The Dumbest Marketing Mistake I Ever Made with David Melamed of Tenfold Traffic

David Melamed is the Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Tenfold Traffic, a search and marketing agency with over $50 million of paid search experience. David has had a passion for marketing since he was a child, and over the past 10 years, he has built a successful career in SEO, PPC, and digital advertising. 

Before founding Tenfold Traffic, David oversaw marketing for companies such as Cayre Equities and He is currently the host of the Fixing Incentives Podcast, where he speaks with business leaders about the behavior that powered their growth.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • David Melamed talks about the best opportunity he didn’t take
  • David shares the dumbest mistake he ever made
  • Knowing how to market by listening to customers firsthand
  • Mismanaged expectations and how they can hurt your marketing
  • Valuable tips and tricks for doing customer research
  • Why you should listen to what your customers are complaining about
  • What should you focus on in your copywriting?

In this episode…

On the first two episodes of the Fixing Incentives podcast, David Melamed talked about the biggest mistake and the most significant success of his career. Now, David returns for a third episode to discuss his greatest lesson in marketing — how to listen to the customer.

While marketers do plenty of customer research, they can still miss the big picture. It’s not a matter of how much research but what kind. Firsthand experience with customer expectations can add a new dimension to your marketing. After all, knowing your audience is the best way to sell to them. David missed his best opportunity to learn directly from his client’s customers. Having learned his lesson, he’s now able to market far more effectively. Want to know how he does it?

In this third and final interview, Dr. Jeremy Weisz talks with David Melamed, the Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Tenfold Traffic, to find out how he listens to customers. David tells the story of his dumbest marketing mistake and how he grew as a marketer. They also discuss and dive into customer research, copywriting, customer desires, and how to capitalize on niche markets. Find out about all this and more on this episode of the Fixing Incentives podcast.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Tenfold Traffic.

The only projects I take on currently are performance-based relationships.

What that means is…

All marketing would go through me on my own dime, and we negotiate a revenue share.

I don’t want someone to give me money if I don’t generate a return for them.

But, if I am making someone a ton of money, then I want to share in the revenue.

In other words, I want to participate in the full value I am creating.

Right now, I am only looking for one or two companies a year to pour my heart and soul into and to have as partners.

An ideal partner is someone who has a converting funnel and can handle scale and let me work my magic.

If you are a company that knows your lifetime value of a client and wants to spend as much as you can to acquire a customer and dominate the market, then I am your person.

If you are looking for a partner, I am your person, and if you are looking for a vendor, then there are several people I have vetted and can refer you to.

Visit to learn more or email me at david at tenfoldtraffic dot com.

Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Fixing Incentives podcast where we talk about the incentives that drive success. Now, let’s get started with the show.

David Melamed  0:16  

I’m the host of Fixing Incentives podcast where I talk with top business leaders about their journey and the behavior that power their growth. I have Dr. Jeremy Weisz here of Rise25 was done 1000s of interviews with successful entrepreneurs, and CEOs. And we have flipped the script and he’ll be interviewing me,

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  0:33  

David, I’m excited to chat because and I don’t know what you’re gonna say, In this episode, by the way, but we were chatting a little bit the plan, and you were like, I want to talk about the dumbest marketing mistake I made. And I’m like, that sounds great. I’d love to hear about the marketing mistake you made. So I don’t make it and other people don’t make it on before we get to that this episode is brought to you by Tenfold Traffic. And I know, for you, David, your biggest focus is you want to work on projects that you are that are performance based relationships. And what that really means is, all marketing goes through you on your own dime. And you negotiate a revenue share, because ultimately, you’re spending a lot of you’re pouring your heart and soul into this stuff. And so I know, if you’re going to generate someone a lot of money, you want to be able to share in that you know, and also, you’re creating a lot of values, you want to experience that full value. So I know you only work with maybe a few companies for the whole year to pour your heart and soul into. So this sounds interesting to anyone of you, you yourself are listening, this sounds interesting, or you know, someone, the ideal partner for you is really someone has a converting funnel. And they can handle scale and let you work your magic because you can turn the dial up for people. And obviously the company has to know their lifetime value of a client and wanting to spend as much as they can to acquire the customer so they could dominate. Ultimately. So if you this sounds interesting, go to is or you can email David at So the dumbest marketing mistake you’ve ever made. Where do you want to start with that?

