Matt Kautz, former Paciolan director of Social Media and Consumer Marketing; now at CitizenNet. (Photo Credit: Dave Brooks)

If you’re going to become a guru, there are a few important rules you have to follow. First, don’t think small.

And don’t start sentences with ‘don’t.’ Thought leaders only extrapolate in the positive and, more importantly, they think really, really big. Especially in an esoteric space like social media — you’ve got to have monster ideas. 

That’s Matt Kautz’s strong suit — the 33-year-old not only understands what’s happening now, but he uses that information to (usually accurately) predict what’s going to happen next. When he started with Paciolan in 2009, many venues were just starting to round out their social media strategies. Knowing facilities and teams were behind other entertainment verticals like film and amusement parks, the former Paciolan director of Social Media and Consumer Marketing inked a collaborative agreement with Buddy Media to quickly bring his clients up to speed. The out-of-the-box agreement gave his clients access to the high-end agency without the exorbitant prices.

“Their retail prices weren’t appropriate for our relationship, so I worked with them to develop the distributor model that has worked so well for Paciolan,” Kautz said. “Buddy Media usually required significant setup resources for each new client, but I came up with the idea of creating an application template that would only require one setup process on Buddy’s end for all 500 of Paciolan’s clients. This meant that they could drop their price from $5,000 per client plus $10,000 in creative fees to $500 per client, and no creative fees.” 

Second rule of being a guru — always challenge the assumptions of others. After all, as Kautz points out, assumptions are built upon experiences, which are typically based on what worked in the past, not necessarily what will work in the future. 

“No one ever got fired for doing what their boss before them did, and the boss before that,” said Kautz.

Remembering his previous gig doing consumer marketing for Ticketmaster, Kautz recalled the first day he met Paciolan founder Jane Kleinberger, a true change agent who enjoyed a brief stint at Ticketmaster after her company was acquired for a short time and later spun off. 

“I was impressed by her enthusiasm, by her tenacity and her willingness to listen to new ideas,” especially those that boosted sales for her clients, he recalled. 

The timing was impeccable — Kautz watched as online advertising was encroaching on traditional print media and he wanted an opportunity to dabble in the new space.

Ticketmaster’s acquisition of Paciolan brought with it a number of college football teams and bowl games and Kautz’s team was charged with marketing tickets for their games.

“Each year we did this huge ad spend in USA Today, and I suggested that we take the money from that and invest in an ad-retargeting campaign,” he said. “My direct supervisor simply looked at me and said — ‘okay, but it’s your ass if this doesn’t work.’”

Kautz said he learned about the concept of retargeting from a sales vendor. That brings us to the third rule of being a guru — talk to people, lots of people. Kautz might get 10 sales calls a week from vendors, and he would take them all. 

That’s how he discovered retargeting, a marketing practice that matches ads with pre-qualified consumers. If a college gridiron fan were to visit the page of one of their favorite programs, or the Ticketmaster site, or a specially created landing page, the computers at Ticketmaster would place a couple lines of software code in their web browser. That code, often referred to as a “cookie,” would then instruct their browser to serve up advertisements for upcoming bowl games any time the individual surfed onto other sites that utilized the same advertising network. 

It may sound a bit creepy, but it’s very effective. For their first campaign for the bowl games, Ticketmaster saw a 40-1 ad spend return from the promotion. Since moving over to Paciolan, Kautz has piloted the program with similar results.

That’s a nice segue into rule number four for being a guru — have a great mentor. Kautz said that his boss at Paciolan Craig Ricks helped him expand his retargeting efforts and allowed him to bring his own ideas to the floor. 

“Craig’s a great guy who made work a lot of fun. I learned the value of a positive attitude from Craig,” Kautz said.

Rule four is quickly followed by rule five, which is ‘always hear the other person out.’ After all, interruptions are not very flattering. 

And perhaps the most important rule of all is number six — have some friggin’ confidence for cryin’ out loud. It may seem a bit obvious, but as Kautz points out, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. 

“Confidence is important for opening doors, but after that you’ve got to work hard and keep learning. That’s why I made the move to CitizenNet. It’s an environment where I’m learning something new every day.”

Kautz announced he was departing Paciolan in May to work at the small startup in West Los Angeles that helps brands with their Facebook advertising.

“We leverage social to better understand the audience and the tasks involved in market research, audience segmentation and consumer behavior,” explained CitizenNet CEO Dan Benyamin. 

A lot of their work involves predictive analytics and the use of data to try and accurately guess future behavior, whether it’s the likelihood someone will buy a ticket to the next Avengers movie or upgrade their burger to the combo meal.

It’s the new gospel of social analysis and Kautz hopes to keep up an aggressive speaking schedule at conferences and industry events, kind of the unspoken seventh rule to being a guru — get people to listen to you. 

But even as his audience is growing and his clout continues to expand, Kautz doesn’t let it go to his head. He’s extremely approachable and will chat with anyone about social media. Most importantly, he doesn’t worry about following the rules of gurudom, or any rules really. That’s the beauty of being a guru. As long as everyone is happy, it’s okay to occasionally make up new rules as you go. 

Interviewed for this story: Matt Kautz and Dan Benyamin, (877) 303-5795