Digital Marketing Strategy: Robert Rose on How the Content Marketing Institute Uses Email Marketing to Land Consulting Clients

This podcast is a real treat. Robert Rose is the second guest I’ve had from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), which is virtually an institution of knowledge on content marketing. Robert is CMI’s Chief Strategist there, and I definitely learned some new strategies taht I’m looking forward to sharing with you!

CMI’s stated goal is to advance the practice of content marketing, and one of the ways they do this is by training their consulting clients.

Robert walks us through the process they use to turn a brand new lead into a paying client, including details of their funnel and what they do if a prospect doesn’t buy.

He also shares some strategies that can significantly inflate the reach of your content as he walks us through how and when to use press releases for posts, and how to cross post influencers’ content.

That’s not all. When you listen to this interview, you’ll hear Robert and I talk about:

  • (2:45) Introductions
  • (4:45) An overview of how they are attracting consulting clients
  • (10:00) An overview of how they track where their leads come from
  • (11:55) What happens if their consulting leads don’t buy
  • (17:45) An overview of how to structure an agency funnel
  • (20:30) The different types of registration forms and how to use them
  • (22:45) An overview of the BrightIdeas funnel, and how it could be improved
  • (29:45) How a secondary call to action mid-funnel can improve the buyer journey
  • (31:45) Traffic or conversion, which is easier to increase?
  • (35:15) How to attract other writers
  • (38:45) How to engage a new contributing writer
  • (40:45) How & why to do a press release for a new post

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

About Robert Rose

Robert-headshot-2011-color-medium-300x240Robert is the Chief Strategist for the Content Marketing Institute, and Senior Contributing Analyst for Digital Clarity Group.

Robert is the author of the book Managing Content Marketing, which spent two weeks as a top ten marketing book on  As a recognized expert in content marketing strategy, digital media and the social Web, Robert innovates creative and technical strategies for a wide variety of clientele.  He’s helped large companies such as 3M, ADP, AT&T, KPMG, Staples, PTC and Petco tell their story more effectively through the Web. He’s worked to help develop digital marketing efforts for entertainment and media brands such as Dwight Yoakam, Nickelodeon and NBC. And, he’s helped marketers at smaller organizations such as East Harlem Tutorial Program, Coburn Ventures and Hippo to amplify their story through Content Marketing and Social Web Strategies.

He is a featured writer for the online magazines iMedia Connection, Fierce Content Management and CMSWire and also a featured author in the book “Enterprise 2.0 How Technology, E-Commerce and Web 2.0 Are Transforming Business Virtually.

An early Internet pioneer, Robert has more than 15 years of experience, and a track record of helping brands and businesses develop successful Web and content marketing strategies.


Digital Marketing Strategy: Andrew Dymski on How He Launched a Successful Marketing Agency Right out of College (part 2)

If you want proof that you don’t need decades of experience and a huge Rolodex full of clients in order to start a marketing agency, look no further. Andrew and his colleagues at Guavabox launched an agency right out of college, and by all measures are on track to have a tremendously successful business.

Guavabox does an impressive job of generating content marketing. And, more than almost anyone I’ve spoken with, they not only understand the importance of list segmentation, but they provide an overview of how they’ve segmented their list, and how this segmentation has helped them identify their hottest prospects, and appropriately nurture and convert their leads into paying clients.

In addition, Andrew explains the thinking behind, and validation of, their business model, sharing insights helpful to any startup. There was so much goodness in this interview that I had to break it into two parts.

If you missed Part 1, you’ll want to check it out to hear Andrew and I talk about:

  • (3:30) Introductions
  • (5:50) Why the old model of web design doesn’t scale
  • (8:30) An overview of financial results
  • (10:00) His business philosophy and how it played a critical role in their launch
  • (13:30) How they validated their business model
  • (16:30) How taking on a new client went wrong
  • (21:00) How they picked their niche
  • (25:30) How they are generating leads
  • (27:30) How blogging plays a role in lead generation
  • (29:30) How they developed their personas
  • (35:30) An overview of outbound marketing

.. And be sure to check out Part 2 below, where we discuss:

  • (3:00) An overview of various nurturing campaigns
  • (7:00) An overview of how they’re using personas to segment their list
  • (13:00) An overview of when and how they decide to follow up with each lead
  • (16:30) An overview of how they are changing their business model to a retainer fee model
  • (21:00) An overview of their retainer plans
  • (12:40) How they report results (traffic & leads) and what they’re planning for the month ahead
  • (25:00) How they manage client expectations
  • (28:00) How they are producing blog content
  • (31:00) How they are using contractors
  • (33:00) An overview of how they are in track with their goals

Resources Mentioned

Inbound Marketing 101 Ebook
Best Buyer Formula

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey there bright idea hunters, welcome to the Bright Ideas
Podcast. I am your host Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast
for marketing agencies, marketing consultants and entrepreneurs
who want to discover how to use content marketing and marketing
automation to massively boost their business without massively
boosting the amount of hours that they have to work every single
week.On the show with me today is Andrew Dymski, and this is part two of a
two part series that Andrew and I did. If you missed the first
part, you can get to it by going to, and in
this episode we’re going to continue the discussion that we had,
where he is explaining to us how he is building, very
successfully I might add, his marketing agency GuavaBox.In this second part we’re going to be talking about the very creative
and intelligent ways that he is nurturing and converting his
leads to customers. We’re also going to be talking about how he
know when to follow up with and who to follow up with out of all
the leads that are coming into his funnel.We’re going to talk about an overview into how they’re changing their
business from a fee based business, rather like a fee per
project based business to a retainer fee income based business
and how that’s having a wonderfully positive effect on your cash
flow as you might imagine, and we’re also going to talk about
how he reports to his clients all the good stuff that they’re
doing for them so that those clients have a high level of
motivation to keep on paying that retainer on an ongoing basis,
to produce that long term client relationship of course that we
all want and need to make our businesses grow.So before we get to that just wanted to very quickly talk to you
about a Bright Ideas product, if you are at all struggling when
it comes to business to business lead generation, that’s an area
where I have extensive experience and I’ve created a product
called the Best Buyer Formula.You can get to the sales page at, and in that
video based course, it’s delivered in a membership site, that
you’re going to see just a treasure trove of content that
explains to you exactly how I built my last business and how I’m
building this one in terms of lead generation. Like with all my
products I stand behind it with a 100% money back guarantee, so
if you get access and you think that it’s not for you no
worries, just send an email to my team and we will give you a
refund, no questions asked.So with all that said, thank you so much for tuning in and please
join me in welcoming Andrew back for part two.All right Andrew welcome back for part two of this interview with
Bright Ideas and yourself, for your firm GuavaBox which is an
inbound marketing agency. If you missed part one folks you can
get at it by going to, and in part one we
talked a whole lot about how Andrew and his two cofounders
launched his business, how they picked their niche, how they
launched with what we call the minimum viable product, how
they’re generating their leads, there’s a whole bunch of really
good stuff in there in that half hour interview, and now we’re
going to pick up right where we left off.

So you mentioned that you’re getting leads, a lot of leads from your
blog. You also mentioned from referrals and some other things. I
don’t imagine that everyone is ready to buy right away.

Andrew: Sure.

Trent: So what’re you doing to nurture and convert? And if you like
you can also talk about how you’re doing this for your
customers, because I imagine it’s not terribly different than
how you’re doing it for yourself.

Andrew: No it’s not. Again just following the same line that we
prescribe for our clients is we’re HubSpot partners and we use
their workflow tool to kind of lay out lead nurturing sequences.
And the way that HubSpot is built if anyone isn’t familiar with
their product, but it’s a marketing database first so you, as
leads come in they kind of fill into this marketing database and
then it kind of watches their behavior and tracks the different
content that they’ve looked at the content that they’ve
downloaded, emails that they’ve clicked on and clicked through,
all these different data points to help create a smart marketing

So we can go in and set different life cycle stages within the
software, so if someone downloads a what to expect in a
partnership with GuavaBox eBook, we’re going to respond probably
with an email right away, just introducing ourselves, a more
personal touch. But if someone downloads Inbound Marketing 101,
kind of a higher level offer, based on some of the form fields
they will be entered into, just a lead nurturing sequence, just
an email drip sequence basically, like you could set up through
MailChimp or any other email tool you may use. So we use the
nurturing to kind of follow up with people and keep our finger
on the pulse of what they’re clicking through, what’s
interesting them, so that’s how we nurture right now.

Trent: Okay so let me make sure, I want to feed that back and make
sure that I understand and we’ll go to the website here. So
someone on your sidebar, it says subscribe to the GuavaBox blog,
when an email address goes into there, what happens? Are they
just getting blog updates from that point forward, because
that’s its own follow-up sequence correct?

Andrew: Correct. So there, when someone subscribes from our blog we’re
only going to send them blog articles, so that’s a really top of
the funnel lead in our system, so from a follow-up standpoint
there whenever you get a new blog post from us you’re going to
have an opportunity to download an eBook from us, right now it’s
Inbound Marketing 101, kind of a brief overview of what
Inbound’s all about, and gives them more detail.

So if they’re reading our blog, they’re probably going to be
interested in Inbound 101, and that’s kind of the generic first
offer that we offer people who come to the site. And then if
someone downloads say Inbound 101, now they’re kind of a
marketing qualified lead in our funnel and they’re going to get
a different sequence of responses from us, and again it’s based
on those personas. We’ve got a best describes me field in our

And it’s a CEO is looking to increase sales, a marketing manager
who’s looking for a boost, other marketing agencies so depending
on what that field result is right there, they’re going to get
entered into a different lead nurturing sequence and that’s how
our system’s built right now.

Trent: Okay, so this is the offer that I see at the bottom of . . .
I’m assuming it’s every blog post, that green box with a red
button, get started with the free guide correct?

Andrew: Well the offer’s going to change a little bit depending on what
the blog post topic is, so if we’re writing about personas it’s
going to be kind of a buyer persona guide that we have down
there, we cycle between three and four top of the funnel offers
at the bottom of our blog post.

Trent: Okay, and so when your segment, because segmentation’s
unbelievably important, your segmenting by number of employees
and this field called best describes me, so speak to that again
if you would. So let’s say that I choose marketing manager who
needs a boost versus CEO slash owner who needs sales, how is the
experience in your funnel going to be different for me as a
result of one or the other of those choices?

Andrew: Okay, let’s think back to our personas again, if we’ve got
cutting edge Chris, Chris is the CEO of a company, it’s a
pretty, it’s a young and growing company that’s looking to
expand, they’re looking for a new source of leads that’s going
to help throttle their growth and a company that we can scale
with as well. So what kind of information is he looking for?

He wants to know return on investment, he wants to know what kind of
leads he can expect, far more metric driven, straight to the
point kind of stuff, so our content to Chris is usually shorter
than our content would be to the marketing manager. In the
marketing manager we share more tactical information, because
they could be attempting to do inbound on their own right now,
maybe they’re a HubSpot customer, [Marketo] or they’re just
trying to use WordPress by themselves, whatever it is. So
they’re going to be interested in more like how are you driving
leads to our website, whereas the CEO just wants to know are you
driving leads to my website and what kind of return am I going
to see from the money that I’m giving you. So that’s how we use
personas to kind of break up the type of message that we
communicate to our leads.

Trent: Now that’s pretty smart by the way, so bravo to you for that.

Andrew: Thank you.

Trent: Now the content that you’re delivering, is it, are you
basically just writing short emails that then direct them back
to specific posts which would be relevant to the persona that
they selected, or is all of the content delivered in an email so
they don’t have to click through?

Andrew: No we’re typically, we have some emails that are just within
the email, but we’re primarily linking people back to landing
pages, providing them another opportunity to convert on our
website. Another powerful that HubSpot gives you is progressive
profiling in their forms, essentially what that is, is if
somebody has downloaded an offer from your website and they’ve
entered their first name, last name, email address, their
company name and their company URL. We don’t need to ask what
their company name and company URL are again.

If we want to keep the number of fields shorter, we’re going to ask
them a different set of questions. So it’s, their database looks
at we can build out ten questions and if three of them are
already answered they just kind of bump the next three up so
then we might get employee number, or the biggest marketing
struggle, questions like that that help us to get more
information and identify their pain point more clearly through
the automation process.

So we want to take them from the email to a landing page and
sometimes we’ll send them back to a website but the primary goal
is to get them to a landing page to offer them another piece of
content that can help them solve whatever problem they’re

Trent: Can you give me an example of one of those landing pages? Let’s
say have you got one that you could rattle off for the CEO-owner

Andrew: Yeah. Well we don’t structure the landing pages. They’re going
to be structured pretty much the same, in the way that we lay it
out. But the email copy is what we vary based on the persona.

Trent: Okay.

Andrew: So an email, we want to get say a CEO to click through, we
might only have three or four sentences, break it up into like
three paragraph breaks with only a couple sentences on there,
and then that is going to get them to click through and then,
I’ll pull up one of our pages, one of our landing pages right
now and kind of walk you through how we use personas to
construct that.

So if someone just goes to, and you can go down to the
bottom, in free marketing resources section and click on all
online marketing sources, here’s just a collection of all the
eBooks. Everyone’s just welcome to download as many as they
want, I hope they can help you out.

Trent: Right. I’ll make sure if you’re driving in your car right now
don’t worry about writing any of this down, all you’ve got to do
is come to the post which for this part two episode will be at, and I’ll put links to all this stuff.

Andrew: So when we build a landing page, we understand the personas are
going to read things differently, so in our like H1 tag we want
a straight to the points text that a CEO is going to relate
with. So he’s just breezing through, so in our Inbound Marketing
101 landing page, which is like I said our top of the funnel
offer, the H1 tag is reach new customers with inbound marketing.
That’s going to relate to a marketer but it’s also going to
relate to a CEO because at the end of the day that’s what they
want their marketing to deliver, is new customers.

And then when you drill down into the H2 copy it says learn how an
inbound marketing game plan can bring all marketing efforts into
focus and grow your business. So that helps more of the
analytical thinker, helps them understand more precisely what
this eBook’s going to help them deliver, and then you go down.
And we’ve got bullet points that break down specific tactics
that the marketer’s going to want to understand on how this
value’s going to be delivered.

Trent: This is a lot of content to produce, all these eBooks. Were you
able to take generic eBooks that HubSpot produced and then just
put your branding on them?

Andrew: We have, some of them, their partner program is Out of Sight,
and I recommend every marketing agency at least look into it
because the support that they provide to you is outstanding
beyond just learning their software, they give you offers that
you can convert and co-brand with them. So I’d say about half of
our offers are cobranded offers, and then we have original
offers that we have just created out of problems that have seen

Trent: Interesting. What does it cost you a month to have HubSpot?

Andrew: We are on the professional package so it’s $600 a month, for
us. Obviously that’s a number that’s going to scare away or just
chase away smaller agencies, but we were able to pace up towards
it. And then once you begin to get clients who are using
HubSpot, they have basically an affiliate referral program where
you get 20 percent back from any package that you’re able to
sell. So if you’re able to sell, you’re able to basically get
your portal for free after not too long.

Trent: Yeah, okay. All right so when people are downloading these
various . . . you’ve got all these offers that are in your
funnel, and then I would imagine that you’re doing some type of
like, where I’m going with this is how do you know when to
follow up with who?

Andrew: Great question. When you’re getting started and leads are just
flowing into your system, you don’t really have time for the
lead nurturing sequence to go all the way through. You know if a
company downloads Inbound 101 and we click over to their website
and every day we’re going through the leads that have converted,
and so we see their website we see their in our niche or they’re
a company that we wouldn’t mind working with then we’re just
going to give them a call. You know reach out or send them an
email, say, “Hey, this is Andrew from GuavaBox. I notice that
you were on our website yesterday and downloaded Inbound
Marketing 101. Just wanted to follow up and see if you had any
other questions or if there’s anything I can help you out with.”
And you know that gets a conversation started.

Sometimes people deny that they’ve ever been there. They say, oh I
don’t know what you’re talking about or . . . it’s crazy. But
other times you’ve got people who are really open to having a
conversation with you and that can kind of move the sales
process along just by reaching out. And that’s why we’re in the
inbound marketing is because there is that connection, you can
understand what pages they’ve looked at, you can look at the
type of offer that they’ve downloaded and that from a sales side
that gives you an insight into the kind of problem that they’re
facing. So then as a salesperson you can really offer some
legitimate value to their business, you’re not just interrupting
them with a cold call.

Trent: Absolutely. So I noticed that you do ask for, especially for
your lead magnets that are further in the funnel, you do ask for
phone number and URL.

Andrew: Yeah.

Trent: Have you split tested at all to see the effect on your
conversion rate by asking for those two extra pieces, because I
see that you make it mandatory?

Andrew: Yeah we do, because at the end of the day if someone’s not
willing to give me their company name or their phone number,
it’s not really a lead that I’m ready to follow up with at that
point. So we have like a 30 percent conversion rate, average on
our landing pages, and that’s bringing a good amount of leads
right now that we’re comfortable with. And so if someone’s at
the point where they’re ready to put in their phone number,
that’s great you know and if they’re not at that point yet,
that’s not a lead that we want in our funnel right now.

Trent: But let’s be clear for the people that are listening, people
can get into the top of your funnel with just first name last
name and email.

Andrew: Exactly.

Trent: So they’re only seeing these deeper offers if they are either
reading the emails that you’re already sending to them, or by
their own effort are coming back to your blog and then clicking
the calls to action at the beginning of a blog post, and then
“opting in” again to get this lead magnet that is deeper into
your funnel. So it’s not as though you’re not getting the lead
at all, you just want, and it’s very smart. You’re basically
saying I don’t want to actually talk to this person until
they’ve provided me with more than their name and email but
you’ve already got their name and email.

Andrew: Correct. And I’m going to communicate with them with the
information that they give me, so essentially they give us
permission to market to them through email but not phone, and
we’re just going to market to them through email, until they’re

Trent: Smart, smart, smart. All right. So very, very early, I think it
was in part one of the interview or it might have even been
before we hit the record button, you talked about how you’re
transitioning the services that you’re offering from you know
just web design to, I want you to describe what it’s going to.

Andrew: Sure. So we started out, again it was a yes-man business where,
“Can you guys do website design?” Yeah. Can you understand
twitter? Yeah. Can you do YouTube videos? Yeah. We did viewer
production, kind of the whole gamut of isolated online marketing
activities. And then as we continued to learn and grow we found
out that none of these activities really drive ROI until they
can be connected together into a system that makes sense, and
that’s going to drive new business in a smart way.

So we wanted to shift to a retainer model business, and that’s kind
of where we started exploring different partnerships and we
ended up going with HubSpot because they provided the best
support, the best technology to help us facilitate that

So essentially what it is, is we were just a website design agency,
we would do basic WordPress web design, we would do Twitter
strategies, Facebook strategies where we would just write up
basically smart stuff like, just, not smart just whatever you’d
find, like best practices that sort of thing, and apply them to
the client and deliver those sources to them in a way that would
help them kind of do their own marketing.

We would tweet for some clients, we would post on Facebook for some
clients, we would do Facebook design, Twitter design, YouTube
background design, all that kind of stuff, but now the shift
into inbound marketing is really . . . it starts with the
philosophy and it’s no longer a project based system but now
you’re trying to sign up with customers for six month to twelve
month retainer relationships.

So now you’re really aligning yourself as a partner instead of just a
repairman or you know a painter basically who’s coming in and
painting one room and leaving. We want to work alongside with a
company to help on kind of the 50,000 foot level, establish the
growth goals, the revenue goals, get on the same page and figure
out where they’re trying to grow their company, where
opportunities are, and then create a marketing strategy that
helps them get there, and then deliver that strategy over the
twelve month relationship. So that’s kind of what the model
looks like, and then…

Trent: Go ahead.

Andrew: So that’s the model and tactically, where sometimes it is a
website redesign, sometimes it’s just putting a HubSpot portal
on a sub-domain of a client’s website and just starting to blog
and create landing pages and create emails and stuff like that,
it can kind of, we haven’t completely lost our website design
roots yet and that’s been a good skill to have when you
augmented into a retainer relationship.

Trent: Okay so I’m on your retainer pricing page and I see fast,
faster and fastest which I love so much better than bronze,
silver and gold. One is 3000 a month, one is 5000 a month and
one is 10,000 a month. When did you start offering retainer?

Andrew: We started offering retainer just over a year ago. And it took
. . . it’s a learning curve for us and it’s a selling curve as
well because it’s a lot easier for someone to sign up for a one
time $2000 website than it is for someone to sign up for 10,000
a month to work with a company that they don’t really know yet.

And so when you’re just getting started in a new line of business,
it’s basically restarting the business for us because we had to
prove a different line of value to clients, and we really
started just by doing it to ourselves and being like we can show
people our blog at least and show them what it looks like.

And so essentially the pricing model is built off of, we want to
direct it more and more towards value delivered, right now it’s
very activity driven, we don’t think that’s, that’s kind of the
next stage of where we want to go is more value driven, to focus
again on the growth that that CEO really cares about at the end
of the day. So again get it up and get it out but our pricing
model is something that we’re continuing to modify and push
forward as we grow.

Trent: I remember when I had my technology services company I went
through the same transition that you did, at the time in the
industry the common way to bill was per hour to go and do
technology projects, and I realized that that wasn’t ever going
to build me a company that I could sell for any meaningful
amount of money, because there’s no ongoing, recurring revenue
and so we switched and it was painful in the beginning.

We didn’t know exactly how to price things and selling it was a lot
harder but years down the road when we had $80,000 a month
coming in the front door on the first day of every month that
made life a whole lot easier and ultimately why I was able to
sell it for the amount that I did, which was a good amount for
sure. So I applaud you for doing this, because it’s going to
absolutely make your life so much better down the road. How’s it
going so far, have you sold any retainer stuff yet?

Andrew: We have. We have three clients up and running on our retainer
model, which is awesome.

Trent: Is that on which level? Fast, faster or fastest?

Andrew: That is fast and faster.

Trent: So you got eleven grand a month coming in the beginning of
every month.

Andrew: Yeah. It’s transformed our business.

Trent: I bet.

Andrew: And it’s exhilarating too because the clients that we have
we’re delivering results for and so they’re happy. And when you
deal with a bigger ticket client, one who can afford that kind
of price tag per month, they’re going to be less nit picky about
the little things, they’re going to trust you more because I
don’t know when you charge more for something people seem to
think you’ve got your act together more than when you charge

Trent: Absolutely.

Andrew: So they’re going to trust you more, and everything’s seems to
flow smoother once the prices start to go up.

Trent: So how do you, because people get excited in the beginning and
sure, yeah they sign up, but then you’ve got to keep them,
you’ve got to retain those clients. How are you reporting to
your client the value that you’re delivering for fast, the fast
level or any of the levels for that matter? What specifically
are you sending to them?

Andrew: Touch points is huge, having a point of contact that you can
get in touch with on a regular basis that makes time for you,
and setting that expectation up front is something that we’re
going to continue to do a better job of. But at the end of each
month we get together and we look at traffic and we look at
leads, we outline what we’re going to do in the next month,
based on the strategy that we put together at the beginning.

We’ve got to start everything with an inbound marketing game plan
that outlines based on the terms that they want to be known for
and the keywords that they want to rank for and stuff like that.
We put together a blog strategy, and then as we go and we see
what works and what doesn’t work very well we kind of tweak that
along the way.

And obviously we haven’t run someone, we haven’t had a twelve month
client yet so we’re still tweaking those game plans as we go and
they’re getting smarter with every month. But essentially we
review traffic and we review leads, because we’re not a sales
augmenter, we’re a lead augmenter and so at the end of the day
it’s our client’s responsibility to close those sales, so we can
deliver higher quality leads than they used to get, and those
leads just get more and more qualified as time goes, and we
understand their business better and understand the way that
visitors act on their website.

But visitor traffic and traffic to lead ratios are big for us,
looking at individual landing pages to get visitor to lead
conversion ratio, and optimizing calls to action and stuff like
that to try to improve click through rates, we kind of hit on
all of those different areas, all of those key metrics and key
performance indicators.

Trent: Now I would imagine that each of the three people that you have
on retainer now probably weren’t doing much in terms of digital
before they engaged with you. Is that correct?

Andrew: Wide, wide gamut. One client didn’t even have a website up, the
other one was spending like 5K a month in PPC, and just not
seeing any quality results from that spend.

Trent: I’m guessing that’s the guy that signed up for the faster

Andrew: Yeah, I mean they already, they understand the value, and
they’re online and they just know that they need help, and
that’s a good place for us to start.

Trent: Okay, so for the folks that didn’t even have a website and here
you are showing them traffic and you’re showing them leads and
you’re showing them all this stuff. What’s their reaction when
they see that relative to the three grand they’re paying you?

Andrew: It depends, and it leans back on that expectation that you set
up front and this is another part that we keep rolling with and
saying we’ve got to do a better job of that next time is just
outlining what they should expect. Because sometimes it’s like
well I’m not getting any calls just yet like what’s going on,
well we’ve only been working for two and a half months, we
started from zero, we need time because we do everything
organically, right now we don’t have any paid elements of our
offerings, not against PPC or Facebook ads or anything like
that, just it’s not part of our offerings right now.

So just setting, well having honest conversations because again if
we’re going to be marketing partners and work with you over the
next 12 months we need to be able to be transparent and honest
with each other and just be able to communicate authentically

Trent: Setting expectations is such a valid point because if somebody
were to hire you as an employee to be their marketing person, no
one would expect that within a month of hiring you that you had
radically transformed their website and traffic and leads and
blah, blah, blah. And yet, obviously enough, some people that
hire a marketing agency expect that within 30 days, they’re
going to be just cranking.

Andrew: Exactly.

Trent: Why do you suppose that is and how do you manage that? What
conversation do you have at the beginning to make sure that you
don’t end up in that hole?

Andrew: We like to set the vision that it’s going to be four to six
months before you start seeing any real results from this. So I
mean from the beginning of our sales process, we’re linking back
to the growth goals, where the company wants to be in 12 months,
what dreams are associated with those goals, why do you want to
get to that point, what happens if you don’t get to that point.
And so then when we start delivering with a client we can lean
back on those numbers, and really it begins to point more and
more towards an organizational change and setting mutual back
and forth expectations at the beginning.

That’s part of our contract to is here is here’s what we’re going to
be delivering to you as a marketing partner and here’s what you
need to deliver to us, because it’s a two-way relationship. If
you want to make real change and grow as a business, that’s not
going to happen over night and you’re going to need to change
the status quo, that’s going to need to be altered and we need
to know do you have enough skin in the game here to make a
strategy like this work.

Trent: Yeah, if they’re not going to change what they’re doing and
they’re just going to sit back arms crossed and say okay magic
boy do your stuff, that’s probably not going to work.

Andrew: No, it’s not and that’s the type of client you get when you
just do one off projects. But if you want to shift to a retainer
model, that’s the kind of client that you need to be comfortable
enough in yourself and in your business model to say you know
what, I can refer you to a couple people who might be able to
help you out but I don’t think we’re the best fit right now.

Trent: Yes indeed. And when you’re doing your inbound marketing
yourself and these people are coming to you and they’re raising
their hand by downloading various reports that’s going to
obviously make converting that sale a whole lot easier.

Andrew: Exactly because the expectation there, I mean it’s a small
expectation set but still they’re the one coming to you for the
information and so inbound marketing at the end of the day
positions companies and agencies as thought leaders and the way
you structure your sales process following that can even lean in
more on that fact and position you instead of a sales person as
more of an adviser into their growth model.

Trent: How are you doing in terms of blogging for your clients?

Andrew: So we batch all of the titles based on keywords, and then we
work with our clients to get kind of the guts to most of those
blog posts, whether that’s bullet points or we’re going to start
experimenting with just audio recordings, so having them like
record a quick clip on their iPhone or something like that,
talking about a subject that we want to write a blog post about,
and then we send those out to different contract writers that we
work with.

And then they take the content, they do some research, and then they
tweak it into like a 400, 500 word blog post, and then we send
that to the client, get the review, and when they give the okay
it gets scheduled to get posted on their blog.

Trent: Okay. So how many clients, so right now I guess you’re
producing blog content on an ongoing basis for your three
retainer clients, yes?

Andrew: Correct.

Trent: Okay. The system that you’re using to manage the producing, the
blog content and the editorial calendar and getting it approved
and pushing it out to the clients blog, I mean is that kind of
spreadsheets and email right now?

Andrew: Right now that is we use [Podeo] internally, it’s an awesome
free platform where you can kind of spin up your own custom work
spaces, and structure your workflow the way you want to. That’s
gone pretty well for us, from the client side it’s just email.
We’ve experimented with Basecamp, but haven’t stuck wit that as
a long term solution. We’re actually working on our own custom
software solution right now that would facilitate client
communication and contractor communication.

Trent: Well at the risk of plugging my own products, I am a cofounder
in a software company and we have an app that is going to solve
that exact problem so I’m happy to show that to you after we
record if you like.

Andrew: I would love to see that Trent.

Trent: Are you using any curation for your clients?

Andrew: Not at the moment, we’ve looked at a couple options, but
haven’t really integrated it well into our strategy yet. That’s
a topic I need to circle back with [Gray and Brennan] and figure
out if that is going to add some value. I think it adds a lot
even for ourselves. We’re kind of the guinea pig for our
marketing strategies and so we tried it out on GuavaBox first
and if we see results then we send it out towards the clients.

Trent: Yeah. Okay, well we’ll cover that when we go off air here. All
right, services offered, service, oh contractors. Can you just
give an overview of the type of contractors that you’re using?

