Are you on the marketing team at a SaaS company? Are you looking for proven methods to generate more booked calls with qualified prospects? Would you like to tap into the “hidden gold” that systematized email prospecting (outbound email marketing) has to offer?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this interview is for you.

On the show with me today is Geoff Atkinson, founder of Huckabuy, a 5 year old SaaS company that is working on revolutionizing the world of SEO.

Geoff shares the story of how Huckabuy has strategically used cold email to land the lion’s share of their new enterprise clients.

Listen now, and discover exactly how you can replicate their process.

Full Transcript

Trent:                  Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The Bright Ideas Podcast. As always, I am your host Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the show where I share the stories of some of today’s leading entrepreneurs and more importantly to extract from them all those actionable golden nuggets that you can implement in your business starting today. So on the show with me today is a fellow by the name of Geoff Atkinson from a company called Huckabuy. Geoff, welcome to the show.

Geoff:                 Thank you Trent. It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Trent:                  No problem. So in your own words, who are you and what do you do?

Geoff:                 So Huckabuy is a search engine optimization software company based in Park City, Utah. And my background comes from Overstock.com so I learned a lot about SEO there, took it from a channel of zero to 300 million. And what I realized was sort of missing in the industry was the technical solution for SEO. So websites are built for humans, but I argue at any given day that a search bot is actually the most important visitor because, they’re going to dictate how many humans come to the site. And so we work on what the UI, UX is for a bot rather than for a human being and optimize that conversation between websites and search engines so that the more they understand, the more a search traffic they end up getting as a result.

Trent:                  Cool. So when did you start the company?

Geoff:                 So I started the company, let’s see, it’s been about five years, but the first two years we were actually a B to C site. So, we were an affiliate site that was struggling, but we had built some really cool SEO automation software and people that knew the business wanted to, start licensing it and as our fastest path towards revenues. So we pivoted about three and a half years ago into a, into B to B software company.

Trent:                  Okay. So that kind of answers my next question of why you decided to start an SEO firm, but I want to make sure that we don’t leave anything unturned. Was it just because folks that were in your sphere of influence were reaching out to you because they’d seen you were getting some kind of results? Or was there any other contributing factor into, Hey, we’re going to do this?

Geoff:                 It was really blind luck to be honest with you, Trent. You know, at the time Google made an algorithm update that really hindered the success of affiliate sites. So for you to rank well on the eCommerce side, usually have to carry and sell the product directly. And so we were really swimming upstream. and you know, having my background at Overstock with a pretty credible, you know, run of SEO people saw sort of the value of what we had built in the website and wanted it for their own sites. And so, yeah, friends of mine, were really the first customers and it was just like blind luck that we ended up in software. I didn’t even realize the value of the recurring revenue, you know, software model and the multiples of the software companies get. So I, you know, all of a sudden I got all this like interest in investors and stuff like that without even realizing that we were building something that was a lot different than your typical e-commerce place. So that was just searching, sort of fortunate luck that we ended up there. and then we got lucky to get some really big customers early, like SAP and Salesforce that kind of made us credible and able to grow up too quickly.

Trent:                  So those first couple of big customers, you say luck, but luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity in my books. Was it really just luck? Was it folks that you know came from your network that had seen what you had done for years and all of the track record that you’d put together? I mean, they don’t just fall out of the sky.

Geoff:                 Yeah. Some were colleagues that I’d had for a long time. I’d say like the very first big deal that we did was with, was with SAP. And SAP one of their VPs of marketing, actually lives in park city and we had become friends. And so he’s like, I’d love to try this on one of our domains. And we did it. And, structured data in particular was the product. They were the automations or world-class stricture data, which I’m sure we’ll get into. But it was we tried it and it went, the numbers were so incredible. I mean, they were growing triple digits within six months that we had sort of that first validation and case study that was like, okay, this really works well, especially on enterprise customers. And then we also had, yeah, it was, we had a sort of a, we’re playing a little inside baseball at Salesforce as well, where we had a connection with them and got live on their app exchange.

