young age. Tell us more about your time growing up. I grew up in Sacramento, where I had a fantastic childhood. The front of our house was in a suburban neighborhood, but the back was on a creek that allowed me to explore, catch tadpoles, and build forts — typical kid stuff. But I also learned responsibility at a young age. My parents, both nurses, taught me about always working hard, doing your best, and interacting well with others, traits that helped me develop skills that would later be essential to working in a service business.
My parents were adamant that I work to earn my own money. In fact, I got my first job at ten years old as a paperboy delivering papers on my bicycle. Once I finished one route, they signed me up for two more. If it rained or if it was cold, they would drive me around to ensure the job was done. I thought it was awesome when I got my first paycheck. My parents let me have full control over how the money was spent, most of which went to baseball cards and video games. I did other jobs on top of being a paperboy — yard work, washing cars for neighbors. Working as a child taught me the value of hard work, independence, and the importance of doing the job right the first time.
Would you credit your diligent work ethic — your desire to hustle — to the way your parents drilled the value of work as a young boy? I’m not entirely sure where this came from. I guess I’ve always been someone who loves to move quickly. When I worked as a janitor in high school, my friends and I asked our boss if we could play after we got the job done early. She agreed. Sure, our paychecks were a bit smaller, but I had more freedom to do the things I wanted. This is how I approach business today. I quickly get tasks completed then move on to things I enjoy. I jokingly refer to it as being a “task assassin.” I make a “hit list” every morning and check off as many tasks as possible.
How has your upbringing affected your approach to being a business owner? My parents taught me to work hard, play hard. Work time always came before play time at our house, which helped me develop a good work ethic at a young age. When I got to college, I would take the first two weekends to complete all of my homework for the entire semester. Although I missed the first few weekends, I had the rest of the semester to play and go on dates while everyone else had to study.
My parents also believed in doing overseas volunteer work. From the age of twelve to twenty-two, I attended about ten different volunteer trips to build orphanages, schools, and churches in countries such as India, Costa Rica, Mexico, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. Being on these trips taught me that I was truly blessed to live in America. I think these trips gave me such an amazing outlook on life and helped me remember what really matters.
Sounds like you had a pretty happy childhood. Did you ever face any difficulties growing up? My brother, who was four years older than me, was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia at the age of twelve. I spent much of my childhood visiting him in hospitals or watching him sick at home. He eventually passed away at the age of nineteen, and it taught me that my time on this planet isn’t guaranteed, that each day is a blessing, to use it like it were your last. If you’re running a business, do everything you can to make sure your business is stronger in case something happens tomorrow. Plus, it helps you focus on the tasks you want to complete.
How did you know that marketing was your dream career? I never really knew that marketing was going to be my dream career. I went to college to be a teacher and earned a degree in Theology. After I graduated from college, I pursued an MBA because I thought it would offer more job opportunities. That's what led me down the business road, and once I got to MBA school at La Sierra University in Riverside, I realized I had a very natural talent at marketing — I just never had someone who mentored me. At MBA school, I quickly devoured all of my marketing books, reading them cover to cover, trying to learn as much as I could about the different strategies and techniques of effective marketing. Because I was so interested in marketing, learning was fun for me, and I very much enjoyed the process of building my skills and persuading people to take action.
Tell us about your experience before AdvertiseMint. In 2001, I took a year off from college to volunteer as a teacher and medical assistant in Fiji at the Vatuvonu Elementary School after hearing a presentation from Stephen Arrington, the former Dive Instructor for Jeac Cousteau. While at La Sierra I interned at Altek Media Group. This was my first experience getting my hands dirty with the process of sales, client management, creatives, and media buying. I also started a company called PocketGoals, which sold personalized goals on customized credit cards. I was in charge of advertising and ended up discovering Google Ads, which I ran with my school cafeteria money. PocketGoals sold a few thousand cards and was featured in The New York Times, but we eventually dissolved the company after we all graduated and went our own ways.