Andrew: Yeah, we’ve done a couple different models and you know there’s
websites out there where you can kind of submit to a pool of
authors and then they can bid on your work or submit trials,
that takes a lot of time to manage that but sometimes it’s a
good way to start. At the end of the day, you need to pick a way
that you can establish a relationship with a writer that you can
trust and so sometimes Elance is a good way to do that.

We’ve done some writing, more like design work through Elance than we
have actual contract writers but that’s been a good source for
us. Relationships, networking, one of our best content writers
is just someone who went to college with us and who freelances
on the side, so don’t throw that model out. But Zerys is a good

Trent: Zerys? How do you spell that?

Andrew: Z-E-R-Y-S I believe. You can just Google them and they’ve got a
good pool of writers on there. Content Launch is another one
that we have tried out and has had some good results, and is another one that we’ve used with

Trent: Okay. Well my pen just ran out in the middle a name.

Andrew: Perfect timing.

Trent: Luckily, luckily I have another one in the drawer.

Andrew: That’s good.

Trent: Hang on I’ve got to, there we go. Don’t you love this audience
from the hosts, holds up the show because his pen runs out of
ink? Okay, so you got a couple of resources which I will include
in the show notes,,

All right, I think it’s time. What have we missed? What do you think
for the intended listener here is someone who is you six months
ago, who got a start at an agency and then you know want to make
a success of themselves, what have we missed? What would you
talk about for that person?

Andrew: You’ve got to set goals. You’ve got to know where you want to
go. Because if you’re just running on a treadmill, I mean
starting a business is hard work, that’s why so many people
quit. But if you want to start an agency and you want to go
somewhere and you want to add value, set some goals for your
self, set goals each day, each week.

We set like 12 week goals at GuavaBox on how we want to perform
across finance, marketing, sales, operations, and we strategize
those metrics and we try to hold each other accountable for that
and we’re a small agency so it’s easy to let each other off the
hook. But again if you want to grow and you want to scale a
business to the point where you want to sell it, you’ve got to
kind of pick a spot on the horizon and start running towards it
in a way that you can measure against yourself.

Trent: I’ve got a resource that I want to throw up as well, it’s one
that I was reading this morning, it’s one of Jim Collins’ early
books, it’s called Beyond Entrepreneurship or Beyond
Entrepreneur or something like that, chapter two. So folks if
you want to grab yourself that book, it talks a lot about a
specific strategy for laying out, and you’ve heard this before
this is not new but it’s incredibly important, your mission
vision, your core values and your beliefs.

And I’m not going to hijack this interview with why talking about
that is important but if you read chapter two you will figure it
out and it’s something that I’m doing in my businesses, because
especially when it comes to attracting the kind of customer that
you want to deal with and attracting the kind of employee that
you want to work with, if you don’t have this stuff defined,
you’re going to end up with culture problems down the road.

Andrew: So true.

Trent: And so I’ll leave it at that. All right, I think this has been
a really terrific interview and we divided it into two parts so
a half hour each. I hope everyone enjoys it. Again, if you guys
who listen to my podcasts regularly think dividing it into two
sucked, definitely let me know, as I cannot exist without your
feedback. But like I say in my effort to attract new listeners I
thought smaller, more bite sized chunked pieces of content would
be less intimidating for them to download.

know that when I look at a video and I see that it’s an hour long I
go, “Ugh, I don’t know if I want to watch that whole thing.” But
if I see something that’s shorter than an hour I’m more inclined
to give it a go and that was the thinking in dividing this
episode into two parts.

So Andrew, thank you very much. For those folks who want to get a
hold of you the best just rattle off one if you would please,
what is the best way to do that?

Andrew: Best way to get a hold of me is on my email that is

Trent: All right, terrific. Andrew thank you so much for being on the
show. It has been an absolute pleasure this has been I think a
terrific interview that I look forward to publishing.

Andrew: Thank you so much Trent for the opportunity and for all the
work you’re doing, doing great stuff, inspiring entrepreneurs
and hats off to you.

Trent: Well thank you very much, I appreciate that. All right to get
to the show notes for today’s episode go to
If you really enjoyed this episode, I want to ask you a little
favor please go to and there you’ll find a
pre-populated tweet which you can send on out to your followers,
as well and even more importantly there’s a link that can take
you to the iTunes store so that you can leave a five star rating
for this particular episode. It really means a lot to me when
you guys do that because it really helps this show to gain a lot
more exposure and the more people that hear it the more people
that we can help.

So that’s it for this episode, I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and we’ll
see you in another episode soon.

About Andrew Dymski

AndrewDymskiAndrew is the a co-founder of GuavaBox, a web design and inbound marketing agency. Guavabox helps clients in the industrial space reach new customers through inbound marketing.

You can email Andrew at or connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Digital Marketing Strategy: Andrew Dymski on How He Launched a Successful Marketing Agency Right out of College (part 1)

If you want proof that you don’t need decades of experience and a huge Rolodex full of clients in order to start a marketing agency, look no further. Andrew and his colleagues at Guavabox launched an agency right out of college, and by all measures are on track to have a tremendously successful business.

Guavabox does an impressive job of generating content marketing. And, more than almost anyone I’ve spoken with, they not only understand the importance of list segmentation, but they provide an overview of how they’ve segmented their list, and how this segmentation has helped them identify their hottest prospects, and appropriately nurture and convert their leads into paying clients.

In addition, Andrew explains the thinking behind, and validation of, their business model, sharing insights helpful to any startup. There was so much goodness in this interview that I had to break it into two parts.

When you listen to Part 1, you’ll hear Andrew and I talk about:

  • (3:30) Introductions
  • (5:50) Why the old model of web design doesn’t scale
  • (8:30) An overview of financial results
  • (10:00) His business philosophy and how it played a critical role in their launch
  • (13:30) How they validated their business model
  • (16:30) How taking on a new client went wrong
  • (21:00) How they picked their niche
  • (25:30) How they are generating leads
  • (27:30) How blogging plays a role in lead generation
  • (29:30) How they developed their personas
  • (35:30) An overview of outbound marketing

.. And be sure to check out Part 2 to hear:

  • (3:00) An overview of various nurturing campaigns
  • (7:00) An overview of how they’re using personas to segment their list
  • (13:00) An overview of when and how they decide to follow up with each lead
  • (16:30) An overview of how they are changing their business model to a retainer fee model
  • (21:00) An overview of their retainer plans
  • (12:40) How they report results (traffic & leads) and what they’re planning for the month ahead
  • (25:00) How they manage client expectations
  • (28:00) How they are producing blog content
  • (31:00) How they are using contractors
  • (33:00) An overview of how they are in track with their goals

Resources Mentioned

Inbound Marketing 101 Ebook
Best Buyer Formula

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey there, Bright Ideas hunters. Welcome to the Bright Ideas

I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast
for marketing agencies, marketing consultants, and entrepreneurs
who want to discover how to use content marketing and marketing
automation to massively boost their business without massively
boosting the number of hours that they have to work every single

And the way that we do that is we bring on whip-smart
entrepreneurs to share with you the tactics and the strategies
that are working so very well for them, and that is exactly what
we’re going to do in this episode today.

On the show with me today is a fellow by the name of Andrew
Dymski. He is one of three co-founders of a new marketing agency
called GuavaBox, and they are doing some really impressive
things which we’re going to get into in this two-part podcast.

So in Part Number One, which you are now listening to, we are
going to be talking about how they launched the company, how
they picked their niche, and there’s some real key takeaways in
how and why they picked this specific niche that they did. We’re
going to talk about how developing a minimum viable product fit
into their business model and how it made figuring out what they
should sell and who they should sell it to so much easier than
it would have been if they had gone the traditional route of
building their portfolio of services and then trying to figure
out how to sell it.

We’re also going to talk about how they validated that business
model very, very early on so that they didn’t waste a whole
bunch of time going down with the wrong product for the wrong
customer in the wrong direction, and losing all that time and
losing all of that money.And we’re also going to talk about how they are generating
leads, and specifically, how they’re using, very successfully, I
might add, content marketing to drive more leads to their site.And then in Part Two, we are going to talk about what they’re going to do with those leads to convert them into customers. But
tune into Podcast Episode Two, and we’ll talk more about that.So before we welcome Andrew to the show, I just want to tell you
very quickly about a Bright Ideas product.

It’s called the Best Buyer Formula, and you can get it at, and it
is the lead generation formula that I used and use. I built my
last company with it, which was a company that got up to just
shy of $2 million a year in sales, which I ultimately sold for
over $1 million, and it’s also the very same formula that I am
using to build the Bright Ideas Agency, which we focus on
dentists with that agency. So if you are struggling with lead
generation and are looking for solutions, go check out the Best
Buyer Formula. And of course, like all my products, there is a
100%, no questions asked, money back guarantee. So if you don’t
like it, you can easily get all your money back.So with that said, please join me in welcoming Andrew to the
show. Andrew, welcome to the show.Andrew: Hey Trent, glad to be here.

Trent: It’s a treat to have you on. I’m super excited to get you to
tell the story of how you’re building your company, because just
based upon what we talked about before I hit the record button,
yours is a story that’s really going to resonate with the new
entrepreneurs who are just in the very early stages of building
their agency and are maybe under $100,000 or just over $100,000
in revenue, somewhere in that range, and maybe even the folks
that are doing larger ones, because I think that you’re going to
have some pretty interesting ideas and stories to share.

So before we get to all of that, please just take a moment, a
minute or so, and tell us who you are, and just a little bit
about your company.

Andrew: Sure. I am Andrew Dymski. I am a co-founder of GuavaBox. We are
an inbound marketing agency. We help companies, particularly in
the B2B space, industrial manufacturers, create a high-quality
lead generation machine through their website that helps them
scale their business in a way that they hadn’t been able to
before. We started out as a traditional web design shop. It
didn’t take us long inside that model to notice that it wasn’t a
model that could scale very well. So, over about the past year,
we’ve been putting the pieces in place to transition ourselves
from a one-off project work based company into more of a
specialist marketing services delivering firm that we feel like
can scale beyond just myself and my two partners.

Trent: So, I want to get you to talk about your financial results in
just a second, but before we go there, you hit on something that
a lot of new entrepreneurs don’t foresee – and I experience this
in my own business – and that issue of scale. You said that the
web design business isn’t going to scale very well. Can you
expand a little bit on what you meant by that, because that’s
causing a major shift in how you’re running your business,

Andrew: It definitely is, and if you just look at the way the sales
process has to work, when you want to close someone as a web
design client, there’s an extended sales process there and
you’re going up against a ton of competition where it’s really a
race to the bottom. Unless you have a relationship established
upfront with the prospective client or partner, at the end of
the day, it’s going to be a price war.

And we looked around and we said, you know, we’re spending all
of this time selling. We spend four weeks, eight weeks putting
the website together, and then it’s have a nice day, and walk
down the road. We do website hosting and we manage all of that
stuff, so that’s kind of a source of recurring revenue. But when
we started this business in college, we looked at it and said,
okay, we want to start families and kind of grow this business.
We can’t predict our income beyond two months out max. And so we
kind of walked back to the drawing board and said what do our
customers need and what services would we like to be able to
supply to them but we can’t because we’re constrained by this,
you know, put up a website?

We wanted to be able to showcase return on investment to these
clients, but if all you can do is just build a website and put
it out there, but then not control the content that gets pushed
through that system that you spent all this time selling and
building, then at the end of the day, you can’t show a return on
investment because the system is not in place. So we saw that,
and we knew that there has to be a model that we can build off
around this pain point.

Trent: And did you think about, in your shift from a non-scalable
business to a more scalable one, did enterprise value or an exit
strategy factor into that thinking?

Andrew: Definitely. No clear picture at the end of the day on where we
want as an exit philosophy, but from the start point, the three
of us are friends, and an idea that we had is we want to be able
to build a business that hinges off of the lifestyle that we
want. And so we looked at the lifestyle we wanted, and we said
we don’t want to be building WordPress websites and scheduling
tweets for the rest of our life, so how can we structure this
thing in a way that will facilitate a more hands-off approach
down the line so we’re free to spend time with our family, to
travel, to volunteer on sports teams, those sorts of things. So
it definitely played in.

Trent: So would you classify your business as a lifestyle

Andrew: No, I would not right now, not in the sense that you can travel
the world and do this thing at the same time. But I see the
processes that we’re starting to put in place to get the agency
to the point where we could sell it if we wanted to if we wanted
to pursue the more hands-off lifestyle. It’s definitely a
location-neutral business, and for the first two years of our
existence, we operated location-neutral, three different states,
using a lot of GoToMeeting and Google apps. But no, I wouldn’t
say it’s kind of a lifestyle based business.

Trent: Okay. Alright, for the folks that don’t yet know how much
revenue you’re doing, how big you are, because I want to make
sure that the right people are listening to this interview
because we’re already a couple of minutes in, how much revenue
are you doing per year right now, and how many people are on the

Andrew: Sure. On our team right now is just the three co-founders, so
it’s myself, Gray MacKensie, and Brandon Jones, and we are on
track to do about $150,000 – $160,000 this year.

Trent: And how many years have you been in business?

Andrew: This will be the end of year three.

Trent: Now, was this a full-time venture in years one and two, or were
you guys juggling college and doing this at the same time?

Andrew: So, when we started, we had two seniors and one sophomore, and
right after Gray and I graduated, Gray jumped in full time. I
went and worked at a PR firm for about nine months, and Brandon
was still in school obviously. So it wasn’t until this past May
when Brandon graduated from college and then I jumped on board
probably a year-and-a-half ago. So we’re only running full power
since May, with all three of us going full time.

Trent: Since May of 2013?

Andrew: Correct.

Trent: Okay. In my research on you, you talked about having a specific
business philosophy, and I want you to expand a little bit on
that because I think it played a role in how you started your

Andrew: Yeah, it definitely did, and it started in college. Gray and
myself, we were on the same freshman hall, and so we were good
friends kind of from our freshman year all the way through. We
were on the lacrosse team together, we joined the same
fraternity, and that’s how we met Brandon as well. He was two
years behind us, but same fraternity and on the lacrosse team

So Gray and I had decided from our freshman year that we have to
find a way to do business together. He was a business management
major and I was a marketing management major at Grove City
College, and we had a good friendship and we just wanted to find
a way to work together. So senior year rolls around, Brandon,
Gray, and I were all on the Officer board for our lacrosse team.
It was a club sport at Grove City, and we were all very
passionate about it. We had built up a machine really that we
launched the team’s first website. We put together the first
successful social media campaigns, email campaigns to reach out
to folks, and got connected with media and everything. It was
really successful, and we said, well, we enjoyed doing this on
the team, we’re graduating now, can we find a way to turn this
into a business?

We kind of put our heads together and we started the business in
the spring of our senior year in the dorm room after classes,
after homework, after lacrosse practice. We’d huddle around a
card table and kind of sketch out the idea.

But it started with the relationships first. You know, you hear
all the time don’t do business with friends, but really, the
friendship is what has saved this business through the dark
times and the ups and downs. We’re not really sure what the
model is going to look like. We’re not really sure where the
revenue is going to come from. We’ve leaned on that friendship
first and we kind of put a line in the sand and said this
friendship is going to get our business through and it’s not
going to tear it apart. And we’ve been blessed to come through
that with our relationship even stronger than it was when we

Trent: An MVP is also a part of your launch philosophy or your
business philosophy, is it not?

Andrew: Can you break that down a little bit more?

Trent: Minimum Viable Product.

Andrew: Yes. So, we could build websites. I understood Twitter and
Facebook and what it took to build a following there. So we
said, great, we can kind of take this out and see if anyone
wants to hire us with this. And so we worked our connections and
found a website project first, and then a Twitter strategy
project after that, and so little by little, we build it up. We
figured out how you build a website, how do you charge for it
when you’re still learning how to build stuff on WordPress and
you’re still learning how to get your hosting account set up and
stuff like that.

But we didn’t build a business plan. We just got together. We
knew we wanted to be in business together, and we found the
minimal viable product that we could offer to people that would
still have value. And those were friends at the beginning, so
they knew where we were in our development stage. We were honest
with them and said, hey, we’re just getting this business going.
Can we build a website for you for $500? Is that something that
you would be interested in? And one or two of those, you pick
them up and they have friends, and that’s how we got started.

Trent: And so when you first launched, I’m assuming you didn’t have
the beautiful website that you have now. You didn’t have all of
the fancy stuff. You just decided, hey, we’re just going to go
and talk to people and say we’re looking for work, this is what
we know how to do. Are you interested?

Andrew: Exactly, yeah. Leaning on the friends and family, and the
fools, I guess, is the third piece. But yeah, that’s how we got

Trent: I dwell on it because it’s an important point. I get a lot of
emails from people, and I’m thinking of one person in particular
right now, and I won’t mention this person’s name to protect the
innocent, but they’re overly caught up in getting ready to be
ready. There’s an expression that I did not originate, it’s
called ‘Version One is better than Version None’. And it’s so
incredibly important, because you don’t – and I want you to
speak to this, but you didn’t really know what it was that you
were going to do or who you were going to do it for until you
started to do it, right?

Andrew: Exactly. You know, they say that success sits just on the other
side of failure. You’ve got to go through failure a lot until
you get to that success point. And so we just decided to plunge
in and say let’s see how this goes. And it’s hard at times
because you’re still trying to figure it out as the clients are
demanding things, and as a young company, inevitably you want to
make everybody happy. So that’s caused some setbacks for us
along the way, but also some really valuable learning

So you can’t sit around and wait to build what you think is a
perfect business model because you might get out in the market
and realize that nobody wants what you think is perfect. And so
at the end of the day, the best way to value your time is say,
hey, here’s an idea. Let’s go see if someone will buy it, and
that’s how we kind of build up.

Trent: And I want to reference another entrepreneur that I interviewed
here for the folks that are listening, because Sam Ovens was a
really, really good example of also starting a business, and his
business is crazy successful now. You can get to his interview
at And he really didn’t have a clue what he
was going to do in the beginning, but he went out and instead of
building something and then trying to sell it, he went out and
talked to customers and said, what problem are you having? He
talked to enough of them to identify a commonality in that
problem, and then created a very basic solution and showed it to
them, and his business literally took off.

So, I bring this up when I ask these questions because if you’re
one of those folks out there who are spending time getting ready
to be ready, I would encourage you to start shooting, see who
falls down, and go over and look at what’s available for you as
far as feedback and information.

Andrew: That’s great advice.

Trent: All right. So, let’s talk about – you mentioned you made some
mistakes. I think that’s another thing where people, they are
unnecessarily paralyzed by their fear of making mistakes. But if
you talk to any experienced entrepreneur, they’re all going to
tell you that mistakes are a natural part of the going forward
process. So I’m sure you made some. I think we talked about
something, it was an old-school newspaper company – and I want
to pre-frame this by saying that the lesson I’m hoping people
get from this is that saying yes to everybody all the time isn’t
necessarily the best strategy. Can you tell us, Andrew, a little
bit about what happened?

Andrew: Sure. This was shortly after graduation, we had a really good
friend who worked at an old-school newspaper company, it was
like a weekly mailer, and they were looking for a way to get
this mailer online. I was like, well, this is going to be a
really good opportunity. I think it’s something that we can add
value in. So I was kind of the point of contact here. I mean, I
can build a WordPress website, but when it comes to kind of the
technical back-end of setting stuff up and integrations and all
of that, I have to check to my buddy Gray. He’s the genius
behind the machine.

So, the problem started – I was kind of the project manager and
the salesman, promising things to the client because we’re a
young business, and this is a big company, and I would love to
sign this contract. I think it would be good for us. So I’m out
there promising things and setting their expectations really
high, and it was kind of doomed to fail from the beginning
because their level of technical understanding wasn’t very high
at that point, and they were kind of asking for features and
wanted things to happen with little disruption on their end on
how they produce this paper and wanted to get it online, and I
was saying, oh, yeah, yeah, we can get that, that’s no problem
at all.

Trent: So you were selling flying toasters?

Andrew: Exactly, because I just wanted to make them happy. I wanted to
get the deal signed. Even after the deal was signed, for some
reason I wanted to just keep them happy. I think that’s great to
want happy clients, but sometimes a happy client is a client
that you need to say no to or a client that you need to reset
the focus, because I was promising yes, and then I turned around
to Gray and said, hey, can we do this? And we were living on the
opposite sides of the state at this point, and so there was
conflict within our company because of the way I was handling
this as a project manager.

We grew through that in a tremendous way, thanks to just honesty
and transparency, and again, that friendship we were able to
lean back on, and get us through this tough project. And it was
a great stepping stone because it kind of elevated the level of
client that we worked with but also helped us learn how to
manage a bigger team on the client side. So it’s not really a
small business owner anymore, you’re dealing with a whole crew
inside a company and you have to manage expectations across kind
of a whole organization. The biggest lesson we learned was don’t
overpromise and make sure that you’re lined up with your team
before you go out and start promising what they can do.

Trent: Absolutely. And do you think that you – you mentioned before we
started to record that you’re going through a shift in your
business model. We might talk about that now, but we’ll probably
cover it more later, but do you think that that shift to more of
a retainer model is going to help you avoid selling flying
toasters in the future?

Andrew: I do, because we’re an inbound marketing agency, and there’s a
specific methodology that we want clients to follow. And
obviously, it’s going to be a little bit custom for everybody,
but when you break it down to activity, it’s creating blog
posts, and it’s writing emails, and it’s creating awesome
content offers, and so there’s a more defined process to what
we’re trying to tackle now.

I think in the beginning, people had a problem or they had low
budgets and high ideas or big dreams, and they wanted to be able
to have all these shiny features on their website, and now we’re
able to sit back and say, you know what, that’s really not a
priority right now. You want to be able to structure your post
like this, or you need to include these kinds of conversion
points in your website. We kind of lean back on that methodology
a little bit harder than we did at the beginning when it was
just like, what do you want? We can go make it happen.

Trent: And we’re going to talk more about that, but I think what you
just communicated as well that I want to emphasize is you would
not have been able to figure out that you needed to deliver your
services in this way if you were getting ready to be ready.
Like, interacting with customers and falling down and getting
skid marks on you is what enabled you to define, hey, here’s a
better way that we need to deliver our services so we don’t sell
flying toasters.

Andrew: Exactly. It’s like sports. You can game plan all day long, but
until you get out on the field and you run a play, you can’t
look at the tape and diagnose something that hasn’t happened
yet. You’ve got to get out there and break the huddle and go
make a play and then make your adjustments on the fly. Keep it

Trent: So, in the beginning, you talked about you have targeted a
specific niche, B2B industrial manufacturers. Now, picking a
niche is something that in my course, the Best Buyer Formula, I
spend quite a bit of time really trying to drive that point
home. At Bright Ideas, we actually have our own agency and it
focuses on dentists because there’s very specific reasons for
that. What are the reasons that you decided, and how did you get
there to focus on industrial manufacturers in the B2B space?

Andrew: The journey, it was kind of happenstance, again, just by going
out, relationships started there from a website design
perspective, from video production. We had some really good
relationships with some industrial manufacturers, and so we just
kind of stumbled into it. We’re in western Pennsylvania right
now, so this is old steel country, and Marcellus Shale is really
making a big impact on the economy out here. There’s a lot of
folks inside the manufacturing industry, fabrication shops,
machining organizations, those sorts of things, who are trying
to get their toe into that pool.

We really recognized an opportunity where we looked at, okay,
we’ve had some success with these kinds of folks, and it’s
really low-hanging fruit in a way because not a lot of
industrial manufacturing companies have an awesome online
presence. There are some that are doing a good job, but most of
them, even who are present, let’s say they have a blog or
they’re on Twitter or they’re doing some YouTube tutorials,
consistency is really a problem. And so that’s part of our value
proposition is we are a marketing partner, so we’ll come
alongside even if you’ve got a couple of marketing people within
your organization, we augment that. We don’t compete with them.
So we can help provide that consistency in there.

We identified the market and said, we need to find a focused
approach, because there’s only three of us, and so as we craft
content, as we work on our positioning statements and refine our
sales process, it’s going to be more valuable for us to be able
to showcase success stories to companies who are similar to the
people we’re talking to on the phone so they can relate to them.
We’re still young guys, and so when we get on the phone with
people or we’re talking to them on a GoToMeeting or something
like that, there’s still a large amount of credibility that
needs to be built based on our age. And so that’s something that
we learned early on too is how can we find ways to position
ourselves as experts, and focusing on a niche is a way that we
see to really help that out along the way.

Trent: Now, was this niche, do you think that it is – like, one of the
things that I talk about in my blog posts and in my products is
pick a profitable niche, because when you do, if you pick a
niche that has – like Sam, for example, in his interview with
me, when he launched his agency, he focused on B2B as well, high-
ticket items, and the reason was is because he could charge so
much more to do the same amount of work because an individual
customer to his client was worth $50,000 to $100,000. Did that
factor into your decision process as well?

Andrew: Absolutely. I think it’s really surfaced after looking back and
saying, wow, if we can work with companies who, if they make a
sale, it’s a $50,000 sale, and they’re signing a $50,000
contract with us for the year, we can deliver ROI way faster
than if they’re selling a $40 widget. So let’s go after the
companies that make manly stuff at a big ticket price, because
that’s a niche that we think we can thrive in. So that
definitely guided the decision.

Trent: All right. So, audience, here’s what’s coming up. We are going
to talk next about how Andrew and his team are generating leads,
and then when we come back in Part Two of this particular
podcast, I’m trying something new here. I’m going to break my
podcast up into half-hour podcasts instead of hour long or hour-
and-fifteen long podcasts to see if it is more popular with the
audience. So if you have an opinion on that, please make sure
that you leave it in the comments that will be down on the
bottom of this post.

But in Part Two, we’re going to talk about how they’re nurturing
and converting their leads into customers. We’re going to talk
about services that they’re offering and how they’re delivering
those services, and how scale fits into that, and how they’re
billing, and how they’re shifting from one-time projects to
retainer fees, and how they’re delivering their services. So
there’s a lot of really good stuff coming in the second half.

But before we get to that, a lot of people really struggle with
lead generation, so I would love it, Andrew, if you would go
into as much detail as you would like on how you guys are
generating leads.

Andrew: Sure. You’ve got to walk the walk. We are a marketing company
that encourages people to create awesome content on their
website and offer that value to their prospective buyers, and so
we’re trying to walk that walk and create regular blog posts on
our site that are targeted to our geography, that are targeted
more and more towards our niche industries. So we do get a good
number of leads through our website right now. I mean, you can’t
ignore referrals, so if you have a customer right now, if you
have a group of customers that you’re able to showcase success
for, don’t be afraid to ask them, do you know anyone else who
could use this? Some of our greatest clients have come from
other clients, and so it’s kind of an old-school, offline way,
but, I mean, it’s tried-and-true, and it works. So, go to

Trent: Let’s talk a little bit about the blogging that you’re doing,
because referrals are going to become part of – I mean, there’s
things that you can do to stimulate getting more referrals, and
if you have specific strategies to share, please make a little
note to yourself and we’ll come back to that in a minute. But in
the beginning, when you don’t have any clients, it’s tough to
get referrals, so I am really interested on the strategies
and/or tactics that you decided to do with your blogging. And
you could even talk about what you’re getting your customers to
do, because like you said, you have to walk your talk. So how
are you making blogging work for you?

Andrew: Again, the industry, it kind of starts with that persona first.
We have four buyer personas right now that we try to base all of
our content off of and to speak to them, and then from our
marketing strategy, lean into our sales process as well to
figure out what kind of questions are these people are asking,
because a second-generation owner of a manufacturing company is
going to have a very different set of questions than say an
inside sales manager or a director of a sales team.

So we try to outline what kind of questions each of these people
are asking, because content, if you want it to be guided and if
you want it to be closed loop in a way to unite with the rest of
your strategy, it needs to start with the customer in mind at
the end of the day. You want to put yourself in their shoes. And
so we’ve invested a ton of time in looking at our current
customers and what has gone well, and what kind of personalities
and positions we want to stay away from, and we’ve constructed
those buyer personas. So that kind of guides our blogging

So then we take a look at the persona and then we do keyword
research off of that and figure out what kind of keywords we
want to target, what kind of keywords we want to rank for.
Obviously, we want to be found when someone Google’s ‘inbound
marketing agency’. That’s really big for us, and so we spend a
lot of time optimizing and creating valuable content around that

As an example, in a pretty competitive market, when you’re a
marketer trying to create an online blog, some people even
advise you don’t even worry about marketing for yourself online
because it’s so competitive, but I would shy away from that.
Again, lean into the industry. This is definitely an area where
we’re trying to grow into, but be the source for marketing
information for whatever niche you’re targeting. For us, it’s
industrial manufacturers, and even that is a wide swath. There’s
a ton of different companies that can fall into that. So
continue to break down your niche, and the more focused you can
become, the more personalized the content, the higher the
conversion rate is going to be and the greater the value that
you’re going to deliver is going to be.

Trent: So, how did you develop these four personas? I think that is an
area where people will get stuck as well.

Andrew: Yeah, as a buyer persona, you just want to just develop an
idealistic picture of a potential client. And so we looked at
the clients that we had, and there’s obviously clients that, you
know, we want to work with more people like this. This is how we
want to scale our business. These people are responsive, they
don’t sweat the small stuff, they give us the freedom to make
decisions. They’re also there when we need to ask them
questions. So those are the kinds of people we want to work

Then there’s – we call them Bob the Builder. He is an owner of
his own company. He’s kind of grown it up from absolutely
nothing. He knows that he needs to be online and have a
presence, but he doesn’t really want to invest anything into it.
He just wants to pay someone to get the website up, and that’s
it. So that Bob the Builder persona is someone we worked with a
lot when the company got started, but not the kind of person we
want to continue with. So if we get a referral or if someone
contacts us and says, okay, we’ve got a Bob on the phone right
now, that’s the kind of lead we want to pass up. We still
explore it, but have that persona in your mind to say this is
not the type of client that we can scale with, and have the
courage to say no in that situation.