Geoff:                 So yeah, of course I’d say, you know, a big part of the beginning of Huckabuy’s revenue stream was, was colleagues and people that I had known throughout my career. and you know, that’s just what you got. You got scrapped, right. When you’re, when you’re early stage startup that you know, no matter what the concept is your first customers and inserted your initial revenues going to most likely be, you know, people that, you know, and you need to get into the mindset, which was hard for me to do actually. But you have to sell brands, right? You have to convince your friends that what you’re doing is legit and it’s actually going to help them. unfortunately we have a product that really worked well, so I felt confident that they got alive and they used it, but they were actually going to get good results and be advocates. And that fortunately it came true.

Trent:                  And in your case, you’d already developed a product because you were, you built it for yourself initially, right?

Geoff:                 Yup. Yeah, it was initially just for our website. it was the automation of, of really good, structured data markup, which is, we saw at Overstock and then I saw is really like the future of how Google wanted to be talking with websites. And so we were sort of the first product in that space and it was coming at a time where Google was talking about it a and they really were trying to get sites on structured data. So it was, it was good timing as well because our product kind of, you know, it’s not really a sexy product, but it was getting kind of hot at the time that you needed to be doing this. And we had a great solution for it.

Trent:                  So eventually the, we’ll call it the friends and family list always runs dry cause you only know so many people and you’ve got to then you know, grow, go out into the wild, wild West and attract clients where there was no preexisting relationship. So how are you attracting clients these days? I’m thinking it’s probably a lot of SEO. No surprise. Maybe some other activities.

Geoff:                 Yeah, it is. You’ve got to get really creative though. I mean, you know, when you’re starting a company, you, you have a domain authority of zero, right? So the SEO path takes time, but we really do see it as we see, you know, our customers that are software companies there greatest ROI channel is SEO. So we’re definitely drinking our own Kool-Aid and trying to get that channel optimized. I think that really is going to be our longterm sort of scalable solution. But there was a lot of work that had to happen, you know, up until now we’re starting to get a trickle of leads coming, through organic search and other things. But . We would do a lot of outbound email under my name. I happen to have a very, I come from a college that has a extremely loyal alumni group.

Geoff:                 That we leveraged and still send a bunch of emails to Dartmouth alumns and they would get back to you almost every single time. And so like concur, huge customer of ours, the chief revenue officer in North America was a Dartmouth alum and he gladly took my phone call just because I went to Dartmouth, which is, you know, that you kind of have to find those tricks where it’s like, what the outbound, you know, how do you get people to, to pick up the phone and want to take a call and learn about this product. And you know, we’ve tried a lot of them, but you do have to get quite creative. I think that alumni connections and awesome sort of one that works really well for us. But yeah, a lot of outbound. And then, you know, network networks of networks. So now we have executives and we have board members and we want to go through their whole network. So I don’t think we’ll, we’re not out of the phase of still like tapping into friends and family and, you know, LinkedIn connections and such. But we’re definitely growing out of it and needing to replace that sort of easy, you know, transaction to a much more, normal, organic. You know, they find the site, they’d learn about the product they get into our sales plan.

Trent:                  So where is your company at today in terms of whatever number did you raise money from investors by the way?

Geoff:                 We just closed in late December our seed round. So two point $3 million round of funding. We’re at about 15 employees and our run rate on revenue is about 1.5 million.

Trent:                  Okay. Did you, were you profitable when you raise the seed or were you bleeding or Ricky?

Geoff:                 So actually we weren’t profitable. and then I realized that if we became profitable, investors would and then need the money. All of a sudden we become a lot more attractive. So we we’re fortunate to get the company to a point of profitability that we were just like, well, we don’t need you anymore. And then when we came, very attractive to potential investors. So that’s one tip I would suggest is that if you can get your startup to get to break even or profitable and you don’t need the money, you’re going to get a lot better terms. You’re going to get, you’re going to be a lot more attractive and you know, they’re going to have a lot more interest.