David Melamed  2:14  

That’s a great question. I am. I’ve made so many dumb marketing mistakes. I almost feel like everything I know, I know from just falling down a lot. But there’s one that sticks in my mind because I should reframe it, it was not so much the dumbest mistake as much as the smartest thing. Which I guess translates into a really dumb mistake. But–

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  2:45  

One more time, David the smartest what?

David Melamed  2:48  

Had I done this, it would have been one of the smartest things I could have done for my marketing. And the fact that I didn’t, even though it was my job to do it turned out to be really, really dumb and cost all of us a lot of time, energy and missed opportunity. But I’m not sure where to start. I’ll just start from the beginning, I was recruited into a start up that was buying junk cars. And so they’re generating leads online and they had a call center where people would, you know, you know, learn more about the car, price it and then offer to buy it. I get on a cash quote over the phone. And before I got started with any of the marketing, which I want to dive right into, my boss told me, David, I really think you should answer phones in the call center for a week before doing anything else, just be like everybody at now, I kind of viewed this as beneath me. These are just these were lower, like probably minimum wage employees with like some commission on top answering phone calls. People trying to sell their car following a script. And I like to do this like deep work that made me feel important. I have this big ego I was young and dumb. And I just like kind of rolled my eyes and nodded my head at my boss and then just didn’t do it. And I I you know went ahead and I was responsible for messaging on the website for ad copywriting for your trafficking website media planning. I was responsible for everything around communicating with the very people I basically refused to talk to. And a little later on I started realizing that marketing is a conversation and it’s a relationship and–

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  5:04  

So David, basically you were in charge of the messaging, but you had not done any calls.

David Melamed  5:09  

Yeah, that’s exactly right. Not only did I not do any calls, I didn’t listen to recordings of the calls or anything, I just assumed that my conversion rates and my click through rates on my ads or other information was a good enough signal for what the customer is actually cared about and wanted. But I mean, I remember vividly my boss like telling me like, trust me, David, just do this. And I just like, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. And I regret that till this day, because I probably spent 10s of 1000s, if not hundreds of 1000s of dollars, waiting for the data to tell me about what the customers actually cared about, when I had the opportunity to actually hear it straight out of their mouth. And this is one of the reasons there’s no, I don’t have the opportunity today to sit in call centers. But, and I also realized, as a marketer, one of the biggest the worst traps I could fall into, is trying to fix things that aren’t part of my purview. My job is to make the phone ring or to generate quality leads, it’s not my job to figure out what the call center could do better, or to do worse, there are people running that there, you know, human processes are rarely as simple as you map them out on a piece of paper. So I try my hardest not to interfere or even offer critiques about that. However, I make sure to listen to call recordings, if I’m researching a new client or a new industry. I will. I mean, I’ve been trying to automate some of this all manually go read reviews. I’ll give you an example for marketing agencies, especially around SEO agencies. I went to Yelp, this is probably about three years ago, and I filtered all the marketing agency and SEO agency reviews to show me the one star reviews. I started reading through them. After probably about really through four or five reviews, I started seeing a recurring pattern, same pattern over and over and over again, which is over promised, under deliver. They promised us the world and then we didn’t get the results we were hoping for expecting. They never communicated with us, we found problems that they should have found long beforehand. Are they are they I don’t even know what I’m paying them for? Are they even doing the work? I just keep on you know, getting an invoice every month, and I have no idea if they’re even doing work. So I have this recurring pattern of lack of communication. And I lost my train of thought there for a second that that’s gonna happen to me a lot. 