Trent: And are there tools or resources that you use that help you to
develop your personas, or did you simply get the whiteboard out
and look back at the people that you had spoken with or had done
business with and sort of describe as best you could the persona
that you thought represented that person?

Andrew: Both, really. We’re HubSpot certified partners, so they create
amazing content, and one of the pieces they have is a buyer
persona template. It has a great starting point to go out there
and help you. It asks the right questions to get you thinking
about that person on a more personal level. They’ve got a
PowerPoint download that you can get on their website. We also
have an e-book on that you can go and get that has
a similar template in mind to help you build up personas like

But really, it starts with trying to put yourself at their desk.
What kind of pictures do they have sitting on the table? What do
they do on the weekends? What kind of music do they listen to?
So it’s not really like what’s their job title or how much they
make a year. Those things are important, but you really want to
ask questions that can put you inside their shoes as best as

Trent: And the reason for that is because you want to make sure that
you use words and phrases and content that they will relate and
respond to?

Andrew: Exactly. So some of our clients in the manufacturing space,
they’re selling to maintenance managers who are on the floor all
day in the shop and they might have just a high school diploma,
but they’re also selling to engineers who are drawing blueprints
for a new power plant. So those two personas are buying the same
product, but they’re asking incredibly different questions.

So from a client delivery standpoint, it helps us out a ton as
we’re trying to learn a new industry and learn a new set of
terms and stuff like that. Get those buyer personas cranked out
right away. Ask your clients, what does a typical buyer look
like for you, or if you could describe three typical buyers that
you sell to or that you’d like to scale your business towards,
what do they look like? What kinds of questions are they asking?
What do they do on the weekends? What kind of pains or questions
are they asking, those sorts of things. That really helps us
create content geared towards the people they’re trying to sell

Trent: And when you talked earlier on about creating content that
answers questions, obviously, you know Marcus Sheridan. He’s
been on my show, it’s, and he kind of became
quasi-famous as a result of river pools and spas because he
decided to create a lot of blog content that answered the pre-
sales questions of people who are considering getting a pool. Is
that an approach that you took?

Andrew: Definitely. Marcus did an awesome job with that business of not
being afraid to address with confidence questions people have.
You know, what’s fiberglass versus concrete, those kinds of
questions for pools. The same sort of thing approaching your
marketing, approaching your client’s marketing, what are
questions that everybody is asking that no one is answering.

And that can be – maybe you take at the beginning of a campaign,
just take a half day and call, or have your clients get in touch
with 25 or 50 of their customers and figure out what kind of
questions were you looking for, what kind of questions you
continue to have. Do a little bit of market research on the fly
almost, but just reach out and figure out, maybe it’s surveys or
something like that. Just get a finger on the pulse of the
customers that have already converted with you and figure out
what kind of questions or pains that they have. If you client
has a sales team, always talk to them and figure out what kind
of questions are people coming to you with? What question do you
answer ten times a day that you wish you could just hit copy,
paste, and send a reply back to, because that’s an instant blog
post right there. There’s no shortage of content out there, you
just need to be able to ask the right questions to the right

Trent: Now, I’m going to finish up Part One here with two more
questions. The second one is going to be are you doing any
outbound marketing, but the first one, I noticed you mentioned –
you said you were a HubSpot partner. Your blog is on WordPress,
and I know that HubSpot encourages people to use their blogging
platform as opposed to an independently hosted WordPress site.
Can you briefly speak to why you’re using WordPress?

Andrew: We redesigned our website probably six months ago, and HubSpot
had not spun out their new COS, which, if anyone is unfamiliar
with that, it’s a Content Optimization System that they have,
and historically, their CMS wasn’t very user-friendly. WordPress
is obviously incredibly user-friendly, and it’s open source, and
there’s an awesome source of plug-ins and stuff like that. So we
went with the WordPress theme because we had more flexibility on
the design side. We could spin out the design much faster than
we could with HubSpot, and we also knew that the COS was coming
down the line, and so to redesign on their CMS and then have to
redo it six or eight months later, it wasn’t something that we
were really excited about.

Our next design is probably going to be on that COS on HubSpot
because it is pretty powerful. They encourage it, but at the end
of the day, as long as you’re creating content, it doesn’t

Trent: Okay. Last question then for the first part of the interview,
outbound marketing. Are you guys making cold calls, are you
doing direct mail, are you doing any paid advertising? What
other things are you doing to generate inquiries?

Andrew: I think cold calls would be the closest to outbound that we
get. We don’t do a ton of cold calling. We like to do it just to
continue to hone our positioning statements and stuff like that,
and if an opportunity comes through, that’s great. But we really
haven’t had a lot of success with it, so it’s not something that
we’re going to lean into if we haven’t had a lot of success.

We like to think kind of creatively around the marketing,
obviously, and how can we add value with content through maybe
traditional off-line methods. So even if we do a press release
or – we’ve got some partners, like, we’re in a technology
incubator right now, we moved into this office space at the end
of May, and they’ve got a press release that goes out in a print
newsletter to the community here, and so we created a content
piece that was kind of about what GuavaBox is, but wrote it like
inbound marketers in a way that could help a potential business
owner who might read it, understand the value of inbound
marketing and the potential that’s out there and the lead
machine that they could create, those sorts of things. So, just
applying inbound methodology through outbound channels is as
close as we get. We try to remain pure.

Trent: And it’s not just trying to remain pure, like there’s something
uncool about outbound marketing, but with respect to cold calls,
they just don’t work as well. People don’t like making them, and
people don’t really like receiving them, so I think why would
you do that?

All right. So that wraps up the Part One of this interview. I
tried to keep it to about a half-hour. I went over by just a
couple of minutes. So as I mentioned, in Part Two, we’re going
to dive deeper into how we’re nurturing and converting leads,
what services are being offered, how they’re being delivered,
how leads generate in retainer’s fees, and probably a whole
bunch of extra things that I’ll ask as a result of the answers
that Andrew gives us. So we will see you in Part Two.

So that wraps up Part One of this interview with Andrew. You can
get the show notes at Now, if you really
enjoyed this podcast, I would absolutely love it if you would
take a moment to go to, and when you get
there, you’ll find a pre-populated tweet that you can send out,
as well you’ll find a link to go to take you to the iTunes store
so that you can leave some feedback for the show. And if you
would be kind enough to go give a five-star rating, I can’t tell
you how much I would appreciate your taking a moment or two to
do that, because it really does make a huge difference to the

So that’s it for this episode. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and
I look forward to seeing you in another episode, and for sure in
Part Two.

About Andrew Dymski

AndrewDymskiAndrew is the a co-founder of GuavaBox, a web design and inbound marketing agency. Guavabox helps clients in the industrial space reach new customers through inbound marketing.

You can email Andrew at or connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

MENY 4in X 6in X 300dpi X FC

Digital Marketing Strategy: Meny Hoffman on How He Built a Highly Profitable Marketing & Business Service Agency

If you want to learn marketing from someone who knows his stuff, you could do worse than to talk with Meny Hoffman, CEO of Ptex Group, a growing marketing agency with 27 employees.

Unlike many marketing agencies that haven’t reached the size of Ptex Group, Meny’s company has multiple divisions. Ptex supports their clients with everything from strategic planning and branding; to specific design, print and web development work. They even have an in-house call center that can answer phones on behalf of their clients.

Another unique offering from Ptex Group is their “Let’s Talk Buisness” conference, a one day live event that sold out of seats at 650 attendees.

There are a lot more goodies in this interview. When you listen, you’ll hear Meny and I talk about:

  • An overview of his lead generation strategy
  • How to generate leads beyond referrals
  • The details of the compensation plan for his sales reps
  • An overview of a marketing funnel, and why it’s so important to focus on the human touch
  • An overview of a ‘Project Awarded’ campaign
  • Why he has a call center division
  • An overview of their business conference, including how they generated sponsorship revenue

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

About Meny Hoffman

11774510-meny-hoffmanMeny Hoffman is the CEO of Ptex Group, an Inc. 500/5000-ranked marketing and business services firm headquartered in Brooklyn, NY. A longtime entrepreneur, he specializes in creating strategic marketing solutions and business-boosting tactics to help small businesses achieve higher levels of success.

To learn more, follow Meny Hoffman on Twitter or email him at


graig presti FC

Digital Marketing Strategy: How Graig Presti Grew His Local Marketing Agency to 7 Figures In His First Year

Do you think you could start with nothing and build a 7 figure local marketing agency in your first year? If you follow Graig Presti’s advice, you sure can.

Graig Presti started his local marketing consulting business and did something different than most: he chose to offer his services only to dentists…and by doing so, he grew top line revenue to 7 figures in year one…and has increased it to $3.5 Million in year 3. When you consider that most local marketing consultants really struggle to attract clients, Graig’s accomplishments are nothing short of amazing.

In this interview, you’ll hear Graig and I talk about:

  • (2:17) Introductions
  • (3:47) The results he’s getting (automating all sales)
  • (7:47) Why he picked dentists
  • (12:17) How he generates leads, and his sales funnel
  • (14:47) How he builds a list; using sponsored email, direct mail, LinkedIn, and JV partners
  • (17:47) The lead magnet he uses: Google Review Cheat Sheets
  • (19:27) How leads are nurtured
  • (22:17) How he’s using webinars
  • (30:57) How he converts webinar attendees to customers
  • (32:37) An overview of his product offerings
  • (41:17) The downside of continuity
  • (43:37) Where his customers are located
  • (45:17) How he leverages the telephone
  • (52:17) How to get others to send email sponsoring you
  • (57:17) How he’s using direct mail
  • (58:17) How he uses postcards with personalized landing pages
  • (1:04:17) How he’s running ads on LinkedIn
  • (1:08:17) How long it took him to get his ad spend back
  • (1:11:57) How long it took him to get his first client
  • (1:18:27) The benefits of a Mastermind


Additional Resources

Graig gets great results using simple text like this.

Graig gets great results using simple text like this.

There's nothing complex about this formula.

There’s nothing complex about this formula.


More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey there, bright idea hunters. Welcome to the Bright Ideas podcast.
I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for marketing
agencies and entrepreneurs who want to discover how to use content
marketing and marketing automation to massively boost their business.On the show with me today is an entrepreneur by the name of Graig Presti.
He’s the founder of and you are in for a real
treat in this interview because I ask Greg a truckload of questions and I
drilled down for detail on all of them. He’s going to explain to you how he
built his local marketing company that serves dentists.He did a million dollars in his first year. Three years in, he’s doing
almost $4 million a year. His profit margins are off the charts. He’s got
hundreds of customers, and he has automated virtually the entire sales
process. I shouldn’t say “virtually the entire” — he’s automated the
entire sales process and so attracting new clients for him is not a
challenge. When you listen to this interview, you’re going to hear exactly
what he does. There are gold nuggets galore in this interview.Before we get to that, I very quickly want to tell you about the Conversion
Tactics Toolkit at I do a much better job than the average
website at converting my site visitors into subscribers and then those
subscribers get converted within my marketing funnel into customers. In the
Conversion Tactics Toolkit, which is a four-part video series, I’m going to
open up the kimono. I’m going to show you exactly how I do it all. It’s all
free. All you’ve got to do is go to, enter your e-mail
address, and you’ll get your first video right away.So with all of that said, please join me in welcoming Graig to the show.
Hey, Graig, welcome to the show. Thanks for making the time.Graig Presti: Hey, Trent, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Trent: No problem. So for the folks who don’t know who you are yet, please,
real quickly, who are you and what do you do?

Graig: Well, my name’s Graig Presti and I’m the CEO and founder of a
company called “Local Search For Dentists”. Basically what we do is we help
dental practices all over the world, really, we have clients all the way
from the United Kingdom to here in the United States leverage the Internet
and start to get more patients, more phone calls, and more bottom-line net
profits. The way that we do that is through a lot of Internet tactics and
so on and so forth, but we’ve really had some good success with being able
to do that and I’ve grown the business quite quickly in the last two to
three years.

Trent: Terrific. So, for the folks — I know that I’m like this whenever
I’m listening to a podcast, I always do this and I hope you don’t mind —
let’s talk about the results that you’re getting now and then I want to go
backwards and have you explain to everyone all the strategies and tactics
you’re using to get those results. So can you talk a little bit — if
you’re willing to, of course — about number of customers and maybe top-
line revenue that your firm is generating?

Graig: Sure, and if you hear someone blowing in the background, they’re
doing the landscaping right now at the office, so I apologize for that in
advance. I didn’t know that they would be coming today.

Really, the key way that I built my business so fast was the fact that I
was able to automate all of my marketing and all of my sales to occur all
the time, seamlessly without me, so we were able to therefore have a
minimal staff because everything we were doing was completely automated. We
use InfusionSoft to automate our marketing. I’ve tried a bunch of different
other things but, for me, the InfusionSoft, like I was telling you earlier,
basically I’ve used it since its inception and there really is no other
software out there that you can sync up direct mail, sales funnels, e-mail
marketing, SMS marketing, and then syncing up automated webinars.

There’s really no other system out there that allows you to do that. You’d
have to have 1,000 microworkers doing what you need them to do, so without
out it, we wouldn’t have had half the growth that we’ve had.

Trent: So how big’s the company now?

Graig: In terms of employees or . . .?

Trent: Revenue. Give a range.

Graig: Revenue? Well, we went in our first year, we went from $0 to $1
million in revenue in 12 months and this year we’re going to do over $3.5
million dollars in just under three years.

Trent: That’s not a bad business, my friend.

Graig: No, and it’s a very good business and the reality is we’ve become
very profitable because of what I’ve said, where, we’ve automated
everything. We don’t have huge overhead. We don’t need 50 employees. We
only need a small team and as long as the little engine is running in the
background, we’re good to go.

Trent: So let’s talk a little bit about that. I don’t normally ask this but
you alluded to it: you’re very profitable. Do you mind sharing what the
profit percent is?

Graig: Yeah, I don’t mind. It obviously ranges from product to product but,
in general, our company’s going to run around a 40% profit margin.

Trent: Wow, that is phenomenal. All right, and how many employees —
because I know when I ran my old service business, and I didn’t know
anything about automation back then — I needed about one employee for
every $100,000 of annual revenue. So how many full-time employees do you

Graig: Well, to your question — let me back you up. Your little formula
that you used applies to your business a little bit, but you can really
scale ours a little bit more because we’re Internet-based, so it really
comes down to utilizing a system and then putting clients into that system
so then you don’t get out of that system. So we can basically crank out
more work with less people.

Right now we have, I’d say — I like to break it up between operations,
which is fulfillment, and sales and marketing. So on the operations side,
we have about 12 people. Some of them are outsourcers, some of them are
internal employees doing the fulfillment inside of things.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: Then on the sales and marketing side of things, you have really four
people, including myself, because I do handle the marketing. I don’t write
the copy, but I handle sort of the campaign-building and things like that,
so about four. The reason we only really needed three to four people on the
sales and marketing side is because we’re so systematic with our marketing
that I’ve figured out how much I need to spend to acquire a client, what’s
my most profitable activity, and all I do is I just put leads into that
system. I don’t try to get fancy and that’s really all we’ve done.

Trent: All right, and we’re going to talk about that. Before we get into
that — because I know that a lot of people that are in my tribe that are
going to listen to this interview, they are either looking to start a
business, and I do everything I can to encourage them to start what I call
a “real business”, which is one like yours that has customers, as opposed
to some goofy fly-by-night, get-rich-quick thing that you see all over the
Internet, which I don’t believe in those.

Then the other portion of my tribe is marketing consultants–or the next
biggest portion, I should say, is marketing consultants who, by and large,
are one-person shops and I don’t think too many of them are getting rich
and they’re all looking for ways to get more customers. In one of my
courses called the “Best Buyer Formula”, one of the very first things I
talk about is pick a profitable niche, so do you want to talk a little bit
about why you picked dentists versus all the other niches you could’ve

Graig: Right, right. It’s a good question. I get asked that at every dinner
party I go to because that just sounds so crazy to people, like, “Why
wouldn’t you just try to conquer the world?”

Trent: Why not just be everything for everyone?

Graig: Why wouldn’t you just do everyone? It’s hard to explain that to
someone who might not think the way that I think and the way that you think
and so on and so forth. It’s a very logical thing why I chose dentists.
Well, I use this in any time I look at going after it for any niche, is
there’s like three to four criteria.

Let’s just take dentists for example. One, their customer transaction size
is high, so their average customer value is going to be anywhere between
$1,000 and $3,000. That allows them to spend more money on consultative
services, i.e., Internet marketing, right? So now a service that costs $500
a month or $2,000 a month, if it gets him patients, is pretty palatable
because they know they only need a few to make money.

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: So it lowers price resistance naturally. Now, on the flipside of
that, if I was to go after, say, the chiropractic niche or plumbers or
roofers, well, the transaction size is a lot less and a lot less frequent,
so they’re not going to be able to essentially afford expensive services,

Then the second step with dentists is they have a lot of problems with
marketing and a lot of problems with technology, so they essentially need
outsourcers to do the work. They’re not going to do it internally mostly.
They need someone who’s an expert to do it. Then, on the flipside of that
is you need someone who has, essentially, the need for marketing. They’re
not a referral-based business. Dentists have to market externally. They’re
not like an M.D. who gets patients from insurance. I think it’s only like
20% of people get dental insurance. They need to go out and get new
customers and new patients so they need marketing, so it was very, very
specific as to why I chose dentistry — because they have the transaction
size to support the cost, they have the problems and need the marketing to
sustain their business, therefore they need a company like mine.

Trent: Absolutely, couldn’t agree more. Okay, so now let’s roll up our
sleeves here and talk. Let’s start at the very beginning of the funnel
because nothing happens until you have a lead. It’s hard to make a sale if
you don’t have a lead.

Graig: Right on.

Trent: Please talk about InfusionSoft and automation as much as you like
because that’s the big thing that I’m trying to get people to understand,
is you shouldn’t be doing this stuff manually and obviously you’re not, so
please give as much detail as you’d like.

Graig: Sure. Yeah, I mean, just as a disclaimer, anyone who is trying to
half-ass it and not 100% automate their marketing and using something cheap
like iContact or AWeber, you really need to change that mindset because if
you really want to increase your income, you need to just bite the bullet,
go over and do something that automates everything. That’s just a
disclaimer. That’s not a sales pitch, that’s just the truth because I’ve
messed around with all of those things before.

But back to your original question, okay? For me, it’s a very simple Dan
Kennedy-style lead generation: put them through a simple sequence that
makes them more able to purchase and buy, right? Then there’s pre-
qualification steps in between there. We’ll do the typical lead source,
drive them to a landing page or squeeze page offering them a free report or
some sort of free content for an opt-in and then the opt-in takes them to a
low-end product office for $97. Then after they buy the $97 thing, we’re
trying to up-sell them into the big, multiple-of-thousand-dollar thing.

So that’s the lifecycle of our client. Now, not everybody’s going to take
that cycle, but anyone who doesn’t essentially take the $97 low-end offer,
they get put into a drip sequence that’s automated and then they get
marketed to constantly after that, both offline and online.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: Until they buy or die.

Trent: Pretty much just like my funnel.

Graig: So someone listening is probably going like, “That’s it?” Honestly,
I coach other people on how to become local marketers like myself and we
spend a day together and I map out this funnel for them — and obviously I
go into greater detail — they’re just blown away at how simple it is, yet
how effective it is.

All that, by the way, Trent, operates on its own. I don’t sit here pushing
a button 270 times a day. It just happens because of InfusionSoft and that
allows me to do that. Then one of the other cool things that I do is in
between those sequences and so on and so forth, is I can automate webinars
with Stealth Seminar to work with InfusionSoft, so I can literally use live
events to sell my services automatically, which is pretty cool.

Trent: Absolutely. Okay, so let’s go right back to the leads. How are you,
first of all, getting your list? Are you buying a list? Are you having a VA
going around and do Google searches and make a spreadsheet for you? Because
you’ve got to identify your targets and you’ve got to build a finite list.

Graig: Right, right. I have a very specific criteria and pet peeve of mine
that where all I do is I find the lead sources and then I let my marketing
copy drive the opt-ins and drive the leads because I don’t want to deal
with folks who are not really interested in the topic that I’m talking
about, okay? I don’t want to just buy a list of dentists and then just
bombard them with push marketing. I want people who are actually going to
be interested in my services, who that copy speaks to them, right? So
they’re like, “Well, I need to have that.”

The way that I do it is I have, just like a lot of my things is I don’t
like using just one lead source, so I use some sponsored e-mail blasts that
are through other dental companies. I do direct mail, where I’ll use
postcards and so on and so forth to drive them to a landing page. I’ll use
online traffic via LinkedIn and paid ads and I drive all those people to
one single lead source, so I’m getting a myriad.

I also have JV partners and so on and so forth but I’m not one to go out
and just buy a list or have a VA scrape anything or use any software
because I don’t want crap leads, right? I want people who are actually
raising their hand like, “Oh, you know what? I have that problem, I need to
get that free report.”

Trent: Now, are you using tracking links, Google Analytics tracking links
so that when you look at the traffic that’s going to this one squeeze —
because, I mean, you said you’re using one squeeze page regardless of where
you’re getting the lead from.

Graig: Well, when I say “one squeeze page,” I mean one templated copy
squeeze page. I have that copy myriad of times over tracking each lead
source, so what I’m doing is I’m not only tracking the lead source using
Infusion — which you know you can do, you can set it that way — and then
each lead source has their individual landing page. It looks the same but
it’s a different tracking mechanism, so I don’t really use Google for that;
I use InfusionSoft for that because they have their own dynamic page, so I
know for certain what’s going on there.

Trent: Okay, so these folks are coming from these variety of ways —
sponsored mail, direct mail, LinkedIn and so forth — they’re coming to the
squeeze page. What’s the offer on the squeeze page? And these are
prospective dental clients for you, I just want to be clear. I want to make
sure people know we’re not talking about your dentists and getting them
patients; we’re talking about how you’re getting clients.

Graig: Correct, correct, but the thing is that I need to focus on that. In
order for me to offer solutions to their problems, I need to understand
that they need phone calls, they need patients in order for my services to
speak to that problem, right? So, for me, one of my biggest lead source
magnets, if you will — because I’ve done a few, more than one — but my
best one has been my Google Review cheat sheets, which essentially is a
templated way for dental practices to get more Google patient reviews, five-
star Google patient reviews.

Essentially that’s what I’m giving them that template for free so they can
go out and start to get good patient reviews instantly on Google, and that
seems to be quite the little hot button for folks right now. Then that gets
them going into my sequence.

Trent: Okay. I’m just jotting notes here. Sorry, audience, I wish I could
write faster but I’ve got to have good show notes for you guys. Okay, so
that’s your number one lead magnet? Do you use anything else for a lead
magnet or is that pretty much . . .?

Graig: I have three to four free reports and so on and so forth. I have a
couple videos, stuff where I just put content out and then I have my
copywriter write it up and I’ll use that just to sort of shake it up. But
my bread and butter is what I just told you.

Trent: Okay. Let’s talk about the sequence that happens because when you
use InfusionSoft, they fill out this form and you’re applying some tags,
which is just a means of categorizing people and causing things to happen.
Walk us through the sequence so that we understand what is happening to
those leads, so we understand how they’re being nurtured.

Graig: Okay, so after someone opts-in, right, they give their name and e-
mail to get, we’ll say, the Google Review thing, okay, they are then sent a
follow-up e-mail automatically, providing the content that I said I would
give them. That’s important for people to understand that. You can’t just
give away crap. You do have to provide them with some really good stuff in
that follow-up e-mail because that, essentially, is your first introduction
to them, right? They need to trust you at that point and not think you’re
full of it.

So while that’s being sent, they’re also being flipped to an up-sell page
which sells them a $97 product.

Trent: Which is what?

Graig: Which is what?

Trent: Yeah, what is that?

Graig: It’s basically the ability to essentially look at what they’re doing
right now with their marketing and kind of give them a diagnostic on where
they’re failing and where they’re not failing.

Trent: Is this a loss leader for you? I mean, do you actually have some
manual delivery in fulfilling what they’re buying for $97?

Graig: Yeah, it is a manual thing but that’s on purpose.

Trent: Okay, and is it a VA that’s doing it or are you interacting with

Graig: Nope, that’s actually my sales consultants will fulfill on that.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: Because it’s part of the sales mechanism, so it’s important that
they communicate the results to them in a proper way.

Trent: So what do you call that product or that report?

Graig: We call that like a “Dental Marketing Game Plan” is what we’ll call

Trent: Okay.

Graig: And it’s okay that’s manual, by the way, because 50% of the people
that buy that $97 product buy the big one.

Trent: Yeah, which we’ll get to.

Graig: Sure.

Trent: Okay, so nurture sequence: deliver the content, deliver the up-sell
of $97 — or rather offer the up-sell — and what percentage of the people
who come at the top of the funnel buy the $97 product?

Graig: Well, it really depends on the lead source, right? Because sometimes
the house list is going to convert better than a cold list, so about 25% of
the people take the up-sell. But even though they don’t take the up-sell
doesn’t mean we just stop and give up, right? Because the majority aren’t
going to buy anything, right?

Trent: Right.

Graig: So then they go into, really, just a four-step sequence of
delivering over five days more content — give them an invite to a webinar
in there, give them a video that they can watch, all sort of breeding
content, breeding trust with me, right?

Trent: And is it you on the video and your voice on the webinar?

Graig: Oh, yeah.

Trent: Because you’re trying to get them familiar with you.

Graig: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, it’s me. It’s me all the way around, yeah. It’s
more so they can identify with me because here’s the thing: in this day and
age, man, e-mail marketing is just going to get tougher and tougher and
it’s really getting hard now. So without being recognized in the inbox and
being recognized as the go-to person and the authority, man, it’s hard to

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: It’s hard to sell.

Trent: It’s why I do podcasts and probably the same reason you do them.

Graig: Right, right, right, and so what we do, one of the other things too
is once people are on my list, right — so those are people that opt-in,
they’re on my list, right? So I’ve dripped content to them, they know me,
they hopefully trust me — not everybody’s going to trust me, some people
are just going to ignore it but that’s okay; you actually want that in some
folks — is every month we’re doing a promotional webinar driven to promote
sales. All we’re doing is re-inventing the copy around very similar topics
so that they seem new and then we go out and we sell more stuff every
month, doing it that way, so we’re actually holding virtual events one time
a month.

Trent: And are those one-time-per-month virtual events actually live or are
they recorded?

Graig: Of course not. Sometimes they are, sometimes they’re not. I would
say most of the time, most of the time they are evergreened most of the

Trent: Yeah, and some people are like, “Oh, you’re fooling people.” But
you’re not because I think most people know, but it doesn’t matter. I read
a study and it was like 86% of people that attended webinars actually
preferred the recording because that way they can watch it on their on

Graig: You want to know the real answer to that question?

Trent: Sure. Yeah, please.

Graig: The real answer to that question is that most people surveyed in
this country actually think infomercials are live television.

Trent: No way.

Graig: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. That’s a hard, proven thing, stat. I’m not
making that up and the reality of that situation is that you should never
feel bad for automating and evergreening everything because some people are
just always going to believe it’s live even if you tell them it’s recorded.

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: So there’s a reason infomercials convert like crazy is because of

Trent: Is that a dog?

Graig: It is my dogs.

Trent: No worries. I like live action on my podcasts. Okay, so, again, I
want to make sure that everyone understands this: they opt-in, they get the
content, they’re all going to see the $97 up-sell, if they don’t buy the up-
sell, they’re going to go into a five-day nurturing sequence of more
content, and then they’re going to get dripped on and then probably going
to see an offer once a month to attend your live event, correct?

Graig: That is correct. They will get sort of driven to opt-in for a live
event once a month, yeah.

Trent: Okay, and the content on the webinar, can you talk about that?

Graig: I can’t. Now, I’m going to disclaimer this: I don’t just have one
webinar. I don’t just sell one thing, right? The webinar content’s going to
depend on what I’m promoting that month and maybe it’s a launch, maybe it’s
not a launch. It just depends on what I feel is going to work that month
from a CEO perspective I want to know what do I think is going to make us
the most amount of revenue this month, so sometimes it’s a long-term
strategy, sometimes it’s just what we do every month.

So what was your question again? I’m sorry.

Trent: Just the content of the webinar, so I’m assuming . . .

Graig: Oh, yeah. The content of the webinar — and this may fly in the face
of what a lot of people say, but it works — yes, I focus on content of the
situation, so whether it’s dental marketing or some sort of dental
marketing, Internet dental marketing, whatever it is, yes, I focus on
content, but I’ve shifted the paradigm where the old way of doing it used
to be, “Oh, just give them amazing, amazing stuff that they can do for like
80% of the webinar and then 20% can be the pitch.”

I did that for a while and it did do well, but then I decided, since
everybody’s doing it, why don’t I just do the opposite of that? I’m just
going to try to sell from the get-go. Sure, I talked about content and what
you should be doing and I did put them through sort of a problem and
agitation and then solving that problem, but I just flat-out made it a
video sales letter, which I don’t know if your audience will know what a
video sales letter is. Do you want me to explain what that is?

Trent: Yeah, go ahead, please.

Graig: Okay, a video sales letter — and I’m sure everyone has probably
seen one before, they just maybe don’t know what that name is — a video
sales letter is basically a PowerPoint slideshow on video of just written
word and someone speaking to that written word in black-and-white. It’s not
a fancy Keynote presentation, it’s not a fancy PowerPoint presentation with
these crazy images. It’s just spoken word to written word is what it is and
they’re just essentially reading it.