Trent:                  Yeah. So I’m going to go down that rabbit hole just for a little minute because it relates very personally to what I’m doing. I don’t know if you recall or not, but I also have a SAS company. We it’s only a year old. It’s never done any of its own marketing. It’s fed largely off of my personal brand and I think our run rates about a hundred grand an ARR right now. But because of my other businesses, I have lots of cash in other places and I don’t know if I’ll ever need to raise money, but at some point in time you think about the opportunity cost of well scaling organically on cashflow versus raising money. So the goal is to get to profitability before we go and talk to investors. And it sounds like, you know, get for you, that was a very good idea. You said you get, you got more leverage leverage with them or better terms. Is there one or two or three specific things that you can point to and say, we got this because you know, we weren’t bleeding like crazy and really didn’t need the money.

Geoff:                 I think we got, I won’t give you the exact terms, but I, I’d say that we got, VCs started to get competitive against one another trying to get in on this deal. And so once you, you know, once you have, you know, we were, we actually had 300 K of it in through Angel investors. So that’s why it’s 2.3. It was 2 million that we’re really, we’re raising, but . My friends actually wanted to get in on this round, so we had 300 K in the door already and then, and there was 200, you know, there’s, there’s 2 million left and we had our lead wanted to take a million plus, you know, and so there wasn’t a lot left. And then it starts to get competitive and you want that sort of fear of missing out, right. The FOMO where there all of a sudden, and Utah is I’m sure sort of like where you’re at.

Geoff:                 There’s only so many VCs, they all know each other. They all talk together. And if you become, you know, this was my first time raising a round of institutional money and I’ll be honest, it took me nine months. So it took me nine months to close this round. It was a ton of work and just at the end and sort of that realization, okay, if I turn this company profitable, all of a sudden all the ducts started to fall into line because we didn’t need their money. They got more interested. Right. All of a sudden. And then there was that kind of fear of missing out. So we got, we ended up with the two investors, the two institutional investors that we wanted, and and it worked out actually really well despite taking nine months and a ton of time and energy to get it done.

Trent:                  Yeah. And the two are local?

Geoff:                 Yup. Album VC, formerly known as Peak Ventures. And then Kickstart Seed Fund who’s probably the most active here in Utah.

Trent:                  Okay. And so you basically, I would assume you probably just networked your way into those conversations as opposed to, you know, filling out an app on a web form.

Geoff:                 Yeah, the main lead investor was introduced to me years ago and he’d always wanted to potentially invest in Huckabuy. We met through a college friend of mine who’s really gone on to do incredible things in the VC world. He, I reached out to him and I said, you know, you know, probably every VC in the country, if you were to pick one in Utah to fund Huckabuy what it would be. And he said, you got to talk to my friend Diego. And Diego ended up being our lead investor probably four years after I met him.

Trent:                  Okay. All right. So we’re going to come back out of the investor rabbit hole and continue along with client acquisition. So you started to do outreach over and above just kind of the personal network. Did you did, like, did you ramp up a cold email program where you were sending a thousand, 2000, 3000 emails a week? Or like what scale did you take your outreach to?

Geoff:                 We’ve kind of tested it at all different levels. So we’ve gone from like highly personalized, you know, sort of 10 to 15 a day type emails all the way up to yeah. Thousands a week. and then sort of figured out somewhere in, in the mix there what the right amount and the right volume. Right. And then there’s how much personal touch can you put into each one of these? . And so we’ve sort of found a pretty good balance. I wouldn’t say that we’re like experts at it by any means, but we had said, had some like extremely successful campaigns that have generated, you know, sizable chunks of revenue. So, but yeah, you’ve got to try it all. You know, you’ve got to try. It’s not just also like the emails, it’s who you’re sending into the subject lines. How are you there? You know, sequences, you know, usually it’s like around your third or fourth touch, they finally get back to you. So, yeah, it’s been an interesting, so I ran email marketing to at Overstock and that’s like, you know, 10% off sales and coupons and this is such a different beast to try to get people that are so busy in, they get so many touches a day. How do you get them to like respond? And that’s been a really kind of fun challenge for us to figure out.

Trent:                  Yup. How many clients do you think you’ve landed from? Cold email?

Geoff:                 Probably so we have about 60 customers and I’d guess, I bet like 40 Euro majority.

Trent:                  Big chunk.

Geoff:                 Big chunk. Yep.

Trent:                  Okay. So clearly it’s, it’s a dome. It’s an effective strategy for you. And what’s an engagement size in terms of monthly or annual revenue? What does it typically look like for you guys?