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  7:54  

But you’re saying lack of communication and over promising?

David Melamed  8:00  

Yeah, so mismanaged expectations. What I discovered over the years about the mismanaged expectations is actually really interesting when it comes to hiring marketers. More often, there’s two things that happen. One is either they’re not yet experienced enough to know what they actually can control. So they get really excited about something from either another industry or a strategy that they’ve been successful with, and other places are, and they think it’ll work. But they don’t necessarily know how to tell the forest from the trees, they’re not really, they might not know why something succeeded. And so they get really excited and that passion sells. And so that’s one area where it’s almost innocent, just because they don’t have enough experience to know how to kind of manage those expectations. In other cases, you know, they might just be trying to sell. And more often than not, they didn’t do a good job explaining what is within their control. So for example, if I’m running ads on Google, I don’t really–

Dr. Jeremy Weisz  9:05  

They didn’t set expectations. 

David Melamed  9:07  

Yeah, but it’s more than that. It’s they didn’t set that. If I could, if I’m advertising on a search engine, I could send traffic to your website. That is the extent of what I’m capable of doing, maybe how they get to your website, or who I bring to the website impacts quality a little bit, but I cannot control. Um, unless I’m doing conversion rate optimization, how they’re going to interact with the website, whether they’re going to transact, if it’s a lead that’s being generated offline. I don’t know how your call centers gonna handle the lead. I don’t know. Like, there’s so many pieces of the puzzle that, like, I’m still accountable to it because my advertising has to be profitable. Or my SEO has to be bringing in quality traffic. But understanding that the campaigns I’m running should only be accountable to one goal. Which is am I bringing in more of the right kind of traffic or bringing in, you know, leads at the right cost per acquisition. But very often you’ll be asked to do competing priorities, oh, we need you to get us more volume. for less money and higher quality. The problem is the levers to optimize those things are different levers, and they’re often competing. And sometimes you have to strike a balance. But more often than not, it’s a tug of war, where you’re being held accountable to the wrong metric. So because it’s just not diagnostic of what you’re capable of doing. So I think a lot of times that happens, as well as that you hire somebody for a specific service. And they’re not very clear about how they’re going to measure success, and what success looks like. And then you end up just being accountable to whatever headache and problem there is, there’s a worst problem with this, which is when things are actually working well. Because when things are working really well, you, it’s very easy to get complacent and step back, and just like say, Oh, it’s working, well, I don’t need to get involved, I don’t need to do anything. And then you overlook problems that end up becoming much, much bigger problems later on in the future. And what ends up happening is, most headaches of agencies are almost always a function of how the business is doing. In general, when the business is doing well, they love their agency, because it’s not a headache, when they’re struggling, they try to control everything they can. And then they start pushing their agency to fix this and fix that. And three quarters of the time, those are things that are outside of the control of the agency outside of the scope of what they can control, and, but they know you’re in it together. So it ends up being like a walk, creating a lot of friction, which leads to a lot of these, you know, they promised the world and didn’t deliver, or they didn’t communicate what you’re with us at all. And so I find a lot of these problems boil down to also just relationship and collaboration. The real point of all this is that there’s nothing more important when you’re marketing to recognize that you’re participating in a conversation with the customer. So whether I liked it or not about answering those phones, the reality is, is that I was part of that conversation. And the fact I didn’t listen, made it almost impossible for me to empathize and understand what their actual needs were and pain points were. And it also, you know, one of my practices now as I listen to call recordings and uncovers new opportunities. One example is with an addiction treatment center I was working with. And I heard a phone call about it was actually HR and a company, a trucking company and one of their driver who had a DUI getting back on the road because they were struggling to find good drivers. And they asked, Are you Department of Transportation certified for addiction treatment? Now, as far as I’m aware that certification doesn’t actually exist? But–

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

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