The idea behind that is to keep the person engaged and they actually read
along with you as you’re speaking so they’re soaking up that information
more. I decided just apply that to all my webinars and everything’s going
to be a video sales letter now. Even if it’s a webinar, I’m just going to
make it that type of style and, man, I tell you, my conversions went up 20%
by just doing that and that’s how I launch everything now. Everything.

So my webinars really are a video a sales letter. I kind of scrapped the
content and I know that sounds crazy, but . . .

Trent: Just so that me and everyone else understands this, everyone of your
webinars is black text on a white background and your voice is reading
exactly what’s on the screen.

Graig: You got it.

Trent: I love it. All right.

Graig: All my friends, by the way, all my buddies who are entrepreneurs and
Internet marketers and all this stuff, they think I’m crazy.

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: They’re like, “You’re the only one I know that does all that crazy
stuff and that’s how you launch everything?” I’m like, “That’s why it

Trent: Yeah, sometimes simple is best, man.

Graig: Because think about it this way: if you’re in consulting — so like
you said a lot of your people are consultants and maybe coaches and
marketers and so on and so forth — everybody does a free demo, a free
webinar, a free evaluation. Everyone does that in some fashion or form. I
mean, I even see e-mails these days — that’s how I know it’s getting bad
out there for people — is they’re bribing people to get on their webinars
and do taped demos, like giving them Starbucks gift cards and $25 Visa
check cards. I’m like, that tells me that they don’t know what to do, other
than bribe their prospects to absorb their crap content.

So doing it my way, that’s why it works so well, because everyone’s doing
these demos and webinars and real soft stuff.

Trent: It’s a way of definitely separating the folks that are seriously
interested and likely to take action from the folks that are kicking tires.

Graig: Sure, sure.

Trent: Okay, so I’m at the point now in your funnel where I’ve seen one of
your webinars. What’s an offer look like? What’s the call to action on the

Graig: Well, the call to action is buy because here’s this great package
with these great bonuses that I’m offering to the first 10 people, and if
you’re not one of the 10, then that’s okay but you’re just going to miss
out on this great opportunity, so go hit the button below this video, go to
the order page and we’ll talk to you.

Trent: So give me an example of something that you’ve sold via this method
recently, like was it a $1,000, was it a $5,000 deal?

Graig: Well, I’ve always done more expensive products. In my world, I would
deem them expensive, medium to expensive. I’ve never been the cheap person.
I’ve never been the low-end $100 guy, but just recently we did come up with
a low-end offer, which was a press release product where we offered a very
inexpensive, it was $200 to set it up and it’s a $97 a month subscription
and we’re offering some press release marketing for that and that’s the
least expensive thing I’ve ever offered.

But it did quite well. We sold 30 in a night.

Trent: Well, that’s good. That’s three grand a month in continuity for you
right there from one webinar.

Graig: By the way, the goal of having that lower-end sort of nugget is not
to really make any money off of it. It’s okay, the money part of it is
okay, it absorbs some of the cost, but I really want to get those folks
into my other programs, so now I have someone who’s actually paying us, we
can prove results, and now we can really show them how we can even really
ramp it up for them.

Trent: Let’s talk about your products for a minute. Let’s get out of the
marketing funnel for a second. Don’t worry, audience, we’ll come back to
this. But I want to talk about what are you offering to do for people?

Graig: We have “the big three” is what I call them, so we have our big
three products. Now, we don’t do any sort of a la carte stuff. We don’t do,
“Oh, you can pick a Twitter account and we’ll create a Twitter account,”
“Oh, pick a Google account and we’ll create a Google account.” We don’t
really operate like that. It’s really just a one-thing-or-not. You can’t
pick-and-choose what you want type of deal.

Our first product is really our local SEO product, which is basically
helping dental practices get ranked in the cities that they serve via
Google, via Bing, via Yahoo!, utilizing a bunch of things within that.

Trent: And what do you charge for that?

Graig: That one is $2,500 to set it up and $500 a month continuity after 30
days and it is a 12-month contract.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: The second one that we have is Google AdWords management. If people
don’t know what Google AdWords is, it’s basically managing, creating, and
monitoring dental marketing ads for our clients on Google and their various
ad networks, so that way they can get more phone calls, more traffic, and
that’s $699 a month and that includes your budget on Google and your
administration fees. There’s no hidden costs or anything. It’s $699 a month
and that’s a four-month agreement.

Trent: Now I want to clarify something. Does that include the cost of the
ads or that’s just . . .?

Graig: Oh, yeah, that’s everything.

Trent: So they spend $700 a month and you’re going to spend some portion of
that $700 on the actual ads and the rest is kind of your profit margin.

Graig: Correct, and the reason that I structure it that was is because it’s
advantageous for us as the company to run their campaign at 100% premium
efficiency because we don’t want to waste any of the ad budget because we
want to keep them at the top and we want to make money, so they look at us
like the good guy, not the bad guy.

Now, the way most companies price their pay-per-click campaign is they’ll
say, “Okay, well, it’s $1,000 budget minimum and we take 30% of that.” So
if you want to do $2,000, they take 30%. Whatever it is, they take 30%.
Problem is the customer always looks at you like the bad guy, so now
they’ve got to pay Google one thing and then they’ve got to pay your pain-
in-the-butt another thing and if it doesn’t work, they get mad at you no
matter — they don’t get mad at Google, they get mad at you.

So I looked at it as let’s just get a bunch of ads going and we’re just
going to crank down on this, make sure we know our keywords, and that way
our client’s going to get the most out of their campaigns. Because some
months and some days we don’t get any money on our PPC, but that’s okay
because we know our clients are doing better and we know we’ll make that up
at some point.

Trent: So out of $700, how much is left for you, typically, for profit?

Graig: It depends on the city and the area and the client, but that product
really does quite well. That’ll run at a 40% margin.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: Sometimes more.

Trent: And how about the next product?

Graig: Then the next one is our reputation management product that I don’t
actually call it “reputation management” — most people would know
“reputation management” on this podcast — I call it “revenue protection
program” because reputation management implies that you have a reputation
problem and, at that point, now you’re being reactive. I like people to
protect their revenue sources

That means even if you don’t have a reputation problem — say you have no
bad reviews. Let’s just say you’re squeaky clean. Well, the problem is that
you’re not putting your best foot forward because 9 out of 10 patients are
Googling you before they call your practice. So if you’re disorganized and
have nothing done professionally and no review sites on page one and your
Google reviews are slim to none, they’re not going to trust you.

But if you have press releases from FOX News, CNN, third-party media sites,
video on YouTube of your best patients talking about how you’re the best
dentist they ever went to, you’re going to close more cases and you’re
going to have more revenue in your practice. In the event, somewhere down
the line when you get a bad review — not if, but when you get a bad
review, which is bound to happen — you’re protected because you just spent
this amount of time letting us market your practice so that way you’re
almost indestructible on the web.

So if they go to Ripoff Report or Pissed Consumer, you don’t really have to
worry about it because, number one, we’re on it, but on the second part,
you’re protected because you have all this great PR as opposed to none.

Trent: So I want to ask a question about this then. Essentially what this
boils down to is you’re building up so much positive PR that when someone
leaves a negative review, it’s not going to rise to the top because, as a
percentage of the overall reviews, their negative review is negligible. Is
that correct?

Graig: Right, that’s correct and they may never see it.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: For example, I did have a dentist in Louisville who had a patient go
onto — and he was a client of my other services, actually — but he had a
patient go onto Pissed Consumer and say that Dr. Larry gave him a metal
mouth. Talk about a bad review, right? “Gave me a metal mouth.” Well, every
time you Googled his name or his practice, it was like the third spot on
Google in big, bold letters saying this poor dentist gave this guy a metal

He was like, “I’ll hear about this all the time! Patients are saying, ‘Do
you know this guy said this? Do you know this?'” He didn’t know what to do,
so we essentially plugged him into our revenue protection program and that
Pissed Consumer site is on like page 15 of Google, never to be seen again.

Trent: So you just produce so much good stuff that ended up being newer
and, because of press releases and so forth, ranked better than the bad
stuff and literally just it pushed down, made it go away.

Graig: Yeah. Yeah, we nuked it. Yeah, it got nuked.

Trent: What are your customers paying you for this service?

Graig: That one is $1,000 to set up everything and $497 a month not only to
maintain the rankings of that content — which, by the way, you can’t just
do it one time and think it’s going to stay up forever. You do have to do
some Internet stuff to do it and make it stick. So we do that for the
months after that and then we monitor the reputation and so on and so forth
after that for $497 a month.

Trent: And what are you doing to monitor it? Are you just using Google
Alerts or is there a special tool that you use?

Graig: We have some proprietary software we use. I mean, obviously, we do
have Google Alerts because they’re quick and nice, but we do have some
reporting tools that we use.

Trent: Okay. So is there anything else in your product portfolio or is that

Graig: That’s pretty much it. I have one program that is basically specific
to implant dentistry. Are you familiar with dental implants? Do you know
what they are?

Trent: Help me out.

Graig: Okay, basically dental implants are a way for people with dentures
and missing teeth to get permanent teeth.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: So this is going to sound awful, but what they do is they drill a
metal post into your jaw and then they put a crown on it and you basically
have stronger than real teeth, so you can go out and eat a steak and smile
and you’re going to have these until you die. Here’s the good news: you’re
going to be happier and your wife’s going to love your new smile, but
they’re $1,000 to $1,500 per tooth.

Trent: Per tooth, yeah. Isn’t this what people call . . .?

Graig: The benefit to that is that every new patient to a dental implant
dentist is worth more, so I decided to come up with an Internet marketing
program that gets more implant patients coming to practices.

Trent: Okay. What do you call that?

Graig: I just call that “Local Search Dental Implant Marketing Program”.

Trent: Okay, and what do you charge for that?

Graig: That one is, we’re charging, I believe, $3,000 to set it up and $697
a month.

Trent: Okay. What percentage of your top-line revenue is recurring?

Graig: What percentage of my top-line revenue is recurring?

Trent: Yeah, because every product you’ve described to me has some kind of
monthly fee, which is what we want.

Graig: Yeah, no, you may have duped me. I have to pull up Infusion — I
actually don’t know that number. You want to know why I don’t know that
number — and this is actually a very good lesson for everyone listening —
because I was part of a business that declined because of its gluttony with
continuity. Continuity is phenomenal. I don’t sell anything without it. I
never will ever.

It’s the best thing in the world, don’t get me wrong, but here’s the
problem: continuity in subscription fees can make you gluttonous. They can
make you forget about the fact that you still need to retain and sell
stuff. So what happens is once a business sort of starts to lean and only
lean on its subscription income, it will die.

Trent: Because you get lazy and stop looking for new customers.

Graig: Correct. For example, this is actually a good lesson for your folks
because just recently we had a bit of a bad stretch. We had some retention
issues with our clients, not because of performance on our part. I think it
just happened to be we weren’t doing the right things to maintain some
customers. We plugged some holes, but here’s what started happening was we
started not retaining and adding new customers and all we did was live off
our continuity.

Well, you have a few customers leaving every single month, before you know
it, you just lost 20% of your revenue, so I don’t know that number but the
reason I don’t is because I know that I have the continuity. I focus only
on new sales and retention and the rest will take care of itself.

Trent: Because if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Graig: Right, so if I know we need to hit 10 new customers a month and we
hit that above, I know that we’re where we need to be. If we do three to
four, I know we’re screwed because we’re basically going to be living off
of continuity and that just drives me nuts.

The last business I was a part of, that’s how the business died. I had a
company that was doing $15 million a year that went down to barely doing a
million because it lived off its continuity.

Trent: Wow. How many of your customers live or work within driving distance
of you?

Graig: Four.

Trent: Out of how many.

Graig: Out of 400.

Trent: That’s what I wanted you to say. I want people to understand that
this is a business that doesn’t matter what town you live in.

Graig: No. No, no. That’s a minimalistic type of attitude because even the
people that I coach and consult on how to be local marketers have been
conditioned and predetermined to think that they can only sell local
businesses in their particular city and geography and the reality is that
is going to be your death.

Trent: So your sales process begins with online marketing, you make
extensive use of automated webinars, and the sales are, I’m going to guess,
either closed by someone clicking the “buy” button or are they ever closed
by one of your sales reps being on the phone and making the final sale?

Graig: Yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Trent: But they’re not doing it in-person, they’re not getting in their car
and going . . .

Graig: No, no dog-and-pony shows.

Trent: They’re just calling, they’re following-up with someone who is a
lead that has opted-in to your system, correct?

Graig: Correct.

Trent: So there ain’t no cold-calling happening in your shop.

Graig: Oh, no. We have never — and I’m proud to say this — ever, ever
cold-called anyone.

Trent: But yet the phone, very, very powerful tool.

Graig: Yeah. I mean, honestly, I think people who don’t master the art of
selling on the phone and using language and scripting that works is really
doing themselves a disservice because the old-school way of doing it is
somewhat how like the pharmaceutical sales rep does it, and I’m not saying
selling pharmaceuticals is comparative to what we’re doing but think about
it: they have a territory, that’s their territory, they go and they get in
their car and they drive to their offices and they do a dog-and-pony show
and they’re giving away stuff and they’re doing this and they’re doing

Phone sales is a great leverage, a leveraging point to very good marketing.
It should not be the other way around. Your sales should not be your
marketing because companies that are sales-driven and have a little bit of
marketing, they’re always going to be limited and may never be around
forever, but a company that is focused on marketing that has a sales team,
you always do well. Always, always.

Trent: It’s so much easier to hire people, it’s so much easier to train
people, it’s so much easier to retain people when they don’t have to make
cold calls.

Graig: It is. You know what’s funny? I have to tell this story real quick
because this is one, this is a funny story. My aunt is in sales, right? And
she just started doing this job where she works for a very prominent and
well-respected reputation management company in the auto dealer space.
They’re a very large, big, dumb company and they’ve got a lot of money to
burn, clearly.

So I was at her house the other day — we actually took her kids out to go
to Lasertron or whatever, laser tag — and she needed to work from the
house and she needed quiet so she could cold call. I asked her after we
came back, I’m like, “So tell me about how you’re selling these things.”
Which is basically it’s a reputation management sort of portal product for
auto dealers, not a very complicated sale. She’s like, “Well, I have to
make 40 to 50 dials a day.”

Trent: Ugh.

Graig: I’m like, “So where are you getting your leads from?” I’m like, “Are
they giving you opt-ins and you’re calling opt-ins? Where are they coming
from?” She’s like, “We just have directory sites that we just dial.” I’m
like, “So you’re cold-calling?” She’s like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Ugh, what?”
She goes, “What I don’t understand is, I’m having trouble getting to four
sales a month for a $300 product for an auto dealer.”

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: She tells me — this is the kicker, Trent — she tells me that, in
the Chicago area, they just hired three more sales reps to do what she’s
doing, just dial. I’m like, “Okay, here’s a very philosophical difference
between businesses. There’s a difference between a sales-driven culture and
a marketing-driven culture. Very distinct things, very distinct things.”

A sales-driven culture like that company, they’re using their sales force
like lead gen. They’re saying, “We’re paying this person $15 an hour. We
want them to dial so they can get working leads and that’s just how it is.”
That’s the sales-driven culture. “And hopefully we get lucky and they pop a

As opposed to a marketing-driven culture like what we have in my business,
where we wouldn’t even pick up the phone unless the prospect raised their
hands because what they want is what we are giving away, so therefore,
we’re not wasting man-hours, marketing material, energy, money on people
and things. They’re wasting it.

Trent: Plus, no one likes making those calls and nobody likes getting those

Graig: No. No, and you want to know the funny part about you saying that is
she told me, “I called on a guy who I got him on the phone, I actually got
through the gatekeeper and I got him on the phone” — because, remember,
these are big businesses, they’ve got a gatekeeper, meaning they’ve got
multiple receptionists — so she got the guy on the phone and she says, “I
want to get you on one of our webinars,” and he goes, “Ugh, seriously?
Another webinar? I’ve had five phone calls today of people asking me to get
on webinars, demos, more demos.”

I’m like, “Well, you’d better hope you’ve got a hearty appetite because
you’re going to get 100 more of those every, single time you call because
that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” You just look at that compared to
what we talked about today where people are only getting on my webinars
when they either pay my company, like fork over $100 or $300 or whatever,
or they’ve raised their hand and said, “Hey, I love what you’re saying. I
would like to learn more.” No problem, but you have to get on this webinar
first. They’re going to sign up for the webinar and not complain.

Trent: Can you give the URL of one of your landing pages? I’d love to look
at it.

Graig: Let me check and give you a good one here. Let me pull one up. Ask
me another question and I’ll pull one up.

Trent: All right. Well, now I’ve got to think of another question to ask.
Oh, yeah, while you’re pulling up, let’s talk about your podcast because I
know that you’ve got one.

Graig: Yeah.

Trent: How’s that working out for you?

Graig: It’s good, it’s good. Okay, here, I found one for you.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: Go to

Trent: All one word, no hyphens or anything like that?

Graig: Yeah, all one word.

Trent: Okay. Folks, if you’re listening to this . . .

Graig: There’s going to be audio on that, by the way, if you want to shut
that off.

Trent: Yeah. For the folks that are listening to this while you’re driving,
don’t worry, I’ll put this in the show notes, this link, so you’ll be able
to get to it and at the end of this episodes I’ll give you the link to the
Bright Ideas, where on the blog you’ve got to go to get to this interview,
so fear not. Don’t be trying to take notes while you’re driving.

Graig: Yeah, that landing page I just gave you is really good for cold
traffic, meaning a lot of paid media and such. It’s pretty good.

Trent: Now, is this any particular plug-in that you used to make this
landing page or is this just somebody did HTML?

Graig: No, we made that one, we made that one. We made that one in-house.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: But I know this is a template of something. One of my buddies told
me, “Oh, yeah, that’s a whatever page,” and I went, “Well, I saw it, I
liked it, we just made it.”

Trent: Yeah. What’s the conversion rate on this page?

Graig: This one has a 50% opt-in on cold traffic.

Trent: Very nice. Okay.

Graig: I only use this one on — and when I say cold traffic, meaning not a
house list. I only use this one on paid media.

Trent: Okay, so you’re spending money on, say, LinkedIn ads, for example,
and you’re driving them to this page.

Graig: Sure, sure, sure. Yeah, that’s right.

Trent: All right, I want to go back, actually, to the top of the funnel
because I don’t know that I got enough detail. So, sponsored e-mail — we
didn’t dive into that all, so if it’s okay, I’d like to go back and just
talk a little bit more about that particular one and some of the others. So
if someone wants to market to dentists — like you’re doing — how do they
go about finding — first of all, explain what sponsored e-mail is. I’m
sure everyone gets it, but in case a few people don’t, explain what it is
and then explain how you find people to buy it from.

Graig: Right. Okay, so I’m going to be a little private on this answer,
okay, for an obvious reason because lead sources are like gold. That’s my
money, so I will tell you how to find them, essentially, but I will not
tell you where and who, okay?

Trent: Sure, all right.

Graig: So how about that?

Trent: That’s fine.

Graig: Sponsored e-mail blasts — and this is something no one does in any
sort of business, and not necessarily dentistry, and this is what I teach a
lot of the people that I coach on how to be local marketers is there are
people out there who have herds or subscription or magazine companies or
whatever it is, educational companies, that have e-mail lists of people
that open their crap and read it. They have maybe never thought that they
can monetize the e-mails that they send out.

Essentially what a sponsored e-mail blast is, let’s take eye doctors, for
example. Say you want to target LASIK surgeons with marketing consulting or
something like that. Let’s just take them for example. You can go and find
publications, whether it’s continuing education, Eye Doctor Magazine, any
sort of print, maybe there’s blogs, forums, where these guys and gals hang
out and get their information from. You can use this cool little thing
called Google to figure it out, where those things.

Some may have media kits where they do offer sponsored email blasts, you
just didn’t know about it. It’s, say, $1,000. Now, in exchange for that
$1,000, they will send pre-approved e-mail content out to their list from
you with basically an offer: “Here’s my free report, here’s my Google cheat
sheet.” Then you get to keep the leads, you pay them the $1,000. Done deal.

Now, here’s a cool way to do it, is sometimes these media companies never,
ever think to monetize their e-mail list like that. They sell print space,
they sell banner ads, but they never think that by clicking a button they
can make $1,000. And you’ll keep coming back for more if it works, so what
I tell my people is find a community of people in the niche that you want
to go after, find the key-holder to the e-mail list. If they don’t offer a
media kit or something like that, tell them you’ll pay them $1,000 to send
one e-mail out and if it goes well, you’ll give them $1,500 an e-mail and
buy four more of them. That is a way to get someone to mail for you
essentially, sponsor you in a way and I’ve done it a myriad of times

Sometimes they’ll say no. Sometimes they’ll say, “Oh, we don’t want to do
that.” Sometimes they’re just not into it but, honestly, I know some of the
biggest names in the business in certain niches who, from a publication
standpoint, from a media standpoint, love the e-mail sponsored blasts and
they’re open to doing it.

Trent: Okay, and where does that rank in-between, let’s say, direct mail —
which we’ll talk about next — LinkedIn — which we’ll talk a little bit
after that — and sponsored e-mail? Are they roughly equal? Is sponsored e-
mail the best one?

Graig: Sponsored e-mail is the fastest way to cash.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: That’s the fastest way to build your list. It’s the fastest way to
make money but the problem is it saturates quickly, so it comes down to
really knowing your numbers when it comes to that. In the beginning, you’re
going to be like, “Oh, this is amazing! I got 100 leads from one e-mail.”
Well, in three months, six months, that might be 30 people, that might be
10. Who knows? So you need to have back-up. So that leads my lead source is
the e-mail blast but I also do a lot of direct mail. I do a lot of cheap
postcards and then I’d say just after that LinkedIn and other paid traffic,
not just LinkedIn but other outside traffic.

Trent: Yeah. Let’s talk about direct mail.

Graig: Sure.

Trent: So are you doing only postcards or do you do three-dimensional?

Graig: No. For lead gen, yes, and the only reason I have is because I’ve
been able to make money doing it, so I just know if I send these postcards
out, I’m going to get traffic, I’m going to get opt-ins and then we’re just
going to push them through. So right now, I do do other direct mail but
mostly I’m using postcards to drive traffic.

The other thing that I’m doing that nobody does is I use postcards to drive
webinar sign-ups.

Trent: So the postcards are either sending to a landing page like the one
you shared with me, this Google Reviews one, yeah?

Graig: Yeah.

Trent: Or a webinar opt-in page.

Graig: Correct. I also use what’s called a PURL postcard. Do you know what
a PURL postcard is?

Trent: No, I don’t, I don’t.

Graig: You don’t? Okay.

Trent: No.

Graig: They’ve been around for a while and they’re pretty cool. So PURL
stands for “personalized URL”.

Trent: Oh, okay.

Graig: So what that basically does is you print a postcard and it’ll say,
“Hey, Trent, look at this cool new thing on how to get 10 to 15 more
clients a month without lifting a finger. I made this brand-new website
just for you. Check it out:”

You’re like, “Wow, this person like made their own individual website for
me. Cool.” So you go to the computer and you type in “” You
go the landing page, and it says at the top, “Hey, Trent, thanks for coming
to this webpage” and then inside the web form is pre-populated with your
name and e-mail already and you’re like, “Wow, this is super-customized.”

Conversions go up exponentially because of it because people actually think
you made a real, live individual website for them — but you didn’t. All
you did is all it is is a list uploaded to your server that talks to some
code and the code, when they type in their name, pops it into the fields
and you’re done, so it’s really one webpage with a list. That’s all it is.

Trent: Now, is there a service that you subscribe to get these PURL

Graig: No, but there are and they all suck. So I’ve tried to do that before
where I thought I could crank them out quicker, and they’ve all been very,
very terrible, so what I decided to do is I just have a mailing company
that prints the postcards and then the developer uploads the list and then
I just go.

But here’s the good news: once the list is uploaded to your server, you can
just keep adding to it. It’s not like it has to be replaced. So once that
mailing list is uploaded, you could have 100,000 names on there and still
only mail to a 1,000 and it’ll still work.

Trent: So the URL on the postcard is and it doesn’t matter if
you had 47 Trents on your list because they all come to the page that says,
“Hey, Trent,” because . . .

Graig: We usually do first name, last name.

Trent: Oh, you do? Okay, so everyone’s getting an individual page, so
you’ve got one landing page, your developer wrote a little bit of script,
queries the database, pulls the first name and populates it.

Graig: Yup.

Trent: And makes the URL the same thing.

Graig: Yup, and I would imagine if anyone listening is an InfusionSoft
user, if you go under the Community page, there will be people on there
that can build PURL pages for you.

Trent: Absolutely. What are you spending per-piece for one of these

Graig: Oh, geez, I think it’s — what is postage? $0.45 right now or
something like that?

Trent: I have no idea, something like that.

Graig: I think postcards probably run me around $0.65 in total, so the
postage is more than the stuff on the card.

Trent: So it’s about a buck by the time you’re all done.

Graig: No, it’s less than a dollar. No, it’s $0.65 cents.

Trent: Oh, including the postage.

Graig: Like I just mailed a letter — I call it the “granny letter”, one
piece of paper, handwritten, everything for $0.85 cents apiece.

Trent: And is it actually handwritten? I used to hire people off

Graig: Uh-huh, not fun. Handwritten.

Trent: I’d just hire people off Craigslist and they’d come over to my house
and pick all the things up and they’d go home and watch TV and write them

Graig: Are you being serious?

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: Oh, dude, there are mailing houses that could do that for you for
$0.85 cents.

Trent: This was years ago before I knew about any of this stuff.

Graig: Oh, okay. No, you’d be surprised, you’d be surprised with that
stuff. It’s pretty reasonable. The reason I like the PURL postcard is
because it’s personalized so people really get engaged with it and it’s
really inexpensive.

Trent: Any chance you’d send me a screenshot of one of these postcards that
I could include in the post?

Graig: Yeah, I can do it but I’m going to blur stuff out.

Trent: That’s fine.

Graig: Okay.

Trent: Is the message on the postcard pretty much the same message as on
the landing page that it’s driving them to?

Graig: Pretty close because, obviously, from being of Direct Response 101,
you do need congruency.

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: But you still never want to get away from the fact that you need to
get the click. You need to get the click and you need to get the traffic,
so don’t be too revealing in your message upfront. Give them enough to not
satisfy their appetite so that when they get to the landing page, they’re
like, “Ah, makes sense but it didn’t say it all on the copy.” Because
that’s what a lot of people do, they forget that they need to get that
click, so they give away way too much on the front end when just give away
your stuff later because you don’t want to satisfy their appetite by just
writing a bunch of great copy and them being like, “Oh, that was pretty
good, thanks. Well, see you later.”

Trent: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. Okay, and then let’s finish this off on
LinkedIn. Just talk very briefly about how you’re using LinkedIn.

Graig: Okay. Like no one else. Because everybody goes on there to solicit
and profile and go into groups and network and all that. Isn’t that what
most people use it for?

Trent: Probably, yeah.

Graig: Yeah, yeah, right. I don’t even go on there and do anything other
than run my ads. That’s it.

Trent: Okay.

Graig: Because one thing people need to understand about LinkedIn versus
Facebook — which I’m not saying don’t do Facebook, I’m saying do a lot of
things that make you money but let’s just talk about LinkedIn for a minute
— is it lets you specifically with, by the way, 100% accuracy, sort by
profession. So if you want to go after Fortune 500 CEOs, you can do that.
If you want to go after eye doctors, you can do that. Pinpoint that,
exactly that, so it really enables you to go by profession and that’s
really good for us sort of marketers and consultants because we really can
segment out the people that we want to go after.

I don’t use it for any of the social networking. I don’t network at all,
actually, and that’s not because I’m antisocial; that’s because I don’t
make money when I network and that’s actually good. We don’t use it for
that, we just use it for traffic, that’s it. Ads and traffic.

Trent: And ads are driving to like the Google Reviews landing page?

Graig: Yeah, sure, or various landing pages, yeah. Yeah.

Trent: In the ads, is it like Facebook, you can include a little image?
I’ve actually never advertised on LinkedIn yet.

Graig: Yeah, it’s actually the set-up for LinkedIn ads is simpler than
Facebook but it is an image and copy. They restrict you a little bit more
with the number of characters, but they also let you get away with a little
bit more than Facebook, so it’s kind of a give-and-take.

Trent: And what kind of images are you doing? Pretty girls with smiles?

Graig: Pretty girls, pretty girls.

Trent: Really? Seriously?

Graig: Oh, yeah, of course. That’s pretty much it. Pretty girls most of the

Trent: And these pretty girls are dressed in business attire, I’m assuming?

Graig: No, sometimes bikinis.

Trent: You’re pulling my leg, right?

Graig: Nope.

Trent: And LinkedIn lets you do that?

Graig: Yup.

Trent: Because Facebook is ridiculously anal about that.

Graig: Yeah, they’re a little tougher. They’re loosening up a little bit
but, yeah, LinkedIn, they’ll let me — I’d probably embarrass you if you
saw some of the pictures I got away with on LinkedIn but they work, man.
But I’m going to say this, though, with a disclaimer, is the business that
I’m in happens to be very male-dominated. I think about 80% or higher are
males in dentistry. So, if you’re going after the holistic niche or, yeah,
females in it, still use pretty girls but don’t put them in bikinis. But I
still need to get people’s attention. I use pretty girls on all of my — I
even put them on my postcards.

Trent: Yeah, I still think you’re pulling my leg about the bikinis.

Graig: No, no, I’m not, I’m serious.

Trent: That’s awesome.

Graig: I’m not ashamed. I try to push it, because I know that if you’re
online and you’re looking at ads, you’re looking at thousands a day, so I
know that I’ve got to make that thing jump out at you.