Geoff:                 Yeah, two to 4,000 a month. So we’re pretty free. Large contract size. Okay. Well not huge, but, and then for larger domains like SAP and Salesforce, we’ll actually have multiple domain deals. And it starts getting a little bit more pricey, but your typical customers paying between two and four grand a month.

Trent:                  Okay. When you decided to do these, the outbound campaigns, of course you’ve got a target and audience. Can you walk me through how you did that? Did you just fire up sales navigator and put some criteria as in some job descriptions and go boom, give me a list? Or was it different?

Geoff:                 There are two most sort of successful campaigns in terms of who the audience we’re going after. One was Dartmouth Alumni. Dartmouth Alumni will do anything for one another. So they just always say, yeah, I’ll take a meeting, which is just very fortunate. I know, It’s wonderful. And the other, no, it’s wonderful. And then the other is Utah has a ton of software companies, so this is, you know, they call it Silicon slopes now. And between salt Lake city and Provo, there’s probably, I don’t know, a thousand software companies.

Trent:                  Really?

Geoff:                 And so, yeah, it’s insane. I mean, think about, you know, Qualtrics and Domo and MasterControl and there’s so Pluralsight, there’s so many big software companies in Salt Lake. It’s really taken off. So we’ve done a lot of Utah and then in person, either take them to lunch or go to their office or having them come to our office.

Geoff:                 So we find that that in-person touch really still makes a really big difference. Being able to meet in person and like figure out what their problems are and how they solve them and stuff like that. So some of our best success come through that. The alumni network and then Utah specifically. We have a ton of customers in new town and now we’re starting to target by region. So we’ll go last month we spent a week in San Francisco both visiting customers and taking new meetings. And then we’ll do the same thing in New York and we’ll do the same thing in LA. So we’re starting to just realize the importance, especially sort of an enterprise software sale of know meeting face to face, meeting the CEO, all that sort of stuff makes a big difference.

Trent:                  How long is your sales cycle?

Geoff:                 Six weeks on average.

Trent:                  Okay. So meet intro, call, proposal, contract negotiation, close.

Geoff:                 Yup. There’s usually a little bit of analysis that we’ll do on their behalf in the mix there. So you know, looking at their tech stack, telling them how much benefit they’re going to get, walking them through what you know, what growth would mean to their business from an SEO perspective. But yeah.

Trent:                  So in your targeting that you, because you mentioned tech stack, I think of some tools that say, Hey, show me a list of everybody that’s using HubSpot as an example. And of course you can pull that data off their website if you’re using the right tools. Show me a list of everyone that’s using Salesforce or pretty much any web app where there’s going to be any type of Java script on their website. Have you used stuff like that to identify companies based upon using a specific application as a means of customizing your email and getting your foot in the door?

Geoff:                 Just started, can’t tell you how the success rate is because we literally are just starting it. We have a, so we have a product called SEO cloud that essentially delivers this like perfect version of a site for Google. It’s super fast. And we have a partnership with CloudFlare on it and cloud players kind of become the world leader in terms of a CDN content delivery network. So there, we have a partnership with them and our SEO cloud is, is backed by CloudFlare. That’s the tech, some of the technology that we use to accomplish this. And so yeah, we’ve started to now analyze, you know, using these tools, exactly what you’re talking about. Figuring out who’s on CloudFlare and specifically saying, Hey, we have an enhancement that’s really easy to install as a result of your already purchase CloudFlare relationship and here’s the type of results that we see, you know, for similar sized customers. So we were just starting to do that. I can’t, I don’t know how it’s, we don’t have the numbers yet to see how it, how it’s going to do, but yeah, we’re interested in, we’re very interested to see how that plays out. We also do really well on sites that are very heavy in JavaScript. So that’s something that we have done pretty, pretty regularly.

Trent:                  And so with the outflow, you’re driving traffic to your site, are you pixeling them and running any retargeting campaigns to drive to webinars or educational content or any other parts of your funnel?