You also worked on Gofobo.com, right? After my MBA, I took an unpaid internship at Allied Entertainment, helping promote upcoming movies through advanced screenings for Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Napoleon Dynamite, and The Notebook. During this time, my job was to sit in a back room and mail printed tickets to targeted groups, companies, and individuals. We would arrive at the screenings and often be surprised if the screening was overbooked, or worse, had a low turnout. I thought it might be easier to make an electronic version of the tickets so we would have data on who was attending. I brought the president my idea. He shrugged it off. I partnered with a friend from college to build a system, and we started working on it over the nights and weekends. Two years later, we sold the business to Terry Hines and Associates, which later merged the project with Allied Entertainment and renamed it Gofobo.com.
How did the idea of AdvertiseMint come to you? Why did you decide to start this company? I was working as the vice president of marketing at American Bullion, managing seven-figure monthly ad spends. When Facebook advertising launched, I was blown away by the amount of data it had on consumers and the millions of ad targeting options. I knew that it was going to be huge and left my position to start AdvertiseMint. When I first started there were few classes, experts, and resources to learn more about Facebook advertising. I started the company by renting out a table at WeWork, working twelve hours, seven days a week, building Facebook ad campaigns for anyone I could. This experience eventually opened doors with Viacom, Coca Cola, and Grant Cardone.
In addition to being the CEO of AdvertiseMint, you also have a lot of side projects. What else are you working on right now? I can never seem to do just one job. I do consulting on Clarity (www.clarity.fm/brianmeert) for companies needing one-on-one attention for their Facebook ad campaigns. I’m a contributor for Forbes and work with my team to create new infographics such as The Complete Guide to Digital Ad Policies that marketers find valuable. I’m in the process of launching a new course on Teachable to help people understand how to get the most from their Facebook ads. I also helped my wife create and launch a new selfie light brand called LITTIL.
How do you help your team stay updated on changes to the industry? I’ve focused the AdvertiseMint team to be experts in the areas they oversee. Instead of spreading a person thin by having them manage multiple accounts across different platforms, I have them specialize in specific verticals on specific platforms. This ensures they know the specific problems and issues they are facing and can spend their time learning about the latest strategies and features that solve those problems. They then share their learnings with the rest of the team each week in our weekly meetings. This helps keep our team updated on new changes or developments across a wide range of topics. We also require that our team have their certifications from any platforms they are actively managing or working on. This includes Google Certification and Facebook Blueprint Certification. This ensures they are up to date on the latest recommendations, advice, and tools by each platform.
Do you have any advice for our readers? First, Facebook advertising is tricky. There are a lot of new rules and processes that are completely changing digital advertising. Take the time to learn how it works or hire an expert who can walk you through it. Remember that everything should be focused on providing value to your customers rather than messages saying “give me your money.”
The other tip is that in the world of digital marketing and advertising, the number of tools and systems are getting out of control. I understand that it’s often hard to manage everything and the minute you have one thing figured out, it seems like a new option becomes available. Take the time to speak with experts in these fields and understand where things are moving. While I’m an expert in Facebook ads, I often speak with others who are experts in areas like SEO, email marketing, SMS.
My last tip is this: While in college, I wanted to be a religion teacher and had to choose between a degree in Religion or Theology. Both degrees took the same amount of time to complete, but Theology was more difficult and included two years of Greek and one year of Hebrew. I opted for the more difficult degree because I knew it would give me more options in the future. Taking the harder road always seemed like the right choice to me and has always led to bigger and better things in life and business. My advice is to avoid the easy road and pick the road that will challenge you to grow and become stronger.
How can our readers hire you for advertising services? Our team is always looking for amazing companies to work with. They can contact us at www.advertisemint.com via our contact page. They can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us directly at (844) 236-4686, ext 2. If they are focused on running ads internally, I recommend purchasing my book, The Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising (2020 Edition), which is available exclusively on Amazon. If they’d like to talk with me about Facebook advertising one on one, they can reserve a time on Clarity (www.clarity.fm/brianmeert).