Trent: Yup. I went to a workshop where the guy did a lot of paid ads.

Graig: Sure.

Trent: He even went so far — pretty girls were his images — that he would
split test how big their eyes were.

Graig: Oh, that’s funny.

Trent: He would split test which direction they were looking, whether it
was looking at the camera or away from the camera. It was insane, but this
guy’s running an eight- or nine-figure-a -year business. I can’t remember.

Graig: Yeah, no, I have friends like that, too, and they’ve tested cleavage
versus no cleavage, stuff like that, and cleavage got more clicks. That’s
very true but, to his defense, it probably depends on his market. Like I
said, mine happens to be a male-dominated industry where bikinis and
lingerie probably get clicks, but in other businesses it may not
essentially work.

Trent: So when you first started, you had to spend some money on LinkedIn
ads, sponsored e-mail, direct mail. How long did it take you to get that
money back?

Graig: Well, I ROI’ed out pretty quickly. I’d say it depends on the lead
source, though, but I didn’t do them all at one time. I had my lead sources
and I was like, “Okay, we’ll do this one, see how it goes.” This is
actually a good lesson. I don’t know the exact number of days, but I know
that I made money on it. Because here’s what a lot of people do when it
comes to marketing: they do a lead source campaign. In the lead source
campaign, they get a bunch of leads and they say, “Okay, well, we’ve got
100 leads, so I’m not going to do any more marketing until we make money
off that one campaign.”

Trent: They’re wrong.

Graig: They’re like, “Okay, so waiting, still waiting.” Whereas what if
that lead source just sucked? Or what if that lead source needed six months
to be nurtured before it converted? Maybe that’s just the way those people
are. So now you’ve done no marketing for six months because you’re still
“testing” this lead source, right? You’ve sat on your ass and made no
money, whereas when I did it — and I’m not saying this is the only way to
do it but it’s definitely a smarter way to do it — is I ran the campaign,
I got, say, 100 leads.

I knew I had the leads. I knew that they were going to be in Infusionsoft.
I knew that I could market to them forever. I knew I was going to give them
good content. So what I did was I waited until some more cash came in, just
a little bit of cash, and then I did another lead source campaign and then
I stacked them like that. Now I have 300 leads that I’m able to monetize
versus a six-month gap of just marketing to one particular customer and I
was able to build my list, my herd, right, because I just need more people.

Sometimes it’s just pure numbers. Sometimes 100 people in your niche just
isn’t going to cut it to get a customer. Maybe you need 300 people to get a
customer. So a lot of people do that one-and-done marketing, that one-shot,
“Oh, I’m going to do one direct mail campaign,” “Oh, I’m going to do one
thing” — and then they sit and they wait. Sometimes you waiting may cost
you your business.

Trent: Yep, because cash flow is king.

Graig: Right, right. The thing is that, especially when you start a
business, you don’t really know the life cycle of your customer. You don’t
know it might take seven months to close someone, so you’ve kind of got to
get your marketing in order and just stagger it and go out six months and
then look at it and say, “Okay, on average it took us four months to get a
client. Now we know that,” as before you may not have known that.

Trent: How long did it take you to get your first client?

Graig: A week.

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: A week, but you know why was because I knew the basics of what it
was going to take to get a client. What I mean by that is in the first week
of being in business, I hosted a live teleseminar where I got 50 dentists
on and I sold my first product.

Trent: How’d you get those 50?

Graig: Various lead sources opting-in to a landing page. The life lesson
there is I didn’t focus on anything but just selling them on the one thing.
I needed eyeballs and I needed ears and I had a product. I just needed them
to listen to it and I put them on a telecall and I think I sold five in
that one night.

Trent: So the machine began.

Graig: Then the matrix started, that’s right.

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: But how many people do you know spend the first two weeks of
business making up a website and business cards and a logo?

Trent: Yeah.

Graig: I had an e-mail address. I didn’t even have a website and I made
thousands in a day.

Trent: I interviewed a guy by the name of Sam Ovens yesterday and he has a
marketing consulting business and he put up a one-page website. He didn’t
have a business card, he didn’t have a business plan, he didn’t know what
he was going to sell and he didn’t know who he was going to sell it to. He
just started to reach out to everyone he knew and he said, “Hey, I’m pretty
knowledgeable about online marketing and I’m looking for clients to help.”

Graig: Yep.

Trent: And one, two, three, four, five, six, seven clients later, he
started figuring out what they really wanted, who he should really be
selling to, and what he should really be selling and he figured out that
his sweet spot was selling to high-ticket B2B companies for the same
reasons that you explained at the very beginning of this interview, was
because their customer value was between $50,000 and $100,000.

Check this out — he would go to one of these companies and say, “I can
make your website produce more qualified leads for you.” “Okay.” And he
would tweak — so these people wouldn’t even have an opt-in form.

Graig: Right.

Trent: So he’d fix the headline, fix the sales copy, put on in opt-in form,
basic autoresponder, and charge $10,000.

Graig: Yup.

Trent: But these customers are like, “Well, if I could get one more
customer per year, that’s $50,000 and I only have to pay this guy $10,000.
Yeah, sign me up.”

Graig: I have a lot of friends that do exactly what he does and it’s very
true. It’s very true and that’s just the basics of it. I mean, Trent, I
still to this day, we’re talking three-and-a-half years later, I still
don’t have a business card.

Trent: If you’re not going networking, then what in the hell do you need
one for?

Graig: Oh, yeah, that’s a whole other hour podcast right there but, yeah,
no, and that’s exactly it and that’s the thing is a lot of people don’t
understand is I still do deals. So a lot of people associate networking
with deals, getting deals done. I still do deals all the time. It’s made me
a lot of money, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t do them where I go and I
peddle around my business card at stupid conferences.

What I did is I elevated myself to a certain stature that allowed people to
be attracted to me, not the other way around, so now all I have to do is
ask. So if I want one of my friends to send an e-mail out for me, they’re
my friends now because of the respect that they have for me, not because I
handed them and peddled them business cards at conferences and they just
say, “Yeah, I’ll send it out for you.” Because I’ve elevated that stature,
as opposed to saying, “Hey, call me, let’s get something together.”

Trent: And, folks in the audience, if you’re listening to this and going,
“Yeah, I’d like to elevate my stature,” I have three words for you: start a

Graig: Start a podcast. That’s true. It’s very true. Write a book. Get
featured in press releases.

Trent: Blog.

Graig: Actually, you know what? Can I do a shameless plug and it’s not for
me, it’s for one of my friends who does a really good job with this, a
really good job?

Trent: Yeah. Please do.

Graig: If you want to be the authority in your particular arena or you just
want to be able to hang your hat on more notoriety — because nobody argues
with an expert, no one argues with Dr. Oz or Suze Orman about financial
stuff, even though they’re average in their profession. You would think
they’re phenomenal.

If you utilize my friend Brian Horn, he’s got a website, I think it’s or something like that or You just
Google “Brian Horn SEO” and he will help you. He has done a phenomenal job
with helping his clients in all sorts of businesses from dentists to
Fortune 500 CEOs on how to get featured in local media, Wall Street
Journal, and syndicate you all over the dang place so, that way, you can
put all of those labels on your authority badge. You’re “as seen on CBS,
FOX News, CBS Sports,” whatever you’re in. He does a phenomenal job with it
and that’s an easy way to become an authority where you can garner more
respect from not only your peers, but your clients and customers and
prospects. So that’s a shameless plug for Brian but he’s good at it.

Trent: I was going to ask you about that because I noticed you had “ABC,
NBC, CBS, FOX, blah blah blah,” Brian Horn, did you work with him to be
able to do that?

Graig: I did and Brian’s a really good friend of mine. He’s in my
MasterMind group with me, and he’s phenomenal at it. He’s phenomenal at it.
Yeah, I was even in Newsweek Magazine as a featured person and, by the way,
guys, you can pay to be in all that stuff. It’s not special. I mean, it’s
special to the outside world, but it’s not that hard.

Trent: So you mentioned a word near and dear to my heart: MasterMind group.
For folks, if you’re listening, Bright Ideas is about to launch a
MasterMind group for people that want to learn how to build a local
marketing agency to serve dentists. Why, Graig, do you think MasterMind
groups are so valuable?

Graig: Well, I mean, it’s the whole adage of the power of the MasterMind. I
mean, the simplest way to explain it is many brains is better than one. So
you’re automatically multiplying what can be done in a room. For example,
if Trent and I sat down in a room together and I told him my biggest
problems and biggest ideas, he may just look at me and say, “Well, here’s
what I would do and what I’ve done.” But what if you had seven Trents in
that room? It’s the ultimate multiplier.

Anyone who’s not part of a MasterMind, you should just be in one. I don’t
care, be in at least just one. Most successful people are in more than one,
but be in just at least one and that’s really it because when I go to
MasterMind and I’m like, “Okay, here’s what I’m seeing,” not only can they
help me, but when I say, “I’m doing this that’s working,” I have 8 to 10
other eyeballs in the room helping me out with that, versus just one.
Versus just a coach. It’s not just a coach, it’s a room of experts.

Trent: What do you pay to be in yours?

Graig: The one that I’m in is actually sort of, it’s like Fight Club.

Trent: Yeah?

Graig: So we don’t even tell people where we meet. We call each other,
we’re the “SEO Mafia” is what we say, so I can’t tell you that or they’ll
kill me. They won’t kill me literally but we don’t talk about it. But in
all honesty, I think paying around anywhere from $20,000 to $25,000 a year
for a MasterMind is not a bad investment.

Trent: Yeah, because you’re around other people who can afford to pay
$20,000 to $25,000 a year.

Graig: Yeah, and the other thing is don’t just join a MasterMind group of
average people, right? You want to be in a room with seven- or eight-figure-
earners. So if you were to be in Joe Posh’s $25,000 group or something like
that, you know you’re going into that room and there’s going to be other
millionaires in that room. That’s a good place to be.

Trent: Yeah, absolutely.

Graig: It’s a real good place to be.

Trent: I guess I’d better raise the price of my MasterMind.

Graig: Double it, double it.

Trent: Actually, as of this recording, I have not decided yet how much I’m
going to charge. I’m off to Washington D.C. the tail-end of this week,
actually, to do a meeting which will be instrumental to my figuring out
what the pricing will be and what will be included.

Graig: Nice.

Trent: So details to come, folks.

Graig: Nice.

Trent: All right, Graig, let’s wrap this up. We’ve done a long one here,
but, man, this has been super-awesome and thank you for that.

Graig: Yeah, I know we went over but I think everybody’s going to get a
good idea of things. If people are looking to get more information like on
me and so on and so forth, not necessarily me itself but sort of how I look
at marketing, is if you go to — that’s where
you’re going to be able to get my free report on how I’ve really built my
business. The dentist stuff is good to talk about but that’s where all your
people are going to want to go.

Trent: Okay, I’ll make sure that I link to that from the show notes, as

Graig: Yeah, yeah. That’s where they’ll want to be.

Trent: And do you have an affiliate link for whatever that is?

Graig: I can set one up for you, Trent. That’s not a problem.

Trent: Okay, cool. All right, so unless there’s anything else, Graig, that
you want to add to this.

Graig: No, this was good, this was fun.

Trent: Yeah, thank you very much for making the time. I hope that people
who are listening to this were both educated and inspired by your story as
I was and thanks for being on the show.

Graig: No problem.

Trent: Okay, to get the show notes for today’s episode, go to And while you’re in front of your computer, I’d love it
if you would take a minute and go to If you’ve enjoyed
this episode, there will be a pre-populated tweet that you can click and,
as well, there’s a link to the iTunes store where you can go and leave
feedback for the show and for this episode. If you would take a moment and
do that, it would make a huge difference because it helps the show to get
more awareness and more people can listen to it and we can help more
entrepreneurs to massively boost their business.

Thanks very much for tuning in. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and I look
forward to seeing you in the next episode. Take care, have a wonderful day.

Announcer: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas podcast.
Check us out on the web at

About Graig Presti

graigGraig Presti, founder and CEO of, is a foremost advertising authority who operates with dental practices all around the planet, assisting them to leverage the internet so they can generate more telephone calls, reach more new patients, and bring in more revenue. His strategies begin to work immediately and continue to work month after month.

Presti specializes in helping dental practices dominate their nearby location by using confirmed regional Internet dental advertising strategies to help them dominate the top rated regional research engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Presti uses easy to understand stories to help his clients comprehend how they can improve their internet presence. He is a repeated featured speaker at dental conferences and other venues.

Presti has mastered the art of bringing a flood of new patients into dental offices, and has undoubtedly established himself as a top specialist in his field. His considerable accomplishments, and his industry contributions, led him to be showcased as a Newsweek Magazine Champion of Health, Wealth and Success.

SAM OVENS X 6 in x 4 in x 300 dpi x FC

How to Start a Marketing Consulting Business and Go From Zero to $35,000 a Month in Only 12 Months – with Sam Ovens

Do you think you need a fancy website, and business card, and plenty of startup capital to start a business? If you do, you’re dead wrong.

Sam Ovens started his marketing consulting business with no clue of what he was going to sell, no idea who would buy it, no idea how he’d actually deliver the work, and with no savings to speak of.

In this interview, you’ll hear Sam and I talk about:

  • (4:37) His number of customers and revenue
  • (8:00) His background, and how he got started
  • (10:30) His start as a marketing consultant
  • (13:00) How he used email to get his first clients
  • (16:00) How success led to more success
  • (19:00) How he made $10,000 sales, and closed $20,000 deals with $3k/mo in retainer fees
  • (23:00) How he used lumpy mail to find his leads
  • (25:30) How he delivered services using elance
  • (30:30) How he transitioned to a trusted advisor
  • (34:30) The difference between a service business and a product business
  • (38:30) The cons of a product business
  • (40:00) The cost of version 1
  • (42:00) His Big Business mindset
  • (48:00) How he used Idea Extraction to get his rich niche to tell him their pain
  • (51:00) How he researched Property Management
  • (58:00) Mistakes he made along the way


More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey there, bright idea hunters. Welcome to the Bright Ideas podcast.
I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for marketing
consultants, marketing agencies, and entrepreneurs who want to discover how
to use content marketing and marketing automation to massively boost their
business.On the show with me today is an entrepreneur by the name of Sam Ovens. Sam
is the founder of a very rapidly-growing company by the name of
SnapInspect. Just over a year ago, Sam barely even knew what an
entrepreneur was. He literally had to actually Google the term when he
first discovered it and that was a little bit longer ago. With that said,
this interview, if you are a new entrepreneur looking for a business to
start or you are already a marketing consultant looking to grow your
business, this interview is going to be absolutely a mind-blower for you.I don’t want to sound too hype-y, but I took so many notes for myself when
I was doing this interview with Sam that I absolutely promise that if you
invest the time to listen to it, you are going to come away from this
interview with some of the most valuable insights possible that will
literally be for you, as they were for Sam, massive game-changers.His app, his company, SnapInspect — so a year ago, nothing, didn’t exist.
He had to figure out how to find the idea, how to get it built, how to pay
for it, and then how to turn it into a very healthy six-figure business and
he did all of that in just over a year. And keep in mind, beforehand, this
guy barely even knew what an entrepreneur was. So get some pen and paper,
sit down. You are absolutely going to love this interview.Before I get to it, I want to really quickly tell you about something if
you’re listening, if you’re not yet a Bright Ideas subscriber, I’ve got a
new four-part video series called the Conversion Tactics Toolbox. It
teaches you — shows you, actually; it’s free–exactly how I get bright
ideas to add so many subscribers every day to my newsletter list and
therefore my marketing funnel and, of course, that causes products to sell.
Go sign up at, with that said, get ready, here we go. This is going to be a really
good one. Please join me in welcoming Sam to the show. Hey, Sam, welcome to
the show. Thanks for making the time.Sam Ovens: Glad to be here.Trent: So for the folks who don’t yet have a clear understanding of who you
are, take a minute and just please briefly introduce yourself. Tell us who
you are and what you do.Sam: Okay, so I started a software as a service company called SnapInspect,
which is basically a property inspection app for property management
companies. They use it to inspect rental properties and create reports.
Yeah, so that’s basically what I did.Trent: Is this your first entrepreneurial venture?

Sam: First successful one, yes, but including the failed ones, it’s
probably my third or fourth.

Trent: Okay.

Sam: Yeah.

Trent: All right, so you’re at a point now where you’re having quite a bit
of success. So let’s talk a little bit about where you are today and then I
want to back this up to the process that you went through and how you
started off as a marketing consultant and used that money to fund this and
where there’s a whole lot of really good stuff I want to get into. But so
that people know where you’re at, because you’ve accomplished quite a bit
here in the last year since you launched the product, I really kind of want
them to know the conclusion first, so maybe we can talk about number of
customers and revenue, how’s that sound?

Sam: Sure.

Trent: All right, so how many customers and how much revenue?

Sam: So, last time I checked, we’re around 1,400 paid customers and revenue
is around about $400,000 annually.

Trent: Very nice. And on a software business, how much of that is making it
to the bottom-line? Quite a bit, I would think.

Sam: I mean, our expenses run roughly right now about $16,000 a month, so
you could do the maths on that.

Trent: The point of it is — and this is what I wanted people to get —
because here you are, this guy who fell on his face a couple of times
beforehand and then finally, when you got it figured out, within a year
you’ve made a massive transformation to your life as a result of this
business. Would that be an overstatement, do you think, or do you think
that that’s pretty accurate?

Sam: No, I think it’s pretty accurate. I’ve tried to be an entrepreneur for
probably, I think, three years now, maybe not quite three but close to. Two
of those years, I was practically just spinning my tires and then when
things sort of clicked for me, which was about a year ago, it just all
moved so rapidly. SnapInspect is one year old in August. SnapInspect is
only one year old and all of my business stuff has really snowballed in the
last 12 months and it’s been a pretty crazy 12 months.

Trent: And a lot of fun, too, I’ll bet.

Sam: Oh, yeah. It’s fun finally making money.

Trent: Yeah.

Sam: Instead of just finding ways to get more to spend.

Trent: Yeah, funny how that is. Being an entrepreneur is so much more fun
when you’re making a profit. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about
your background and then how you got into this and how you were a marketing
consultant, because a lot of my audience — and I really think this is
going to be a great interview for them — they’re either a new entrepreneur
like you were before this success came your way or they are a marketing
consultant looking to grow their business to the point where it’s providing
a very nice level of income for them and maybe some of them are at a point
where they’re already there and they’re thinking, “Well, how do I take my
business to the next level?” The pieces of your story, I think, will speak
to all of those people, so let’s kind of dive into that.

What did you take in college? What did you do before this? Were you born in
this entrepreneur whiz-bang family with a big silver spoon or is it
something other than that?

Sam: Sure. No one in my family is an entrepreneur or even in business. My
mum’s a teacher and my dad’s a builder and none of my friends are even
entrepreneurial. I think back home in New Zealand, I don’t even think I
know another entrepreneur and I never really was entrepreneurial. I mean, I
was obsessive with things, like if it was a hobby or a sport or whatever it
was, I’d always have something I was quite obsessed with and spend all day
and all night thinking about it and something like that.

Those are the only early traces I could think of what’s led to today
because I remember my parents and teachers always said to me, “If only you
could just get obsessed with school or college or doing something
productive instead of,” because my obsessions used to be race cars or go-
karting or something like that and that was me spending money and taking
time away from studying, so my grades were always below average and

Then I don’t know when the click was. I think it was, I went to a friend’s,
her dad was a very successful businessman and I went away to their island —
the guy owned an island — and I was sitting there and I was like, “Oh my
God, this is so awesome,” and then when I got back, I was like, “I want to
do that.” I think the first thing, my first move was Googling, “What is

Trent: No kidding, wow.

Sam: Not even kidding, just trying to get a definition on it because I’d
asked this girl, “What does your dad do?” And she’s like, “Oh, he’s an
entrepreneur,” and I was like, “I want to be one of those.” So I went back
and I Googled it and I bought a bunch of books and I guess that’s where the
journey began and that was roughly three years ago.

Trent: Wow, that’s cool. All right, so you fell on your face a few times
and we’re going to skip past those just because there’s so much good stuff
that I want to talk about what’s worked for you.

Sam: Sure.

Trent: Then you, at some point, started working for yourself as a marketing
consultant, is that correct?

Sam: Correct.

Trent: Okay, so when was that?

Sam: I joined The Foundation in October of 2011 and I learned a lot there
about how to start a software company from scratch. I got the idea for
SnapInspect and we started developing it, but I quickly realized I’m going
to run out of money. Development builds were coming in because we had
milestones with the original developers and I never even knew how I was
going to pay the next milestone, so I was constantly trying to figure out
ways, see which banks were offering student credit cards, trying to just
come up with money any way just to pay the development bills.

Then I was looking, I was talking to my developer like, “What do you think
server costs are going to be?” He gave me some numbers and I was adding up
the numbers and I was like, “Oh my God, I’ve got an awesome idea for a
company. This company’s going to work, but I don’t know if I’m going to be
able to keep it alive long enough for it to actually gain traction.”

So I quickly realized that I’m going to need a source of income to support
starting SnapInspect. At that point, I knew a bit about marketing and I
figured, “Well, these skills are probably helpful to other business,” so I
decided that I’d help consult other businesses on marketing and basically
sell my own services and use that cash to help get SnapInspect started and
survive through the early stages.

Trent: So let’s talk about how you did that. You’ve got no customers,
you’ve got some marketing skills which you’ve acquired as the product of,
presumably, your failures along the way. You’re out there trying to figure
out how to do stuff, it’s all on the line and you can’t help but learn
things. Then you made a decision, “Well, I’m going to go get some clients
because I need some cash flow or my business is not going to succeed,” so I
want to know what did you do — and I’m sure my audience would like to
know, especially the new entrepreneurs who are thinking, “Man, this guy’s
story sounds like mine,” — what did you do to get those clients?

Sam: Sure. My first attempt, like any of my first attempts, was pretty
weak. I just reached out to people I knew because I didn’t even know what I
was selling. I was like, “I know all of this stuff,” but I couldn’t put
into a sentence what I was selling. So it sort of started out with getting
a few cheap $2,000 or $3,000 website deals where I’d essentially just be an
order taker and help a business rejig their website and that’s how it

Trent: These were all people initially that you knew? But you didn’t have
any credibility with them as a marketing or a website developer, did you?

Sam: No, not at all. I just reached out via e-mail. They knew I was in this
whole online space, which most people don’t understand that most business
owners, outside of the tech and San Francisco space, they actually don’t
know anything about websites and so you don’t need to know much to be an
expert. In fact, most of the people that probably had the ability to find
your content and listen to it probably know more than enough to actually be
valuable to 95% of the businesses in the world. You don’t actually need to
be that much of an engineer to help other people out. Now I’ve side-tracked
myself, what was the question?

Trent: It’s okay, it’s okay. I couldn’t agree more. I think that is
something people overestimate or maybe underestimate, I don’t know what the
right word is, but they think they need to be this guru before they could
ever go to a small business owner that runs any kind of small business
that’s in your town and say to them, “I can help you with your marketing.”
So limiting belief number one that hope Sam has just smashed for you guys
is that you already know enough. If you found my site and you’re listening
to this interview and you know what WordPress is and you know what hosting
is, you already know enough.

Okay, so you sent some e-mails, you got some clients, $2,000 gigs, $3,000
gigs here and there. Is that about right?

Sam: Yup.

Trent: What happened next?

Sam: So that was enough money. From what I was making, that was a big
change. I mean, $2,000, $3,000 compared to zero? Pretty sweet, so I was
pretty happy with myself and I did quite a few of those and then I guess
the more I thought about it and the more of these little deals that I won,
the more confidence I got and I sort of found my foothold and my market in
exactly what it was that I did. So instead of being a consultant that
literally would do anything for money, I now had a very specific thing that
I did for a specific market.

Trent: Which was what?

Sam: So I would help B2B companies, so B2B companies that had high-ticket
priced items generate more leads with their websites.

Trent: Okay, so did you do that by helping them to do better conversions or
more traffic?

Sam: The beauty of this was that it was so much easier than doing even the
$2,000 deals because essentially what I would do is I’d put just such basic
stuff, like their websites would have headlines and basic copy which,
instead of saying, “We are the best. We, we, we,” it would talk a little
bit about the other person, the customer and what pains they’re
experiencing. So I’d rejig the copy, put a headline in and I’d create some
sort of lead capture system, which would just be usually a like a MailChimp
opt-in form for a free consultation or a pricing booklet or some sort of
information thing that they had. Most of the time, they had these in their
business; they just weren’t putting them to work.

Trent: So this is really basic stuff for us but, again, for these small
business owners, they had no idea how to do this stuff. So how much were
you able to charge to do this?

Sam: Well, so, my average–to do something simple as that, I would charge

Trent: $10,000?

Sam: Yup.

Trent: To tweak a headline, fix sales copy, put a lead capture form on,
presumably write some kind of autoresponder sequence on behind-the-scenes,
and get them to take some content they already had and turn it into a free
report/lead magnet, $10,000 for that?

Sam: Yup.

Trent: I hope, my beloved audience, this is sinking in for you guys.

Sam: Well, you’ve go tot understand that they didn’t know that they needed
that. If they knew that they needed that, they could do it themselves or
they could hire someone on Elance to whack it together for a couple hundred
dollars, but . . .

Trent: But they don’t know that.

Sam: It’s the advantage of not being an order taker but an advisor or an
expert and knowing exactly what you’d do because the beauty of B2B high-
ticket item companies is one sale to them is usually worth $50,000 to

Trent: Yup.

Sam: They’re already making plenty of sales and they’re making them through
their website with people going to the “Contact Us” form and filling out,
like, 15 fields, which was hard to find and I was thinking, “My God, if we
could remove some of this friction, rejig the copy, even if I just got them
one more in a whole year, it’s still worth it for them to pay me $10,000.”

Trent: Absolutely.

Sam: And I did. They got way more than one a year so as far as they were
concerned, they were away laughing. They only had to pay me $10,000 but
that’s the thing about pricing on value instead of cost.

Trent: Mm-hmm.

Sam: The whole time, I anchor my deals on what’s a new client worth to you.
They know it’s $50,000, $100,000 and if we can get at least one or two more
of those a month, they’re sorted. That’s the advantage, that’s why I picked
that as my niche and as my specialty because once I had one of those under
my belt and I could get a testimonial, I just started reaching out to more
of them that were in the same situation and it was easy. I’d put retainers,
I started to build retainers in and I started to charge more.

I did contracts where I’d implement a CRM system too. For example, a
company, it would need the website rejigged, it would need testimonials —
which I’d have to find — it might include lead capture, basic
autoresponder, and then it would have to feed into a CRM system, which you
wouldn’t even believe that a $10 million a year company didn’t even have a

Trent: They probably didn’t even know what it was.

Sam: I put a CRM in place, showed the team how to use it, we talked about
all of this new stuff. It was fun. I learned a ton doing it. The owner
loved it, the company profited wildly from it and that was a $25,000 deal
with a $3,000 a month retainer and still not even touching on any of the
stuff that the guys in your audience know, like split-testing and what
button colors convert. Forget that! This is simple stuff, right?

Trent: I’m loving that you’re sharing this because this is a perfect
example in this video that I mentioned to you before that’s on YouTube that
I get all these views on and we talked about before — I talk about my
green dot theory and it’s more or less the best way to succeed in business
is to be in business. Because once you start — and this is what I hope
that my new entrepreneurs who are listening to this will understand — you
don’t need a great idea to start, you just need to start. Then along the
way, like what happened to you, Sam, is the byproduct of the journey is
that you start discovering these rich niches that I talk about, the
importance of selling to businesses that have a high customer value, and
you discovered all the stuff. You didn’t think this up on a whiteboard and
say, “That’s what I’m going to do,” right?

Sam: Oh, so far from it, it’s ridiculous.

Trent: Yeah, fantastic stuff. Okay, and how, by the way — because I know
some people are probably thinking this — how did you find these companies
to go and you contacted them via e-mail always to begin with, was that

Sam: I tried lots of things and over time, again, I adapted my process. In
the end, my secret weapon was lump e-mail.

Trent: I love so much you just mentioned that because that’s one thing that
we’re starting to do, as well.

Sam: Yeah, that was my secret weapon in the end. I could send out pieces
and I knew that I was going to get a new client. I knew what my conversions
were off that and it worked, it really worked and I never paid for any . .
. I never used AdWords, never had Facebook, never had a blog. I mean, I
didn’t have anything. I didn’t even have a business card.

Trent: Did you have a website? You had a website?

Sam: Well, I mean, if you looked at, it’s one static page that
just says “Direct Marketing Consultant.” The website took me five minutes
to build.

Trent: Mm-hmm.

Sam: It pays to note I don’t even know how to use WordPress. I built my
website using Unbounce.

Trent: I love it.

Sam: I still don’t know how to set up a WordPress website.

Trent: I love it. So how when you were actually working with these clients
and you wanted to fix a headline and improve copy and put the webform on,
did you just give them the code for the webform and have their team make
the tweaks on their own sites?

Sam: That’s a really good question. That’s the other part of it: I never
did any of the actual work. So I would win the deal — that part is
important — I put a lot of my effort into winning the deal and that was
where I spent the bulk of my time. Then I would sit down with the business
owner and I’d ask him questions to learn about how we’re going to rejig the
site and how we’re going to generate leads.

Generally, he would give me all the information I needed and then I would
set aside a day or two to write the copy and I’d design all of the pages,
I’d just write them up in either Keynote or later on I used Unbound, but I
started out using Keynote, and I had a guy that I hired from Elance who
would do all of my implementation.