Geoff:                 Yup, yup. We use Kickfire and then we use a perfect audience as a display network for retargeting. Yeah, a lot of the stuff actually it was very sort of familiar with that stuff from my Overstock day. So what’s been fun now is I can actually like put my marketing hat on cause we really didn’t want it to fly under the radar from the first two years. And just really in the last six months I’ve got to think about marketing and hog by which I was actually like my strong suit. I’ve never really talk it. So it’s been fun to sorta like figure out the new tools and like what the best display networks are, the best retargeting, you know, software and so on and so forth. So, yeah, we’re into all that stuff which is fun.

Trent:                  Do you have an opinion on perfect audience over Admiral, I’m assuming perfect audience cause didn’t, you didn’t say you signed up with Admiral?

Geoff:                 Yeah, we’ve, I haven’t used Admiral. We definitely compared them. We went with Perfect Audience and we’re very happy and so, yeah, I learned a lot of sort of like secret sauce around display ads at Overstock and how you could reach a ton of people. Display ads are interesting and that they’re extremely undervalued. So most people when they look at display, they think of it, as another digital channel when in fact it’s totally different because most people don’t click through display ads. So if you’re analyzing your display campaigns like you ever want as your paid search, they’re just apples and oranges. So as a result, display ads actually end up being way cheaper than they probably should be. They’re much more branding in a sort of branding tool than a direct response tool. And so yeah, you can start to figure out, you know, where you can get display ads very cheap these days. This didn’t happen for like 10 years.

Trent:                  And have you, are you paying for them on a CPC basis? Is that why they’re sheep? Cause you’re not getting that many clicks or is it just a really low CPM that you’re paying?

Geoff:                 Really low CPM.

Trent:                  All right. With respect to your email outreach, these campaigns, as you mentioned earlier on, need to have multiple emails. So you need to have a email tool that’ll do that for you. Which one did you pick?

Geoff:                 Well, we use the Outreach.

Trent:                  Outreach.io?

Geoff:                 Yup.

Trent:                  Okay. So as there a reason, was there any particular compelling reason why you picked that over Replyifly or QuickMail or any of the other ones?

Geoff:                 Familiarity. So are sort of some of our first AEs account execs and sales. We’re very familiar with outreach and so it was just like, let’s get them on a product that they understand and then use right out of the gate.

Trent:                  Okay. with respect to crafting the messaging in the emails, was there a particular process that you followed because of the word, the wording that you use? Words matter, in copywriting. And so if you’re not using the words that your customers are using to describe their problems, their goals, their challenges, you’re not going to do as well. How did you figure out what words to use?

Geoff:                 I still write probably 95% of our email copy personally. Yeah, we, yeah, it’s very important. We actually, it’s kind of funny. So we’ve done a bunch of email campaigns and we got one campaign that, this guy, this very great like marketing, I’m struggling to remember his name right now, but he’s a, you know, he’s an influencer and he has a blog and, especially around B2B emails. And he called our email sequence, the best B2B outreach email sequence you’d ever seen and why. And he wrote for it must have taken this guy two to three days to write about our outbound email. That’s right. That’s right. And it was plenty because the email campaign that he wrote about was actually one of our least successful campaigns that we’ve ever done. But it was clever. It was very clever. And we had done something like, you didn’t have to get so creative.

Geoff:                 I think the email campaign was essentially . The SVP Bart, the SVP of, sales forwarding me an email that we had written that looks like, you know, it was like showing how important SCO was for B2B software companies that, you know, for the top companies, it was over 75% of the revenue came through organic search. I mean we wrote the whole thing and then he forwarded it to me and so I then would forward it to our list, but it was coming from a different name. I like, I have two email addresses. One, I actually use the others just for outbound and and then we would follow up on it. And we, it was clever. It didn’t actually do that well, but it doesn’t have Jack kind of going viral for awhile and we got a bunch of legs to our site as results with those.

Geoff:                 That was pretty cool. But yeah, you got to get creative. You know, it’s, there’s so much that flows through. Yeah. Your inbox, right? If you’re in any sort of exactly the position. Okay. And I’ve been hit up since I started at Overstock. So I feel like I sort of have a sense for what people will respond to and it’s, you know, one of the things that’s really a lost art in business in my opinion, is writing. So cause there’s not, it’s hard to find kids coming out of school or whatever that are really good writers and really good writers are worth their weight in gold. Like they can do so many wonderful things. And if you’re the CEO or whatever of a company and you’re like, do you feel like you’re the only one that can really write well that’s a lot of work that should you have to do, whether it’s case studies or press releases or whatever. So fortunately we’ve now got some good writers, whether they’re in sales or marketing, but what a lost skill set and what an important one in my opinion. My mom was an English teacher. I’m named after Geoffrey Chaucer, Geoff for the G. so I come from a really strong background and in English and in writing. And so I have a sort of big appreciation for, for the importance of writing and you know what it can do to a business honestly. it’s fine. A lost art I would say.

Trent:                  It is indeed. And I’m actually sidebar. So that email campaign that they wrote about that I discovered you, we ended up using our version of exactly that campaign and it sucked. It got no results at all. And I was like so.

Geoff:                 It got much attention and it was like, no, it actually didn’t work out well at all. And I went on his blog, his podcast too afterwards about it and I was like, yeah, it didn’t work at all,

Trent:                  but it was clever, clever, the way the MLS was, it conveyed authority and all sorts of real, it didn’t reek of marketing at all. No, I didn’t send it to a big sample set. I was actually doing an experiment as a part of determining some of our marketing positioning for one of my companies. I really needed some survey responses to a three question survey and I had met about 35 people at a trade show I’d just been to. So I sent this email campaign that we’re talking about to these 35 people thinking, well gosh, you know, they’ve met me. Yeah, sure they’ll respond. I got one response.

Geoff:                 Yeah. It’s funny, I always used to do this that I kind of love it because I think about how many people read that article and how many people like yourself and probably use the exact same. Yeah, like literally the exact same copy. It’s probably like a ton of people now.

Trent:                  Yeah.

Geoff:                 And I used to do this stuff at Overstock where I’d meet with like, you know, the COO of eBay or whoever, and I’d always like tell him stuff that like, I’d be like, Oh, paid search is just killing it for us. We’re doubling down on paid search. But all we cared about was organic and email and all that. So it gives her this like misdirections or competition of like what we heard, what we were going for. And now it’s sort of part of my job is figuring out what they were doing and then misdirecting what we were doing. And I feel like that campaign is sort of like that where there’s probably all these like software sales, exact steps, copy and use that email and they’re still getting.

Trent:                  So in your more successful campaigns, what type of call to action would you normally have? Book a call, watch a video, what are you trying to get people to do?

Geoff:                 That’s something, that it’s book a call. That’s something that we, we got to get a lot better at. So one of the things that’s tough or was tough about Huckabuy was there was really nothing to see. So we’re behind the scenes sort of the company that would communicate a website to Google so you couldn’t can really demo the product. Now we have a dashboard and all this stuff that’s kind of cool to see. But it was hard because we didn’t, you couldn’t like physically, you know, in any way see the product in action. So that was something that we had to kind of work through. And now we have a dashboard that we can do demos and you’re getting that demo SEO cloud, but we probably haven’t done enough thinking around sort of that call to action.

Geoff:                 But right now it’s typically like, yeah. But the call to action is like, I personally will be on the call and that’s sort of like the opportunity to just like talk search with someone that’s, you know, I guess I’m an SEO expert at this point, so. That’s sort of the call to action now, but I think we could probably do a lot better.

Trent:                  Okay. And at this point in time, how many emails a week do you think you guys are sending?

Geoff:                 We’re pretty light right now because our pipeline is pretty good, but it’s probably around like four to 500 emails a week. Is there a normal, but we’re probably below that right now.

Trent:                  Okay. And to get all those addresses and to verify all those addresses, how do you do that?

Geoff:                 Yeah, I’m trying to do pay use. Yes.

Trent:                  That part. And are you sending from your primary domain or are you sending from a subdomain or a variation to protect your sender score?

Geoff:                 We are summing from our primary domain. We use ZoomInfo and I don’t, I’m not sure what we use for this scrubbing, but I know we use something.

Trent:                  Okay. All right. that question I already asked you. You already answered that one. So tell me about a mistake, or as many mistakes as you would like. Cause that’s where our greatest lessons come from that you made early on in outreach.