So I’d essentially win the deal, create a list of what needed to be done,
jump on Skype with my guy from Elance, brief him. He’d go and do it all —
like build the website, put the code on, do the style, all of that stuff
that I didn’t know how to do — and we had an awesome arrangement where he
charged a flat fee regardless of how long it took: $200 to do the

Trent: $200. So you’re selling a deal for $10,000 and it’s costing you $200
to deliver it, right?

Sam: Yup, yup.

Trent: I hope there are people listening to this podcast right now with
their jaw hanging open and then kicking themselves in the butt because
they’re doing too much analysis and too much paralysis before they get

Sam: It sounds illegal, right? But what people aren’t understanding is that
I’m not selling the doing. If these people knew what they wanted, they
could go directly to the Elance guy.

Trent: But they don’t.

Sam: I’m the one that’s telling them what they need, like I’m creating the
real value. The real value isn’t in doing. The real value isn’t in typing
the code or putting the MailChimp form on the page. There’s no value in
that. That’s a commodity. You can hire people all over the world on Elance
that’ll do that for next-to-nothing. The real value is in knowing how to
get the client more customers.

Trent: Mm-hmm, and knowing what the client needs when they don’t know

Sam: Yeah, and the best part about it is you get treated with so much more
respect when you’re not an order taker.

Trent: Mm-hmm.

Sam: Back in the day when I did $2k and $3k website deals, I mean, I’d show
them the site and they’d send me back a list of, like, 50 things to change,
like “move the logo a little bit to the left, a little bit to the right,
color of the font doesn’t look right,” just stuff like that and it killed
me because you’re essentially an order taker — you’re not an adviser or an
expert — and they don’t listen to anything you say because you’re
essentially just that Elance guy except a more glorified version that gets
paid $2,000 instead of $200.

That’s essentially what I was but when you’re the adviser and the expert,
they don’t fight you on anything. You never hear about a logo placement or
a color because what they’re hiring you for is the added revenue they’re
going to get, the customers. They don’t care about anything else and that’s
the way it should be. So, honestly, it really changed how I did the whole
marketing consulting thing because I went from busting my ass doing $2,000,
$3,000 deals to doing $10,000 to $20,000 deals where I was treated like
someone that was valuable and also not having a fight with the customer
over the color of a logo.

Trent: Just so that I make sure myself and the audience is crystal-clear on
the difference, the differences between starving consultant Sam and getting-
rich consultant Sam — and we haven’t even talked about your SaaS yet,
which we’re still going to get to — is you decided, number one, to focus
on a different niche, the rich niche, these high-ticket B2B companies. Then
you used your lump e-mail to get in touch with them and you positioned
yourself deliberately through the questions, I’m assuming, that you asked
them as a trusted adviser. Is that pretty much the difference between
“starving” and “getting-rich”?

Sam: Yeah, so, first of all, I mean, I would target companies that had
money to spend and I’d target companies where I honestly believed that if I
was to do what I wanted to do to their website, that they would value from
it more than what they would pay me. Because a lot of the deals I did early
on when I was what you’re calling a “poor consultant,” I honestly thought —
and there was no real added value to the company. I mean, sure their
website looked nicer, but I didn’t feel, I felt like this is a waste of
their $2,000, $3,000; it just looks prettier.

But with these other companies, I was happy to charge $10,000 or more
because they got the value from it. It sounds criminal and I used to feel a
little bit shady doing it but then when I really thought about it, because
a lot of the time after I had these big customers with $10,000, $15,000,
$20,000, $25,000, I felt guilty. I was like, “Oh my God, they’re going to e-
mail me two months later and they’re going to be like, ‘We want our money
back.'” But it was the exact opposite.

They told other people about me and I started getting referrals and they
loved it. They were like, “There’s a big difference,” and the people I did
$2,000 or $3,000 websites for, they still call me today because they say
something like their website isn’t loading fast enough. I mean, the
difference is I can’t even define.

Trent: Well, you’re doing a pretty good job of it so far and I hope that
the incredibly valuable message that you are sharing right now is sinking
in with the people that are listening to this. Folks, if you have
questions, there’s going to be a comment form on the blog post where this
interview is published. Make sure you use it and either Sam or myself will
answer them.

All right, so I kind of want to transition the interview now to the
SnapInspect story. So, obviously what you’ve shared with us so far has
communicated how you got some cash flow so that you could build this other
business, which has a bunch of pros and cons. Before we get too much into
SnapInspect — and this is something that when I was a new entrepreneur, I
didn’t know anything about — there are some pros and cons to a consulting
business and there are some pros and cons to a software business. I don’t
think many people, especially in the beginning, even have the belief system
that they could ever possibly even create a software business.

So, very quickly, just tell us the pros and cons of the consulting model
and the pros and cons, mostly what you just told me before the interview,
the pros and cons of the software model.

Sam: Consulting is one specific example but it’s really the pros and cons
of any service business and the pros and cons of any product-based

Trent: Sure.

Sam: But in my specific example, I’m going to use consulting and SaaS. The
pros and cons of a consulting business or a service business is, the pros:
you can get into business immediately. All you really need is a laptop and
a cell phone, plus the barriers to entry, there’s none. You don’t need to
build a product, you don’t need to invest in development and it doesn’t
cost anything or really anything. You can get into business straight away.

The other pros of the consulting business is you start to make decent money
pretty quickly so I started to make $3,000 where I had to pay my developer
$200. That was still $2,800 and while that’s not much money, that was a lot
to me back then, more than what my product business could do at the time,
so it can generate cash pretty quickly. Within a year, the consulting
business got pretty big. I grew it up to $35,000 a month.

Trent: Within a year.

Sam: Yep.

Trent: Fantastic.

Sam: It’s still at that today and, yeah, that was quick. It grew to $10,000
a month so much faster than SnapInspect did and the profitability of it was
much higher. It was very profitable. It was pretty much a cash business.

Now, the cons of a service business or a consulting business: firstly,
there’s no asset value. If you’ve got a consulting business, someone’s not
going to come along and acquire it because you are the business. It doesn’t
have an asset value, it doesn’t have a multiplier. You can’t say, “Well, I
earned $100,000 this year and using a ten times multiplier, the market cap
for my consulting practice is a $1,000,000.” That doesn’t work.

Trent: I do want to interject, though, from my own experience, I did have a
service business but it wasn’t just me — I had a dozen employees and we
had a lot of recurring revenue, MRR, monthly recurring revenue — and I
sold it for $1.2 million because the asset value was the recurring revenue
with the people behind it to do it all, so I just want to make sure that
the audience understands that service businesses can have an asset value if
you build them correctly. Not as good, necessarily, as software, but–

Sam: You want to make sure you are not the business.

Trent: Correct.

Sam: But I was the business, so if you can make your consulting or service
business run without you and it’s got some sort of reliable income that’s
predictable . . .

Trent: That doesn’t depend upon you.

Sam: Yes, then, absolutely, that’s a real business, that’s an asset. But
most consulting, it’s essentially the person, it’s just them and people buy
because it’s them and you can’t leave. So, yeah, you’re right, thanks for
correcting me, but my one was I definitely had no multiplier.

Trent: Mm-hmm.

Sam: And so–where was I, that was my con . . .

Trent: Yeah, now you’re going to talk about, I believe . . .

Sam: And also scaling.

Trent: Okay.

Sam: To scale a consulting business, there really is only two ways: one is
to charge more; the other is to work more hours; or the other one, which is
actually hiring more people, and there’s a limit on how high you can scale.

Now, on a product business, the cons: there’s barriers to entry. You have
to have a product. To do that, you need to develop it, you need to work
with developers, you need to pay money to build the product, test it, all
that stuff. That takes time, so speed-to-market, cost-to-enter is high, and
then also when you launch, you’re not making much money.

I mean, I had about 10 customers when I launched, paying around $150 a
month, that $1,500 a month. That’s still pretty good but my costs were
higher than that, so I was losing money and I was losing money for quite a
long time. Eventually it starts to pick up and scale but by the time it
gets out of that trough, it’s sucked up a fair bit of time and money.

Trent: How much do you think you burned through before you achieved

Sam: I don’t want to scare people — to get the product to market, version
one to market with 10 paying customers, cost me about $10,000.

Trent: Okay.

Sam: To build it up to where it is today, it’s not that same $10,000
product. There’s been a developer full-time on it for over a year now,
developing every single day. We’ve really built it out and invested in it.
I mean, it’s more than six figures — I don’t mean more than six figures,
but in the six figures range.

Trent: Mm-hmm.

Sam: So it’s under $300k but above $100k.

Trent: Yeah, it cost me probably close to $300,000 and several years before
my service business — which was not just me, it had a staff, so it had an
asset play achieved to break even. It’s expensive.

Sam: Yeah. Now, and also I don’t want to scare people off of the product
business costing that much. To get in there and to start selling, $10,000,
but I grew it without investing much money to a pretty decent income where
it was profitable pretty quickly, within six months. But I had this
realization that I just didn’t want a six-figure product business. I really
wanted a big business, like multi-millions, and so I figured, all right,
it’s time to turn the company into a loss and start making a loss with a
plan to scale.

Trent: But you had your consulting revenue to cover the loss for you.

Sam: Precisely, so I’ve always been a massive fan of big business. A lot of
people like lifestyle and all that sort of stuff but me, I’ve always been a
massive fan of just big business and so I’ve always followed people like
Warren Buffett and J.P. Morgan and Rockefeller and all of those guys and
been fascinated with how they think. I was reading the letters of Warren
Buffett–have you ever read those?

Trent: No, I have not.

Sam: Letters he writes to his Berkshire Hathaway . . .

Trent: Oh, yeah, the shareholders’ letters. I have.

Sam: Yeah, yeah, the shareholders’ letters and I was reading them, I still
read them. In it Buffett and Munger, Charlie Munger, were talking about
this concept of cash float, which is they use insurance companies such as
GEICO and I think they’re the largest insurance company holder in the
world, and they use insurance companies to generate cash float. So GEICO
and other companies, they charge the premium up-front, so you pay the 12-
month premium up-front and generally there’s 12 years before a client will
make a claim. So let’s say someone pays $1,000 a year over 12 years,
Buffett and Munger essentially have $12,000 of cash which they can invest,
and so they call that cash float. The reason they love insurance so much is
it produces huge amounts of cash that Buffett and Munger can take away and
invest in companies that need start-up money and money to get to scale and
get into profitability.

I was reading this and all of this clicked that my consulting business was
generating quite a bit of cash and I sort of thought of that as my GEICO,
my cash float business. So I started shifting the revenues from my
consulting business into SnapInspect to help it scale more rapidly. I could
get very detailed here, even into the tax things — but if you have a group
structure, you can shift revenue from one company to another company and
expense it in another company and it’s expensed against the revenue in the
other and it’s amazing how powerful it is.

You can essentially take money out of your service business, invest it in
your product business, and get a 10 times ROI on it. So let’s say you make
$10,000 in your service business. Shift it into your product business,
invest it wisely, get a 10 times ROI: that’s $100,000. That’s essentially
what Warren Buffett and Munger did and that’s why they’re so successful. I
use that same strategy today to scale SnapInspect, so shifting revenues
from my marketing consulting business into SnapInspect to help it scale.

Trent: Thank you for sharing that because I think that that type of
thinking is not commonly talked about, especially in the “Internet
marketing communities”. People there are all talking about getting rich
quick and a fast buck and all that stuff that is more or less a load of

Sam: Well, I found the perfect mix is to mix Internet marketing, like all
of this IM stuff, in with the big thinking that the big guys have and sort
of see ways that you could do what they’ve done in the traditional old days
and into today’s thing because Internet marketing, it’s very tactical. It
really lacks any form of where are we going with this. You know what I
mean? Like what’s the 10-year strategy? That doesn’t exist in the IM world;
it’s about making a buck today.

Trent: I couldn’t agree more. I have a course called the “Best Buyer
Formula” and right at the very top of the sales page, it says, “What would
you rather build: a business that’s going to make you a couple of quick
bucks or something that’s going to be around for years that you can one day
sell to somebody else for a big pile of cash?”

Sam: Yeah, well, I mean, yeah. I was broke for a long time and I lived at
home with my parents up until 12 months ago and my office was in my garage
and all I’d dreamed about was making that quick buck, because it would be
very nice to go to a restaurant and actually have a car that maybe had
leather seats, after being poor for so long. I mean, I can definitely see —
but as soon as you make that quick buck, like as soon as I was able to buy
a nice car and stuff, it gets old so fast that you immediately realize that
this is a long-term thing and you’re looking to build something. The quick
buck isn’t attractive any more.

Trent: That’s so true. I used a subject line once — and this got one of
the highest open rates that I’ve ever had — is “How to Build a Business
You Can Be Proud Of.” That’s the problem, I think, with a lot of the quick-
buck businesses, is that it’s not something you necessarily would want to
hang your reputation on and tell your family all about even though it’s
putting some money in the short-term in your bank account.

Sam: Yeah, I honestly think if you can’t tell your friends and family about
your business without cringing, then you’re never going to do well in it

Trent: I agree. All right, so let’s talk a little bit then about — I want
to talk about how you found — because I think this is a huge hang-up for
people, as well, and this applies to both people who are listening to this
who are thinking about starting any type of service business, as well as it
does to people who would be interested in potentially starting any kind of
product business and that’s how do you get the idea?

I want to give a shout-out to Dane Maxwell because I’m pretty sure that you
learned from him, he calls it “idea extraction.” Do you want to talk about

Sam: Yeah, this is big. This is actually how I took Dane’s thinking and
applied it to, basically, consulting to even find the market and what to
sell. This is a really powerful thing which Dane, I’d never heard anybody
else mention it before Dane. It’s called “idea extraction” and it’s
essentially picking a market, a decent market — so, I mean, most
entrepreneurs go out and they just target everyone. That’s failure number
one. You have to pick something specific and you have to make sure those
people have money to spend and it’s a decent market where money can be

So step one is pick a market, step two is talk to the market and find out
what their most painful problems are. Instead of coming up with an idea of
what you believe might help them or what you believe might be “cool,” I
mean, you don’t assume anything; you talk to them and you talk to them
about what the most painful part of working in that particular market is
and once you’ve found an extremely painful problem, you essentially build,
you come up with an idea to solve that problem.

I picked the market property managers and I started e-mailing and calling
property managers and asking them what the most painful part about their
job was and they said “property inspections.”

Trent: Sorry to interrupt you, but why did you pick property managers?

Sam: A lot of people ask me that and I wish I had a cool answer but it
literally was just in my mind. I mean, I had been at a dinner two nights
before, a family dinner, where there was a guy that owned a property
management business there and I was asking him questions about it and it
was doing really well. I mean, he had an Aston Martin so I figured this
dude was the man.

When I thought about, “What’s a profitable business to target?”, well, I
thought, ‘”This guy has an Aston Martin, he’s in property management, it’s
going good. This must be a good market.”

Trent: Okay.

Sam: I wish I could give you some sort of science to it but that was how I
came up with it.

Trent: But the thing I want people to understand is you didn’t get lucky
because some dude showed up in an Aston Martin. Because property
management, if you don’t go and do what you’re about to explain in a
second, you still didn’t or would not have come up with the idea for
SnapInspect, so what happened next after you saw an Aston Martin and
thought, “Okay, property management must be at least profitable?”

Sam: Sure. I did some other things to figure out whether it was a good
market to target because my old mindset was very doubtful, like I didn’t
just start looking into property — I mean, this thought was lingering for
two weeks and so I was looking at job websites and seeing what industries
were posting the most jobs available because I figured if people are
hiring, then industry must be good and I was Googling things like “what
industries are going well” and all sorts of things.

But property management still seemed to be good, I hadn’t ruled it out, so
I decided, “Oh, I’m going to look into this. This is my market to start
with,” and I basically jumped into Google and started searching for
property management businesses and started building a list of them in
Microsoft Excel, just going to their “About Us” page, copy-pasting the
company name, copy-pasting a couple of contacts from the business into
Excel and I built a list of 100 people and then I sent out one e-mail,
blasted it to all 100, subject line was “Strange Question” and I go, “Hi,
my name’s Sam Ovens. I’m currently doing some research on the property
management industry and the most painful problems in it.” Then my question
was, “On a day-to-day basis, what is the most painful task-related problem
you face as a property manager? I’d love to hear your answer, even if it’s
just one sentence. Thanks, Sam.”

I blasted that out to 100 people, got maybe 20 responses with people giving
me a couple of different answers. Then I e-mailed back those 20 people and
I said, “You sound like you know your stuff in this industry. Would you
mind jumping on the phone with me for just 5, 10 minutes so I can ask you a
couple more questions?” I think about 10 people said yes, and so I called
them up and we had deeper conversations. I think it was my third phone call
where someone told me property inspections were their most painful problem
and that’s where it all started.

Trent: I hope that the audience is understanding the gravity of what you’re
explaining and I’m going to repeat it because I think it’s so incredibly
important. You sent 100 e-mails to people who did not know you from Adam —
anybody can do that. You didn’t try to sell them anything in the e-mail;
you just asked them a question. Then you got 10 conversations out of that
and then you got an idea out of that.

Sam: Yep.

Trent: So that is the big golden nugget, folks. I mean, there’s been many
golden nuggets in this interview, but that has got to be one of the top two
or three.

Sam: Oh, if there’s a way to start, I mean, I might have got a bit too
advanced with the whole “cash float” concept and stuff, but this was the
major breakthrough, I think, for me, in the beginning, was you didn’t have
to come up with ideas in the shower or be a creative genius. You could just
find problems and build solutions to them. I think even Mark Cuban said
recently, “Innovation is dead. You just solve problems.” I’m pretty sure he
said something exactly along the lines of that, like you don’t need to be a
creative genius; if there’s a painful problem that someone has, you have a
solution to it, they’re going to buy it.

In business, people don’t buy things that are “cool,” people buy things
that solve problems and the more pain associated to a problem, the easier
it is to sell a solution to it and that’s true. I applied that same
thinking of idea extraction into my consulting business, so step one, which
is a pick a market, pick a profitable market, I picked a profitable market,
which was high-ticket B2B companies.

Then the next step was, “Well, find out what their most painful problem
is.” I started talking to a lot of these people and they just wanted more
customers, more leads. They wanted more in the pipeline and I figured,
“Well, instead of building a software product to solve that, I could just
provide this service.” So it’s not just for SaaS, and it’s most certainly
not just for SaaS and it’s most certain not just for products. That line of
thinking can be used to sell anything in the world.

Trent: By the way, folks, if you don’t know what SaaS is, it’s “software as
a service,” software that’s hosted on the web that people pay a monthly fee
to use.

Sam: Mm-hmm.

Trent: Sorry, I didn’t mean to cut you off. I just wanted to make sure that
people didn’t get confused by that terminology.

Sam: Yeah, no, that’s no problem. So, I mean, yeah, I used that same line
of thinking to come up with my service business and I still use that same
line of thinking today. I’ve got some other businesses and investments that
I’ve got going on on the side now, too, because of that cash float. Once I
understood that concept, I wanted to put it in more places and I’ve still
used that same line of thinking to pick good markets, find painful
problems, and provide solutions to them.

Trent: Let’s talk about mistakes, because I want people to understand that
you’re not like this thousand-IQ rocket scientist and, “Hey, I can’t do
what Sam did. He’s way smarter than me, blah, blah, blah,” because that’s
just a limiting belief that inexperienced entrepreneurs let get in the way
or some of them do, let get in their way. I’m willing to bet that, just
like me, you made a truckload of mistakes along your way.

Sam: Oh, man, there’s a lot. See, that’s the danger of people listening to
me now. They might think, “I can’t do that. I can’t do this. He sounds like
he knows so much.” Well, geez, you should have heard me a year ago.
Honestly, a year ago, I didn’t even know what a lead was. I didn’t know
what SaaS meant. I actually Googled SaaS. I didn’t know about headlines, I
didn’t know about copy writing. I honestly knew nothing. I didn’t know
anything about software, I still know nothing about software. I mean, I
didn’t know anything, literally.

My other businesses were like a daily deal website that failed and a job
board website that failed. I mean, they were just the sort of businesses
that people start because they see a couple of other ones that are doing
well. There was no good thinking or logic behind starting those businesses.

Trent: No idea extraction.

Sam: Yeah, and so all of this, big mistakes I made, biggest mistake in the
world I made was starting a business before talking to the customers. For
example, I started my first business, which was a job board website, I
started it, I didn’t talk to a single person because I thought they’d steal
my idea. Even when I talked to people about it, like talked to my developer
at the time, I’d close the windows. I thought I was sitting on some sort of
Facebook version two thing, and that was bad because it never got any
oxygen and I never talked to a customer about it. I mean, it took me a year
to build. I spent $10,000 of my own money on it, which I had to sell my car
to get that, plus all of my income at the time and then we launched it and
there was just crickets. No one joined, so I thought, “Oh, hell, I’m going
to have to do the unthinkable and talk to some customers.”

So I started talking to some customers and they’re like, “What is this? I
don’t need this,’ and I thought there was something wrong with them but,
no, everyone just said that. So the business just died because no one
needed it. It didn’t solve any problem, it was just some cool thing and
cool things don’t sell. Well, that’s not true. I mean, I guess you could
say an iPhone’s cool but I guess an iPhone solves a lot of painful problems
that people used to have. But if something’s just got some little “cool”
factor to it and you’ve invented it just out of your own head without
solving any problem or talking to a customer, it’s going to fail.

Trent: Unless it’s a game or something like that.

Sam: Yeah, I mean, there’s always exceptions to the rule but talking about
the bulk, I mean, yeah.

Trent: Mm-hmm.

Sam: What’s another big mistake? I guess building something without first
trying to sell it. So, my second business solved a problem and people
thought it was good. I talked to the market, they said this was a problem,
they thought this was a good solution. They said they’d use it but I never
tested whether they’d actually pay for it and you’d be amazed at how many
people, even the customers in a market, will tell you that they’ll use
something and that something’s awesome and, yeah, they’ll pay money for it,
they’ll even say they’ll pay money for it, but when you actually get them
to pay money for it, it’s a very different story.

It’s like playing poker with no real money. I mean, I’m sure everyone’s
done that and watch the dynamics of the game; no one is sensible. They’re
all-in every hand and they don’t care sometimes. Pretty much, the game
never finishes because everyone just leaves because it’s so boring. But put
real money in, even just $10 a person, and everyone is dead serious and no
one is going to do any moves that aren’t sensible.

It’s the same in business. As soon as you bring money up and try to sell
it, people start squirming in their seats and you get the real
conversation. So talking about money and trying to sell something before
building it is huge because what I always thought is think about what’s
going to happen once I’ve built this product. So with SnapInspect, I
thought, “Once I build the product, I’m going to have to sell it to people
and then when I talk about money, they might not want to buy it,” so I
figured, “Why don’t I have that conversation now before building the

That was huge. I got to see the real responses and the real squirms and
objections and things of the market before building it and that would be my
second major thing, I’d say.

Trent: And those are two pretty common mistakes, absolutely.

Sam: Yup, for sure.

Trent: All right, we are coming up on an hour here and I generally like to
keep my episodes to about that length of time. So unless there’s something
else that you think that we should talk about, I think we produced a really
fantastic interview here, Sam. I want to thank you for that. So before we
sign off, again, is there anything else that you wanted to talk about?

Sam: No, I think I’ve covered pretty much my whole story from when I got
started in business.

Trent: Okay, so if anyone wants to get in touch with you, I’m assuming they
can just go to because I can see your e-mail address right on
it, so I will link to that website from the podcast or rather the post on and at the end of the interview — I don’t know what the
shortcode is — but I’ll give the exact path to get to this interview.

Sam: Yeah, is my website and is my e-mail and
if the e-mails are short and they actually have a specific question in
them, I typically reply to them.

Trent: Okay, terrific. Well, Sam, it has been absolutely wonderful to speak
with you, to have you on the show. I just want to give you a huge round of
applause for going out and Googling “entrepreneurship” and then becoming a
very successful one. I think that your family is undoubtedly exceedingly
proud and you should be, too, and I think it’s just fantastic what you’ve
accomplished and thanks for sharing your story.

Sam: No problem.

Trent: All right, and you can come back on the show any time you like. As a
matter of fact, I may reach out to you as I may want to do another
interview more devoted to your SaaS app because I’m sure there’s another
whole other hour or so of conversation that we could have around that, but
for now I think we’ve got it covered.

All right, to get to the show notes from today’s episode including the
transcript, head over to Now, if you’ve really enjoyed
this episode, I need to ask you for the smallest favor ever: just head over
to where you will find a link to leave us a rating in
the iTunes Store. I can’t stress how important it is and how much I
appreciate it every time a listener takes that moment to fire up iTunes and
go and leave us a five-star feedback and some comment because it helps the
show to get more exposure and the more exposure we get, the more folks like
you that we can help to massively boost your business.

So thank you very much. That’s it for this episode. I’m your host, Trent
Dyrsmid, and I look forward to producing the next one for you. Take care
and have a wonderful day.

Announcer: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas podcast.
Check us out on the web at

About Sam Ovens

sam-ovens-interviewSam Ovens is an Entrepreneur, Marketing Consultant and the founder of SnapInspect – a property inspection app for property management companies.

Sam started as a marketing consultant and used the money from his consulting business as “Cash Float” to start and scale his main business SnapInspect.

Shaun Whynacht 4 in x 6 in x 300 dpi x FC

Digital Marketing Strategy: How Blue Cow Creative Doubled Revenue in 12 months with Marketing Automation

Do you run a small marketing agency and struggle to attract enough new clients to meet your growth goals?

Would you like to discover a way to put client attraction on autopilot?

In this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, my guest on the show is Shaun Whynacht, founder of Blue Cow Creative, a small marketing agency based in Nova Scotia, Canada. I learned of Shaun at the last Infusioncon and when I heard that he’d doubled his revenue in just a year, I asked him to come on the show to share his story.

When you listen to this fascinating and informative interview, you are going to hear Shaun and I talk about:

  • (02:13) Who he is and what his company is all about
  • (04:13) The results they’ve achieved (doubling their revenue!)
  • (04:58) What they did prior to what they’re doing now
  • (06:13) A big investment they made, and the cost of signing up
  • (08:13) How they capture leads
  • (10:53) Specific tactics they use for lead magnets
  • (11:53) Their focus on educating prospects
  • (13:13) How they segment their list
  • (15:49) The type of lead magnets they use
  • (18:43) Which social networks are working for them
  • (19:58) How they drive traffic
  • (21:13) A description of their lead nurture process
  • (22:58) How they are using the phone to follow up
  • (25:03) How they are converting prospects
  • (26:43) How they qualify leads
  • (31:13) How they are using testimonials
  • (33:53) How Infusionsoft has exponentially improved their nurturing
  • (38:13) How they are using Infusionsoft for operations
  • (39:46) Lightning round


More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Dyrsmid: Hey there, bright idea hunters. Welcome to the ‘Bright Ideas’
podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for
marketing agencies and entrepreneurs who want to discover how to use
content marketing and marketing automation to massively boost their
business.On the show with me today is a fellow by the name of Shaun Whynacht,
who is the founder of a company called Blue Cow Creative, a small marketing
agency. I learned of Shaun by way of attending InfusionCon this past year.
Shaun started to use InfusionSoft, and in the year following his using it,
he was able to double the revenue of his firm. Being as he’s got a
relatively small firm, just two people, I wanted to get him on to tell his
story because that’ll be a great story of significant results with someone
who maybe doesn’t have a huge pile of resources to work with Shaun’s story
is exactly that.Before we get to the interview, I want to give you my tool tip for
this episode, and that is something called If you want
to know when someone who you are connected to on LinkedIn changes their job
description or profile, which might be an opportune time for you to get in
touch with them to sell them your services, will do
that for you. Will actually send you an email, so it’s a super-cool little
tool and it’s totally free.The other announcement is, my next life cycle marketing webinar,
which you can register for at If you are not yet
getting as many leads as you would like, or you’re not doing a good enough
job converting those leads to customers, or you’re not getting enough
referrals from your existing customers, this webinar will definitely help
you to improve your results. So,, to register.So, with that said, please join me in welcoming Shaun to the show.
Hey, Shaun, welcome to the show.Shaun
Whynacht: Thanks for having me.Trent: It’s a pleasure to have you on. I think you’re the first
Canadian that I’ve actually had on my show, which is significant for those
in the audience who don’t know, because I’m Canadian.Shaun: Excellent. It’s a pleasure to be on, and be the first.Trent: Go, Canada, go. [laughs] All right. For the folks who do not
know who you are or what you do, please take a moment and introduce
yourself and your company.Shaun: I consider myself an entrepreneur of life. I’ve had a business
since the age of 17, and a couple since; but most recently, what I’ve been
doing is a company called Blue Cow Creative Design and Productions, Ltd. We
do a lot of content creation for clients, including social media marketing
and lead capture, drip marketing, those kind of things.Trent: Okay. So, very much a marketing expert in the marketing agency
space, which is ideal because a lot of the people who are listening to this
show either run a firm like yours, aspire to run a firm like yours, or
could use the services of a firm like yours.You came to my attention because InfusionSoft profiled you for some
of the success that you’d been having since starting to use their
application. I want to talk a bit about that because obviously I’m a big
InfusionSoft fan. I use it myself and I think that there are people who are
considering using it, or could be using it, and I’d really love them to
hear from people who are having success with it.

With that said, you run a two-person agency?

Shaun: Yes.

Trent: Okay. Let’s jump to the conclusion first, So the people who are
wondering, ‘Why do I want to listen to this interview?’ Since starting to
use InfusionSoft, can you tell us a little bit about the results that
you’ve been able to achieve?