Geoff:                 Oh man yeah, so the very first mistake was right off the bat we had an investor that wasn’t very like, he’s great guy in sales and he was a sales leader. He ran sales at a great B2B company that sold. and he was, he’s like, I have this guy that’s just phenomenal at outbound. And he would do, you know, something like a hundred phone calls a day and like 200 emails or something like that.

Trent:                  Wow.

Geoff:                 And he worked for three months and we got nothing, not a single lead. And I was just like this, I dunno why, you know, they must, they were in a different industry and I was just like, you know, this, this isn’t, you know, even after like two months, I was like, this isn’t going to work. This isn’t a dial for dollars type of product.

Geoff:                 When was the last time, you know, you took a cold call and answered your cell phone? Like I’ve never done that in my career. So, and in fact it’s just annoying. So had to like quickly, I had never been in sales before, right? I ran marketing at Overstock where you don’t even meet your customer, they just buy stuff and you see all these millions of dollars and clicks and all this stuff happening. But so I had to sort of put on a whole different hat and think about like, I was in this seat right now. What would I have answered or what would I have been interested in? One example for us, it’s like we’ve gotten rid of the title account executive and now people that are, we’re transitioning, but we really are looking for like what we call technical SEO experts because you’re much more likely to take a call if you’re an SEO guy from a technical SEO expert anywhere from an account executive.

Geoff:                 So we’re realizing it’s becoming a very technical sale. We can’t approach it from a really like salesy account exec. We’re not selling, you know, a CRM software. We’re not selling in a disaster recovery stuff. It’s, this is a very technical sale. And so we’ve, we’ve really kind of kept pivoting to try to get that right. But I think that sort of, you just gotta be creative and you gotta, you’ve gotta think about how, what’s going to make them interested to take that initial call and then what are you going to do to be able to close. And so there’s so many factors in that process. But, each one is probably unique to every single company that’s been successful right there. They’ve just, they all need one or two early stage growth tax that’ll get them, you know, to whatever level.

Geoff:                 And then they’ve got to keep that going and know there’s, so we think about that every day. You know, what, how do we get more people in the door? How do we get more people trusting our brand and thinking about our products and, you know, wanting to just buy it. And the ultimate vision is like, we don’t have to have a sales process at all. You know, someone can just, they know that Huckabuy is like, if you don’t have Huckabuy, you’re not doing SEO very well. And so it’s like, you know, there was a time when Google had people calling me at Overstock selling me ad words and then like six months later, it’s like if you didn’t have ad words, you were competing anymore. As an eCommerce player, we want to get to that point where it’s like people realize if you don’t have hug by, you’re really not competing anymore. We’re going to see a perspective. It’s like an automatic buy. But that’s, you know, it’s a big ass, but that’s what we, that’s, that’s sort of the goal.

Trent:                  Hey, you got to have big goals. Do you know what your cost per booked call is?

Geoff:                 I don’t know that number off the top of my head. I’m sorry. Probably should, but it’s mainly manpower. It’s not a ton of like we don’t do a ton of ad spend, so.

Trent:                  Okay. Do you know what your initial call to conversion rate is? Like initial calls that convert to a customer?

Geoff:                 I believe it’s around 10%, but I, this is just, I think the last time I saw it.

Trent:                  Okay.

Geoff:                 One of the issues that we have is that SEO softwares in a lot of ways of nice to have and some people don’t, you know, if you’re switching your email software from MailChimp to Campaign Monitor, you have like a drop dead date where you have to make the switch. We don’t have that luxury of there is like, it’s a very easy thing to put off. And so that’s one of our biggest challenges that we think about a lot is like how do we add some urgency so that close and in my mind it’s really simple. Like every day that goes by that you’re not on our products a day that you’re not growing and as a result you’re losing revenue. But it’s amazing how many marketers don’t think that way. That’s how I was taught how to, how to, you know, you, you had to make a decision quick when it comes to this type of stuff cause really works out then you if you make it six month delay, missed six months worth of really great growth and our average customer grows 61% in 12 months. So that’s sort of the urgency that we’re trying to get through is that no, every day that you delay, you’re passing yourself revenue.