Shaun: We’ve been using it almost two years now. After the first year
of using it, we’ve noticed that our revenue has doubled from the previous
years. It wasn’t just a banner year just because of the economy, it was
actually what we have proven to be attributed to the benefit of using
InfusionSoft through educating our prospects before they actually decide to
work with us. And then the service after the sale, that it’s allowed us to
do. That’s really what it has done for us and it’s almost like having two
other people working 24/7 for us when people are inquiring online.

Trent: Yeah. That’s pretty significant. Doubling your revenue and the
work of two other people.

Before InfusionSoft, how did you used to do what it is that you’re
doing now? Or did you even do it?

Shaun: If anybody listening is familiar with the old show MacGyver, I
say that we’ve MacGyvered a system together, where we had multiple
different systems out there running, one for invoicing, one for emailing,
one for contacts, and none of them really worked together. It wasn’t that
we looked at them as systems that didn’t work together. We just didn’t know
that there was a solution out there that would do it all in one.

When we heard about InfusionSoft and did the online demo, we were
hesitant that there was a claim that there was a service out there, that we
could subscribe to and use their software, and do all that. It took
probably six months for me to convince myself to take that leap and
actually try it, but it was the best decision we’ve done since then.

Trent: What you just said there is not uncommon. It’s a reasonably
good-sized investment up-front, a couple thousand dollars, and then it’s a
couple hundred dollars per month. I’ve had people email me who’ve listened
to the show, to ask about the pricing, and then right away, ‘Oh no, that’s
too much money.’ Did you think the same thing when you were looking at it
to begin with? Was that one of the things that was causing you to not pull
the trigger right away?

Shaun: Definitely. It wasn’t because I saw it as I didn’t have the
money to invest in it, it was just a big investment, especially for a small
business, a young entrepreneur who was just trying to make ends meet month-
to-month. Then, actually doing it, and looking at the other systems we used
where commonly they were considerably less per month, but you get what you
pay for. The time it saved us to not have to go between all those, it
actually works out cheaper if you figure out the time you’ve wasted with
the other services, by using their all-in-one solution.

Trent: Was there subcontractors that you used to use for various
manual processes, that now you’ve been able to automate and so you don’t
require those subcontractors, or even just your own time?

Shaun: It was my own time. It was replying to people’s inquiries about
common questions and those kind of things. For us, for what we do, because
a lot of the work is in creating a project and training our clients to use
it and be able to pedal on after the sale and use those solutions. To
educate them after, and have that resource there that they can come back
to, and currently drip information out to them after the fact to enhance
that service, was something that I would have had to spend a lot of time,
for one with a calendar and figure out, when do I send all this stuff, and
then actually physically have to do it. InfusionSoft just makes it all
simple for us.

Trent: Indeed it does. There’s three main pieces to InfusionSoft.
There’s the CRM component, there is the online shopping cart so you can
receive payments for whatever you would like, and then there’s the whole
marketing automation/email/autoresponder, however you would like to
describe that. I just call it the marketing automation piece. Are you using
all three pieces?

Shaun: I use all three. I use, more so, the campaign manager and the
campaign builder for a lot of the stuff. Probably about 80 percent of the
function we use it for, is for that. We have a lot of free resources on our
website where people can come in and request to download a free eBook or
free report, and then they get into a campaign where they’re getting drip
information about that, to convert them down the road, about when they want
to make that decision to move with a company like us, that they’re already
educated about what we do. We do that before the sale.

Then, after the sale, we use a lot of follow up through that, getting
people into education sequences, going out. We use the CRM, obviously, to
keep track of all the contact information, but also keep track of a lot of
the pertinent information regarding that client’s account, whether that’s
passwords, and things of that nature.

When it comes to the online payment and the eCommerce side, we don’t
use it as much. We don’t have an online store, but we do have certain
products. We do workshops where we get people to register and it processes
through that and puts them in the sequence for those workshops.

We wrote a book last year on marketing for small business and we sell
that through there, as well. There’s definitely a lot of power there on the
shopping side that we don’t use, but a lot of clients in different
industries could use it a lot more to their advantage than we do.

Trent: Yeah. Good segue into my next bit of questions. You started to
talk about free reports and capturing leads and so forth. I want to shift
to that because I think lead generation is a big problem for a lot of
people, especially when they are first starting out, or even when they’re
thinking about starting out. That’s probably the biggest fear I find in
people: How am I going to get my customers? In the next bit of the
interview, we’re going to talk specifically about what’s working for you
for lead generation, what you’re doing to nurture and educate those leads,
and then how you’re converting them to customers. Then, if we have time,
because I want to keep this under an hour, for sure, We’ll talk maybe a bit
about some of what you’re doing for up-sells and cross-sells and referrals.

Shaun: What we do for lead generation: when we started doing this kind
of thing, it was looking at people that were similar in our field and
seeing those mass numbers of contacts. Whether it was social media and
looking at their Facebook pages, to hearing about their email lists and
hearing about the thousands of people that they have, and being overwhelmed
by that and wondering how you can do it.

We’re looking to build quality connections as opposed to quantity. We
do it a lot through offering free webinars. We do a lot of them live, and
then we’re getting into more writing little white papers, two or three
pages, on things like permission marketing and Facebook advertising and
those kind of things.

In our industry here, most of the business community are owners over
45 years of age and up. So a lot of them haven’t grown up with the social
media side. They haven’t grown up with the technology. A big part of it
based around education. We don’t base it around, if you do this, you’re
going to make X amount of dollars, you’re going to bring X amount of
clients through your door. It’s education first. Then, they try it for a
bit, and then they want to take it to the next step. That’s usually the
point where they get in contact with us.

We do a really good job. We give them maximum information with
minimum commitment to begin, and that’s the key to lead generation. If you
want somebody to download something, if you want to email them something,
all you really need to give them, or for them to give you, is their email
address. You don’t need their address, you don’t need their phone number,
all that stuff. The more you ask for, the less you’re going to get. As you
get them through that whole sequence, and educating them, and building that
trust that you know what you’re talking about, then they’re going to be
more willing to give you that information down the road. That’s what we’ve
seen. It’s what we heard about first, and we tried it, and we see that it
works, so that’s what we’re doing.

Trent: Let me ask a follow-on question for that. You, like me and
probably everybody else, when you get that email address from an
individual, we really don’t know anything about them. In the case of Bright
Ideas, they could be a small business owner, they could be a marketing
consultant, they could be the CEO of a marketing agency, they could be
somebody thinking of starting a marketing agency. The way that I would want
to nurture and educate, because I have products across a couple of
different spectrums. Some products would be applicable to more than one of
those four categories, and other products wouldn’t. I don’t want to just
start sending out all my stuff to everybody, so I start to segment.

What is it that you do? You must segment somehow, because it’s not so
difficult to do. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re doing to make
sure that you get your list segmented in the right way?

Shaun: The information they’ve put out there for those lead generation
tools are very specific to that certain area. For example, we have one
where it’s a ten-video series on how to use Facebook, how to set it up, how
to do the very basics of it. We know that the people that are signing up
for that are very basic users. You’ll have the odd person that’ll sign up
because there’s something for free, but the majority of them are that way.
They’ll go through those ten videos, and then at the end we’ll make them an
offer to go to a more advanced phase, or they just sit there for a bit and
they just get periodic emails.

If they make the step up, then we know that they’re looking to go a
little further. The key is not, get an email and send them everything but
the dog’s lunch, it’s very segmented and making sure that you make them the
ones that control when they want the next bit of information. We find that
it works really well. Every webinar that we do, we do them for free, we get
a couple of really good leads that turn into clients, so it does pay back
itself multiple times after the fact. A lot of our clients that we try to
teach this to haven’t really grasped the concept of giving away something
for free. It’s like, ‘Why should I spend my time doing that if I’m not
getting paid for it?’ Well, you nurture them now, they’re going to pay you
back later if you do a good job at it.

Trent: Absolutely. It’s not as though you’re restricted to giving away
this information to one person at a time. The beauty, obviously, of a
webinar is that you can leverage your time by giving one bit of information
to many people at one time.

Shaun: The key that I’ve found with using InfusionSoft specifically
for this is that you’re not set to a start and end time. You spend the time
to create these products, create these sequences, and depending on when
people come into the funnel, whether it’s today or three weeks down the
road, they’re in the program. They’re getting the information based on the
time that they went in. It’s not like somebody’s going to miss some
information, and I think that’s what’s key to that. It allows us to
leverage the power of InfusionSoft above and beyond doing it manually, like
we had before.

Trent: Going back to what you were talking about with the lead
magnets. A lead magnet, by the way, in case people are unfamiliar with that
term, is what you are giving away to get the email address. It sounds like,
Shaun, that you have more than one lead magnet. How many different ones do
you have?

Shaun: We’ve done the webinars. We’ve recorded them, so those are now
available. People can go on there, sign up, then they get the link to the
videos. There’s probably two or three of those right now. We’ve got our
Facebook video series, we’ve got our book that we wrote, that’s now
available in eBook format and audiobook format for free as well. We’re
working on one right now, that’ll come out in probably the next couple of
weeks, on permission marketing.

Trent: Cool. Of those three, which one works the best for you?

Shaun: The videos. People like to be able to watch a video. The way
that we do them is solely with screencast for the trainings. People
actually get to see what we’re talking about, as opposed to giving them a
printed report. The printed report does all right, but not as well as
video, especially if you have some information to give out, just turning
the camera on and talking to the person will have a higher engagement, we

Trent: I also think it goes a long way to build more trust, as well,
because they’re hearing your voice, and I think that we form a lot of our
opinions about how we feel about another person when we can either hear or
see them on our screen, versus just reading some text that they’ve written.

Shaun. Yes. You get to hear their voice, you get to see them. It’s all
those things that you would have if you were in front of that person. My
background is in video, so I’m a big fan of it. I think people are using
video more and I think they can use it even more as we move forward.

Trent: Speaking of video, I’m actually right in the process of
creating a new lead magnet myself, called The Conversion Tactics Toolkit.
If you’re listening to this on iTunes and you have not yet been to Bright
Ideas, go to and you’ll be able to have an opportunity to
opt in to The Conversion Tactics Toolkit. It is an entirely video series.

All right. Is there anything that, in terms of capturing email
addresses, that’s working particularly well for you that I’ve not yet asked
you about, that you would tell somebody if you were sitting in a coffee
shop having this conversation?

Shaun: What I tell people is that if you’re doing this kind of thing,
and you’re on different platforms like social media, Twitter and Facebook,
is you need to have all your lead capturing/lead generation tools available
in all those different platforms. That’s worked really well for us. When we
create something new, we send it out to our existing email newsletter list
that we’ve gained over the years. We also put it on Facebook and do some
promotion there. We put it on Twitter and LinkedIn. The more relevant that
the information is to the networks that we’re doing, then we find we’re
getting some really good engagement that way.

Trent: Do you find that there is one social network that tends to work
better with the business audience than the others?

Shaun: Not really better, it depends on what we’re doing. Depending on
whether it’s a video series, or if it’s-, specifically let’s talk about the
Facebook one, because we had a higher engagement promoted out on Facebook
because they were in that medium when we were doing it. Whether it’s doing
that there, or sending it out by email, I think it’s relevant to what
you’re offering.

Trent: That makes a lot of sense. People hanging on Facebook would
obviously want to know how to use Facebook for marketing.

Shaun: Time of day, too, when you’re posting things. If you’re
targeting a business owner, which in most of the cases we are, we find a
higher engagement when it’s near the end of the day, as opposed to the
middle of the day because most people are engaged in their business. Even
on the weekends, surprisingly enough. At least here, we have a high
engagement of business owners that will subscribe to stuff on the weekends
because it’s low cost, in most cases free, for them to opt into it. That’s
when they’ve got some time to be online.

Trent: What are some things you’re doing to drive traffic to all these
offers? Are you getting traffic to your blog because you’re blogging, or
are you doing paid Facebook ads?

Shaun: We’ve done a little bit of paid Facebook ads, and they do
convert quite well for us. The majority of the stuff that we’re getting for
new leads is through our existing emails and through referrals. Most of our
new business, probably about 85% to 90% of it, is all referral-based. We
don’t do too much advertising. A lot of it comes through other people
sharing the content, being on our Facebook page, and those kinds of things.

Trent: Do you think there’s anything that you’re doing specifically
that’s stimulating those referrals, or is it just people who are genuinely
happy with the services you’re providing them?

Shaun: I think it’s the fact that we’re very real in the way we
present ourselves. We’re not making any false claims. We’re not giving them
the ‘This is the be-all solution to all your financial freedom.’ We make it
known that these are steps that you need to take to learn and know this
technology and we’re here if you want to take it to the next level. People
really appreciate that we’re not leading them in and making them sink or

Trent: Yeah. All right, let’s transition to nurturing now. You’ve
talked a bit about it. You’ve talked about the importance of educating
people, but I want to get a little bit more specific now, if we can. Let’s
use your video series, ‘Lead Capture,’ as the example of the guinea pig for
this part of the conversation.

Someone, they see your lead magnet, they give you their email
address, they hit the submit button, or the sign-me-up button, whatever
you’ve called it. What happens in that campaign builder? What have you
built, and what’s going to happen to that new subscriber? Walk us through

Shaun: Once they sign up, they’ll initially get an email welcoming
them to the series, explaining what each of the videos are going to be
doing, and giving them the realistic expectation that they come out every
three days on a weekday and they spend whatever the length is there. In the
videos at the end, they’re then given a link to them. So that if for some
reason they can’t watch one, they’re going to get that in the end for that.

Throughout the process, then about a quarter of the way through,
we’re prompted to mail them out a letter just to introduce the company. No
sales or anything is in that letter. Just excited to have them going
through the series. Just introduce our website and those kind of things a
little bit more. Then, near the end, once they’ve finished, we’re prompted
to give them a call and see what they thought about it. See if they had any
further questions. They can talk to me personally about their journey
through Facebook.

We’re promoting it also as education, to use it on a personal level,
so we’re getting both sides of the fence there. Because I truly believe
that even though somebody might not be in a business and might not use it
for a business purpose, they know somebody that could. We’re not
eliminating educating those people that want to know how to use it for a
personal reason, too.

Trent: I’m very happy you mentioned that there was a call in your
sequence. I think that some people are needlessly scared of the telephone.
When you say call, they think cold call, and they think, ‘Ugh, I don’t ever
want to do that. That would be horrible.’ But, you’re not making a cold

Shaun: No. That’s the key with putting the call near the end of the
sequence, as opposed to initially, at the beginning. If we put it right
when they signed up, we would technically be cold-calling them. Whereas at
the end, we’ve provided them ten videos, ten contact points of information
where we’re helping them every time. We’re never asking for the sale. Even
the call is not sales-oriented. It’s not, ‘Here we have a paid program’, or
anything like that. It’s ‘Just wanted to thank you for going through that.
Do you have any questions? If you ever want to take it to the next level,
this is who we are.’ We thank them for doing that. In most cases, we get
thank-yous back. Other times, we even get people saying that they’ve never
actually had a call that wasn’t pushy sales.

Trent: When you’re making these calls, do you find that people…
‘Hey, this is Shaun from Blue Cow,’ they’re like, ‘Oh hey, Shaun’. What’s
the response that you get, the vast majority of the time when they answer
the phone?

Shaun: They know who I am, even if I’ve never met them, because
they’ve heard me. Each of the videos are probably 15-20 minutes in length.
Some are shorter. They hear my voice throughout those videos. They know my
name. I introduce myself at the beginning, so it’s kind of like they
already know me when I call. It’s a familiar voice on the phone, as opposed
to getting somebody else to call.

Trent: Definitely it’s an easy phone call for you to make and it’s an
easy phone call for them to receive.

Shaun: That’s right.

Trent: How many times, even though you say it’s not a call to ‘be
pushy’ or ask for business, how, in your experience, are you finding that
some people are volunteering, ‘Hey, actually I would like to work with you
to do blah, blah,blah.’ or if that never happens, how are we starting to
convert some of these prospects to clients?

Shaun: Probably I have just over 50% of those people openly, as soon
as I thank them for that and I ask them if there’s anything else they might
need education on, they’ll openly tell me what it is. The rest of them, you
have to dig a little bit about that. I’ll ask, ‘How are you using
Facebook?’ first, if you have a business, and then I’ll ask, ‘How are you
using Facebook in your business?’ and they’re hoping to do some advertising
and that kind of stuff, so I lead them to one of our webinars on Facebook
advertising. Or, we have a report that goes with that and I tell them about
that. But probably more times than not, they want to schedule a time to
talk on the phone, and then, if we do a good job and convert them, then we
end up working with them.

We’re not scared to admit that the relationship is not a fit, if
that’s the case. A lot of people will not do that. They’ll just push and
push for the sale, whereas we want to work with a certain demographic of
business owners. If it doesn’t fit for us, and it doesn’t fit for them,
then we thank them and we both go our separate ways.

Trent: That’s a really, really important point, that you’ve brought
up. Because a lot of small business owners, they get a few years in, and
then they realize they have this hodge-podge of customers, 20% of which are
generating 80% of the revenue. The other 80% are, kind of, a pain in their
butt because they took them maybe out of desperation in the early years. Or
they just took them for reasons that weren’t really solid reasons. Does
that sound familiar to you? Did you go through that experience, or were you
very choosy from the beginning?

Shaun: No, I was not very choosy. Starting out, any hook that came
into the water, I was biting at it. Using the InfusionSoft system, it’s has
allowed us to qualify those people and see, when they receive emails, what
are they clicking on? What are they doing? To see how interested they are,
so that when we talk to them, we can tell now if they’re really going to be
a key client. If we can’t help them, there’s no point in even going through
that process.

Even if the money’s there, we’d still do this work if we didn’t have
to get paid. We just enjoy doing it, especially if it’s helping people. But
also, that need to help people led us, in the early years, to jump at those
early leads because we feel that people were needing our help. We would
just do stuff. We’d discount some services just so they could use what
we’re doing. But in the end, like you said, that’s probably that 80 % that
just takes up more valuable time than you have, when really, they’re just a
one-off project whereas we’re trying to build long-term relationships.

Trent: You mentioned qualifying. I want to dig a little deeper into
that, if we can. In InfusionSoft, there’s something called lead scoring?

Shaun: Yes.

Trent: I apologize to the audience for all the frogs in my throat
today. I don’t really know why I’m having such a problem here, but I’m
doing my best. Are you using lead scoring, and if so, how are you using it
to help qualify the prospects that are in your funnel so that the people
who deserve the attention, be it the phone call and so forth, are getting

Shaun: We currently don’t use lead scoring. I know the power of it. I
just don’t think that where I’m currently at with the business, that it
works for us the way we’d want it to. We do a lot of our qualifications by
the initial phone call and talking with people. We make it known that this
is what we hope to get out of this call and this initial consultation and
get them to commit to that first. Then we sit down. Just talking to people,
we find, is the best way to do it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t go in and look at the back history to
see how many times they’ve been checking out our website, what they’ve been
looking at, before we sit down, so I can see how interested they are; or,
if they just decided to come to our website and call right away.

The lead scoring is a powerful tool, especially if you’re in a
business where you might even have a sales force or a sales team where it
can figure out if they’re a hot lead based on their interaction and those
kind of things.

Trent: When you are interviewing a prospective client, do you always
meet with them face-to-face before they become a client? Or, are you
sometimes getting clients who aren’t in your town?

Shaun: It depends on the situation. I prefer to meet face-to-face
whenever possible, but I realize sometimes that time restraints, distance,
and weather don’t allow that. We do a few phone calls for this kind of
thing, but in most cases we try to sit down. I think one of the key things
is to not come across as selling them something. But them identifying what
their needs are, what their goals are, and realizing that what we could
offer will be a solution to that. We find that’s really good.

One of the first things I ask somebody is, ‘What do you hope to get
out of working with us?’ They tell you right away. ‘This is what my problem
is and this is where I’d like to go with it.’ Now it gives us a target to
work towards. In some cases, that goal is something we can’t attain for
them, so it’s either try to get them to a realistic level, or just say,
‘Maybe there’s somebody else better suited for that.’

Trent: That’s a very powerful thing to be able to do. I know that when
I was running my last technology company, and this was in the early 2000s,
before any of this fancy-schmancy marketing automation stuff, that I was
aware of it maybe it existed. One of the first questions we would ask when
we would get a meeting with a new prospect is, ‘Why’d you take the
meeting?’ That was a really terrific way for someone to tell you their
agenda right at the beginning, so that you knew the points that you needed
to speak to so you’d have a chance of converting them into a good client.

Shaun: Yeah, for sure.

Trent: We’ve talked about how you’re capturing leads. We’ve talked
about how you’re nurturing leads. I think we’ve covered how you’re
converting your leads to customers as well, unless there’s anything else
there. Is there anything that’s major in your process on the conversion
part of it that we haven’t talked about?

Shaun: Because a lot of our new business and new leads comes from
referrals, it’s using the power of asking for testimonials. I’m a big fan
of testimonials and people telling their story of why they chose to work
with us. What they liked working with us, so we can use that on our
website, on our blog, on our social media, to promote that experience.
Because I think working with a company should be a positive experience as
opposed to just hiring somebody, and then not really understanding what it
is that we do. That talks back to what we do in the early stages with the
education. It’s not really a lot about educating them about what’s out
there. But educating them about the process we take with them, in the early
stages. So that they know they’re involved in that process and they don’t
feel left out.

One of the things we’ve heard a lot is that they’ve worked with other
companies and they don’t hear from them for a few days and they don’t
really know what it is that they’re doing. Then, they get a bill in the end
and hopefully the project is good, or not. That’s key to what we do.

Trent: How do you ask for testimonials? Do you just call them up and
ask them? Or do you have a process, campaign, something?

Shaun: Yeah, we just have a little note campaign that we add to that
contact at the end. Just thanking them that the project has completed and
we’ve successfully launched, depending on what it is. And just ask them to
go to our Facebook page and write their testimonial, as opposed to just
emailing it to us.

Trent: Wow, that’s cool.

Shaun: In most cases, but if they’re not on Facebook, then obviously
we take it by email, but we want it to come authentic from them and not
seem like we’ve reformatted it and pushed it out after the fact.

Trent: Then, you can take a screen shot of it on Facebook and reuse
that particular image wherever you like.

Shaun: That’s right. Plus, immediately, all their friends see that
they’ve posted something on our wall, and it helps that way.

Trent: Golden nugget, there it is. I’ve got to write that down –
testimonials on Facebook.

Shaun: You can always copy and paste it and use it in other things
after, but at least the original source is authentic.

Trent: Yeah. Okay. This nurturing process that we’ve been talking
about obviously is working very, very well for you. And you’d mentioned,
before InfusionSoft that this was not so easy. Did you nurture, in any way,
shape, or form, like you do now, only you did it manually and it took a lot
of work? Or, were you like maybe a lot of people out there who would get a
prospect, call them three or four times, ‘Nah, they don’t want to take the
meeting’, and then just give up?

Shaun: Yeah, the last one there, that was pretty much me. A lot of the
process of using InfusionSoft was learning the keys to nurturing and that
that was actually a key point to doing business. The benefit with
InfusionSoft is not just that they’re a software, but there’s a whole team
of people there that are invested in your growth and the well-being of your

So if you have any questions about, ‘How could I use this element?’
It’s not just the p’s and q’s, and click here and do this. It’s ‘Here’s how
you take it offline, here’s how you use it.’ So I think that they’re really
great that way.

I’ve also been down to both InfusionCons in the last two years.
That’s a huge event that really helped me focus my business, learn what I
needed to do, and realize that I didn’t have all the answers, but I could
learn them down the road.

Trent: That is such an incredibly good point. I’m wondering if you do
this: back when I was running my technology company, I participated in a
couple of mastermind groups where, in one case, one of them was called True
Profit, and another one was called Vistage. We would meet, I think one of
them was four times a year, and the other one, I can’t remember. I think
also four times a year. You’d sit down in a room with other people who are
running companies exactly like what you’re running, just in a different
marketplace. And we would openly share a huge amount of detail in every
area, from marketing to operations, so that we could all learn from each

I can’t emphasize how valuable that was, because you’re learning from
people who are doing exactly what you’re doing, and they’re running their
own businesses. Do you participate in anything like that?

Shaun: I currently don’t. I’m currently looking for something like
that. I do see the extreme value in a mastermind group, but just in the
area that we’re in, we haven’t found that kind of thing. We do a lot of
networking and talking to businesses in other areas that cover a lot of the
key basics of bookkeeping and all that other kind of things that we need to
talk about. But when it comes to specifics, we currently haven’t done
anything like that.

Trent: Okay. Well, I’m going to introduce you to something like that.
Bright Ideas does have a mastermind group. If you go to, you can learn more about it. It is specifically
targeted to people who are marketing consultants and marketing agencies.
However, with that said, because that’s what, when you read the page,
actually by the time this is published, there will be a full page
explaining everything, Shaun. If you go there right now, it’s just what I
call the pre-launch page, where you can register for updates and so forth.

Even though, on the full page, which, people when they’re listening
to this will see it, I want them to understand that the principles and the
things that we talk about, and it starts off with a two day workshop, two
day online workshop. The principles that we talk about are going to be
highly applicable to whatever industry you’re in, but most of the people in
the group probably will be running marketing agencies. With that said, one
of my facilitators, and you probably know him, his name is Dustin Burleson.
That name ring a bell with you?

Shaun: No, it doesn’t.

Trent: Oh, okay. He was one of the Ultimate Marketer finalists at
InfusionCon this year. He’s the guy that has the orthodontics clinic

Shaun: Okay, yes, now I know.

Trent: Four clinics now, because he’s using, it just blew up once he
started using InfusionSoft. He’s going to be inviting a number of the
people who attend, other orthodontists who attend his seminars. This first
one that we’re going to do, I’m not exactly sure of the mix of the people.
Regardless, if you’re looking for a mastermind group, just head over to and there will be information there for you to
check out.

All right. Sorry, again, for all the frogs in my throat. I don’t know
why. What do I want to ask you about next? We were going to make a
transition, how are we doing for time? We’ve still got a bit of time.

Are you still – got a few minutes left?

Shaun: Yes, certainly.

Trent: I know. I know what it was. This wasn’t on my list of
questions, but you talked about this early on. We’ve talked a lot about how
InfusionSoft and the campaign builder is helping you with marketing, but I
want to talk about how it’s helping you with operations, and stuff that
happens after people become a client.

Can you speak to, because the campaign builder, I mean, campaigns
don’t have to be marketing-oriented. Because all a campaign is, is a
sequence of communication and activity, which is more or less any, and
almost every, business process. Can you talk about anything that you’re
doing in that regard?

Shaun: Well use a lot of the CRM side of InfusionSoft, with the custom
fields and and the custom tabs, to tailor it towards the information that
we need to keep about each client’s project. When we’re dealing with people
that we’re building websites for, or setting up online accounts, we keep a
lot of their account details in there; attach their records, so that if I
need to go in, or somebody else needs to go in later to send them that
information, it is there for them.

The other side is, also, using a lot of the tracking of the emails
that we send out. We can send them out through that so we can see when
they’ve opened them and any links that they clicked on. As for using any of
the sequences internally for the actual project building, usually once we
take on the project, when we finish it, a lot of that communication is just
done one-on-one with the client by our team, or any subcontractors that we
use. Then, after the sale, we go back and give them some resources about
using that service or that product that we’ve created for them.

Trent: Okay. All right, Shaun. Well, I want to thank you very much.
Oh, before I go, my lightning round. Can’t forget the lightning round.
Three questions.

Shaun: Okay.

Trent: Question number one: what are you most excited about for 2013?

Shaun: For 2013, what we’re more excited about it we’re launching a
new area to our business called the Seniors Learning Academy. Because here
in Nova Scotia, we have a large contingency of seniors who are using iPads
and a lot of them don’t know how to use them. This whole project is, first,
teaching them how to use these new pieces of technology for their
lifestyle. We’ll be rolling that out in a DVD learning series for them.
That’s what we’re really excited about, coming up.

Trent: Now is that a product you’re going to sell?

Shaun: Yes.

Trent: Okay. I was going to say, because how does that fit in with
lead gen? But now I get it. That’s just a revenue producer in its own

All right. What is your favorite business book?

Shaun: Ooh, well, I’m currently reading, and I’m really liking, Seth
Godin’s ‘Permission Marketing.’ I really like the mindset of that. Anything
that he writes has been stellar, right from ‘The Purple Cow,’ to ‘Meatball
Sundae,’ I think is the latest one that I read before this. Anything Seth
Godin puts out, I think, is golden.

Trent: Finally, for the folks who have been listening to you now and
think, ‘Hey, I might like to do business with Shaun’, what’s the number one
easiest way for them to get in touch with you?

Shaun: The best way is to go to

Trent: Terrific. Shaun, thank you so much for making some time to be
on the show. It’s been a pleasure to have you on.

Shaun: It’s been a pleasure being here.

Trent: All right. To get to this show notes from today’s episode, go
to When you’re there, you’ll see all the links that
we’ve talked about today, plus some other valuable information that you can
use to ignite more growth in your business.

If you’re listening to this on your mobile phone, just text TRENT to
585858 and I’ll give you access to the ‘Massive Traffic Toolbox,’ which is
a compilation of all of the very best traffic generation strategies shared
with me by the many proven experts that have been guests here on the show.
As well, you’ll also be able to get a list of, what I feel, are the very
best interviews, thus far, that I have recorded. I can promise you will
discover many bright ideas as a result of those interviews.

Finally, if you really enjoyed this episode, please head over to, where you will find a link to leave us a rating in the
iTunes store.