Trent:                  When someone does book a call, do you, can you walk me through just kind of at a high level what the flow of that call looks like? Like how does the sales rep open the call? What do they talk about in the first bit of the call? When do they transition to the pitch?

Geoff:                 So here’s the beginning is often, a little bit of due diligence, you know, getting to know what their SEO looks like today. You know, what sort of their technical level of understanding and just trying to kind of figure out a way to, you know, get them to share, write some information with us. and then typically we will start addressing, similar customers that fall into their category or industry and how they abuse Huckabuy to, you know, achieve great success. And then we get into the products and then we get into sort of demo and making sure that, you know, to, you know, not everybody knows about dynamic rendering for example. So there is quite a bit of education that needs to happen in that initial call. And really our conversion point after that is during a freeloader opportunity analysis. So we actually will look at their side versus four of their competitors and tell them like, who’s winning, who’s losing, what’s the potential upside? Some stuff about their own site. And that’s really how we get onto a second call, which if everything goes well, we actually have the proposal ready and have the opportunity to close on the second call.

Trent:                  Got it. Okay. So in our pre interview, I asked if you would be able to come up for any type of a special offer or whatever for in case there’s anyone in my audience who’s listening to this and they’re thinking, Oh yeah. Hey max, I’d like to talk to these guys were able to come up with anything.

Geoff:                 Yeah, 20% off. So 20% off rack rate for anybody. Just a contact us form at Huckabuy.com and we’ll make sure and mention your podcast and then, yeah, I’ll get one. I’ll make sure that I’m on the call too. So it’s sort of twofold. I’ll be on the call in a second. You have to do an a purchasing, we’ll give you 20% off.

Trent:                  And the 20, just so they know that there’s, there’s no referral for me fee for me in this. I’m just, I think you guys are doing something that’s really valuable and whenever I see somebody that’s doing that, I like to help them. So, Geoff, thank you so much for making some time to come and chat and I look forward to, I’m actually coming out to Utah with my UTV. You ever heard of rally on the rocks out at Moab?

Geoff:                 no, but I have a sense like for wheeling down in Moab.

Trent:                  Yeah, I’m actually not coming for the event. I’m going to come, as it’s either before or after with one of my buddies from Canada anyway.

Geoff:                 That’s cool.

Trent:                  And you live in Park City, right?

Geoff:                 Yup.

Trent:                  Yeah. How far? I don’t off the top of my head. How far is it from Moab to Park City?

Geoff:                 It’s like four or five hours. But you might be coming through. Are you taking, yeah, you might be coming through. Did you come through Salt Lake 30 minutes from Salt Lake? So.

Trent:                  Yeah, I’ll have to grab a beer with you when I come out that way.

Geoff:                 I would love that. I love that.

Trent:                  All right. Well, thank you very much for being on the show.

Geoff:                 My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Questions Asked During the Interview

[00:38] What does your company do?
[00:46] When did you start the company?
[01:31] Why did you decide to start an SEO firm?
[05:48] How are you attracting clients?
[06:35] Tell me about your outreach program.
[08:35] Have you raised money?
[10:20] What are some of the more favorable terms that you got because you raised when you weren’t desperate for cash?
[14:28] How many clients have you landed?
[15:28] How did you target your audience?
[20:00] How valuable is display advertising?
[21:30] What tools did you use for email?
[22:20] How did you craft the messaging in the emails and on the website?
[27:44] What was the CTA?
[29:04] How many emails did you send per week?
[29:50] Tell me about some mistakes you made early on in your outreach.
[33:30] What is your cost per booked call?
[34:00] What is your booked call conversion rate?
[35:21] When someone books a call, what is the flow of that call?
[37:04]Do you have a special offer that you’d like to make available to my audience?

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Today’s Guest

Geoff is the Founder-CEO of Huckabuy, a Park City software company building automated services that leverage key Google initiatives – like dynamic rendering and structured data markup – to grow your organic search channel.

Prior to Huckabuy, Geoff was the SVP of Marketing at eCommerce giant Overstock.com where he introduced SEO and grew the channel from $0 to $300M in the late 2000s.

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