That’s it for this episode. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and I look
forward to seeing you in the next episode. Take care and have a wonderful

Recording: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas podcast.
Check us out on the web at

About Shaun Whynacht

ShaunWhynacht-PromoShot-SmallAs a leader in social media consulting, Blue Cow is on the leading edge of technology application, combining an up-to-the minute understanding of current tools and trends with proven skills in creative design and video production to offer clients the latest, hippest approach to their business needs. But Blue Cow’s approach dictates that superior customer service and a personalized approach is the hallmark of their operation; here high tech meets down home.

It’s a business acumen that has made converts of business operators who have experienced the philosophy; developed by company President Shaun Whynacht; of educate, engage and accelerate in which clients learn about the options available, buy-in to those concepts, and then, through applying those tools and trends, meet their goals. But it’s a process that is preambled by Blue Cow’s astute understanding of the technologies and deep interest in the needs of the client. There’s no love-‘em and leave-‘em in these relationships – Blue Cow and their clients stay committed to each other for the long haul!

And with that track record, it’s no wonder that the youthful Mr. Whynacht (he’s, amazingly, just 32) has earned the attention of regional business leaders who have featured him and his firm in High Flyers, a showcase of the region’s most promising up-and-coming entrepreneurs.

Aaron Aders 4 in x 6 in x 300 dpi x FC

Digital Marketing Strategy: The Story of How Digital Relevance Grew by 3,596% in 3 Years

If you heard about a marketing agency that had increased revenue by 3,596.8% over a 3 year period, do you think that would be a firm you’d want to learn from?

Are you looking for ways to get more attention for your firm (or your clients) from the media?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you are in luck!

In this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, my guest is Aaron Aders, co-founder and Market Research Director of Digital Relevance (formerly Slingshot SEO) which was named the fastest growing private company in Central Indiana with a 3 year growth rate of 3596.8%!

When you listen to this fascinating and informative interview, you are going to hear Aaron and I talk about:

  • (00:00) the service that his firm offers that is in such huge demand
  • (3:00) how they launched their company without any outside funding
  • (4:00) a very ingenious referral strategy that played a pivotal role in their very early days
  • (5:50) how they produced an industry report that literally catapulted them into the spotlight and brought them to the attention of their target market
  • (11:00) how they got their next report, a blog optimization guide, covered by Inc magazine
  • (16:00) an overview of their Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 content production plans that is used to underpin all the media attention they receive
  • (20:00) how they produce their own blog content, how Google authorship plays a role, and how to get credit (from Google) to their writing team
  • (24:00) how they nurture their leads to become qualified prospects that the sales team should talk to
  • (28:00) an explanation of the specific process that a lead goes through in their funnels to become qualified

I learned a great deal in this interview, and strongly encourage that you go check it out now.


More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

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Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey there bright idea hunters. Welcome to the Bright Ideas
Broadcast. I’m your host Trent Dyrsmid and this is the
broadcast for marketing agencies and entrepreneurs who want to
discover how to use content marketing and marketing automation
to massively boost their business.On the show with me today is Aaron Aders, co-founder and Market
Research Director of Digital Relevance formerly known as
Slingshot SEO, which was named one of the fastest growing
private companies in central Indiana with a three year growth
rate of, check this, 3596.8%. You are absolutely going to love
this interview with Aaron. Before we get to that I want to go
over my tool tip and I’ve got a special announcement webinar
coming up.So the tool tip for this episode is something called the Fancier
Author Box by ThematoSoup and it’s a free WordPress plug in that
you can download and in this interview you are going to learn
why this is so important. But to basically to boil it down to a
nutshell this allows you to make sure that the author of each
blog post is properly credited in the eyes of Google for the
purposes of Google Authorship, which is an increasingly
important component to SEO, so it allows you to insure that each
writer is properly credited and that will help your SEO efforts.
So you can just Google it Fancier Author Box of course it there
will be a link in and show notes as well.And so the webinar coming up is the webinar on lifecycle marketing
and if this topic you’re not going familiar with I strongly
encourage you to become a subscriber to Bright Ideas just go to and you will receive notifications of the next
webinar coming up as this has been proven to be a very popular
webinar for folks who to want better learn how to use this
concept called lifecycle marketing to make customer traction oh,
so much easier.So with all of that said, please join me in welcoming Aaron to the
show. Aaron, welcome to the show.Aaron: Hey, thanks for having me here, I really appreciate the
opportunity.Trent: No problem at all. I appreciate you making the time to come and
share with the Bright Ideas audience what’s working for your
firm. So for the folks who don’t yet know who you are or much
really about your business can you just briefly introduce
yourself and your company in your own words?

Aaron: Yeah, no problem, Trent. My name is Aaron Aders and I’m co-
founder of Digital Relevance Inc. and what we do is mostly earn
media online so usually what that means is we work with
companies to create valuable content that target marketing will
find value in and do a visual PR effort to get that out to the
industry influential websites and things of that nature. So the
result from that is a mix of leads and search engines traffic
and the results of those links and the content and a email list
growth, a lot of digital marketing return that really have the
biggest ROI and SEO and such a media and such, so that is
Digital Relevance and I’m one of the co-founders.

Trent: Cool. So we might dive into that a little bit more in a few
minutes, but before we do I just want to kind of give our
readers our listeners as of why I invited you on the show. I was
traveling around the Internet as I always do and I don’t even
remember where off the top of my head now that we discovered you
but what stood out was your growth rate over the past three
years. You grew at 3596.8% over three years. That is a
whopping amount of growth.

You want to know kind of…where were you three years ago in terms of
how big the company was and where are you now and what in the
heck did you do to cause so much growth to happen?

Aaron: Well it was an interesting ride for sure along our growth
there. We took an interesting position beginning that we wanted
to bootstrap this thing and grow organically because I think
that is just a real natural way to grow through. I guess client
referrals and on the back of your work rather some fundraising
effort that just goes out and hires a lot of sales people; not
that that’s bad. It can get a lot of traction from new ideas but
it just wasn’t the idea that we wanted to go by because I
believe being in services is a little bit different then if you
had a product or something like that, it makes sense to a
fundraising for.

So as a service writer . . . well first of all, when we started this
company, I was 26 years old and we didn’t really have a whole
lot of funding between us or anything else, but we did have a
list of people that were interested in our services. So kind of
as when we were starting off a bit of our strategy was, “Okay,
let’s get these clients on board, let’s do great by them,” and
we took some of the first contracts to kind of, not quite a loss
but just about. I mean we were eating beans at the time to give
you an idea there.

When we took this contract we said we’re going to do this for you at
somewhat of a discounted rate and basically all we ask is that
when we make you successful, not if, but when, you tell three
other people about us and we’ll make that pitch at the contract
of signing and hold it back. We never really had anyone turn
that down but it was very effective in growing us. Because we
did hold people to telling other business owners about our
company so that kind of word of mouth marketing was really how
we grew our business in the beginning. The 3,000% growth rate,
that was past. I think you were referring to the Inc. 500

Trent: Probably.

Aaron: I think you have to . . . you can’t say anything to them until
they make over a $100,000 but still, at that point we really had
a pretty small market, inbound marketing team but it was mostly
by word of mouth. We didn’t stop taking projects at losses was
obviously, and grew that way but it was really through clients’
success and really being adamant that when we make you
successful we expect that. When you do right by people and do a
good job for them and especially in marketing, I think that’s
something people like to brag about.

We got our start in SEO and having rankings being number one or
number two or whatever for a certain keywords that people like
to brag about that as well, so I think that also helped us.

Trent: Yeah. No question. So let’s go back then to, because it seems
to me that the growth has really been the byproduct of this,
what you said at the very beginning of the interview, you create
valuable content, combine it with PR campaigns and that ends up
helping the SEO or helping the ranking of your clients for a
given keyword set of keywords.

So if I’m to understand what you’ve explained so far it’s the result
of your work, combined with that referral strategy that caused
all the growth as opposed to doing a lot of webinars or doing a
lot of lead magnets or doing other things, am I correct or is
growth coming from two places?

Aaron: Well, as we scaled when we got larger we had beef up our
marketing department and our marketing efforts just to keep up
that growth rate because doubling every year gets twice as hard
every year as we scale. So we did have to pick up, but again
all of the marketing that we do–I should say the marketing that
we do for our clients–which is webinars, white papers and
research guides.

In fact, probably the most successful marketing campaign that we ever
did was a click through rate study that we released in 2011 and
so that was really significant because unless you are a search
engine or a digital marketing company doing the SEO campaign for
a ton of clients, you really don’t have the data to show real in-
depth and informative click through rates on certain keywords.
So that’s essentially was what it was. The PR study was looking
at top ten results, how much percentage of clicks the number one
position get versus the number two through ten.

So since we had such a large client base of SEO customers, we had the
data to have a very significant sample set and now there was
something in that we put together pretty quickly. We were
already tracking the data, we already had it in there, but we
created this what we call a contribution. A contribution is
something that . . . our target market finds valuable and our
target market is essentially marketing directors, VPs of
marketing. This was something that was very important to them–
understanding click through rates so they can plan their

So when we developed that and we went to market with it, that was
talking to, in our case, Search Engine Land and Search Engine
Journal. Websites like that, these industry, influential, what
Google refers to at hilltops, so these authority basis
essentially. So we went there, they loved it, and they were
in fact fighting over the first rights to release it and we
ended up releasing it on Search Engine Land and then released on
guest articles on a lot of other places that were still willing
to take that even though they didn’t get the first release.

But if you have a contribution that valuable, then you’re going to
see those links and the placements come very naturally but you
have to combine the contribution which is obviously putting
upfront effort to create something quality, very targeted, and
then combine that with an earned media strategy and that is the
effective, again, also targeted outreach. So all of that has to
be in sync and speaking to the same audience.

And if you can put all those pieces together then that’s essentially
what we do at Digital Relevance and that’s what I do. I’m kind
of the digital relevance at Digital Relevance here on a day to
day basis so it’s a really fun job and a great way to grow your

Trent: So this report that you’re speaking of is this called the Tale
of Two Studies: Establishing Google and Bing Click Through

Aaron: Yeah, you were able to find that pretty quickly. I mean that
study was so effective and driving leads to us, driving links.
We instantly started ranking for everything around click through
rates, but it kind of raised the ship on all fronts because we
suddenly became the center of authority and kind of helped out
on our own right because of so many links from other hilltops in
our industry. That was so powerful and it really kicked off the
discovery of . . . well, earned media and contribution that is
just a way that you have to of SEO and optimizing for search
going forward.

Trent: It’s interesting that you mentioned so much success with this
and I want to make a shout out to a past guest of mine in a past
episode because what you’re describing is what Mike Stelzner of
Social Media Examiner calls Nuclear Fuel in his book, “Launch”.
And I did an interview with Mike. It’s If any
of the audience would like to go and check it out and we go into
a lot of detail on producing what is called or what Mike calls
Nuclear Fuel and your report absolutely falls into that

It’s something that attracts a ton of attention to your firm or your
brand and gets a lot of coverage and ends up on a whole bunch of
links that’s coming into you and that’s exactly what you’ve been

So now, I see on your site you’ve done a couple of other reports.
There’s an enterprise blog post optimization guide and a
Facebook graph search cheat sheet. Did either of those reports
have the impact for you that the click through rate report did?

Aaron: Yeah. Like I said, the click through rate report was definitely
the biggest but those were also very impactful. For example the
blog optimization guide; that was huge. I released in on’s website and that just trickled down to so many
different . . . but that’s what you get out of a big media

So if you create something of value for a target audience and you
market it effectively to these outlets and you get these
placements, then you just get this trickle down effect of all
these links coming across from people that just syndicate that
content just straight up. That happens from public libraries,
public institutions, private companies all in your industry and
you get requests get a placement in even magazines and print
publication. This guy has been in both and we’ve gotten
requests for both.

And you can just look . . . one of the easiest way to check that is
select maybe a paragraph of text there and throw in a Google
search and you can see how many people straight syndicate that
and you’re looking at hundreds if not thousands of links
everything time you do that. So yeah, the impact of these things
is really big and that’s what we’re seeing in most of the
releases that we’ve done.

Trent: So a couple questions come to mind, first you said you released
it to Inc. Magazine. Can you describe specifically what you mean
by that?

Aaron: Yes, a digital PR effort, the earned media part is probably the
biggest piece in terms of guarantying that you that you get a
lot of links out of that. It’s pitching to an outlet that is an
authoritative industry hilltop that has a lot of your target
audience members reading that publication so whenever this is
placed there, not only get the search engine rankings, you also
get a ton of leads coming in that download that piece; that
value added piece.

That PR digital effort is pitching to them and trying to first get
that first release to somebody and also marketing articles to
the other ones that might not have gotten first release. But if
the piece is valuable enough, then you’re not going to get . . .
it makes the outreach effort a lot easier, let’s say that. Again
those two strategies, the contribution and the earned media, you
really got to be firing on both sides and they’re going to make
each other most successful.

Trent: Okay, so when you reached out to Inc., it’s not like you paid
them. This wasn’t a media buy. You just said, hey, we’ve
produced what we think is a phenomenally valuable piece of
content and we’re going to give you first dips on putting it in
your magazine, mentioning it, linking it, whatever if you deem
it as valuable as we believe it to be. Do I understand this

Aaron: Exactly and in doing so we call that climbing the hilltop. And
when climbing hilltops, it’s kind of a future proof way to build
links because it’s done natural. Now we also tell people that
you can’t buy a ticket to the hilltop. If purchasing the links,
first of all, Inc. and any serious publishing wouldn’t even
consider it but some websites do and that’s a practice some,
well, quite a few, people take in trying to get a guest article
posted. They’ll say, hey, I’ll give you $50 to post this on your
blog. It might be middle of the pack domain, authority website
and Google’s attacking that.

[Mad cats] came out last week and said they’re looking specifically
at in shutting down these networks and so as a result whenever
these companies get penalized using that are using tactic they
have to go in an disavow that link. Being from Indiana, I always
have basketball references so pardon me here. It’s kind of like
using a strategy as like taking the ball down the court and
every shot clock ends in a violation. It’s not worth doing at
all. You’ve got to take the other route. Just create something
of value and then you don’t have to pay for it.

I mean consider the effort of those hundreds and sometimes thousands
of links an Inc. article will place out. How long would it take
you to make that manually, to pitch that many companies and what
would you have to pay them? I mean you can’t pitch. It’s really
the best way to scale, link building. It’s a good contribution
and their immediate combination.

Trent: No kidding. So how often are you producing, and Mike Stelzner
is calling this primary fuel, blog posts versus these bigger
reports because obviously it’s a lot more work to produce the
report, the click through rate report, or the blog post
optimization report. So in addition to those reports, actually,
before I move off, how many per year of six months, or how often
are you trying to produce a new report?

Aaron: So we have tier one, two, and three levels of content, so tier
one would be like an e-book, something of that nature, that blog
put out an optimization guide, would probably be considered tier
one. Maybe tier two [good] as a guide. Tier two would be like
cheat sheets, guides, things of that nature, and then tier three
would be just really great guest articles that say you have an
awesome idea to pitch to an industry public publication in just
a really nice well thought, well researched article.

And so we try and do one tier per quarter and then multiple tier two
and tier threes depending on our cycle of editing schedule and
things like that so that’s kind of a good thing to shoot for.
But it’s really not, especially for enterprise clients, it’s not
like it takes a ton of work to create these in some cases
because even in tier one content pieces.

Because there are so many enterprises in the back of their desk
somewhere or maybe sometimes behind a payroll or maybe somewhere
buried on my website they’ve got these false leading pieces and
guides already and sometimes you can just take that and put it
through a more consumable downloadable format, in an e-book or
something like that and then we dress it a little bit.

But a lot of times these companies have tier one content but they
just don’t know it or don’t know how to promote it so that’s a
really great situation coming into. We get a client takes
thought leadership seriously and is creating this somewhere and
we get our PM on it and fast track it. Like I did with the
[CPR] study, I think we spent maybe two guys and less than two
weeks. I know that because we already had the data and we just
crunched the data and wrote maybe a couple thousand words around
it and that was it.

Trent: For the folks that are listening to his if you’re wondering,
I’m browsing Aaron’s site as I’m going the interview and you can
get free reports from him on all this stuff. How to be the
Topic of Your Industry with Earned Media and there’s a download
for that. How to Write Insanely Popular Blog Posts, there’s a
download for that. So I would really encourage you to go to . .
. it looks like it’s Is that correct, Aaron?

Aaron: Yeah, our website is You can check the Resources
section and we’ve got . . . it’s all over the map. How to Pass
the Google Analytics IQ Test. That’ll teach you there,
Beginner’s Guide of Google Analytics. Yes, so many ways that we
try to help our target market. Again it’s VP marketing,
directors of marketing do their jobs better and then whenever it
comes around to making decision around digital PR and SEO and
things like that we’re top of mind.

Trent: You know what’s really doing horrible interviews like this for
me is I realize how much more homework I have to do as a result
of talking to you.

Aaron: Well, it’s all there for free.

Trent: All right, so my question that I never got to was, how often do
you blog? And I didn’t mean like you described tier one, two,
three which looks like it’s all content that’s going on other
people’s properties, and then you have your own blog and it
looks like it’s pretty darn active. Two posts in the 20th, one
in the 17th, one in the 16th, two in the 16th. How many people .
. . I mean are you taking guest posts from other people or do
you just have enough people on your team that you guys are able
to crank out this much content?

Aaron: Yes, we have staff of about 80 people here in Indianapolis and
so a lot of these blog contributors, they are all staff. I know
that we have maybe one or two guest posts here and there from
people outside of our company and we do accept guest posts of
their own topic and valuable, just like any other publisher.

But we try to foster blogging for our company within our organization
and I think that’s an important point I’d like to make,
especially with Google Authorship coming. Or it is here and
it’s coming, it’s probably going to be a big part of ranking out
algorithm here soon, but it’s kind of going to . . . [employees
able to] promote themselves, right. So these employees that are
blogging on our website that’s more coverage for their name and
gives them more credit under their Google Authorship profiles.

We want to promote that because it will help us in the end, and even
if they do move on in some point to another organization and
keep doing the same thing, then their [confidence] our website
just only becomes more valuable, so really it’s in the best
interest of the employee and the employer to encourage this
thought leadership and again it helps them and probably even
more than it helps us.

Trent: And how are you ensuring that for example in the case of Rachel
Brown, I see she has two posts. How are you ensuring that the
content that she has authored that is published on your blog is
in Google’s eyes through the authorship of whatever word you’d
like to use is “credited” to Rachel? Is there a plug in or how
does that happen?

Aaron: Yeah, great question, so if you click on that post and you
scroll down to the bottom there is a plug in and it links to
their biography on the site that links to their Twitter account,
Google+. You can see their latest posts so that plug in, I
don’t remember the name of it. I know we run WordPress. I think
it was called Fanciest Author Box. So it will connect your
Google+. Anything that connects your Google+ [inaudible 24:47]
there’s ways of doing it by hand but pay the $5 or $10, maybe
it’s even free. It’s just one click if you’re using WordPress
and you’ve got a connection.

Trent: Okay, Fanciest, and if you’re listening to this I will be at
the end of this interview I’ll describe a link on how you can
get to the show notes for this episode and anything we’ve talked
about like this will be in the show notes. And you’ll be able
to follow those links to get to it.

Fancy, yeah, something called Fancier Author Box by ThematoSoup. So
we’ll check that out and make sure that’s the right one and if
not, I’ll trade some emails with you here and we’ll make sure we
get the right one.

All right, so I now you have to keep this just a half hour so I think
we have about seven minutes left. So obviously you guys are
doing a killer job in terms of getting attention which is a
first phase of lifecycle marketing of course attracting
interest. Phrase two is capturing leads so lots of people are
coming to your site because of all the exposure and these links
and this is helping your ranking and they’re entering their
contact info to get whatever free report which you have many
that they are interested in.

But the next phase is nurturing because just because they download
from a report doesn’t mean that they are ready to become a
customer. So what are some of the things that you do with
you’re a HubSpot partner, yes?

Aaron: Yeah, we use HubSpot. We are a HubSpot [founder].

Trent: So it doesn’t matter for what we’re going to talk about next,
whether you use HubSpot or Infusionsoft or whatever marketing
optimization tool. It wouldn’t matter because you can accomplish
this in all of them. But what are some of the things that you
do to segment and nurture your list of prospects so that your
sales team focuses on the people they should be focusing on?

Aaron: Well, I think, like you said, a lot of marketing automation
software out there could handle quite a bit. I do think HubSpot
does offer definitely some functionalities that others don’t.
But essentially what you want to do is from the very first
gathering their information on a questionnaire form, you want to
understand what questions, and you can get this data from your
service sales people is get prospect questions basically that
can give them an idea if this is someone we want to target and
as a prospect. So it might be a company size, it might be
revenue levels, or numbers of employees, or things of that
nature. Maybe it’s a more in-depth question, but working these
questions into your form that people have to download, fill out
the download your content can help.

Now lengthening that form too long is going to have diminishing
returns with people getting annoyed filling out giant survey but
if you can keep it to a few questions that’s pretty good
practice, and then probably even better information comes
through the software as you start to funnel users through your
marketing automation workflows. So that’ll gives you an idea,
when you send them more resources and more messaging: are they
opening, are they downloading, are they coming back to your
site, what are they looking at when they come back to your site?
Are they filling out the content form?

A good marketing automation software will have all this information
within the portal and ad leads scores as different interactions
happens so you don’t really have to . . . you can set up these
workflows and say they come in through, in our case a blog
optimization guide. We have a specific workflow just for that
because these people are interested in the writing and
authorship and things like that. So people who work through that
funnel and say you have a prospect and say we’re interested in
and they’ve opened up every analysis and downloaded everything
we sent them and they’ve kind of upped their lead score so now
they know more about our company.

At that point, depending on the content that they read, it might be a
time for outreach someone from business development. Now it’s
not that you can send them ten things about your company and
okay once they’ve read ten, then their qualified. You have to be
very tactical with the content that you send them. You’re
starting off at the very top of the funnel when they first find
you and then you work your way down the funnel. So top of the
funnel stuff might be educating them, then about some market or
industry techniques things like that. And the middle of the
funnel might be educating them about those specifics techniques
that your company provides, and maybe it talks about some
comparisons and things like that.

At the bottom of the funnel directly here’s what we do, here’s some
more data, and if you have somebody, a prospect that works
through all that content and downloads it all, then they’re
clearly interested in you, they have been educated on your
company and then outreaching them at that point is not only a
waste of your sale’s guys time but it’s going to be high
prospect, high percentage they are going to close in the end.

Trent: Absolutely, which makes the sales person job easier, lowers
your cost to your customer acquisition, eliminates the need to
waste tons of cold calling and there’s all sorts of benefits. I
think that it’s reasonably likely that lots of people listening
to this don’t necessarily know what auto marketing automation
is. So I want to feedback on what you just described so I can
make sure folks who aren’t terribly familiar with it really get
a handle on what it is because it’s extremely powerful concept
to embrace and then implement in your business.

So what’s of folks have websites and you can go put in your email
address and you get whatever it is they are offering. But it
sounds to me, Aaron, like what you’re doing of course is you
have not just one lead magnet, but you have many lead magnets
and the follow-up campaigns, which are these sequence of emails
that path down the funnel as it were is going to tailored
obviously to each one of those lead magnets. Am I understanding
this correctly?

Aaron: Exactly.

Trent: Okay. And then at some point down each . . . let’s say if you
have ten lead magnets. Ten different reports, for example, you
would have ten different early stage educational and nurturing
funnels, and then at some point you’re probably have what I call
a catch all product and company specific thick funnel that these
people would eventually make their way into that says “this is
what we do and you can kind of buy our stuff.” Is that correct?
Because I’m thinking of a scale of about how many, of how
manageable that you can make this.

Aaron: Yeah, we have a workflows for every piece that we send out and
all of them in and learning a lot more about our company and
that specific offering that they might have been interested in
more than maybe a different offering we have or different
offering, or different perspective on our offering. Our goal is
to get them to, as what we call, go through the bottom of the
funnel so really what that means is someone again has gone from
leaning about your expertise in the market, to learning about
your company and your offering.

So it doesn’t matter. Like when you sent it to a salesperson and if
you’re like a giant company and you have all these products that
you sell, you obviously want to send people from certain
workflows to the sales guys that handle those. We essentially
sell one thing and that’s the contributions in earned media, so
it’s pretty easy for us because we can export our [inaudible
32:54] through leads and see which workload they are in and get
an idea of what interest drove them to our company and in just
use those as conversation starters and to see if there’s any
interest there. So they all lead to the same thing which is a
high lead score on the bottom of the funnel [website].

Trent: Okay. There’s so much more I could ask you and that I want to
ask you. Excuse me, let make that stop ringing, but you told me
a half hour is all you have, so sadly I’m going to have to cut
this episode off here. I do really want to thank you, Aaron,
for coming and being on the show. Like I say, I’m kind of mad at
your now because I need to read a lot of lead magnets and see
how much better I can do at some of this stuff. For the folks
that are listening who want to get a hold of you, what would be
the easiest way for them to do that?

Aaron: Well, pretty easy: That’s my email address
and you can go to and see a lot of the guides and
research reports and things of that nature. I think it’s very
helpful for anyone that’s interested in learning more and even
implementing some of these strategies on their team, or their
marketing tam in their company, trying to earn more natural
search engine traffic and leads and social media mentions and
all the great things that earn media contribution provided.

Trent: Absolutely and that’s by the way that’s Aaron with two A’s,

Aaron: Yeah. A-A-R-O-N at

Trent: Okay, Aaron, again, thanks you so very much for making the time
to be on the show. It’s been a pleasure to have you on and look
forward to having you back.

Aaron: Yeah, thanks a lot, Trent. It was great fun and I’ll be back
any time.

Trent: Okay, take care.

Aaron: Take care, bye-bye.

Trent: All right, to get to the show notes for today’s episode go to When you’re there you’ll see all the links
that we’ve talked about today, plus some other valuable
information that you can use to ignite more growth in your
business. If you’re listening to this on your mobile while
you’re driving or doing whatever, just sent a text to, rather
just text Trent to 585858 and I’m going to give you access to
Massive Traffic Toolbox, which is compilation of all the very
best traffic generation strategies that have been shared with me
by my many proven experts and guests here on the show. As well
you’ll be able to get a list of all my favorite episodes that
I’ve published thus far on the blog.

And finally, if you really enjoyed this episode please head over to where we’ll you’ll be able to find a link to
leave us a rating in the iTunes store and I would really
appreciate it if you’d take a moment to do that because it helps
the show to build its audience. And the more audience members
we have, of course, the more people that we can help to
massively boost their business.

So that’s it for this episode. I’m your host Trent Dyrsmid and I look
forward to seeing you in the next episode. Take care and have a
wonderful day.

Announcer: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas Broadcast.
Check us out on the Web at

About Aaron Aders

AaronAdersAaron is co-founder of digitalrelevance™, a national leader in inbound marketing, planning and execution. Building on more than a decade of Internet marketing experience, Aaron steers the strategic vision behind digitalrelevance™ marketing strategy, research and collateral. Aaron also maintains a weekly tech column at and has contributed content to various national publications including, Businessweek, Money Magazine, and SmartData Collective – where he also serves on the board of advisors.


Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Build a Retainer Fee Only Marketing Agency with Joel Widmer

If you want to build a highly profitable (and valuable) marketing agency, you must avoid hourly charges and instead bill your clients via retainer fee. While this may not seem like rocket science, the reality is that most agencies aren’t very successful at putting this idea into practice.

In this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, I’m joined by Joel Widmer, founder of Fluxe Digital Marketing, a firm that he’s built as a retainer fee only agency.

In our discussion, you will hear he and I talk about:

  • how he launched his company
  • a decision that he made early on that totally changed his way of thinking on how to bill his clients
  • how he altered his client attraction strategies to ensure that he ends up working with the right clients
  • the one idea that he implemented with his retainer agreements that made it easy for clients to say yes
  • why documented systems and processes are so important and how he’s using them to free up his time
  • the 5 steps that must precede any lead generation activity
  • several of the tools and resources that he uses to run his firm

..And so much more!

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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About Joel Widmer

joel-profile275Joel Widmer is a digital marketing strategist who helps businesses make good marketing outcomes more predictable.

He’s the founder of Fluxe Digital Marketing, a marketing shop that specializes in content marketing and strategic consulting for businesses and authors.

You can find Joel on his blog.


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Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Make Your Agency Website 30% More Effective with Mark OBrien

Would you like to drastically shorten the time it takes you to get thousands of subscribers on your list?

Do you think that if you had 4,000 engaged subscribers that you would see a meaningful impact on the bottom line?

Would you like to hear from a guy who’s done it successfully?

In this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, I’m joined by Mark O’Brien, CEO of and in our discussion, you are going to hear Mark and I talk about:

  • why many marketing agency websites aren’t consistently generating qualified leads
  • the four goals your site should help your firm to achieve
  • how to create content that will engage your audience
  • how to add thousands of subscribers to your list in under 30 days
  • the CRM and marketing automation tools that you need to be an expert in
  • the key performance indicators that an agency site should be measured by
  • how Mark went from intern to President to CEO of his agency
  • the structure of the deal he put together to buy his firm
  • And so much more…

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

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About Mark O’Brien

Mark Obrien ImageMark is fortunate to be able to spend his days working with the fantastic Newfangled team to discover new ways of planning and delivering the greatest conversion-focused websites they can imagine for their clients.

The way Mark sees it, he has three jobs. The first is to make sure Newfangled is the kind of company that attracts and retains top talent. The second is to develop and maintain the right kind of client relationships so that they’re able to do this work they love for as long as possible. The third job is to work with the Newfangled team and their clients to make sure that they’re offering the right strategic and technological solutions. If they’ve got the right people and the right clients, and are creating sites that have a significant impact on our client’s business, things are good.